Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

establishment of royal and noble houses the latter would necessarily be most numerous, so we are not to wonder that the band of music (entered under the general name of Minstrels) should consist of instrumental performers chiefly, if not altogether: for, as the composer or singer of heroic tales to the harp would necessarily be a solitary performer, we must not expect to find him in the band along with the trumpeters, fluters, &c.

However, as we sometimes find mention of "Minstrels of music 9:" so at other times we hear of “expert Minstrels and Musicians of tongue and cunning," (Bв 3), p. xcvi. 10, meaning doubtless by the former Singers, and probably by the latter phrase Composers of songs. Even "Minstrels music" seems to be applied to the species of verse used by Minstrels in the passage quoted below1.

But although, from the predominancy of instrumental music, Minstrelsy was at length chiefly to be understood in this sense, yet it was still applied to the poetry of Minstrels so late as the time of Queen Elizabeth, as appears in the following extract from Puttenham's Arte of English Poesie, p. 9. Who, speaking of the first composers of Latin verses in rhyme, says, "All that they wrote to the favor or prayse

9 T. Warton, ii. 258, note (a), from Leland's Collect. (vol. iv. Append. edit. 1774, p. 267.)

10 The curious author of the Tour in Wales, 1773, 4to. p. 435, I find to have read these words "in toune and contrey;" which I can scarce imagine to have been applicable to Wales at that time. Nor can I agree with him in the representation he has given (p. 367) concerning the Cymmorth or meeting, wherein the Bards exerted their powers to excite their countrymen to war; as if it were by a deduction of the particulars he enumerates, and as it should seem in the way of harangue, &c. After which, "the band of minstrels ...... struck up; the harp, the crwth, and the pipe filled the measures of enthusiasm, which the others had begun to inspire." Whereas it is well known, that the Bard chanted his enthusiastic effusions to the harp; and as for the term Minstrel, it was not, I conceive, at all used by the Welsh; and in English it comprehended both the bard and the musician.

1 "Your ordinarie rimers use very much their measures in the odde, as nine and eleven, and the sharpe accent upon the last sillable, which therefore makes him go ill favouredly and like a MINSTRELS MUSICKE." (Puttenham's Arte of Eng. Poesie, 1589, p. 59.) This must mean his vocal music, otherwise it appears not applicable to the subject.

of princes, they did it in such manner of Minstralsie; and thought themselves no small fooles, when they could make their verses go all in ryme."

I shall conclude this subject with the following description of Minstrelsy given by John Lidgate at the beginning of the 15th century, as it shows what a variety of entertainments were then comprehended under this term, together with every kind of instrumental music then in use.

-"Al maner MYNSTRALCYE,
That any man kan specifye.

Ffor there were Rotys of Almayne,
And eke of Arragon, and Spayne:
SONGES, Stampes, and eke Daunces;
Divers plente of plesaunces:

And many unkouth NOTYS NEW

OF SWICHE FOLKE AS LOVID TREUE 2.

And instrumentys that did excelle,
Many moo than I kan telle.
Harpys, Fythales, and eke Rotys
Well according to her [i. e. their] notys,
Lutys, Ribibles, and Geternes,

More for estatys, than tavernes:
Orgay[n]s, Cytolis, Monacordys. —

There were Trumpes, and Trumpettes,
Lowde Shall[m]ys, and Doucettes."

T. Warton, ii. 225, note (*).

2 By this phrase I understand, new Tales or narrative Rhymes composed by the Minstrels on the subject of true and faithful Lovers, &c.

END OF THE ESSAY.

The foregoing Essay on the Ancient Minstrels has been very much enlarged and improved since the first edition, with respect to the Anglo-Saxon Minstrels, in consequence of some objections proposed by the reverend and learned Mr. Pegge, which the reader may find in the second volume of the ARCHEOLOGIA, printed by the Antiquarian Society; but which that gentleman has since retracted in the most liberal and candid manner in the third volume of the ARCHEOLOGIA, No. xxxiv. p. 310.

And in consequence of similar objections respecting the English Minstrels after the Conquest, the subsequent part hath been much enlarged, and additional light thrown upon the subject; which, to prevent cavil, hath been extended to MINSTRELSY in all its branches, as it was established in England, whether by natives or foreigners.

I sever sert the sit mag of Fercie and Douglas, that I found một mỹ kaart nuoret more fian with a trumpet: and yet “in” is sung bai by some minte crunter, with no runguer voice, than rude soylie; which beeing evis expected in the dust and cobweb of that civili age, what wold it work, trimmed in the gorgeous eloquence of Pindare!

SIR PHILIP STONET'S DEFENCE OF PORTRI

ANCIENT POETRY.

&c.

SERIES THE FIRST.

BOOK I.

BRARY

I.

The Ancient Ballad of Chevy-Chase.

THE fine heroic song of CHEVY-CHASE has ever been admired by competent judges. Those genuine strokes of nature and artless passion, which have endeared it to the most simple readers, have recommended it to the most refined; and it has equally been the amusement of our childhood, and the favourite of our riper years.

Mr. Addison has given an excellent critique1 on this very popular ballad, but is mistaken with regard to the antiquity of the common received copy; for this, if one may judge from the style, cannot be older than the time of Elizabeth, and was probably written after the eulogium of Sir Philip Sidney: perhaps in consequence of it. I flatter myself, I have here recovered the genuine antique poem, the true original song; which appeared rude even in the time of Sir Philip, and caused him to lament that it was so evil-appareled in the rugged garb of antiquity.

This curiosity is printed from an old manuscript, at the 1 Spectator, No. 70, 74.

Percy. 1.

8

end of Hearne's Preface to Gul. Nubrigiensis Hist. 1719, 8vo, vol. i. To the MS. copy is subjoined the name of the author, RYCHARD SHEALE2: wham Hearne had so little judgment as to suppose to be the same with a R. Sheale, who was living in 1588. But whoever examines the gradation of language and idiom in the following volumes, will be convinced that this is the production of an earlier poet. It is indeed expressly mentioned among some very ancient songs in an old book intituled, The Complaint of Scotland 3, (fol. 42,) under the title of the HUNTIS OF CHEVET, where the two following lines are also quoted:

The Perssee and the Mongumrye mette
That day, that day, that gentil day 5:

Which, though not quite the same as they stand in the ballad, yet differ not more than might be owing to the author's quoting from memory. Indeed, whoever considers the style and orthography of this old poem, will not be inclined to place it lower than the time of Henry VI.; as, on the other hand, the mention of James the Scottish King6, with one or two anachronisms, forbids us to assign it an earlier date. King James I., who was prisoner in this kingdom at the death of his father7, did not wear the crown of Scotland till the second year of our Henry VI.8, but before the end of that long reign, a third James had mounted the throne 9. A succession of two or three Jameses, and the long detention of one of them in England, would render the name familiar to the English, and dispose a poet in those rude times to give it to any Scottish king he happened to mention.

2 Subscribed, after the usual manner of our old poets, expliceth [explicit] quoth Rychard Sheale.

3 One of the earliest productions of the Scottish press now to be found. The title-page was wanting in the copy here quoted; but it is supposed to have been printed in 1540. See Ames.

4 See Pt. 2. v. 25.

5 See Pt. 1. v. 99.

6 Pt. 2. v. 36, 140.

7 Who died Aug. 5, 1406, in the seventh year of our Hen. IV.
8 James I. was crowned May 22, 1424; murdered, Feb. 21, 1436-7.
9 In 1460. Hen. VI. was deposed 1461; restored and slain, 1471.

« FöregåendeFortsätt »