103  A Friends advice:/ In an excellent Ditty, concerning the variable Changes in this World [Roxburghe 1.116-17]

Author: Anonymous, Campion, Thomas (1567–1620)

Recording: A Friend's Advice

Bodies - health/sickness Bodies - looks/physique Environment - flowers/trees Morality - general Religion - Christ/God Religion - body/soul Religion - general Society - friends Society - rich/poor

Song History

A Friends advice evolved out of a short sixteenth-century poem and art-song to become a popular broadside ballad during the seventeenth century (see Related texts). The familiarity of this piece to early-modern consumers is reflected in Samuel Butler’s celebrated Hudibras (1663). Here, the author notes the instability of life, and comments, ‘This any man may sing or say,/ I’ th’ ditty call’d What if a Day’ (see the first line of A Friends advice). Butler may have been thinking of all the forms in which the text circulated, though one of the couplets that immediately precedes his remark echoes a line that appeared in the broadside and not in most of the other sources: ‘For though Dame Fortune seem to smile/ And leer upon him for a while’ (compare ‘Though a while Fortune smile’ in the ballad). Butler’s use of ‘ditty’ also seems more likely to suggest recollections of the ballad than the art-song.

It is easy to identify some of the reasons for this song’s success (see also Featured woodcut history and Featured tune history). There is some highly attractive writing (‘Mans but a blast, or a smoake, or a clowd,/ that in a thought, or a moment is dispersed’) and nearly all of the verses fit the tune with precision. The ballad-makers’ use of verbal repetition is also skilful, and it works in tandem with the recurrence of musical phrases in the melody. The frequent appearances of the introductory expression, ‘What if a...’, creates the impression that the singer is building each new example upon those that have gone before, and the repetition that connects the first and third lines in several verses emphasises the point that identical phenomena can always be understood in more than one way (see, for example, verses two and four).

Such repetitiveness aids memorisation but it can also become tedious. In A Friends advice this danger is averted in several ways. The imagery changes constantly, and there is also an interesting shift from the seemingly secular philosophising of the song’s first half to the more explicitly religious slant that is introduced in the later verses. The use of expressions such as ‘Heavenly lasting treasure’, ‘the Soules election’ and ‘Mans divine perfection’ indicate a marked change of perspective, reflecting the involvement of more than one author (see Related texts).

Similarly intriguing is an implied tension over the value of friendship. Clearly, we are to trust the sage ‘friend’ who articulates his concerns so eloquently, and yet the third verse warns us that friends are false and will fade away as our wealth diminishes (‘Not one abides of twenty’). The topic of friendship was an important one in early-modern culture; it occurred repeatedly in ballads and was treated at much greater length by authors such as Jeremy Taylor (see also Brown). Not surprisingly,  one of the duties of a friend was to offer wise and charitable counsel (the ballad is conceived as ‘a gentle friendly warning’ from one individual to another).

It is perhaps a little more difficult to understand the ballad’s appeal to consumers whose literacy was rudimentary and who lacked musical training. The tune is a long one and the text is essentially a philosophical discourse on the mutability of fortune. Having said this, it seems unlikely that the success of A Friends advice can have been based primarily on purchases from society’s most highly educated ranks because, in statistical terms, such people were thin on the ground. The ballad must, therefore, have exerted an appeal that was both wide and deep.

In support of this suggestion, we might note that the tune, though long, is not particularly complex, and the subject matter, though philosophical, is generally discussed in language that was familiar and accessible. Moreover, the instablility of earthly life was an extremely common theme within early-modern English culture (fortune’s wheel was always spinning). These factors, arguably, allowed the other qualities of A Friends advice to shine through, and a song with a refined reputation became a staple of the ballad business.

Christopher Marsh


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

Cedric C. Brown, Friendship and its discourses in the seventeenth century (Oxford, 2016).

Samuel Butler, Hudibras written in the time of the late wars (1663), p. 77.

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

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), no. 2909.

Jeremy Taylor, A discourse of the nature, offices, and measures of friendship with rules of conducting it (1657).

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Featured Tune History

‘To a pleasant new tune’ (standard name: What if a day)

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 distinctive and somewhat restless tune was clearly a favourite in courtly musical circles for decades. Notation can be found in numerous sources, both manuscript and printed. The following represents only a selection (fuller information is provided by Simpson and Greer): Thomas Robinson’s New Citharen Lessons (1609), the version upon which our recording is based; Jane Pickering’s lute book (1616-50); Matthew Holmes’ cittern book (early seventeenth century); Alexander Gill’s Logonomia Anglica (1619); Robert Creighton’s virginal book (c. 1635-38); and John Forbes’ Cantus, Songs and Fancies (1662). These versions are all similar, though many of the arrangements for instruments liven up the repeated lines with elaborate runs that can hardly have been sung.

The tune was evidently associated very strongly with the hit song under discussion here and it does not appear to have been known by other names. It influenced the music of several other courtly songs, however, and Greer notes the strong affinities between the melody and the following compositions: Alison’s madrigal setting of the same text; Rosseter’s ‘What is a day, what is a yeere’; and Robert Jones’ ‘What if I seeke for love of thee’. The tune was, therefore, well-known among sophisticated composers but the success of the ballad under discussion here indicates that it also had much wider appeal.

Echoes (an overview)

This long tune required verses in a very specific metrical pattern and, perhaps for this reason, was not nominated for the singing of other ballads. It is therefore not possible to discuss the ways in which the tune moved between songs.

Songs and Summaries

A Friends advice, In an excellent Ditty, concerning the variable changes in this World... To a pleasant new tune (text composed before 1592 and associated with this tune by 1619; ‘Printed by the Assignes of Thomas Symcock’, 1628-31).  Roxburghe 1.116-17; EBBA 20074. Society – friendship; Morality – general; Religion - general.  A meditation, delivered by one friend to another, on the mutability of fortune and the transience of life.


The tune was not often named for the singing of other ballads in white-letter format nor in song-books. The only exception we have found is in William Slatyer’s Psalmes, or songs of Sion (1631), which caused controversy because it set metrical psalms to ballad melodies. ‘What if a day’ was chosen for psalm 126, beginning ‘When as the gracious and mercifull Lord’. Slatyer believed that he had chosen only the most solemn and suitable of tunes but his ecclesiastical superiors clearly felt that ballad melodies were all tainted by their association with the genre.

Christopher Marsh


Robert Creighton, virginal book (c. 1635-38), Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, MS Conservatoire Rés. 1186, fo. 15r-v.

Giles Earle, Songbook, British Library, MS Add. 24665, fos. 25v-26r and 69v-70r.

John Forbes, Cantus, Songs and Fancies (1662), no. 17.

Alexander Gill, Logonomia Anglica (1619), p. 140.

David Greer, ‘ “What if a day” – An examination of the words and music’, Music and letters 43.4 (1962), pp. 304-19.

Matthew Holmes, Cittern manuscript (early seventeenth century), Cambridge University Library MS Dd 4.23, fo. 32.

Jane Pickering, lute book (1616-50), British Library, MS Egerton 2046, fo. 19.

Thomas Robinson, New Citharen Lessons (1609), no. 45.

William Slatyer, Psalmes, or songs of Sion (1631), p. 36 and table at back.

Claude Simpson, The British broadside ballad and its music (New Brunswick, 1966), pp. 752-54.

John M. Ward, ‘Apropos The British broadside ballad and its music’, Journal of the American Musicological Society, 20.1 (Spring 1967), p. 85.

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Featured Woodcut History

Standard woodcut name: Scholar with book

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 figure was used quite regularly between the 1620s and the 1680s. All surviving versions seem to have been produced from the same woodblock, and the steady deterioration in its condition can be traced on the ballads listed below.

The Scholar with book was generally chosen with a clear, but changing, sense of purpose. In the early part of the period, he was associated particularly with ballads that delivered social criticism and moral or religious advice. Like his cousin, the Scholar with scroll, he exuded a sense of maturity and wisdom that suited him well for such messages. Our hit ballad, A Friends advice, is a fine example: with stick in hand, he shuffles across the page in order to deliver his wise words about the transience of life and all its pleasures to a front-facing gallant with a prominent sword (‘Earthly joyes are but toyes’).

His advanced age was more explicitly highlighted in Times Alteration: OR, The Old Mans rehearsall. Here, an aged character tells anyone who will listen that the world was better – more moral and more enjoyable – in the distant past. The man claims to be 200 years old, and this tempts us to take his advice with a pinch of salt and regard him as faintly ridiculous.

This may have marked something of a turning point for the Scholar with book because when he is again encountered, several decades later, he tends to represent not respectable elder statesmen but dirty old men and aged misers. His status appears to have diminished. Of course, editions of A Friends advice were issued throughout this period of transition, but the Scholar with book does not appear on surviving copies from the decades after 1660. Since the woodblock was still available, it seems plausible to suggest that the shift in his reputation may have been a factor here.

Songs and summaries

Come buy this new Ballad, before you doe goe: If you raile at the Author, I know what I know (Assigns of Thomas Symcocke, 1628-31).  Roxburghe 1.36-37; EBBA 30030.  Society – criticism; Morality – romantic/sexual, social/economic; Religion – church, Catholic/Protestant; Recreation – alcohol; Bodies – clothing, physique/looks; Politics – court; Economy – money; Gender – courtship, singles; Employment – sailors/soldiers.  This criticises a range of social types for an assortment of faults, including vanity, greed, deceit and hypocrisy (picture placement: he appears beneath the title, approaching a woman in courtly dress).

Times Alteration: OR, The Old Mans rehearsall, what braue dayes he knew A great while agone, when his Old Cap was new (Assign of Thomas Symcocke, 1628-31). Roxburghe 1.406-07; EBBA 30278. History – nostalgia, recent, medieval; Humour – satire, extreme situations/surprises; Society – criticism, neighbours, old/young, rich/poor; Morality – social/economic; Recreation – alcohol, good fellowship, hospitality, fashions, fairs/festivals, food; Emotions – sorrow; Employment – sailors/soldiers, professions; Gender – masculinity, femininity; Bodies – clothing, adornment; Economy – hardship/prosperity; Violence – between states. An aged man, in nostalgic mood, regrets the many changes that have ruined English society in the 200 years since his hat was first made (picture placement: he appears immediately beneath the title).

An excellent Song wherein you shall finde Great consolation for a troubled minde (Assigns of Thomas Symcocke, 1628-31). Roxburghe 1.106-07; EBBA 30070. Religion – moral rules, sin/repentance, charity, prayer, Christ/God, heaven/hell, angels/Devils, Bible, body/soul, general; Morality – general, social/economic; Society – rich/poor. An ABC ballad that offers extensive instruction on living a godly and moral life (picture placement: he appears on the right, above the third column of text).

A Friends advice: In an excellent Ditty, concerning the variable changes in this World (Assigns of Thomas Symcock, 1628-31).  Roxburghe 1.116-17; EBBA 30074.  Society – friendship; Morality – general; Religion - general.  A meditation, delivered by one friend to another, on the mutability of fortune and the transience of life (picture placement: he appears on the right side of the sheet, approaching a gallant in a plumed hat).

[?The] Old Mans WISH (J. Deacon, 1671-99).  Pepys 4.370; EBBA 22034.  Death – old age; Disability – mental, physical; Emotions – hope; Bodies – health/sickness, clothing; Recreation – food, alcohol, reading; Society – old/young.  An ageing man hopes that his demise will be gentle, and that he will retain not only his faculties but also a young girl ‘to rub my bald Pate’ (picture placement: he appears over the first lines, alongside a young woman).

The West-Country Wedding: OR, Honest Susan's good Fortune (J. Blare, 1682-1706).  Pepys 4.113; EBBA 21777.  Gender – courtship, sex, masculinity, femininity; Society – old/young; Bodies – clothing; Emotions – longing; Employment – apprenticeship, service, crafts/trades; Places – English. An aged baker asks his sixteen-year-old maidservant to have sex with him but she refuses until he marries her (picture placement: he appears to the left of a young woman and a wedding scene).

The Old Mans Sayings Concerning the Alteration of the Times (C. Bates, 1685-88).  Pepys 4.301; EBBA 21963.  Society – criticism, old/young; History – recent; Emotions – sorrow; Morality – general; Employment – crafts/trades; Economy – livings, money; Family – children/parents; Gender – marriage; Religion – Christ/God.  An old man insists that all aspects of life were far better when he was a boy (picture placement: he appears beneath the title and alongside a younger man).

THE Wiltshire Wedding BETWIXT Daniel Doo well and Doll the Dairy Maid. With the Consent of her Old Father Leather-Coat, and her dear and tender Mother Plod-well (J. Deacon, 1685-88).  Pepys 4.107; EBBA 21771.  Gender – courtship; Family – children/parents; Emotions – love; Recreation – music, weddings. Daniel meets Doll while out walking and, having decided that he wishes to marry her, quickly speaks to both her parents and wins their approval (picture placement: he appears beneath the title, to the left of a milkmaid and a man who seems to turn towards him).

THE Wonderful Praise of Money: Or; An Account of the many Evils that attend the ill Use thereof (P. Brooksby, 1685-88).  Pepys 4.256; EBBA 21916.  Economy – money; Morality – social/economic; Recreation – alcohol, good fellowship; Society – old/young; Violence – interpersonal.  This surveys the good and the bad that money can do in society, beginning with a critique of ‘Old Mizers’ (picture placement: he appears over the opening line, with its reference to ‘Old Mizers’, and alongside a couple and a soldier).

Christopher Marsh

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Related Texts

A Friends advice appears to have been based on a short poem or song of the later sixteenth century, attributed to Thomas Campion by Richard Alison and Alexander Gill in the decades that followed. The poem was also identified as ‘Essex lament’ by William Moray, perhaps suggesting a perceived link with Robert Devereux, the Elizabethan Earl of Essex. Campion seems a more likely candidate, though manuscript versions apparently from the early 1590s (Greer and Swaen) would place the song very early in his compositional career.

The original poem comprised only two stanzas but there are ten in our featured edition of the broadside. The journey that the text travelled between the 1590s and the 1620s is an interesting one. As a two-stanza poem or art-song it enjoyed what Percival Vivian called ‘a most extraordinary vogue’ in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. In subtly different versions, it was copied into several commonplace books and musical manuscripts in England and Scotland. It appeared in an anonymous Scottish play, published in 1603 (Ane verie excellent and delectabill treatise), and in more than one subsequent collection of printed music (on all these sources, see Swaen, Vivian and Catalogue of English literary manuscripts).

The song can also be found in several continental manuscripts and publications (see Dutch song database). And when William Slatyer composed an acrostic verse on his own name in 1619, he began it with ‘What if a day, or a month, or a yeere...?’

Some of the manuscript sources show that individuals experimented with adding one or two new stanzas to the original pair (Swaen), presumably hoping to prolong the pleasure of singing such a fashionable song. Many of these additional verses are unique to their specific sources and clearly did not catch on more widely.

At some point, anonymous ballad-makers took the sensible decision to intervene. The earliest known example is a four-stanza version that appears in the Shirburn manuscript. The songs in this collection were copied from broadsides, and we can therefore be certain that A Friends advice was in print during the period 1603-16 (though it may have had a different title). The first verse, beginning ‘What if a day’, is missing from the Shirburn transcription but the modern editor of the collection believes it was once present before being clumsily cut out of the volume. This makes sense because the first verse is a constant presence in almost all other surviving versions.

The verses included in the Shirburn transcription form the first half of the text in our featured edition and in all other printed editions of the ballad. It seems that, at this early stage in the ballad’s printed history, it was a five-verse song. In preparing it for publication, the ballad-makers adopted Campion’s first stanza (we presume) but then composed four new verses. Campion’s second verse was dropped, though its later lines were recycled with minimal adjustment to form the second half of the new fifth verse.

Many of the books and manuscripts that included the song after the date of the Shirburn version stuck more closely to the original two verses, but the broadside’s influence can be clearly seen in the version that was included in Richard Johnson’s Golden garland of princely pleasures (the earliest surviving copy is dated 1620 but it was apparently the third edition). Johnson’s song is entitled ‘The inconstancy of the World’ and it includes all five of the verses from the broadside ballad as transcribed by the Shirburn collector. This is a fascinating example of cultural circulation: a refined song generated a popular ballad, and then the ballad re-shaped the composition as it was re-packaged again for more sophisticated consumers.

It was probably during the 1620s that the ballad-makers went a step further and composed another five new stanzas to form the song’s ‘Second part’. It seems that they still had an eye on Campion’s original, for the opening of one of the new verses echoed the lines previously discarded: compare ‘Earth to the World, as a Man [to] the Earth,/ Hath but a point, and point soon defaced’ (ballad) and ‘Earth’s but a point of the World, and a man/ Is but a poynt of the Earths compared centure’ (Campion).

The composers' addition of new verses can also be related to wider developments in the ballad business during the first third of the seventeenth century, one of which saw the emergence of a newly standard format for songs – featuring a title, a tune name, one or more woodcuts, and a text divided into two parts (Watt). The ten-verse printed form of A Friends advice was universal after this, and textual discrepancies between the surviving broadside texts are generally minor. Manuscript versions, however, continued to be rather more variable.

Christopher Marsh


Richard Alison, An howres recreation in musicke apt for instrumentes and voyces (1606), D1r-v.

Anon, Ane verie excellent and delectabill treatise intitulit Philotus (Edinburgh, 1603).

Anon, Cantus, songs and fancies, to three, four, or five parts (1666), song 17.

Catalogue of English literary manuscripts (School of Advanced Study, University of London): search for ‘What if a day’. [Sadly, this resource seems currently to be inaccessible (2024)].

Thomas Campion, Campion’s works, ed. Percival Vivian (Oxford, 1909), pp. 353 and 377-78.

Dutch song database: http://www.liederenbank.nl/index.php?lan=en (search for ‘What if a day’).

Alexander Gill, Logonomia Anglica (1619), pp. 139-40.

David Greer, ‘“What if a day”. An examination of the words and music’, Music and letters 43.4 (1962), pp. 304-19.

Richard Johnson, The golden garland of princely pleasures and delicate delights (1620), G3v-4v.

William Moray, A short treatise of death in sixe chapters (1631), p. 5.

The Shirburn ballads, 1585-1616, ed. Andrew Clark (Oxford, 1907), pp. 238-40.

William Slatyer, Themodia. Sive Pandionium melos (1619), D2v.

A. E. H. Swaen, ‘The authorship of “What if a day” and its various versions’, Modern philology 4.3 (January, 1907), pp. 397-422.

A. E. H. Swaen, ‘What if a day’, Modern philology 5.3 (January, 1908), pp. 383-85.

Tessa Watt, Cheap print and popular piety, 1550-1640 (Cambridge, 1991), pp. 78-81.

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A Friends advice:/ In an excellent Ditty, concerning the variable changes in this World.

To a pleasant new Tune:

[Play each verse by clicking anywhere within its text]


WHat if a day or a month, or a yeare,

crown thy desires with a thousand wisht contentings

Cannot the chance of a night or an houre,

Crosse thy delights with as many sad tormentings:

Fortunes in their fairest birth,

Are but blossoms dying.

Wanton pleasures, doting mirth,

Are but shadowes flying:

All your joyes are but toyes,

Idle thoughts deceiving:

None hath power of an houre,

In our lives bereaving.


What if a smile, or a becke, or a looke,

Feed thy fond thoughts with many a sweet conceiving

May not that smile, or that beck or that looke,

Tell thee as well they are but vain deceivings;

Why should beauty be so proud,

In things of no surmounting;

All her wealth is but shroud,

Of a rich accounting:

Then in this repose no blisse,

Which is so vaine and idle:

Beauties flowers have their houres

Time doth hold the bridle.


What if the world with allures of her wealth,

Raise thy degree to a place of high advancing;

May not the World by a check of that wealth,

Put thee again to as low despised chancing;

Whilst the Sunne of wealth doth shine,

Thou shalt have friends plenty:

But come want, then they repine,

Not one abides of twenty:

Wealth and Friends holds and ends,

As your fortunes rise and fall,

Up and downe, rise and frowne,

Certaine is no state at all,


What if a grief, or a straine, or a fit,

Pinch thee with pain, or the feeling pangs of sicknes

Doth not that gripe, or that straine, or that fit,

Shew thee the form of thine own true perfect liknes

Health is but a glimpse of joy,

Subject to all changes:

Mirth is but a silly toy,

Which mishap estranges.

Tell me than, silly Man,

Why art thou so weak of wit,

As to be in jeopardy,

When thou mayest in quiet sit:


Then if all this have declar’d thine amisse,

Take this from me for a gentle friendly warning,

If thou refuse, and good counsell abuse,

Thou maist hereafter dearely buy thy learning:

All is hazard that we have,

There is nothing bideing,

Dayes of pleasure are like streams,

Through faire Medows gliding,

Wealth or woe, time doth goe,

There is no returning,

Secret Fates guide our states,

Both in mirth and mourning


The Second Part. To the same tune.


MAn’s but a blast, or a smoake, or a clowd,

That in a thought, or a moment is dispersed:

Life’s but a span, or a tale, or a word,

That in a trice, or suddaine is rehearsed:

Hopes are chang’d, and thoughts are crost,

Will not skill prevaileth,

Though we laugh and live at ease,

Change of thoughts assayleth,

Though a while Fortune smile,

And her comforts crowneth,

Yet at length faile her strength:

And in fine she frowneth.


Thus are the joyes of a yeare in an hower,

And of a month, in a moment quite expired.

And in the night with the word of a noyse,

Crost by the day, of an ease your hearts desired:

Fairest blossoms soonest fade,

Withered foule and rotten,

And through grief our greatest joyes

Quickly are forgotten:

Seeke not then (mortall men)

Earthly fleeting pleasure

But with paine strive to gaine

Heavenly lasting treasure,


Earth to the World, as a Man ['to' in other editions] the Earth,

Hath but a point, and a point ['is' in other editions] soon defaced:

Flesh to the Soule, as a Flower to the Sun,

That in a storme or a tempest is disgraced:

Fortune may the Body please,

Which is onely carnall,

But it will the Soule disease

That is still immortall,

Earthly joyes are but toyes,

To the Soules election,

Worldly grace doth deface

Mans divine perfection.


Fleshly delights to the earth that is flesh,

May be the cause of a thousand sweet contentings,

But the defaults of a fleshly desire

Brings to the soule many thousand sad tormentings,

Be not proud presumptious Man,

Sith thou art a point so base,

Of the least, and lowest Element,

Which hath least and lowest place:

Marke thy fate, and thy state.

Which is onely earth and dust,

And as grasse, which alasse

Shortly surely perish must.


Let not the hopes of an earthly desire,

Bar thee the joyes of an endlesse contentation,

Nor let not thy eye on the world be so fixt

To hinder thy heart from unfained recantation,

Be not backward in that course,

That may bring the Soule delight,

Though another way may seem

Far more pleasant to thy sight:

Do not goe, if he sayes no,

That knowes the secrets of thy minde,

Follow this, thou shalt not misse

And endlesse happinesse to finde.

Printed by the Assignes of Thomas Symcock.   FINIS.

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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. LIX (five verses).

Appearances on Ballad Partners' lists: Pavier and partners, 1624 (as 'what if a day' from first line); and Thackeray, 1689 ('What if a Day, a Month, or a year').

Other registrations with Stationers' Company: none.

No. of known editions c.1560-1711: 6

No. of extant copies: 10

New tune-titles generated: none.

Specially-commissioned woodcuts: none known.

Vaughan Williams Memorial Library databases: 6 references, with no evidence of later collection as a folk-song (Roud no. V580).

POINTS: 2 + 20 + 0 + 12 + 10 + 0 + 0 + 0 = 44

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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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