Page:An Elizabethan garland; being a descriptive catalogue of seventy black-letter ballads, printed between the years 1559 and 1597.djvu/16

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.


hands of the vulgar, who had no better method of preserving their favourite compositions than by pasting them upon the wall, their destruction is easily accounted for." Is it too much to believe that the cosey spirit of Captain Cox might have hovered over the very few that are still extant, and saved them from the cook who "hissing hot!" would have pinned them to the Michaelmas Goose to keep it from singeing, or the simple sempstress who would have metamorphosed them into thread papers?

The five volumes of old ballads bequeathed by the locomotive inquisitive, sight-seeing Samuel Pepys to the University of Cambridge are chiefly of the reigns of Charles I. and II. They are thus classed in the precise and perpendicular caligraphy of the collector. "Heroic, Romantic, Hunting, Love pleasant, Love unfortunate." A few are very ancient, and were put forth by the well-beloved Richard Lant, of black-letter memory, and that "courteous dame" the celebrated Widow Toye, The Roxburghe collection in three large volumes folio (now in the British Museum) contain some ballads printed before 1600; but the far greater number are of a more recent date. In the year 1820, when the last part of Mr. Bindley's wonderful library was sold, four lots of old ballads and broadsides printed between 1640 and 1688, and collected by Narcissus Luttrell, produced the startling sum of Seven hundred and eighty-one pounds! The Rawlinson collection, a considerable one, is worthy of its far-famed depository, the Bodleian library. The society of Antiquaries possess a goodly number, garnished with a few of the sixteenth century. The Rev. Dr. Bandinel of Oxford, Sir Frederic Madden of the British Museum, Mr. J. P. Collier and Mr. Halliwell have a covetable sprinkling. The late Mr. Heber rejoiced in the largest number of Elizabethan broadsides that were ever sold by public auction. They formed part of that bunch which came into the possession of the writer through a private source, and who disposed of them to the late eminent bookseller Mr. Thorpe for a very large sum. They are chiefly of a religious aud moral charac-