Internet Shakespeare Editions


A pitiful ballad

Inigo Jones: ballad singer.
From Inigo Jones and Ben Jonson (1853).
University of Victoria Library.
Original in the Chatsworth Collection.

"A Sonnett upon the pittiful burneing of the Globe playhowse in London"

This fearful fire began above,
A wonder strange and true,
And to the stage-house did remove,
As round as tailor's clew*;
And burnt down both beam and snag*,
And did not spare the silken flag.

Oh sorrow, pitiful sorrow, and yet all this is true.

Out run the knights, out run the lords,
And there was great ado;
Some lost their hats, and some their swords;
Then out run Burbage* too;
The reprobates, though drunk on Munday*,
Prayed for the Fool and Henry Condye*.

Oh sorrow, &c.

The periwigs and drum-heads* fry
Like to a butter firkin*;
A woeful burning did betide
To many a good buff jerkin*.
Then with swollen eyes, like drunken Flemmings*,
Distressed stood old stuttering Heminges*.
Oh sorrow, &c.

No shower his rain did there down force
In all that Sunshine weather,
To save that great renowned house;
Nor thou, O ale-house, neither.
Had it begun below, sans doubt,
Their wives for feare had pissed it out.
Oh sorrow, &c.


  1. A glossary

    A spool of thread; the Globe was round.
    A projecting beam.
    The principal actor of Shakespeare's company, the King's Men, and one of the major shareholders.
    A pun on "Monday" and Anthony Munday, a minor dramatist of the period.
    The Fool and Henry Condye
    At this stage in the career of the King's Men, the fool was Robert Armin; Henry Condell was a shareholder and one of the publishers of the First Folio.
    Periwigs and drum-heads
    Gentry, wearing wigs, and bald-headed people.
    A small barrel in which salted butter was stored.
    Buff jerkin
    A leather jacket.
    A generic term for inhabitants of Holland and Flanders; they were considered to be great ale drinkers.
    Heminge was business manager for the Globe Theatre.