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WITH considerable diffidence I submit to the reader, a new edition of my Father's Collection of Old Ballads; and would willingly dismiss it without a single prefatory observation, did it not appear incumbent on me, to state the nature of the alterations I have presumed to make, in a work which has been honoured by the public appro­bation.

The repeated perusal of Percy's Reliques of Ancient Poetry, first suggested to the late editor, the idea of the present work. The genius and taste, which pervade that beautiful compilation, fascinated his at­tention, and excited his curiosity: he re­gretted, that the Doctor had confined his work to the scanty limits of three volumes, and he resolved to collect the scattered ballads, which were yet to be found dis­persed though various libraries, in hopes they might furnish the same entertain­ment to others, that he had himself de­rived from them. I will here take the liberty of saying a few words on the Re­liques of Ancient Poetry; I esteem it the most elegant compilation of the early poetry of a nation that has ever appeared in any acre or country. Every page evin­ces the refined taste, the genius and lear­n of the editor; it deserved, and has received unbounded applause from men fully capable of appreciating its merits. It must be remembered to its praise, that when it first appeared, nothing had been Published, that deserved the Dame of a history of our early poetry; the field was unexplored, and Percy threw a steady light on the subject, which first stimulated the public to the acquisition of more extensive and accurate information.  His work has been attacked with unusual acrimony by Ritson; the editor has been branded with ignorance, imposition, and every species of reproach which malignity could suggest; and every fault which learned petulance could discover, has been pointed out with a curious and offensive officiousness: even the profession of the Doctor has not escaped numerous sneers; and it is singular, that a man whose own avocation has been the constant theme of vulgar animadversion should. have conde­scended to this lowest species of ribaldry. I have dilated with pleasure on the merits of Bishop Percy's work; I will now state with the sincerest humility, what I esteem its only serious imperfection; I conceive it to be the duty of an editor, to republish every work in the state he finds it in ancient copies or manuscripts, and not to make arbitrary alterations, without previously informing his readers; and still less pardonable is it to pretend that he possesses an ancient manuscript, in which his new readings are to be found. The alterations of Percy are numerous: I am convinced that hardly a single poem, I had almost said a single page, is to be found in the work, in which material changes are not made. I will willingly concede that these (abstractedly considered), may have been improvements; but I contend that when such alterations are frequent, syste­matic, and unnoticed, the poetry of differ­ent ages is confounded; the reader is in a state of perpetual delusion, he is deprived of some pleasure, and much instruction in marking the progress of our ancient bards in the refinement of their diction, and the euphony of their numbers; it would be invidious to dwell on the minor defects, of a work of so much excellence. I cheerfully pass them over, and shall simply state, that the venerable prelate has ascribed a false importance to the English ballad singer, who never was

"High placed in hall, a welcome guest,"

like the more fortunate foreigner, who visit­ed this island; but was compelled to earn a scanty subsistence, by chaunting his ballads, and playing his crowd for the amuse­ment of the middling, and lower classes of society.

In the year 1777, the late Mr. Evans published the first edition of this Collec­tion in two volumes. Its success surpas­sed his warmest expectations; a large im­pression was soon exhausted, and the encreasing demand for copies induced him to reprint, and encouraged him to extend the work. In 1784, a second edition appeared in four volumes; this latter edition was as fortunate as its predecessor; it has long since been out of print, and had begun to be numbered among the scarcities of collectors.

The attention of the public has been re­cently directed to every branch of our ancient literature. The poetical depart­ment has been explored with avidity, and every recovered fragment has been cher­ished with almost a romantic enthusiasm; such researches caused the enquiries for the present collection to be renewed, and the office of superintending it seemed naturally to devolve on one, so nearly allied to the late editor. For a long time I shrunk from the undertaking, conscious of my want of leisure and abilities to do Justice to it, and I had nearly relinquished it altogether, when the unexpected access to some new and interesting, materials, finally determined me to engage in a revi­sion and enlargement of the work.

I will now succinctly state the alter­ations. that have been made in, the present edition, and whence the materials for the additions have been chiefly drawn. Wherever I have had an opportunity, I have collated the ballads with the earliest editions, which were frequently inaccessible to the late editor, and have restored the genuine readings, which had been materi­ally changed, and deteriorated in the modern copies.

I have omitted all the poems of Gold­smith, Gray, Sir William Jones, Chatterton and other eminent modern writers, whose works have been  collected, and may be presumed to be in the reader's possession. I hope I shall not be charged with a want of gallantry, for leaving out the effusions of Mrs. Robinson, and Helen Maria Williams. I felt no tenderness for the feeble productions of Jerningham,  Ball, Blacklock, and a few others; they never deserved a place in this collection, and even had they possessed more merit than they can claim, it must be admitted that they occupied too large a portion of a work destined to exhibit the legitimate productions of our early Minstrels.

These omissions, and the augmentation of the size of each volume, have enabled me to introduce a considerable number of ancient productions; in any of which are of rare Occurrence, and have not been inserted, in any other collection.

The late Duke of Roxburghe possessed a very singular, and almost matchless collection of Old Ballads. The history of these I will subjoin in the words of Mr. Nicol, extracted from ail, unpublished preface to the Catalogue of his friend and patron:

"This  collection of Ancient Ballads was originally formed for the celebrated library of the Earl of Oxford, in the beginning of the last century, and was then supposed to exceed the famous Pepys Collection at Cambridge. It was obtained, as well as many other curious articles, from the Har­leian Library by Mr. West, at whose sale it was purchased by Major Pearson, a gen­tleman, who had made old English litera­ture his particular study; in his possession, with the assistance of his  friend Mr. Isaac Reed, the collection received very great additions, and was hound in two large volumes; in this state it was bought at Major Pearson's sale by the Duke. of Roxburghe. After the industrious exer­tions of two such skilful collectors as Major Pearson and Mr. Reed, the Duke did not flatter himself with ever being able to add much to the collection; but as usual he undervalued his own industry. Finding that his success far exceeded his expectations, he determined to add a third volume to the collection. Among these new acquisitions are some very rare ballads; one quoted by Hamlet, of which no other is now known to exist."*

This valuable collection has been dili­gently examined, and I hope, very consi­derable advantage has been derived from it.

The Pepys Collection, at Magdalen College, Cambridge, in five volumes folio, furnished some materials, which have been duly acknowledged in the progress of this ­work.

To the Rev. Mr. Todd I am indebted for the inspection of many rarities, and for two poems taken from a manuscript in his possession. Mr. Douce most obligingly favoured me with the loan of some scarce articles, particularly two volumes of Old Ballads, originally collected by the late Mr. Baynes, one of the few persons distin­guished by the praise of Ritson. In expressing my thanks to Mr. Todd, and Mr. Douce, I must not confine myself to the sub­ject of books lent; I have applied to them for the solution of some difficulties I was unable to explain, and have always found them extremely liberal, and communicative, and entitled to my warmest acknowledgements.

The most difficult part of this undertaking, is to express the gratitude I feel to my friends, Messrs. George and William Nicol, for the uniform kindness, with which they have promoted the prosecution of this work. By their intervention, I in­spected the Roxburghe Collection, and can confidently say, they could not have displayed more zeal, had they themselves been personally interested.

It would be superfluous and ridiculously ostentatious, to enumerate every book made use of in the compilation, of this work. I have pointed out the leading sources, whence. the materials have been drawn. It will afford me, much gratification,  should the publick esteem this new edition improved by the researches of the editor; if otherwise, his efforts cannot be too soon consigned to oblivion,

"The family vault of all the Capulets."

It is only necessary to add, that the poems contained in the first volume (ex­cept No. V.), are now first printed in this collection. The additional matter, inter­spersed through the other volumes, is dis­tinguished by a † prefixed to the title in the general table of contents, annexed to the first volume.



* See, Vol. 1 . p. 7.


The reader will please to make the following correction in vol. 3. p. 63. instead of

Through the Town of Fortune we did him bring,


Through the Town of Forden we did him bring,

In the note subjoined at the bottom of the page, I had intimated my dissent from Mr. Weber's emendation; a subsequent inspection of Speed's Theatre of Great Britain, enables me to restore the genuine reading.


1. A Nosegay always sweet, for Lovers to send for tokens of Love

2. Jepha, Judge of Israel

3. The Constancy of Susanna

4. Ancient Song, from Lusty Juventus

5. Ancient Drinking Song, from Gammer Gurton's Needle

6. Yorkshire Song, by Elderton 1584

7. A most sweet Song of an English Merchant, born in Chichester

8. Fair Portion for a Fair Maid

9. Country Lass

10. A Maiden's Nay, or I Love Not You

11. Young Palmus and fair Sheldra

12. Proper New Song, by a Student in Cambridge

13. Address to a Disappointed Lover wearing a Willow branch

14. The Deceased Maiden Lover

15. True Maid of the South

16. Pleasant History of Alexander and Lodwicke

17. London Lass's Lamentation

18. Lovely Northern Lass

19. Fickle Northern Lass 

20. Stout Cripple of Cornwall

21. Lamentation of John Musgrave, executed at Kendal, for robbing the King's Receiver

22. Jockie is Growne a Gentleman

23. Complaint of the Shepherd Harpalus

24. Shepherd's Delight

25. Northern Lass's Lamentation

26. A Lover's Praise of his Lady

27. Fain would I have a Pretty Thing

28. Ballad from the Romance of Fragosa and his three Sons

29. Maiden's Vow, that would Marry and knew not how

30. Maid's Complaint of her Mother

31. Rare example of a Virtuous Maid in Paris, burnt for Popery

32. The Mad Man's Morrice

33. Urchin's Dance

34. The Elves Dance

35. Old Christmas Returned

36. The Merry Hostess

37. The Little Barley-Corn

38. Good Fellow's Frolic

39. London Ordinary, or every Man in his Humour

40. The Cruel Shrow

41. Merry Careless Lover

41.* Married Man's Lesson

42. Merry Jest of John Tomson and his Wife

43. Countryman's Bill of Charges for coming to London

44. Robin Good-Fellow's Adventures at a Wedding

45. True Relation of one Susan Higges, executed for Robbery and Murder

46. Maiden's Tragedy

47. Young Seaman's Misfortune

48. Dorastus and Faunia

49. Death of Iffida

50. Rossalind's Ditty

51. Pithias's Lament for the Loss of Damon

52. Old Tithon

53. Three-Man's Song

54. Three-Man's Song

55. Song from the fair Maid of the Exchange

56. Hedone

57. Lullaby Song

58. Lullaby Song

59. Lullaby Song

60. The May Pole

61. May-Day Song

62. Symptoms of Love

63. Shepherd's Love for Philliday

64. Maiden's Complaint of her Love's Inconstancy

65. No Constancy in Man

66. Lady Wronged by False Suspect

67. The New Balow

68. Musidurus and Amadine

69. Countryman's Lamentation for the Death of his Cow

70. Take Time while 'tis offered

71. Wanton Wife of Bath

72. Most excellent Ditty of Sampson and the Philistines

73. David and Bath-Sheba

74. The Dead Man's Song

75. The Turtle Dove

76. Mad kind of Wooing

77. Nothing to be had without Money

77.* Lewd Life of a Marchant's Sonne of London

78. Shepherd's Slumber

79. The Barginet of Antimachus

80. The Lover compareth himself to the Painful Falconer

81. Merry Ballet of the Hathorne Tree

82. The Woodman's Walk

83. Jack Dove's Resolution

84. Alphonso and Ganselo

85. Pleasant, Ballad of two Lovers

86. Courage Crowned with Conquest, or Sir Eglamore and the Dragon

87. Sir Hugh the Grime

88. The Seven Champions

[Listing for other Volumes]


1 Duke of Cornwall's Daughter

2 Noble acts of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table

3 King Alfred and the Shepherd

4 King Edgar's deception in Love

5 The freeing of Coventry by Gordina Countess of Coventry

6 The Valiant Courage and Policy of the Kentishmen

7 The Brave Men of Rent

8 Memorables of the Montgomeries

9 The Drowning of the Children of King Henry the First as they came from France

10 Strange Lives of two Young Princes of England

11 King Henry the Second crowning his Son in his life­time

12 The Unfortunate Concubine; or, Rosamond's Over­throw

13 The Lamentation of Queen Elinor, Wife to Henry the Second

14 A Princely Song of Richard Cordelion

15 The Pedigree, Education, and Parentage of Robin Hood

16 Robin Hood's Progress to Nottingham

17 ---------------  and the Pindar of Wakefield

18 ---------------  and the Bishop

19 ---------------  and the Butcher

20 ---------------  and the Tanner

21 ---------------  and the Jolly Tinker

22 ---------------  and Allen a Dale

23 ---------------  and the Shepherd

24 Robin Rood's Meeting and Fighting with his Cousin Scarlet

25 The Famous Battle between Robin Hood and the Curtal Friar

26 Robin Hood's famous Archery before Queen Catherine

27 ---------------  Chase; or Merry Progress between Robin Hood and King Henry

28 ---------------  Golden Prize

29 ---------------  rescuing Will. Stutely from the Sheriff

30 The Noble Fisherman; or, Robin Rood's Preferment

31 Robin Hood's Delight

32† ---------------  and the Beggar

33   ---------------  turned Beggar

34 Little John and the Four Beggars

35 Robin Hood and the Ranger

36 ---------------  and Little John

37 Robin Hood's Entertainment of the Bishop of Hereford

38 ---------------  rescuing the Widow's Three Sons from the Sheriff

39† --------------  and Maid Marian

40 The King's Disguise and Friendship with Robin Hood

40* Robin Hood and the Golden Arrow

41 ---------------  and the Valiant Knight

42 Robin Hood's Death and Burial

43 Epitaph

44 Warning Piece to England; or, the Fall of Queen Eleanor, Wife of Edward the First

45 Song of Queen Isabel, with the Fall of the Spencers

45† Edward the Second's Deposition and imprisonment in Berkeley Castle

46 Lamentable and Cruel Murder of King Edward the Second

47 Doleful Lamentation of the Lord Matrevers and Sir Tho. Gurney

48 Edward the Third's Expedition to Brabant

49 Edward the Third and the Countess of Salisbury

50 The Winning of the Isle of Man by the Earl of Salisbury

51 Rebellion of Wat Tyler, Jack Straw, and others, against King Richard the Second

52 Banishment of the Dukes of Hereford and Norfolk by Richard the Second

53 Sir Richard Whittington’s advancement

54 Deposition of Richard the Second, and his Murder in Pomfret Castle

55† Siege of Harfleur and Battle of Agincourt

56 The Victory of Agincourt

57 The Wooing of Queen Catherine by Owen Tudor

58 Cupid's Revenge


1 Lamentable Fall of the Dutchess of Gloucester, Wife to Duke Humphry

2 Princely Wooing of the Fair Maid of London

3 Cruel Murder of Edward V. and the Duke of York in the Tower

4 Life and Death of the great Duke of Buckingham

5† Sorrowful Song of the miserable end of Banister who betrayed the Duke of Buckingham

6 Life and Death of Richard III.

7 Union of the Red and White Rose

8† Delightful Song of the Four Famous Feasts of England

9 Rueful Lamentation on the Death of Queen Elizabeth, Wife of Henry VII.

10 Marriage of Margaret Daughter of Henry VIII. to James IV. of Scotland

11† The King's [Henry VIII.] Balad

12† Floddon Field

13† Ballad of the Battle of Floddon Field

15 The Story of III May-day

16 A Song of an English Knight that married Lady Mary, Sister to Henry VIII.

17 Doleful Complaints of Anne Boleyn

18 Doleful Death of Queen Jane, Wife to Henry VIII.

19 Princely Song of the Six Queens that were married to Henry VIII.

20 Johnny Armstrong's Last Good Night

21 Sir John Armstrong and Musgrave's contest

22† Anne Askew, burnt for heresy

23† The Hospitable Oak

24† Description of a most noble Lady (Queen Mary)

25 Lamentable Ditty on the Death of Lord Guildford Dudley and Lady Jane Grey

26 Lamentable Complaint of Queen Mary for the unkind departure of Philip

27 The Battle of Corichie

28 The Dutchess of Suffolk's calamity

29 Queen Elizabeth's behaviour at Tilbury

30 Life and Death of Lord Stukely

31 Queen Elizabeth's Champion, or a Victory obtained by Lord Essex over the Emperor of Germany

32 Lamentable Ditty on the Beheading of Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex

33 Lamentable Ballad on the Earl of Essex's death

34 Life and Death of Queen Elizabeth

35 The Honour of a London Prentice

36 True Lover's Knot untied

37† Song from the Lorde's Mask on the marriage night of the Count Palatine and the Royal Lady Elizabeth

38 Servant's Sorrow for the loss of his mistress Queen Anne, wife of James the First

39 Excellent Song of the Successors of Edward IV.

40† Lord Russell's Farewel

41† Young Jemmy, or the Princely Shepherd (the Duke of Monmouth)

42† England's Darling, or Great Britain's Joy and Hope in the Duke of Monmouth

43 Sea Fight off Cape La Hogue in 1692

44 Complaint and Lamentation of Mistresse Arden of Feversham

45 Lord Wigmore and the Fair Maid of Dunsmore

46 The Cruel Black

47 The Tragedy of Phillis

48 Blew-cap for me

49 Seldom comes the better

50 Love's Lamentable Tragedy

51 Fair Susan of Somersetshire

52 Time's Alteration

53 The Merchant's Son and Beggar-Wench of Hull

54† The Felon Sow and the Freeres of Richmond

55† Truth's Integrity, or Love will find out the way

56† Early Marriage recommended

57 The Spanish Tragedy

58 Roman Charity

59 Notable Example of an ungracious Son who in pride denied his own Father

60 The Mercer's Son of Midhurst and the Clothier's Daughter of Guilford

61† Life and Death of the Two Ladies of Finsbury, that gave Moor-fields to the City

62† Song from the Lord's Mask

63† Constancy protested

64† Freedom from Charms

65† Cupid's Artillery

66† Hopeless Love cured by Derision

67† A Doubt resolved

68† Counsel to a Maid

69† Amintor's Well-a-day

70 Sir James the Ross

71 The Dowy Den

72 Duncan

73 The Fair Penitent

74 Lord George and Lady Dorothy

75 The Renewing of Love

76 The Pleasures of Love


1† Tom Thumb

2† Murder of the two Brothers, Lewis and Edmund West, by the Sons of the Lord Darsy

3 The Poor Child

4 Sympathising Lover

5 Amorous Distress

6 Loyal Lover

7 The Lover's Expostulation

8 Tho Lover's Indifference

9 Bachelor's Plea against Matrimony

10 Caveat against Idle Rumours

11† Sonnet to the Virgin Mary

12† Balade of a Shepharde

13 Sonnet sung before Queen Elizabeth, attributed to the Earl of Essex

14 Sonnet on Elizabeth Markhame

15 Bishop Tharstan and the King of Scots

16 Battle of Cuton Moor

17 Murder of Prince Arthur

18 Prince Edward and Adam Gordon

19 Cumnor Hall

20 Arabella Stuart

21 Anna Bullen

22 The Lady and The Palmer

23 Fair Maniac

24 The Bridal Bed

25 The Lordling Peasant

26 Red-Cross Knight

27 Wandering Maid

28 Triumph of Death

29 Julia

30 Bitter Fruits Of Jealousy

31 Death of Allen

32 Mad Shepherdess

33 Athelgiva

34† Sir John Barley-Corn

35† Mas Mault

36† The Devonshire Nymph

37† Venus's Lament for Adonis

38 Song of Richard, Coeur de Lion

39 Military Song on the French Champion, Roland

40 Song by Thibaut, King of Navarre

41 Laidley Worm of Spindleston Heughs

42 Zayde and Zelindaxa

43 The Hermit of Warkworth

44 Ragnar Lodbrach

45 Hirlas Owain, or the Drinking-Horn of Owen

46 Elphin's Consolation

47† Anglo-Norman Drinking Song

48 Lord Henry and Fair Catherine

49 Cadwallo and Elmira

50 The Prophecy of Queen Emma

51 Death of Earl Oswald

52 Elfrida and Sir James of Perth

53† Ancient Hunting Song

54† A pleasant new Court Song

55† Venus's Search after Cupid

56† Love and Constancy

57† Ungrateful Nanny

58† Song by Sir Robert Aytoun

59† The Duke of Suffolk's Address to Queen Katherine

60† Queen Katherine's Song to the Duke of Suffolk

61† The Marquis of Montrose's Address to his Mistress