NOTES ON ISSUE 6: ALLUSIONS
…In London, he had expected neither to walk on pavements
of gold, nor to lie on beds of roses…
Richard Whittington, who grew up to be Lord Mayor of London three times, apparently came to the city having heard that the pavements were made of gold (Sanders 98); Darnay neither expects such a land of opportunity nor, apparently, a land of pastoral ease. The “beds of roses” alludes to a passage in Christopher Marlowe’s famous “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love” (1599):
Come live with me and be my love,
And we will all the pleasures prove
That valleys, groves, hills, and fields,
Woods, or steepy mountain yields.
And we will sit upon the rocks,
Seeing the shepherds feed their flocks,
By shallow rivers to whose falls
Melodious birds sing madrigals.
And I will make thee beds of roses
And a thousand fragrant posies,
A cap of flowers, and a kirtle
Embroidered all with leaves of myrtle;
A gown made of the finest wool
Which from our pretty lambs we pull;
Fair lined slippers for the cold,
With buckles of the purest gold;
A belt of straw and ivy buds,
With coral clasps and amber studs:
And if these pleasures may thee move,
Come live with me, and be my love.
The shepherds’ swains shall dance and sing
For thy delight each May morning:
If these delights thy mind may move,
Then live with me and by my love.