1808 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Martin Parker

Thomas Park, in "The Nightingale warbling forth" Censura Literaria 7 (1808) 53-54.



This Martin Parker, the Nightingale's secretary, as he terms himself, was, according to contemporary information, "the ballad-maker and laureat of London" [author's note: See Naps on Parnassus, 1658, signat. A7. Flecknoe also says, in a Whimsey, printed at the end of his Miscellanies, 1653, "Inspir'd with the spirit of ballating, I shall sing in Martin Parker's veyn"]. Ritson pronounced him "a Grub-street scribbler, and great ballad-monger of Charles the First's time" [author's note: see Ancient English Songs, 1790 p. 239]: but Ritson, possibly, might have softened this stigma, had he met with the present poem, or had he known that Martin Parker was the author of those original words "When the King enjoys his own again," "the most famous and popular air ever heard of in this country" [author's note: This is ascertained from The Gossip's Feast, or Morrall Tales, 1647, which, after a loyal ballad in praise of King Charles, thus proceeds — "The gossips were all pleased with the contents of this antient ballad, and Gammer Gowty-legs replyd 'By my faith, Martin Parker never got a fairer breat; no, not when he pen'd that sweet ballad, When the King enjoys his own again.'" See Ritson's Ancient Songs, p. 229, where he speaks of a new set of words, written to the same tune, at the Restoration. A song, concering Mecurius Britannicus, adapted to this tune may be found at the end of a satirical catechism betwixt a Newter and a Round-head, 1658].

By Martin Parker the true tale of Robin Hood was written in verse, and probably printed in 1631: — it has been reprinted by Ritson from a black-letter copy in 1686. The true story of Guy, Earle of Warwicke, in prose, by Martin Parker, was entered at Stationers' Hall in 1640. By the same writer a ballad entitled John and Joan, or a mad couple well met, is given by Ritson, in Ancient Songs, p. 239. Dr. Percy, before his Reliques, p. xcix, enumerates the Garland of withered roses by Martin Parker, among the b. I. Penny Merriments: and in the mock romance of Don Zara del Fogo, 1656, a marginal note speaks of Martin Parker's heroic poem called Valentine and Orson.