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“ An excellent Ballad, intituled,
THE CONSTANCY OF SUSANNA.”
This is the Ballad the first line of which Sir Toby Belch
cites, with other poetical fragments, in Twelfth Night.
HER E dwelt a man in Babylon
Of reputation great by fame, He took to wife a fair woman,
Susanna she was called by name;
To live godly?
Virtuously her life she lead,
She feared God, she stood in awe,
Was well brought up in Moses' law;
Of this lady?
That year two judges there were made,
Which were the elders of Babylon, To Joachim's house was all their trade,
Who was Susanna's husband then : Joachim was a great rich man,
Lady, lady; These elders oft to his house came
For this lady.
Joachim had an orchard by
Fast joining to his house or place, Whereas Susanna commonly
Herself did daily there solace, And that these elders soon espied,
Lady, lady, And privily themselves did hide
For that lady.
These elders came to her anon,
And thus they said, Fair dame God speed, Thy doors are fast, the maids are gone,
Consent to us and do this deed, For we are men of no mistrust,
Lady, lady, And yet to thee we have a lust,
O fair lady!
If that to us thou dost say nay,
A testimonial we will bring,
We will say that one with thee lay,
How canst thou then avoid the thing : Therefore consent, and to us turn,
Lady, lady, For we to thee in lust do burn,
O fair lady!
Then did she sigh, and said alas !
Now woe is me on every side, Was ever wretch in such a case,
Shall I consent and do this deed ? Whether I do, or do it not,
Lady, lady; It is my death right well I wot,
O true lady!
Better it were for me to fall
Into your hands this day guiltless, Then that I should consent at all
To this your shameful wickedness; And even with that (whereas she stood)
Lady, lady, Unto the Lord she cried aloud,
These elders both likewise again,
Against Susanna aloud they cried, Their filthy lust could not obtain,
Their wickedness they sought to hide, Unto her friends they then her brought,
Of that lady.
On the morrow she was brought forth
Before the people there to stand, That they might hear and know the truth,
How these two elders Susanna found, The elders swore and thus did say,
Lady, lady, How that they saw a young man lay
With that lady.
Judgment there was for no offence,
Susanna causeless then must die, These elders bore such evidence,
Against her they did verify, Who were believed then indeed,
Lady, lady, Against Susanna to proceed,
That she should die.
Susanna's friends that stood her by,
They did lament, and were full woe, When as they saw no remedy,
But that to death she then must go,
Then unto him that is so just,
Lady, lady, (In God was all her hope and trust,)
To him did cry.
The Lord her voice heard, and beheld
The daughter's cry of Israel, His spirit he rais'd in a child,
Whose name was called young Daniel, Who cried aloud whereas he stood,
Of this lady.
Are you such focis, quoth Daniel then,
In judgment you have not done well, Nor yet the right way have you gone,
To judge a daughter of Israel : By this witness of felse disdain,
Lady, lady, Wherefore to judgment turn again
For that lady.
And when to judgment they were set,
He called for those wicked men : And soon he did them separate,
Putting the one from the other, then, He asked the first where he did see
That fair lady, He said under a mulberry tree,
Who lied falsely.