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constantly kept up and exercised near the frontier of the two kingdoms, as it furnished continual subjects for their songs, so it inspired the inhabitants of the adjacent counties on both sides with the powers of poetry. Besides, as our southern metropolis must have been ever the scene of novelty and refinement, the northern countries, as being most distant, would preserve their ancient manners longest, and of course the old poetry, in which those manners are peculiarly described.
The reader will observe in the more ancient ballads of this collection, a cast of style and measure very different from that of contemporary poets of a higher class; many phrases and idioms, which the minstrels seem to have appropriated to themselves, and a very remarkable licence of varying the accent of words at pleasure, in order to : humour the flow of the verse, particularly in the rhymes; as
Countrie harper battel morning
singer damsèl loving instead of coùntry, làdy, hàrper, singer, &c.—This liberty in “Scottish Songs, 1794.” 2 vols. 12mo. i. p. 267, thus, (though apparently corrupted from the Scottish idiom,)
“ Live you upo' the Border ?” had not all confidence been destroyed by its being altered in the “ Historical Essay” prefixed to that publication (p. cx.) to
“Ye live upo' the Border," the better to favour a position, that many of the Pipers“ might live
upon the border, for the conveniency of attending fairs, &c. in both kingdoms.” But whoever is acquainted with that part of England, knows that on the English frontier, rude mountains and barren wastes reach almost across the island, scarcely inhabited by any but solitary shepherds; many of wbom durst not venture into the opposite border on account of the ancient feuds and subsequent disputes concerning the Debatable Lands, which separated the · boundaries of the two kingdoms, as well as the estates of the two great families of Percy and Douglas ; till these disputes were settled, not many years since, by arbitration between the present Lord Douglas and the late Duke and Duchess of Northumberland.
is but sparingly assumed by the classical poets of the same age; or even by the latter composers of heroical ballads; I mean, by such as professedly wrote for the press. For it is to be observed, that so long as the Minstrels subsisted, they seem never to have designed their rhymes for literary publication, and probably never committed them to writing themselves: what copies are preserved of them were doubtless taken down from their mouths. But as the old Minstrels gradually wore out, a new race of Ballad-writers succeeded, an inferior sort of minor poets, who wrote narrative songs merely for the press. Instances of both may be found in the reign of Elizabeth. The two latest pieces in the genuine strain of 'n the old minstrelsy that I can discover, are Nos. iii. and iv. of book iii. in this volume. Lower than these I cannot trace the old mode of writing.
The old minstrel ballads are in the northern dialect, abound with antique words and phrases, are extremely incorrect, and run into the utmost licence of metre; they have also a romantic wildness, and are in the true spirit of chivalry. The other sort are written in exacter measure, have a low or subordinate correctness, sometimes bordering on the insipid, yet often well adapted to the pathetic ; these are generally in the southern dialect, exhibit a more modern phraseology, and are commonly descriptive of more modern manners. To be sensible of the difference between them, let the reader compare in this volume No. iii. of book iii. with No. xi. of book ii.
Towards the end of Queen Elizabeth's reign, (as is mentioned above,) the genuine old minstrelsy seems to have been extinct, and thenceforth the ballads that were produced were wholly of the latter kind, and these came forth in such abundance, that in the reign of James I. ! they began to be collected into little miscellanies, under
the name of Garlands, and at length to be written purposely for such collections, (FF 2).
P. S. By way of Postcript, should follow here the discussion of the question whether the term Minstrels was applied in English to Singers, and Composers of Songs, &c. or confined to Musicians only. But it is reserved for the concluding note, (GG).
NOTES AND ILLUSTRATIONS
REFERRED TO IN
THE FOREGOING ESSAY.
(A) The Minstrels, &c.] The word Minstrel does not appear to have been in use here before the Norman conquest; whereas it had long before that time been adopted in France.* MENESTREL, 80 early as the eighth century, was a title given to the Maestro di Capelli of K. Pepin, the father of Charlemagne ; and afterwards to the Coryphæus, or leader of any band of musicians. [Vide Burney's Hist. of Music, ii. 268.] This term Menestrel, Menestrier, was thus expressed in Latin, Ministellus, Ministrellus, Ministrallus, Menesterellus, &c. [Vide Gloss. Du Cange, & Supplem.]
Menage derives the French words above mentioned from Mi. nisterialis or Ministeriurius, barbarous Latin terms, used in the middle ages to express a workman or artificer, (still called in Languedoc Ministral,) as if these men were styled Artificers or PERFORMERS by way of excellence. [Vide Diction. Etym.] But the origin of the name is given perhaps more truly by Du Cange; “ MINISTELLI quos vulgo Menestreur vel Menestriers appellamus, quod minoribus aulæ Ministris accenserentur.” [Gloss. iv. p. 769.] Accordingly, we are told, the word Minister is sometimes used pro Ministellus, (ibid.) and an instance is produced which I shall insert at large in the next paragraph.
* The Anglo-Saxon and primary English name for this character was Gleeman, (see below, Note (1) sect. 1,] so that, wherever the term Minstrel is in these pages applied to it before the Conquest, it must be understood to be only by anticipation. Another early name for this profession in English was Jogeler, or Jocular, Lat. Joculator. [See p. xxxiii, as also note (v2) and note (a). To prevent confusion, we have chiefly used the more general word Minstrel : which (as the author of the Observ. on the Statutes hath suggested to the Editor) might have been originally derived from a diminutive of the Lat. Minister, scil. Ministerellus, Ministrellus.
Minstrels sometimes assisted at divine service, as appears from the record of the 9th of Edward IV. quoted above in page 1. by which Haliday and others are erected into a perpetual Gild, &c. See the original in Rymer, xi. 642. By part of this record it is recited to be their duty" to pray (ecorare : which it is presumed they did by assisting in the chant, and musical accompaniment, &c.) in the King's chapel, and particularly for the departed souls of the King and Queen, when they shall die,” &c. The same also appears from the passage in the Supplem. to Du Cange, alluded to above. “ MINISTER. pro Ministellus Joculatur.'*— Vetus Ceremoniale MS. B. M. deauratæ Tolos. “Item, etiam congregabuntur Piscatores, qui debent interesse isto die in processione cum Ministris seu Joculatoribus : quia ipsi Piscatores tenentur habere isto die Joculatores, seu Mimos, ob honorem Crucis-et vadunt primi ante processionem cum Ministris sen Joculatoribus semper pulsantibus usque ad Ecclesiam S. Stephani.” [Gloss. 773.] This may perhaps account for the clerical appearance of the Minstrels, who seem to have been distinguished by the Tonsure, which was one of the inferior marks of the clerical character. Thus Geffery of Monmouth, speaking of one who acted the part of a Minstrel, says, “Rasit capillos suos et barbam.” (See note 6.) Again, a writer in the reign of Elizabeth, describing the habit of an ancient minstrel, speaks of his head as “ rounded Tonster-wise," (which I venture to read Tonsure-wise,) “his beard smugly shaven." See above, p. liv.
It must, however, be observed, that notwithstanding such clerical appearance of the Minstrels, and though they might be some
* Ministers seems to be used for Minstrels in the Account of the Intbronization of Abp. Neville, (An. 6, Edw. IV.). " Then all the Chaplyns must say grace, and the Ministers do sing.”- Vide Lelandi Collectanea, by Hearne, vol. vi. p. 13.
f It has, however, been suggested to the Editor by the learned and ingenious author of “ Irish Antiquities,” 4to. that the ancient Mimi among the Romans had their heads and beards shaven, as is shown by Salmasius in Notis ad Hist. August. Scriptores VI. Paris, 1620, fol. p. 385. So that this uliarity had a classical origin, though it afterwards might make the Minstrels sometimes pass for Ecclesiastics, as appears from the instance given below. Dr. Burney tells us that Histriones, and Mimi, abounded in France in the time of Charlemagne, (ii. 221,) so that their profession was handed down in regular succession from the time of the Romans, and therewith some leading distinctions of their habit or appearance; yet with a change in their arts of pleasing, which latterly were most confined to singing and music.