A Newly Discovered Musical Setting from Fletcher's Beggars' Bush


In lieu of an abstract, the first paragraph of the essay follows:

An early seventeenth-century musical setting of a song from Fletcher's Beggars' Bush has come to light, and that in quite remarkable circumstances. James Walter Brown recorded in 1920-1921 that he had in his possession two manuscript partbooks compiled c.1637 by Thomas Smith, later bishop of Carlisle, which contained several songs not extant elsewhere.1 He had received them in February 1917 from the widow of a friend with a letter saying "I found the enclosed among my husband's books, and thought they might be of some interest to you. If so, please keep them; if not, burn them." Brown remembered his friend claiming to have bought them from an old book stall and, realizing how narrowly they had escaped destruction, determined that their proper home was the "Bodleian library in Oxford, where they were copied and 'sowne together' nearly 300 years ago"; there they would be more accessible to students than in the Chapter library of Carlisle Cathedral where he had first thought of placing them.

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