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548 ENGLISH SONG AND BALLAD MUSIC.
Lord Mayor's Day, and on public feasts and great dinners. They are described as having blue gowns, red sleeves, and caps, every one having his silver collar about his neck.
In 1599, Morley thus speaks of them in his dedication of his Consort Lessons, for six instruments, to the Lord Mayor and Aldermen:—" But, as the ancient custom of this most honorable and renowned city hath been ever to retain and maintain excellent and expert musicians, to adorn your Honour's favours, feasts, and solemn meetings,—to those, your Lordship's Wayts, I recommend the same, —to your servants' careful and skilful handling."
When Charles II., on his restoration, passed through the city of London to Whitehall, he was, according to Ogilby, entertained with music from a band of eight waits at Crutched Friars, of six at Aldgate, and six in Leadenhall Street. Roger North, who lived in his reign, says : " As for corporation and mercenary musick, it was chiefly flabile" (i. e., for wind instruments), " and the professors, from going about the streets in a morning, to wake folks, were and are yet called Waits, quasi Wakes." I doubt this derivation, for the meaning of the word seems rather to be " to watch" than " to awaken" (in the glossary to Tyrwhitt's Chaucer, we find " Wake, v. Sax., To watch," and " Waite, v. Fi\, To watch'1); but the passage proves that waits then went about the streets at unseasonable hours, as they now do, within a few days of Christmas, in order to earn a Christmas-box.
In Davenant's Unfortunate Lovers, Rampiro says :—
" the fwllers do So often waken me with their grating gridirons And good morrows, I cannot sleep for them."
JohnCleland, in his "Essay on the Origin of the Musical Waits at Christmas," appended to his " Way to things by words and to words by things," 8vo., 17G6, says : " But at the ancient Yule, or Christmas time especially, the dreariness of the weather, the length of the night, would naturally require something extraordinary to wake and rouse men from their natural inclination to rest, and from a warm bed at that hour. The summons, then, to the Wakes of that season were given by music, going the rounds of invitation to the mirth or festivals which were • awaiting them. In this there was some propriety—some object; but where is there any in such a solemn piece of banter as that of music going the rounds and disturbing people in vain ? For surely any meditation to be thereby excited on the holiness of the ensuing day could hardly be of great avail, in a bed between sleeping and waking. But such is the power of custom to perpetuate absurdities."
In nearly all the books of household expenditure in early times, we find donations to waits of the towns through which the traveller passed. In those of Sir John Howard, of Henry VII., and of Henry VIII., there are payments to the waits of London, Colchester, Dover, Canterbury, Dartford, Coventry, Northampton, and others. Will. Kemp, in his celebrated Morris-dance from London to Norwich, says that few cities have waits like those of Norwich, and none better; and that, besides their excellency in wind instruments, their rare cunning on the viol and violin, they had admirable voices, every one of them being able to serve as a