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Scene 1. Page 276.
AAR. And faster bound to Aaron's charming eyes.
He is not here commending the beauty of his eyes, but adverting to their power of fascination. This was anciently supposed a peculiar quality of the eye, and many remedies or amulets were away its power.
used to charm
Sc. 3. p. 287.
TAM. While hounds, and horns, and sweet melodious birds, Be unto us, as is a nurse's song
Of lullaby, to bring her babe asleep.
We have here a curious lullaby note, which, as well as the present, may possibly have a drowsy effect on all readers but staunch antiquaries and etymologists. For the benefit therefore of the latter it may be observed, that Dr. Johnson is
probably mistaken in supposing that the nurse's word by signifies sleep, otherwise than as a contraction of lullaby. It is to be wished that Mr. Holt White had favoured us with some proof that to lull originally signified to sleep, and that its present sense, to compose to sleep by a pleasing sound, is but a secondary one, retained after the primitive import had become obsolete. The same ingenious critic proceeds to state that by means house, and therefore lullaby is to go to house or cradle. There is so much plausibility in this conjecture that it is almost a pity to be obliged to dissent from it. Though it cannot be disputed that by signifies a dwelling, it is presumed that this sense is as unconnected with the word in question as Dr. Johnson's sleep. It would be a hopeless task to trace the origin of the northern verb to lull, which means to sing gently; but it is evidently connected with the Greek λαλεω, loquor, or aλλn, the sound made by the beach Thus much is certain, that the Roman nurses used the word lalla to quiet their children, and that they feigned a deity called Lallus, whom they invoked on that occasion; the lullaby or tune itself was called by the same name. As lallare meant to sing lalla, to lull might in like manner denote the singing of the nurse's lullaby to in
duce the child to sleep. Thus in an ancient carol composed in the fifteenth century, and preserved among the Sloane MSS. No. 2593:
che song a slepe wt. her lullynge
here dere sone our savyoure."
In another old ballad printed by Mr. Ritson in his Ancient songs, p. 198, the burden is “lully, lully, lullaby, lullyby, sweete baby, &c.;" from which it seems probable that lullaby is only a comparatively modern contraction of lully baby, the first word being the legitimate offspring of the Roman lalla. In another of these pieces still more ancient, and printed in the same collection, we have, "lullay, lullow, lully, bewy, lulla baw baw." The Welsh appear to have been famous for their lullaby songs. Jones, in his Arte and science of preserving bodie and soule, 1579, 4to, says, "The best nurses, but especially the trim and skilfull Welch women, doe use to sing some preaty sonets, wherwith their copious tong is plentifully stoared of divers pretie tunes and pleasaunt ditties, that the children disquieted might be brought to reste: but translated never so well, they want their grace in Englishe, for lacke of proper words: so that I will omit them, as I wishe they would theyr lascivious Dymes, wanton Lul lies, and amorous Englins."
Mr. White, in reviewing his opinion of the etymology of good-by, will perhaps incline to think it a contraction, when properly written good b'ye, of God be with you, and not "may your house prosper!"
To add to the stock of our old lullaby songs, two are here subjoined. The first is from a pageant of The slaughter of the innocents, acted at Coventry in the reign of Henry the Eighth, by the taylors and shearers of that city, and most obligingly communicated by Mr. Sharpe. The other is from the curious volume of songs mentioned before in vol. i. p. 426. Both exhibit the simplicity of ancient manners.
"Lully, lulla, thou littell tine childe,
By by lully lullay,
Lully lullay thou littell tyne child,
By by lully lullay.
O sisters too, how may we do,
For to preserve this day
This pore yongling, for whom we do singe
By by lully lullay.
Herod the king, in his raging,
Chargid he hath this day;
His men of might, in his owne sight,
All yonge children to slay.
That wo is me, pore child for thee,
"By by lullaby
Rockyd I my chyld
Me thought I hard a maydyn say
Rockid I my child by by.
Then merveld I ryght sore of thys
A mayde to have a chyld I wys,
By by lullay.
Thus rockyd she her chyld
By by lullaby, rockyd I my chyld." Finis.
Sc. 3. p. 290.
TAM. O'ercome with moss and baleful misletoe.