A Handful of Pleasant Delights (1584)

A Handful of Pleasant Delights (1584)

A Handful of Pleasant Delights (1584)

A Handful of Pleasant Delights (1584)

Excerpt

The Handful of Pleasant Delights, a miscellany of broadside ballads composed "byClement Robinson and divers others," is preserved in a unique copy at the British Museum (press-mark C.39.b.46). It came into the possession of the Museum on October 4, 1871, and bears a printed note, clipped from the sale catalogue (1819, p. 164) of the White Knights Library, that runs as follows:

This is presumed to be the ONLY PERFECT COPY of a very interesting Collection of Old Poetry, which acquires additional interest from the allusion made to the First Poem in the Collection, by the frantic Ophelia when strewing the flowers in her phrenzy: "There's Rosemary, that's for remembrance," & c. See Hamlet, Act IV. Scene V.

The note, however, is inaccurate, for the small quarto volume lacks one leaf (signature B vj). A number of pages, furthermore, are very badly blurred and faded, and others have key-words and signature-marks pared away by the binders. Several pages are almost undecipherable.

Because of Shakespeare's familiarity with it, the Handful of Pleasant Delights has long interested scholars. While the single known copy was owned by John Brand and Colonel Byng, several students were permitted to examine it. Joseph Ritson had seen it before 1802 . . .

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