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Second to the field of Bannockburn. These at least are good authorities for a contradiction of Ritson's assertions.

The genuine minstrel ballads which time has spared to us, Ritson supposes, not willingly, for he had no regard for Percy or his book, to be, 1. The ancient Ballad of Chevy Chace; 2. Battle of Otterbourne; 3. John Dory; 4. Little Musgrave and Lady Barnard; 5. Lord Thomas and Fair Eleanor, and 6. Fair Margaret and Sweet William : "to which," the same scrupulous editor has said "we may possibly add, John Armstrong and Captain Care," These ballads are well known through the numerous publications of Ancient Minstrelsy poured upon us during the last fifty years.

As soon as printing had diffused literature through the land, the place of the minstrels was supplied, and gradually that poetic race sank into neglect and obscurity, frequenting taverns, and accepting the poor man's groat, instead of feasting with the rich and being rewarded with gold. Talent then left their ranks and made its fame known by the printer's type, and blind harpers and indifferent crowders chanted with rude voices songs and ballads still affording pleasure to the public ear. In the early part of Queen Elizabeth's reign, we learn from Puttenham's Art of English Poesie, the Minstrels had totally lost favour,

Intr. to Met. Rom. p. ccxviii.

so that in 1596, an Act of Parliament was passed, classing them with "sturdy beggars, rogues and vagabonds," and adjudging them to be punished as such. The ill-favour into which they had fallen, made Dr. Bull, a satirist of that time, speak of them as

Beggars by one consent,

And rogues by Act of Parliament.

And Stubb's, in his Anatomie of Abuse, published in 1583, quoted by Ritson, has described them as "drunken sockets and bawdy parasites, that sing unclean songs in ale-houses, innes and other public assemblies." Thus the race of Minstrels became extinct.*

* Judging from the lengthy Romances and Ballads which the Minstrels treated our forefathers with, their patience must not have been small. When we would now a days fly to books for amusement, our ancestors called for the harp and the Minstrel's talent, when strains or tales similar to many of Chaucer's were chanted. Troilus and Cressida, the poet directs to be,

-redde where so thou be or ellis songe.

B. v. verse 1796.

The tale it is highly probable was divided into parts or fyttes, for different nights, as Scott has imitated in his Lay of the Last Minstrel, One of the concluding lines of a romance printed by Mr. George Ellis, runs :

And of Ipomydon here is a fytte.

The chief musical instruments in the days of Chaucer were the harp, which the wanton Frere could play on-and the wife of Bath had oft danced to. The sautrie or psaltery on which hendy Nicholas could sweetly play. The rote, the violin, or hurdy gurdy now in use. The citole or cistole, supposed to be the dulcimer. The ribible, probably the rebec or fiddle-and the giterne, the cittern, or guitar. The lute,

The earliest English song, "with or without musical notes," is preserved among the Harleian MSS. [No. 978] it is written in praise of the cuckoo; Ritson refers it to about the year 1250, while Sir John Hawkins gives it to the middle of the fifteenth century. In examining the manuscript, the former date seems to come nearest the antiquity of the old illuminated parchment :

Sumer is icumen in.

Lhude sing cuccu.

Groweth sed and bloweth med

And springth the wde nu.
Sing cuccu.

Awe bleteth after lomb.

Lhouth after calue cu.

Bulluc sterteth. bucke uerteth
Murie sing cuccu.

Cuccu cuccu.

Wel singes thu cuccu

Ne swik yu nauer nu.

Sing cuccu nu. sing cuccu.

Sing cuccu. sing cuccu nu.

From another MS. in the Harleian Library [No. 2253], Ritson* has printed a song "in praise of the

the cymbal, the tabour, the symphonie. The bagpipe, the hornpipe, with "flutes and litlyng hornes," also:

Pipes, trompes, nakeres and clarionnes

That in the bataille blowen blody sounes.

See Hawkins's History of Music,-Burney's Ditto, and Ritson's Ancient Songs.

It is but justice to state that Thomas Warton was the first to publish these songs of the olden time in his History of English Poetry.

author's mistress, whose name was Alysoun;" this is inserted in his first class, comprehending the reigns of Henry III. Edward I. II. and III. and Richard II. It opens thus :

Bytuene Mersh ant Averil

When spray biginneth to springe
The lutel foul hath hire wyl
On hyre lud to synge;
Ich libbet in louelonyinge
For semlokestt of all thynge,
He may me blisse bringe,
Icham in hire brandoun.
An hendy hap ichabbe yhent
Ichot¶ from hevene it is me sent,
From all wymmen my loue is lent
Ant lyht on Alysoun.

He further speaks of

Hire browe broune, hire eyhe blake.
With lossum chere [s]he on me loh ;++
With middel smal ant well ymak.

And in another place,—

Hire swyrett is whittore then the swon.

The same MS. has preserved another song in which the author describes "his beautiful, but unrelenting mistress :"

That sweting is ant ever wes.

"before or about

I would place it," says Warton, the year 1200;" this is one of the verses:

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Blow northerne wynd

Sent thou me my suetyng

Blow northerne wynd, biou, blou, blou.

Another of our old writers has praised his mistress as the fairest maid" betweene Lyncolne ant Lyndesey, Northampton ant Lounde," [i. e. London] in five stanzas, beginning in this very pleasing way:

When the nyhtegale singes the wodes waxen green,
Lef ant gras ant blosme springes in Averyl y wene,
Ant love is to myn herte gon with one spere so kene
Nyht ant day my blod hyt drinkes, myn herte deth me tene.

• She.

↑ Pink.

1 Sunflower.

Durt or distress myself.

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