1  A proper new Ballad, intituled, The wandring Prince of Troy [Pepys 1.84-85]

Author: Anonymous

Recording: A proper new Ballad, intituled, The wandring Prince of Troy

Bodies - health/sickness Death - grief Death - suicide Death - tragedy Emotions - anger Emotions - guilt Emotions - love Emotions - sorrow Employment - sailors/soldiers Gender - courtship Gender - femininity Gender - masculinity History - ancient/mythological History - romance History - villainy Morality - romantic/sexual Places - European Places - extra-European Places - travel/transport Politics - court Politics - foreign affairs Recreation - hospitality Religion - ghosts/spirits Royalty - criticism Royalty - praise Violence - self-inflicted

Song History

This ballad tells the famous classical story of Dido and Aeneas, and it was loosely based on Virgil's Aeneid, a text that was widely available in translation during the early-modern period. The ballad-author played fast and loose with the original, however, sometimes omitting and sometimes inventing significant detail (see Related texts). We have identified twelve known or probable editions from the period between 1564 and 1708, and there were probably many more that have not survived. Editions continued to appear throughout the eighteenth century and A proper new Ballad only faded in popularity after 1800. There is no clear evidence to suggest that it survived as a folksong in the centuries that followed.

The ballad appears to have been successful right from the start, for in 1568-69 Richard Jones registered with the Stationers’ Company a song called ‘the wanderynge prynce moralyzed’. This has not survived but we can be certain that, like other ‘moralisations’, it attempted to take advantage of the original ballad’s popularity by re-writing it in order to convey important godly lessons. This tactic rarely succeeded, and the ‘ale-knights’ in The penniless parliament (1608) - who liked to ‘sing Queen Dido over a cup’ - had clearly missed the pious sequel. The song was valuable in other settings too, and A Merry-conceited fortune-teller (1662) referred in passing to single mothers, abandoned by their partners and ‘enforced to sing Queen Dido over their Cradle’.

The immense popularity and longevity of this song can probably be related to the manner in which it combined several of the themes that were clearly cherished by ballad audiences: romance, tragedy, warfare, history, aristocratic life and supernatural intervention. To bring these all together on a single sheet was a considerable achievement on the part of the anonymous author. It probably helped that there were male and female lead characters, and the ballad reveals a tussle over prominence. On our featured edition, Aeneas dominates the title but Dido has the tune. In verse seven of the text, she is referred to as 'This silly woman' but she is undoubtedly the central character in the story and it seems that the audience is encouraged to feel sympathy for her (see also Related texts). A similar tussle can also be detected in another hit song that uses the same tune: The most Rare and Excellent History,/ Of the Dutchess of Suffolks Callamity. The success of A proper new Ballad may also be reflected in the fact that we have yet to find an earlier use of the subsequently widespread expression, 'wandering Prince'.

Christopher Marsh


A Merry-conceited fortune-teller (1662), p. 21.

Anon, The penniless parliament of threed-bare poets (1608), B1r.

Lindsay Ann Reid, ‘To the tune of “Queen Dido”: The spectropoetics of early modern English balladry’ in Helen Dell and Helen M. Hickey (eds.), Singing death: reflections on music and mortality (2017), pp. 139-53.

Hyder E. Rollins, An analytical index to the ballad-entries (1557-1709) in the Registers of the Company of Stationers of London (1924; Hatboro, Pennsylvania, 1967), no. 2840.

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Featured Tune History

To the tune of 'Queene Dido' (standard name: Troy Town)

The purpose of this section is to provide brief notes on the melody followed by detailed evidence relating to  its career, paying particular attention to the ‘echoes’ (inter-song associations and connections) that may have been set up if it was nominated for the singing of more than one ballad. In the list presented in the ‘Songs and Summaries’ section below, we have endeavoured to include as many of the black-letter ballads that used the tune as possible, under any of its variant names. Titles from our chart of best-sellers are presented in bold type (these are also in colour when there is a link to the relevant ballad page on the website). It should be noted that it is extremely difficult to date many ballads precisely and the chronological order in which the songs are listed is therefore very approximate (we have drawn on previous attempts to date the ballads, making adjustments when additional evidence can be brought into play).  In most cases, we list the earliest surviving edition of a ballad, though in many instances there may have been earlier versions, now lost.

Versions and variations

This tune was known variously as ‘Troy Town’, ‘Queen Dido’, ‘The Wandring Prince of Troy’ and ‘The Dutchess of Suffolk’. All but the last of these titles derived from the hit song under discussion here. The melody was written down in a wide range of printed and manuscript sources during the seventeenth century and was clearly very well known. It appears with our hit ballad’s text in a miscellaneous manuscript of the early seventeenth century, associated with the Shanne family in Yorkshire. This was intended for singing, but the tune can also be found in Robert Creighton’s manuscript of music for virginals (c. 1635-38). Printed versions of the tune appear in song collections such as John Wilson’s Select Ayres (1659) and John Hilton’s Catch that catch can (1667).

The tune remained popular into the eighteenth century, and notation can be found in at least two ballad operas. These examples are all very obviously versions of the same tune but there is considerable variation in melodic details, demonstrating that there was no such thing as an authorised version. Melodies were breathing, living creatures and they appeared in a number of different guises. The tune in John Gay’s ballad opera, Polly (1729), has four beats in a bar and is similar to the example used on our recording, but in Charles Coffey’s The Devil to Pay (1731), we find a triple-time version that seems to be in the Mixolydian mode (the seventh note of the scale is not sharpened, as in a modern major scale). The version we have chosen for our recording is from the famous song collection, Wit and Mirth (edition of 1719-20).

Echoes (an overview)

This tune’s earliest and most potent associations surely derived from the two best-selling songs that are listed in bold type below.  Both ballads presented a female heroine, a narrative that involved travel and exile, and a mood of sobriety.  To these resonances, A proper new Ballad, intituled, The wandring Prince of Troy added a Mediterranean setting, tortured romance, the tragedy of suicide and the prominence of a ghost, while The most rare and excellent History contributed an emphasis on religious devotion.  The two ballads continued to circulate throughout the seventeenth century, interacting with many of the other songs that nominated the tune, most commonly as either as ‘Queen Dido’ (dominant in the early decades) or ‘Troy Town’ (more prominent from c. 1630). 

Many of these additional songs tapped into one or more of the tune’s existing associations: The Royal Wanderer, for example, drew on the melody’s connections with aristocratic exile to tell the tale of Charles Stuart’s flight from England in 1651; several songs – The Spanish Tragedy, Mount Aetna’s flame and A Looking-Glass for Ladies – were set in the Mediterranean world, sometimes in the classical past; and other ballads – The Fair Maid of Dunsmore’s Lamentation, The London Damsels fate and A New Ballad of The Midwives Ghost - presented female heroines who were either undone by harsh experiences in romance, sometimes committing suicide, or who returned to the earth as ghosts with business to complete (see also the work of Lindsay Ann Reid). 

Beyond these examples, there were plenty of godly and moral songs that called for the tune. The melody itself is in a major key and has quite a bright feel, and it is therefore notable that no ballad is known to have deployed it to carry topics that were in any way light or jocular (but see the comments on ‘Bonny Nell’ in the ‘Postscript’, below).  Indeed, the reputation of ‘Queen Dido’ was such that the clergyman, William Slatyer, chose it as one of the ‘common, but solemne tunes’ for the metrical psalms that he published, controversially, in 1630.

There are several indications that some of these songs were connected with one another not just by their shared tune but by inter-textual referencing, whether deliberate or unconscious. In MISERY to be Lamented, for example, the line that concludes several verses, ‘be ready for your dying day’, is reminiscent of ‘And no man knew his dying day’, the final line in A proper new Ballad. The same song is also referenced in The Londoners Lamentation, issued after the Great Fire of London: the last lines of the first verse, ‘Wast lye those buildings were so good,/ And Ashes lye where London stood’, recall ‘Wast lye those walls that were so good,/ And corne now growes where Troy Towne stood’ in the earlier ballad. And in The Sorrowful Mother, the line, ‘her Mothers sorrow was not small’ echoes ‘their griefe and sorrow was not small’ in The most rare and excellent History.

[See 'Postscript', below, for additional notes on the melody].

Songs and Summaries

A proper new Ballad, intituled, The wandring Prince of Troy[.]  To the tune of Queene Dido (first registered 1564-65; John Wright, 1602-46).  Pepys 1.84-5; EBBA 20276.  Gender – courtship, femininity, masculinity; History - ancient/mythological, romance, villainy; Death – grief, suicide, tragedy; Emotions – anger, love, sorrow, guilt; Morality - romantic/sexual; Bodies - health/sickness; Employment - sailors/soldiers; Places - extra-European, European, travel/transport; Politics – court, foreign affairs; Recreation – hospitality; Religion – ghosts; Royalty – criticism, praise; Violence - self-inflicted. The tragic tale of Dido’s demise following the departure from Carthage of her beloved Aeneas, the ‘wandring Prince’.

The most rare and excellent History Of the Dutchesse of Suffolkes calamity… To the tune of Queene Dido (originally composed before c. 1600; Edward Wright, 1611-56).  Roxburghe 1.94-95; EBBA 30064.  Religion – Catholic/Protestant, church, divine intervention, heroism; Family – children/parents; Gender – marriage, femininity, masculinity; History – recent; Violence – interpersonal, punitive; Death – execution; Royalty – praise; Society – rich/poor; Environment – weather; Places – travel/transport, English, European; Politics – controversy, court; Recreation – hospitality. This describes the adventures of the Protestant Duchess of Suffolk who, with her family, fled from England during Mary’s reign, returning home only when Elizabeth came to the throne.

The Spanish Tragedy, Containing the lamentable Murders of Horatio and Bellimperia… To the tune of Queene Dido  (H. Gosson, 1601-40).  Roxburghe 1.364-65; EBBA 30246.  Family – children/parents; Death – suicide, unlawful killing; Emotions – hatred, anger, love; Crime – murder, prison; Politics – court, plots, domestic; Violence –interpersonal, self-inflicted; Gender – marriage, courtship, masculinity; Employment – sailors/soldiers; Places – Spanish, nationalities. Old Hieronimo describes the venomous intrigue that led to the deaths of his son, his wife and many more besides.

A Table of good Nurture... To the tune of, The Earle of Bedford + The second Table of good Nurture, To the tune of, Troy Towne (H. G., 1601-40).  Roxburghe 1.402-03; EBBA 30276.  Religion – moral rules, Christ/God; Employment – apprenticeship/service, professions; Family – children/parents; Society – old/young, rich/poor; Gender – masculinity; Morality – general; Politics – obedience; Royalty – authority.  The second part of this ballad is a set of pithy moral instructions, offered by a patriarchal figure (schoolmaster, father, householder) to his dependants.

The Sinners Supplication.  Confessing his sins, and humbly craving pardon of the Lord… To the tune of, Troy Towne  (Henry Gosson, 1601-40).  Roxburghe 1.378-79; EBBA 30254.  Religion – prayer, Christ/God, heaven/hell, sin/repentance, Bible; Death - godly end; Emotions – hope, longing, anxiety; Society – criticism; Morality – general; Environment – birds, flowers/trees; Places – extra-European.  A deeply repentant individual criticises the world and pleads with God to receive him into heaven.

A new Ballad intituled A myrrour or looking glasse for all sinners. TO THE TUNE of Queene Dido (no printed copies have survived but the song was copied out by hand, c. 1603-16). Shirburn Ballads XXXVI. Religion – sin/repentance, Christ/God, Bible, angels/devils; Death – general, godly end, accident; Emotions – anxiety, excitement, patriotism; Society – rich/poor; Bodies – clothing. A call to repentance, warning all people that death can come at any moment and that the things of the world are not to be loved.

The Royal Wanderer: OR, Gods Providence evidently manifested in the most mysterious Deliverance of the Divine Majesty of CHARLS the Second… to the Tune of, The wandring Prince of Troy, or, Troy town (F. Grove, 1652-62).  Euing 312; EBBA 31952.  Royalty – incognito, praise; Politics – celebration, domestic, Royalist; Bodies – clothing; Emotions – patriotism; Family – siblings; Places – English, European.  This tells the tale of Prince Charles’ escape from England, in disguise and aided by a chain of trusted individuals, following the Battle of Worcester.

MISERY to be Lamented: Or, A Doleful Relation of the sad Accident which befell Lawrence Cawthorn… To the Tune of, Troy Town (F. G., 1661).  Wood 401(185).  Religion – body/soul, sin/repentance, prayer; Death – godly end, illness; Bodies – health/sickness, clothing; Employment – apprenticeship/service, crafts/trades; News – sensational; Emotions – fear; Crime – robbery; Places – English.  A message about the urgent need for repentance is here given extra force by the tale of a young man who was buried in the ground despite being merely unconscious.  

Mount Aetna's flame. OR The Sicilian Wonder… Tune of, Troy Town (F. Coles, T. Vere and J. Wright, 1665-74).  Wood 401 (199).  Death – tragedy; Emotions – wonder; Environment – wonders; News – sensational, international; Places – European.  A song describing the terrible destruction caused in Sicily by an eruption of Mount Etna.

The Londoners Lamentation Wherein is contained a sorrowfull description of the dreadful fire which happened in Pudding-Lane… Tune is, When Troy town, &c. (J. Clark, 1666-67?).  Euing 170; EBBA 31925.  Emotions – wonder; Morality – general; Religion – divine intervention, sin/repentance; Environment  – wonders; Royalty – praise; Family – siblings; Violence – divine; Places – English.  This describes the devastating progress of the Great Fire of London, crediting the King and his brother for bringing the flames under control, and interpreting the tragedy as a call to repentance.  

The WORLDLINGS FAREWELL: Or, The State of a DYING-MAN, who had always preferred Temporal before Eternal Things… To the Tune of Guy of Warwick: or Troy Town (W. Thackeray, T. Passenger, and W. Whitwood, 1666-79).  Pepys 2.15; EBBA 20641.  Death – general, illness, result of immorality; Religion – body/soul, heaven/hell, sin/repentance; Bodies – health/sickness; Emotions – fear; Family – children/parents; Gender – marriage; Morality – general.  A graphic account of the pains of death and the dismal prospects beyond it that await those who concentrate on worldly things to the neglect of their eternal souls. 

The London Damsels fate… Tune of Troy Town (P. Brooksby, 1677-85).  Douce 1 (117b).  Death – heartbreak, suicide; Emotions – love, sorrow; Family – children/parents; Gender – courtship; Morality – familial.  The heartless parents of a young woman prevent her from marrying the man she loves, leading first to his death from heartbreak and then to her suicide.

A Looking-Glass for Ladies… Tune of Queen Dido:  or, Troy Town (F. Coles, T. Vere, J. Wright and J. Clarke, 1675-80).  Pepys 4.81; EBBA 21745.  History – ancient/mythological, romance; Gender – marriage, femininity; Morality – romantic/sexual; Emotions – love, anxiety, joy; Employment – female/male, sailors/soldiers; Politics – foreign affairs; Religion – charity; Recreation – reading/writing; Bodies - adornment.  This commends the constancy of Penelope, who displayed all the required female virtues while her husband, Ulysses, was away fighting for the Greeks in their war against the Trojans.  

A New Ballad of The Midwives Ghost… To the Tune of, When Troy Town &c (T. Vere, 1680).  Pepys 2.145; EBBA 20763.  Crime – infanticide; Death – unlawful killing, result of immorality; Violence – interpersonal; Religion – ghosts; Emotions – guilt; Employment – female, professions; Family – children/parents; Gender – femininity; Morality – familial; News – sensational; Recreation – sight-seeing; Places – English.  The ghost of a midwife haunts her former abode and directs a maid to the bodies of infants whom she murdered and concealed.

A New Wonder: OR, A strange and True Account from Shrewsbury of a Dreadful Storm… To the Tune of, Troy Town (F. Coles, T. Vere, J. Wright, J. Clarke, W. Thackeray and T. Passinger, 1680-81). Wood E 25(97).  Emotions – wonder; Nature – wonders; Religion – divine intervention, sin/repentance, Christ/God; Morality – general; Society – criticism; News – sensational; Places – English.  A call for urgent repentance, provoked by an extraordinary storm in Shrewsbury, during which multi-coloured grains of corn fell from the sky.

The Matchless Murder.  Giving  an Account of the most horrible and bloody murthering of the most worthy Gentlemen Thomas Thin Esq… To the Tune of Troy Town ((J. Conyers, 1682).  Roxburghe 4.60; EBBA 31359.  Crime – murder, prison; Death – unlawful killing; Violence – interpersonal; Emotions – anger, sorrow; Morality – general; News – convicts/crimes; Society – friendship; Places – English, travel/transport.  This describes the callous murder of a much-loved gentleman as he travelled in his coach, and the efforts made to find the killers by his friend, the Duke of Monmouth. 

The Fair Maid of Dunsmore's Lamentation… Tune of, Troy Town (J. Wright, J. Clarke, W. Tha[cke]ray, and T. Passinger, 1682-84).  Roxburghe 2.170-71; EBBA 30646.  Gender – sex, masculinity, femininity; Family – pregnancy/childbirth; Society – rich/poor; Morality – romantic/sexual; Emotions – longing, fear, sorrow, hatred; Death – suicide; Bodies – physique/looks.  Lord Wigmore, Governor of Warwick Castle, is overcome with lust for a shepherd’s daughter and the consequences are tragic.

[A W]arning to Murtherers: OR,  [?The sa]d and Lamentable Relation of the Condemnation, [??]n, and Excecution, of John Gower Coach-Maker… To the Tune of, Troy Town (J. Wright, J. Clarke, W. Tha[ckeray] and T. Passinger, 1682-84).  Pepys 3.358v; EBBA 21374.  Crime – murder; Death – execution, result of immorality, godly end; Gender – marriage; Morality – familial; Religion – sin/repentance; Emotions – sorrow; Places – English.  An account of Gower’s murder of his wife, and of the repentant spirit in which he faced execution.

[?The] Sorrowful Subject, Or Great-Brittains Calamity… To the Tune of, Troy Town (J. Clarke, W. Thackeray and T. Passinger, 1685).  Pepys 2.227; EBBA 20840.  Death – grief, general; Royalty – praise;  Emotions – sorrow, patriotism; Politics – domestic, Royalist; Religion – Christ/God, heaven/hell; Society – rich/poor.  An expression of England’s sense of loss following the death of Charles II.

The Mournful SUBJECTS… To the Tune of, Troy Town; Or, The Dutchess of Suffolk  (J. Deacon, 1685).  Pepys 2.228; EBBA 20841.  Royalty – praise; Death - general; Emotions – sorrow, patriotism; Politics – domestic, Royalist, court; Religion – divine intervention, Christ/God.  A fond farewell to the late Charles II that commends his regal qualities and rebukes those who opposed him.

The Sorrowful Mother, OR, The Pious Daughters Last Farewel…To the Tune of, Troy Town (J. Deacon, 1685-88).  Roxburghe 2.438; EBBA 30904.  Family – children/parents; Religion – body/soul, Christ/God, heaven/hell, angels/devils; Death – godly end, grief, illness; Emotions – sorrow, hope, joy.  A dying woman explains to her mother that there is no need to grieve because she is about to experience the joys of eternal life.  


Not surprisingly, this highly successful tune was also nominated for the performance of various songs that appeared in published collections. These all fit comfortably into one or more of the thematic categories outlined above. Examples include: ‘A Caroll for Christmas day’ in Good and True, Fresh and New Christmas Carols (1642); ‘A lamentable Sonnet of the fall of the great Dutchess of Glocester’ in Cupids Garland (1674); and ‘The Pious Christians Mournful Lamentation’ in Great Britains Call to REPENTANCE (1693).

In 1716, the tune was deployed satirically in order to mock the Jacobite cause in ‘The Stroler, or a hard Fate, but good Fate at last’ (A Collection of State Songs), a song that picked up on the wanderer theme but applied it to a hapless political enemy. A passing reference to the melody, demonstrating its persistent association with tortured romance, occurs in ‘The Tragedie of Bonduca’. Here, one male character is said to be ‘In love, indeed in love, most lamentably loving, to the tune of Queen Dido’ (Comedies and tragedies written by Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher, 1647).

Ross Duffin shows how playwrights sometimes composed songs for the stage with this famous melody in mind. He also suggests that ‘Bonny Nell’, a tune thought to have been lost, is actually ‘Queen Dido’ by another name. If so, then this is an interesting example of a tune with sombre associations that was chosen, with comic intent, for a scurrilous ballad about a beggar woman (Duffin has recently discovered the text of a song about Bonny Nell). The links between text and tune remain highly uncertain, however, and we have therefore not included ballads sung to ‘Bonny Nell’ in the list set out above.

Christopher Marsh


Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher, Comedies and tragedies written by Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher (1647), p. 51.

Charles Coffey, The Devil to Pay (1731), p. 18,

Robert Creighton, virginal book, Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, MS Conservatoire Rés. 1186, fo. 57v.

A Collection of State Songs (1716), pp. 107-110.

Cupids Garland (1674), A8r-B1r.

Ross W. Duffin, Some other note. The lost songs of English Renaissance comedy (Oxford, 2018), pp. 475 and 667-72.

John Gay, Polly (1729), appendix of airs, no. 45.

Good and True, Fresh and New Christmas Carols (1642), A2r-3v.

Great Britains Call to Repentance (1693), pp. 10-14.

John Hilton, Catch that catch can (1667), p. 122.

Lindsay Ann Reid, ‘To the tune of “Queen Dido”. The spectropoetics of early modern English balladry’ in Helen Dell and Helen M. Hickey (eds.), Singing death: reflections on music and mortality (2017), pp. 139-53.

Shanne Family Commonplace Book, British Library MS Add. 38599, fol. 138v (transcription in Simpson).

Claude Simpson, The British Broadside Ballad and its Music (New Brunswick, 1966), pp. 587-90.

William Slatyer, Psalmes, or songs of Sion turned into the language, and set to the tunes of a strange land (1631), table at back.

John Wilson, Select Ayres (1659), p. 94.

Wit and Mirth: or Pills to Purge melancholy (1719-20), vol. 4, p. 266.

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Featured Woodcut History

Standard woodcut name: Woman in charge

The purpose of this section is to provide evidence relating to  the career of the image under discussion, paying particular attention to the ‘reflections’ (inter-song associations and connections) that may have been set up if it was chosen to illustrate more than one ballad. The list given below includes all ballads from the Pepys and Roxburghe collections that feature this woodcut or a close variant (these are the two largest collections, including approximately 3300 sheets, in total). References to ballads from other collections occur only when the featured edition of the song under consideration here (or the featured edition of another song from our list) comes from such a source. Ballads from our chart of best-sellers are presented in bold type, and they also appear in colour where there is a link to another song in the database. Please note, however, that the editions of hit songs listed below are not necessarily those for which digital images are presented on this website. Cross-references to other examples of our featured woodcuts are also presented in bold. It is extremely difficult to date many ballads precisely and the chronological order in which the songs are listed is therefore very approximate (we have drawn on previous attempts to date the ballads, making adjustments when additional evidence can be brought into play).

Reflections (an overview)

This woman, performing gestures that seem to imply command, appeared on numerous ballads in the first half of the seventeenth century. The pointing finger, the extended right arm and the upright position of the head suited this image to several ballads about women whose behaviour, as described in the text, was assertive and sometimes manipulative or domineering.

In various songs, she represented a scold, a misanthropic nurse and a maiden who repulses her suitor with the memorable and lavatorial line, ‘Good Sir, you wrong your Britches’. On our featured edition of A proper new Ballad, she seems to represent the angry ghost of Dido, summoning Aeneas into the afterlife (the ghost’s words appear immediately beneath the image). Elsewhere, she was also paired regularly with a woodcut of an old man reaching into his pocket, the two images combining to conjur up a relationship in which the wife dominates the husband. 

Interestingly, however, the woodcut also made regular appearances on ballads about more wholesome and loving young women – The Honest Wooer is a good example – and one wonders about the cross-currents that were thus set up between positive and negative female types. The interpretations adopted by different viewers must presumably have been informed by the nature of the ballads upon which each of them had previously encountered the Woman in Charge. The same might be said of several ballads on which the picture represents female characters who, to judge by the text, were portrayed more neutrally.

The image was evidently very well known, and it existed in several different versions (individual printers apparently had their own wood-blocks carved so that they could deploy her when the need arose). Some of these blocks became badly damaged, but the woman in this gesture-rich image was able to sustain her air of authority, even after the loss of her right arm! She appears on ballads issued by at least nine different publishers, but almost all examples occurred before c.1650 (she did not, for example, feature on later editions of this hit song). The reasons for her apparent demise are a matter for speculation.

Songs and summaries

Good Sir, you wrong your Britches (I. T., 1597-1626).  Pepys 1.28081; EBBA 20130.  Gender – courtship, masculinity, femininity; Humour – mockery; Recreation – general, alcohol, music. A woman scorns a man’s declarations of loving intent but relents in the end (picture placement: she gestures towards a man who reaches into his pocket).

The cunning Age. OR A re-married Woman repenting her Marriage (John Trundle, 1597-1626).  Pepys 1.412-13; EBBA 20194. Gender – marriage, masculinity, femininity; Emotions – sorrow; Recreations – good fellowship. Three women discuss marriage and the many failings of men (picture placement: she appears on both sides of the ballad, first alongside a woman with a leafy fan and second alongside Queen Elizabeth).

The Golden Age: Or, An Age of plaine-dealing (I.T., 1597-1626).  Pepys 1.152-3; EBBA 20066. Society – criticism; Humour – satire; Employment – crafts/trades. A song that purports to celebrate the fact that all is good and just in the present age (picture placement: she gestures towards a Gallant on Tiles).

An excellent new Ditty: OR, Which proveth that women the best Warriers be, For they made the Devill from earth for to flee (H. G., 1601-40).  Roxburghe 1.108-09; EBBA 30071.  Religion – angels/devils; Society – criticism, rich/poor; Humour – extreme situations/surprises; Gender – femininity; Employment – crafts/trades, professions, female/male; Economy – extortion; Morality – social/economic. The Devil visits earth as a landlord and tempts all sorts of shady characters with a deal that promises immortality, but he runs away in a hurry when confronted with the aggressive cackle of a group of female oyster-sellers (picture placement: she appears, without her right arm, over the third and fourth columns of text, alongside a man in a long, black gown).

The Honest Age (H.G., 1601-40).  Pepys 1.156-7; EBBA 20068. Society – criticism; Humour – satire; Employment – crafts/trades.   A song purporting to celebrate the fact that all is just and true in the current age (picture placement: she, lacking her right arm,  appears alongside a Gallant on Tiles on the right of the sheet).

The praise of our Country Barly-Brake: OR, Cupids advisement for Young-men to take Up this loving old sport (H. Gosson, 1601-40).  Roxburghe 1.344-45; EBBA 30235.  Recreation – games/sports; Gender – courtship; Society – rural life, urban life.  Young people of both sexes are advised to revive the old rural game of barley-break in order to stimulate love, thus bringing benefit to society (picture placement: she appears beneath the title, without her right arm, alongside a mixed group of three, led by a woman carrying a flower).

The praise of Nothing (H. Gosson, 1601-40).  Roxburghe 1.328-29; EBBA 30224.  Gender – courtship; Morality – general; Death – general; Religion – Christ/God, sin/repentance; Society – criticism, rich/poor. A wide-ranging meditation on nothing, emphasising in particular the transience of all that is worldly (picture placement: she stands beneath the title, alongside Akimbo Man with plumed hat).

Here begins a pleasant song of a Mayden faire (Henry Gosson, 1601-40?).  Pepys 1.244-45; EBBA 20112.  Gender – courtship, marriage, masculinity, femininity; Morality – general; Recreation – alcohol, good fellowship. A cautionary tale about a maiden who spent all her money on a young man, only to find that he did not make a good husband (picture placement: she appears twice, first gesturing towards a man holding a scroll, and second, in a heavily damaged version of the woodcut, turning towards a man with his hand in his pocket.

A new Ballad intituled, The Old mans complaint against his wretched sonne (H. G., 1601-40).  Pepys 1.137; EBBA 20004.  Family – children/parents, pregnancy/childbirth; Morality – familial; Society – old and young; Gender – marriage; Death – suicide, general; Emotions – anger, fear; Bodies – health/sickness. An old man is horribly treated by his son and daughter-in-law but justice is done in the end (picture placement: she appears in between two men, one of whom reaches into his pocket).

Sure my Nurse was a witch, OR, The merry Night-wench (H. G, 1601-40).  Pepys 1.204-05; EBBA 20091.  Humour – extreme situations, satire; Recreation – good fellowship, alcohol, games; Employment – crafts/trades, urban; Family – children/parents; Gender – courtship, marriage, masculinity, sex. A London nurse sings a curious lullaby that surveys a range of dissolute male types and concludes that only a yeoman is worth marrying (picture placement: with her right arm missing, she faces a gathering of men on the right of the sheet).

The Countrey mans chat (H. G., 1601-40).  Pepys 1.184-185; EBBA 20082.  Employment – agrarian; Economy – prices/wages, rural/urban; Gender – masculinity; Humour – mockery; Nature – animals, general; Recreation – good fellowship; Society – rural life, neighbours. There are references to female conversation at the beginning and the end, but the majority of the song details an exchange between male farmers about agricultural matters (picture placement: she stands, without her right arm, on the far right of the sheet, facing towards a man who has his back to her).

The Times abuses: OR, Muld-Sacke his grievances briefly exprest (J. Wright, 1602-46).  Roxburghe 1.404-05; EBBA 30277.  Recreation – alcohol; Employment – crafts/trades, apprenticeship/service; Humour – extreme situations/surprises; Society – criticism. ‘Muld-Sacke’ (or Mulled Sack), a personification of alcohol, responds to the abuse of assorted critics by urging everybody to get on with their proper business instead of insulting him (picture placement: she appears, without her pointing arm, on the right side of the sheet, alongside a man in a long, dark gown).

A pleasant new Northerne Song. called the two York-shire Lovers (John Wright, 1602-46).  Roxburghe 1.288-89; EBBA 30203.  Gender – courtship; Bodies – physique/looks; Emotions – longing, love; Employment – agrarian; Nature – animals, birds; Recreation – music; Places – English. A young Yorkshireman chances upon a beautiful maiden who, having heard his declaration of love, agrees to marry him (picture placement: she stands on the right side of the sheet, reaching her hand out towards a front-facing gallant).

A pleasant new Northerne Song, called the two York-shire Lovers (I. W, 1602-46).  Pepys 1.240-241; EBBA 20110.  Gender – courtship; Emotions – love; Bodies – looks/physique; Nature – animals, flowers/trees; Recreation – music, weddings; Employment - agrarian. A man declares his love for a woman and, after initial reluctance, she reciprocates (picture placement: she stands, without her right arm, on the left side of the sheet, alongside a Gallant on Tiles).

Any thing for a quiet life; Or the Married mans bondage to a curst Wife (G. P., 1609-32).  Pepys 1.378-79; EBBA 20175.  Gender – marriage, femininity, masculinity; Family – pregnancy/childbirth; Humour – domestic/familial, mockery; Emotions – sorrow.  A man marries in haste and immediately regrets his attachment to a demanding and domineering woman (picture placement: she gestures towards a man who reaches into his pocket).

The Cucking of a Scould (G. P., 1609-32).  Pepys 1.454; EBBA 20029.  Crime – antisocial, punishment; Gender – femininity; Morality – social/economic; Violence – punitive; Emotions – anger. A detailed description of the behaviour and punishment of a seventeen-year old scold (picture placement: she appears right under the title and there are no other woodcuts).

An excellent Ditty, both merry and witty, Expressing the love of the Youthes of the City (John Grismond, 1616-38).  Pepys 1.242-3; EBBA 20111. Gender – courtship; Society – urban life; Places – English; Recreation – festivals. A positive celebration of courtship (picture placement: she stands, without her right arm, next to a Gallant on Tiles).

A man cannot lose his money, but he shall be mockt too (Francis Grove, 1623-62).  Pepys 1.466-67v; EBBA 20219.  Gender – courtship, femininity, masculinity; Humour – deceit/disguise, mockery; Morality – sexual; Recreation – food; Bodies – clothing.  A naive young man is tricked out of his money by a crafty woman who falsely promises to marry him (picture placement: she appears twice, first alongside a Gallant on Tiles and second with a man who reaches into his pocket).

Knavery in all Trades, OR, Here's an age would make a man mad (F. Grove, 1623-62).  Pepys 1.166-67; EBBA 20073.  Society – criticism; Economy – extortion, hardship, livings; Employment – crafts/trades, professions, urban; Morality – social/economic, general;  Emotions – sorrow. Two men converse about the depressing immorality of the times, highlighting in particular the abuse of the poor by the rich (picture placement: she gestures towards a man with a plumed hat and a sword).

Man's Felicity and Misery: Which is a good wife and a bad (F. Grove, 1623-62).  Pepys 1.392-93; EBBA 20182. Gender – marriage, femininity, adultery/cuckoldry; Humour – extreme situations, domestic/familial; Morality – familial; Family – children/parents, kin; Employment – female; Bodies – looks/physique; Recreation – alcohol, food. A dialogue ballad in which two cousins, Edmund and David, compare the qualities and failings of their wives (picture placement: she stands alongside a woman with a leafy fan on the right side of the sheet).

A Womans Birth, OR A perfect relation more witty then common, Set forth to declare the descent of a Woman (Francis Groves, 1623-62).  Roxburghe 1.466-67; EBBA 30313.  Gender – femininity; History – ancient/mythological; Bodies  - looks/physique, clothing. This describes the creation of woman as a drunken mistake by the gods and traces all the alleged female faults back to this ancient occurrence (picture placement: she stands, without her right arm, over the opening verses and alongside a front-facing gallant).

A proper new Ballad, intituled, The wandring Prince of Troy (John Wright, 1624-46).  Pepys 1.84-85; EBBA 20276. Gender – courtship, femininity, masculinity; History – ancient/mythological, romance; Death – suicide, heartbreak, ghostly abduction, burial/funeral; Emotions – love, anger, despair, fear; Violence – self-inflicted; Politics – controversy; Employment – sailors/soldiers; Morality – romantic/sexual; Family – siblings; Royalty – general; Places – extra-European, travel/transport; Religion – ghosts/spirits. Aeneas, the warrior, wins Dido’s heart but then abandons her, leading first to her suicide and then to her ghostly return in order to claim him (picture placement: she appears on the right, gesturing towards a soldier and immediately above the lines in which the ghost of Dido addresses her former sweetheart).

The two Welsh Lovers (John [     ], 1624-47?).  Pepys 1.270-271; EBBA 20125.  Gender – courtship, femininity, masculinity, adultery/cuckoldry, marriage; Environment – landscape, rivers, flowers/trees; Places – Welsh, nationalities; Recreation - music. A Welsh woman regrets her marriage and resolves to resume her relationship with a former sweetheart (picture placement: on the right of the sheet, she gestures towards a Gallant on Tiles).

Newes from the Tower-hill: OR, A gentle warning to Peg and Kate (E. B., 1624-47?).  Pepys 1.266-267; EBBA 20123.  Gender – masculinity, femininity, sex; Morality – sexual; Recreation – alchohol, food, music; Society – criticism; Places – English. A cautionary tale about two disreputable maidens who tempted a man into two days of immoral behaviour and were then left by him to pay the bill (picture placement: she appears twice on the right of the sheet – once without her right arm – alongside a man who reaches into his pocket).

The distressed Virgin: OR, The false Young-man, and the constant Maid (F. Coules, 1624-80).  Roxburghe 1.90-91; EBBA 30062.  Gender – courtship, Cupid, masculinity, femininity; Morality – romantic/sexual; Death – heartbreak; Emotions – sorrow. A young woman, abandoned by the man to whom she was engaged, expresses her extreme sadness and declares her readiness to die (picture placement: she appears on the right side of the sheet, next to a Gallant on Tiles who faces away from her).

The lovely Northerne Lasse, Who in this ditty here complaining, shewes What harme she got milking her dadyes Ewes (F. Coules, 1624-80).  Roxburghe 1.190-91; EBBA 30133.  Gender – courtship, masculinity, femininity, sex; Morality – romantic/sexual;  Employment – agrarian, female; Family – children/parents. A maiden becomes pregnant by a seductive but unreliable shepherd’s boy but eventually another man falls in love with her and all is well (picture placement: she appears on the right side of the sheet, gesturing towards a Gallant on Tiles who faces away from her).

[Text missing] OR A merry discourse, twixt him and his Joane (F. Coules, 1624-80).  Roxburghe 1.82-83; EBBA 30058.  Gender – marriage, femininity, masculinity; Bodies – clothing; Employment – crafts/trades, female; Recreations – alcohol, food; Emotions – anger, contentment; Society – friendship. A dialogue ballad in which an ale-loving husband appeases his angry wife by promising to mend his ways (picture placement: she stands beneath the title and next to a man in a long black gown).

The merry Old Woman (F. Coules, 1624-80).  Roxburghe 1.268-69; EBBA 30191.  Gender – courthship; Employment – crafts/trades, professions; Recreation – good fellowship, alcohol. An old woman delivers wise advice, first on the selection of marital partners and then on life in general (picture placement: she stands, without her right arm, beneath the title and alongside  a Turning Man in hat).

The paire of Northerne Turtles: Whose love was firme till cruell Death, Depriv'd them both of life and breath (F. Coules, 1624-80).  Roxburghe 1.318-19; EBBA 30219.  Death – illness, heartbreak; Emotions – love, sorrow, grief; Nature – birds; Bodies – health/sickness; Gender – courtship, marriage. In the first part, a dying woman bids a sad farewell to the man she loves, and, in the second, her grieving partner pours out his heart and expresses his wish to join her beyond the grave (picture placement: she appears, without her right arm, on the right side of the sheet, alongside an image of a man and a woman interacting in a domestic interior).

Truths Integrity: OR, A curious Northerne Ditty, called, Love will finde out the way (F. Coules, 1624-80).  Roxburghe 1.426-427; EBBA 30290.  Emotions – love; Gender – courtship, marriage; History – heroism; Society – rich/poor. This rehearses the argument that love is an unstoppable force and cannot be defeated (picture placement: she gestures towards a Gallant on Tiles).

The Westerne Knight, and the young Maid of Bristoll (F. Coules, 1624-80).  Pepys 1.312-313; EBBA 20148.  Gender – courtship, femininity, masculinity, sex; Morality – sexual; Family – pregnancy/childbirth; Places - English.  A knight seduces a young woman with a promise of marriage and then tries to abandon her before doing the right thing in the end (picture placement: she stands, without her right arm, alongside a Gallant on Tiles).

Halfe a dozen of good Wives. All for a penny (F. C., 1624-80).  Roxburghe 1.152-53; EBBA 30096.  Gender – marriage, femininity, adultery/cuckoldry; Humour – extreme situations/surprises; Economy – household; Employment – female/male; Recreation – alchohol; Violence – interpersonal.  A man sets out the faults of each of his six wives and offers to sell them all for a penny (picture placement: she appears on the right side of the sheet but looks over towards a scene in which women beat and humiliate men on the left).

The Honest Wooer, His minde expressing in plaine and few termes, By which to his Mistresse his love he confirmes (F. C., 1624-80).  Roxburghe 1.156-57; EBBA 30098.  Gender – courtship; Emotions – love; History – ancient/mythological, romance.  A plain-talking man declares his love for a woman, and she reciprocates (picture placement: she appears beneath the title, alongside a Gallant on Tiles). 

The praise of London (F. C., 1624-80).  Pepys 1.188-9; EBBA 20084.  Places – English; Society – urban life. A song that praises London for its all-round vibrancy (picture placement: she stands in between a Gallant on Tiles and a woman holding a bouquet on the right side of the sheet).

The two kinde Lovers (F. Coules, 1624-80).  Pepys 1.318-19; EBBA 20151.  Gender – courtship, femininity; Emotion – love; Employment – crafts/trades; Nature – animals; Morality – sexual.  A woman declares her love for her man (picture placement: she stands, without her right arm, alongside a man in a plumed hat).

A merry Dialogue betwixt a married man and his wife (M. Trundle, Widdow, 1626-29).  Pepys 1.388-89; EBBA 20180.  Gender – marriage, femininity, masculinity; Economy – household; Humour – domestic/familial; Emotions – anger;  Employment – general, female; Family – pregnancy/childbirth.  A husband and wife have a furious argument over who works hardest and suffers most (picture placement: she stands, without her right arm, alongside a man who holds a spear).

Constant, faire, and fine Betty. Being The Young-mans praise, of a curious Creature (John Wright the younger, 1634-58).  Roxburghe 1.66-67; EBBA 30046.  Gender – courtship, femininity; Bodies – physique/looks; Emotions – love; History – ancient/mythological; Religion – ancient gods. A man sings the praises of his beautiful and loyal sweetheart, and she responds by declaring her wish to marry him (picture placement: she appears on the right side of the sheet, alongside a Gallant on Tiles).

Cupids wanton wiles: OR, The young mans friendly advice, beware lest Cupid you entice (John Wright the yonger, 1634-58).  Roxburghe 3.172-73; EBBA 30472.  Gender – Cupid, courtship; History – ancient/mythological. The narrator describes Cupid’s immense power over the human heart and expresses his own determination to avoid marriage at all costs (picture placement: she appears beneath the title, gesturing towards an Akimbo man in plumed hat).

The fetching home of May: OR, A pretty new Ditty wherein is made knowne, How each Lasse doth strive for to have a greene Gowne (J. Wright junior, 1634-58).  Roxburghe 1.538-39; EBBA 30357.  Recreation – fairs/festivals, games/sports; Gender – courtship, femininity, masculinity, sex, Cupid; Nature – flowers/trees; History – ancient/mythological; Emotions – longing. An exuberant courtship ballad in which the fetching home of May is strongly associated with youthful love-making (picture placement: she stands on the right side of the sheet, alongside a Couple with leafy fan).

The Batchelor's feast, OR, The difference betwixt, a single life and a double (I. W. the younger, 1634-58).  Roxburghe 1.12-17; EBBA 30015.  Gender – singles, masculinity, femininity, marriage; Emotions – contentment; Family – pregnancy/childbirth, children/parents; Bodies – clothing; Recreation – alcohol, fashions, good fellowship. A bachelor explains why a single life is preferable in all ways to marriage (picture placement: she stands beneath the title and alongside an Akimbo man in plumed hat).

The two Loving Sisters: Wherein the one to the other doth shew, How Cupid in a Dreame did her wooe (E. B., 1649-58).  Roxburghe 1.530-31; EBBA 30353.  Family – siblings; Gender – courtship; History – ancient/mythological; Religion –ancient gods. A conversation between two sisters about marriage, during which the older reveals that she has been visited in the night by Cupid, and the younger suggests that they each seek a husband as a matter of urgency (picture placement: she appears on the right side of the sheet, alongside a front-facing gallant).

The Northerne Turtle: Wayling his vnhappy fate, In being depriued of his sweet Mate (I. H., date unknown).  Pepys 1.373; EBBA 20022.  Death – grief; Emotions – love, sorrow; Gender – marriage.  A man laments the death of his sweetheart (picture placement: she stands on the right of the sheet, without her right arm, alongside a well-dressed man).

Christopher Marsh

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Related Texts

A variety of texts make it clear that the life of Aeneas exercised a powerful hold over the English literary imagination during this period (see list below). The ballad appears to have been in circulation as early as 1564-65, when it was registered to the publisher Thomas Colwell, and thus seems to have played a part in heightening the interest in Aeneas' story, and particularly the tragedy of his romantic relationship with Dido, Queen of Carthage. The Dido of the ballad is far more central to Aeneas' story than she is in, for example, the translation of Virgil's Aeneid that was written by the Elizabethan scholar, Thomas Phaer. In this sense, the ballad is more strongly connected with Chaucer’s late fourteenth-century version of the story, which also focused strongly on the love angle (an emphasis that can be traced back much further to Ovid’s Heroides  - see The heroycall epistles, listed below).

The concentration on Dido was sustained by Christopher Marlowe and others, and in 1634 Robert Stapylton decided to place her name before that of Aeneas in his title (he did not give his reasons, but presumed that 'no man will quarrell with a Lady for place'). His presumption was justified, and Purcell's late-seventeenth century opera, amongst other sources, followed Stapylton's example in privileging Dido.

The same trend towards a strong interest in the Queen of Carthage is reflected in the fact that the tune from our ballad about 'the Wandring Prince of Troy' acquired an alternative name, 'Queen Dido', as it began to do the rounds (see Featured tune history). All in all, the song clearly made a contribution to the centuries-old debate about Dido’s reputation, siding unmistakably with those who presented her as the innocent victim of Aeneas’ disreputable conduct.

A proper new Ballad is also notable for the way in which it telescopes Virgil's romantic action into a much shorter time-period; it assumes, rather than describes, the wooing that brought the lovers together, and Aeneas arrives and leaves again within the space of twenty-four turbulent hours. It seems possible that this was not merely clumsy; arguably, the composer knew that listeners and readers could be relied upon to fill in the details for themselves, based on their existing knowledge of the story.

The ballad-maker also invented significant detail, however - most notably Aeneas' eventual death by supernatural abduction at the direction of Dido's ghost (an occurrence that must also have made it difficult for him to fulfil his destiny as the founder of Rome). Aeneas' removal from earth by 'a multitude of ugly Fiends' contrasts markedly with the cool departure in the arms of his mother, Venus, that Virgil had described. It should be noted, however, that Virgil's Dido did threaten to haunt Aeneas, and she also treated him coldly when he visited her in the underworld; it thus seems that the Elizabethan balladeer based this invention on foundations that Virgil had laid.

The ballad's tendency to encourage sympathy for Dido and criticism of Aeneas is also seen in a complete neglect of the latter's motives for abandoning his lover. It seems possible that the author’s particular interest in the 'female angle' tells us something about the importance of women as ballad-consumers in early modern England, though the military back-story presumably ensured that the song presented something for everyone.

Ovid had also drawn on this famous tale, penning an ‘epistle’ allegedly written by Dido to Aeneas, shortly before her death. This text may have provided a loose precedent for the angry letter written to Aeneas by Dido’s sister in the second part of the ballad. Another of Ovid’s epistles, written to Ulysses by Penelope, also appears to have influenced our ballad about the wandering prince. The Latin statement, iam seges est, ubi Troia fuit, is very closely related to a line in the ballad that runs, ‘And corne now growes where Troy Town stood’. The Latin expression was frequently quoted by early-modern English authors, and sometimes their translations were clearly influenced by the ballad (see Lodge, Smallwood and Udall in ‘References’, below). In a jest published by Thomas Bayly and others, King Charles I is said to have reminded a nobleman ‘That corn now grows where Troy Town stood’. And William Biddulph translated the Latin as ‘Waste lie the wals that were so good,/ And corne now growes where Troy towne stood’. In other words, he inserted before Ovid’s expression an additional line lifted directly from the hit song.

Christopher Marsh

Texts (in chronological order)

Geoffrey Chaucer, ‘The legend of good women’ in The works of Geffray Chaucer newlye printed (1542), ccxxi-ccxxiii.

The xiii bukes of Eneados of the famose poete Virgill translatet out of Latyne verses into Scottish metir, bi the Reverend Father in God, Mayswer Gawin Douglas (1553)

The fourth boke of Virgill, intreating of the love betweene Aeneas and Dido, translated into English, and drawne into a strange metre by Henrye late Earle of Surrey (1554)

Certain bokes of Virgiles Aeneis turned into English meter by the right honorable lorde, Henry Earle of Surrey (1557)

Ovid, The heroycall epistles… in English verse set out and translated by George Turbervile (1567), fos. 1r-2v and 40v-47r.

The whole xii bookes of the AEneidos of Virgill. Whereof the first ix and part of the tenth, were converted into English meeter by Thomas Phaer (1573)

Thee first foure bookes of Virgil his Aeneis translated intoo English heroical verse by Richard Stanyhurst (1582)

Christopher Marlowe, The tragedie of Dido Queene of Carthage played by the Children of her Majesties Chappell (1594)

Didos death. Translated out of the best of Latine poets, into the best of vulgar languages (1622)

John Penkethman, The epigrams of P. Virgilius Maro (1624)

The XII Aeneids of Virgil... translated into English deca-syllables, by John Vicars (1632)

Dido and Aeneas the fourth booke of Virgils Aeneis now Englished by Robert Stapylton (1634)

George Rivers, The heroinae: or, The lives of Arria, Paulina, Lucrecia, Dido... (1639)

The works of Publius Virgilius Maro translated by John Ogilby (1649)

The destruction of Troy, an essay upon the second book of Virgils AEneis (1656)

An essay upon two of Virgil's Eclogues and two books of his AEneis (1658)

The passion of Dido for AEneas As it is incomparably exprest in the fourth book of Virgil... Translated by Edmund Waller and Sidney Godolphin (1658)

AEneas his descent into Hell... Made English by John Boys (1661)

Charles Cotton, Scarronides:, or, Virgile travestie A mock-poem (1664)

John Denham, Poems and translations with the Sophy (1668)

Cataplus, or, AEneas, his descent to hell a mock poem (1672)

Alexander Radcliffe, Ovidius exulans (1673)

Henry Purcell, 'Dido and Aeneas' (opera composed and first performed during the 1680s)

Thomas Fletcher, Poems on several occasions and translations wherein the first and second books of Virgil's AEneis are attempted in English (1692)

John Lewkenor, Metellus his dialogues the first part... with the fourth book of Virgil's AEneids in English (1693)

Robert Howard, 'The Fourth Book of VIRGIL. Of the Loves of DIDO and AENEAS' in his Poems (1696)

The works of Virgil containing his Pastorals, Georgics and Aeneis (1697)


Thomas Bayly, Witty apophthegms delivered at several time (1669).

William Biddulph, The travels of certaine Englishmen (1609), p. 14.

Thomas Lodge, Wits miserie (1596), p. 50.

Lindsay Ann Reid, ‘To the tune of “Queen Dido”: The spectropoetics of early modern English balladry’ in Helen Dell and Helen M. Hickey (eds.), Singing death: reflections on music and mortality (2017), pp. 139-53.

Hyder E. Rollins, An analytical index to the ballad-entries (1557-1709) in the Registers of the Company of Stationers of London (1924; Hatboro, Pennsylvania, 1967), no. 2839.

Allan Smallwood, A reply to a pamphlet (1667), p. 37.

Ephraim Udall, The good of peace and ill of warre (1642), p. 16.

Deanne William, ‘Dido, Queen of England’, English literary history 73.1 (Spring, 2006), pp. 31-59.

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A proper new Ballad, intituled, The wandring Prince of Troy.

To the tune of Queene Dido.

[Play each verse by clicking anywhere within its text]


WHen Troy towne for ten yeeres wars

withstood the Greeks in manfull wise,

Yet did their foes increase so fast,

that to resist none could suffice.

Wast lye those walls that were so good,

And corne now growes where Troy Towne stood.


Eneas wandring Prince of Troy,

when he for land long time had fought,

At length arrived with great joy,

to mighty Carthage walls was brought:

Where Dido Queene with sumptuous feast

Did entertaine this wandring Guest.


And as in hall at meate they sate,

The Queene desirous newes to heare,

Of thy unhappy ten yeeres wars,

declare to me thou Troyan deare,

The heavy hap and chance so bad

That thou poore wandring Prince hast had.


And then anon this comely Knight,

with words demure as he could well,

Of his unhappy ten yeeres wars

so true a tale began to tell,

With words so sweet and sighes so deepe,

That oft he made them all to weepe.


And then a thousand sighes he fetcht,

and every sigh brought teares amaine,

That where he sate the place was wet,

as he had seene those wars againe:

So that the Queene with ruth therefore,

Said worthy Prince enough, no more.


The darkesome night apace grew on,

and twinkling stars in Skies were spred,

And he his dolefull tale had told,

and every one was laid in bed,

Where they full sweetly tooke their rest

Save onely Didoes boyling brest.


This silly woman never slept,

but in her chamber all alone,

As one unhappy alwaies wept,

and to the walls she made her moane,

That she should still desire in vaine,

The thing that she could not obtaine.


And thus in griefe she spent the night,

till twinkling stars from Sky were fled,

And Phoebus with his glistring beames

through misty cloudes appeared red,

When tidings came to her anon,

That all the Troyan ships were gone.


And then the Queene with bloody knife,

did arme her heart as hard as stone,

Yet somewhat loth to lose her life,

in wofull wise she made her moane,

And rowling on her carefull bed

With sighes and sobs these words she said:


O wretched Dido Queene (quoth she)

I see thy end approaching neere,

For he is gone away from thee

whom thou didst love and held so deare,

Is he then gone and passed by,

O heart prepare thy selfe to dye.


Though reason would thou shouldst forbeare

and stay thy hand from bloody stroak,

Yet fancy sayes thou shouldst not feare,

whom fettereth thee in Cupids yoake:

Come death (quoth she) resolve my smart

And with these words she pierc’d her heart.


The second part. To the same tune.


WHen death had pierc’d the tender heart

Of Dido Carthagenian Queene,

And bloody knife did end the smart,

which she sustaind in wofull teene,

Eneas being shipt and gone,

Whose flattery caused all her moane.


Her Funerall most costly made,

and all things furnisht mournefully,

Her body fine in mould was laid,

where it consumed speedily:

Her sisters teares her tombe bestrow’d,

Her subjects griefe their kindnesse show’d


Then was Eneas in an Ile

in Grecia, where he liv’d long space,

Whereas her Sister in short while

writ to him to his vile disgrace,

In phrase of Letters to her minde,

She told him plaine he was unkinde.


False hearted wretch (quoth she) thou art,

and traiterously thou hast betraid,

Unto thy lure a gentle heart,

which unto thee such welcome made,

My sister deare, and Carthage joy,

Whose folly bred her dire annoy.


Yet on her death-bed when she lay

she pray’d for thy prosperity,

Beseeching heaven that every day

might breed thy great felicity:

Thus by thy meanes I lost a friend,

Heaven send thee such untimely end.


When he these lines full fraught with gall,

perused had and weigh’d them well [‘right’ in later editions],

His lofty courage then did faile,

and straight appeared in his sight,

Queene Didoes Ghost both grim and pale,

Which made this gallant Souldier quaile.


Eneas (quoth this grisly Ghost)

my whole delight while I did live,

Thee of all men I loved most,

my fancy and my will did give,

For entertainment I thee gave,

Unthankfully thou digst my grave.


Wherefore prepare thy fliting soule

to wander with me in the ayre,

Where deadly griefe shall make it houle,

because of me thou tookst no care:

Delay no time, the Glasse [is] run,

Thy date is past, and death is come.


O stay a while thou lovely sprite,

be not so hasty to convey

My soule into eternall night,

where it shall nere behold bright day,

O doe not frowne, thy angry looke,

Hath made my breath my life forsooke.


But woe to me, it is in vaine,

and bootlesse is my dismall cry,

Time will not be recall’d againe,

nor thou surcease before I dye,

O let me live to make amends

Unto some of thy dearest friends.


But seeing thou obdurate art,

and wilt no pitty on me show,

Because from thee I did depart,

and left unpaid what I did owe,

I must content my selfe to take

What lot thou wilt with me partake.


And like one being in a trance,

a multitude of ugly Fiends,

About this woeful Prince did dance,

no helpe he had of any friends,

His body then they tooke away,

And no man knew his dying day.


Printed at London for John Wright.

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This ballad is included according to the criteria for List A (see Methodology). The evidence presented here is accurate, to the best of our knowledge, as of 1st January 2024.

Shirburn ballads: no. LXVIII

Appearances on Ballad Partner's lists: Pavier and partners, 1624 (as 'Troy towne'); : Coles, Vere, Wright and Clarke,1675 ('The wandering Prince of Troy'); and Thackeray, 1689 ('Troy Town').

Other registrations with Stationers' Company: 1564-5 and 1603.

No. of known editions c.1560-1711: 18

No. of extant copies: 15

New tune-titles generated: ‘[When] Troy town’ (18 ballads); 'Queen Dido' (4 ballads); ‘Wandering prince’ (1 ballad).

Specially-commissioned woodcuts: ghost appearing to soldier on EBBA 31866 (and other editions).

Vaughan Williams Memorial Library databases: 26 references but no clear record of later collection as a folk-song (Roud no. V19069).

POINTS: 2 + 30 + 10 + 36 + 15 + 30 + 5 + 3 =  131


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