1866 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Richard Brathwait

John Payne Collier, "Shepherds Tales, 1623" in Bibliographical and Critical Account of the Rarest Books (1866) 4:26-28.



This work is in fact the same as Natures Embassie or the Wilde mans Measures, which Brathwayte published with the date of 1621 but as the work does not appear to have sold well under that title, Whitaker, the Stationer, (or Whitakers, as the name is here given,) had a new title-page printed, dating it 1623. The four other title-pages in the course of the volume remain unaltered, and severally bear date in 1621. The pagination continues as far as p. 26, then begins afresh, and continues as far as 264, with new signatures.

This is a circumstance we have not seen noticed by bibliographers, nor the fact, which is here apparent, that Brathwayte was in some way "kinsman" to Sir Richard Hutton, one of the puisne judges of the Court of Common Pleas. The book is dedicated, not to "Sir T. H. the elder Knight," as is the case with the impression of 1621, but to the son of Sir Richard Hutton.

The volume displays much talent, and possesses much variety, and various songs and tunes are mentioned in different parts of it. Among them are, "Peggie Ramsie," "Spaniletto," "the Venetto," "John, come Kisse me," "Wilson's Fancy," and "Touch me gently." The most lively and attractive performance is thus entitled: — "The Shepheards Holyday, reduced in apt measures to Hobbinolls Galliard, or John to the May-pole." It is a musical dialogue between a Shepherd and Shepherdess, Mopso and Marina, and opens thus spiritedly:—

Mopso.
Come, Marina, let's away,
For both Bride and Bridegroome stay.
Fie for shame! Are swaines so long
Pinning of their head-geare on?
Praythee, see
None but wee
Mongst the Swaines are left unreadie.
Fie! make hast,
Bride is past:
Follow me, and I will lead thee.

Mar.
On, my lovely Mopsus, on.
I am readie all is done:
From my head unto my foote
I am fitted each way to't.
Buskins gay,
Gowns of gray,
Best that all our flocks do render:
Hat of stroe,
Platted through;
Cherrie lip, and middle slender.

And so they proceed through many more stanzas than we have room to insert, though all very animated, and pleasantly descriptive of country life. In one of her replies the Shepherdess is rather bold in her invitation, and free in her talk. This is the last poem in the division properly called "Shepherd's Tales."