Popular Music Of The Olden Time Vol 2

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REIGN OF QUEEN ANNE TO GEOKGE II.                            625
The cultivation of music among gentlemen began to decline in the reign of Charles II., slowly but progressively. The style of music in favour in his day required less cultivation than the contrapuntal part-writing of earlier times. Playford remarks that " of late years all solemn and grave music has been laid aside, being esteemed too heavy and dull for the light heels and brains of this nimble and wanton age." Salmon, writing in 1672, attributes its decline to the intricate and troublesome nature of the clefs, and says, that " for ease sake, many gentlemen gave themselves over to whistling upon the flageolet, and fiddling upon the violin, till they were so rivalled by their lacquies and barbers' boys that they were forced to quit them, as ladies do their fashions when the chambermaids have inherited their old clothes." (Essay to the Advancement of Music, p. 36.)
Among ladies, the cultivation seems to have remained in nearly the same state as before. In "The Levellers: A Dialogue between two young ladies concerning Matrimony," (4to., 1703), Politica, who is a tradesman's daughter, describing her education at a boarding school, says, she " learned to sing, to play on the base-viol, virginals, spinnet, and guitair." Here we find the base-viol still in use by ladies; and again, in Vanbrugh's play, The Melapse, " To prevent all misfortunes, she has her breeding within doors; the parson of the parish teaches her to play on the base-viol, the clerk to sing, her nurse to dress, and her father to dance." (Act i., sc. 1.) Nevertheless, some opposition to its use had existed long before, for Middleton, in his Roaring Crirl, says, " There be a thousand close dames that will call the viol an unmannerly instrument for a woman."
The dancing schools of London are described by Count Lorenzo Magalotti, on his visit to England with Cosmo, III. Grand Duke of Tuscany, in 1669. He says, " they are frequented both by unmarried and married ladies, who are instructed by the master, and practise, with much gracefulness and agility, various dances after the English fashion. Dancing is a very common and favorite amuse­ment of the ladies in this country; every evening there are entertainments at different places in the city, at which many ladies and citizens' wives are present, they going to them alone, as they do to the rooms of the dancing masters, at which there are frequently upwards of forty or fifty ladies. His Highness had an op­portunity of seeing several dance3 in the English style, exceeding well regulated, and executed in the smartest and genteelest manner by very young ladies, whose beauty and gracefulness were shewn off to perfection in this exercise." (p. 319.) And again, " He went out to Highgate to see a children's ball, which, being conducted according to the English custom, afforded great pleasure to his High-neBS, both from the numbers, the manner, and the gracefulness of the dancers."
The English had long been celebrated for their dancing. " In saltatione et arte musica excellunt," says Hentzner, describing us in 1598; and while a man might hope to become Lord Chancellor by good dancing, without being bred to the law (like Sir Christopher Hatton), it was certainly worth while to endeavour to excel. Fletcher, in the opening scene of his Island Princess, to depict forcibly the pleasure that a certain prince took in the management of a sailing boat,

E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III