Percy's Reliques - A Song to the Lute in Musicke.

A Song to the Lute in Musicke.

            This sonnet (which is ascribed to Richard Edwards,[ 1] in the "Paradise of Daintie Devises," fo. 31, b.) is by Shakspeare made the subject of some pleasant ridicule in his Romeo and Juliet, act iv. sc. 5, where he introduces Peter putting this question to the musicians.

"Peter . . . why 'Silver Sound? why 'Musicke with her silver sound?'" what say you, Simon Catling?
1st. Musician. Marry, sir, because silver hath a sweet sound.
Pet. Pretty! what say you, Hugh Rebecke?
2nd. Mus. I say, silver sound, because musicians sound for silver.
Pet. Pretty too! what say you, James Sound-post.
3 Mus. Faith, I know not what to say.
Pet. I will say it for you: It is 'Musicke with her silver sound,' because musicians have no gold for sounding."-- Edit. 1793, vol. xiv. p. 529.

            This ridicule is not so much levelled at the song itself (which for the time it was written is not inelegant) as at those forced and unnatural explanations often given by us painful editors and expositors of ancient authors.

            This copy is printed from an old quarto manuscript in the Cotton Library [Vesp. A. 25], intitled, "Divers things of Hen. viij's time:" with some corrections from The Paradise of Dainty Devises, 1596.

WHERE gripinge grefes the hart would wounde,
And dolefulle dumps the mynde oppresse,
There musicke with her silver sound
With spede is wont to send redresse
Of trobled mynds, in every sore,
Swete musicke hathe a salve in store.

In joye yt maks our mirthe abounde,
In woe yt cheres our hevy sprites;
Be-strawghted heads relyef hath founde,
By musickes pleasaunt swete delightes:
Our senses all, what shall I say more?
Are subjecte unto musicks lore.

The Gods by musicke have theire prayse;
The lyfe, the soul therein doth joye:
For, as the Romayne poet sayes,
In seas, whom pyrats would destroy,
A dolphin saved from death most sharpe
Arion playing on his harpe.

O heavenly gyft, that rules the mynd,
Even as the sterne dothe rule the shippe!
O musicke, whom the Gods assinde
To comforte manne, whom cares would nippe!
Since thow both man and beste doest move,
What beste ys he, wyll the disprove?

NOTES

1. See Wood's Athen., Tanner's Biblioth. and Hawkins's Hist. of Music.

 

Previous Next