A PEPYSIAN GARLAND - online book

Black-letter Broadside Ballads Of The years 1595-1639

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A number deal with marvellous events or persons,— with the "admirable" teeth and stomach of Nicholas Wood, with a "monstrous strange" fish caught in Cheshire, with a sprightly "pig-faced gentlewoman" who was called Miss Tannakin Skinker, or with the too severely punished Lamenting Lady who bore 365 children at one burden. Fewer demands on one's credulity are made by the romances of Hero and Leander, of a conventionally cruel Western Knight and a Bristol maid, of a Wiltshire Cressid and a doting old dad. Pictures of manners and customs as valuable as those in the comedies of Dekker and Middleton,—coming as they do from another angle of observation,—are given in "Whipping Cheer," "The Rat-catcher," "A Banquet for Sovereign Husbands," and "Turner's Dish of Lenten Stuff." Satires of the foibles of the people abound. Lovers and their ladies are laughed at in "Ten Shillings for a Kiss," "A Proverb Old," and "The Wiving Age"; husbands are depicted as "He-Devils," wives as incorrigible scolds; and all trades and professions are held up to scorn for their dishonest actions. In contrast to these tirades, however, are a number of pleasing ballads written to glorify certain low trades and honest manual labour.
The most important single ballad in the volume is "Francis' New Jig" (No. 1), of the date 1595. This is apparently the only printed Elizabethan jig that has been preserved. Of hardly less interest is the "Country New Jig between Simon and Susan" (No. 21), and there are at least two other ballads (Nos. 29, 36; cf. also No. 38) that perhaps were jigs. A jig may be defined as a miniature comedy or farce, written in ballad-measure, which, at the end of a play, was sung and danced on the stage to ballad-tunes. Thanks to the mystifications of J. P. Collier1 the
1 In his New Facts Regarding the Life of Shakespeare (1835), pp. 18-20, Collier gave an erroneous definition and a specimen jig from a spurious MS. that have deceived his followers. Fleay {Biographical Chronicle of the English Drama, 11, 258), Furness {New Variorum Hamlet, 1, 190), A. W. Ward {History of English Dramatic Literature, 1, 454, 476), and
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