frequently the different members of the same band of minstrels present differences of costume, as in the instance here given, from the title-page of the fourteenth century MS. Add., 10,293; proving that the minstrels did not affect any uniformity of costume whatever.
In the MSS. we not unfrequently find the ordinary musical instruments placed in the hands of the angels; e.g., in the early fourteenth-century MS. Royal 2 B. vii., in a representation of the creation, with the morning stars singing together, and all the sons of God shouting for joy, an angelic choir are making melody on the trumpet, violin, cittern, shalm (or psaltery), and harp.
Another of these guilds was the ancient company or fraternity of minstrels in Beverley, of which an account is given in Poulson’s “Beverlac”. When the fraternity originated we do not know; but they were of some consideration and wealth in the reign of Henry VI., when the Church of St. Mary’s, Beverley, was built.
Besides the pipe and horn, the bagpipe was also a rustic instrument. The picture is a shepherd playing upon one.
It is curious to find that even at so late a period as the time of Queen Mary, the shepherds still officiated at weddings and other merrymakings in their villages, so as to excite the jealousy of the professors of the joyous science.
The accompanying wood-cut, from a MS. in the French National library, may represent such a rustic merry-making.
The picture is of a royal dinner of about the time of our Edward IV., “taken from an illumination of the romance of the Compte d’Artois, in the possession of M. Barrois, a distinguished and well-known collector in Paris
Regals or Organ (Royal, 14 E iii).
Regals and Double Pipe (Royal 2 B vii).
The picture is a curious illumination from the Royal MS. 2 B vii., representing a friar and a nun themselves making minstrelsy.
In the illustration, of early fourteenth-century date, the scene of the dance is not indicated; the minstrels themselves appear to be joining in the saltitation which they inspire.
The picture is an exceedingly interesting representation of a grand imperial banquet, from one of the plates of Hans Burgmair, in the volume dedicated to the exploits of the Emperor Maximilian, contemporary with our Henry VIII. It represents the entrance of a masque, one of those strange entertainments, of which our ancestors, in the time of Henry and Elizabeth, were so fond. The band of minstrels who have been performing during the banquet, are seen in the left corner of the picture.
The custom of having instrumental music as an accompaniment of dinner is still retained by her Majesty and by some of the greater nobility, by military messes, and at great public dinners. But the musical accompaniment of a mediæval dinner was not confined to instrumental performances. We frequently find a harper introduced, who is doubtless reciting some romance or history, or singing chansons of a lighter character. He is often represented as sitting upon the floor.
The shepherds, throughout the Middle Ages, seem to have been as musical as the swains of Theocritus or Virgil; in the MS. illuminations we constantly find them represented playing upon instruments; we give a couple of goatherds from the MS. Royal 2 B vii. folio 83, of early fourteenth-century date.
There were also female minstrels throughout the Middle Ages; but, as might be anticipated from their irregular wandering life, they bore an indifferent reputation.
Cymbals and Trumpets
In the MSS. we not unfrequently find the ordinary musical instruments placed in the hands of the angels
An engraving from a manuscript of a semi-choir of minoresses, which is only a portion of a large church interior.
The picture of a semi-choir of Franciscan friars is from a fourteenth-century psalter. The picture is worth careful examination for the costume of the friars—grey frock and cowl, with knotted cord girdle and sandalled feet; some wearing the hood drawn over the head, some leaving it thrown back on the neck and shoulders; one with his hands folded under his sleeves like the Cistercians at p. 17. The precentor may be easily distinguished in the middle stall beating time, with an air of leadership. There is much character in all the faces and attitudes—e.g., in the withered old face on the left, with his cowl pulled over his ears to keep off the draughts, or the one on the precentor’s left, a rather burly friar, evidently singing bass.
In a MS. volume of romances of the early part of the fourteenth century in the British Museum, the title-page of the romance of the “Quête du St. Graal” is adorned with an illumination of a royal banquet; a squire on his knee (as in the illustration given on opposite page) is carving, and a minstrel stands beside the table playing the violin
In the illustration, reproduced from Mr. Wright’s “Domestic Manners of the English,” we have a curious picture of a dance, possibly in the gallery, which occupied the whole length of the roof of most fifteenth-century houses; it is from a MS. of fifteenth-century date.
In all these instances the minstrels are on the floor with the dancers, but in the latter part of the Middle Ages they were probably—especially on festal occasions—placed in the music gallery over the screens, or entrance-passage, of the hall.
Negro harp of the NiamNiams a tribe in the vicinity of the Bahr-el-Abiad.
The body is of hollowed wood covered with skin, and the wooden neck terminates in a carved head with two horns.
The Chinese have full as great a variety of musical instruments as most other nations, but they are all of them indifferent, and the music, if it may be so called, produced out of them, execrable.
Hanging to Music. (A Minstrel condemned to the Gallows obtained permission that one of his companions should accompany him to his execution, and play his favourite instrument on the ladder of the Gallows.)--Fac-simile of a Woodcut in Michault's "Doctrinal du Temps Présent:" small folio, goth., Bruges, about 1490.
Sword-dance to the sound of the Bagpipe.--Fac-simile of a Manuscript in the British Museum (Fourteenth Century).