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THE SWEET NEGLECT.
This little madrigal (extracted from Ben. Jonson's Silent Woman,' act 1. sc. 1. first acted in 1609.) is in imitation of a Latin poem printed at the end of the variorum Edit. of Petronius, beginning, Semper munditias, semper Basilissa, decoras, &c." See Whalley's Ben. Jonson, vol. II. p. 420.
Still to be neat, still to be drest,
you were going to a feast :
Give me a looke, give me a face,
THE CHILDREN IN THE WOOD.
The subject of this very popular Ballad (which has been set in so favourable a light by the Spectator, No. 85.) seems to be taken from an old play, intitled, “ lamentable Tragedies; the one of the murder of “ Maister Beech, a chandler in Thames-streete, &c. “ The other of a young child murthered in a wood by “ two ruffins, with the consent of his unkle. By Rob.
Yarrington, 1601, 4to.” Our ballad-maker has strictly followed the play in the description of the father and mother's dying charge: in the uncle's promise to take care of their issue : his hiring two ruffians to destroy his ward, under pretence of sending him to school: their choosing a wood to perpetrate the murder in: one of the ruffians relenting, and a battle ensuing, &c. In other respects he has departed from the play. In the latter the scene is laid in Padua : there is but one child: which is murdered by a sudden stab of the unrelenting ruffian : he is slain himself by his less bloody companion; but ere he dies gives the other a mortal wound : the latter living just long enough to impeach the uncle; who, in consequence of this impeachment, is arraigned and executed by the hand of justice, &c. Whoever compares the play with the ballad, will have no doubt but the former is the original : the language is far more obsolete, and such a vein of simplicity runs through the whole performance, that, had the ballad been written first, there is no doubt but every circumstance of it would have been received into the drama: whereas this was probably built on some Italian novel.
Printed from two ancient copies, one of them in black letter in the Pepys collection. Its title at large is,
“ The Children in the Wood : or, The Norfolk Gentle“ man's Last Will and Testament: to the tune of Ro
ow ponder well, you parents deare,
In time brought forth to light.
In Norfolke dwelt of late,
Most men of his estate.
Sore sicke he was, and like to dye,
No helpe his life could save ;
And both possest one grave.
Each was to other kinde,
And left too babes behinde :
The one a fine and pretty boy,
Not passing three yeares olde;
And fram'd in beautyes molde.
As plainlye doth appeare,
And to his little daughter Jane
Five hundred poundes in gold,
Which might not be controll’d:
Ere they to age should come,
For so the wille did run.
Now, brother, said the dying man,
Look to my children deare; Be good unto my boy and girl,
No friendes else have they here: To God and you I recommend
My children deare this dave; But little while be sure we have
Within this world to staye.
You must be father and mother both,
And uncle all in one ;
When I am dead and gone.
O brother kinde, quoth shee,
To wealth or miserie :
And if you keep them carefully,
Then God will you reward;
you otherwise should deal, God will your deedes regard. With lippes as cold as any stone,
They kist their children small :
With that the teares did fall.
These speeches then their brother spake
To this sicke couple there, The keeping of your little ones
Sweet sister, do not feare:
Nor aught else that I have,
When you are layd in grave.
The parents being dead and gone,
The children home he takes,
Where much of them he makes,
A twelvemonth and a daye,
To make them both awaye.
He bargain'd with two russians strong,
Which were of furious mood,
And slaye them in a wood.