1784
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

I wou'd if I cou'd. A favourite Song.

St. James's Chronicle or British Evening Post (8 June 1784).

Mrs. Wrighten


A Scotch song in three long-lined double-quatrain stanzas "Sung by Mrs. Wrighten, at Vauxhall. Set to Music by Mr. Hook." "Jockey" had appeared in several earlier pastoral lyrics by William Hawkins that may have begun the connection between the Scotch songs and pastoral ballad sequences. On 25 June the Public Advertiser published a similar lyric "Sung by Miss Burnett, at Sadler's Wells, in the new Musical Piece called The Country Wife."



When first my sage Mother began to advise,
"Dearest Nancy (said she) to be virtuous and good,
To treacherous Man shut your Ears and your Eyes."
I promis'd for certain I wou'd if I cou'd.
On the Green when I danc'd, and the Lads call'd me fair,
While sighing and flatt'ring on Tip-toe they stood,
They begg'd I believe them, their Vows were sincere;
I told them I certainly wou'd if I cou'd.

And when my dear Jockey appear'd on the Plain,
Each elderly Maiden and ill-natur'd Prude,
All bid me beware of the blooming young Swain;
I said, with a Sigh, I wou'd if I cou'd.
He approach'd with Delight, and call'd me sweet Maid;
Then whisper'd with all the Respect that he shou'd,
If I offer'd my Hand, you'd refuse, I'm afraid;
I, laughing, reply'd, I wou'd if I cou'd.

Those Smiles are propitious, the Shepherd then cry'd,
Thy Meaning, tho' humble, be soon understood,
We'll meet in the Morn, and I'll make you my Bride;
I promis'd, with Blushes, I wou'd if I cou'd.
We met this blest Morning, and hasten'd away,
For my Shepherd is honest, and faithful, and good:
And I, simple I, said I've love and obey;
But certainly meant, that I wou'd if I cou'd.

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