« FöregåendeFortsätt »
above, we may conclude there were other inferior orders, as VEOMEN MINSTRELS, or the like.
This Minstrel, the author tells us a little below, “afo « ter three lowly courtesies, cleared his voice with & “ hem, ... and wiped his lips with the hollow of his « hand for 'filing his napkin, tempered a string or two « with his WREST, and, after a little warbling on his • HARP for a prelude , came forth with a folemn song, “ warranted for story out of King Arthur's acts, &c., This song the reader will find printed in this work, volume III. p. 25.
Towards the end of the fixteenth century this class of men had lost all credit, and were funk fo low in the public opinion, that in the 39th year of Elizabeth * a ftatute was passed by which
66 Minstrels, wandering
, abroad were included among rogues, vagabonds, « and sturdy beggars, » and were adjudged to be punifhed as such. This act seems to have put an end to the profession, for after this time they are no longer, mens tioned.
I CANNOT conclude this account of the ancient MIN. STRELS, without remarking that they are most of them represented to have been of the North. There is hardly an ancient Ballad or Romance, wherein a Minstrel or Harper appears, but he is characterized by way of emis
* Vid. Pulton's Stat. 1661. p. III. 399 Eliz.
Bence to have been “OF THE NORTH COUNTRIE
Tlie Reader will observe in the more ancient ballads of this collection a cast of stile and measure very diffen rent from that of contemporary poets of a higher class : many phrases and idioms, which the Minstrels seem to have appropriated to themselves ,' and a very remarkable licence of varying the accent of words at pleasure, in or. der to humour the flow of the verse , particularly in the rhimes : as
instead of country, lady, hårper, finger, &c. - This lia berty is but sparingly affumed by the classical poets of the same age; or even by the latter composers of Heroi. cal Ballads : I mean by such as professedly wrote for the press. For it is to be observed , that so long as the
* See p. 65. of this vol.
Minstrels fubfifted, they seem never to have designed their rhymes for publication, and probably never committed them to writing themselves : what copies are preserved of them were doubtless taken down from their mouths. But as the old Minstrels gradually wore out, a new race of ballad - writers fucceeded, an inferior fort of minor poets, who wrote narrative songs moerly for the press. Instances of both may be found in the reign of Elizabeth, The 'two latest pieces in the genuine strain of the old Min. strelfy that I can discover, are No. III. and ty. of Book III. in this volume. Lower than these I cannot trace the old mode of writing,
The old Minstrel - ballads are in the northern dialect, abound with antique words and phrases, are 'extremely incorrect, and run into the utmost licence of metre; they have also a romantic wildnefs, and are in the true spirit of chivalry. The other fort are written in exacter meafure, have a low or subordinate correctness, fometimes bordering' on the insipid, yet often well adapted to the pathetic ; these are generally in the southern dialect, exhibit a more modern phraseology, and are commonly descriptive of more modern manners. To be sensible of the difference between them, let the Reader compare in this volume No. III. of book III. with No. IX. of book II.
Towards the end of Queen Elizabeth's reign, (as is mentioned above) the genuine old Minstrelsy seems to have been extinct , and thenceforth the ballads that were produced were wholly of the latter kind, and these came forth in such abundance, that in the reign of James 1. they began to be collected into little Miscellanies. un.
der the name of GARLANDS, and at lenght to be written purposely for such collections *
* In the Pepysian , and other libraries, are preserved a
great number of these in black letter, Izmo. under
the following quaint and affected titles, viz. 3. A Crowne Garland of Goulden Roses gathered out of
England's Royall Garden, &c. by Richard Johnson,
15. Robin Hood's Garland. 16. The Lover's Garland.
17 The Maiden's Garland. is. A loyal Garland of Mirth and Pastime. &c. &c. &c.
This fort of petty publications were anciently called
PENNY - MERRIMENTS : as little religious tracts of the same size went by the name PENNY ĠODLINESSES: In the Pepys Library are multitudes of both kinds.
The ancient Ballad of Chevy-chace.
3. The Jew's Daughter. A Scottisb Balladı" - ; I 30
5. Edward, Edward. A Scottish Ballad.
7. Sir Patrick Spence. A Scottish Ballad,
8. Robin Hood and Guy of Gisborne.
II. Edom o Gordon. À Scottis b Ballad.
12. An Elegy on Henry 4th earl of Northumberland.
BOOK THE SECOND.
(Containing Ballads that illustrate Shakespeare. )
Elay on the Origin of the English Stage.
I. Adam Bell, Clym of the Clough, and William of
2. The aged Lover renounceth Love.