So many people learned and repeated the ballads, and for three hundred years they were the chief literature of the people.
I do not mean you to think that we have any ballads remaining to us as old as the thirteenth or the beginning of the fourteenth century, which was the time in which Havelok was written.
And so true is this, that ballads which have never been written down, but which are heard only in out-of-the-way places, sung or said by people who have never learned to read, have really more of the old-time feeling about them than many of those which we find in books.
Then he sang an ancient ballad of the time of good King Arthur, called "The Marriage of Sir Gawaine," which you may some time read yourself, in stout English of early times; and as he sang, all listened to that noble tale of noble knight and his sacrifice to his king.
A metal man he is by trade, and a mettled man by nature; moreover, he doth sing a lovely ballad.
To tell you the truth Wegg,' said Boffin, 'I wasn't thinking of poetry, except in so fur as this:--If you was to happen now and then to feel yourself in the mind to tip me and Mrs Boffin one of your ballads, why then we should drop into poetry.
Was it on a Monday morning, when the butcher-boy had been to our house for orders, and bought a ballad of me, which, being unacquainted with the tune, I run it over to him?
On which occasion, as the ballad that was made about it describes:
The old ballad
which tells of their fight says that they thought nothing for to flee, but stiffly for to stand.
A ballad, a ballad,'' said the hermit, ``against all the ocs and ouis of France.
I will assay, then,'' said the knight, ``a ballad composed by a Saxon glee-man, whom I knew in Holy Land.
Don Quixote was firmly persuaded that this was the Marquis of Mantua, his uncle, so the only answer he made was to go on with his ballad, in which he told the tale of his misfortune, and of the loves of the Emperor's son and his wife all exactly as the ballad sings it.
But to all questions the other only went on with his ballad.
All the affectation of manner which she had displayed at the beginning disappeared as the ballad proceeded.
That it was a jest there was no doubt whatever; he knew that well enough, and had good reason, too, for his conviction; for during her recitation of the ballad Aglaya had deliberately changed the letters A.