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A belt of straw and ivy-buds,
[Thy silver dishes, for thy meat,
Note.] 5 It has been much disputed whether this song was written by Christopher Marlowe or by Shakespeare. The first time which it appeared in print, as far as can be traced, was in “ The Passionate Pilgrim and other Sonnets, by Mr. William Shakespeare," printed by Jaggard, in 1599, where it is thus given :
Live with me,
and be my love,
A belt of straw and yvye-buds,
VENATOR. Trust me, master, it is a choice song, and sweetly sung by honest Maudlin." I now see it was not without cause that our good queen Elizabeth did so often wish herself a milk-maid all the month of May, because they are not troubled with fears and cares, but sing
VARIATION.) - Viator. Trust me, master, it is a choice song, and sweetly sung by honest Maudlin: I'll bestow Sir Thomas Overbury's milk-maid's wish upon her, That she may die in the Spring, and have good store of flowers stuck round about her winding sheet. – 1st Edit. Note continued.]
Several lines are also quoted in the “ Merry Wives of Windsor," Act. III. Sc. 1., which was first printed in 1602, and upon this evidence it has, with much reason, been attributed to Shakespeare. But in England's Helicon, which was published in 1600, seven years after Marlowe's death, the song occurs as printed by Walton (excepting the trifling variations which have been pointed out,) with the name of Christopher Marlowe attached, and entitled “The passionate Shepherd to his Love.” In the Jew of Malta, however, a tragedy which was written by Marlowe, before 1593, but not printed until 1633, he introduced the first line of the song in the following manner :
“ Thou in whose groves by Dis above,
love." The fact that Walton calls it Marlowe's song, is entitled to very little weight in deciding by whom it was written, because it is certain that his authority for the assertion was his finding Marlowe's name attached to it in “ England's Helicon.” In the second, and every subsequent edition of the Angler, however, he added the sixth stanza, which, as has been well observed, contains images that destroy the simplicity and pastoral character of the piece. The “ Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd," or as Walton calls it, “ The Milk-Maid's Mother's Answer," which is assigned by Walton to Sir Walter Raleigh, was also taken from “England's Helicon," where it was printed with the signature, “S. W. R.” but in most copies of that work, those initials were pasted over, and “Ignoto " substituted for them, which tends to prove that it was not written by Raleigh; and Walton's error probably arose from using a copy in which the alteration had not been made. It is impossible to say who was the author of the “ Nymph's Reply;" but as the first stanza occurs in the poems attributed by Jaggard to Shakespeare, at the end of “Come, live with me," entitled “Love's Answer," the evidence is as strong in favour of his having written so much of it, as that he was the author of “ Come, live with me.”
Walton, it ap pears, also added the sixth stanza of the Reply in the second and subsequent editions of the Angler.
If the popularity of a song is to be estimated by the number of imi
sweetly all the day, and sleep securely all the night: and without doubt, honest, innocent, pretty Maudlin does so. I'll bestow Sir Thomas Overbury's milk-maid's wish upon her, “ that she may die in the Spring; and, being dead, may have good store of flowers stuck round about her winding sheet.”
Variation.[ P and have good store, &c.—Until 5th Edit. Note continued.) tations of it, “ Come, live with me," must have been eminently popular, one of these beginning :
Come, live with me and be my dear," will be found in “ England's Helicon." Dr. Donne has imitated it in a poem, entitled “ The Bait,” commencing :
“Come, live with me, and be my love,
And we will some new pleasures prove,” which Walton has introduced in the text, chap. xii. Herrick, in his Hesperides, vol. i. p. 269, ed. 1825:
“Live, live with me, and thou shalt see." The late editor of Marlowe's Works, has printed the song, vol. iii. p. 419, apparently from a different copy, in which there are few variations. The following is perhaps for the better, 1. 10,
“And twine a thousand fragrant posies." This ballad, Steevens remarks, appears to have furnished Milton with the hint for the last lines of L'Allegro and Penseroso.
The tune to which “ Come, live with me was sung, Sir John Hawkins discovered in a MS. which he says is as old as Shakespeare's time, and will be found in Johnson and Steevens's Shakespeare, ed. 1793, vol. iii. p. 402.
A ballad, entitled Queen Elinor, to the tune of .Come, live with me, is printed in Deloney's “Strange Histories, or Songes and Sonnets,” 12mo. 1607.
Nicolas Breton, in his “ Poste with a Packet of Mad Letters," 1637, 4to. alludes to it in these words :
“ You shall heare the old song that you were wont to like well of, sung by the black browes with the cherrie-cheeke, under the side of the pide-cowe: Come, live with me and be my love: you know the rest, and so I rest."
O “A fair and happy. milk-maid” is one of the “Characters printed with Sir Thomas Overbury's “Wife," of which near twenty editions had been published before Walton wrote his Angler. It is as follows: “A FAIR AND HAPPY MILK-MAID Is a country wench, that is so far from making herself beautiful by art, that one look of hers is able to put all face-physic out of counte
THE MILK-MAID'S MOTHER'S ANSWER. 7
If all the world and love were young,
VARIATION.) . If that. - Shakespeare's Sonnets. Note continued.]
She knows a fair look is but a dumb orator to commend virtue, therefore minds it not. All her excellencies stand in her so silently, as if they had stolen upon her without her knowledge. The lining of her apparel (which is herself) is far better than outsides of tissue: for though she be not arrayed in the spoil of the silkworm, she is decked in innocency, a far better wearing. She doth not, with lying long a bed, spoil both her complexion and conditions ; nature hath taught her too immoderate sleep is rust to the soul; she rises therefore with chanticleer, her dame's cock, and at night makes the lamb her curfew. In milking a cow, and straining the teats through her fingers, it seems that so sweet a milk press makes the milk the whiter or sweeter; for never came almond glue or aromatic ointment of her palm to taint it. The golden ears of corn fall and kiss her feet when she reaps them, as if they wished to be bound and led prisoners by the same hand that felled them. Her breath is her own, which scents all the year long of June, like a new made haycock. She makes her hand hard with labour, and her heart soft with pity: and when winter evenings fall early (sitting at her merry wheel) she sings defiance to the wheel of Fortune. She doth all things with so sweet a grace, it seems ignorance will not suffer her to do ill, being her mind is to do well. She bestows her year's wages at next fair; and in choosing her garments, counts no bravery in the world like decency. The garden and beehive are all her physic and chirurgery, and she lives the longer for it. She dares go alone, and unfold sheep in the night, and fears no manner of ill, because she means none: yet to say truth, she is never alone, for she is still accompanied with old songs, honest thoughts, and prayers, but short ones; yet they have their efficacy, in that they are not pauled with ensuing idle cogitations. Lastly, her dreams are so chaste, that she dare tell them: only a Friday's dream is all her superstition : that she conceals for fear of anger. Thus lives she, and all her care is she may die in Spring-time, to have store of flowers stuck upon her winding sheet.” 12th edit. 8vo. Lond. 1627. E.
7 The first stanza only of this song occurs in the “ Passionate Pilgrim," but the whole in “ England's Helicon," excepting the sixth stanza, which was not printed in the first edition of the Angler. See note ante,
But Timer drives flocks from field to fold ;
The flowers do fade, and wanton fields
Thy gowns, thy shoes, thy beds of roses,
Thy belt of straw, and ivy buds,
[What should we talk of dainties, then,
But could youth last, and love still breed ;
To live with thee, and be thy love. MOTHER." Well! I have done my song. honest anglers; for I will make Maudlin sing you one short song more. Maudlin ! sing that song that you sung last night, when young Coridon the shepherd played so purely on his oaten pipe to you
your cousin Betty. VARIATION.) Time drives the.--England's IIelicon. & And.-Angler, 1st Edit. and England's Helicon. + The rest.— Angler, 1st Edit. and England's Helicon.
" This passage, the reply, and the following song, occur, for the first time, in the fifth Edit. In the preceding editions, Piscator's commendation “Well sung,” &c., is applied to the milk-maid's mother's answer.
Note.) 8 A song, entitled “The Bonny Milk Maid,” in the same metre, is printed in Durfey's Pills to purge Melancholy, vol. i. 1719, 12mo.