Phillida and Corydon.
This sonnet is given from a small quarto MS. in the Editor's possession, written in the time of Queen Elizabeth. Another copy of it, containing some variations, is reprinted in the Muses Library, p. 295, from an ancient miscellany, intitled England's Helicon, 1600, 4to. The author was Nicholas Breton, a writer of some fame in the reign of Elizabeth; who also published an interlude intitled "An old man's lesson and a young man's love," 4to, and many other little pieces in prose and verse, the titles of which may be seen in Winstanley, Ames' Typog. and Osborne's Harl. Catalog. &c. He is mentioned with great respect by Meres, in his second part of Wit's Commonwealth, 1598, f. 283, and is alluded to in Beaumont and Fletcher's Scornful Lady, Act ii. and again in Wit without Money, Act iii.-- See Whalley's Ben Jonson, vol. iii. p. 103.
The present edition is improved by a copy in England's Helicon, edit. 1614. 8vo.
IN the merrie moneth of Maye,
In a morne by break of daye,
With a troupe of damselles playing
Forthe I yode forsooth a maying:
When anon by a wood side,
Where as Maye was in his pride,
I espied all alone
Phillida and Corydon.
Much adoe there was, god wot;
He wold love, and she wold not.
She sayde, "Never man was trewe;"
He says, "None was false to you."
He sayde, hee had lovde her longe:
She sayes, love should have no wronge.
Corydon wold kisse her then:
She sayes, "Maydes must kisse no men,
"Tyll they doe for good and all."
When she made the shepperde call
All the heavens to wytnes truthe,
Never loved a truer youthe.
Then with manie a prettie othe,
Yea and nay, and faithe and trothe;
Suche as seelie shepperdes use
When they will not love abuse,
Love, that had bene long deluded,
Was with kisses sweete concluded;
And Phillida with garlands gaye
Was made the lady of the Maye.
*** The foregoing little pastoral of Phillida and Corydon is one of the songs in "The honourable Entertainment gieven to the Queen's Majestie in Progresse at Elvetham in Hampshire, by the R. H. the Earle of Hertford," 1591, 4to. [Printed by Wolfe. No name of author.] See in that pamphlet,
"The Thirde Daies Entertainment.
"On Wednesday morning about nine o'clock, as her Majestie opened a casement of her gallerie window, ther were three excellent musitians, who being disguised in auncient country attire, did greet her with a pleasant song of Corydon and Phillida, made in three parts for that purpose. The song, as well for the worth of the dittie, as the aptnesse of the note thereto applied, it pleased her Highnesse after it had been once sung to command it againe, and highly to grace it with her cheerefull acceptance and commendation.
"THE PLOWMAN'S SONG.
"In the merrie month of May, &c."
The splendour and magnificence of Elizabeth's reign is no where more strongly painted than in these little diaries of some of her summer excursions to the houses of her nobility; nor could a more acceptable present be given to the world, than a republication of a select number of such details as this of the Entertainment at Elvetham, that at Killing-worth, &c. &c. which so strongly mark the spirit of the times, and present us with scenes so very remote from modern manners.
C Since the above was written, the public hath been gratified with a most complete work on the foregoing subject, intitled, The Progresses and Public Processions of Queen Elizabeth, &c. By John Nichols, F.A.S. Edinb. and Perth, 1788, 2 vols. 4to.