1784
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

A Song.

Morning Herald and Daily Advertiser (23 June 1784).

Mrs. Wrighten


Four double-quatrain stanzas, with a variable refrain. As the Pastoral Ballad sequence makes its way into popular song it becomes difficult to determine just what belongs to the series. While this lyric has little obviously pastoral about it, the verses do contain something of the wily simplicty found in other poems in the series. Young Collin makes love to a humorous lass, leaving us to wonder how the lines would be delivered on stage: "He talks of the parson, the church, and the ring, | In praise too of conjugal chat, | That wedlock, indeed, is an excellent thing, | So I must not get laughing at that." The poem is titled, "Song, composed by Mrs. Wrighten, and Sung by her at Vauxhall Gardens." I have not identified the sprightly Mrs. Wrighten, who to judge from the songs reprinted in the London newspapers must have specialized in this sort of performance.



In the days of my childhood, as sportive I play'd
Among the young lasses around,
I was fond then of laughing, my grandmother said,
None merrier ever was found;
To fill up the moments with joy and delight,
I scarcely knew what I'd be at;
Whatever was pleasing that came to my sight,
I could not help laughing at that.

Still the humour prevails, tho' maturer I'm grown,
I am happy to smile time away;
The frolicks of fancy I still make my own,
And pleasantly spin out the day:
When the dull, or the splenetic, censure or chide
At my innocent freedom and prate,
I titter to hear their nonsensical pride,
For I cannot help laughing at that.

Young Collin declares for a husband I'm fit,
So he courts me from morning to night;
On the charms of my person displays all his wit,
And I own that it gives me delight:
He talks of the parson, the church, and the ring,
In praise too of conjugal chat,
That wedlock, indeed, is an excellent thing,
So I must not get laughing at that.

At length to his wishes, if I should comply,
As at present I seem to incline,
If but on his promises I may rely,
Not to check this good humour of mine,
To church with young Collin I'd soon trip away,
And answer all questions quite pat;
When it comes to the critical word call'd OBEY,
I shall scarcely keep laughing at that.

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