Music in the English Courtly Masque, 1604-1640

By Peter Walls | Go to book overview

6

French Influence in the
Caroline Masque

French Dancing-Masters

Madam, I did not think your ladyship Had so little judgment . . . As to let an Englishman draw your picture, And such rare monsieurs in town . . . You must encourage strangers, while you live; It is the character of our nation, we are famous For dejecting our own countrymen. . . . Trust, while you live, the Frenchman with your legs, Your faces with the Dutch . . .

James Shirley, The Ball, III. iii. 33-45

Shirley's play was licensed for performance at the end of 1632 (the year in which the most sought-after Dutch portraitist, Van Dyck, took up residence in England). The Ball's satire on the court and its prevailing fashions proved almost too close for comfort; Lord Herbert, the Master of the Revels, considered having the play banned because 'there were divers personated so naturally, both of lords and others of the court, that I took it ill'.1 The word 'ball' is itself a French borrowing.2 As its use in the title of Shirley's play might lead us to expect, learning dancing from Frenchmen is singled out for particular scorn as a fashionable affectation. Shirley's Monsieur le Frisk is a caricature who could have been based on any number of French dancingmasters in London in the 1630s. He implies that he is essentially a dance specialist (while other Frenchmen excel at violin-playing): 'My broder, my lord, know well for de litle kit -- he fiddle -- and me for de posture of de body.

____________________
1
18 Nov [1632]. See Bentley, The Jacobean and Caroline Stage, v. 1077.
2
Randle Cotgrave Dictionarie of the French and English Tongues ( London, 1611) gives a definition of 'bal' as 'a daunce; a dauncing; Reuels, or, a Reuelling'. The OED gives Shirley's title as the earliest English use of the word to mean 'a social assembly for dancing'. However, on 13 Jan. 1621 John Chamberlain used the word in a letter to Dudley Carleton describing the entertainment provided for the French envoy, the Marquis of Cadenet: 'That night they had a bal at Whitehall . . .': The Letters of John Chamberlain, ed. N. E. McClure ( Philadelphia, 1939), i. 333. The court presumably thought of this as an appropriate way to honour distinguished French visitors. ( Chamberlain's letter goes on to describe a Twelfth Night masque for which no text survives.)

-221-

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Music in the English Courtly Masque, 1604-1640
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents xi
  • List of Plates xiii
  • List of Tables xiv
  • List of Music Examples xv
  • Abbreviations xviii
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - Texts, Scores, and Musicians 7
  • 2 - Masque Song 43
  • 3 - Dance and Instrumental Music 104
  • 4 - The William Lawes Masques 159
  • 5 - Music for the Eyes 206
  • 6 - French Influence in the Caroline Masque 221
  • 7 - Masques Away from Whitehall 260
  • 8 - Realizations 304
  • Epilogue 333
  • Appendix - A Calendar of Masque Texts 341
  • Bibliography 349
  • Index 361
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