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Bold Robin, the Butcher of Tideswell, rides for Whaley Bridge to sell a cow hide, but is stopped on the way at Chapel-en-le-Frith by his friends the Smith, the Parson, and the Pardoner. They drink together at The Rose of Lancaster, before the Butcher, "...dazed and addled", mounts his horse and sets off home. But on his way, he is frightened out of his wits as a foul phantom chases him across a moonlit Tideswell Moor. Is it a terrible ghost, or just the drunken Butchers own shadow, as his wife believes?
The Ballads and Songs of Derbyshire (1867)
Come listen to me, you yeomen all, who live in dale or down
My song is of a butcher tall who lived in Tideswell town
Beside the church this butcher bode, and when off to bed he slunk
He often slept for ten good hours because he got so drunk
One only sorrow quelled his heart, as well it might quell mine;
The fear of wights and grisly ghosts which dance in the pale moonshine,
That wander lost in the cold churchyard among the dismal tombs,
Where hemlock blossoms in the day, and in darkness nightshade blooms
It chanced upon a summer’s day when the heather bells were blowing,
Bold Robin crossed o’er Tideswell Moor and heard the heath-cock crowing
Well mounted on his forest nag he freely rode and fast
Nor drew a rein ’till Sparrow Pit and Paislow Moss were past
Then slowly down the hill he came, to Chapel-en-le-Frith
Where, at The Rose Of Lancaster he met his friend the smith.
The parson and the pardoner too all took their morning draught
And when they spied a brother near, they all came out and laughed.
"Come draw your rein, you butcher bold, how far have you to ride"
"To Simon the Tanner at Whaley Bridge to sell this good cow hide."
"You shall not go one foot ayont, till you stop and sup with me,
And when I’ve drank my liquer up, I’ll have a drink with thee!"
"Oh no, oh no, you drouthy smith, I can no longer stay.
The wife, she gave me a charge to keep and I dare not tell her nay."
Cried the Pardoner then "What likes! What likes! Why tell you this to me?!
You may be drunk this blessed night, and shrived for both you’ll be."
So down got the butcher from his horse, I wot, full willing was he
And he drank till the summer sun was set in that jolly company
He drank till the summer sun went down and the stars began to shine
And his greasy noddle was dazed and addled with the nut brown ale and wine.
Then up arose these four mad men, and joining hand in hand
They danced around the hostel floor and sung though they scarce could stand.
Then Bold Robin mounted on his horse, and a drunkern wight was he,
And off he rode by the forest wall, where the deer browse silently.
Then up the Slack, on Tideswell Moor broad light and shadow threw
As the silver moon from behind the clouds burst out to open view
And there this man, whose heart beat quick, gave out a dreadful howl
For fast by his side, he there espied, a monstrous phantom foul
Uprose the fell of it’s head, uprise the hood which it’s head did shroud
And all it’s teeth did chatter and grin as it cried both long and loud
The butcher struck his horse with his spur as he never had struck before
And away he rode with might and main across that barren moor
But ever as fast as the butcher rode, the ghost did grimly glide
Now down on the earth beside his horse, then fast at his rein side
O’er stock and rock and stone and pit, o’er hill and dale and down
Till the butcher gained his door stone there in Tideswell’s good old town
"Oh, what thee ails, my drunken butcher?" said his wife as he sank down
"Oh, what thee ails, you drunken butcher?" cried half of Tideswell town
"I have seen a ghost, it raced my horse for three good miles and more
And it vanished within the churchyard wall as I sank down at this door"
"Beshrew your heart, you’re a drunken beast" cried his wife as she held him there
"Beshrew your heart, you’re a drunken beast and a coward with the heart of a hare!
No ghost has raced you home tonight, nor matched it’s wit with thine,
That ghost was your shadow, you drunken wretch, and I wish that ghost was mine"
THE DRUNKEN BUTCHER OF TIDESWELL
Genre : Folk, Ballad
Lyrics : Traditional / William Bennett
Composed and Performed by : BELLA HARDY
Album : The Dark Peak and the White (2012)