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Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 07.djvu/246

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Bull
Bull
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to Bull occurs on 31 March 1597, when a lease in reversion for fifty years was granted to Robert Holland, of messuages and lands in the counties of York, Surrey, Lancaster, Anglesey, and Derby, at a rent of IQL Ss. d., without fine, 'in consideration of the service of John Bull, organist of the chapel' (State Papers, Eliz., Dom. Ser. cclxii. 91). In 1601 he went abroad, as is said, for the sake of his health, and travelled in France and Germany, his post at Gresham College being occupied during his absence by a deputy, Thomas Byrd, the son of William Byrd, the celebrated composer [q. v.] It was on this journey that he is said to have performed the celebrated feat which Wood quaintly relates as follows : 'Hearing of a famous musician belonging to a certain cathedral (at St. Omer's, as I have heard), he applied himself as a novice to him to learn something of his faculty, and to see and admire his works. This musician, after some discourse had passed between them, conducted Bull to a vestry, or music school, joyning to the cathedral, and shew'd to him a lesson or song of forty parts, and then made a vaunting challenge to any person in the world to add one more part to them, supposing it to be so compleat and full that it was impossible for any mortal man to correct, or add to it. Bull thereupon desiring the use of ink and rul'd paper (such as we call musical paper), prayed the musician to lock him up in the said school for two or three hours ; which being done, not without great disdain by the musician, Bull in that time, or less, added forty more parts to the said lesson or song. The musician thereupon being called in, he viewed it, tried it, and retry'd it. At length he burst out into a great ecstacy, and swore by the great God that he that added those forty parts must either be the devil or Dr. Bull, &c. Whereupon, Bull making himself known, the musician fell down and ador'd him.' Many attempts were made to induce him to stay at either the French or the Spanish court, but Elizabeth commanded him to return, and he accordingly resumed his duties at the Chapel Royal and Gresham College. On 15 Dec. 1606 he was admitted to the freedom of the Merchant Taylors' Company, having been bound apprentice to the Earl of Sussex. In the following year the same company gave a magnificent entertainment to the king and Prince of Wales. This feast took place on 16 July, and cost the company over 1,060l. The king dined alone in a separate chamber, 'in which chamber was placed a very rich paier of organs, where-upon Mr. John Bull, Doctor of Musique and a Brother of this company, did play all the dynner time. And Mr. Nathaniel Gyles, master of the children of the Kyng's Chapell, together with divers singing men and children of the said Chappell, did sing melodious songs at the said dynner.' From the roof of the great hall was suspended a ship, in which three of the best singers of the day, Thomas Lupo, John Allen, and John Richards, sang songs set to music by Coperario or Cooper [q. v.], the favourite court composer of the day, while the choir of St. Paul's assisted by performing songs, the words of which were written by Ben Jonson. On the day following this magnificent feast Giles and Bull were admitted into the livery of the company, upon which occasion it was recorded that 'the company are contented to shewe this favor unto them for their paynes when the king and prince dyned at our hall, and their love and kindness in bestowing the musique which was performed by them, their associates and children in the king's chamber gratis, whereas the musicians in the greate hall exacted unreasonable somes of the company for the same. The companie therefore meane that this calling of Mr. Doctor Bull and Mr. Nathanael Gyles into the livery, shall not be any burden or charge unto them further than shall stand with their own likinge.' On 20 Dec. in the same year Bull resigned the Gresham professorship (which was only tenable while he remained unmarried), and two days later he obtained a license from the bishop of London to marry at Christ Church, London, 'Elizabeth Walter of the Strand, maiden, aged about twenty-four, daughter of Walter, citizen of London, deceased, she attending upon the Rt. Hon. the Lady Marchioness of Winchester.' There is every probability that the marriage took place, but no record of it exists, the parish register for the date being lost. For the next few years no details respecting Bull's biography are known, but in 1611 his name occurs at the head of a list of the Prince (Henry) of Wales's musicians, in which position he received 40l. a year. On the occasion of the marriage of the Princess Elizabeth and the Prince Palatine (14 Feb. 1612-13), it is recorded that the benediction, 'God the Father, God the Son,' was sung as an anthem, 'made new for that purpose by Doctor Bull.' In April of the same year he addressed the following letter to Sir Michael Hicks, secretary to the Earl of Salisbury : 'Sr, I haue bin many times to haue spoken with you, to desire your fauor to my L[ord] and Mr. Chauncelor. Sir, my humble sute is, that it would please my L[ord] and Mr. Cha[ncellor] to graunte me theire fauors to chainge my name in my letters patents, and to [put] in my childes, leavinge out my owne.