Popular Music Of The Olden Time Vol 1

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

Home Main Menu Singing & Playing Order & Order Info Support Search Shopping Discounts



Share page  Visit Us On FB

Previous Contents Next
REIGNS OF JAMES I. AND CHARLES I.                               349
Allot of Canterlury seems to have been abridged and modernized about the time of King James I., from one much older, entitled King John and the Bishop of Canterbury." He adds that " the archness of the 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, entitled King Olfrey and the Allot." " 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." A copy of the last is in the Douce Collection, fol. 110, entitled The King and the Bishop ; another in the Pepys, i. 472; and a third in the Roxburghe, iii. 170. It commences thus:—" In Popish times, when bishops proud In England did bear sway, Their lordships did like princes live, And kept all at obey."
The ballad of The old Allot and King Olfrey is in the Douce Collection, fol. 169. Olfrey is supposed to be a corruption of Alfred.
Mr. Payne Collier, in his Extracts from the Registers of the Stationers' Company, i. 90, prints a ballad entitled The praise of Milkemaydes, .from a manuscript of the time of James L, now in his possession. It is evidently the same as A defence for Mylkemaydes against . the terme of Maioken, which was entered on the Registers in 1563-4. Unfortunately neither the entry, nor Mr. Collier's manuscript, gives the name of the tune to which that ballad was sung. I have a strong persuasion that it was to this air, for it has all the character of antiquity, and I can find no other that would suit the words. The ballad commences thus:—
" Passe not for rybaldes which mylkemaydeB defame, And call them but Malkins, poore Malkins by name; Their trade is as good as anie we knowe, And that it is so I will presently showe.
Downe, a-downe, &c." If, instead of " downe, a-downe, £c." we had the burden complete, " downe, a-downe, downe, hey derry down," I should feel no doubt of its being the air; but the burden is not given at length in the manuscript. The second and sixth stanzas allude to the singing of milkmaids—
"They rise in the morning to heare the larke sing, And welcome with hallettes the summer's comming ; They goe to their kine, and their milking is done Before that some sluggardeB have lookt at the snnne.
Downe, a-downe, &c.
In going to milking, or comming awaie, They sing mery ballettes, or storyes they saye; Their mirth is as pure and as white as their milke; You cannot Bay that of your velvett and silke.
Downe, a-downe," &c.