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Now gracious God he save owre kynge,
His peple and all his wel wyllynge,
Gef him gode lyfe and gode endynge,
That we with merth mowe savely synge

Deo gratias :
Deo gratias Anglia redde pro victoria.

VI.

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 style 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 so correct a manner, is owing to the great care and exactness of the accurate editor of the Prolusions, 8vo, 1760; who has formed the text from two copies found in two different editions of Arnolde's Chronicle, a book supposed to be first printed about 1521. From the copy in the Prolusions 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 Prolusions will show where they occur. In our ancient folio MS. described in the preface, is a very corrupt and defective copy of this ballad, which yet afforded a great improvement in one passage.- See v. 310.

It has been a much easier task to settle the text of this poem, than to ascertain its date. The ballad of the Not Browne Mayd was first revived in the The Muses Mercury for June 1707, 4to, being prefaced with a little “Essay on the old 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 Wanley, an excellent judge of ancient books. For that whatever related to the reprinting of this old piece was referred to Wanley, appears from two letters of Prior's preserved in the British Museum (Harl. MSS. No. 3777). The editor of the Prolusions thinks it cannot be older than the year 1500, because in Sir Thomas

1 This (which my friend Mr. Farmer supposes to be the first edition) is in folio : the folios are numbered at the bottom of the leaf: the song begins at folio 75. The poem has since been collated with a very fine copy that was in the collection of the late James West, Esq.; the readings extracted thence are denoted thus, Mr. W.'

More's tale of The Serjeant, &c., which was written about that time, there appears a sameness of rhythmus and orthography, and a very near affinity of words and phrases, with those of this ballad. But this rea. soning is not conclusive; for if Sir Thomas More made this ballad his nuodel, as is very likely, that will account for the sameness of measure, and in some respect for that of words and phrases, even though 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 standard of their own times. Indeed, it is hardly probable that an antiquary like Arnolde would have inserted it among his historical Collections, if it had been then a modern piece; at least, he would have been apt to have named its author. But to show how little can be inferred from a resemblance of rhythmus or style, the Editor of these volumes has in his ancient folio MS, a poem on the victory of Flodden-field, written in the same numbers, with the same alliterations, and in orthography, phraseology, and style nearly resembling the Visions of Pierce Plowman, which are yet known to have been composed 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 'say, 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 so high as Wanley and Prior, nor quite 80 low as the editor of the Prolusions : we should 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 it ryght or wrong, these men among

On women do complayne,?
Affyrmynge this, how that it is

À labour spent in vayne
To love them wele, for never a dele

They love a man agayne:
For late a man do what he can

Theyr favour to attayne,

Ver. 2, woman. Prolusions, and Mr. West's copy. 1 My friend, Mr. Farmer, proposes to read the first lines thus, as a Latinism :

Be it right or wrong, 'tis men among,

On women to complayne.

Yetøyf a newe do them persue,

Theyr first true lover than
Laboureth for nought, for from her thought

He is a banyshed man.”
“ I say nat nay, but that all day

It is bothe writ and sayd,
That womans faith is, as who sayth,

All utterly decayd ;
But neverthelesse, ryght good wytnèsse

In this case might be layd,
That they love true, and continue :

Recorde the Not-browne Mayde;
Which, when her love came, her to prove,

To her to make his mone,
Wolde nat depart, for in her hart

She loved but hym alone.” “ Than betwaine us late us dyscus

What was all the manere
Betwayne them two; we wyll also

Tell all the payne and fere
That she was in. Nowe I begyn,

So that ye me answere:
Wherefore all ye that present be,

I pray you gyve an ere.
I am the knyght, I come by nyght,

As secret as I can,
Sayinge · Alas! thus standeth the case,

I am a banyshed man.'”

SHE.

40

“ And I your wyll for to fulfyll,

In this wyll nat refuse,
Trustying to shewe, in wordès fewe,

That men have an yll use,
(To theyr own shame), women to blame,

And causelesse them accuse : Therfore to you I answere nowe, All women to excuse,

V. 11, her, i. e. their.

45

‘Myne owne hart dere, with you what chere?

I pray you tell anone :
For in my mynde, of all mankynde

I love but you alone.

HE.

“ It standeth so: a dede is do

Wherof grete harme shall growe.
My destiny is for to dy

A shamefull deth, I trowe,
Or elles to fle: the one must be :

None other way I knowe,
But to withdrawe as an outlawe,

And take me to my bowe.
Wherfore, adue, my owne hart true,

None other rede I can;
For I must to the grene wode go

Alone, a banyshed man."

SHE.

“O Lord, what is thys worldys blysse

That changeth as the mone!
My somers day in lusty May

Is derked before the none.
I here you say farewell : Nay, nay,

We départ nat so sone.
Why say ye so? wheder wyll ye go ?

Alas, what have ye done?
All my welfàre to sorrowe and care

Sholde chaunge, yf ye were gone:
For in my mynde, of all mankynde

I love but you alone.”

HE. “I can beleve it shall you greve,

And somewhat you dystrayne; But aftyrwarde your paynes harde, Within a day or twayne,

V. 63, The somers. Prol.

Shall sone aslake, and ye shall take

Comfort to you agayne.
Why sholde ye ought? for, to make thought

Your labour were in vayne:
And thus I do, and pray you to,

As hartely as I can:
For I must to the grene wode go

Alone, a banyshed man.”

SHE.
“ Now syth that ye have shewed to me

The secret of your mynde,
I shall be playne to you agayne,

Lyke as ye shall me fynde :
Syth it is so that ye wyll go,

I wolle not leve behynde;
Shall never be sayd the Not-browne May!

Was to her love unkynde.
Make you redy, for so am I,

Allthough it were anone;
For in my mynde, of all mankynde

I love but you alone.”

100

HE.
“ Yet I you rede to take good hede

What men wyll thynke, and say ;
Of yonge and olde it shall be tolde,

That ye be gone away
Your wanton wyll for to fulfill,

In grene wode you to play ;
And that ye myght from your delyght

No lenger make delay.
Rather than ye sholde thus for me

Be called an yll womàn,
Yet wolde I to the grene wode go

Alone, a banyshed man.”

105

V. 91, Shall it never. Prol. and Mr. W.

V. 81, to, i. e. too.
V. 94, Althought. Mr. W.

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