Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Paisible, James

PAISIBLE, JAMES (1656?–1721), flautist and composer, a native of France, born about 1656, is said to have come to England about 1680 (Fétis). He had patrons among his compatriots. The Duchesse de Mazarin, with the help of M. de St. Evremond, gave exquisite concerts at Paradise Row, Chelsea. For these St. Evremond's melodies were worked up and supplied with harmony and accompaniments by the musician, resulting in such slight drawing-room musical scenes as ‘Idyle,’ ‘Les Opéra,’ ‘Les Noces d'Isabelle,’ and ‘Concert de Chelsey.’ In one of these scenes Paisible is introduced by name, and may be supposed to have sung the part—that of a young musician. Another character is ‘an old poet’ (St. Evremond?).

    Parlez, Vieillard; parlez, Paisible;
    Goûterez-vous au bonheur si sensible?

This, as well as a lively sketch of the musician given by St. Evremond in a note to the duchess, must belong to a date prior to 1700. St. Evremond describes Paisible as indolent, but with easy and agreeable manners.

On 4 Dec. 1686 he procured a license from the vicar-general for his marriage with one Mary Davis. About 1691 he began to supply overtures and musical interludes to the London theatres. In 1703 his music was performed ‘before Her Majesty and the new King of Spain,’ the occasion being the reception by Anne at Windsor of the Archduke Charles, 29–31 Dec. 1703. From that year until 1714 Paisible composed the tunes to Isaac's dances for the birthday festivals of the queen, while he described himself in his will as having been in her service and in that of George I as ‘musitioner,’ with arrears of salary paid.

He lived in the parish of St. Martin's-in-the-Fields for some years before his death, which took place about August 1721. His will was signed 17 Jan. 1720–1, Peter La Tour being one executor, and Francis Dieupart another, in charge of property in France.

Paisible's published works include: 1. ‘Pièces à trois et quatre parties, pour les Flûtes, Violons, et Hautbois,’ &c., Amsterdam. 2. ‘Quatorze Sonates à deux Flûtes,’ Amsterdam. 3. ‘Brauls’ in ‘Apollo's Banquet,’ 1690. 4. ‘Overture and Interludes to “King Edward III,”’ 1691; 5, to ‘Oroonoko;’ and 6, to ‘The Spanish Wives,’ 1696. 7. ‘The Queen's Farewell’ in ‘Deliciæ Musicæ,’ 1695. 8. ‘Duetts for Flutes (Thesaurus Musicus),’ 1693–6. 9. ‘The Humours of Sir John Falstaff,’ 1700. 10. ‘She would and she would not,’ 1703. 11. ‘Love's Stratagem.’ 12. ‘Three Overtures,’ 1704. 13. ‘Tunes to Mr. Isaac's Dances,’ 1703–1715. 14. ‘Six Sonatas of two Parts, for two Flutes,’ 1710? 15. ‘Six Setts of Aires for two Flutes and a Bass,’ 1720? Manuscript music by Paisible for flute is preserved in British Museum Additional MSS. 30839 and 31429. The Mr. Paisible of Southampton, composer of a harpsichord lesson (Addit. MS. 34609), may be his son, the James Paisible referred to in Paisible's will.

[Grove's Dict. of Music, ii. 633; Hawkins's Hist. of Music, pp. 764, 794; St. Evremond's Works, 1740, passim; London Gazette, 3 Jan. 1703–4; Faulkner's Chelsea, ii. 199; will registered P.C.C. Marlborough, fol. 124; Husk's Catalogue.]

L. M. M.