Popular Music Of The Olden Time Vol 1

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40                                                 ENGLISH MINSTRELSY.
hundred shillings to each of his minstrels, the grant was confirmed,in the first year of his son, Henry VI. (a.d. 1423), and payment ordered out of the ex­chequer. Both the biographers of Henry declare his love for music.a Lydgate and Occleve, the poets whom he patronized, attest also his love of literature, and the encouragement he gave to it.
John Lydgate, Monk of Bury St. Edmunds, describes the minstrelsy of his time less completely, but in nearly the same terms as Chaucer.
Lydgate was a very voluminous writer. Ritson enumerates 251 of his pieces, and the list is far from being complete. Among his minor pieces are many songs and ballads, chiefly satirical, such as " On the forked head-dresses of the ladies," on " Thievish Millers and Bakers," &c. A selection from these has been recently printed by the Percy Society.
Among the devices at the coronation banquet of Henry VI. (1429), were, in the first course, a "sotiltie" (subtlety) of St. Edward and St. Lewis, in coat armour, holding between them a figure like King Henry, similarly armed, and standing with a ballad under his feet.". In the second, a device of the Emperor Sigismund and King Henry V., arrayed in mantles of garter, and a figure like Henry VI. kneeling before them with a ballad against the Lollards ;b and in the third, one of our Lady, sitting with her child in her lap, and holding a crown in her hand, St. George and St. Denis kneeling on either side, presenting to her King Henry with a ballad in his hand.0 These subtleties were probably devised by the clergy, who strove to smother the odium which, as a body, their vices had excited, by turning public attention to the further persecution of the Lollards.4 In a discourse which was prepared to be delivered at the Convocation of the Clergy, ten days after the death of Edward IV., and which still exists in MS. (MS. Cotton Cleopatra, E. 3), exhorting the clergy to amendment, the "writer complains that " The people laugh at us, and make us their songs all the day long." Vicious persons of every description had been induced to enter the church on account of the protection it afforded against the secular power, and the facilities it provided for continued indulgence in their vices.
In that age, as in more enlightened times, the people loved better to be pleased than instructed, and the minstrels were often more amply paid than the clergy. During many of the years of Henry VI., particularly in the year 1430, at the annual feast of the fraternity of the Holie Crosse, at Abingdon, a town in Berkshire, twelve priests each received four pence for singing a dirge: and the same number of minstrels were rewarded each with two shillings and four pence, besides diet and horse-meat. Some of these minstrels came only from Mayden-hithe, or Maidenhead, a town at no great distance, in the same county. ( Liber Niger, p. 598.) In the year 1441, eight priests were hired from Coventry, to assist in celebrating a yearly obit in the church of the neighbouring priory of
• " Musicis delectabatur."—Tit. Liv., p. 5. "Instru-         = Quoted by Sliaron Turner, from Fab. 419.
mentis organicia plurimum deditus."—Eltnham.                      » Sir John Oldcastle, Lord Cobham, had been put to
b Ritson lias printed one of these ballads against the death in the preceding reign. Lollards, in his Ancient Songs, p. 63, 1790, taken from MS. Cotton, Vespasian, It, 16. Brit. Mum,