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to the organ. Prince Henry, on being informed that the dying king had attempted to sing, says (Act v. Sc. 7):

"'Tis strange, that death should sing..
I am the cygnet to this pale faint swan,

Who chants a doleful hymn to his own death;
And, from the organ-pipe of frailty, sings
His soul and body to their lasting rest,"

the voice of the king here being the "organ pipe of frailty."

In the Induction to "Henry IV.," Part II., Shakespeare alludes to "a pipe" without specifying its kind; here, however, an instrument is evidently meant.

Rumour speaks:

"Rumour is a pipe
Blown by surmises, jealousies, conjectures;
And of so easy and so plain a stop,

That the blunt monster with uncounted heads,
The still-discordant wavering multitude,
Can play upon it."

Even the cases of musical instruments are sometimes spoken of by Shakespeare, as, for example, when the boy in "Henry V." (Act iii. Sc. 2) speaks of the propensity of Falstaff's followers to steal, even at a loss, from the mere habit:

"They will steal anything, and call it purchase. Bardolph stole a lute-case, bore it three leagues and sold it for three half-pence."

Or Falstaff's description of Shallow ("Henry IV.," Part I. Act iii. Sc. 2), when he says:

"The case of a treble hautboy was a mansion for him, a court."

In "Much Ado About Nothing" (Act ii. Sc. 1) Hero says to the masked Don Pedro: "God defend that the lute should be like the case." In fact, no part of any musical instrument of the poet's time seems to have been too humble for him to draw some metaphor from.


The Musical Life of England in Shakespeare's Time- The Great Contrapuntal Epoch - Famous English Composers -Status of Musicians Shakespeare's Satirical Allusions to Musicians Brandt's "Ship of Fooles".

- Musical Servants.

So much has been said and written about the literary activity of Shakespeare's time that the "Elizabethan poets" have become a standard subject with which every schoolboy is acquainted, and the epoch is accepted as one in which essays, poems, dramas, etc., flourished as never before. Without impugning the justice of this estimate, one may regret that it is too often allowed to overshadow the great musical advance which took place in the Elizabethan and Jacobean times. The names of Spenser, Massinger, Beaumont, Bacon, Sidney, Fletcher, Marlowe, Jonson (not to speak of the greatest of them all), are on every tongue, but those of Farrant, Weelkes, Morley, Byrd, Orlando Gibbons, Dowland, Bull, Ravenscroft, Tye, Tallis, Wilbye, Forde, and others, form a musical roll of honour that ought not to be thrown into the background by the list of literati; in fact, if the great name of Shakespeare be eliminated, the musical

list may balance the poetic one. It was the era of England's greatest contrapuntal activity, the epoch of the madrigal in its best state, the age of noble religious composition; for a short time England seemed to wrest the sceptre of musical supremacy from Italy itself. But the literary list was crowned with the greatest poet of all time, while England's chief musical genius, Henry Purcell, came a couple of generations later.'

In tracing the musical life of this time, however, one must carefully discriminate between the creator and the mere performer of music; the composers seem to have been held in considerable esteem, particularly as Henry VIII., Edward VI., Queen Mary, and Queen Elizabeth were all practical musicians and lovers of the art of music. The average performer was not prized so highly. It is a significant fact that almost all of Shakespeare's musicians are pictured either as Bohemians or vagabonds. We have already alluded to Mercutio's indignation at being classed with "minstrels." More than once does our poet sneer at his musicians and set their songs in a frame of satirical comment. Note, for example, the exquisite sarcasm of the following scene ("Much Ado About Nothing," Act ii. Sc. 3):

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'The influence of Shakespeare upon Purcell was nevertheless a marked one.

James I. was, however, not a musical monarch.

"Enter BALThazar with Music.

Don Pedro.

Come, Balthazar, we'll hear that song again. Balthazar. O good my lord, tax not so bad a voice To slander music any more than once.

Don Pedro. It is the witness still of excellency To put a strange face on his own perfection:

I pray thee, sing, and let me woo no more.

Balthazar. Because you talk of wooing, I will sing:
Since many a wooer doth commence his suit
To her he thinks not worthy; yet he woos;
Yet will he swear, he loves.

Don Pedro. Nay, pray thee, come:
Or, if thou wilt hold longer argument,
Do it in notes.


Note this before my notes, -
There's not a note of mine, that's worth the noting."

Don Pedro. Why these are very crotchets3 that he speaks:
Note, notes, forsooth, and noting!
Benedick. Now, Divine air!' now is his soul ravished!

'The Folio has it "Enter Prince, Leonato, Claudio, and Jacke Wilson," which has led to considerable inquiry as to who Jacke Wilson might have been. It has been suggested that he may have been the celebrated Dr. John Wilson, of Oxford. The very name "Balthazar," however, is thought to be derived from an actual person, Baltazarini (de Beaujoyeux), a prominent composer at the court of Henry III. of France. (See Furness, Variorium Edition, Vol. XII., page 109, for a collation of authorities about " Jack Wilson.")

The ways of the "Shakespearian commentator" are strange and wonderful. It has been suggested, because of this passage, that the title of the play may have originally been, "Much Ado About Noting!" The pronunciation of "nothing" in Shakespeare's time was given with the long O,-"no thing."

3" Crotchets," a musical pun. The "crotchet" is the English term for the quarter-note.

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