The Lyrics of Henry VIII/Deme the best of euery dowt

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Lyrics  |  Manuscript  |  Authors and Composers
The Lyrics of Henry VIII
Appendix 1: Lyrics by Occasion/Theme  |  Appendix 2: Textual/Musical Witnesses  |  Appendix 3: Bibliography

Adew adew le company Hey troly loly loly

[f. 79v]

Deme the best of euery dowt
tyll the trowth be tryed owt

deme the best of euery dowte
tyll the trwth be tryed owt

deme the best of euery dowt
tyll the trowth be tryed owt.

J. ffluyd

Textual Commentary[edit]

“Deme the best of euery dowt” is a moralising, proverbial expression. This couplet is also found on a bronze jug of Richard II’s reign (Evans, English Art, 90). For a popular variant, see also John Heywood’s Ballads and Songs (264, l. 24) and his Dialogue: “Tyme tryeth trouth in every doubt. And deme the best, till time hath tryde the trouth out” (76, ll. 217–18); see also Whiting (T326).

2 tryed Be first tried.

“Deme the best of euery dowt” is a round in three voices. In L1587 it is copied twelve times in full, and several more times in part, as pen practice, containing the variant first line “Deme the best in every dowte.” In OxHill the English lines are followed by the Latin “In dubijs serui melius cape pessima sperne.” This lyric is listed in H’s table of contents as the ninety-fourth work.

This piece is indexed in Robbins Index & Suppl. 675.5 and Ringler MS TM344 & TM343 (see also Ringler MS TM88). It is reprinted in Flügel Anglia 247, Dyboski ci. 131, Stevens M&P 413, and Stevens MCH8 57.

Textual Notes[edit]

Texts Collated[edit]

H1,2,3 (f. 79v), L15871,2 (2/4 16, f. 212r), OxRawl86 (31), OxHill (f. 200v).

1 the best of euery] no thyng that is in OxHill
2 tryed] try H1, tryed H2,3, OxRawl86, tried L15871,2, OxHill