Dialogue ballads in which a Country Clown boasts of his ‘rustic wealth’ go back to the Middle Ages. Robin and Joan
was published in Wit Restored
(1656) and Wit and Drollery
(1682), and on broadsheets with the tune direction ‘The Beginning of the World, Or, Sellengers Round, Or, Great Boobe’. For ‘Chi/Che’, ‘Cham’, ‘Chav’ etc., read ‘I’, ‘I am’, ‘I have’ etc.
Robin and his mother discuss his plan to dress smartly and brush up his manners in order to woo Joan Gromball once again. At first Joan mocks him for his lack of finesse and for being so insistent (‘‘You must’ (Sir Clown) is for the king’) but she is finally won over.
from notes by Lucie Skeaping © 2009