Popular Music Of The Olden Time Vol 1

Ancient Songs, Ballads, & Dance Tunes, Sheet Music & Lyrics - online book

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136                                   ENGLISH SONG AND BALLAD MUSIC.
GifFord has given the following description of the sport called Barley-break, in a note upon Massinger's Virgin Martyr, act v., sc. 1:—"Barley-break was played by six people* (three of each sex), who were coupled by lot. A piece of ground was then chosen and divided into three compartments, of which the middle one was called Hell. It was the object of the couple condemned to this division, to catch the others, who advanced from the two extremities; in which case a change of situation took place, and hell was filled by the couple who were excluded by pre-occupation, from the other places: in this ' catching,' however, there was some difficulty, as, by the regulations of the game, the middle couple were not to separate before they had succeeded, while the others might break hands when­ever they found themselves hard pressed. When all had been taken in turn, the last couple was said to he in hell, and the game ended." In this description, Gifford does not in any way allude to it as a dance, but Littleton explains Chorus circularis, barley-break, when they dance, taking their hands round. See Payne Collier's note on Dodsley's Old Plays, vol. iii., p. 316. Strutt, in his Sports and Pastimes, quotes only two lines from Sidney, which he takes from Johnson's Dictionary:— " By neighbours praia'd, she went abroad thereby,
At barley-brake her sweet swift feet to try." In the Roxburghe Collection, vol. L, 344, is a ballad called " The Praise of our Country Barley-brake, or—
Cupid's advisement for young men to take Up this loving old sport, called Barley-brake." " To the tune of When this old cap was neio." It commences thus:— " Both young men, maids, and lads, Of what state or degree, Whether south, east, or west,
Or of the north country; I wish you all good health,
That in this summer weather Your sweet-hearts and yourselves Play at barley-break together." &c. Allusions to Parley-break occur repeatedly in our old writers. Mr. M. Mason quotes a description of the pastime with allegorical personages, from Sir John Suckling:—          " Love, Reason, Hate, did once bespeak
Three mates to play at Barley-break ; Love Polly took, and Reason Fancy; And Hate consorts with Pride; so dance they," &c.
WATKIN'S ALE. The tune from Queen Elizabeth's Virginal Book, where it is arranged by Byrd. Ward, in his Lives of the Oresham Professors, states that it is also contained in one of the MSS. formerly belonging to Dr. John Bull. A copy of the original ballad is in the collection of Mr. George Daniel, of Canonbury. Watkin's Ale is referred to in a letter prefixed to Anthony Munday's translation of Gcrilem in
■ Rather, perhaps, by not less than six people. break."— The Guardian, act i., sc. 1. " Heyday! there are a legion of young cupids at liarli-