Child's, The English And Scottish Ballads

Volume 4 of 8 from 1860 edition -online book

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We owe the preservation of this beautiful old ballad to Arnold's Chronicle, of which the earliest edition is thought to have been printed in 1502. In Laneham's account of Elizabeth's visit to Kenilworth, the Nut-brown Maid is mentioned as a book by itself, and there is said to be at Oxford a list of books offered for sale at that place in 1520, among which is the Not-Broon Mayd, price one penny; still, the ballad is not known to exist at present in any other ancient form than that of the Chronicle. We have no means of determining the date of the composition, but Percy has justly re­marked that it is not probable that an antiquary would have inserted a piece in his historical collections which he knew to be modern. The language is that of the time at which it was printed.
The ballad seems to have been long forgotten, when it was revived in The Muse's Mercury for June, 1707, (Percy.) There Prior met with it, and, charmed with its merit, he took the story for the foundation of his Henry and Emma. Capel, in 1760, published a collat­ed text from two different editions of the Chronicle,— we suppose that of 1502, and the second, which was printed in 1521, and exhibits some differences. Percy adoPYEd Capel's text with a few alterations, (Reliques, ii. 30.) The text of the edition of 1502 has been twice reprinted since Percy's time: in the Censura

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