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Loom and the study. The attempt so soon as the publick ear had been was entirely new, and the difficulties won by the more elegant and polishattending it arose from the fastidious ed edition of Dr. Percy. It had been taste of an age which was accustom- well if the industrious Ritson, and ed to receive nothing under the de- other minute and accurate labourers nomination of poetry, unrecommend- in the mine of antiquity, had coned by flowing numbers and elabo- tented themselves with exhibiting rate expression. To soften these specimens of the ore in its original difficulties Dr. Percy availed himself, state, without abusing the artist who to a considerable extent, of his own had made the vein worth digging, poetical talent, to alter, amend, and by, showing to what its produce decorate the rude, popular rhymes might be refined. which, if given to the publick with The Reliques of Ancient English scrupulous fidelity, would probably Poetry seem, shortly after their pub. have been rejected with contempt lication, to have exceeded even the and disgust. It was not then so expectation of the editor in giving much the question whether an an- a strong and determined impulse to eient poem was authentick, accord- publick taste and curiosity, the efing to the letter, as whether it was, fects of which have only abated withor could be rendered, worth read- in these very few years. Mr. Thoing; and it might be said of Dr. mas Evans, bookseller, was the first Percy's labours as an editor, nihil who endeavoured to avail himself of quod tetigit non ornavit. It may be the taste which they had excited, by asked by the severer antiquary of publishing the collection of which the present day, why an editor, his son has now given us a second thinking it necessary to introduce edition. such alterations, in order to bring This publication, although intendforth a new, beautiful, and interesting ed as a supplement to the Reliques sense from a meagre or corrupted of Ancient Poetry, cannot be consioriginal, did not, in good faith to his dered as continued upon the same readers, acquaint them with the plan. There are no dissertations liberties he had taken, and make prefixed, and the preliminary matter them judges whether, in so doing, which prefaces the ballads, is but he transgressed his limits. We an- meagre. The ballads themselves swer, that unquestionably such would are chiefly such as the more caube the express duty of a modern tious taste of Dr. Percy had left editor; but such were not the rules unpublished, either because their of the service when Dr. Percy first rude structure was incapable of deopened the campaign. His avował coration, or because they were so of alterations, additions, and conjec- well known as to render decoration tural emendations, at the bottom of unadvisable. The principal source each page, would have only led his from which they were taken, is a readers to infer that his originals small publication in three vols. 12ino. were good for nothing; not to men- entitled: “A Collection of old Baltion that a great many of those ad- lads, corrected from the best and ditions derived their principal merit most ancient Copies extant, with from being supposed ancient. In Introductions, historical, critical, or short, a certain conformity with the humorous: illustrated with copper. general taste was necessary to in- plates.” It is now, we believe, extroduce a relish for the subject; tremely rare, and sells at a price accuracy, and minute investigation very disproportionate to its size. of the original state of the ballads, The volumes appeared separately, was likely to follow, and did follow and from the edition now before us,
the first seems to have been re. bella Stuart, Anna Bullen, The printed in 1723, the second in the Lady and the Palmer, The Fair same year, the third in 1725. The Maniack, The Bridal Bed, The editor was an enthusiast in the cause Lordling Peasant, the Red-Cross of old poetry, and selected his mat- Knight, The Wandering Maid, The ter without much regard to decency, Triumph of Death, Julia, The as will appear from the following Fruits of Jealousy, The Death of singular preface to one or two in- Allen.' These seventeen ballads, delicate pieces of humour. “One which we believe have never been of the greatest complaints made by published except in this work, have the ladies against the first volume a sort of family resemblance which of our collection, and, indeed, the indicates a common parent. The only one which has reached my ears, antique colouring in all of them is the want of merry songs. I be- originally consisted in the adoption lieve I may give a pretty good guess of a species of orthography embarat what they call mirth in such rassed with an unusual number of pieces as these, and shall endeavour letters, and regular exchaungynge to satisfy them, though I have very the i for the y in the participle, little room to spare." From this which is, for farther dignity, graced, fountain, the late Mr. Evans, seems uniformly, with a finale. These into have drawn such supplies as it judicious marks of imitation, which afforded. Most of his historical can no more render a modern ballad ballads are taken from it, and many like an ancient, than a decoction of of the Tales of Robin Hood, although walnuts can convert the features of he probably used some of the Gar. a European into those of an Asia. Jands respecting the hero of Sher. tick, are rejected by the present wood, in correcting and completing editor, Mr. R. H. Evans, who thus that series. In the present edition leads us to infer that he does not these are materially improved by consider the poems we have enume. comparison with, and reference to, rated, as authentick remnants of the black-letter copies.
antiquity. We wish he had favoured But, although Mr. Evans did not us with some light upon their hisimitate Dr. Percy in the more learn- tory. They appear to us to be the ed and critical department of his work of an author endowed with no Jabour, and although he stands ac- small portion of poetical genius. quitted of having taken the same Many marks of haste appear in the license with originals of acknow- composition, which the writer proledged antiquity; yet he not only bably considered as of little imfollowed his plan in admitting the portance, since he never intended to compositions of modern authors in be responsible for his offspring. imitation of the ancient ballad, but But there are touches of great the third and fourth volumes of his beauty of description, and an ex works contain also some pieces pre- pression of sentiment peculiarly soft, sented as ancient, which, from the simple, and affecting, in almost every orthography, language, sentiments, one of these neglected legends. and numbers, are evidently spurious. The knowledge of history, too, These ballads, which we have al- which they display, argues that the ways considered as the most valua- author mingled the pursuits of the ble part of Mr. Evans's collection, as antiquary with those of the poet, far as poetry is concerned, are Bishop and was enabled, by the information Thurston and the King of Scots, so collected, to realize and verify Battle of Cuton Moor, Murder of the conceptions of his imagination Prince Arthur, Prince Edward and when employed upon the actual Adam Gordon, Cumnor Hall, Arq. manners and customs of the feudal
ages. To vindicate our eulogium And thou shalt Aaunt in robes of gold, we beg leave to quote a few stanzas A lady rich and fair: from the tale entitled the Bridal Thou shalt have halls and castles fair, Bed.
And when, sweet maid, we wed,
O thou shalt have much costly gear, * It was a maid of low degree
To deck thy bridal bed.' Sat on her true-love's grave, And with her tears most piteously "Oh hold thy peace, thou cruel knight, The green turf she did lave;
Nor urge me to despair; She strew'd' the flow'rs, she pluck'd the With thee my troth I will not plight, weed,
For all thy proffers fair: And show'rs of tears she shed:
But I will die with my own true love; *Sweet turf,' she cried, by fate decreed My true love stay for me; To be my bridal bed!
Stay till I've deck'd my bridal bed,
And I will follow thee. • I've set thee, flow'r, for that the flow'r. Of manhood lieth there;
“Thy halls and castles I despise; And water'd thee with plenteous shower
This turf is all I crave; Of many a briny tear.'
For all my hopes, and all my joys, And still she cried, 'Oh stay, my love,
Lie buried in this grave: My true-love stay for me;
I want not gold, nor costly gear, Stay till I've deck'd my bridal bed,
Now my true-love is dead; And I will follow thee.
But with fading flow'r and scalding tear
I deck my bridal bed." • Sweet turf, thy green more green apo pears,
Oh! be my bride, thou veeping fair, Tears make thy verdure grow,
0! be my bride, I pray; Then still I'll water thee with tears,
And I will build a tomb most rare, That thus profusely flow.
Where thy true-love shall lay;' Oh stay for me, departed youth,
But still with tears she cried, My love, My true-love, stay for me;
My true-love, stay for me;
And I will follow thee.
My love needs not a tomb so rare,
In a green grave we'll lie;
Our canopy, the sky.
Full soon I shall be dead;
And deck my bridal bed.
• This is the flow'ry wreath he wove,
To deck his bride, dear youth!
To me did plight his troth;
And with it to be wed;
To deck my bridal bed.'
And, as the bright moon shone,
And heard her piteous moan;
My true love, stay for me;
And I will follow thee.'
And strew the dow'r, and pluck the
When thou in grave shalt lay.
My true-love, stay for me;
And I will follow thee.”
• Be calm, fair maid,' the knight replied,
•Thou art too young to die; But go with me, and be my bride,
and leave the old to sigh.'
My true love, stay for me;
And I will follow thee.'
This dirge is certainly not ancient; but it is no treason to say it is better than if it were. We cannot suppress a suspicion that these legendary pieces flowed from the pen of a poet to whom neither his own nor this generation has been altogether just. We mean William Julius Mickle,
..Oh leave,' he cried, this grief so cold,
And leave this dread despair,
the translator of the Lusiad. His seduced by the apparent ease of the Sir Martyn, written in imitation of task, ventured to lay their hand Spenser's manner, with much of upon the minstrel lyre. For a differthe copious and luxuriant descrip- ent reason, he has omitted the contion of his original, shows his at- tributions which his father levied tachment to the study of the ancient upon Goldsmith, Gray, and other poetry of Britain; and his two beau- eminent moderns, whose works are tiful ballads, entitled Hengist and in every one's hand. By this excluMey, and the Sorceress, have the sion he has made room for a selec. same harmony of versification, the tion of genuine ancient poetry, comsame simple and affecting turn of piled, by his own industry, from expression, with the imitations of the hoarded treasures of black-letter -the heroick legend which we are ballads. now considering. If Mr. Mickle It is no disgrace to Mr. Evans, should have been a friend of the that these veterans, whom he has elder Mr. Evans, as we believe, we introduced to recruit his diminished consider that circumstance, joined ranks, are, generally speaking, more to internal evidence, as sufficient to respectable for their antiquity, than ascertain his property in the ballads for any thing else. Percy, Ellis, and in question.
other editors of taste and genius, We have also to complain, that in had long ago anticipated Mr. publishing some other imitations of Evans's labours, and left him but the the ancient ballads, the authors' refuse of the market. Some of the names have been withheld, where, ballads, indeed, exhibit such wretchperhaps, they were more easily at- ed doggrel, as serves, more than the tainable than in the case just stated. dissertations of ten thousand RitThus the ingenious Mr. Henry Mac- sons, to degrade the character of kenzie (author of the Man of Feel- our ancient song-inditers. ing) is well known to have written The “Warning to Youth," for the beautiful Scottish ballad entitled example, "showing the lewd life Kenneth; and Michael Bruce that of a merchant's sonne of London, of Sir John the Ross. The ballad of and the misery that at the last he the Laidley Worm of Spindleston sustained by his notoriousnesse,” Heughs, is also known to have been, might, notwithstanding the valuable in a very great measure, the pro- moral attached to it, have been left, duction of the rev. Mr. Lambe, late without injury to the publick, to vicar of Norham, and editor of the « dust and mere oblivion." Had we Battle of Flodden-field. It is founded known Mr. Evans's curiosity in such upon a prevailing tradition in Bam- matters, we could have supplied him boroughshire, and the author has with as much stale poetry of a simiinterwoven a few stanzas of the ori. lar description as would have made ginal song concerning it, which his four volumes twenty. begins,
But although Mr. Evans's love of
antiquity has occasionally seduced “ Bambro' castle's built full high,
him into publishing what is no otherIt's built of marble stone,
wise valuable than as it is old, a And lang lang may the lady wait For her father's coming home," &c. prejudice by which all antiquarian
editors are influenced in a greater In revising his father's publica- or lesser degree, we have to applaud tions, Mr. R. Evans has, with great the diligence with which he has judgment, discarded a numb trad and recovered some beautiful, sing-song imitations of the ancient and some curious pieces of poetry ballad by Jerningham, Robinson, which possess intrinsick merit and and other flimsy pretenders, who, interest. Among the former we diss tinguish the address to a disappoint- by the sons of the lord Darsy: its ed, or rather a forsaken lover, chief merit is its curiosity. which has, we think, a turn of pas- Among the poems which are de. sion that is new, upon a very thread servedly inserted, we cannot help bare subject.
remarking that entitled “ The Felon
Sow and the Freeres of Richmond,” * I'm so farre from pittying thee,
as belonging to a class of composiThat wear'st a branch of willow tree,
tions which has been but slightly That I do envie thee and all
discussed by our antiquaries; we That once were high and got a fall:
mean the burlesque romance of the willow, willow, willow tree,
middle ages with which, doubtless, I would thou didst belong to mee.
the minstrel and tale-teller relieved “ Thy wearing willow doth imply,
the uniformity of their heroick ditThat thou art happier farre than I, ties. In these ludicrous
poems, which For once thou wert where thou wouldst be, are a kind of parody upon the meThough now thou wear'st the willow tree; trical romances, churchmen and O willow, willow, sweete willow,
peasants are introduced imitating Let me once lie upon her pillow.
the knightly pastimes of chivalry; “ I doe defie both boughe and roote,
and their awkward mishaps and abAnd all the fiends of hell to boote
surd blunders, must have been matOne houre of paradised joye,
ter of excellent mirth to the doughMakes purgatorie seeme a toye:
ty knights and gallant barons who O willow, willow, doe thy worst,
listened to the tale. Thus, in the Thou canst not make me more accurst.
case before us, the felon sow was “ I have spent all my golden time,
the undisturbed tenant of the woods In writing many a loving rime,
of Rookby, and the romantick banks I have consumed all my youth
of the Greta. Her size and ferocity In vowing of my faith and trueth: are described with great emphasis. O willow, willow, willow tree,
The lord of Rookby, a man of hų. Yet can I not beleeved bee.
mour, gave her to the friars of Rich“ And now alas it is too late,
mond, provided they could catch Gray hayres, the messenger of fate, her. Friar Middleton sets off with Bid me to set my heart at rest,
two wight men at musters, to posFor beautie loveth young men best: sess himself of the prize. They O willow, willow, I must die,
compel the sow to take refuge in a Thy servant's happier farre than I.”
lime-kiln, where they hamper her
with cords from above. But the fe. The Symptoms of Love," p. 246, lon sow breaks forth upon them, is another very pretty song, and routs the escort, reduces the friar to there are many scattered through conjuration out of his breviary, and the volume which have considerable at length to betake himself to a tree. elegance of expression, or a quaint. Friar Middleton and his companions ness rendered venerable by antiqui. return in evil plight to the convent; ty, and which, like the grotesque and the warden, to redeem the discarving on a gothick nich, has a
grace, hires two bold men at arms pleasing effect, though irreconci- to follow forth the adventure of the lable with the strict rules of taste.
sow: they enter into solemn indenThese praises apply chiefly to the tures to “bide and fight” to the songs and minor pieces of lyrical death, and the warden on his part poetry. The only ancient ballad, ac- becomes bound to say masses for tually connected with history and their souls if they miscarry. The manners, which Mr. Evans's labours men at arms, more successful than have presented to us for the first friar Middleton, vanquish and kill time, is the Murder of the Wests, the felon sow;. and the convent sing