83  The dying tears of a true Lover forsaken,/ Made on his Death=bed [Euing 64]

Author: Anonymous

Recording: The dying tears of a true Lover forsaken (part 1)

Recording: The dying tears of a true Lover forsaken (part 2)

Bodies - health/sickness Bodies - looks/physique Death - burial/funeral Death - heartbreak Death - suicide Emotions - anger Emotions - despair Emotions - shame Employment - crafts/trades Gender - courtship Gender - femininity Gender - masculinity Morality - romantic/sexual Recreation - music Religion - Bible Religion - church Religion - ghosts/spirits

Song History

The dying tears was issued regularly for over one hundred years, probably beginning at some point in the late sixteenth or early seventeenth century. The oldest surviving version is in the handwritten Shirburn Ballads, all of which were transcribed from printed broadsides by an early collector. In this source, the ballad appears as two separate songs, presumably reflecting the format in which it was issued during the reign of James I. Interestingly, the woman’s song is aimed particularly at ‘the maydes of Worcester’. The ballad may therefore have been based on an actual relationship; certainly, the authors wished to imply that this was the case. The reference to Worcester appears in the earliest surviving printed copy of the ballad, dating from c. 1648, but it was dropped from all editions that are known to have been issued subsequently. Perhaps it seemed commercially risky to imply that the song was aimed specifically at one age-group, one sex and one city.

The dangers of breaking the promises and vows made during courtship were certainly a hot topic in seventeenth-century England, and The dying tears was not the only hit song to tackle it (see also A Godly Warning for all Maidens and A Lamentable Ballad of the Ladies Fall). The ecclesiastical courts of the period sometimes heard cases in which one party claimed that the other had promised marriage and then attempted to back out. In the ballad, however, the contract itself is not in dispute because the man and woman acted properly in ensuring that their betrothal took place ‘In outward shew’ and that the banns were read three times in church. It was only at this point that matters went awry, and Sarah’s offence was particularly heinous because she broke her vow in the full knowledge that she was committing a sin.

Men were more likely than women to complain to the ecclesiastical courts about disputed contracts, and so it is no surprise that the first of the two singers is male. The insecurity and vulnerability of men in love is a prominent theme in many of our hit ballads, and in this case the abandoned individual pays the ultimate price.

It is interesting that such displays of despair do not usually seem to raise questions about the masculinity of ballad-characters such as Hugh, even when they are effectively admitting to having been broken by young women (see also A sweet Sonnet and Love and Honour). Indeed, Hugh seeks solidarity in the company of other men as he plans his own funeral. He asks his co-workers in ‘the Gentle-craft’ (in other words, shoe-making) to chant his ballad while they carry him to his final resting-place, accompanied by the ‘melodious sound’ of the church bells.

The obvious marketability of such themes helps to explain the song’s success but there must have been other factors too. The ballad-makers are particularly skilful in the deployment of melancholic sentimentality as they work to draw listeners and readers into the story (‘Sore sick in love, sore sick in mind,/ Come gentle death my life unwind’).

The use of the first person in both songs also encourages singers of both sexes to inhabit the ballad’s characters (the short-term switch to the third person at the end of Hugh’s song simultaneously indicates that he has been silenced by death and helps the commercial ballad-seller to come out of character in readiness for his efforts to sell copies to the marketplace crowd). The contrast between Hugh’s description of Sarah’s beauty (which ‘dazled so mine eyes’) and her own subsequent account of her physical decay (‘My skin is wither’d, my flesh is gone’) is also ear-catching.

We should also note the potency of the characterisation. With one breath, Hugh predicts with a certain sense of satisfaction that Sarah will, after his death, be ‘paid in misery’; with another, he asks God to forgive her sins. His turmoil is rooted in the tension between these two instincts. And Sarah, though eventually repentant, confesses that she hardly cared when her former sweetheart pined away to death. This is a misogynistic representation of a young woman who is only driven to remorse by supernatural intervention. Not surprisingly, the sound of her ex-lover’s ghost crying ‘Hugh Hill is dead, fie Sarah fie’ and ‘Go pine thy self repent and dye’ proves impossible to ignore. It may also have chilled the hearts of all listeners and readers who had broken their own romantic promises. As is so often the case with highly successful ballads, this one perhaps succeeded because it magnified, intensified and dramatised a comparatively familiar experience.

Christopher Marsh


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

David Cressy, Birth, marriage and death. Ritual, religion and the life-cycle in Tudor and Stuart England (Oxford, 1997), chs. 10 and 11.

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

English Short Title Catalogue.

Martin Ingram, Church courts, sex and marriage in England 1570-1640 (Cambridge, 1987), ch. 6.

Diana O’Hara, Courtship and constraint. Rethinking the making of marriage in Tudor England (Manchester, 2000).

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. 659 and 1168.

The Shirburn Ballads 1585-1616, ed. Andrew Clark (Oxford, 1907), pp. 120-23 and 212-15.

Vaughan Williams Memorial Library, Vaughan Williams Memorial Library, https://www.vwml.org/ [search for Roud no. V11748].

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Featured Tune History

To the tune of ‘Come live with me’ (standard name: Come live with me and be my love)

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

Notation for this melody was rarely recorded. An early example in lute tablature occurs in William Corkine’s Second Book of Ayres (1612) and we have used this for our recording. A related tune appears in the 1714 edition of Wit and Mirth, in association with a ballad about a famous royal mistress of the medieval period (also one of our hits: see The Woful Lamentation of Mistris Jane Shore). This melody, though different, shares several points of contact with the earlier version (particularly the cadence point at the end of the second line). The melody was known variously as ‘[Come] live with me, [and be my love]’, ‘Shore’s wife’, ‘Shore’s wife’s lamentation’ and ‘Jane Shore’.

Echoes (an overview)

This tune was well-known as a result of its nomination on at least two highly successful songs, and it was also called for widely than this. Seven ballads are listed below, most of them published before c. 1620. Three of the seven deal with love, including both of our hits. There is no soppy romance here, however, for each of the love songs presents relations between the sexes as extremely problematic.

A most excellent Ditty is the expanded broadside version of a famous poetical exchange said to have involved Christopher Marlowe and Walter Raleigh, and in it the woman rejects the man’s invitation to ‘Live with me and be my Love’. The outcomes are much worse in The dying tears of a true Lover forsaken and The Woful Lamentation of Mistris Jane Shore, both of which highlight disloyalty and disaster.

The fifth ballad listed below, A most sorrowfull Song, is rather different in that it tells a story of male intrigue, but perhaps the darkly romantic melody connects betrayal in love with betrayal in politics (a link that is further encouraged by the explicit comparisons drawn in the ballad with the case of Jane Shore). Other sorts of male betrayal are described in A warning for all Souldiers and The lamentation of Henrye Adlington, the gallows speeches of a deserter and a murderer respectively. The remaining song is in the ‘ages of man’ tradition and seems to stand apart from the other ballads to the tune.

The songs are connected not only by their tune but also by numerous textual cross-references, only a few of which can be mentioned here. The Woful Lamentation of Mistris Jane Shore and A most sorrowfull Song were clearly composed with reference to one another, and the second feels like a response to the first (though it is possible that the relationship was the other way round). A most sorrowfull Song is about a male servant’s betrayal of his master, but it includes an unusually direct attempt to compare one case with another: ‘Jane Shore, the time I knew full well,/ like me you climbd, like me you fell,/ The Duke did me to honour bring,/ thou wast advanced by the King’. It is also worth comparing the opening lines of the two songs:

‘If Rosamund that was so fair,/ Had cause her sorrows to declare/ Then let Jane Shore with sorrow sing/ That was beloved of a King’ (The Woful Lamentation of Mistris Jane Shore).

‘If ever wight had cause to rue/ a wretched deede, vilde and untrue,/ Then Banister with shame may sing,/ who sold his life that loved him’ (A most sorrowfull Song).

The fact that the two songs are both set in the reigns of Edward IV and Richard III strengthens the comparison considerably.

There are several close links between The lamentation of Henry Adlington and A warning for all Souldiers, including the following couplets: ‘In quarrels, brawles, debate, and strife,/ I spent the springtyme of my lyfe’ and ‘Licentiously I spent my lyfe,/ and gave my minde to brawles and stryfe’. Similar affinities occur in other ballads: ‘For love of me he left his life,/ Because I would not be his wife’ (The dying tears); ‘No London Dame, nor Merchants wife/ Did lead so sweet and pleasant Life’ (The Woful Lamentation of Mistris Jane Shore); and ‘No he must leave Children and Wife,/ To give the world, cant save his life’ (The Age and Life of Man).

Other recycled rhymes in this series of songs include sheet/street, cry/die, love/prove and sing/king. Overall, there can be little doubt that these ballads were not only discrete items but members of a closely interwoven group.

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

Songs and Summaries

A most excellent Ditty of the Lovers promises to his beloved. To a sweet new tune called, Live with me and be my Love (composed before 1600; ‘Printed by the Assignes of Thomas Symcock’, 1628-31). Roxburghe 1.205; EBBA 30141. Gender – courtship; Environment – landscape, flowers/trees, birds, animals; Emotions – love, longing, suspicion; Recreation – music, food; Employment – agrarian; Bodies – clothing; Society – rural life. In the first part, a man asks a woman to be his love, but in the second she politely declines, citing the changeable nature of all earthly phenomena, including love.

The Woful Lamentation of Mistris Jane Shore, a Goldsmiths Wife in London, sometime King Edward the Fourth's Concubine... The Tune is, Live with me (composed before 1600; F. Coles, T. Vere, and J. Wright, 1665-74). Euing 394; EBBA 32019. Gender – adulltery/cuckoldry, marriage, sex; History – medieval; Politics – domestic, controversy, power, court; Royalty – general; Morality – romantic/sexual; Bodies – looks/physique; Death – result of immorality; Emotions – longing, greed, excitement, anger, sorrow, shame;  Religion – charity, conjuration; Christ/God, divine intervention, Employment – professions; Crime – immorality, clipping coins, punishment; Places – European, extra-European, travel/transport; Violence – punitive. Two songs in which Jane Shore and her estranged husband take turns to explain how her decision to become the king’s concubine eventually destroyed them both.

A most sorrowfull Song, setting forth the miserable end of Banister, who betraied the Duke of Buckingham... To the tune of, Live with me and be my love (registered 1600; F. Coules, 1624-80). Pepys 1.64-65; EBBA 20265. History – medieval, villainy; Politics – domestic, court, plots; Religion – divine intervention; Crime – murder; Death – unlawful killing, accident, suicide; Violence – interpersonal; Emotions – shame; Employment – apprenticeship/service; Family – children/parents; Morality – political, general; Recreation – music. Banister laments his duplicity in betraying the Duke of Buckingham to King Richard, and he then addresses Jane Shore directly, pointing out that his shame and suffering have been far worse than hers.

A warning for all Souldiers that will not venture their lyves in her Majestye’s cause and their Countrie’s right... To the Tune of Shore’s wive’s Lamentation (copied by hand, 1600-03). Shirburn ballads, XLVII. Crime – robbery/theft, desertion; Death – execution; Violence – punitive, interpersonal; Emotions – sorrow, shame; Employment – sailors/soldiers; Recreation – alcohol; Religion – sin/repentance, Bible, divine intervention, Christ/God; Gender – masculinity; Politics – foreign affairs, war; Family – parents/children; Morality – general. A man faces execution for deserting the army, so he begs forgiveness for his sins and asks others to learn from his example (‘a bullet’s better than a rope’).

The lamentation of Henrye Adlington, a fencer, one of the cuttinge crewe of London, who, for murther, was executed without Algate, and yet hangeth in chaines. To the Tune of Shore’s wife (copied by hand, 1603-16). Shirburn ballads, XXV. Death – execution, unlawful killing, godly end; Crime – murder, prison; Violence – interpersonal; Emotion – sorrow, shame; Religion – prayer, sin/repentance, Bible, church; Employment – apprenticeship/service; Family – children/parents, kin; Gender – masculinity, sex; Morality – general; Recreation – alcohol, theatre; Places – English. A young man faces execution for two murders, repents his wickedness and urges others not to follow his example.

The dying tears of a true Lover forsaken, Made on his Death-bed; the hour before his Death. The Tune is, Come live with me (composed before 1616; F. Coles, T. Vere, J. Wright, J. Clarke, W. Thackeray, and T. Passinger, 1680-81). Euing 64; EBBA 31742. Gender – courtship, femininity, masculinity; Death – heartbreak, suicide; Emotions – anger, despair, shame; Morality – romantic/sexual; Religion – ghosts/spirits, church; Recreation – music; Employment – crafts/trades; Bodies – looks/physique, health/sickness. In the first part, a man approaches death and is in no doubt that the inconstant woman who broke his heart will suffer for her actions; in the second part, she does.

The Age and Life of Man... To the Tune of, Jane Shore (Ric. Burton, 1640-76). Euing 11; EBBA 31654. Religion – Christ/God; Family – children/parents; Economy – money, hardship/prosperity; Gender – marriage; Recreation – games/sports; Death – old age; Employment – agrarian; Society – education. This divides a man’s life into ten ages, each of seven years duration, and describes the rise and fall that he experiences.


The tune was also nominated in several song-books of the early seventeenth century. See, for example: Richard Johnson, Crowne Garland (1612), in which it is chosen for ‘The life and death of the great Duke of Buckingham’ (a topic also covered in one of the ballads listed above); and Thomas Deloney, Strange Histories (1602), where it provides the music for ‘The imprisonment of Queene Elenor, wife to King Henrie the second’. Clearly it was a melody with pronounced historical overtones.

One of the ‘godly meditations’ in Nicholas Breton’s The Soules Heavenly Exercise (1601) opens with the line, ‘Come live with mee, and be my love’. Although no tune is specified, the verses are probably to be understood as a response to the romantic poem/song allegedly by Marlowe and Raleigh (issued in ballad form as A most excellent Ditty of the Lovers promises to his beloved: see above). In Breton’s moralised version, the language of courtship is re-purposed for the expression of devotion to God (‘Oh thou more faire then fairness is/... More kinde then lovers when they kisse’).

Ross Duffin shows that playwrights of the period also drew inspiration from the original ‘Come live with me’ text, composing stage songs that must have been intended for the tune.

Christopher Marsh


Nicholas Breton, The Soules Heavenly Exercise (1601), pp. 128-57.

William Corkine, Second Book of Ayres (1612), G2v (transcription in Simpson).

Thomas Deloney, Strange Histories (1602), B2v-B3v.

Ross W. Duffin, Some other note. The lost songs of English Renaissance comedy (Oxford, 2018), pp. 101, 238 and 571.

Richard Johnson, Crowne Garland (1612), B8v-C2r.

Claude Simpson, The British broadside ballad and its music (New Brunswick, 1966), pp. 119-122.

Wit and Mirth (1714), vol 5, p. 213.

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Featured Woodcut History

Standard woodcut name: Declaiming man

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 was one of the most familiar woodcuts in seventeenth-century England. Over thirty titles are set out below, seven of which are from our list of best-sellers (a fact that must have extended the image’s visibility very significantly). Ballad-printers needed the ability to place this man on their sheets, and it is clear that several distinct woodblocks were in existence. The resultant images reveal a number of differences, some subtle and some more obvious. The picture of this solid little man was deployed even when the woodblock was severely damaged, a testament to its popularity.

He appears most frequently on love-ballads, often standing alongside the Woman with fan (see, for example, The Maidens Nay, Or, I loue not you). The regularity of this partnership perhaps implies an audience expectation that the two characters would appear together in a relationship that, paradoxically, was both fixed and shifting. Although the paired images scarcely change, the narratives vary considerably, most of them optimistic but some of them much darker. Whether he appeared with or without her, this individual combined an essentially positive reputation with the potential for irresponsible behaviour or unfortunate experiences. In this, he was perhaps a character to whom most viewers could relate: an everyman.

In many ways, he was similar to other generic woodcuts of single men and women, but in one respect he was a little different: through posture and gesture – facing outwards with one arm raised - he appears to be addressing the audience directly, thus representing either the ballad-singer or one of the speaking characters from the accompanying text. Frequently, he stands immediately over the opening lines of a song and appears to be commencing a performance: ‘All company keepers come hear what I say’; ‘You loyal young Damosells’; ‘I am a poor Prisoner condemend to die’.

He can also appear to be gesturing towards the other pictures on the sheet, or even towards the text in general (‘Look you faithful lovers, on my unhappy state’). As usual, the challenge of connecting him to each specific text was tackled, often automatically, in the brain of every viewer. The Declaiming man’s appearance on The dying tears was clearly successful, and he can be seen – in subtly different versions – on almost all surviving copies and editions.

Songs and summaries

The two Notinghamshire Lovers: or, The Maid of Standon in Notingham-shire, and the Leicestershire man (H. G., 1601-40).  Roxburghe 3.178-79; EBBA 30475.  Gender – courtship; Family – children/parents, kin; Death – suicide, heartbreak; Morality – familial;  Emotions – love, despair, guilt; Society – friendship; Violence – interpersonal, self-inflicted; Environment – birds, weather.  A woman plans to elope with her sweetheart but he fails to turn up for their meeting, initiating a chain of events that leads to the death of both parties (picture placement: he appears over the opening lines, next to a courting couple).

The New Courtier. Or one that learned the trick from his Mother, To have a little of t'one and a little of t'other (F. Coles, 1624-80).  Pepys 3.49; EBBA 21046. Gender – sex, masculinity; Humour – bawdry, verbal; Recreation – alchohol, hunting; Family – children/parents; Bodies – clothing.  A man tries to persuade a woman to have sex with him, while also arguing the case for combining love-making with a variety of other recreations (picture placement: he appears over the opening verses, alongside an aristocratic woman).

A Caveat for Cut-purses (W. Gilbertson, 1647-65).  Roxburghe 2.46-7; EBBA 30274.  Crime – robbery; Death – execution; Recreation -  general; Morality – social.  A warning about the danger posed by cutpurses, particularly in London’s most crowded areas (picture placement: he stands on the right of the sheet, next to a Woman with fan).

The Springs Glory: OR, A precious Posie for Pretty Maidens (W. Gilbertson, 1647-65).  Roxburghe 2.442-43; EBBA 30907.  Environment – seasons, flowers/trees, birds, animals; Bodies – adornment; Emotions – joy, love; Gender – courtship, sex, Cupid; Recreation – dance, walking, music.  A song that celebrates the spring, calling on maidens to make the most of the flowers, the birdsong and the atmosphere of romance (picture placement: he appears beneath the title, to the left of a Woman with fan).

A new Ballad of the Souldier and Peggy (F. Coles, T. Vere, and W. Gilbertson, 1661-63).  Euing 243; EBBA 31792.  Gender – marriage, courtship, femininity, masculinity; Morality – familial, romantic/sexual; Family – children/parents; Emotions – longing, sorrow, contentment; Employment – sailors/soldiers, crafts/trades; Nature – sea; Places – travel.  Peggy, a married women, runs off with a soldier, but returns home within three months and seeks forgiveness of her husband (picture placement: he appears on both sides of the ballad, first standing apart from a Woman with fan and second combined with her in a single box to form a Couple with fan and grassy tufts).

A pleasant Song made by a Souldier + A pleasant new Song of two Valentines and their Lovers (F. Coles, T. Vere, and W. Gilbertson, 1661-63).  Roxburghe 3.190-91; EBBA 31640.  Gender – courtship; Recreation – fairs/festivals; Emotions – love; Employment – agrarian. The image appears with the second song, in which a man declares his wholesome love for a woman on Valentine’s Day (picture placement: he appears beneath the title of the second song, next to a Woman with fan).

CUPIDS CURTESIE: in the wooing of fair Sabina (F. Coles, T. Vere, and J. Wright, 1665-74).  Roxburghe 2.93; EBBA 31603.   Gender – courtship, Cupid; Bodies – physique/looks; Emotions – longing.  A man approaches Sabina while she sleeps and, aided by Cupid, eventually wins her heart (picture placement: he appears twice in slightly different versions, once alongside a Woman with fan and once next to a woman with an upturned palm).

The Maidens Nay, Or, I loue not you (F. Coles, T. Vere, and J. Wright, 1665-74).  Roxburghe 2.336-37; EBBA 30783.  Gender – courtship; Morality – romantic/sexual; Emotions – love.  A man courts a woman, who turns him down initially before reversing her decision in the second half of the song (picture placement: he stands beneath the title, alongside a Woman with fan, and the same two individuals are presented as a single image – Couple with fan and grassy tufts – on the right side of the sheet).

A Posie of Rare Flowers (F. Coles, T. Vere, and J. Wright, 1665-74).  Pepys 4.39; EBBA 21705. Gender – courtship; Emotions – love; Nature – flowers and trees. A wholesome romantic ballad in which a man gathers all sorts of flowers for his sweetheart (picture placement: he appears on the right alongside a Woman with fan, while on the left the same two individuals are boxed together as a Couple with fan and grassy tufts).

The diseased maiden Lover  (F. Coles, T. Vere, and J. Wright, 1665-74). Pepys 3.124; EBBA 21133.  Gender – courtship, femininity, masculinity; Death – tragedy; Emotions – sorrow. Nature – flowers and trees.  A woman pines to death because of her disloyal sweetheart, and he shows himself utterly unrepentant (picture placement: he appears alongside a Woman with fan).

Corydon and Cloris OR, The Wanton Sheepherdess (W. Thackeray, T. Passenger, and W. Whitwood, 1666-79).  Roxburghe 3.138-39; EBBA 30444.  Gender – courtship, sex, femininity, masculinity;  Morality – romantic/sexual; Emotions – longing, love, contentment; Employment – agrarian; Environmnet – animals, girds, flowers/trees; Society – rural life; Bodies – physique/looks.  Cloris finds the advances of Corydon irresistible, and because sex leads to a happy marriage she refuses to see her action as wrong (picture placement: he appears beneath the title, next to a Woman with fan).

A Tryal of True Love: Or, The Loyal Damosels Resolution (W. Thackeray, T. Passenger, and W. Whitwood, 1666-79).  Roxburghe 3.122-23; EBBA 30436.  Gender – courtship, femininity; Emotions – love, patriotism; Employment – sailors/soldiers; Family – children/parents, siblings; Places – travel/transport.  A young woman expresses her deep devotion to her soldier-sweetheart and resolves to travel with him when he goes away to war, even ‘To the Worlds end’ (picture placement: he appears over the opening lines, next to a Woman with patches).

A dainty new Dialogue between HENRY and ELIZABETH.  Being the good Wives Vindication, and the bad Husbands Reformation (no imprint, 1670-90?).  Roxburghe 2.100; EBBA 30566.  Gender – marriage, masculinity, femininity; Recreation – good fellowship, alcohol, games/sports; Morality – familial, romantic/sexual; Economy – hardship/prosperity, household, money; Emotions – anxiety, contentment; Employment – alehouses/inns, prostitution; Crime – prison; Family – children/parents; Bodies – clothing, adornment.  Bess warns Harry that his revelling behaviour is hurting the household, and Harry, after initial attempts at self-justification, assures Bess that he will mend his ways (picture placement: he appears beneath the title, next to a Woman with fan).

The Womens just Complaint: OR, Mans Deceitfulness in Love (P. Brooksby, 1670-98).  Roxburghe 2.536-37; EBBA 31039.  Gender – courtship, masculinity, sex; Morality – romantic/sexual; Emotions – anger, sorrow; Recreation – music, dance.  A complaint, on behalf of women, about the sex-driven deceitfulness that men show so regularly in romance (picture placement: he appears on the right side of the sheet, next to a Woman with fan).

Cupids Delight; Or, The Two young Lovers broyl'd in love (J. Deacon, 1671-99).  Roxburghe 4.9; EBBA 30910.  Gender – courtship, mixed sociability; Emotions – love, hope, contentment; Bodies – looks/physique; Economy – money, hardship/prosperity; Recreation – alcohol.  A man declares his love for a woman, and she agrees graciously to marry him (picture placement: he appears beneath the title, in between a courting couple and a single woman).

Two-penny-worth of Wit For a PENNY. OR, The bad Husband turn'd Thrifty (J. Deacon, 1671-99).  Roxburghe 2.482-83; EBBA 30974.  Family – children/parents; Recreation – alcohol; Gender – marriage, masculinity; Morality – familial; Economy – hardship/prosperity, household, money; Emotions – sorrow, hope; Employment – alehouses/inns; Society – friendship.  A reformed drunkard explains how he drove his family to the brink of destitution through his immoderate spending, and he warns his listeners to apply the lessons in their own lives (picture placement: he appears over the opening lines, next to a tabletop with tankards and a tavern scene with musicians playing in the background).

Love and Constancy OR The true Lovers welcome home from France (John Hose, 1672-90).  Roxburghe 4.19; EBBA 30920.  Gender – courtship; Emotions – love, joy; Employment – sailors/soldiers; Bodies – clothing; Recreation – weddings, alcohol, music, dance.  A woman is overjoyed that her sweetheart is home from the wars in France, and together they resolve to be married (picture placement: he appears on the right side of the sheet, alongside three other small figures, including a Woman with fan).

Jenny, Jenny; Or, The false-hearted Knight, and Kind-hearted Lass (no imprint, c. 1675).  Roxburghe 2.221; EBBA 30682.  Gender – courtship, masculinity, femininity, sex; Places – Scottish; Morality – sexual.  A woman surrenders her maidenhead to a deceiving knight who immediately refuses to support her (picture placement: he stands on the right side of the sheet, next to a Woman with Fan).

The Distressed VIRGIN; Or, The false young-man, and the constant maid (F. Coles, T. Vere, J. Wright, J. Clark, W. Thackeray, and T. Passinger, 1680-81).  Pepys 3.313; EBBA 21327.  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: he appears beneath the title, to the left of a Woman with fan).

The dying tears of a true Lover forsaken, Made on his Death=bed; the hour before his Death (F. Coles, T. Vere, J. Wright, J. Clarke, W. Thackeray, and T. Passinger, 1680-81). Euing 64; EBBA 31742. Gender – courtship, femininity, masculinity; Death – heartbreak, suicide; Emotions – anger, despair, shame; Morality – romantic/sexual; Religion – ghosts/spirits, church; Recreation – music; Employment – crafts/trades; Bodies – looks/physique, health/sickness. In the first part, a man approaches death and is in no doubt that the inconstant woman who broke his heart will suffer for her actions; in the second part, she does (picture placement: he stands immediately over the opening lines, and there are no other woodcuts).

Luke Huttons Lamentation (J. Wright, J. Clarke, W. Thackeray, and T. Passinger, 1681-82).  Pepys 2.147; EBBA 20765. Crime – robbery; Death – execution, godly end; Emotions – sorrow; Family – children and parents; Religion – morality.  A convicted highway robber repents his wicked ways and prepares to be executed (picture placement: he stands over the opening verses).

The Lamenting Shepherdess: OR, The Unkind Shepherd (J. Wright, I. Clarke, W. Thackeray, T. Passinger, and M. Coles, 1682).  Pepys 3.368; EBBA 21384.  Gender – courtship, femininity; Emotions – sorrow, love; Morality – sexual/romantic; Employment – agrarian. Cloris is in despair because her shepherd-sweetheart has rejected her, but she vows to remain constant to him nonetheless (picture placement: he stands over the third column of text, alongside a woman who extends a hand towards him).

A Tryal of skill, performed by a poor decayed Gentlewoman, Who cheated a rich Graiser of Sevenscore pound, and left him a Child to keep (I. Wright, I. Clarke, W. Thackeray, and T. Passinger, 1682-84).  Pepys 4.303; EBBA 21965.  Gender- sex, masculinity, femininity; Emotions – anger; Humour – deceit/disguise, bawdry; Employment – agrarian, crafts/trades; Places – English, travel; Recreation – hospitality, food.  A wealthy grazier comes to London but his plans to celebrate his profits with a night of sex are ruined by an opportunistic woman who runs off with his money while leaving her illegitimate baby behind (picture placement: he stands over the opening verses, next to a woman who extends her hand towards him).

The Woman to the Plow AND The Man to the Hen-Roost (J. Wright, J. Clarke, W. Thackeray, and T. Passinger, 1682-84).  Pepys 4.100; EBBA 21764.  Employment – agrarian; Gender – marriage; Humour – domestic/familial, mockery; Society – rural life.  A rural couple swap their duties with disastrous consequences (picture placement: he stands over the opening verses and next to a Woman with fan).

The Love-sick Maid of Portsmouth (J. Blare, 1682-1706).  Roxburghe 4.54; EBBA 31353.  Gender – courtship, femininity, masculinity, Cupid; Emotions – longing, love, sorrow, contentment; Bodies – looks/physique, health/sickness; Employment – crafts/trades, apprenticeship/service; Religion – divine intervention. A young woman actively woos a man, telling him that she will die if he does not reciprocate, and after initial reluctance he is persuaded by her devotion and despair (picture placement: he appears beneath the title, in between two single maidens).

A Warning to all Lewd Livers (I. Clarke, W. Thackeray, and T. Passinger, 1684-86).  Pepys 2.225v; EBBA 20838. Family – children and parents; Emotions – sorrow; Gender – sex; Recreation – games; Religion – morality; Crime – robbery;  Death – result of immorality. The tale of a young man who wastes all his money on gaming and lewd women before dying miserably on a dung-hill (picture placement: he stands in between a Devil with erection and a woman).

An excellent Ballad Intituled the unfortunate love of a Lancashire Gentleman, and the hard fortune of a fair young Bride (I. C., W. T., and T. Passinger, 1684-86).  Pepys 3.327; EBBA 21342. Gender – courtship; Crime – murder; Death – murder, suicide; Emotions – love; Family – children and parents. A tragic story of love, clandestine marriage, bigamy, murder and suicide (picture placement: he stands over the opening verses of the song).

An excellent Ballad of the Mercers Son of Midhurst , issued on sheet with A Ballad Intituled, The Old Man's Complaint against his Wretched Son (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 (picture placement: he appears over the opening verses of the second song, alongside a Woman with fan).

The Skilfull Doctor of Glocester-shire; OR, A New way to take Physick (J. Clarke, W. Thackeray, and T. Passenger, 1684-86).  Pepys 1.531; EBBA 20253.  Gender – marriage, adultery; Humour – deceit/disguise, extreme situations, misunderstanding, bawdry; Employment – professions; Family - Pregnancy/ childbirth; Bodies – health/sickness. A man impregnates his maid-servant and then hires a doctor to help deceive his wife and escape blame (picture placement: he appears on the right side of the sheet, next to a Woman with fan and three other small generic pictures of men and women).

THE Bleeding Lovers Lamentation: OR, Fair Clorindas sorrowful Complaint for the loss of her Unconstant Strephon (P. Brooksby, J. Deacon, J. Blare, and J. Back, 1688-96).  Roxburghe 2.32; EBBA 30175.  Gender – courtship, masculinity, femininity; Emotions – despair, love, anger; Death – heartbreak; Bodies – physique/looks; Morality – romantic/sexual. Clorinda is heartbroken because her beloved Strephon appears to have fallen in love with somebody else (picture placement: he appears over the fourth of five columns of text, next to a woman who holds a fan in front of her).

The Cobler's CORRANT: OR, THE Old Shooemaker Metamorphos'd Into a Spick and Span new Translator (C Bates, 1690-1716).  Pepys 4.231; EBBA 21891.  Employment – crafts/trades; Economy – livings; Places – English, Irish, travel.  An unusual autobiographical ballad in which a shoemaker-cobbler tells his tale and advertises his business in London (picture placement: he stands over the opening verses, gesturing towards a cobbler at work).

A NOBLE RIDDLE Wisely Expounded (W. Thackeray, E. M. and A. M., 1692-93). Pepys 3.19, EBBA 21012. Gender – courtship, sex; Places – Scotland.  A young knight has sex with a young lady but only agrees to marry her if she can solve a set of riddles (picture placement: he appears over the opening verses, next to a Woman with fan).

Christopher Marsh



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Related Texts

We have not found other early-modern texts that reveal clear textual affinities with this song, though there were many that told stories of dislocated courtship. Two ballads incorporated the expression ‘dying tears’ into their titles, perhaps reflecting the influence of the earlier song. These were The dying tears of a penitent sinner (registered 1638) and Dying tears. Or, Englands joy turned to mourning, for the loss of that vertuous Prince, Henry Duke of Gloucester (1660).

Christopher Marsh

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The dying tears of a true Lover forsaken,/ Made on his Death-bed; the hour before his Death..

The Tune is,  Come live with me.

[Play each verse by clicking anywhere within its text]


THose gentle hearts that true love crave,

Where true love can no harbour have,

From shedding tears cannot refrain,

But mourn with me that lov’d in vain

Sore sick in love, sore sick in mind,

Come gentle death my life unwind

For Cupids shaft and golden Bow,

Now seeks my joys to overthrow.


Upon my Death=bed I have pen’d,

The Story of my woful end;

Vain world behold I dye, I dye,

Here murthered by loves cruelty:

O Sara Hill thou art the Wight,

That turn’d my joy to sharp delight,

Thou art the causer of my death,

Farewel false love, farewel my breath.


Be warn’d you wantons by my fall,

In love there is no truth at all;

Although in love you live untrue,

There is some Maids as false as you:

Her beauty dazled so mine eyes,

That in her breast my heart still lies,

I lov’d her, but she lov’d not me,

Wherefore behold, I dye, I dye.


O cursed eyes, why did you gaze

Upon her fair and flattering face?

O wherefore did my eyes unfold

One fram’d of such unconstant mould:

Come wrap me in my winding sheet,

And bear me sadly through the street,

That from her eyes salt tears may shed,

[When for her sake she sees me dead].


In outward shew she joyned hands,

And vow’d to live in wedlock bands,

But she unkind hath me dispis’d,

And broke my heart so highly priz’d:

O Lord what grief do I sustain,

Which liv’d dispis’d, and lov’d in vain,

But Lord how well are they apaid,

Which hap to chuse a constant Maid.


There is no living wight that knows,

The pineing pain and endless woes,

That we forsaken Lovers hide,

But such as have the torments try’d:

I needs must yield now death doth fade,

Deaths coming cannot be denay’d:

O reach the Bible, pray to [‘for’ in some editions] me,

for that my souls true love shall be.


Go tole my Passing-bell, dear friends,

For here a Lovers journey ends:

But mark what fortune she shall have,

When she hath clos’d me in the Grave,

I do not doubt but you shall see,

Her body paid in misery:

And made a laughing=stock to those,

Who now her great unkindness knows.


You of the Gentle=craft that be,

Shew this kind favour unto me,

That to the world this mournful Song,

Be chanted sweetly you among:

And some of you I do request,

To bear me to my longing rest.

And lay my carkass in the ground

With ringing Bells melodious sound.


To my dear love then go and say,

Her change of mind cast me away,

Bid her hard heart so constant prove,

To him that next shall be her love:

With that he yielded up his life,

Where death gave end to further strife:

Desiring God that sits in heaven,

His lovers sins might be forgiven.


Thus have you heard Hugh Hills good mind

Who never proved in love unkind:

But to his end continued true,

Not changing old friend for a new.


The second part, to the same Tune.


COme young Lasses and listen well,

Unto the tale that I shall tell,

For unto you I will unfold

A matter worthy to be told:

There was a young man lov’d me well,

A Shoomaker his name Hugh Hill,

His heart with love did burn amain,

And I seem’d to love him again.


Then were we made sure together,

But I unconstant as the weather,

Did him forsake, I was so nice,

When in the Church were asked thrice,

When that he saw I was unkind,

And that I had a cruel mind,

For love of me he left his life,

Because I would not be his wife.


I never car’d what he did say,

But suffered him to pine away:

And when he yielded up his breath,

I quickly had forgot his death,

But in my Bed upon a time,

As many things came in my mind,

There smiling to my self I said,

I think that I shall dye a maid.


Then many a Youth I thought upon,

I lov’d and fancy’d many a one:

I hated some, and some reserv’d,

To like and love as they deserv’d:

But in the midst of all my choice,

I heard a lamentable voice,

With Musick sounding to the ear,

But not to me as did appear.


For when I heard what it might be

And what was cause of this Melody,

And at my window a voice did cry,

Hugh Hill is dead, fie Sarah fie,

My conscience then tormented me,

Of my false heart and treachery,

And evermore the voice would cry,

Go pine thy self repent and dye,


Methought it was the voice of Hugh,

Of good Hugh Hill that was so true,

That was so faithful unto me,

Yet used him most wickedly:

O there he did my faults express,

And I the same must needs confess,

For I kill’d him with cruelty,

For which I would but cannot dye


And since that time my heart is light,

And all my body altred quite,

My eyes are sunk into my head,

Which makes me look like one that’s dead

My face that was so fresh and fine,

As clear as is the Claret wine,

Is now transform’d to another hue,

Both grim and loathsome to the view.


My skin is whither’d, my flesh is gone,

And nothing left but skin and bone,

And now I pine most dolefully,

Wishing for death but cannot dye,

Therefore sweet Maids that suitors have

Yeild unto them that true love crave,

O do not cast a man away,

Lest you your selves go to decay.


If unto you a young=man come,

You are so fine you’l ne’r have none,

Until your beauty fade away,

You scorn most men you are so coy:

Fie, fie, remember what you are,

Do not refuse while you are fair,

Unto your true loves be not coy,

‘Tis good to take them while you may.


As you be coy, so I have been,

But see the misery I live in,

That was it not for my souls health,

I would be willing to kill my self:

Therefore fair Maids amend in time,

Lest that your woes be like to mine,

And pray to God to end my grief,

Or else to rid me of my life.


Printed for F. Coles, T. Vere, J. Wright, J. Clarke, W. Thackeray, and T. Passinger.

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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. XXX.

Appearances on Ballad Partners' lists: Pavier and partners, 1624 (as 'Hugh Hill and Sara'); Coles, Vere, Wright and Clarke, 1675; and Thackeray, 1689 ('Hugh Hill & Sarah').

Other registrations with Stationers' Company: none.

No. of known editions c.1560-1711: 7

No. of extant copies: 8

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. V11748).

POINTS: 2 + 30 + 0 + 14 + 8 + 0 + 0 + 0 = 54

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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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