Page:An Elizabethan garland; being a descriptive catalogue of seventy black-letter ballads, printed between the years 1559 and 1597.djvu/10

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us at every turn. Many ballads quoted by Shakespeare, Beaumont and Fletcher and Samuel Rowlands ("Crew of Kind Gossips") extend not beyond a single verse, yet how suggestive are they! Many (as if to tantalise bibliographical curiosity!) are limited to a line. It was such penny broadsides that composed the marvellous "bunch" of the military mason of Coventry, and that stocked the pedlar's pack of Autolicus; and their power of fascination may be learnt from the varlet's own words when he laughingly brags how nimbly he lightened the gaping villagers of their purees while chanting to them his merry trol-my-dames!

We delight in a Fiddler's Fling full of mirth and pastime! and revel in the exhilarating perfume of those odoriferous chaplets gathered on sunshiny holidays and star-twinkling nights bewailing how beautiful maidens meet with faithless wooers, and how fond shepherds are jilted by deceitful damsels. How despairing Corydons hang, and how desponding Phillidas drown themselves. How ghosts haunt and inflict vengeance. How disappointed lovers go to sea, and how forlorn lasses follow them in jackets and trousers! Sir George Etheridge, in his comedy of "Love in a Tub," says, "Expect at night to sea the old man with his paper lantern and crack'd spectacles, singing you woeful tragedies to kitchen-maids, and cobblers' apprentices." Aubrey mentions that his nurse could repeat the history of England, from the Conquest to the time of Charles I. in ballads. In Walton's Angler, Piscator having caught a chub, conducts Venator to "an honest alehouse where they would find a cleanly room, lavender in the windows, and twenty ballads stuck about the wall." ""When I travelled," says The Spectator, "I took a particular delight in hearing the songs and fables that are come from father to son, and are most in vogue among the common people of the countries through which I passed."

Verse sweetens toil however rude the sound.

We would not part with those primitive "moralities" "Goody Two-Shoes," "Mother Bunch," and "The Cruel Uncle" that