A Fox May Steal Your Hens, Sir
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Lesley Nelson-Burns

This tune was used in the comedy Love for Love by William Congreve (1670-1729) as A Soldier and A Sailor. The music was by John Eccles (1668-1735). John Gay wrote these words to the Eccles tune for The Beggar's Opera (1728).

The tune is sung by the fence Peachum, who has learned that his daughter Polly has wed the highwayman Macheath. He determines to turn Macheath in - to gain the reward and so that he can protect his daughter's dower.

A fox may steal your hens, Sir,
A Whore your health and Pence, Sir,
Your daughter rob your Chest, Sir,
Your Wife may steal your Rest, Sir,
A Thief your Goods and Plate,
A Thief your Goods and Plate.
But this is all but picking,
With Rest, Pence, Chest, and Chicken,
If ever was decreed, Sir,
If Lawyer's Hand is fee'd, Sir.
He steals your whole Estate,
He steals your whole Estate.
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From Songs from a Colonial Tavern
See Bibliography for full information.