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Designs by J. FRANKLIN.
Engravings by T. ARMSTRONG, and G. P. Nicholls. GIL MORRICE
Designs by KENNY Meadows.
Engravings by Smith and LINTON.
Designs by H. J. TOWNSEND.
ROBIN HOOD AND GUY OF GISBORNE
Designs by J. FRANKLIN.
Designs by E. M. Ward.
LTHOUGH various collections of British Ballads have been published, from time to time, since the elegant mind, refined taste, and sound judgment; of Bishop Percy were
brought to bear upon the interesting and important subject, no attempt has been made to select and arrange, in a popular form, the best of these Ballads, from the several volumes in which they are scattered, and mixed up with a mass of inferior, or objectionable, compositions. This appears, indeed, to have been almost the only department of our “ Polite Literature,” to which public attention has not been adequately directed. Yet, without subscribing to the opinion, attributed to high authorities, — “Give me the making of
National Ballads, and I care not who makes the Laws," -- it requires no argument to prove their powerful influence over the thoughts and feelings of all classes — the cultivated as well as the uncultivated. It is not too much to say, that in “uncivill ages" no source of instruction was so fertile, —and no missionary so effective in moulding the general sentiment, as “the blinde crowder” — it may have been, “who, with no rougher voice than rude style,” stirred up the sympathies of the multitude, and moved even the great heart of Sidney, “ more than with a trumpet.” Nor can he be considered a visionary, who would draw conclusions, as to the pre-eminently moral character of Great Britain, from the fact that the songs which encourage virtue and justice, uphold heroic fortitude, and inculcate, as an axiom, that “God defends the right,” have been, in all ages, the chiefest “ darlings of the common people.”
The Editor has here endeavoured to form a selection that shall be agreeable and interesting to the general reader, and not unsatisfactory to the antiquary and the scholar. It has been, however, an essential part of his design, to collect only the Ballads that appear most worthy of preservation, - and not to reprint those which have no stronger recommendation than their rarity; -rejecting none, because they are already sufficiently known, and accepting none, because they are merely
It was his duty to decline no labour that might give completeness to his task; and to omit no opportunities of consulting available sources of information, whether accessible to all readers, or to be obtained only by patient industry and careful search. His plan, in its several details, it is unnecessary for him to explain, inasmuch as it is here sufficiently developed. It will be perceived, that he has not modernised the orthography ; believing, that “these old and antique songs” will be most readily welcomed in their ancient dress, –
“ The garb our Muses wore in former years.”
He did not, however, consider it expedient to follow any chronological order; to have done so, with accuracy, would have been indeed impossible, for there are few of the more ancient compositions to which