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ANCIENT POEM S.

27

VI.

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THE NOT-BROWNE MAYD.

The sentimental beauties of this ancient ballad have always recommended it to Readers of taste, notwithstanding the rust of antiquity, which obscures the fiyle and expression. Indeed if it had no other merit, than the having afforded the ground-, work to Prior's HENRY AND EMMA, this ought to preserve. it from oblivion. That we are able to give it in fo correct à manner, is ozving to the great care and exactness of the accurate Editor of the PROLUSIONS 8vo. 1760 ; quho bas formed the text from two copies found in two different edi. tions of Arnolde's Chronicle, a book supposed to be first printed about 1521. From the Copy in the Prolufions the following is printed, with a few additional improvements gathered from another edition of Arnolde's book * preserved in the public Library at Cambridge. All the various readings of this Copy will be found here, either received into the text, or noted in the margin. The references to the Prolufions will few where they occur. In our ancient folio MS. defcribed in the preface, is a very corrupt and defective copy of this ballad, which yet afforded a great improvement in one pasage, les v. 3is.

It has been a much easier task to settle the text of this poem, than to ascertain its date. The Ballad of the NUTBROWNE MAYD was first revived inThe Musés Mercury for June, 1707.” 4to. being prefaced with a little. Ejay on the "od English Poets and Poetry :" in which this poem is concluded to be

near 300 years old,upon reasons, which, though they appear inconclusive to us now, were sufficient to determine Prior ; who there first met with it. However, this opinion had the approbation of the learned WANLIY, an excellent judge of ancient books. For that whatever reJated to the reprinting of this old piece was referred to

Wanley, * This (ovhich my friend Mr. Farmer supposes to be the first Edition ) is in folio : ike folios are numbered at the bottom of the leaf : the Song begins at filio 75. In fighted Edit the poemasanboy collated with a very fine copy that was in the colletion of the late James Weft, E'qi the readings extračled thence are deacted thus ' Mr. W.

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Wanley, appears from two letters of Prior's preserved
in the British Museum (Harl. MSS. N° 3777.] The
Editor of the Prolusions thinks it cannot be older than
the year 1500, because in Sir Thomas More's tale of
The SER JEANT, &c. which was written about that time,
ibere appears a fameness of rhythmus and orthography, and
a very near afhnity of words ana phrases, with those of this
ballad. But this reasoning is not conclufive ; for if Sir
Thomas More made this ballad his model, as is very likely,
ibat will account for the sameness of measure, and in some
respeet for ihat of words and phrases, even tho' this had been
written long before : and as for the orthography, it is well
known that the old Printers reduced that of most books to the
Jandard of their own times. Indeed it is hardly probable
ibat an antiquariany like Arnolde would have injerted it
among bis historical Collections, if it had been then a modern
piece; at least be would have been apt to have named its
author. But to popew bow little can be inferred from a re-
semblance of rhythmus or style, the editor of these volumes has
in bis ancient folio MS. a poem an the Victory of Flodden-
jeld, written in the same numbers, with the same allitera-
tions, and in orthograpby, phraseology, and style nearly re-
Jembling the Visions of Pierce Plowman, wbich are yet known
10 have been compojed above 160 years before that battle.
As this poem is a great curiosity, we shall give a few of the
introductory lines,

" Grant gracious God, grant me this time,
"That I may 'Jay, or I cease, thy selven to please ;
" And Mary his mother, that maketh this world;
And all the seemlie saints, that sitten in heaven;
I will carpe of kings, that conquered full wide,
That dwelled in this land, that was alyes noble ;

Henry the seventh, that soveraigne lord, &c.
With regard to the date of the following ballad, we have
taken a middle course, neither placed it to high as Wanley and
Prior, nor quite jo low as the editor of the Prolusions : we
jould have followed the latter in dividing every other line
into two, but that the whole would then have taken up more
room, than could be allowed it in this volume.

BE

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