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Saxon English language. On the English side of the Tweed these dialects, differing greatly from each other, are usually called broad Scotch, even by the people of Northumberland and Cumberland, who speak a very similar “ Doric,” and have a music as well as manners and language as much Scotch as English. If a line be drawn from Greenock on the Clyde northeast by Perth to Inverness, it will be found that by far the greater portion of the songs and melodies which are known as Scotch to Scotchmen and to the world, and of which Scotchmen speak and write with the highest pride and enthusiasm, have been produced to the south of it. North of that line is a country where, until of late years, and even now, the people speak a totally different language, and sing a music of a totally different character. North-west of that line is the land of the Gael — of the semi-barbarous and imperfect instrument the bagpipe, of pibroch tunes, of rude, wild melodies, very little known, and still less admired, and of a species of song which has rarely been considered worth the trouble of translation.
But on the south-east of the line, and all the way to the English Border, where the Saxon tongue prevails, and where the minds of the people have for ages had access to English literature, the land is vocal with sweet sounds. Every river, stream, and lake-every mountain-slope and summit-every pastoral valley-nay, almost every farmhouse, has been celebrated in a song. The Highlander, who has no right or title to this music or song, is as proud of both as the Lowlander; and not unfrequently claims for his own wild melodies, and for his rude attempts at lyrical poetry in the native language of the Gael, a large portion of the admiration lavished upon compositions of a totally different origin and character. The Lowlanders, while they admit the claim of the Highlanders, take to
themselves the little that is good in Celtic music and song, in order that with it they may swell the triumphs of a land that, not being geographically English, is considered to be Scotch. The English public, believing what it has been told, that England has not, and never had any music, join their loud voices to the chorus of acclamation, and make no attempt to claim any portion of the merit which belongs to the Scotch, not because they are Celts, but because, like the English, they are Saxon and Scandinavian.
It was recently remarked by a musical professor, who formed one of the numerous audience at a lecture on the writings and genius of Chaucer, that the allusions to music and singing in that writer were frequent; and that all, or nearly all of his characters were represented as being able to sing or play. This fact also seems to have struck other persons. In the valuable and interesting introduction to a collection of national English airs, consisting of ancient song, ballad, and dance tunes, edited by Mr. W. Chappell, F.S.A., and published in 1840, we find the following passage:
“It were useless to quote all the numerous and respectful allusions made to the music of his time by Chaucer, “the most illustrious ornament of the reign of Edward III., and of his successor Richard II.,' or by his friend and contemporary John Gower; a reference to their works passim will satisfactorily prove how highly the love of song was held in this country at the time. A few, however, of the more interesting ones will probably prove acceptable to the reader. In Chaucer's description of the Squire, he tells us not only that
Singing he was or floyting (Aluting) all the day,'
• He coudè songès make, and wel endite,
Of his mendicant friar he says:
• And certainly he hadde a merry note,
Wel coude he singe, and plaien on the rote.'*
'In his harping, when that he had songe,
scholar Nicholas, in the 'Miller's Tale,' was an excellent singer and performer on the psaltry; and we learn that the parish clerk in the same tale
"Could playen songès on a small ribible.'t In the 'Pardoner's Tale' we have perhaps the first mention of the lute:
• Whereas with harpès, lutès, and giternes,
They dance and play,' &c. That
organs were very general in our abbeys and cathedrals is plain from the description of Chaunticlerc, in his “Nonnes Prieste's tale:
His vois was merrier than the mery orgon
On massè days that in the churches gon.' In the contention between “The Cuckoo and the Nightingale,'and * The Flower and the Leaf,' there are many beautiful passages concerning music. In Gower, Lydgate, Spencer, passim. The elder poets only are mentioned here, to show how much the art of minstrelsy was beloved at an early period in this land."
It will appear that in the year 1405—at the time when Chaucer's poetry was the delight of the educated classes-and
* The “rote" is the “ lyra mendicorum” of Kircher, the “ veille" of the French, and the English hurdygurdy.
| “Ribible" is, by Mr. Urry, in his glossary to Chaucer, from Speght, a former editor, rendered a fiddle or gittern. It seems that rebeb is a Moorish word, signifying an instrument with two strings, played on with a bow. The Moors brought it into Spain, whence it passed into Italy, and obtained the appellation of ribeca ; from whence the English rebec, which Phillips, and others after him, render a “fiddle with three strings."-Sir J. Hawkins, vol. ii. p. 86.
| Vin. Galilei bears testimony that the lute was the invention of the English, and the best instruments of the kind were made by them; also that their music was worthy the excellence of their workmanship.--I Fronimo, Venice, 1583.
when music was so highly popular in England, that all ranks of society cultivated the art of singing, and when a gentleman's education was considered incomplete if he had not been taught music, and when in many public schools, like that of Winchester, part-singing was a part of the regular and compulsory course of study—a young Scotch boy was brought to England, and there educated in all the accomplishments of the more civilised country. This boy, then aged eleven years, was James Stuart, son of Robert III. King of Scotland.
He was way to France to be educated, when the vessel in which he sailed was taken by an English squadron, in defiance, it was alleged, of a truce then subsisting between England and Scotland. The young prince was conveyed a prisoner to the Tower of London, where he was held captive for two years. At the end of that time he was consigned to Windsor Castle, where he was educated in a manner befitting his high rank; and where he remained, with more or less of personal freedom, until he attained the age of thirty. He manifested a strong taste for music and poetry, composed many songs, which are now either lost, or, if extant, not known to be his, and wrote an English poem of great merit, in imitation of the style of Chaucer, then the prevailing favourite. This poem, entitled “ The King's Quair,” or “ The King's Book," celebrates his love for the
" beautiful Lady Jane, or Joanna Beaufort, an English lady, daughter of the Duke of Somerset, of whose charms he became enamoured, on seeing her from his turret-window, walking among her maidens in the garden of Windsor Castle. The prince afterwards married this lady; and being restored to his own country, ascended the throne under the title of James I. He introduced into Scotland the arts which he had cultivated with such success in England, especially music and poetry. The
contemporary historians Fordun and Boece make honourable mention of him. Fordun says " he excelled in music, and not only in the vocal kind, but also in instrumental, which is the perfection of the art; in tabor and choir, in psalter and organ. Nature, apparently having calculated upon his acquiring something more than the ordinary qualifications of men, had implanted in him a force and power of divine genius above all human estimation; and this genius showed itself most particularly in music. His touch upon the harp produced a sound so utterly sweet, and so truly delightful to the hearers, that he seemed to be born a second Orpheus, or, as it were, the prince and prelate of all harpers."
Ballenden, Arch-Dean of Murray, in his translation of Boece’s History, is equally emphatic: “He was well learnt to fecht with the sword, to just, to tournay, to warsel, to sing and dance; he was an expert mediciner; richt crafty in playing baith of lute and harp, and sindry other instruments of musik; he was expert in gramar, oratory, and poetry, and made so flowand and sententious verses, appeared weel he was ane naturall and borne Poete.”
But the most remarkable testimony to his merits, and to the influence which he exercised over the musical taste of his countrymen, is afforded in the Pensieri Diversi of Alessandro Tassoni, an Italian writer, who in the twenty-third chapter of his tenth book thus distinguishes the king, “Noi ancora possiamo connumerar tra nostri, Jacopo Rè di Scozia, che non pur cose sacre compose in canto, ma trova da se stesso una nuova musica, lamentevole e mestà, differente da tutte l'altre. Nel che poi è stato imitato da Carlo Gesualdo Principe di Venosa, che in questa nostra età ha illustrato anch'egli la musica con nuove mirabili invenzioni.”
among us moderns