Imported Popular Song in The Humorous Magistrate: 'The Noble Acts of Arthur of the Round Table' and 'Come heare, Lady Muses'
In the anonymous Caroline comedy The Humorous Magistrate, characters make references to two popular songs. In act 2, Mistress Mumble sings a snippet of 'The Noble Acts of Arthur of the Round Table' at the approach of the wooing lawyer, Strife. In act 5, a group of fiddlers make reference to a manuscript ballad beginning, 'Come heare, Lady Muses', infamous for its attack on George Villiers, duke of Buckingham. This note examines the sources and traditions informing these songs and offers a musical setting for Mistress Mumble's line. I then illuminate an intriguing connection via 'Come heare, Lady Muses' between The Humorous Magistrate and another anonymous play entitled The Emperor's Favourite, considered by many to have been written by the same playwright. Finally, I consider the implications of the two songs, as they exist in their plays, with regard to author and audience.
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