To the Tune of, Russel’s Farewel, &c. Good People all I pray attend, and listen now to me, A sad Relation here I send of Biss in Shaftsbury: A noted Highway-man he was who on the Road did ride, And at the length it came to pass, he was condemn’d and dy’d. When he was to his Tryal brought, and at the Bar did stand, He for no kind of favour sought, but there held up his Hand, Declaring to the antient Iudge, who was to try him then, He should not bear him any grudge, he wan’t the worst of Men. He said, The Scriptures I fulfill’d, though I this Life did lead, For when the Naked I beheld, I clothed them with speed: Sometimes in Cloth and Winter-frize, sometimes in Russet-gray; The Poor I fed, the Rich likewise I empty sent away.1 What say you now my honour’d Lord, what harm was there in this? Rich wealthy Misers was abhorr’d by brave free-hearted Biss. I never robb’d nor wrong’d the Poor, as well it doth appear; Be pleas’d to favour me therefore, and be not too severe. Vpon the Road a Man I met, was posting to a Iayl, Because he could not pay his Debt, nor give sufficient Bayl: A kind and loving Friend he found, that very day of me, Who paid the Miser forty Pound, and set the Prisoner free. Tho’ he had got the Guinneys bright, and put them in his Purse, I follow’d him that very night, I could not leave him thus; Mounting my prancing Steed again, I crost a point of land, Meeting the Miser in a lane, where soon I bid him stand: You borrow’d forty Pounds, you know, of me this very day, I cannot trust, before you go I must have present pay: With that I seiz’d & search’d him round, and rifl’d all his store, Where straight I got my forty Pound, with twenty Guinneys more. The Iudge he made him this reply, Your Ioaks are all in vain, By Law you are condemn’d to Dye, you will no Pardon gain, Therefore, Repent, repent with speed, for what is gone and past, Tho’ you the Poor did clothe and feed, you suffer must at last. That word was like a fatal sword, it pierc’d him to the heart; The Lord for Mercy he implor’d, as knowing he must part With all his Friends and Pleasures too, to be as I have said, At Salsbury to Peoples view, a sad Example made. His melting Eyes did over-flow with penitential Tears, To see his dismal Overthrow, just in his strength of Years. O kind and loving Friends, he cry’d, take warning now by me, Who must the pains of Death abide, this day in Salsbury. In grief and sorrow now I pass out of the World this day, The latter minute’s in the glass, therefore good People pray, That as this painful Life I leave, the Lord may pity take, And in his arms my Soul receive, even for his Mercies sake.
In the penultimate stanza, ‘strength’ is printed ‘strenght’ in the original.