Page:Elizabethan People.djvu/280

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222
THE ELIZABETHAN PEOPLE

and hunters, was also commonly applied to music. Thus, a noise of musicians meant a group, and a noise often referred to music without any implication as to the quality of the sound. It is probable that musicians, either singly or in consorts, were to be had at little expense and at a moment's notice. We have frequent contemporary allusions to persons meeting in a tavern, and deciding suddenly to send out for musicians to help them while away the time for an hour. Such strolling players were not held in high repute; hence "consort" was often used with an insulting connotation as almost synonymous with vagabond.[1] In the Knight of the Burning Pestle we learn that the waits (another term for a band of musicians) will come from Southwark in a hurry for two shillings.[2]

Drayton in his Poly-Olbion[3] thus enumerates the instruments in use at the time in England:

"The English that repined to be delayed so long,
All quickly at the hint, as with one free consent,
Strook up at once and sung each to the instrument;
(Of sundry sorts there were, as the musician likes)
On which the practiced hand with perfect'st fingering strikes.
Whereby their right of skill might liveliest be expressed.
The trembling lute some touch, some strain the violl best,

  1. See Romeo and Juliet, III. i. 49.
  2. Induction.
  3. Fourth Song.