Percy's Reliques - An Essay On The Ancient Minstrels In England.

An Essay On The Ancient Minstrels In England.

I. The MINSTRELS ( A)[ 1] were an order of men in the Middle Ages, who subsisted by the arts of poetry and music, and sang to the harp verses composed by themselves, or others.[ 2] They also appear to have accompanied their songs with mimicry and action, and to have practised such various means of diverting as were much admired in those rude times, and supplied the want of more refined entertainment ( B). These arts rendered them extremely popular and acceptable in this and all the neighbouring countries, where no high scene of festivity was esteemed complete that was not set off with the exercise of their talents, and where, so long as the spirit of chivalry subsisted, they were protected and caressed, because their songs tended to do honour to the ruling passion of the times, and to encourage and foment a martial spirit.

            The Minstrels seem to have been the genuine successors of the ancient Bards ( C), who, under different names, were admired and revered from the earliest ages among the people of Gaul, Britain, Ireland, and the North, and indeed by almost all the first inhabitants of Europe, whether of Celtic or Gothic race;[ 3] but by none more than by our own Teutonic ancestors,[ 4] particularly by all the Danish tribes[ 5]. Among these they were distinguished by the name of SCALDS, a word which denotes "smoothers and polishers of language[ 6]. The origin of their art was attributed to ODIN, or WODEN, the father of their gods, and the professors of it were held in the highest estimation. Their skill was considered as something divine; their persons were deemed sacred; their attendance was solicited by kings; and they were everywhere loaded with honours and rewards. In short, Poets and their art were held among them in that rude admiration which is ever shown by an ignorant people to such as excel them in intellectual accomplishments.

            As these honours were paid to Poetry and Song from the earliest times in those countries which our Anglo-Saxon ancestors inhabited before their removal into Britain, we may reasonably conclude that they would not lay aside all their regard for men of this sort immediately on quitting their German forests. At least, so long as they retained their ancient manners and opinions they would still hold them in high estimation. But as the Saxons, soon after their establishment in this island, were converted to Christianity, in proportion as literature prevailed among them this rude admiration would begin to abate, and poetry would be no longer a peculiar profession. Thus the POET and the MINSTREL early with us became two persons ( D). Poetry was cultivated by men of letters indiscriminately, and many of the most popular rhymes were composed amidst the leisure and retirement of monasteries. But the minstrels continued a distinct order of men for many ages after the Norman Conquest, and got their livelihood by singing verses to the harp at the houses of the great ( E). There they were still hospitably and respectfully received, and retained manny of the honours shown to their predecessors, the BARDS and SCALDS ( F). And though, as their art declined, many of them only recited the compositions of others, some of them still composed songs themselves, and all of them could probably invent a few stanzas on occasion. I have no doubt but most of the old heroic ballads in this collection were composed by this order of men, for although some of the larger metrical romances might come from the pen of the monks or others, yet the smaller narratives were probably composed by the minstrels who sang them. From the amazing variations which occur in different copies of the old pieces, it is evident they made no scruple to alter each other's productions; and the reciter added or omitted whole stanzas according to his own fancy or convenience.

            In the early ages, as was hinted above, the profession of oral itinerant Poet was held in the utmost reverence among all the Danish tribes; and therefore we might have concluded that it was not unknown or unrespected among their Saxon brethren in Britain, even if history had been altogether silent on this subject. The original country of our Anglo-Saxon ancestors is well known to have lain chiefly in the Cimbric Chersonese, in the tracts of land since distinguished by the name of Jutland, Angelen, and Holstein[ 7]. the Jutes and Angles in particular, who composed two-thirds of the conquerors of Britain, were a Danish people, and their country at this day belongs to the crown of Denmark;[ 8] so that when the Danes again infested England, three or four hundred years after, they made war on the descendants of their own ancestors[ 9]. From this near affinity we might expect to discover a strong resemblance between both nations in their customs, manners, and even language; and in fact we find them to differ no more than would naturally happen between a parent country and its own colonies, that had been severed in a rude, uncivilized state, and had dropt all intercourse for three or four centuries; especially if we reflect that the colony here settled had adopted a new religion, extremely opposite in all respects to the ancient Paganism of the mother-country; and that even at first, along with the original Angli, had been incorporated a large mixture of Saxons from the neighbouring parts of Germany; and afterwards, among the Danish invaders, had come vast multitudes of adventurers from the more northern parts of Scandinavia. But all these were only different tribes of the same common Teutonic stock, and spoke only different dialects of the same Gothic language.[ 10]

            From this sameness of original and similarity of manners we might justly have wondered if a character so dignified and distinguished among the ancient thanes as the Scald or Bard had been totally unknown or unregarded in this sister nation. And indeed this argument is so strong, and at the same time the early annals of the Anglo-Saxons are so scanty and defective ( G), that no objections from their silence could be sufficient to overthrow it. For if these popular bards were confessedly revered and admired in those very countries which the Anglo-Saxons inhabited before their removal into Britain, and if they were afterwards common and numerous among the other descendants of the same Teutonic ancestors, can we do otherwise than conclude that men of this order accompanied such tribes as migrated hither; that they afterwards subsisted here, though perhaps with less splendour than in the North; and that there never was wanting a succession of them to hand down the art, though some particular conjunctures may have rendered it more respectable at one time than another? And this was evidently the case. For though much greater honours seem to have been heaped upon the Northern Scalds, in whom the characters of historian, genealogist, poet, and musician were all united, than appear to have been paid to the Minstrels and Harpers ( H) of the Anglo-Saxons, whose talents were chiefly calculated to entertain and divert, while the Scalds professed to inform and instruct, and were at once the moralists and theologues of their Pagan countrymen; yet the Anglo-Saxon Minstrels continued to possess no small portion of public favour, and the arts they professed were so extremely acceptable to our ancestors, that the word Glee, which peculiarly denoted their art, continues still in our own language to be of all others the most expressive of that popular mirth and jollity, that strong sensation of delight, which is felt by unpolished and simple minds ( I).

II. Having premised these general considerations, I shall now proceed to collect from history such particular incidents as occur on this subject; and, whether the facts themselves are true or not, they are related by authors who lived too near the Saxon times, and had before them too many recent monuments of the Anglo-Saxon nation, not to know what was conformable to the genius and manners of that people; and therefore we may presume that their relations prove at least the existence of the customs and habits they attribute to our forefathers before the Conquest, whatever becomes of the particular incidents and events themselves. If this be admitted, we shall not want sufficient proofs to show that Minstrelsy and Song were not extinct among the Anglo-Saxons, and that the professor of them here, if not quite so respectable a personage as the Danish Scald, was yet highly favoured and protected, and continued still to enjoy considerable privileges.

            Even so early as the first invasion of Britain by the Saxons an incident is recorded to have happened which, if true, shows that the Minstrel or Bard was not unknown among this people, and that their princes themselves could, upon occasion, assume that character. Colgrin, son of that Ella who was elected king or leader of the Saxons in the room of Hengist,[ 11] was shut up in York, and closely besieged by Arthur and his Britons. Badulph, brother of Colgrin, wanted to gain access to him, and to apprize him of a reinforcement which was coming from Germany. He had no other way to accomplish his design but to assume the character of a Minstrel. He therefore shaved his head and beard, and, dressing himself in the habit of that profession, took his harp in his hand. In this disguise he walked up and down the trenches without suspicion, playing all the while upon his instrument as a Harper. By little and little he advanced near to the walls of the city, and making himself known to the sentinels, was in the night drawn up by a rope.

            Although the above fact comes only from the suspicious pen of Geoffrey of Monmouth ( K), the judicious reader will not too hastily reject it, because if such a fact really happened, it could only be known to us through the medium of the British writers: for the first Saxons, a martial but unlettered people, had no historians of their own, and Geoffrey, with all his fables, is allowed to have recorded many true events that have escaped other annalists.

            We do not, however, want instances of a less fabulous era, and more indubitable authority; for later history affords us two remarkable facts ( L), which I think clearly show that the same arts of poetry and song, which were so much admired among the Danes, were by no means unknown or neglected in this sister nation; and that the privileges and honours which were so lavishly bestowed upon the northern Scalds were not wholly withheld from the Anglo-Saxon Minstrels.

            Our great King Alfred, who is expressly said to have excelled in music,[ 12] being desirous to learn the true situation of the Danish army, which had invaded his realm, assumed the dress and character of a minstrel ( M); when, taking his harp, and one of the most trusty of his friends disguised as a servant[ 13] (for in the early times it was not unusual for a minstrel to have a servant to carry his harp), he went with the utmost security into the Danish camp; and, thought he could not but be known to be a Saxon by his dialect, the character he had assumed procured him a hospitable reception. He was admitted to entertain the king at table, and stayed among them long enough to contrive that assault which afterwards destroyed them. This was in the year 878.

            About sixty years after,[ 14] a Danish king made use of the same disguise to explore the camp of our king Athelstan. With his harp in his hand, and dressed like a minstrel ( N), Aulaff,[ 15] king of the Danes, went among the Saxon tents; and taking his stand near the king's pavilion, began to play, and was immediately admitted. There he entertained Athelstan and his lords with his singing and his music, and was at length dismissed with an honourable reward, though his songs must have discovered him to have been a Dane ( O). Athelstan was saved from the consequences of this stratagem by a soldier, who had observed Aulaff bury the money which had been given him, either from some scruple of honour, or motive of superstition. This occasioned a discovery.

            Now if the Saxons had not been accustomed to have minstrels of their own, Alfred's assuming so new and unusual a character would have excited suspicions among the Danes. On the other hand, if it had not been customary with the Saxons to show favour and respect to the Danish Scalds, Aulaff would not have ventured himself among them, especially on the eve of a battle ( P). From the uniform procedure, then, of both these kings we may fairly conclude that the same mode of entertainment prevailed among both people, and that the Minstrel was a privileged character with each.

            But, if these facts had never existed, it can be proved from undoubted records, that the Minstrel was a regular and stated officer in the court of our Anglo-Saxon kings; for in Domesday-book, Joculator Regis, the King's Minstrel is expressly mentioned in Gloucestershire; in which county it should seem that he had lands assigned him for his maintenance ( Q).

III. We have now brought the inquiry down to the Norman Conquest; and as the Normans had been a late colony from Norway and Denmark, where the Scalds had arrived to the highest pitch of credit before Rollo's expedition into France, we cannot doubt but this adventurer, like the other northern princes, had many of these men in his train who settled with him in his new duchy of Normandy, and left behind them successors in their art: so that, when his descendant, William the Bastard, invaded this kingdom in the following century,[ 16] that mode of entertainment could not but be still familiar with the Normans. And that this is not mere conjecture will appear from a remarkable fact, which shows that the arts of Poetry and Song were still as reputable among the Normans in France as they had been among their ancestors in the north; and that the profession of Minstrel, like that of Scald, was still aspired to by the most gallant soldiers. In William's army was a valiant warrior, named Taillefer, who was distinguished no less for the minstrel arts ( R) than for his courage and intrepidity. This man asked leave of his commander to begin the onset, and obtained it. He accordingly advanced before the army, and with a loud voice animated his countrymen with songs in praise of Charlemagne and Roland, and other heroes of France; then rushing among the thickest of the English, and valiantly fighting, lost his life.

            Indeed, the Normans were so early distinguished for their minstrel-talents, that an eminent French writer ( S) makes no scruple to refer to them the origin of all modern poetry, and shows that they were celebrated for their songs near a century before the Troubadours of Provence, who are supposed to have led the way to the poets of Italy, France, and Spain.[ 17]

            We see, then, that the Norman Conquest was rather likely to favour the establishment of the minstrel profession in this kingdom, than to suppress it: and although the favour of the Norman conquerors would be probably confined to such of their own countrymen as excelled in the minstrel arts; and in the first ages after the Conquest no other songs would be listened to by the great nobility, but such as were composed in their own Norman-French; yet as the great mass of the original inhabitants were not extirpated, these could only understand their own native Gleemen or Minstrels, who must still be allowed to exist, unless it can be proved that they were all proscribed and massacred, as, it is said, the Welsh Bards were afterwards by the severe policy of King Edward I. But this we know was not the case; and even the cruel attempts of that monarch, as we shall see below, proved ineffectual( S2). The honours shown to the Norman or French Minstrels by our princes and great barons, would naturally have been imitated by their English vassals and tenants, even if no favour or distinction had ever been shown here to the same order of men in the Anglo-Saxon and Danish reigns. So that we cannot doubt but the English Harper and Songster would, at least in a subordinate degree, enjoy the same kind of honours, and be received with similar respect, among the inferior English gentry and populace. I must be allowed, therefore, to consider them as belonging to the same community, as subordinate members at least of the same college; and therefore, in gleaning the scanty materials for this slight history, I shall collect whatever incidents I can find relating to minstrels and their art, and arrange them, as they occur in our own annals, without distinction; as it will not be always easy to ascertain, from the slight mention of them by our regular historians, whether the artists were Norman or English. For it need not be remarked, that subjects of this trivial nature are but incidentally mentioned by our ancient annalists, and were fastidiously rejected by other grave and serious writers; so that, unless they were accidentally connected with such events as became recorded in history, they would pass unnoticed noticed through the lapse of ages, and be as unknown to posterity as other topics relating to the private life and amusements of the greatest nations.

            On this account it can hardly be expected that we should be able to produce regular and unbroken annals of the minstrel art and its professors, or have sufficient information whether every minstrel or harper composed himself, or only repeated the songs he chanted. Some probably did the one, and some the other; and it would have been wonderful indeed, if men whose peculiar profession it was, and who devoted their time and talents to entertain their hearers with poetical compositions, were peculiarly deprived of all poetical genius themselves, and had been under a physical incapacity of composing those common popular rhymes which were the usual subjects of their recitation. Whoever examines any considerable quantity of these, finds them in style and colouring as different from the elaborate production of the sedentary composer at his desk or in his cell, as the rambling harper or minstrel was remote in his modes of life and habits of thinking from the retired scholar or the solitary monk ( T).

            It is well known that on the Continent, whence our Norman nobles came, the bard who composed, the harper who played and sang, and even the dancer and the mimic, were all considered as of one community, and were even all included under the common name of Minstrels[ 18]. I must therefore be allowed the same application of the term here, without being expected to prove that every singer composed, or every composer chanted, his own song; much less that every one excelled in all the arts which were occasionally exercised by some or other of this fraternity.

IV. After the Norman Conquest, the first occurrence which I have met with relating to this order of men is the founding of a priory and hospital by one of them; scil. the Priory and Hospital of St. Bartholomew, in Smithfield, London, by Royer or Raherus, the King's Minstrel, in the third year of King Henry I., A.D. 1102. He was the first Prior of his own establishment, and presided over it to the time of his death ( T2).

            In the reign of King Henry II. we have upon record the name of Galfrid, or Jeffrey, a harper, who in 1180 received a corrody, or annuity, from the abbey of Hide, near Winchester; and, as in the early times every harper was expected to sing, we cannot doubt but this reward was given to him for his music and his songs; which, if they were for the solace of the monks there, we may conclude would be in the English language ( U).

            Under his romantic son, King Richard I., the minstrel profession seems to have acquired additional splendour. Richard, who was the great hero of chivalry, was also the distinguished patron of poets and minstrels. He was himself of their number, and some of his poems are still extant.[ 19] They were no less patronized by his favourites and chief officers. His Chancellor, William Bishop of Ely, is expressly mentioned to have invited singers and minstrels from France, whom, he loaded with rewards; and they in return celebrated him as the most accomplished person in the world ( U2). This high distinction and regard, although confined perhaps in the first instance to poets and songsters of the French nation, must have had a tendency to do honour to poetry and song among all his subjects, and to encourage the cultivation of these arts among the natives; as the indulgent favour shown by the monarch or his great courtiers to the Provencal Troubadour, or Norman Rymour, would naturally be imitated by their inferior vassals to the English Gleeman or Minstrel. At more than a century after the Conquest, the national distinctions must have begun to decline, and both the Norman and English languages would be heard in the houses of the great ( U3); so that probably about this era, or soon after, we are to date that remarkable intercommunity and exchange of each other's compositions, which we discover to have taken place at some early period between the French and English Minstrels; the same set of phrases, the same species of characters, incidents, and adventures, and often the same identical stories, being found in the old metrical romances of both nations ( V).

            The distinguished service which Richard received from one of his own minstrels, in rescuing him from his cruel and tedious captivity, is a remarkable fact, which ought to be recorded for the Honour of poets and their art. This fact I shall relate in the following words of an ancient writer[ 20]:--

            "The Englishmen were more than a whole yeare without hearing any tydings of their King, or in what place he was kept prisoner. He had trained up in his court a Rimer or Minstrill,[ 21] called Blondel de Nesle, who (so saith the manuscript of Old Poesies[ 22]; and an auncient manuscript French Chronicle) being so long without the sight of his Lord, his life seemed wearisome to him, and he became confounded with melancholly. Knowne it was that he came backe from the Holy Land; but none could tell in what countrey he arrived. Whereupon this Blondel, resolving to make search for him in many countries, but he would heare some newes of him; after expense of divers dayes in travaile, he came to a towne[ 23] (by good hap) neere to the castell where his maister King Richard was kept. Of his host he demanded to whom the castell appertained, and the host told him that it belonged to the Duke of Austria. Then he enquired whether there were any prisoners therein detained or no; for alwayes he made such secret questionings wheresoever he came. And the hoste gave answer, there was one onely prisoner, but he knew not what he was, and yet he had bin detained there more than the space of a yeare. When Blondel heard this, he wrought such meanes, that he became acquainted with them of the castell, as Minstrels doe easily win acquaintance any where[ 24] but see the king he could not, neither understand that it was he. One day he sat directly before a window of the castell, where King Richard was kept prisoner, and began to sing a song in French, which King Richard and Blondel had sometime composed together. When King Richard heard the song, he knew it was Blondel that sung it; and when Blondel paused at halfe of the song, the King began the other half, and completed it.[ 25] Thus Blondel won knowledge of the King his maister, and returning home into England, made the Barons of the countrie acquainted where the King was." This happened about the year 1193.

            The following old Provencal lines are given as the very original song;[ 26] which I shall accompany with an imitation offered by Dr. Burney, ii. 237:--


Domna vostra beutas
Elas bellas faissos
Els bels oils amoros
Els gens cors ben taillats
Don sieu empresenats
De vostra amor que mi lia.

Your beauty, lady fair,
None views without delight;
But still so cold an air
No passion can excite:
Yet this I patient see
While all are shunn'd like me.


Si bel trop affansia
Ja de vos non portrai
Que major honorai
Sol en votre deman
Que sautra des beisan
Tot can de vos volria.

No nymph my heart can wound
If favour she divide,
And smiles on all around
Unwilling to decide:
I'd rather hatred bear
Than love with others share.

            The access which Blondel so readily obtained in the privileged character of a Minstrel, is not the only instance upon record of the same nature ( V2). In this very reign of King Richard I., the young heiress of D'Evreux, Earl of Salisbury, had been carried abroad and secreted by her French relations in Normandy. To discover the place of her concealment, a knight of the Talbot family spent two years in exploring that province, at first under the disguise of a Pilgrim; till having found where she was confined, in order to gain admittance he assumed the dress and character of a Harper, and being a jocose person, exceedingly skilled in "the Gests of the antients"[ 27] (so they called the romances and stories which were the delight of that age), he was gladly received into the family. Whence he took an opportunity to carry off the young lady, whom he presented to the king; and he bestowed her on his natural brother, William Longespee (son of fair Rosamond), who became in her right Earl of Salisbury ( V3).

            The next memorable event which I find in history reflects credit on the English minstrels: and this was their contributing to the rescue of one of the great Earls of Chester, when besieged by the Welsh. This happened in the reign of King John, and is related to this effect.[ 28]

            Hugh, the first Earl of Chester, in his charter of foundation of St. Werburg's Abbey in that city, had granted such a privilege to those who should come to Chester fair, that they should not be then apprehended for theft or may other misdemeanour, except the crime were committed during the fair. This special protection occasioning a multitude of loose people to resort to that fair, was afterwards of signal benefit to one of his successors. For Ranulph, the last Earl of Chester, marching into Wales with a slender attendance, was constrained to retire to his castle of Rothelan (or Rhuydland), to which the Welsh forthwith laid siege. In this distress he sent for help to the Lord de Lacy, Constable of Chester: "Who, making use of the Minstrel's of all sorts, then met at Chester fair; by the allurement of their musick, got together a vast number of such loose people, as, by reason of the before specified priviledge, were then in that city; whom he forthwith sent under the conduct of Dutton (his steward)," a gallant youth, who was also his son-in-law. The Welsh, alarmed at the approach of this rabble, supposing then to be a regular body of armed and disciplined veterans, instantly raised the siege and retired.

            For this good service, Ranulph is said to have granted to De Lacy, by charter, the patronage and authority over the minstrels and the loose and inferior people: who, retaining to himself that of the lower artificers, conferred on Dutton the jurisdiction of the minstrels and harlots:[ 29] and under the descendants of this family the minstrels enjoyed certain privileges and protection for many ages. For even so late as the reign of Elizabeth, when this profession had fallen into such discredit that it was considered in law as a nuisance, the minstrels under the jurisdiction of the family of Dutton are expressly excepted out of all acts of parliament made for their suppression; and have continued to be so excepted ever since ( W).

            The ceremonies attending the exercise of thus jurisdiction are thus described by Dugdale,[ 30] as handed down to his time, viz. "That at midsummer fair there, all the Minstrels of that countrey resorting to Chester do attend the heir of Dutton, from his lodging to St. John's church (he being then accompanied by many gentlemen of the countrey), one of 'the Minstrels' walking before him in a surcoat of his arms depicted on taffeta; the rest of his fellows proceeding (two and two) and playing on their several sorts of musical instruments. And after divine service ended, give the like attendance on him back to his lodging; where a cover being kept by his [Mr. Dutton's] steward, and all the Minstrels formally called, certain orders and laws are usually made for the better government of that Society, with penalties on those who transgress."

            In the same reign of King John we have a remarkable instance of a minstrel, who to his other talents superadded the character of Soothsayer, and by his skill in drugs and medicated potions was able to rescue a knight from imprisonment. This occurs in Leland's Narrative of the GESTES of Guarine (or Warren) and his sons, which he "excerptid owte of an olld Englisch boke yn ryme,"[ 31] and is as follows:-

            Whitington Castle in Shropshire, which together with the coheiress of the original proprietor had been won in a solemn turnament by the ancestor of the Guarines,[ 32] had, in the reign of King John, been seized by the Prince of Wales, and was afterwards possessed by Morice, a retainer of that prince, to whom the king, out of hatred to the true heir, Falco Guarine (with whom he had formerly had a quarrel at chess[ 33]), not only confirmed the possession, but also made him governor of the Marches, of which Fulco himself had the custody in the time of King Richard. The Guarines demanded justice of the king, but obtaining no gracious answer, renounced their allegiance and fled into Britagne. Returning into England, after various conflicts, "Fulco resortid to one John of Raumpayne, a Sothsayer and Jocular and Minstrelle, and made hym his spy to Morice at Whitington." The privileges of this character we have already seen, and John so well availed himself of them, that in consequence of the intelligence which he doubtless procured, "Fulco and his brethtrene laide waite for Morice, as he went toward Salesbyri, and Fulco then wounded hym: and Bracy," a knight, who was their friend and assistant, "cut off Morice['s] hedde." This Sir Bracy being in a subsequent rencounter sore wounded, was taken and brought to King John; from whose vengeance he was, however, rescued by this notable minstrel; for "John Rampayne founde the meanes to cast them, that kepte Bracy, into a deadely slepe; and so he and Bracy cam to Fulco to Whitington," which on the death of Morice had been restored to him by the Prince of Wales. As no further mention occurs of the minstrel, I might here conclude this narrative; but I shall just add, that Falco was obliged to flee into France, where, assuming the name of Sir Amice, he distinguished himself in justs and turnaments; and, after various romantic adventures by sea and land, having in the true style of chivalry rescued "certayne ladies owt of prison," he finally obtained the king's pardon, and the quiet possession of Whitington Castle.

            In the reign of King Henry III. we have mention of Master Ricard, the king's harper, to whom in his thirty-sixth year (1252) that monarch gave not only forty shillings and a pipe of wine, but also a pipe of wine to Beatrice his wife[ 34]. The title of Magister, or Master, given to this minstrel, deserves notice, and shows his respectable situation.

V. The Harper, or Minstrel, who was so necessary an attendant on a royal personage, that Prince Edward (afterwards King Edward I.), in his crusade to the Holy Land, in 1271, was not without his harper, who must have been officially very near his person; as we are told by a contemporary historian[ 35] that, in the attempt to assassinate that heroic prince, when he had wrested the poisoned knife out of the Sarazen's hand, and killed him with his own weapon; the attendants, who had stood apart while he was whispering to their master, hearing the struggle, ran to his assistance, and one of them, to wit, his harper, seizing a tripod, or trestle, struck the assassin on the head and beat out his brains.[ 36] And though the prince blamed him for striking the man after he was dead, yet his near access shows the respectable situation of this officer; and his affectionate zeal should have induced Edward to entreat his brethren, the Welsh bards, afterwards with more lenity.

            Whatever was the extent of this great monarch's severity towards the professors of music and of song in Wales; whether the executing by martial law such of them as fell into his hands was only during the heat of conflict, or was continued afterwards with more systematic rigour;[ 37] yet in his own court the minstrels appear to have been highly favoured; for when, in 1306, he conferred the order of knighthood on his son and many others of the young nobility, a multitude of minstrels were introduced to invite and induce the new knights to make some military vow ( X).

            Under the succeeding reign of King Edward II. such extensive privileges were claimed by these men, and by dissolute persons assuming their character, that it became a matter of public grievance, and was obliged to be reformed by an express regulation in A.D. 1315 ( Y). Notwithstanding which, an incident is recorded in the ensuing year, which shows that minstrels still retained the liberty of entering at will into the royal presence, and had something peculiarly splendid in their dress. It is thus related by Stowe ( Z):

            "In the year 1310, Edward the Second did solemnize his feast of Pentecost at Westminster, in the great hall: where sitting royally at the table with his peers about him, there entered a woman adorned like a Minstrel, sitting on a great horse trapped, as Minstrels then used; who rode round about the tables, shewing pastime; and at length came up to the King's table and laid before him a letter, and forthwith turning her horse, saluted every one and departed." The subject of this letter was a remonstrance to the king on the favours heaped by him on his minions, to the neglect of his knights and faithful servants.

            The privileged character of a minstrel was employed on this occasion, as sure of gaining an easy admittance; and a female the rather deputed to assume it, that, in ease of detection, her sex might disarm the king's resentment. This is offered on a supposition that she was not a real minstrel; for there should seen to have been women of this profession ( AA), as well as of the other sex; and no accomplishment is so constantly attributed to females, by our ancient bards, as their singing to, and playing on, the harp ( AA2).

            In the fourth year of King Richard II., John of Gaunt erected at Tutbury, in Staffordshire, a Court of Minstrels, similar to that annually kept at Chester, and which, like a Court-Leet or Court-Baron, had a legal jurisdiction, with full power to receive suit and service from the men of this profession within five neighbouring counties, to enact laws and determine their controversies; and to apprehend and arrest such of them as should refuse to appear at the said court, annually held on the 10th of August. For this they had a charter, by which they were empowered to appoint a King of the Minstrels, with four officers to preside over them ( BB). These were every year elected with great ceremony; the whole form of which, as observed in 1680, is described by Dr. Plot:[ 38] in whose time, however, they appear to have lost their singing talents, and to have confined all their skill to wind and string music.[ 39]

            The minstrels seem to have been in many respects upon the same footing as the heralds; and the King of the Minstrels, like the King-at-Arms, was both here and on the continent an usual officer in the courts of princes. Thus we have in the reign of King Edward I. mention of a King Robert, and others. And in 16 Edward II. is a grant to William de Morlee, "the King's Minstrel, styled Roy de North"[ 40], of houses which had belonged to another king, John le Boteler ( BB2). Rymer hath also printed a licence granted by King Richard II. in 1387, to John Caumz, the King of his Minstrels, to pass the seas, recommending him to the protection and kind treatment of all his subjects and allies.[ 41]

            In the subsequent reign of King Henry IV. we meet with no particulars relating to the Minstrels in England, but we find in the Statute Book a severe law passed against their brethren, the Welsh Bards; whom our ancestors could not distinguish from their own Rimours, Minstralx; for by these names they describe them ( BB3). This act plainly shows, that far from being extirpated by the rigorous policy of Ring Edward I., this order of men were still able to alarm the English Government, which attributed to them "many diseases and mischiefs in Wales," and prohibited their meetings and contributions.

            When his heroic son, King Henry V., was preparing his great voyage for France, in 1415, an express order was given for his minstrels, fifteen in number, to attend him[ 42] and eighteen are afterwards mentioned, to each of whom he allowed xiid. a-day, when that sum must have been of more than ten times the value it is at present.[ 43] Yet when he entered London in triumph after the battle of Agincourt, he, from a principle of humility, slighted the pageants and verses which were prepared to hail his return; and, as we are told by Holingshed,[ 44] would not suffer "any Dities to be made and song by Minstrels, of his glorious victorie; for that he would whollie have the praise and thankes altogether given to God" ( BB4). But this did not proceed from any disregard for the professors of music or of song; for at the feast of Pentecost, which he celebrated in 1410, having the Emperor and the Duke of Holland for his guests, he ordered rich gowns for sixteen of his minstrels, of which the particulars are preserved by Rymer.[ 45] And having before his death orally granted an annuity of 100 shillings to each of his minstrels, the grant was confirmed in the first year of Isis son King Henry VI., A.D. 1428, and payment ordered out of the Exchequer.[ 46]

            The unfortunate reign of King Henry VI. affords no occurrences respecting our subject; but in his thirty-fourth year, A.D. 1456, we have in Rymer[ 47] a commission for impressing boys or youths, to supply vacancies by death among the king's minstrels: in which it is expressly directed that they shall be elegant in their limbs, as well as instructed in the minstrel art, wherever they can be found, for the solace of his majesty.

            In the following reign, King Edward IV. (in his ninth year, 1409), upon a complaint that certain rude husbandmen and artificers of various trades had assumed the title and livery of the king's minstrels, and under that colour and pretence had collected money in divers parts of the kingdom, and committed other disorders, the king grants to Walter Holiday, Marshal, and to seven others his own minstrels, whom he names, a Charter,[ 48] by which he creates, or rather restores, a Fraternity or perpetual Gild (such as, he understands, the brothers and sisters of the fraternity of Minstrels had in times past), to be governed by a Marshal, appointed for life, and by two Wardens, to be chosen annually; who are empowered to admit brothers and sisters into the said Gild, and are authorized to examine the pretentions of all such as attempted to exercise the minstrel profession; and to regulate, govern, and punish them throughout the realm (those of Chester excepted). This seems to have some resemblance to the Earl Marshal's court among the Heralds, and is another proof of the great affinity and resemblance which the Minstrels bore to the members of the College of Arms.

            It is remarkable that Walter Holiday, whose name occurs as Marshal in the foregoing Charter, had been retained in the service of the two preceding Monarchs, King Henry V.[ 49] and VI.[ 50] Nor is this the first time he is mentioned as Marshal of the king's minstrels, for in the third year of this reign, 1464, he had a grant from King Edward of ten marks per annum during life, directed to him with that title.[ 51]

            But besides their Marshal, we have also in this reign mention of a Serjeant of the Minstrels, who upon a particular occasion was able to do his royal master a singular service, wherein his confidential situation and ready access to the king at all hours is very apparent: for "as he [King Edward IV.] was in the north contray in the mooneth of Septembre, as he lay in his bedde, one named Alexander Carlile, that was Sariaunt of the Mynstrellis, cam to him in grete hast, and badde hym aryse, for he hadde enemyes cummyng for to take him, the which were within vi. or vii. mylis, of the which tydinges the king gretely marveylid,"[ 52] &c. this happened in the sane year, 1460, wherein the king granted or confirmed the Charter for the Fraternity or Gild above mentioned: yet this Alexander Carlile is not one of the eight minstrels to whom that Charter is directed.[ 53]

            The same Charter was renewed by King Henry VIII. in 1520, to John Gilman, his then Marshal, and to seven others his minstrels:[ 54] and on the death of Gilman, he granted in 1520 this office of Marshal of his Minstrels to Hugh Wodehouse,[ 55] whom I take to have borne the office of his Serjeant over them.[ 56]

VI. In all the establishments of royal and noble households, we find an ample provision made for the Minstrels, and their situation to have been both honourable and lucrative. In proof of this it is sufficient to refer to the Houshold-Book of the Earl of Northumberland, A.D. 1512 ( CC). And the rewards they received so frequently recur in ancient writers, that it is unnecessary to crowd the page with them here ( CC2).

            The name of Minstrel seems, however, to have been gradually appropriated to the Musician only, especially in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries; yet we occasionally meet with applications of the term in its more enlarged meaning, as including the Singer, if not the Composer, of heroic or popular rhymes.[ 57]

            In the time of King Henry VIII. we find it to have been a common entertainment to hear verses recited, or moral speeches learned for that purpose, by a set of men who got their livelihood by repeating them, and who intruded without ceremony into all companies; not only in taverns, but in the houses of the nobility themselves. This we learn from Erasmus, whose argument led him only to describe a species of these men who did not sing their compositions; but the others that did, enjoyed, without doubt, the same privileges ( DD).

            For even long after, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, it was usual "in places of assembly" for the company to be "desirous to heere of old adventures and valiaunces of noble knights in times past, as those of King Arthur and his knights of the round-table, Sir Bevys of Southampton, Guy of Warwicke, and others like," in "short and long meetres, and by breaches or divisions (sc. FITS)[ 58], to be more commodiously sung to the harpe," as the reader may be informed, by a courtly writer, in 1589.[ 59] Who himself had "written for pleasure, a little brief Romance or historicall Ditty . . . of the Isle of Great Britaine," in order to contribute to such entertainment. And he subjoins this caution: "Such as have not premonition hereof" (viz. that his poem was written in short metre, &c., to be sung to the harp in such places of assembly) "and consideration of the causes alleged, would peradventure reprove and disgrace every Romance, or short historical ditty, for that they be not written in long meeters or verses Alexandrins," which constituted the prevailing versification among the poets of that age, and which no one now can endure to read.

            And that the recital of such romances, sung to the harp, was at that time the delight of the common people, we are told by the same writer,[ 60] who mentions that "common Rimers" were fond of using rhymes at short distances, "in small and popular Musickes song by these Cantabanqui" [the said common rhymers,] "upon benches and barrels' heads," &c., "or else by blind Harpers, or such like Taverne Minstrels, that give a FIT of mirth for a groat; and their matter being for the most part stories of old time, as the tale of Sir Topas, the reportes of Bevis of Southampton, Guy of Warwieke, Adam Bell and Clymme of the Clough, and such other old romances, or historicall rimes," &c.; "also they be used in Carols and Rounds, and such like or lascivious Poemes, which are commonly more commodiously uttered by these Buffons, or Vices, in Playes, then by any other person. Such were the rimes of Skelton (usurping the name of a Poet Laureat), being in deede but a rude railing rimer, and all his doings ridiculous."[ 61]

            But although we find here that the Minstrels had lost much of their dignity, and were sinking into contempt and neglect: yet that they still sustained a character far superior to anything we can conceive at present of the singers of old ballads, I think may he inferred from the following representation.

            When Queen Elizabeth was entertained at Killingworth Castle by the Earl of Leicester in 1575, among the many devices and pageants which were contrived for her entertainment, one of the personages introduced was to have been that of an ancient Minstrel; whose appearance and dress are so minutely described by a writer there present,[ 62] and give us so distinct an idea of the character, that I shall quote the passage at large ( EE).

            "A Person very meet seemed he for the purpose, of a xlv years old, apparelled partly as he would himself. His cap off; his head seemly rounded Tonsterwise[ 63]; fair kembed, that with a sponge daintily dipt in a little capon's greace, was finely smoothed, to make it shine like a mallard's wing. His beard smugly shaven; and yet his shirt after the new trink, with ruffs fair starched, sleeked and glistering like a pair of new shoes, marshalled in good order with a setting stick, and strut, that every ruff stood up like a wafer. A side [i.e. long] gown of Kendal green, after the freshness of the year now, gathered at the neck with a narrow gorget, fastened afore with a white clasp and a keeper close up to the chin; but easily, for heat to undo when he list. Seemly begirt in a red caddis girdle; from that a pair of capped Sheffield knives hanging a' two sides. Out of his bosom drawn forth a lappet of his napkin,[ 64] edged with a blue lace, and marked with a true love, a heart, and a D for Damian, for he was but a bachelor yet.

            "His gown had side [i.e. long] sleeves down to mid-leg, slit from the shoulder to the hand, and lined with white cotton. His doublet-sleeves of black worsted: upon them a pair of poynets, [ 65] of tawny chamlet laced along the wrist with blue threaden points, a wealt towards the hand of fustian-a-napes. A pair of red neather stocks. A pair of pumps on his feet, with a cross cut at the toes for corns; not new indeed, yet cleanly blackt with soot, and shining as a shoing horn.

            "About his neck a red ribband suitable to his girdle. His wrest,[ 66] tied to a green lace and hanging by. Under the gorget of his gown a fair flaggon chain (pewter[ 67] for) silver, as a Squire Minstrel of Middlesex, that travelled the country this summer season, unto fairs and worshipful mens houses. From his chain hung a scutchon, with metal and colour, resplendant upon his breast of the ancient arms of Islington."

            This minstrel is described as belonging to that village. I suppose such as were retained by noble families wore the arms of their patrons hanging down by a silver chain[ 68] as a kind of badge. From the expression of Squire Minstrel above, we may conclude there were other inferior orders, as Yeomen Minstrels, or the like.

            This minstrel, the author tells us a little below, "after three lowly courtsies, cleared his voice with a hem... and... wiped his lips with the hollow of his hand for 'filing his napkin, tempered a string or two with his wrest, and after a little warbling on his Harp for a prelude, came forth with a solemn song, warranted for story out of King Arthur's acts," &c.-- This song the reader will find printed in this work, vol. ii. book ii. no. 3.

            Towards the end of the sixteenth century this class of men had lost all credit and were sunk so low in the public opinion, that in the 39th year of Elizabeth[ 69] a statute was passed, by which "Minstrels, wandering abroad," were included among "rogues, vagabonds, and sturdy beggars," and were adjudged to be punished as such. This act seems to have put an end to the profession ( EE2).

VII. I cannot conclude the account of the ancient English Minstrels, without remarking that they are most of them represented to have been of the North of England. There is scarce an old historical song or ballad ( FF) wherein a minstrel or harper appears, but he is characterized, by way of eminence, to have been "of the North Countrye:"[ 70] and indeed the prevalence of the northern dialect in such compositions shows that this representation is real.[ 71] On the other hand, the scene of the finest Scottish ballads is laid in the south of Scotland, which should seem to have been peculiarly the nursery of Scottish minstrels. In the old song of Maggy Lawder, a piper is asked, by way of distinction, "Come ze frae the Border?"[ 72] The martial spirit constantly kept up and exercised near the frontier of the two kingdoms, as it furnished continual subjects for their songs, so it inspired the inhabitants of the adjacent counties on both sides with the powers of poetry. Besides, as our southern metropolis must have been ever the scene of novelty and refinement, the northern countries, as being most distant, would preserve their ancient manners longest, and of course the old poetry, in which those manners are peculiarly described.

            The reader will observe in the more ancient ballads of this collection, a caste of style and measure very different from that of contemporary poets of a higher class; many phrases and idioms, which the minstrels semi to have appropriated to themselves, and a very remarkable licence of varying the accent of words at pleasure, in order to humour the flow of the verse, particularly in the rhymes; as











instead of coùntry, làdy, hàrper, sìnger, &c. This liberty is but sparingly assumed by the classical poets of the same age, or even by the latter composers of heroical ballads; I mean, by such as professedly wrote for the press. For it is to be observed, that so long as the minstrels subsisted, they seem never to have designed their rhymes for literary publication, and probably never committed them to writing themselves: what copies are preserved of them were doubtless taken down from their mouths. But as the old Minstrels gradually wore out, a new race of Ballad-writers succeeded, an inferior sort of minor poets, who wrote narrative songs merely for the press. Instances of both may be found in the reign of Elizabeth. The two latest pieces in the genuine strain of the old minstrelsy that I can discover are nos. iii. and iv. of book iii. in this volume. Lower than these I cannot trace the old mode of writing.

            The old minstrel ballads are in the northern dialect, abound with antique words and phrases, are extremely incorrect, and run into the utmost licence of metre; they have also a romantic wildness, and are in the true spirit of chivalry. The other sort are written in stricter measure, have a low or subordinate correctness, sometimes bordering on the insipid, yet often well adapted to the pathetic; these are generally in the southern dialect, exhibit a more modern phraseology, and are commonly descriptive of more modem manners. To be sensible of the difference between them, let the reader compare in this volume No. iii. of book iii. with No. xi. of book ii.

            Towards the end of Queen Elizabeth's reign (as is mentioned above) the genuine old minstrelsy seems to have been extinct, and thenceforth the ballads that were produced were wholly of the latter kind, and these came forth in such abundance, that in the reign of James I. they began to be collected into little miscellanies, under the name of Garlands, and at length to be written purposely for such collections (FF 2).

            P.S. By way of Postscript, should follow here the discussion of the question whether the term Minstrels was applied in English to Singers, and Composers of Songs, &c., or confined to Musicians only. But it is reserved for the concluding note ( GG).


1. The larger notes and illustrations referred to by the letters ( A) ( B), &c., are to be found in the following section "NOTES AND ILLUSTRATIONS".

2. Wedded to no hypothesis, the Author hath readily corrected any mistakes which have been proved to be in this Essay; and considering the novelty of the subject, and the time and place when and where he first took it up, many such had been excusable.-- That the term minstrel was not confined, as some contend, to a mere musician in this country, any more than on the Continent, will be considered more fully in the last note ( GG) in the following section "NOTES AND ILLUSTRATIONS"..

3. Vide Pelloutier, Hist. des Celtes, tom. 1, l. 2, c. 6, 10.

4. Tacit. de Mor. Germ. cap. 2.

5. Vide Bartholin. De Causis contemptæ a Danis Mortis, lib. i. cap. 10.-- Wormij. Literatura Runic, ad finem.-- See also "Northern Antiquities, or a Description of the Manners, Customs, &c., of the ancient Danes and other Northern Nations: from the French of M. Mallet." London, printed for T. Carnan, 1770, 2 vols. 8vo.

6. Torfæi, Præfat. ad Orcad. Hist.-- Pref. to "Five Pieces of Runic Poetry," &c.

7. Vide Chronic. Saxon. à Gibson, pp. 12, 13, 4to. --Bed. Histat. Eccles. à Smith, lib. i. c. xv. --"Ealdsexe [Regio antiq. Saxonum] in cervice Cimbricæ Chersonesi, Holstiam propriæ dictam, Dithmasriam, Stormariam, et Wagriam, complectens." Annot. in Bed. à Smith, p. 52. Et vide Camdeni Britann.

8. Anglia Vetus, hodie etiam Anglen, sita est inter Saxones et Giotes [Jutos], habens oppidum capitale . . . Slesvic." -- Ethelwerd. lib i.

9. See Northern Antiquities, &c., vol. i. pp. 7, 8, 185, 259, 260, 261.

10. Ibid. Preface, p. xxvi.

11. See Rapin's Hist. (by Tindal, fol. 1732, vol. 1, p. 36), who places the incident here related under the year 495.

12. By Bale and Spelman. -- See note ( M).

13. ibid.

14. Anno 938.--Vide Rapin, &c.

15. So I think the name should be printed, rather than Anlaff, the more usual form (the same traces of the letters express both names in MS.), Aulaff being evidently the genuine Northern name Olaff, or Olave, Lat. Olaus. In the old Romance of Horn-Childe, the name of the king his father is Allof, which is evidently Ollaf, with the vowels only transposed.

16. Rollo was invested in his new duchy of Normandy A.D. 912. William invaded England A.D. 1066.

17 Vide Hist. des Troubadours, 3 tom. passim; and vide Fableaux ou Contes des XII. et du XIII. Siècle, traduits, &c., avec des Notes historiques et critiques, &c., par M. Le Grand, Paris, 1781. 5 tom. 12mo.

18. See notes ( B) and ( AA).

19. See a pathetic Song of his in Mr. Walpole's Catalogue of Royal Authors, vol. i. p. 5. The reader will find a translation of it into modern French in Hist. Litteraire des Troubadours, 1774, 3 tom. 12mo. See vol. i. p. 58, where some more of Richard's poetry is translated. In Dr. Burney's Hist. of Music, vol. ii. p. 238, is a poetical version of it in English.

20. Mons. Favine's Theatre of Honour and Knighthood, translated from the French. Lond. 1622, fol. tom. ii. p. 49. An elegant relation of the same event (from the French of Presid. Fauchet's "Recueil," &c,) may be seen in "Miscellanies in Prose and Verse by Anna Williams, Lond. 1766." 4to, p. 46. It will excite the reader's admiration to be informed that most of the pieces of that collection were composed under the disadvantage of a total deprivation of sight.

21. Favine's words are, "Jongleur appelé Blondiaux de Nesle" (Paris, 1620, 4to, p. 110.) But Fauchet who has given the same story, thus expresses it. "Or ce roy ayant nourri un Menestrel appelé Blondel", &c., liv. ii p. 92. "Des Anciens poetès François." He is however said to have been another Blondel, not Blondel (or Blondiaux) de Nesle; but this no way affects the cirsumstances of the story.

22. This the author or calls in another place "An ancient MS. of old Poesies, written about those very times." -- From this MS. Favine gives a good account of the taking of Richard by the Duke of Austria, who sold him to the emperor. As for the MS. chronicle, it is evidently the same that supplied Pauchet with this story. See his "Recueil de l'Origine de la langue et Poesie Francoise, Ryme, et Romans;" &c. Par. 1581.

23. Tribales.-- "Retrudi cum præcepit in Triballis: a quo carcere nullus ante dies istos exivit"--Lat. Chron. of Otho of Austria: apud Favin.

24. "Comme Menestrels s'accointent legerement."--Favine. (Fauchet expresses it in the same manner.)

25. I give this passage corrected; as the English translator of Favine's book appeared here to have mistaken the original --Scil. "Et quant Blondel eut dit la moitie de la Chanson, le Roy Richert se prist a dire l'autre moitie et l'acheva."--Favine, p. 1106. Fauchet has also expressed it in nearly the same words--Recueil. p. 93.

26. In a little romance or novel, titled, "La Tour Tenebreuse, et les Jours Lumineux, Contes Angloises, accompagnez d'Histoirettes, & tirez d'une ancienne Chronique composee par Richard, surnomme Cœur de Lion, Roy d'Angleterre," &c. Paris, 1705, 12mo.-- In the preface to this romance the editor has given another song of Blondel de Nestle, as also a copy of the song written by King Richard, and published by Mr. Walpole, mentioned above; yet the two last are not in Provençal like the sonnet printed here; but in the old French, called Langage Roman.

27. The words of the original, viz. "Citharisator homo jocosus in GESTIS antiquorum valde peritus," I conceive to give the precise idea of the ancient Minstrel. -- See note (V 2). That Gesta was appropriated to romantic stories, see note ( I) part iv.

28. See Dugdale (Bar. i. 42, 101), who places it after 13 John, A.D. 1212.-- See also Plot's Staffordsh. Camden's Britann. (Cheshire )

29. See the ancient record in Blount's Law Dictionary. (Art. Minstrel.)

30. Bar. i. p. 101.

31. Leland's Collectanea, vol. i. pp. 261, 266, 267.3

32. This old feudal custom of marrying an heiress to the knight who should vanquish all his opponents in solemn contest, &c., appears to be burlesqued in the Turnament of Totenham (see below), as is well observed by the learned author of Remarks, &c., in Gent. Mag. for July, 1794, p. 613.

33. "John, sun to King Henry, and Fulco felle at variance at Chestes [r. Chesse]; and John brake Fulco'[s] hed with the Chest borde: and then Fulco gave him such a blow, that he had almost killid hym."-- Lel. Coll. i, p. 264. A curious picture of courtIy manners in that age! Notwithstanding this fray, we read in the next paragraph, that "King Henry dubbid Falco & 3 of hie brethrene Knightes at Winchester:"--Ibid.

34. Burney's Hist. ii. p. 355.-- Rot. Pip. An. 36 H. III. "Et in uno dollo vini empto & dato MAGISTRO RICARDO Citharistæ Regis, xl. sol. per br. Reg. Et in uno dollo empto & dato Beatrici uxori ejusdem Ricardi "

35. Walter Hemmingford (vixit temp. Edw. I.) in Chronic. cap. 35, inter V. Hist. Aug. Scriptores, vol. ii. Oxon. 1657, fol. p. 591.

36. "Accurrentes ad hæc Ministri ejus, qui a longe steterunt, invenerunt eum [scil. Nuntium] in terra mortuum, et apprehendit unus eorum tripodum, scilicet CITHAREDA SUUS, & percussit eum in capite, et effundit cerebrum ejus. Increpavitque eum Edwardus quod hominem mortuum percussisset." Ibid. These Ministri must have been upon a very confidential footing, as it appears above in the same chapter, that they had been made acquainted with the contents of the letters which the assassin had delivered to the prince from his master.

37. See Gray's Ode; and the Hist. of the Gwedir Family in "Miscellanies by the hon. Daines Barrington," 1751, 4to, p. 336; who in the Laws, &c., of this monarch, could find no instances of severity against the Welsh.-- See his Observations on the Statutes, 4to, 4th edit. p. 358.

38. Hnst. of Staffordshire, ch. 10, § 69-76, p. 433, et seqq. of which see extracts in Sir J. Hawkins' Hist. of Music, vol. ii. p. 14; and Dr. Burney's Hist., vol. ii. p. 360, et seqq.

            N.B. The barbarous diversion of bull-running was no part of the original institution, &c., as is fully proved by the Rev. Dr. Pegge, in Archæologia, vol. ii. no. xiii. p. 86.

39. See the charge given by the steward, at the time of the election, in Plot's hist. ubi supra: and in Hawkins, p. 67, Burney, p. 363-4.

40. So among the heralds Norrey was anciently styled Roy d'Armes de North.-- Anstis, ii, 300. And the Kings at Armes in general were originally called Reges Heraldorum (ibid. p. 302), as these were Reges Minstrallorum.

41. Rymer's Fœdera, tom. vii. p. 555.

42. Rymer's Fœdera, tom. ix. 255.

43. Ibid. p. 260.

44. See his chronicle, sub anno 1415 (p. 1170). He also gives this other instance of the king's great modesty, "that he would not suffer his helmet to be carried with him, and shew'd to the people, that they might behold the dintes and cuttes whiche appeared in the same, of such blowes and stripes as hee received the daye of the batell:"-- Ibid. Vid. T. de Elmham, c. 29, p. 72.

            The prohibition against vain and secular songs would probably not include that inserted in our first vol., For the Victory at Agincourt,. which would be considered a a hymn. The original notes engraven on the plate before the poem, may be seen reduced and set to score in Mr. Stafford Smith's "Collection of English Songs for three and four voices," and in Dr. Burney's Hist. of Music, ii. p. 384.

45. Tom. ix. 336.

46. Rymer, tom. x. 287. They are mentioned by name, being ten in number; one of them was named Thomas Chatterton.

47. Tom. xi. 375.

48. See it in Rymer, tom. xi. 642, and Sir J. Hawkins, vol. iv. p. 366, note. The above Charter is recited in letters patent of King Carles I., 15 July (11 anno regni), for a Corporation of Musicians, &c., in Westminster, which may be seen, ibid.

49. Rymer, ix. 255.

50. Ibid. xi. 375.

51. Ibid. xi. 512.

52. Here unfortunately ends a curious fragment (an. 9 E. IV.), ad calcem Sprotti Chron. ed. Hearne, Oxon. 1719, 8vo. Vide' T. Warton's Hist. ii. p. 134. Note ( c).

53 Rymer, xi. 642.

54. Ibid. xii. 705.

55. Ibid. tom. xiv. 2, 93.

56. So I am inclined to understand the term SERVIENS noster Hugo Wodehous, in the original grant -- See Rymer, ubi supra. It is needless to observe that Serviens expressed a Sergeant as well as a Servant. If this interpretation of Serviens be allowed, it will account for his placing Wodehouse at the head of his Gild, although he had not been one of the eight minstrels who had had the general direction. The Serjeant of his Minstrels, we may presume, was next in dignity to the Marshal, although he had no share in the government of the Gild.

57. See below, and Note ( GG).

58. See notes to The Beggar's daughter of Bednal-Green, below.

59. Puttenham in his Arte of English Poesie, 1589, 4to, p. 33. See the quotation in its proper order in notes to The Beggar's daughter of Bednal-Green, below .

60. Puttenham, &c. p. 69. (ibid.)

61. Tottenham, &c. p. 69.

62. See a very curious "Letter: whearein, part of the entertainment untoo the Queenz Maiesty, at Killingwoorth Castle, In Warwick Sheer, in this soomers Progress 1575, iz signified," &c. bl. l. 4to, vid. p. 46, &seqq. (Printed in Nichols's collection of Queen Elizabeth's Progresses, &c., in 2 vols, 4to.) We have not followed above the peculiar and affected orthography of this writer, who was named Ro. Laneham, or rather Langham.

63. I suppose "tonsure-wise," after the manner of the monks.

64. i.e. handkerchief. So in Shakspeare's Othello, passim.

65. Perhaps, points.

66. The key, or screw, with which he tuned his harp.

67. The reader will remember that this was not a real minstrel, but only one personating that character; his ornaments therefore were only such as outwardly represented those of a real minstrel.

68. As the house of Northumberland had anciently three minstrels attending on them in their castles in Yorkshire,so they still retain three in their service in Northumberland, who wear the badge of the family (a silver crescent on the right arm) and are thus istributed, viz.-- One for for the barony of Prudhoe, and two for the barony of Rothbury. These attend the court-leets and fairs held for thelord, and pay their annual suit and service at Alnwick castle: their instrument being the ancient Northumberland bag-pipe (very different in form and execution from that of the Scots; being smaller, and blown, not with the breath, but with a small pair of bellows.) This with many other venerable customs of the ancient Lord Percys, was revived by theit illustrious representatives the late Duke and Duchess of Northumberland.

69. Anno Dom. 1597. Vid. Pult. Stat. p. 1110, 39 Eliz.

70. See King Estmere, &c.

71. Giraldus Cambrensis, writing in the reign of King Henry II., mentions a very extraordinary habit or propensity, which then prevailed in the north of England, beyond the Humber, for "symphonious harmony "or singing "in two parts, the one murmuring in the base, and the other warbling in the acute or treble." (I use Dr. Burney's version, vol. ii. p. 108.) This he describes as practised by their very children from the cradle; and he derives it from the Danes [so Daci signifies in our old writers] and Norwegians, who long overran and in effect new-peopled the northern parts of England, where alone this manner of singing prevailed.-- Vide Cambriæ Descriptio, cap. 13, and in Burney, ubi supra. Giraldus is probably right as to the origin or derivation of this practice, for the Danish and Icelandic Scalds had carried the arts of Poetry and Singing to great perfection at the time the Danish settlements were made in the North. And it will also help to account for the superior skill and fame of our northern minstrels and harpers afterwards, who had preserved and transmitted the arts of their Scaldic ancestors.-- See Northern Antiquities, vol. i. p. 13, p. 386, and Fine Pieces of Runic Poetry, 1703, 8vo. Compare the original passage in Giraldus, as given by Sir John Hawkins, i. 408, and by Dr. Burney, ii. 108, who are both at a loss to account for this peculiarity, and therefore doubt the fact. The credit of Giraldus, which hath been attacked by some partial and bigoted antiquaries, the reader will find defended in that learned and curious work, "Antiquities of Ireland, by Edward Ledwich, LL.D. &c., of Dublin, 1790," 4to, p. 207, & seqq.

72. This line being quoted from memory, and given as old Scottish poetry is now usually printed (see Note at the end of the Glossary), would have been readily corrected by the copy published in "Scottish Songs," 1794, 2 vols. 12mo, i. p. 267, thus (though apparently corrupted from the Scottish idiom),

"Live you upo' the Border?"

had not all confidence been destroyed by its being altered in the"Historical Essay"prefixed to that publication (p. cx.) to

"Ye live upo' the Border,"

the better to favour a position, that many of the Pipers "might live upon the border, for the conveniency of attending fairs, &c., in both kingdoms." But whoever is acquainted with that part of England, knows that on the English frontier, rude mountains and barren wastes reach almost across the island, scarcely inhabited by any but solitary shepherds, many of whom durst not venture into the opposite border on account of the ancient feuds and subsequent disputes concerning the Debatable Lands, which separated the boundaries of the two kingdoms, as well as the estates of the two great families of Percy and Douglas, till these disputes were settled, not many years since, by arbitration between the present Lord Douglas and the late Duke and Duchess of Northumberland.


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