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foom and the study. The attempt was entirely new, and the difficulties attending it arose from the fastidious

taste of an age which was accustom

ed to receive nothing under the denomination of poetry, unrecommended by flowing numbers and elaborate expression. To soften these difficulties Dr. Percy availed himself, to a considerable extent, of his own poetical talent, to alter, amend, and decorate the rude, popular rhymes which, if given to the publick with scrupulous fidelity, would probably have been rejected with contempt and disgust. It was not then so much the question whether an ancient poem was authentick, according to the letter, as whether it was, or could be rendered, worth reading; and it might be said of Dr. Percy's labours as an editor, nihil quod tetigit non ornavit. It may be asked by the severer antiquary of the present day, why an editor, thinking it necessary to introduce such alterations, in order to bring forth a new, beautiful, and interesting sense from a meagre or corrupted original, did not, in good faith to his readers, acquaint them with the liberties he had taken, and make them judges whether, in so doing, he transgressed his limits. We answer, that unquestionably such would be the express duty of a modern editor; but such were not the rules of the service when Dr. Percy first opened the campaign. His avowal of alterations, additions, and conjectural emendations, at the bottom of each page, would have only led his readers to infer that his originals were good for nothing; not to mention that a great many of those additions derived their principal merit from being supposed ancient. In short, a certain conformity with the general taste was necessary to introduce a relish for the subject; accuracy, and minute investigation of the original state of the ballads, was likely to follow, and did follow * VoI. V. F

so soon as the publick ear had been won by the more elegant and polished edition of Dr. Percy. It had been well if the industrious Ritson, and other minute and accurate labourers in the mine of antiquity, had contented themselves with exhibiting specimens of the ore in its original state, without abusing the artist who had made the vein worth digging, by showing to what its produce might be refined. The Reliques of Ancient English Poetry seem, shortly after their publication, to have exceeded even the expectation of the editor in giving a strong and determined impulse to publick taste and curiosity, the effects of which have only abated within these very few years. Mr. Thomas Evans, bookseller, was the first who endeavoured to avail himself of the taste which they had excited, by publishing the collection of which his son has now given us a second edition. This publication, although intended as a supplement to the Reliques of Ancient Poetry, cannot be considered as continued upon the same plan. There are no dissertations prefixed, and the preliminary matter which prefaces the ballads, is but meagre. The ballads themselves are chiefly such as the more cautious taste of Dr. Percy had left unpublished, either because their rude structure was incapable of decoration, or because they were so well known as to render decoration unadvisable. The principal source from which they were taken, is a small publication in three vols. 12mo. entitled: “A Collection of old Ballads, corrected from the best and most ancient Copies extant, with Introductions, historical, critical, or humorous: illustrated with copperplates.” It is now, we believe, extremely rare, and sells at a price very disproportionate to its size. The volumes appeared separately, and from the edition now before us, the first seems to have been reprinted in 1723, the second in the same year, the third in 1725. The editor was an enthusiast in the cause of old poetry, and selected his matter without much regard to decency, as will appear from the following singular preface to one or two indelicate pieces of humour. “One of the greatest complaints made by the ladies against the first volume of our collection, and, indeed, the only one which has reached my ears, is the want of merry songs. I believe I may give a pretty good guess at what they call mirth in such pieces as these, and shall endeavour to satisfy them, though I have very little room to spare.” From this fountain, the late Mr. Evans, seems to have drawn such supplies as it afforded. Most of his historical ballads are taken from it, and many of the Tales of Robin Hood, although he probably used some of the GarIands respecting the hero of Sherwood, in correcting and completing that series. In the present edition these are materially improved by comparison with, and reference to, the black-letter copies. But, although Mr. Evans did not imitate Dr. Percy in the more learned and critical department of his labour, and although he stands acuitted of having taken the same license with originals of acknowledged antiquity; yet he not only followed his plan in admitting the compositions of modern authors in imitation of the ancient ballad, but the third and fourth volumes of his works contain also some pieces presented as ancient, which, from the orthography, language, sentiments, and numbers, are evidently spurious. These ballads, which we have always considered as the most valuable part of Mr. Evans's collection, as far as poetry is concerned, are Bishop Thurston and the King of Scots, Battle of Cuton Moor, Murder of Prince Arthur, Prince Edward and Adam Gordon, Cumnor Hall, Ara

bella Stuart, Anna Bullen, The Lady and the Palmer, The Fair Maniack, The Bridal Bed, The Lordling Peasant, the Red-Cross Knight, The Wandering Maid, The Triumph of Death, Julia, The Fruits of Jealousy, The Death of Allen. These seventeen ballads, which we believe have never been published except in this work, have a sort of family resemblance which indicates a common parent. The antique colouring in all of them originally consisted in the adoption of a species of orthography embarrassed with an unusual number of letters, and regular exchaungynge the i for the y in the participle, which is, for farther dignity, graced, uniformly, with a final e. These injudicious marks of imitation, which can no more render a modern ballad like an ancient, than a decoction of walnuts can convert the features of a European into those of an Asiatick, are rejected by the present editor, Mr. R. H. Evans, who thus leads us to infer that he does not consider the poems we have enumerated, as authentick remnants of antiquity. We wish he had favoured us with some light upon their history. They appear to us to be the work of an author endowed with no small portion of poetical genius. Many marks of haste appear in the composition, which the writer probably considered as of , little importance, since he never intended to be responsible for his offspring. But there are touches of great beauty of description, and an expression of sentiment peculiarly soft, simple, and affecting, in almost every one of these neglected legends. The knowledge of history, too, which they display, argues that the author mingled the pursuits of the antiquary with those of the poet, and was enabled, by the information so collected, to realize and verify the conceptions of his imagination when employed upon the actual manners and customs of the feudal the translator of the Lusiad. His Sir Martyn, written in imitation of Spenser's manner, with much of the copious and luxuriant description of his original, shows his attachment to the study of the ancient poetry of Britain; and his two beautiful ballads, entitled Hengist and Mey, and the Sorceress, have the same harmony of versification, the same simple and affecting turn of expression, with the imitations of —the heroick legend which we are now considering. If Mr. Mickle should have been a friend of the elder Mr. Evans, as we believe, we consider that circumstance, joined to internal evidence, as sufficient to ascertain his property in the ballads in question. We have also to complain, that in publishing some other imitations of the ancient ballads, the authors’ names have been withheld, where, perhaps, they were more easily attainable than in the case just stated. Thus the ingenious Mr. Henry Mackenzie (author of the Man of Feeling) is well known to have written the beautiful Scottish ballad entitled Kenneth; and Michael Bruce that of Sir John the Ross. The ballad of the Laidley Worm of Spindleston Heughs, is also known to have been, in a very great measure, the production of the rev. Mr. Lambe, late vicar of Norham, and editor of the Battle of Flodden-field. It is founded upon a prevailing tradition in Bamboroughshire, and the author has interwoven a few stanzas of the original song concerning it, which begins,

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“Bambro’ castle's built full high,
It’s built of marble stone,

And lang lang may the lady wait
For her father’s coming home,” &c.

In revising his father's publications, Mr. R. Evans has, with great judgment, discarded a number of sing-song imitations of the ancient ballad by Jerningham, Robinson, and other flimsy pretenders, who,

seduced by the apparent ease of the task, ventured to lay their hand upon the minstrel lyre. For a different reason, he has omitted the contributions which his father levied upon Goldsmith, Gray, and other eminent moderns, whose works are in every one’s hand. By this exclusion he has made room for a selection of genuine ancient poetry, compiled, by his own industry, from the hoarded treasures of black-letter ballads. It is no disgrace to Mr. Evans, that these veterans, whom he has introduced to recruit his diminished ranks, are, generally speaking, more respectable for their antiquity, than for any thing else. Percy, Ellis, and other editors of taste and genius, had long ago anticipated Mr. Evans’s labours, and left him but the refuse of the market. Some of the ballads, indeed, exhibit such wretched doggrel, as serves, more than the dissertations of ten thousand Ritsons, to degrade the character of our ancient song-inditers. The “Warning to Youth,” for example, “showing the lewd life of a merchant’s sonne of London, and the misery that at the last he sustained by his notoriousnesse,” might, notwithstanding the valuable moral attached to it, have been left, without injury to the publick, to “ dust and mere oblivion.” Had we known Mr. Evans's curiosity in such matters, we could have supplied him with as much stale poetry of a similar description as would have made his four volumes twenty. But although Mr. Evans's love of antiquity has occasionally seduced him into publishing what is no otherwise valuable than as it is old, a prejudice by which all antiquarian editors are influenced in a greater or lesser degree, we have to applaud the diligence with which he has traced and recovered some beautiful, and some curious pieces of poetry which possess intrinsick merit and interest. Among the former we distinguish the address to a disappointed, or rather a forsaken lover, which has, we think, a turn of passion that is new, upon a very threadbare subject.

* I'm so farre from pittying thee,
That wear'st a branch of willow tree,
That I do envie thee and all
That once were high and got a fall:
O willow, willow, willow tree,
I would thou didst belong to mee.

“Thy wearing willow doth imply,
That thou art happier farre than I,
For once thou wert where thou wouldstbe,
Though now thou wear'st the willow tree;
O willow, willow, sweete willow,
Let me once lie upon her pillow.

“I doe defie both boughe and roote,
And all the fiends of hell to boote
One houre of paradised joye,
Makes purgatorie seeme a toye:
O willow, willow, doe thy worst,
Thou canst not make me more accurst.

“I have spent all my golden time,
In writing many a loving rime,
I have consumed all my youth
In vowing of my faith and trueth:
O willow, willow, willow tree,
Yet can I not beleeved bee.

“And now alas it is too late,
Gray hayres, the messenger of fate,
Bid me to set my heart at rest,
For beautie loveth young men best:
O willow, willow, I must die,
Thy servant’s happier farre than I.”

The “Symptoms of Love,” p. 246, is another very pretty song, and there are many scattered through the volume which have considerable elegance of expression, or a quaintness rendered venerable by antiquity, and which, like the grotesque carving on a gothick nich, has a pleasing effect, though irreconcilable with the strict rules of taste.

These praises apply chiefly to the songs and minor pieces of lyrical poetry. The only ancient ballad, actually connected with history and manners, which Mr. Evans's labours have presented to us for the first time, is the Murder of the Wests,

by the sons of the lord Darsy: its chief merit is its curiosity. Among the poems which are deservedly inserted, we cannot help remarking that entitled “The Felon Sow and the Freeres of Richmond,” as belonging to a class of compositions which has been but slightly discussed by our antiquaries; we mean the burlesque romance of the middle ages with which, doubtless, the minstrel and tale-teller relieved the uniformity of their heroick ditties. In these ludicrous poems, which are a kind of parody upon the metrical romances, churchmen and peasants are introduced imitating the knightly pastimes of chivalry; and their awkward mishaps and absurd blunders, must have been matter of excellent mirth to the doughty knights and gallant barons who listened to the tale. Thus, in the case before us, the felon sow was the undisturbed tenant of the woods of Rookby, and the romantick banks of the Greta. Her size and ferocity are described with great emphasis. The lord of Rookby, a man of humour, gave her to the friars of Richmond, provided they could catch her. Friar Middleton sets off with two wight men at musters, to possess himself of the prize. They compel the sow to take refuge in a lime-kiln, where they hamper her with cords from above. But the felon sow breaks forth upon them, routs the escort, reduces the friar to conjuration out of his breviary, and at length to betake himself to a tree. Friar Middleton and his companions return in evil plight to the convent; and the warden, to redeem the disgrace, hires two bold men at arms to follow forth the adventure of the sow: they enter into solemn indentures to “bide and fight” to the death, and the warden on his part becomes bound to say masses for their souls if they miscarry. The men at arms, more successful than friar Middleton, vanquish and kill the felon sow; and the convent sing

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