64  A PATTERN of true LOVE to you I will recite,/ Between a Beautiful Lady and a Courtious Knight [Roxburghe 2.579]

Author: Anonymous

Recording: A PATTERN of True LOVE

Death - execution Emotions - anxiety Emotions - joy Emotions - love Emotions - sorrow Employment - crafts/trades Family - children/parents Gender - courtship Morality - familial Society - rich/poor

Song History

Editions of A PATTERN of true LOVE were issued from the 1620s (and perhaps before) until the mid-eighteenth century, under a number of different titles. After 1700, these included The Noble Lord’s cruelty, a name that shifts the attention towards the bizarre conduct of the woman’s father, perhaps reflecting a shift in sensibility. In the late nineteenth century, a version of the song was also collected by Sabine Baring-Gould, from the singing of a male labourer in Exbourne (Devon). Only two verses were recorded but almost all of the lines are very similar to those found in the broadside, and it seems likely that the labourer had learned the song from a printed text. The collected folk-song was subsequently published in two collections, edited by Baring-Gould.

Back in the seventeenth century, references to the ballad were occasionally included in other works of literature. Most notably, it occupies a prominent position in ‘The Presence’, a comic play by Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle (a well-known lover of ballads). A few verses are sung by the Fool as he tries to cheer up a melancholic princess by pretending to woo her. His choice of music is clearly motivated by the discrepancy in social status that separates the sweethearts in A PATTERN of true LOVE, a circumstance that neatly echoes his own.

The Fool’s version, in contrast to the folk-song mentioned above, reveals numerous small but significant differences from the published ballad. The singer mixes lines from different sections, and at one point he uses the refrain line at the start of  a verse. He also adjusts a number of expressions (for example, ‘disdain’ becomes ‘deny’ and ‘match with’ becomes ‘Marry’). The altered wordings do not correspond with any published versions of the song, and it seems possible that Cavendish was working from memory. If so, it is ironic that Baring-Gould's humble folk-singer followed the text closely while the aristocratic author creatively reassembled the song from her unwritten recollections.

The ballad may also have helped to establish the expression ‘pattern of true love’ within the English language. It seems to be the earliest of several broadsides that deployed the expression, and we have not so far found an earlier usage in other published works (though we would not be at all surprised if such a usage turned up). The expression is still in occasional use today, particularly among Christians as a description of the love of Jesus. This particular deployment of the term seems to have been pioneered in the eighteenth century by the religious writer, Thomas Wilson.

A PATTERN of true LOVE is a highly effective treatment of a common and cherished ballad-theme, namely courtship that traverses social boundaries. The lovers, like many other ballad heroes, defy convention, and they triumph in the end, despite the extreme stance adopted by the woman’s father. The most compelling moment arrives when he presents his daughter with the headless corpse of a convict, telling her falsely that it is the body of her sweetheart. His need to test her ‘truth’ (presumably sincerity of heart) hardly seems to justify this tactic.

The ballad-makers’ representation of status is interesting in other regards too. The male lover’s ‘mean degree’ leads him into seven long years of romantic rejection, a period during which he seems to lose all of the emotional self-control that was supposed to characterise a ‘proper’ man in this period. He suffers, moans, fears disdain, feels wounded and lies on his bed while weeping, sighing and lamenting. When the woman changes her mind and accepts him, she begins immediately to refer to him as a ‘knight’ and the ballad-makers follow suit. He is effectively ennobled by the love of an aristocratic woman, regardless of her father’s objections.

It is also noticeable that the young woman, having decided to reciprocate the love of her ‘mean’ suitor, takes charge of the situation. This is presumably a consequence of her higher rank and, in a striking line, she instructs her lover to ‘be rul’d by me’. From this point onwards, she is unquestionably the star of the show, while her sweetheart plays only a minor role and spends most of his time off-stage.

It is not difficult to imagine that this ballad might have appealed particularly to women, and it is notable that there is no mention of the dangers that could allegedly result from such unequal unions. Instead, the ballad-makers conjure up a fantasy world in which true love reigns supreme and parent-power is exposed as cruel and unsustainable. The final verse, in which the woman’s father ‘pardon’d her amiss/ and prais’d her constancy’, is an attempt to limit the damage to social convention, but it hardly cancels out everything that has gone before.

Christopher Marsh


Sabine Baring-Gould, English minstrelsie...Volume the fourth (1896), pp. 84-85.

Sabine Baring-Gould, Songs of the west (1905), pp. 124-25.

Broadside ballads from the Bodleian Library: http://ballads.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/

Margaret Cavendish, ‘The Presence. A Comedy’, in Plays never before printed. Written by... The Duchess of Newcastle (1668), pp. 26-27.

English Broadside Ballad Archive: https://ebba.english.ucsb.edu/

Diane O’Hara, Courtship and Constraint: Rethinking the Making of Marriage in Tudor England (Manchester, 2002).

English Short Title Catalogue.

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), nos. 497 and 2050.

https://www.sermoncentral.com/sermons/what-is-true-love-in-christ-edward-tatro-sermon-on-christian-love-60031 (uses ‘pattern of true love’).

Vaughan Williams Memorial Library, https://www.vwml.org/ (the song seems to have three different Roud numbers: 6912, V6784, and V20517).

Thomas Wilson, An essay towards an instruction for the Indians (1740), p. 173.

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Featured Tune History

To the tune of, ‘Dainty come thou to me’ (lost melody)

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

There is no surviving tune that can be identified with any confidence as ‘Dainty come thou to me’. Ross Duffin has argued that the appropriate melody is one to which a song was set in Richard Edwards’ Damon and Pithias but the evidence is unconvincing. The occurrence of the phrase ‘griping grief’ in the Edwards song and in a ballad set to ‘Dainty come thou to me’ is not, for example, a strong indicator of a connection; this was a common expression found in numerous ballads and other literary sources during the period.

On our recording, we have therefore adopted a tune from the papers of the folksong collector, Sabine Baring-Gould, that was used for singing versions of A PATTERN of true LOVE in the nineteenth century (under the title ‘Fair Lady pity me’ from the refrain of the original). There may be some relation to the older tune, ‘Dainty come thou to me’, though of course we cannot be sure. In the seventeenth century, the melody was also known as 'Ned Smith' following the success of The wofull lamentation of Edward Smith.

Echoes (an overview)

The original tune, ‘Dainty come thou to me’, was used on a number of ballads during the seventeenth century. Its strongest associations, particularly in the early decades, were with romantic love, and most of the courtship ballads listed below feature an ardent man and a woman who, initially at least, seems reluctant to engage. A PATTERN of true LOVE is a good example, although the woman in this song overcomes her initial doubts and becomes deeply devoted to her suitor. The refrains of these ballads, frequently repeated in performance, reinforce the impression that the featured men had to work hard to win female hearts: ‘Dainty come thou to me’, ‘Phillida flouts me’, ‘alack I die for love’ and ‘fair lady pity me’.

Two of these courtship songs were clearly hits – the other is An excellent Ballad of the Mercers Son of Midhurst  – and both elaborated on the inital battle for commitment by constructing detailed and compelling follow-up narratives. In a bold change of tack, the author of The sinner recognised the romantic resonances of the tune and laboured to redirect them. Here, the object of devotion is not a woman but Christ himself, and the refrain is adjusted accordingly (see below).

There are echoes of this act of melodic appropriation in The wofull lamentation of Edward Smith. Here, the tune’s romantic associations may have contributed additional poignancy to this outpouring of remorse by a condemned man. The success of The wofull lamentation generated a new name for the tune and also spawned a series of ballads about murderers (see, for example, The cryes of the Dead). This new resonance was clearly strong, though it killed neither the tune’s romance nor its piety: the last two songs on the list present us with a heroically devoted couple and a call to repentance respectively.

The ballads are connected not only by their melody but by a number of direct textual cross-references, only a selection of which can be mentioned here. Most strikingly, there is clearly a strong and deliberate resemblance between lines found in A new Northeren Jigge and The sinner respectively: ‘Let them all say what they will,/ Dainty come thou to me’ and ‘Let them saye what they will,/ Jesu, come thow to mee’. In both cases, the second line becomes the song’s refrain, thus binding the two publications together (of course, this is a feature of the second author’s strategy of creative appropriation). It is also noticeable that one verse in The wofull lamentation of Edward Smith runs, ‘Sweet Jesus comfort me’, perhaps recalling the refrain from The sinner.

Several of the ballads include at least one conspicuous deployment of the word ‘misery’, sung at the end of the tune’s second phrase: ‘leave me in misery’, ‘rich, or in misery’, ‘were you in misery’, ‘repleat with misery’, ‘in ways of miserie’, ‘look on my misery’ and ‘Opprest with misery’.  Finally, the refrain in A PATTERN of true LOVE – ‘fair Lady pity me’ – is echoed by the line, ‘Fair Phillis pity me’, in An excellent Ballad of the Mercers Son. We cannot know whether all these links were forged consciously or unconsciously but it clearly makes sense to understand the songs in relation to one another.

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

Songs and Summaries

A new Northeren Jigge, called, Daintie come thou to me (?registered 1591; ‘Printed by the Assignes of Thomas Symcocke, 1628-31). Roxburghe 1.204;  EBBA 30140. Gender – courtship; Emotions – love, hope; Bodies – looks/physique; Family – children/parents, siblings; Places – European, extra-European;  Society – friendship. A man declares his love for a woman, promising to be constant in his devotion and asking her to put him to the test.

A prettye sonnet of the disdainefull sheppeardesse. To the Tune of Dainty come thow to me (copied by hand, 1600-03). Shirburn ballads, LXXIII. Gender – courtship; Emotions – love, frustration; Employment – agrarian; Family – children/parents, inheritance; Recreation – food; Bodies – looks/physique, clothing; Environment – animals, weather. A shepherd with a strong belief in his own eligibility loves Phillida but she ‘flouts’ him continually, preferring the attentions of other men.

The sinner, dispisinge the world and all earthly vanities, reposeth his whole confidence in his beloved Saviour, JESUS CHRIST. To the tune of Dainty come thow to me (copied by hand, 1603-16). Shirburn ballads,  XVIII. Religion – Christ/God, faith, prayer, body/soul; Emotions – love, hope; Morality – general; Society – criticism; Recreation – food; Employment – sailors/soldiers. A fervent declaration of trust in Christ, coupled with a critique of all who pursue earthly wealth and pleasure.

An excellent Ballad of the Mercers Son of Midhurst... To the Tune of, Dainty come thou to me , issued on sheet with A Ballad Intituled, The Old Man's Complaint against his Wretched Son... To the same Tune (registered 1624; J. Clarke, W. Thackeray, and T. Passinger, 1684-86).  Pepys 1.541; EBBA 32615.  Family – children and parents, pregnancy/childbirth; Gender – marriage; Society – old and young; Emotions – sorrow, anger; Death – suicide.  A father passes on his inheritance to his son so that he can marry but is subsequently maltreated by the cruel couple, until they get their comeuppance.

A PATTERN of true LOVE to you I will recite. Between a Beautiful Lady and a Courtious Knight. To the Tune of, Dainty come thou to me, &c (registered 1624; no imprint, 1695-1711?). Roxburghe 2.579; EBBA 31198. Gender – courtship; Society – rich/poor; Family – children/parents; Morality – familial; Emotions – love, anxiety, sorrow, joy; Death – execution. A poor man and an aristocratic maiden fall in love, provoking the extreme disaproval of her father, but – after a strange test involving a decaptitated body – love triumphs in the end.

The wofull lamentation of Edward Smith, a poore penitent prisoner in the Jayle of Bedford... To the tune of, Dainty, come thou to me (C. W., 1624-38). Pepys 1.59; EBBA 20038. Crime – general, prison, punishment; Death – execution, godly end; Religion – sin/repentance, Christ/God, faith, moral rules; Emotions – sorrow, hope; Morality – general; Gender – marriage; Family – children/parents; Recreation – music. A convicted prisoner, awaiting execution, expresses remorse for his crimes, bids farewell to his family and turns towards God.

A Warning for all Wicked Livers... The Tune is, Ned Smith (F. Grove, 1624-62). Manchester Central Library Blackletter Ballads 1.32; EBBA 36022. Crime – robbery/theft, murder, punishment; Death – execution, unlawful killing; Violence – interpersonal, punitive; Gender – masculinity; Emotions – horror; Bodies – clothing; Morality – general; Places – English, travel/transport. The story of two notorious and violent robbers, recently executed for a murder in at the appropriately named ‘Shooters-Hil’ in Kent (the surviving ballad is badly damaged and several verses are missing).

The cryes of the Dead. Or the late Murther in South-warke... To the tune of Ned Smith (T. L., 1633-69). Pepys 1.116-17; EBBA 20048. Violence – interpersonal; Crime – murder, prison; Death – unlawful killing; Bodies – injury; Emotions – horror; Morality – general; Employment – crafts/trades, apprenticeship/service; Family – children/parents; Society – urban life, neighbours; News – domestic, sensational; Places – English; Religion – prayer. This describes the cruelties visited upon numerous children by a wicked weaver, now awaiting trial for murder.

The Reward of Murther, In the Execution of Richard Smith... To the tune of, Ned Smith (no imprint, mid-seventeenth century). Manchester Central Library Blackletter Ballads 2.20; EBBA 36085. Crime – murder, punishment; Death – execution, unlawful killing; Gender – courtship, sex; Morality – romantic/sexual, general; Violence – interpersonal, punitive; News – domestic; Places – English. A man explains how he seduced, impregnated and murdered a widow whom he had promised to marry (only the first half of the ballad seems to have survived).

Londons Glory, and Whittingtons Renown OR, A Looking-Glass for Citizens of LONDON... Tune of, Dainty come thou to me (R. Burton, 1640-76). Roxburghe 3.58-59; EBBA 30404. Employment – crafts/trades, apprenticeship/service, professions, female; Economy – hardship/prosperity; Gender – masculinity; Environment – buildings, animals; Recreation – music, food; Religion – charity; Politics – domestic, war, Royalist; Places – English; Royalty – praise. The story of Dick Whittington’s social ascent, aided by a cat and some famous bells, from poverty to power.

The FOUR WONDERS of this Land... Tune of Dear Love regard my Grief, &c. (P. Brooksby, 1670-98). Roxburghe 1.118-19; EBBA 30075. Religion – divine intervention, sin/repentance, Bible, Christ/God, Family – pregnancy/childbirth; Emotions – wonder, fear; Morality – general; Environment – weather, animals; Employment – crafts/trades, female; Violence – interpersonal; Bodies – clothing, injury, health/sickness; Places – English, extra-European. An urgent call for repentance, stimulated by a recent spate of ‘monstrous births’ and miraculous showers of blood.

The Valiant Commander, with his Resolute Lady... To a New Northern Tune, called, I would give ten thousand pounds, &c. or Ned Smith (F. Coles, T. Vere, J. Wright,  J. Clarke, W. Thackeray and T. Passinger, 1680-81).  Pepys 2.208; EBBA 20819.  Gender – marriage, femininity, masculinity; Politics – controversy; Violence – civil war; Emotions – love; Bodies – clothing; Places - English.  A besieged Royalist commander and his beloved wife, disguised as a man, fight fiercely against their foes.


‘Dainty come thou to me’ was also named as a tune in several songbooks. See, for example: The Famous Historie of Fryer BACON (1627), in which a servant improvises a song about time while trying to stay awake; and Richard Johnson, A Crowne-Garland of Golden Roses (1612), where it serves for ‘A Song of Sir Richard Whittington’ (later published in broadside form as Londons Glory, and Whittingtons Renown: see above).

The melody was also referred to in various other forms of literature. In Dekker’s The Shoemakers Holiday (1600), for example, Eyre amuses a woman with the line, ‘feare nothing Rose, let them al say what they can, dainty come thou to me: laughest thou?’ The central portion of this quotation comes directly from an early version of the ballad, A new Northeren Jigge, listed above (see also the works by Robert Armin and Richard Brome, listed below).

Christopher Marsh


Robert Armin, The History of the two Maids of More-clacke, 1609, C4r.

Sabine Baring-Gould Manuscript Collection, SBG/1/3/115, Vaughan Williams Memorial Library (https://www.vwml.org/record/SBG/1/3/115)

Richard Brome, Five new Playes (1659), p. 56.

Thomas Dekker, The Shoemakers Holiday (1600), H3v.

Ross W. Duffin, Some other note. The lost songs of English Renaissance comedy (Oxford, 2018), pp. 654-55.

Richard Edwards, The excellent Comedie of two the moste faithfullest Freendes, Damon and Pithias (1571), C5r.

The Famous Historie of Fryer BACON (1627), C2r-v.

Richard Johnson, A Crowne-Garland of Golden Roses (1612), B5r-7v.

Claude Simpson, The British broadside ballad and its music (New Brunswick, 1966), pp. 15-16, 577-78.

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Featured Woodcut History

Standard woodcut name: Beheading

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 execution scene appeared fairly regularly on ballads published in the last four decades of the seventeenth century. As was often the case with popular pictures, several different woodblocks were in existence. The image was carefully copied but subtle differences are nonetheless evident. Several publishers issued ballads that displayed the picture, and executions were very much to the fore in the accompanying texts.

The elaborate scene, in which the execution platform is surrounded by armed guards, suited the image particularly to ballads about major state executions, and it is no surprise to find that the decapitated body belonged variously to the Earl of Essex, King Charles I (twice) and the Duke of Monmouth. Presumably, it also encouraged unconscious comparisons and connections between these individuals, a small band of privileged men whose political careers were, quite literally, cut short. The deaths of a wicked stepmother and an evil cook were also represented by the woodcut, and viewers were presumably expected to overlook the differences between the modes of execution in text and image.

It may be no coincidence that the only song to deploy the woodcut in a different way was also the one that can be shown to have enjoyed conspicuous success. On The PATTERN of true LOVE, none of the central characters is executed but the young lady’s stern father tells her that the headless corpse of an anonymous criminal is the body of her sweetheart, in order to assess the depth of his daughter’s love. When she breaks down before his eyes, he reveals the truth and everything turns out well. All surviving editions of the ballad deployed the image, and so it seems possible that this somewhat unusual deployment of a standard image may have contributed to its commercial prowess. Ballad consumers cherished the familiar but they also liked to see it presented with a twist.

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

Songs and summaries:

The Lady Isabella's Tragedy; OR, The Step-Mothers Cruelty (P. Brooksby, 1670-98).  Pepys 2.149; EBBA 20767.  Crime – murder; Death – unlawful killing, execution; Violence – interpersonal; Family – children/parents; Gender – femininity, masculinity; Morality – familial; Emotions – hatred, anger, sorrow; Recreation – food; Employment – crafts/trades. A beautiful young lady is cruelly murdered by her jealous step-mother and the household’s master-cook, but an honest scullion boy reveals the truth and both killers are executed – the woman is burnt at the stake and the man is boiled in oil (picture placement: the scene appears beneath the title).

The Kings last Speech at his time of Execution, as he made upon the Scaffold, a little before his Death (F. Coles, T. Vere, J. Wright, J. Clarke., W. Thackeray, and T. Passinger, 1680-81).  Pepys 2.203; EBBA 20815.  Death – execution, godly end; Religion – Catholic/Protestant, Christ/God, heaven/hell, prayer, sin/repentance; Royalty – authority, general; Politics – controversy, domestic, power, treason, plots; Violence – punitive, civil war; Emotions – sorrow, anger; Family – children, parents; Gender – marriage, masculinity; Crime – treason.  Charles I, in his dying speech, commends his soul to God, insists upon his Protestantism, rebukes his enemies and provides for his family (picture placement: the scene appears beneath the title, to the left of an additional group of men).

THE LATE Duke of Monmouth's Lamentation (P. Brooksby, 1685).  Pepys 2.244; EBBA 20858.  Crime – treason; Death – execution; Politics – plots, treason, controversy, domestic; Royalty – authority, general; Violence – punitive, civil war; Gender – masculinity; Emotions – anger, anxiety, sorrow.  The Duke prepares for his execution, regrets his rebellious conduct, and blames others for tempting him down a perilous path (picture placement: the scene appears beneath the title, flanked by two small images of watching crowds).

A Lamentable Ditty made on the Death of Robert Deverux Earl of Essex, who was Beheaded ithe Tower of London, on Ash-Wednesday, 1603 (W. Thackeray and T. Passenger, 1687-88). Pepys 2.162; EBBA 20781. Politics – celebration, controversy, domestic, foreign affairs, power, treason, obedience; Death – execution, godly end; Gender – masculinity; Emotions – sorrow, love, patriotism; Religion – charity, prayer, Christ/God, Catholic/Protestant; Royalty – praise, criticism; Violence – punitive; Employment – crafts/trades; Crime – treason; Environment – buildings; Places – European, Irish; Recreation – games/sports. This describes the last speech and beheading of the Earl of Essex in 1601, drawing attention to his fame, honour, bravery, charity and popularity (picture placement: it appears beneath the title and over the opening lines of the song).

The manner of the Kings Tryal at Westminster-Hall (W. Thackeray and T. Passinger, 1687-88).  Pepys 2.204-05; EBBA 20816.  Crime – treason, punishment; Death – execution, godly end; Politics – controversy, domestic, treason; Royalty – authority, criticism; Violence – punitive; Emotions – sorrow; Family – children/parents.  An account of the trial and execution of Charles I, setting out the charges laid, the king’s response, and his speech on the scaffold (picture placement: the scene appears on the right side of the sheet, alongside a Soldier with sword and shield).

A PATTERN of true LOVE to you I will recite. Between a Beautiful Lady and a Courtious Knight (no imprint, 1695-1711?). Roxburghe 2.579; EBBA 31198. Gender – courtship; Society – rich/poor; Family – children/parents; Morality – familial; Emotions – love, anxiety, sorrow, joy; Death – execution. A poor man and an aristocratic maiden fall in love, provoking the extreme disaproval of her father, but – after a strange test involving a decaptitated body – love triumphs in the end (picture placement: the woodcut appears on the right and there are no other images).


It is sometimes said that this picture is a direct and detailed illustration of the Earl of Essex’s execution in 1601, but we have so far found no evidence to suggest that this was the case. Its first known appearance on a ballad about the death of Essex dates from the Restoration period, and the woodcut was clearly used to represent a wide range of high-status criminals. Modern viewers may wish and assume that an image is specific to its text but early-modern consumers often understood images in a rather different manner.

Christopher Marsh

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Related Texts

Many ballads share with A PATTERN of true LOVE the theme of unequal love (see for example: A constant wife, a kinde Wife; The Merchants Daughter of Bristow; and The two Constant Lovers). We have not, however, found other publications that tell exactly the same story or that echo the hit ballad’s text in obviously significant ways.

Christopher Marsh

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A PATTERN of true LOVE to you I will recite,/ Between a Beautiful Lady and a Courtious Knight.

To the Tune of, Dainty come thou to me, &c.

Licensd and Entred according to Order.

[Play each verse by clicking anywhere within its text]


DEar Love regard my grief,

do not my suit disdain,

O yield me some relief,

that am with sorrow slain:

These long seven years and more

have I still loved thee,

Do thou my joys restore,

fair Lady pity me.


Pity my grievous pain,

long suffered for thy sake,

Do not my suit disdain,

that no time rest can take;

These seven long years and more,

have I still loved thee:

Do thou my joys restore

fair Lady pitty me.


How should I pity thee?

this Lady then reply’d,

Thou art no match for me,

thy suit must be deny’d:

I am of noble blood,

you but of mean degree,

It stands not for my good

fondly to match with thee.


This answer had he most,

which cut his heart so deep,

That on his bed full oft

would he lye down and weep,

With tears he did lament

his froward destiny;

With sights yet would he say,

Fair Lady pitty me.


While I live, I must love,

so fancy urgeth me,

My mind cannot remove,

such is my constancy:

My mind is nobly bent

though I of low degree.

Sweet Lady give content

to love and pity me.


The Lady hearing now

the moan that he did make,

Did of his suit allow,

and thus to him she spak,

Ser Knight, mourn thou no more,

my faith I plight to thee,

Nay this thy joys restore,

thou hast thy wish of me.


But first sweet Love (quoth she)

what shift then wilt thou make,

With speed to marry me,

and thy delight to take:

It were a bargain bad

to get a wanton Wife,

And lose with sorrow great

thy sweet distressed life.


If that my Father knew

the love I bear to thee,

We both the same should rue,

therefore be rul’d by me:

When my Father is inbed

and all his waiting=men,

Throught the window will I get

see that you meet me then.


Content Lady, (he said)

he’s but a Coward knight

Whom ought shall make afraid

to win a Lady bright:

Thus then they went away

but by the master=cook

Coming throuht the window wide,

was this fair Lady took.


O gentle cook, (buoth she)

do not my deed bewray,

Some favour to me show

and let me pass away:

Love that doth conquer Kings

forc’d me to do this deed,

Whilst others sits and sings

make not my heart to bleed


Not so (then said the cook)

fair Lady pardon me,

Who can this trespass brook,

committed thus by thee?

My Lord, your Father shall

the matter understand,

For false I will not be,

neither for house nor land.


Then from the Lady’s face,

fell down the tears amain

She was in wofull case

and thus she made here moan:

Ah, my own dear Love,

little know’st thou my grief,

Great sorrows must we prove,

hope yielding no relief.


Her Father in a spleen

lock’d up his Daughter bright

And sent forth armed men

to take this worthy Knight.

Who then was judg’d to be

quite banish’d from the land

Never his Love to see

so strict was the command.


And at the sessions next,

after the Knight was gone,

To his Daughter, full of woe,

they brought a hanged man,

Whose head was smitten off,

the Maiden’s truth to prove,

Quoth her Father, Wanton Dame

now take thee here thy Love.


Her tears fell down amain,

when this sight she did see

And sorely did complain

of Father’s cruelty:

His body she did wash

with tears that she did shed,

And hundred times she kist

his body being dead.


Alas, my Love (she said)

dear hast thou paid for me,

Would God in heaven’s bliss,

my soul were onw with thee

But whilst that I do live,

a vow I here do make,

Seven years to live unwed

for my true Lover’s sake


Her Father hearing this,

was grieved inwardly,

He pardon’d her amiss,

and prais’d her constancy:

And to this courteous Knight,

her Father did her wed,

God grant the like success:

where perfect love is breed.


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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: not included.

Appearances on Ballad Partners' lists: Pavier and partners, 1624 (as 'Dear love regard my greife' from first line); Coles, Vere, Wright and Clarke, 1675; and Thackeray, 1689 ('Dear Love regard my Grief').

Other registrations with Stationers' Company: none.

No. of known editions c.1560-1711: 10

No. of extant copies: 9

New tune-titles generated: 'Dear love regard my grief' (1 ballad).

Specially-commissioned woodcuts: none known.

Vaughan Williams Memorial Library databases: 13 references, with occasional evidence of later collection as a folk-song (Roud nos. V6784, 6912 and V10517).

POINTS: 0 + 30 + 0 + 20 + 9 + 2 + 0 + 1 = 62

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This box will be used to highlight any new information on this song that might come to light after the launch of the website.

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