Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 3.djvu/780

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768

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��an intense interest in this most valuable MS. ; and, after much laborious research, has collected evidence enough to lead him to the belief that it was written, at the Abbey of Reading, by a Monk named John of Fornsete, about the year 1226, or quite certainly not more than ten years later. For the grounds on -which he bases this conclusion we must refer our readers to his own writings on the subject. One of his dis- coveries, however, is so important, that we can- not pass it over without special notice. The volume which contains the Rota contains also a number of satirical Poems, written in rhymed Latin by Gualterus Mahap (Walter Mapes, Arch- deacon of Oxford). 1 Among these is a Satire entitled Apud avaros? bristling with puns, one of which closely concerns our present subject, and helps, in no small degree, to establish the anti- quity of the Rota. The Poet counsels his readers as to the best course to be pursued by those who wish to 'move' the Roman Law-Courts. After numerous directions, each enforced by a pun, he writes as follows

Commisso notario munera suffunde,

Statim causse subtrahet, quando, cur, et unde,

Et formae subjiciet canones rotundse.a

Apud avaros, 69 71.

Now, the significance of this venerable pun, as a proof of the antiquity of the Rota, is very remark- able. In a Poem, transcribed, as Sir Frederick Madden assures us, long before the middle of the 1 3th century, Walter Mapes, an English Ecclesiastic, speaks of ' subjecting Canons to the form of (the) Round,' with a homely naweU which proves that his readers must have been too familiar with both Round and Canon, to stand in any danger of mistaking the drift of the allusion. This form of Music, then, must have been common, in England, before the middle of the 1 3th century. Walter Mapes bears witness to the fact that the First English School, as repre- sented by the Rota, is at least a century and a half older than the First Flemish School as represented by the works of Dufay, 4 and we are indebted to Mr. Chappell for the discovery of thejeu d' esprit in which the circumstance is recorded.

Turning from English to Continental critics, we first find the Rota introduced to the German musical world by Forkel, who, in the year 1 788, described it in his 'Allgemeine Geschichte der Musik ' ; reproducing Burney's copy of the Guida,

i See Wanley's remarks, In the Catalogue of the Harl. MSS. a Harl. MSS. 978, fol. 85 a (formerly numbered 83 a, and 106 a). When thou art sent to the Notary pour in thy gifts.

He will then at once extricate thee from the cause, when, why, or whencesoever it may have arisen,

And will subject the Canons to the form of the Bound. 4 See ante. p. 260 a.

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in the old black square-headed Notation (Gros- Fa\ and also his modernised Score, in Semibreves and Minims ; accompanying these by Wanley's remarks, copied from the Harleian Catalogue. To this he added a corollary of his own, to the effect that, though the MS. proves this species of Canon to have been well known in the middle of the 1 5th century, and probably much earlier, the Musicians of that period were not sufficiently learned to combine it with good Harmony assertions which lose much of their weight from the self-evident fact that they rest upon inform- ation obtained entirely at second-hand, and not even corroborated by examination of the original MS., which it is clear that Forkel never saw. 5

The next German critic to whom it occurred to touch on the subject was Ambros, who, in volume 2 of his great work, follows Forkel's ex- ample, by quoting Wanley's description, and, on the authority of Hawkins, referring the MS. which he himself clearly never saw to the middle of the 1 5th century. 6 It is indeed quite certain, that, at this period at least, Ambros's knowledge of the history of English art was derived entirely from the pages of Hawkins and Burney.

In 1865 the subject was taken up by the Belgian savant Coussemaker, who described the MS. as written in the year 1 2 26 or, at the latest, 1236 by John of Fornsete, 'a Monk of the Abbey of Reading, in Berkshire.' 7 But the statement rests entirely on information derived from Mr. Chappell ; Coussemaker himself never having seen the MS. True, in another work, 8 he speaks more independently; and, in his own name, asserts the Rota to have been written by 'the Monk of Reading,' before the year 1226. But he nowhere tells us that he examined the MS. for himself.

In 1868, the argument was resumed by Am- bros, who, in the fourth volume of his History, confessed himself convinced by the arguments of Coussemaker, and undoubtingly refers the Rota to the year 1226. But here again it is clear that the opinion is not his own ; and that he himself never saw the original MS. 9

And now, having compared the views enter- tained by the best historians of the past century with those set forth by the latest and most competent critics of the present day, it remains only that we should place before our readers the results of our own careful and long-continued study of the original MS. [w. s. R.J

5 Allg. Geschichte d. Muslk,' 11. 490-500. (Leipzig, 1788.)

8 ' Geschichte der Musik,' Tom. ii. pp. 473-475. (Breslau, 1862.)

7 ' L'Art harmonique aux xii et xiii siecles.' 144, 150. (Paris, li>65.)

8 Les Harmonistes des xii et xiii siecles,' p. 11.

' Geschichte der Musik.' Tom. iv. pp. 440-141. (Breslau. 1883.)

��To be continued.

��END OF VOL. III.

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