Sidor som bilder
[blocks in formation]

In Shakspeare's Hamlet, act ii. sc. 7, the hero of the Play takes occasion to banter Polonius with some scraps of an old ballad, which has never appeared yet in any collection; for which reason, as it is but short, it will not perhaps be unacceptable to the reader: who will also be diverted with the pleasant absurdities of the composition. It was retrieved from utter oblivion by a lady, who wrote it down from memory as she had formerly heard it sung by her father. I am indebted for it to the friendship of Mr. Steevens.

It has been said that the original ballad, in black-letter, is among Anthony à Wood's collection, in the Ashmolean Museum. But, upon application lately made, the volume which contained the song was missing, so that it can only now be given as in the former edition. The banter of Hamlet is as follows:

"Hamlet. 'O Jephtha, Judge of Israel,' what a treasure hadst thou! Polonius. What a treasure had he, my lord?

Ham. Why, One faire daughter, and no more, The which he loved passing well.

Pol. Still on my daughter.

Ham. Am not I i' th' right, old Jephtha?

Pol. If you call me Jephtha, my lord; I have a daughter, that I love passing well.

Ham. Nay, that follows not.

Pol. What follows then, my lord?

Ham. Why, As by lot, God wot;' and then, you know, 'It came to passe, As most like it was.' The first row of the pious chanson will shew you more."-Edit. 1793, vol. xv. p. 133.

HAVE you not heard these many years ago,
Jeptha was judge of Israel?

He had one only daughter and no mo,

The which he loved passing well.
And as by lott,

God wot,

It so came to pass,


As Gods will was,

[blocks in formation]

That should meet with him then,

Off his house when he should return agen.

It came to pass, the wars was o'er,
And he returnd with victory;

His dear and only daughter first of all
Came to meet her father foremostly:
And all the way

She did play

On tabret and pipe,

Full many a stripe,

With note so high,

For joy that her father is come so nigh.

But when he saw his daughter dear
Coming on most foremostly,

He wrung his hands, and tore his hair,
And cryed out most piteously:
"Oh! it's thou," said he,

"That have brought me


And troubled me so,

That I know not what to do.


[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]


But, dear father, grant me one request,

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

For to mourn, for to mourn, till her dying day.



A Robyn, Jolly Robyn.

In his Twelfth Night, Shakspeare introduces the Clown singing part of the two first stanzas of the following song, which has been recovered from an ancient MS. of Dr. Harrington's, at Bath, preserved among the many literary treasures transmitted to the ingenious and worthy possessor by a long line of most respectable ancestors. Of these, only a small part hath been printed in the Nuga Antiquæ, 3 vols. 12mo; a work which the public impatiently wishes to see continued.

The song is thus given by Shakspeare, act iv. sc. 2 (Malone's edit. iv. 93).

"Clown. Hey Robin, jolly Robin [singing],

Malvolio. Fool

Tell me how thy lady does.

[blocks in formation]


Dr. Farmer has conjectured that the song should begin thus :

"Hey, jolly Robin, tell to me
How does thy lady do?
My lady is unkind, perdy,
Alas! why is she so ?"

But this emendation is now superseded by the proper readings of the old song itself, which is here printed from what appears the most ancient of Dr. Harrington's poetical MSS., and which has, therefore, been marked No. I. (scil. p. 68). That volume seems to have been written in the reign of King Henry VIII., and as it contains many of the poems of Sir Thomas Wyat, hath had almost all the contents attributed to him by marginal directions, written with an old but later hand, and not always rightly, as, I think, might be made appear by other good authorities. Among the rest, this song is there attributed to Sir Thomas Wyat also; but the discerning reader will probably judge it to belong to a more obsolete writer.

In the old MS. to the third and fifth stanzas is prefixed this title, Responce; and to the fourth and sixth, Le Plaintif: but in the last instance so evidently wrong, that it was thought better to omit these titles, and to mark the changes of the dialogue by inverted commas. In other respects the MS. is strictly followed, except where noted in the margin. Yet the first stanza appears to be defective, and it should seem that a line is wanting, unless the four first words were lengthened in the tune.

[blocks in formation]

Suche folkes can take no harme by love,

That can abide their torn.

"But I alas can no way prove

In love, but lake and morne.'

[ocr errors]

But if thou wilt avoyde thy harme,
Lerne this lessen of me:

At others fieres thy selfe to warme,
And let them warme with the.


A Song to the Lute in Musicke.


This sonnet (which is ascribed to Richard Edwards' in the "Paradise of Daintie Devises," fo. 31, b.) is by Shakspeare made the subject of some pleasant ridicule in his Romeo and Juliet, act iv. sc. 5, where he introduces Peter putting this question to the Musicians:


[ocr errors]

Why Silver Sound?' why Musické with her silver sound?' what say you, Simon Catling?

1st. Musician. Marry, sir, because silver hath a sweet sound. Pet. Pretty! what say you, Hugh Rebecke?

2nd. Mus. I say, silver sound, because Musicians sound for silver.

Pet. Pretty too! what say you, James Sound-post.

3rd. Mus. Faith, I know not what to say.

Pet. . . . I will say for you: It is 'Musicke with her silver sound,' because Musicians have no gold for sounding."-Edit. 1793, vol. xiv. p. 529.

This ridicule is not so much levelled at the song itself (which for the time it was written is not inelegant), as at those forced and unnatural explanations often given us by painful editors and expositors of ancient authors.

This copy is printed from an old quarto MS. in the Cotton Library [Vesp. A 25], entitled "Divers things of Hen. viij's time:" with some corrections from The Paralise of Dainty Devises, 1596.

WHERE gripinge grefes the hart would wounde,
And dolefulle dumps the mynde oppresse,

There musicke with her silver-sound

With spede is wont to send redresse:

Of trobled mynds, in every sore,

Swete musicke hath a salve in store.

1 See Wood's Athen., Tanner's Biblioth., and Hawkins' Hist. of Music.


« FöregåendeFortsätt »