A PEPYSIAN GARLAND - online book

Black-letter Broadside Ballads Of The years 1595-1639

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A description of a strange fish
Wood 401 (127), B.L., three woodcuts, four columns.
This ballad has been reprinted very inaccurately and with one whole stanza silently omitted in Halliwell-Phillipps's edition of The Marriage of Wit and Wisdom, Shakespeare Society, 1846, p. 95. Strange fishes, as Shakespeare himself bears witness, never failed to attract London crowds. In his Annals John Stow gravely recounts the most incredible marvels about fish: one mentioned there in the year 1606 is scornfully referred to in Ben Jonson's Volpone, 11, i. In later days, too, the attraction held. Thus in June, 1658, Francis Grove printed a book called London's Wonder. Being a most true and positive relation of the taking and killing of a great Whale neer to Greenwich; the said Whale being fifty eight foot in length, twelve foot high, fourteen foot broad, and two foot between the Eyes (Bodleian, Wood 487).
Parker's ballad summarizes some pamphlet which I have not been able to locate, possibly the pamphlet licensed to Nicholas and John Okes on May 16, 1636, as a wonder from the sea &c. of a fish. It is evidently of about the same date as the licenses granted by Sir Henry Herbert to "James Seale to shew a strange fish for half a yeare, the 3d of September, 1632," and to "Francis Sherret, to shew a strange fish for a yeare, from the 10th of Marche, 1635" (Malone's Shakespeare, 1821, xiv, 368; xv, 95). For the tune cf. No. 49.
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