Page:An Elizabethan garland; being a descriptive catalogue of seventy black-letter ballads, printed between the years 1559 and 1597.djvu/17

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ter and insufferably tedious and dull. Mr. Thorpe sold them to Mr. Heber, at whose death Mr. Miller (now also no more!) purchased them; and they "stick fiery off indeed" in his magnificent library, which we understand is destined one day to become the property of some national institution. . . . .

The following collection consists of Seventy Elizabethan Black-Letter Ballads published between the years 1559 and 1597, all of which editions are presumed to be unique. But a very few of them have been reprinted, and these with important variations, consequently they are as rare as manuscript. Among them are "The Crow sits upon the wall." written by Tarleton the Court Jester who "undumpished" Queen Elizabeth. It is quoted by Malvolio in "Twelfth Night." The first and second parts of "The faire Widow of Watling Street," upon which is founded the play attributed to Shakespeare—"A New Ballade of a Lover Extollinge his Lady," 1568, with the music. "Mother Watkins ale" anathematised by Henry Chettle! "The true discription of a marvellous straunge Fishe" that formed one of the multifarious items in the pack of Autolicus—and "The Daunce and Song of Death" particularly referred to by Mr. Francis Douce in his last beautiful edition of The Dance of Death. That eminent antiquary in sumnmer days when leaves were green would take a trip to Canonbury and discourse most eloquently upon these marvels of the muse, which, from their perfect and spotless condition would seem to have been carefully rolled up and looked up for more than two hundred years! To those who can appreciate them it would be superfluous to enlarge upon their curiosity and value; while to those who have no taste for such recondite and rare relics it would be useless. To the writer they are precious indeed! Ancient Ballad lore was his early, constant, most delightful study. And now

Age cannot wither it, nor custom stale
Its infinite variety.