Popular Music Of The Olden Time Vol 1

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REIGN OF ELIZABETH.                                                  99
Steevens, in a note upon the above passage in The Merchant of Venice, quotes the authority of Lord Chesterfield against what he terms this "capricious sentiment" of Shakespeare, and adds that Peacham requires of his gentleman only to be able " to sing his part sure, and at first sight, and withall to play the same on a viol, or lute." But this sentiment, so far from being peculiar to Shakespeare, may be said to have been the prevailing one of Europe. Nor was Peacham an exception, for, although he says," I dare not pass so rash a censure of these " (who love not music) " as Pindar doth; or the Italian, having fitted a proverb to the same effect, Whom God loves not, that man loves not micsic;" he adds, " but I am verily per­suaded that they are by nature very ill disposed, and of such a brutish stupidity that scarce any thing else that is good and savoureth of virtue is to be found in them."a Tusser, in his " Points of Huswifry united to the comfort of Husbandry," 1570, recommends the country huswife to select servants that sing at their work, as being usually the most pains-taking, and the best. He says: " Such servants are oftenest painfull and good, That sing in their labour, as birds in the wood;" and old Merrythought says, "Never trust a tailor that does not sing at his work, for his mind is of nothing but filching."—(Di/ce's Beaumont and Fletcher, vol. ii., p. 171.)
Byrd, in his Psalmes, Sonnets, and Songs, &c, 1588, gives the following eight reasons why every one should learn to sing:—
1st.—" It is a knowledge easily taught, and quickly learned, where there is a good master and an apt scholar."
2nd.—" The exercise of singing is delightful to nature, and good to preserve the health of man."
3rd.—" It doth strengthen all parts of the breast, and doth open the pipes."
4th.—"It is a singular good remedy, for a stutting and stammering in the speech."
5th.—" It is the best means to procure a perfect pronunciation, and to make a good orator."
6th.—" It is the only way to know where nature hath bestowed a good voice ; . . .' and in many that excellent gift is lost, because they want art to express nature."
7th.—" There is not any music of instruments whatsoever, comparable to that which is made of the voices of men; where the voices are good, and the same well sorted and ordered."
8tb.—" The better the voice is, the meeter it is to honour and serve God therewith; and the voice of man is chiefly to be employed to that end." " Since singing is so good a thing, I wish all men would learn to sing."
Morlcy, in his Introduction to Pratical Musick, 1597, written in dialogue, introduces the pupil thus: " But supper being ended, and music books, according to custom, being brought to the table, the mistress of the house pre­sented me with a part, earnestly requesting me to sing; but when, after many excuses, I protested unfeignedly that I coidd not, every one began to wonder; yea,
* The Compleat Gentleman: fashioning him absolute in mind or bodie, that may be required in a noble gentleman. the most necessary and commendable qualities, concerning By Henry Peacham, Master of Arts, &c, 1622.