Child's, The English And Scottish Ballads

Volume 7 of 8 from 1860 edition - online book

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ABBOT OF CANTERBURY.                     5
(1 Kings, x. i.) some account of which is given in the Talmud.—See, on the whole subject, Kemble's masterly essay on Salomon and Saturn, printed by the JElfric Society: also Grasse, SagenJcreise des Mit-telalters, p. 466-471; the Grimms' Kinder-und-Haus-rnarchen, vol. iii. p. 236, ed. 1856 ; F. W. V. Schmidt, Taschenbuch deutscher Romanzen, p. 82.
Examples of the riddle-song pure and simple will be found under Captain Wedderburn's Courtship.
This ballad is taken from Percy's Reliques, ii. 329. The copy in Durfey's Pills to Purge Melancholy, iv. 29, or A Collection of Old Ballads, ii. 49, is vastly inferior to the present.
" The common popular ballad of King John and the Abbot," says Percy, " seems to have been abridged and modernized about the time of James I., from one much older, entitled King John and the Bishop of Canterbury. The Editor's folio MS. contains a copy of this last, but in too corrupt a state to be reprinted; it however afforded many lines worth reviving, which will be found inserted in the ensuing stanzas.
" The archness of the following questions and an­swers hath been much admired by our old ballad-makers ; for besides the two copies above mentioned, there is extant another ballad on the same subject, (but of no great antiquity or merit,) entitled King Olfrey and the Abbot. [Old Ball. ii. 55.] Lastly, about the time of the civil wars, when the cry ran against the bishops, some puritan worked up the same story into a very doleful ditty, to a solemn tune, con­cerning King Henry and a Bishop; with this stinging moral:
' Unlearned men hard.matters out can find, When learned bishops princes eyes do blind.'

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