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'Tis an undoing unto none
That a profession use,
Considering the abuse-
'Tis so decreed,
By a royal deed,
They'll soone be out of fashion,
To have a long vacation-
Their terme's near done,
And shall be begun
No more in London towne." This ballad is attributed to the water poet. One Captain Baily is said by the Rev. George Garrard, in a letter to the Earl of Strafford, to have been the originator, in the year 1634, of a new system of letting out hackney coaches, "about this city ... He hath erected, according to his ability, some four hackney coaches, put his men into livery, and appointed them to stand at the May-pole in the Strand, giving them instructions at what rates to carry men into several parts of the town." (Strafford's Letters and Despatches, vol. i. p. 227.)
10. ROBIN HOOD BALLADS.-Robert Longland, the author of Pierce Plowman's vision, puts into the mouth of a monk the following lines :
“I can not parfitly mi Pater Noster as ye priest it singeth,
Passion 5, fol. 26.
How far these lines may contain a just character of the monks of his day, we leave to be argued by others, but they show clearly, what is more to our purpose at the present time, viz., that Robin Hood was a person of much interest in the fourteenth century. The Roxburghe Collection contains twenty-six ballads, printed between the years 1640 and 1750, commemorating the daring adventures of Robert Fitzooth, (better known as Robin Hood,) and of some of the most distinguished of his followers. Of these twenty-six, eight are subsequent editions; the whole have been printed by Ritson in his most comprehensive collection. Robin Hood, like Robinson Crusoe, can never die, and we freely adopt Drayton's prophecy, as pronounced in his Polyolbion, song twentysixth.
“In this our spacious isle, I think there is not one
But he hath heard some talk of him and Little John;
We must here close our notice of the Roxburghe Ballads—a collection that has but one rival--the Pepysian. It is difficult to say with which the superiority lies. Of the latter, there is no catalogue nor any description more extensive than that given by Mr. Hartshorne in his Book Rarities of the University of Cambridge. We are told, in general terms, that it contains “ about 2000;” but such estimated amounts are extremely fallacious, unless based upon actual counting; and it is not stated whether two-part ballads are reckoned as one or two. In our own case, we have used the word “about," but that is only to cover a possible error of four or five. Giving this superb collection, however, the fullest credit, we are yet happy in being able to say, that although the Roxburghe may be inferior, the entire collection in the National Library (of which we now beg to offer what we believe to be a tolerably correct statement) is not.
Roxburghe Ballads, about
end of the eighteenth century,
the city of London, 1659-1711,
houses, the events of the time of Charles II., and the
Deducting 120 for duplicates, the library of the British Museum possesses at least 2300 broadside ballads, exclusive of second parts. The time, we understand, is near at hand, when this rich mass of ballad literature will be brought together, and so arranged that those who consult it may be enabled to ascertain its contents with as little trouble and loss of time as the nature of such a collection will permit. We can likewise state, with tolerable certainty, that it is in contemplation to draw up a separate catalogue of the ballads. Such a catalogue would form of itself an extremely amusing work, and present a very striking picture of the various changes of the public mind, particularly in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
It was with much pleasure that we read an advertisement of “A Book of Roxburge Ballads, by Mr. Payne Collier." No one so competent to do justice to the task; and we look forward to the “ Book” Mr. Collier promises as likely to afford the public such an idea of the Roxburghe Ballads, as a whole, as occasional extracts, however carefully made, can never give.
ART. III.—The Works of Walter Savage Landor. Two vols.
8vo. London, 1846.
Every author may be regarded as possessing two characters. He is a natural phenomenon, and he is a responsible agent. As the first, he is a subject for observation and philosophical induction. As the second, he is a subject for trial and judgment. Of these two kinds of scrutiny, our purpose in the first is like our purpose in observing any flower or animal—to ascertain its properties and its habits
, in order to gratify our curiosity, and also to deduce from them such conclusions as may be warrantable regarding the nature of which it is a specimen. Our purpose in the second is to determine how far he, as a possessor of a faculty of self-development and self-modification, has acted well or illwhether he is praiseworthy or blameworthy for what he is, and what he has done, and whether his fellow-men should look on him as a model to be copied or a beacon to be shunned.
The best species of criticism is that which accomplishes both kinds of examination, which does the one, and leaves not the other undone. First, there should be made an exact inspection of the phenomenon or thing to distinguish and classify it: Next should follow an impartial appreciation of the merits and demerits of the person or author. Not that in the review there need be any formal and visible succession of these topics, but that, while the subject is handled in the manner most natural to the critic, and conducive to the end in view, he should have constantly in his thoughts the distinction between the author as a social or natural phenomenon, and as a candidate for honour.
It has, perhaps, been too much the way of critics in this country to consider authors in one only of these their aspects. Till a period comparatively recent, critics have devoted themselves almost wholly to the business of trying authors at their judgment seat, enquiring only how far they conformed to, or deviated from, the standard of literary perfection. To do this well, it was of course essential to know the characteristics of the individual on trial; and for that purpose, he was surveyed and examined. But the examination was limited to the points necessary for its specific end, and its results were not made use of for any purpose beside it. No thought was bestowed upon the fact of such an author having appeared at such a time and in such a place—no pains to ascertain what it was in nature, or in society, or in his particular circumstances, that made him what he was; no attempt
to tell of what he was significant in regard to the past, or what he prognosticated in regard to the future. Even the force or power of genius displayed by him attracted for itself little attentionfor if it had been exerted in violation of rule, it was regarded as a thing of no account,-insomuch, that even that of Shakespeare himself could sometimes obtain no more honourable notice than a brief exclamation of wonder at its strength, followed by a lamentation over the misuse and waste which had been made of it.
Of late years, again, criticism, exemplifying the usual law of revulsion, has, so to speak, rioted on the food for which it had formerly a distaste. Now-a-days, the chief attention is bestowed on what are, perhaps, rather the philosophical than the strictly literary properties and significancies of authorship. The examination made of a writer has reference almost exclusively to his phenomenal character; and while the first pains are taken sure his force and ascertain its manner of action, the next are bestowed on investigating the social influences that have fostered and given to it its particular bias, and in drawing such conclusions regarding the people among whom it has appeared, or regarding the human nature in general, as the peculiarities of the manifestation may seem to warrant. Engrossed by their solicitude respecting these topics, critics give but little thought to the other business of their function, that of taking cognizance of the merit of authors, considered as workmen in a manufactory of the beautiful. Some, indeed, seem to be ignorant that they have such business to do. And some who know better their part, perform it in a manner worse than not at all. They give an implied denial to the accuracy of the old distinction between the natural and the beautiful. Teaching that every development of nature is admirable, (which is not true of the moral creation,) they stand prepared to approve all the manifestations of the intellectual power, even the commonest and humblest,—while those that are novel and extraordinary, they welcome with demonstrations of delight. That the new phenomenon is wholly without gracefulness, that his movements are uncouth and lawless, that he is bizarre, contorted, and monstrous, matters nothing to them. They either do not perceive it, or perceiving, do not suffer it to lessen their admiration-for they have trained their minds to regard the productions of nature in the intellectual world, with the same reverential admiration which they yield to her works in the physical creation. And just as they do not presume to censure a nettle because there are roses, or a common pebble because there are diamonds, but, on the contrary, think the one displays the power, skill, and wisdom of nature as admirably as the other; so of intellectual manifestations they will blame no one whatever, provided it be truly natural, have a real spirit of life in it, and be