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LYRICS FOR LEGACIES.
OLD I've none, for use or show,
Neither silver to bestow
That each lyric here shall be
Gentle friends, then do but please
NOTE A. DATES.
Born. George Peele
1552? John Lyly
1554? Sir Philip Sidney
1554 Nicholas Breton
1555? Robert Southwell
1560 Michael Drayton
1563 William Shakespeare
1564 Christopher Marlowe
1563 Sir Henry Wotton
1568 Ben Jonson
1574 John Fletcher
1576 George Wither
1588 Thomas Carew
1589 Robert Herrick
1591 Edmund Waller
1605 John Milton
1608 Richard Flecknoe Sir John Suckling
1608? Richard Lovelace
1586 1624? 1595 1631 1616 1593 1639 1637 1625 1667 1639 1674 1687 1674 1678? 1643? 1658
Born. 1776? 1777 1784 1788 1792 1794 1796 1796 1798 1811?
Died. 18— 1844 1859 1845 1822 1835 1821 1849 1845 1849
NOTE B. PAGE 5. Sic Vita. Printed among the poems of Francis Beaumont,—and of Bishop King. Perhaps either of them may have put the lines into this shape, but neither originated them; for morallings to the same tune upon“ Man's Mortalitie,” were much in fashion about that time, and seem modelled upon some traditionary strain.
NOTE C. PAGE 7. The Passionate Shepheard to his Love," that smooth song," as Izak Walton says, “ which was made by Kit Marlowe,” is taken from England's Helicon, A. D. 1600, a collection of short pieces in the pastoral form,—for there are fashions in themes as well as in styles. The phrase “ passionate shepherd” itself was à la mode, and heads the only verses by Shakespeare (“ On a day, alack the day!") which appear in that collection.
NOTE D. PAGE 13. The Character of a Happy Life. “ The variations in the different copies of these verses are unusually numerous; I have collated those of six,” says Mr. Hannah, in his careful edition of“ Poems by Wotton, Raleigh and others” (Pickering, 1845). In our version a few words (humours for
rumours, accusers for oppressors, well-chosen for religious) differ, on good MS. authority, from the ordinary reading : see Hannah, as above, pages 29, 31.
NOTE E. PAGE 29. At Hohenlinden, a forest and village about twenty English miles east of Munich, a French republican army, under Moreau, defeated the Austrians, Dec. 3rd, 1800. It
was the first struggle of the winter campaign of that year, and resulted in an armistice favourable to the French. It has sometimes been stated that Campbell witnessed this battle, or that he visited the field soon after; but the poet had finally quitted Bavaria some six weeks before, and was then at Altona. The value of the lyric is from its general force, not its details, which are inexact.
NOTE F. PAGE 31. Clerk Saunders. This wonderful old ballad was first printed in Scott's Border Minstrelsy, “ from Mr. Herd's MSS. with several corrections from a shorter and more imperfect copy, in the same volume, and one or two conjectural emendations in the arrangement of the stanzas." This version here given is the fruit of further comparison and consideration.
The “clinking bell” was a hand-bell rung before the corpse at the funeral; those who heard it in its passing prayed for the soul of the deceased :
“ And as they sat, they heard a bell clinke
CHAUCER's Pardonere's Tale. “ Chrisom wand” is a conjectural emendation of the meaningless “ chrystal wand,” as hitherto printed.
The words “Old English and Scottish Ballads” awaken as single though complex an idea as if we spoke of Chaucer's Works, or Shakespeare's. Yet the Ballads, as we have them, are the work of a crowd of persons, belonging to different generations and various classes. Many of the versions are imperfect, many of the readings obviously spurious, and one may detect here and there the consequences of the unequal taste and skill, often arbitrarily applied, of the numerous transmitters and recorders. It seems possible, and very desirable, that an Editor, bringing special aptitude and diligence to the task, may sometime be found to bring part, at least, of this tangled heap of treasure into a shape more for the general benefit. The difficulties are not few, and the work, when finished, would need to be its own excuse and justification.
NOTE G. PAGE. 50. To Mary in Heaven was written by Burns in September, 1789, on his farm of Ellisland, near Dumfries, he being then thirty years of age. His wife gave the following
account, or at least the substance of it, according to Allan Cunningham's “ Life of Burns:” “ Robert, though ill of a cold, had busied himself all day long with his shearers in the field, and, as he had got much of the crop in, was in capital spirits. But when the gloaming came, he grew sad about something—he could not rest. He wandered first up the water-side, and then went to the barn-yard ; and I followed him, begging him to come in, as he was ill, and the air was cold and sharp. He always promised, but still remained where he was, striding up and down, and looking at the clear sky, and particularly at a star that shone like another moon. He then threw himself down on some loose sheaves, still continuing to gaze at the star.” When he came in he seemed deeply dejected, and sat down and wrote the first verse: “Thou lingering star,” &c. The subject of his reverie was Mary Campbell, a peasant's daughter, who, when she captivated the Poet, some three or four years before the date given above, was dairy-maid in Coilsfield—“ the Castle of Montgomery." One Sunday in May, the lovers met in a sequestered spot on the banks of the Ayr, to take farewell before Mary's departure, for a time, to her friends in the West Highlands. In parting they exchanged their Bibles, as trothplight, Burns having written in his, along with his name, the two texts,“ And ye shall not swear by my name falsely—I am the Lord;" Levit. xix. 12.; and “ Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oath ;" Matthew, v. 33. This book is in existence, as well as a tress of Mary's hair, which is “ very long, and very light and shining." It was the last meeting of the lovers; Mary died of fever in the following autumn.
NOTE H. PAGE 51. The Northern Star. These lines, with another verse here omitted as inferior, are given in Hone's Table Book (1827), vol. i. page 657, with this preface : “ Some years ago a Tynemouth vessel called The Northern Star' was lost, and the following ballad made on the occasion: the memory of a lady supplies the words.” It is noticeable that strong natural feeling, in a mind where there is usually no poetic skill, can sometimes with success shape its experience into a simple poem.