Popular Music Of The Olden Time Vol 1

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50                                                    HENRY VIII.
A manuscript, containing a large number of songs and carols, has been recently found in the library of Balliol Coll., Oxford, where it had been accidently con­cealed^ behind a book-case, during a great number of years. It is in the hand­writing of Richard Hill, merchant of London, and contains entries from the year 1483 to 1535. Six or eight of the songs and carols are the same as in the book printed by the Percy Society, to which I have referred at page 41, and especially the carol, " Nowcll Nowell," but the volume does not contain music. The song of the contention between Holly and Ivy, beginning " Holly beareth berries, berries red enough," which is printed in Ritson's Ancient Songs, from a manuscript of Henry the Sixth's time, is there also, proving that some of the songs are of a much earlier date than the manuscript, and that they were still in favor. At fol. 210, v. is a copy of the " Nut-browne Mayde," and at the end of it "Explicit quod, Rich. Hill," which was the usual mode of claiming authorship of a work.
In the Pepysian Library, Magdalene College, Cambridge, there is a manuscript book of vocal music (No. 87), containing the compositions of the most eminent masters, English and foreign, of the time of Henry VH., written for the then Prince of Wales. It was the Prince's book, is beautifully written on vellum, and illuminated with his figure in miniature.
Henry VIII. was not only a great patron of music, but also a composer; and, according to Lord Herbert of Cherbury, who wrote his life, he composed two complete services, which were often sung in his chapel. Hollinshcd, in speaking of the removal of the court to Windsor, when Henry was beginning his progress, tells us that he " exercised himselfe dailie in shooting, singing, dansing, wressling, casting of. the barre, plaieing at the recorders, flute, virginals, in setting of songs, and making of ballades." All accounts agree in describing him as an amiable and accomplished prince in the early part of his reign; and the character given of him to the Doge of Venice, by his three ambassadors at the English court, could scarcely be expressed in more favorable terms. In their joint despatch of May 3rd, 1515, they say: " He is so gifted and adorned with mental accomplish­ments of every sort, that we believe him to have few equals in the world. He speaks English, French, and Latin; understands Italian well; plays almost on every instrument, and composes fairly (delegnamente) ; is prudent and sage, and free from every vice."*
In the letter of Sagudino (Secretary to the Embassy), writen to Alvise Foscari, at this same date, he says : " He is courageous, an excellent musician, plays the virginals well, is learned for his age and station, and has many other endowments and good parts." On the 1st of May, 1515, after the celebration of May-day at Greenwich, the ambassadors dined at the palace, and after dinner were taken into certain chambers containing a number of organs, virginals (clavicimbani), flutes, and other instruments; and having heard from the ambassadors that Sagudino was a proficient on some of them, he was asked by the nobles to play, which
» Despatch written by Pasqualigo, Badoer, and Giua- of Venice, from January, 1515, to July 26, 1519. Trans-tinian conjointly. See four years at the Court of Henry lated by Rawdon Brown. 8vo., 1854, vol. i., p. 70. VIII., Selection of Despatches addressed to the Signory