1893 text

“The Blacksmith” was the same tune as “Green Sleeves.” The earliest known copy of “The Praise of the Blacksmith” is in “An Antidote against Melancholy,” 1661. See “Roxburghe Ballads,” ed. W. Chappell, 1872, vol. ii. p. 126. (Ballad Society.)


This text comes from a footnote on a diary entry in the 1893 edition edited by Henry B. Wheatley.

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meech  •  Link

The April 23 1660 page has some comments regarding the age of "Greensleeves". This is from the following website: http://www.contemplator.com/england/grenslevs.html.

"There is an entry in the Stationers' Register in 1580 licensing Richard Jones to print A new Northern Dittye of the Lady Green-Sleeves. The earliest lyrics that survive are in A Handful of Pleasant Delights (1584) (see link below to those lyrics). The tune first appears in 1652.
Legend has it that Henry VIII wrote it for Anne Boleyn during their courtship (circa 1530). This has never been substantiated and is probably not true due to the fact that the Italian style used in the tune did not arrive in England until after his death.

It has beens suggested that the "Greensleeves" refers to courtesans, or prostitutes. According to Wikipedia, "at the time, the word "green" had sexual connotations, most notably in the phrase "a green gown", a reference to the way that grass stains might be seen on a woman's dress if she had engaged in sexual intercourse out-of-doors."

Shortly after the Civil War William Chatterton Dix wrote the Christmas carol What Child is This to the tune.

A reading of the lyrics shows it is not a sweet, innocuous love song, but a plea from a 16th century gentleman to his bored mistress. There are countless versions of the lyrics, including fourteen Cavalier songs and John Gay wrote lyrics to the tune for The Beggar's Opera. And there are countless verses. This page leaves out several of them."

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References

Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.

1660