The Fryer Well-fitted

This snippet is a little song, published anonymously between 1663 and 1674, with the subtitle: Pretty jest that once befell how a maid put a fryer to cool in the well: To a Merry tune. I have omitted most of the Fa la la las.

As I lay musing all alone
A pretty jest I thought upon
Then listen a while and I will you tell
Of a fryer that lov’d a bonny lass well.
Fa la la la la-tre-down-dilly

He came to the maid when she went to bed
Desiring to have her Maiden-Head
But she denyed his desire
And told him that she feared Hell Fire:
Fa la la la la-tre-down-dilly

Hush (quoth the fryer) thou need’st not doubt
If thou were’st in Hell I could sing thee out
Then (quoth the maid) thou shalt have thy request
The fryer was as glad as a Fox in his nest
Fa la la la la-tre-down-dilly

But one thing (quoth she) I do desire
Before you have what you require
Before that you shall do one thing
An angell in mony thou shall me bring
Fa la la la la-tre-down-dilly

Hush, quoth the fryer, we shall agree
No mony shall part my love and me
Before that I will see thee lack
I’ll pawn my Grey gown from my back
Fa la la la la-tre-down-dilly

The maid bethought her of a while
How the fryer she could beguile
While he was gone, the truth to tell,
She hung a cloth before the well
Fa la la la la-tre-down-dilly

The fryer came as his convenant was
With mony for his bonny Lasse
Good morrow fair maid, good morrow, quoth he
Here is the mony I promised thee
Fa la la la la-tre-down-dilly

She thank’d the man and she took his mony
Now let us go to it, quoth he, sweet hunny
Oh stay, quoth she, some respite make
My father comes, he will me take
Fa la la la la-tre-down-dilly

Alas, quoth the fryer, where shall I run
To hide me till that he be gone
Behind the cloth run thou, quoth she
And there my father cannot thee see
Fa la la la la-tre-down-dilly

Behind the cloth the fryer crept
And into the well all the sudden he leapt
Alas, quoth he, I am in the well
No matter, quoth she, if thou wert in Hell
Fa la la la la-tre-down-dilly

Thou sayest thou couldst sing me out of Hell
Now I prithee, sing thyself out of the well
The fryer sang on with a pittiful sound
Oh help me out or I shall be drowned
Fa la la la la-tre-down-dilly

Aye true, quoth she, thy courage is cool’d
Quoth the fryer, I never was so fool’d
I never was served so before
Now take heed, quoth she, thou comes’t here no more
Fa la la la la-tre-down-dilly

Quoth he, for sweet Saint Francis sake
On this Disciple pitty take
Quoth she, Saint Francis never taught
His Schollars to tempt young maids to naught
Fa la la la la-tre-down-dilly

The fryer did entreat her still
That she would help him out of the well
She heard him make much pitteous moan
She helped him out and bid him be gone
Fa la la la la-tre-down-dilly

Quoth he, shall I have my mony again
Which thou from me before-hand hast taken
Good sir, said she, there is no much matter
I’ll make you pay for fouling my water
Fa la la la la-tre-down-dilly

The fryer went all along the street
Dripping wet like a new washt sheepe
Both old and young commended the maid
That such a witty prank was plaid
Fa la la la la-tre-down-dilly &c


  • October 18, 2009 - 12:29 pm | Permalink

    I imagine these days the maid in question might well prefer to push the fryer into a fryer.

    There are fa la la la la’s all over the place…

  • October 18, 2009 - 12:14 pm | Permalink

    Much clearer once I realised that fryer = friar, prior to that I was amazed at the early introduction of the industrial chip fryer.

    I imagine you have a pile of discarded fa la la la’s by your computer now…

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