1776 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Byrd

Charles Burney, in A General History of Music (1776-89; 1935) 2:81.



Bird died in 1623, surviving his master Tallis thirty-eight years; and if we suppose him to have been twenty in the year 1563, when he was chosen organist of LIncoln, he must have been eighty at his decease. Peacham, in his Complete Gentleman, speaks of him with great reverence; as does his pupil, Morley, in his Introduction, as well as every professor and musical writer of his own and later times. At this remote period but little, however, can be known of his private life, which was too studious and sedentary to have furnished history, at any time, with events of general interest. That he was a diligent cultivator of his art appears from his numerous works, which are more the productions of meditation and study, than of haste and enthusiasm. That he was pious, the words he selected, and the solemnity and gravity of style with which he set them, sufficiently evince. Of his moral character and natural disposition, there can perhaps be no testimonies more favourable, or less subject to suspicion, than those of rival professors, with whom he appears to have lived ruing a long life with cordiality and friendship. And, of the goodness of his heart, it is, to me, no trivial proof, that he loved, and was beloved, by his master, Tallis, and scholar, Morley; who, from their intimate connexion with him, must have seen him "en robe de chambre," and been spectators of all the operations of temper, in the opposite situations of subjection and dominion.