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The wiving age
Pepys, i, 384, B.L., four woodcuts, four columns.
The ballad dates at least as early as 1625, as appears from the fact that the ballad next following (No. 42), which is an answer to it, came from the press of John Trundle. Perhaps another limit to the date is to be inferred from the fact that "The siluer Age, or, The World turned backward. To a pleasant new Court tune" (Pepys, 1, 1 54), which is apparently the first of the popular "Age" ballads, was licensed on November 16, 1621 (Arber's Transcript, iv, 61). On that same day "the brasen age" (now lost) was registered by Henry Gosson, and it may have been followed by an "Iron Age," since a ballad of that title is mentioned in Fletcher's Coxcomb, 11, ii. Possibly the popularity of Thomas Heywood's dramas on the various ages had something to do with suggesting these ballads, though the subject-matter of the dramas and the ballads is widely different.
Parker delighted in writing satirical ballads of this nature. Here he ridicules the marriage of young men with widows, while in "A Proverb Old" (No. 40) he strongly urges the wisdom of such a procedure. By following this method consistently, Parker hoped to placate and amuse every class of his hearers: those whom he attacked in one ballad could be sure that in another he would soon defend them or satirize their rivals.
The tune comes from a ballad in the Pepys Collection, 1, 152, called "The Golden Age; or, An Age of plaine-dealing. To a pleasant new Court tune: Or, Whoope, doe me no harme, good many To the latter tune, which is given in Chappell's Popular Music, 1, 208, The Golden Age is, of course, equivalent.