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Thy silver dishes, for thy meat,
The shepherd swains shall dance and sing
Ven. Trust me, master, it is a choice song, and sweetly sung by honest Maudlin. I now see it was not without cause that our good queen Elizabeth did so often wish herself a milk-maid all the month of May, because they are not troubled with fears and cares, but sing sweetly all the day, and sleep securely all the night: and without doubt, honest, innocent, pretty Maudlin does so. I'll bestow Sir Thomas Overbury's milk-maid's wish upon her, " that she may die in the Spring; and, being dead, may have good store of flowers stuck round about her winding sheet.” ?
THE MILK-MAID'S MOTHER'S ANSWER.
If all the world and love were young,
But Time drives flocks from field to fold;
The flowers do fade, and wanton fields
(1) Dr. Warburton, in his Notes on The Merry Wives of Windsor, ascribes this song to Shakspeare: it is true, Sir Hugh Evans, in the third Act of that play, sings four lines of it; and it occurs in a Collection of Poems said to be Shakspeare's, privled by Thomas Cores for Joho Benson, 12mɔ. 1640. with some variations. On the contrary, it is to be found, with the name of “ Christopher Marlow" to it, in Englund's Helicon; and Walton has just said it was made by Kit Marlow. The reader will judge of these evidences, as he pleases.
As to the song itself, though a beautiful one, it is not so purely pastoral as it is generally thought to be ; buckles of gold; coral clasps and amber studs, silver dishes and ivory tables, are luxuries; and consist not with the parsimony and simplicity of rural life and manners.
(2) Sir Thomas Overbury's character of “a fayre and happy milke-maid," printed with his poem, entitled “The Wife," in 12mo, 1655.
Thy gowns, thy shoes, thy beds of roses,
But could youth last, and love still breed;
To live with thee, and be thy love, Mother. Well! I have done my song. But stay, honest anglers; for I will make Maudlin to sing you one short song more. Maudlin! sing that song that you sung last night, when young Coridon the shepherd played so purely on his oaten pipe to you and your cousin Betty.
Maud. I will, mother.
I married a wife of late,
As my fancy did me move,
But oh! the green sickness
Soon changed her likeness;
But 'tis not so
As all men koow,
Pisc. Well sung, good woman; I thank you. I'll give you another dish of fish one of these days; and then beg another song
of you. Come, scholar! let Maudlin alone: do not you offer to spoil her voice. Look! yonder comes
(1) The judgment of the author in this part of the dialogue is well worth poting. We may observe, that the interlocutors are Piscator and the Milkwoman and that the daughter, except when she sings, and signifies her obedience to her mother in a speech of three words, is silent. It is pretty clear that Venator, after the second song (charmed perhaps with the maidenly inno
mine hostess, to call us to supper. How now! is my brother Peter come?
Hostess. Yes, and a friend with him. They are both glad to hear that you are in these parts; and long to see you: and long to be at supper, for they be very hungry:
More Directions how to fish for, and how to make for the TROUT an
artificial Minnow and Flies; with some merriment. Piscator. Well met, brother Peter! I heard you and a friend would lodge here to-night; and that hath made me to bring my friend to lodge here too. My friend is one that would fain be a brother of the angle: he hath been an angler but this day; and I have taught him how to catch a Chub, by daping with a grasshopper; and the Chub he caught was a lusty one of nineteen inches long. But pray, brother Peter, who is your companion ?
Peter. Brother Piscator, my friend is an honest countryman, and his name is Coridon; and he is a downright witty companion, that met me here purposely to be pleasant and eat a Trout; and I have not yet wetted my line since we met together: but I hope to fit him with a Trout for his breakfast; for I'll be early up.
Pișc. Nay, brother, you shall not stay so long; for, look you! here is a Trout will fill six reasonable bellies.
Come, hostess, dress it presently; and get us what other meat the house will afford; and give us some of your best barley-wine, the good liquor that our honest forefathers did use to drink of; the drink which preserved their health, and made them live so long, and to do so many good deeds.
cence, and probably beauty, of the young woman; for we are told that she is handsome) offers to kiss her; and that Pisoator, an elder and more discreet man, checks him, liest 'he should offend her by too great familiarity. Such is the decorum observable in this elegant work,
Peter. O' my word, this Trout is perfect in season. Come, I thank you, and here is a hearty draught to you, and to all the brothers of the Angle wheresoever they be, and to my young brother's good fortune to-morrow, I will furnish him with a rod, if you will furnish him with , the rest of the tackling: we will set him up and make him a fisher.
And I will tell him one thing for his encouragement, that his fortune hath made him happy to be scholar to such a master; 'a' master that knows as much, both of the nature and breeding of fish, as any man; and can also tell him as well how to catch and cook them, from the Minnow to the Salmon, as any that I ever met withal.
Pisc. Trust me, brother Peter, I find my scholar to be so suitable to my own humour, which is to be free and pleasant and civilly merry, that my resolution is to hide nothing that I know from him. Believe me, scholar, this is my resolution ;'and so here's to you a hearty draught, and to all that love us and the honest art of angling.
Ven. Trust me, good inaster, you shall not sow your seed in barren ground; for I hope to return you an increase answerable to your hopes; but, however, you shall find me obedient, and thankful, and serviceable to my best ability,
Pisc. 'Tis enough, honest scholar! come, let's to supper. Come, my friend Coridon, this Trout looks lovely; it was twenty-two inches when it was taken ! and the belly of it looked, some part of it, as yellow as a marigold, and part of it as white as a lily; and yet, methinks, it looks better in this good sauce.
Cor. Indeed, honest friend, it looks well, and tastes
well: I thank you for it, and so doth my friend Peter, or else he is to blame.
Peter. Yes, and so I do; we all thank you : and, when we have supped, I will get my friend Coridon to sing you a song for requital.
Cor. I will sing a song, if any body will sing another : else, to be plain with you, I will sing none: I am none of those that sing for meat, but for company : I say, 'Tis merry in hall, when men sing all.'
Pisc. I'll promise you I'll sing a song that was lately made, at my request, by Mr. William Basse; one that hath made the choice songs of the Hunter in his career, and of Tom of Bedlam, and many others of note; and this, that I will sing, is in praise of angling.
Cor. And then mine shall be the praise of a Countryman's life. What will the rest sing of?
Peter. I will promise you, I will sing another song in praise of Angling to-morrow night; for we will not part till then; but fish to-morrow, and sup together: and the next day every man leave fishing, and fall to his business.
Ven. 'Tis a match ; and I will provide you a song or a catch against then, too, which shall give some addition of mirth to the company; for we will be civil and as merry as beggars.
Pisc. 'Tis à match, my masters. Let's e'en say grace,
(1) Parody on the adage,
• It's merry in hall,
When beards wag all.' i.e. when all are eating.
() This song, beginning “Forth from my sad and darksome cell," with the music to it, set by Hen. Lawes, is printed in a book entitled Choice Ayres, Songs, and Dialogues, tu sing to the Theorbo, Lute, and Bass Viol, folio, 1675; and in Playford's Antidote against Melancholy, 8vo. 1669; also in Dr. Percy's Reliques of Ancient English Poetry, vol. II. p. 357 ; but in the latter with a mistake, in the last line of the third stanza, of the word Pentarchyc for Pentateuch.