The Lyrics of Henry VIII/Pastyme with good companye, Henry VIII

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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

En frolyk weson Adew mes amours et mon desyre

[ff. 14v-15r]

Early Modern English                               Modern English
Pastyme with good companye Pastime with good company
I loue and schall vntyll I dye I love and shall until I die
gruche who lust but none denye grudge who likes, but none deny,
so God be plesyd thus leue wyll I so God be pleased, thus live will I
for my pastance for my pastance:
hunt syng and daunce hunt, sing, and dance.
my hart is sett My heart is set!
all goodly sport All goodly sport
for my comfort for my comfort.
who schall me let Who shall me let?
youthe must haue sum daliance Youth must have some dalliance,
off good or yll sum pastance. of good or ill some pastance.
Company me thynkes then best Company I think then best –
all thoughts and fansys to deiest. All thoughts and fantasies to digest.
ffor Idillnes For idleness
is cheff mastres is chief mistress
of vices all of vices all.
then who can say Then who can say
but myrth and play but mirth and play
is best of all. is best of all?
Company with honeste Company with honesty
is vertu vices to ffle. is virtue – vices to flee.
Company is good and ill Company is good and ill,
but euery man hath hys fre wyll. But every man has his free will.
the best ensew The best ensue.
the worst eschew The worst eschew.
my mynde schalbe My mind shall be
vertu to vse Virtue to use.
vice to refuce Vice to refuse.
thus schall I vse me. Thus shall I use me!

Textual Commentary[edit | edit source]

This piece is a lyric of courtly and youthful doctrine, urging the merits of particular pastimes chiefly because they combat idleness. “Pastyme with good companye” is the best known and most widely circulated of Henry VIII’s lyrics: “His fine ballad, ‘Pastance with good company,’ rank[s] among the better known” (William H. Dixon, History of Two Queens, II.XII.iii.298). As noted in a letter from Pace to Wolsey (L&P Henry VIII III [i]: 447, #1188), the royal almoner incorporated this lyric and “I loue vnloued suche is myn aduenture” (H 74) into his sermon while preaching in the King’s hall in March of 1521. In the Complaint of Scotland, it is mentioned as the first of the shepherd’s songs (Murray 64; lxxxii #49). The tune is very much like that of his “Though sum saith that yough rulyth me” (H 51). A related lyric, the continental “De mon triste desplaisir” (Ward 123) composed by Richafort ca.1520 (Fallows, “Henry” 29), may have a parodic relation to this (Block 2.301-5). A moralized version, “Pleasouris of Aige,” exists in Cambridge, Pepysian Library, Magdalene College MS 1,408, the Maitland Quarto MS (f. 31r; Craigie, ed. 63) and, with small variance, in Cambridge, Pepysian Library, Magdalene College MS 2,553, the Maitland Folio MS (#63; 289).

1 ff. Pastyme Cf. the general focus on this notion in Hawe’s Pastime of Pleasure; also the words of the Pardoner in Heywood’s Foure PP: “So helpe me god it lyketh nat me / Where company is met and well agreed /Good pastyme doth ryght well in dede / But who can syt in dalyaunce / Men syt in suche a variaunce / As we were set or ye came in / Whiche stryfe thys man dyd fyrst begynne / Allegynge that suche men as vse / For loue of god nat and refuse” (ll. 324 ff.). For negative connotations of the concept of “pastyme,” see Heywood’s Johan Johan: “Many an honest wyfe goth thyther also / For to make some pastyme and sporte / But than my wyfe so ofte doth thyther resorte / That I fere she wyll make me weare a fether” (ll. 92-95). Cf. also the words ascribed to Henry, at his death, by Cavendish (Metrical Visions): “Who had more pastyme? who had more dalyaunce? / Who had more ayd? who had more allyaunce? / Who had more howsis of pleasure and disport? / Who had suche places as I for my comfort?” (ll. 1303-6).
1-2 companye . . . dye Cf. the proverbial “Qwyllys a man haves owth Cumpany wil with him go til he be broght to noght” (Brunner, Salamon sat and sayde, 291.5-6).
1 good companye Cf. the proverbial “Gud cumpany gud men makis” (Girvan, Counsail and Teiching at the Vys Man Gaif his Sone, 66.5-6).
3 gruche ... denye This line has been paraphrased as “let grudge whosoever will, none shall refuse (it to me)” (Stevens M&P 345). Margaret of Austria, Regent of the Netherlands, employed a similar motto, “Groigne qui groigne et vive Burgoigne” (Ives 22 ff.), as did Anne Boleyn (“Ainsi sera, groigne qui groigne”); a lyric attributed to Wyatt, “If yt ware not,” has as the first line of its burden “Grudge on who liste, this ys my lott” (ca.1530); see Greene (“Carol” 438), Jungman (398), and Siemens (“Thomas Wyatt, Anne Boleyn, and Henry VIII’s Lyric”).
4 god be plesyd Cf. the proverbial “Hoe so lustythe god to plese, let hys neyghbore lyve in ese” (inscription; see Archaeologia50 [1887]: 149); “Please god and love hym and doubte ye nothynge” (Bradshaw, Life of St. Werburge of Chester, 95.2589-90).
5 pastance Pastime (OED n I).
6 hunt syng and daunce Elyot’s Governour (1531) contains chapter divisions adopting these categories: hunting (I: Ch. 18), singing (I: Ch. 7), and dancing (I: Chs. 19-25); in his Second Sermon before Edward VI, Latimer elaborates on this line and urges that these are improper as pastimes for a King except when they are used “for recreation, when he is weary of weighty affairs, that he may return to them the more lusty” (79); Hall reports the King’s engagement in similar activities while on his progress to Windsor in 1510: Henry was “exercisyng hym self daily in shotyng, singing, daunsyng, wrastelyng, casting of the barre . . .” (515); a French Papal diplomat stated of Henry in his early reign that he was a “youngling, car[ing] for nothing but girls and hunting, and wast[ing] his father’s patrimony” (L&P Henry VIII, II [i]: 292). Cf., also, the unattributed “Wher be ye” (H 70.22-3).
8-9 sport ... comfort See Hall’s description of Henry VIII’s coronation, in which a cryer comments on the earthly duty of taking care of one’s body as well as one’s soul: “I perceiue that thei take a greate care, for the profite of their purses, with pleasure of huntyng and haukyng, besides other their pastymes, after they come to the best of their promocion, with small kepyng of hospitalitie” (510); “Clerkis sayis it is richt profitabill Amangis ernist to ming ane merie sport, To light the spreit, and gar the time be schort” (Henryson, Poems and Fables, 3.19-21); cf. also Barclay’s Myrrour of Good Maners (“Temperance”): “Of fresshe lusty iuuent yf thou be in the floure / Than get the to sportys as is to the semynge / Thy strenth to exercyce in pastyme of labour / But vse must thou mesure and order in all thynge / With tyme and company as semyth best syttynge / Obserue these circustancys and ganynge is lawdable / Or els it is foly and thynge vytuperable” (ll. 2534-40).
10 let Hinder, prevent, stand in the way (OEDv2, I); a common Tudor defiance; in the interlude Youth (ca.1513-14), the character of Youth states “I will not let for thee” (Lancashire, Two Tudor Interludes 106, l.70; 91n217); see also LDev (f. 28v): “Who shall let me then off ryght / onto myself hym to retane.” [god] . . . let “That god wyl ayde no man can lette” (Berners, Boke of Duke Huon of Burdeux, 480.24-26).
11 youthe See the character of Youth, who is intended to represent Henry VIII (Lancashire, Two Tudor Interludes 54); also see note to l.10, above. daliance sport, play with a companion, especially (and possibly one of the senses intended here) amorous toying, flirtation; also, talk of a light and familiar kind (OED 1, 2); “At festes, reuels, and at daunces, That ben occasions of dalliance” (Chaucer, Canterbury Tales, Physician’s Tale, l.66); “thai schall ete and drinke and hafe dalyaunce with wymmen” (Mandeville, Buke of John Maundeuill, xxvi.124); for futher possible negative connotations of pastime and dalliance, cf. also the words of Cupidity and Concupiscence to Mary, in her fall, in Wager’ The Life and Repentaunce of Marie Magdalene: “Cupiditi / I will see that you shall haue good in abundance, / To maintaine you in all pleasure and daliance. / Concupiscece. / And new kyndes of pastyme I will inuent, / With the which I trust ye shal be content” (ll. 745-51). daliance ... pastance Similar rhyme yoking in “To have in remembryng Her goodly dalyance. And her goodly pastance” (Skelton, Philip Sparowe, l.1095).
12 good or yll See l.23, below.
14 fansys Products of creative imagination or fancy, inclinations or desires with possible amorous overtones (OED sb8; MEDn.3b, 4b, 5). deiest disperse, trow down, cast, degrade (MED “dejecten” v).
15-17 ydillnes ... all Proverbial (see Whiting I6, c1500); “Ydleness ... is maystresse of many evylles” (Caxton, The ryal book or book for a kyng, R4r-v); “Idilnes ... in youthe is moder of all vice” (Flügel, Die Proverbes von Lekenfield und Wresil, Anglia 14 [1891-92]: 482); “Ydilnes ... is the yate of all vices and namely of carnel vices ” (Vaissier, A devout treatyse called the Tree and xii. frutes of the holy goost, 147.14-15); see also notes to lines 22, 26 and 28, below. Contrast the sentiment in Barclay’s Myrrour of Good Maners: “Some pastyme of body is worse than ydelnes / As tables contynuall the cardesand the dyse” (ll. 964-65). Cf. also the justification of jousting given in the petition to jousts presented to Henry VIII for the tournaments of 23 & 27 May and 1 & 3 June 1510, in which the proposed purpose of the jousts is to eschew “Idleness the ground of all vice” (BL MS Harleian 69, 3r ff.).
19 myrth [Of aids to health] “... refreshe the mynde wythe myrthe, exercyse the body with labour” (Whittinton, Vulgaria, 43.11-13).
22 ... ffle Cf. “Idilnes giffis nourysingis to vicis. Tharefor, quha-sa wil be Vertuise suld Idilnes fle, As sais ‘the romance of the rose’” (Metcalfe, Legends of the Saints in the Scottish Dialect, I.1.1-5).
23 good and ill Cf. “Fore be thar cumpany men may knaw To gud or ill quhethir at thai draw” (Girvan, Counsail and Teiching at the Vys Man Gaif his Sone, 66.9-12); see also l.12, above.
24 fre wyll Note the character of Free Will in the anonymous interlude Hickscorner (Lancashire, Two Tudor Interludes).
26 esshew Cf. “The ministre and the norice unto vices, Which that men clepe in English ydelnesse, That porter of the gate is of delices To eschue” (Chaucer, Canterbury Tales, Second Nun’s Prologue, l.1-3); “ ... in eschewyng of ydleness moder of all vices” (Caxton, Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye, I.4.3-4); “For senec seith that ‘the wise man that dredeth harmes, eschueth harmes, ne he falleth into perils that perils eschueth’” (Chaucer, Canterbury Tales, Tale of Melibee, ll.1320-21). See also notes to ll.15-17, above.
28 vertu Cf. “Moodir off vices, callid idilnesse, Which off custum ech vertu set aside In ech acourt wher she is maistresse” (Lydgate, Fall of Princes I.263-4.2249-51).

In H, the first stanza of the lyric appears in three voices, each set to music; the remaining text is presented following the third voice. “Pastyme with good companye” appears in two versions in LRit, a choir book containing a mixture of secular and religious lyrics dated ca. 1510. In the second version the lyric is given the title “The Kynges Ballade” (f. 141v), implying that it was not copied prior to Henry’s accession in 1509. LR58 (ca. 1507-47), a commonplace book of composers from Henry VIII’s court which gathers liturgical, religious, and secular pieces with their musical settings, contains the incipit “pastyme” in the margin next to its music (f. 55r). The music of this piece, without lyrics, appears in EPan (late sixteenth century) under the heading “Passe tyme withe good companie” (f. 10r). Melchiore de Barberiis’ tenth lutebook (Venice, 1549) contains a version headed “Pas de mi bon compagni” (Brown 113-14).

“Pastyme with good companye” is indexed in Robbins Index & Suppl. 2737.5, Ringler MS TM1312, and Crum P70. Reprinted in Black 57-58, Briggs Collection 6, Chambers Lyrics 212-13, Chambers Verse 36-37, Chappell Account 372-73, Chappell Music 1.42-45, Chappell Popular 1.56, Flügel Anglia 230, Flügel Neuengl. 146, Furnivall cxlix, Hebel 8, Hebel and Hudson 8, Jones 47, MacNamara, Rimbault 37, Stafford Antiqua 1.44, Stevens M&P 344, Stevens MCH8 10-11, and Trefusis 1-2.

Textual Notes[edit | edit source]

Texts Collated[edit | edit source]

H1,2,3 (ff. 14v-15r, ll. 1-10 H2,3 ), LRit(1)1,2,3 (ff. 136v-137r, ll. 1-10), LRit(2)1,2,3(ff. 141v-142r)

Emendations of the Copy Text (H1):

4 leue] loue H1, leue H2,3, lyf LRit(1)1,3, lyue LRit(2)1, lyfe LRit(2)2,3
15 for] ffor H1,2,3, LRit(1)1,2,3, For LRit(2)1,2,3

Collation (Substantive Variants):

2 vntyll] tyl H2,3, vnto LRit(1)1, vn to LRit(1)2,3, LRit(2)1,3; I] I do H3
3 substitute for my pastaunce LRit(1)2; who lust] so wylle LRit(1)1,3, so woll LRit(2)1, so wyll LRit(2)2, who wyll LRit(2)3
4 substitute honte syng and daunce LRit(1)2; leue] loue H1, leue H2,3, lyf LRit(1)1,3, lyue LRit(2)1, lyfe LRit(2)2,3; thus] so LRit(1)1,3, this LRit(2)1, this LRit(2)2,3
5 substitute my hert ys set LRit(1)2; pastance^] dystaunce. LRit(2)1, dystaunce. LRit(2)2, dystaunce LRit(2)3
6 substitute yn sport LRit(1)2
7 substitute to my comfort LRit(1)2
8 substitute who shall me lett LRit(1)2; substitute yn sport LRit(1)1
9 substitute Gruch so woll but noon deny LRit(1)2; for] to LRit(1)1,3, LRit(2)1,2,3
10 substitute so god be plesyd so lyf woll I. LRit(1)2
11 must] woll LRit(2)1, wyll LRit(2)2,3; sum] nedes LRit(2)1,2,3
14 fansys] fantyses LRit(2)1, fantases LRit(2)2, fantasyes LRit(2)3