Byrd, William

William Byrd (/bɜːrd/; birth date variously given as c.1539/40 or 1543 – 4 July 1623), was an English composer of the Renaissance. He wrote in many of the forms current in England at the time, including various types of sacred and secular polyphony, keyboard (the so-called Virginalist school), and consort music. Although he produced sacred music for Anglican services, sometime during the 1570s he became a Roman Catholic and wrote Catholic sacred music later in his life.




Works by William Byrd:


SOME borders, too, had a great mind to know where the line
would come out, being for the most part apprehensive lest their
lands should be taken into Virginia. In that case they must have
submitted to some sort of order and government; whereas, in North
Carolina, every one does what seems best in his own eyes. There
were some good women that brought their children to be baptized,
but brought no capons along with them to make the solemnity
cheerful. In the mean time it was strange that none came to be
married in such a multitude, if it had only been for the novelty of
having their hands joined by one in holy orders. Yet so it was,
that though our chaplain christened above an hundred, he did not
marry so much as one couple during the whole expedition. But
marriage is reckoned a lay contract in Carolina, as I said before,
and a country justice can tie the fatal knot there, as fast as an

None of our visitors could, however, tell us any news of the
surveyors, nor indeed was it possible any of them should at that
time, they being still laboring in the midst of the Dismal.

It seems they were able to carry the line this day no further
than one mile and sixty-one poles, and that whole distance was
through a miry cedar bog, where the ground trembled under their
feet most frightfully. In many places, too, their passage was
retarded by a great number of fallen trees, that lay horsing upon
one another.

Though many circumstances concurred to make this an
unwholesome situation, yet the poor men had no time to be sick, nor
can one conceive a more calamitous case than it would have been to
be laid up in that uncomfortable quagmire. Never were patients more
tractable, or willing to take physic, than these honest fellows;
but it was from a dread of laying their bones in a bog that would
spew them up again. That consideration also put them upon more
caution about their lodging.

They first covered the ground with square pieces of cypress
bark, which now, in the spring, they could easily slip off the tree
for that purpose. On this they spread their bedding; but unhappily
the weight and warmth of their bodies made the water rise up
betwixt the joints of the bark, to their great inconvenience, Thus
they lay not only moist, but also exceedingly cold, because their
fires were continually going out. For no sooner was the trash upon
the surface burnt away, but immediately the fire was extinguished
by the moisture of the soil, insomuch that it was great part of the
sentinel’s business to rekindle it again in a fresh place, every
quarter of an hour. Nor could they indeed do their duty better,
because cold was the only enemy they had to guard against in a
miserable morass, where nothing can inhabit.

We could get no tidings yet of our brave adventurers,
notwithstanding we dispatched men to the likeliest stations to
inquire after them. They were still scuffling in the mire, and
could not possibly forward the line this whole day more than one
mile and sixty-four chains. Every step of this day’s work was
through a cedar bog, where the trees were somewhat smaller and grew
more into a thicket It was now a great misfortune to the men to
find their provisions grow less as their labor grew greater; they
were all forced to come to short allowance, and consequently to
work hard without filling their bellies. Though this was very
severe upon English stomachs, yet the people were so far from being
discomfited at it, that they still kept up their good-humor, and
merrily told a young fellow in the company, who looked very plump
and wholesome, that he must expect to go first to pot, if matters
should come to extremity.

This was only said by way of jest, yet it made him thoughtful
in earnest. However, for the present he returned them a very civil
answer, letting them know that, dead or alive, he should be glad to
be useful to such worthy good friends. But, after all, this
humorous saying had one very good effect, for that younker, who
before was a little inclined by his constitution to be lazy, grew
on a sudden extremely industrious, that so there might be less
occasion to carbonade him for the good of his fellow-travelers….

The surveyors and their attendants began now in good earnest
to be alarmed with apprehensions of famine, nor could they forbear
looking with some sort of appetite upon a dog that had been the
faithful companion of their travels.

Their provisions were now near exhausted. They had this
morning made the last distribution, that so each might husband his
small pittance as he pleased. Now it was that the fresh colored
young man began to tremble every joint of him, having dreamed, the
night before, that the Indians were about to barbecue him over live

The prospect of famine determined the people, at last, with
one consent, to abandon the line for the present, which advanced
but slowly, and make the best of their way to firm land.
Accordingly they sat off very early, and, by the help of the
compass which they carried along with them, steered a direct
westerly course. They marched from morning till night, and computed
their journey to amount to about four miles, which was a great way,
considering the difficulties of the ground. It was all along a
cedar-swamp, so dirty and perplexed, that if they had not traveled
for their lives, they could not have reached so far.

On their way they espied a turkey-buzzard, that flew
prodigeously high to get above the noisome exhalations that ascend
from that filthy place. This they were willing to understand as a
good omen, according to the superstition of the ancients, who had
great faith in the flight of vultures. However, after all this
tedious journey, they could yet discover no end of their toil,
which made them very pensive, especially after they had eat the
last morsel of their provisions. But to their unspeakable comfort,
when all was hushed in the evening, they heard the cattle low, and
the dogs bark, very distinctly, which, to men in that distress, was
more delightful music than Faustina or Farinelli could have made.
In the mean time the commissioners could get no news of them from
any of their visitors, who assembled from every point of the

However long we might think the time, yet we were cautious of
showing our uneasiness, for fear of mortifying our landlord. He had
done his best for us, and therefore we were unwilling he should
think us dissatisfied with our entertainment. In the midst of our
concern, we were most agreeably surprised, just after dinner, with
the news that the Dismalites were all safe. These blessed tidings
were brought to us by Mr. Swan, the Carolina surveyor, who came to
us in a very tattered condition.

After very short salutations, we got about him as if he had
been a Hottentot, and began to inquire into his adventures. He gave
us a detail of their uncomfortable voyage through the Dismal, and
told us, particularly, they had pursued their journey early that
morning, encouraged by, the good omen of seeing the crows fly over
their heads; that, after an hour’s march over very rotten ground,
they, on a sudden, began to find themselves among tall pines, that
grew in the water, which in many places was knee-deep. This pine
swamp, into which that of Coropeak drained itself, extended near a
mile in breadth; and though it was exceedingly wet, yet it was much
harder at bottom than the rest of the swamp; that about ten in the
morning they recovered firm land, which they embraced with as much
pleasure as shipwrecked wretches do the shore.

After these honest adventurers had congratulated each other’s
deliverance, their first inquiry was for a good house, where they
might satisfy the importunity of their stomachs. Their good genius
directed them to Mr. Brinkley’s, who dwells a little to the
southward of the line. This man began immediately to be very
inquisitive, but they declared they had no spirits to answer
questions till after dinner.

“But pray, gentlemen,” said he, “answer me one question, at
least: what shall we get for your dinner?” To which they replied,
“No matter what, provided it be but enough.” He kindly supplied
their wants as soon as possible, and by, the strength of that
refreshment they made a shift to come to us in the evening, to tell
their own story. They all looked very thin, and as ragged as the
Gibeonite ambassadors did in the days of yore. Our surveyors told
us they had measured ten miles in the Dismal, and computed the
distance they had marched since to amount to about five more, so
they made the whole breadth to be fifteen miles in all.

The End


MAJOR MAYO’S survey, being no more than half done, we were
obliged to amuse ourselves another day in this place. And that the
time might not be quite lost, we put our garments and baggage into
good repair. I for my part never spent a day so well during the
whole voyage. I had an impertinent tooth in my upper jaw, that had
been loose for some time, and made me chew with great caution.
Particularly I could not grind a biscuit but with much deliberation
and presence of mind. Tooth-drawers we had none amongst us, nor any
of the instruments they make use of. However, invention supplied
this want very happily, and I contrived to get rid of this
troublesome companion by cutting a caper. I caused a twine to be
fastened round the root of my tooth, about a fathom in length, and
then tied the other end to the snag of a log that lay upon the
ground, in such a manner that I could just stand upright Having
adjusted my string in this manner, I bent my knees enough to enable
me to spring vigorously off the ground, as perpendicularly as I
could. The force of the leap drew out the tooth with so much ease
that I felt nothing of it, nor should have believed it was come
away, unless I had seen it dangling at the end of the string. An
under tooth may be fetched out by standing off the ground and
fastening your string at due distance above you. And having so
fixed your gear, jump off your standing, and the weight of your
body, added to the force of the spring, will poise out your tooth
with less pain than any operator upon earth could draw it.

This new way of tooth-drawing, being so silently and
deliberately performed, both surprised and delighted all that were
present, who could not guess what I was going about. I immediately
found the benefit of getting rid of this troublesome companion, by
eating my supper with more comfort than I had done during the whole

The End


SEPT., 1732. This famous town consists of Colonel Spotswood’s
enchanted castle on one side of the street, and a baker’s dozen of
ruinous tenements on the other, where so many German families had
dwelt some years ago; but are now removed ten miles higher, in the
Fork of Rappahannock, to land of their own. There had also been a
chapel about a bow-shot from the colonel’s house, at the end of an
avenue of cherry- trees, but some pious people had lately burnt it
down, with intent to get another built nearer to their own homes.
Here I arrived about three o’clock, and found only Mrs. Spotswood
at home, who received her old acquaintance with many a gracious
smile. I was carried into a room elegantly set off with pier
glasses, the largest of which came soon after to an odd misfortune.
Amongst other favorite animals that cheered this lady’s solitude,
a brace of tame deer ran familiarly about the house, and one of
them came to stare at me as a stranger. But unluckily spying his
own figure in the glass, he made a spring over the tea-table that
stood under it, and shattered the glass to pieces, and falling back
upon the tea-table made a terrible fracas among the china. This
exploit was so sudden, and accompanied with such a noise, that it
surprised me, and perfectly frightened Mrs. Spotswood. But ’twas
worth all the damage to show the moderation and good humor with
which she bore this disaster. In the evening the noble colonel came
home from his mines, who saluted me very civilly, and Mrs.
Spotswood’s sister, Miss Theky, who had been to meet him en
cavalier, was so kind too as to bid me welcome. We talked over a
legend of old stories, supped about 9, and then prattled with the
ladies, till it was time for a traveler to retire. In the mean
time I observed my old friend to be very uxorious, and exceedingly
fond of his children. This was so opposite to the maxims he used to
preach up before he was married, that I could not forbear rubbing
up the memory of them. But he gave a very good-natured turn to his
change of sentiments, by alleging that whoever brings a poor
gentlewoman into so solitary a place, from all her friends and
acquaintance, would be ungrateful not to use her and all that
belongs to her with all possible tenderness.

We all kept snug in our several apartments till nine, except
Miss Theky, who was the housewife of the family. At that hour we
met over a pot of coffee, which was not quite strong enough to give
us the palsy. After breakfast the colonel and I left the ladies to
their domestic affairs, and took a turn in the garden, which has
nothing beautiful but three terrace walks that fall in slopes one
below another. I let him understand, that besides the pleasure of
paying him a visit, I came to be instructed by so great a master in
the mystery of making of iron, wherein he had led the way, and was
the Tubal Cain of Virginia. He corrected me a little there, by
assuring me he was not only the first in this country, but the
first in North America, who had erected a regular furnace. That
they ran altogether upon bloomeries in New England and Penn-
sylvania, till his example had made them attempt greater works. But
in this last colony, they have so few ships to carry their iron to
Great Britain, that they must be content to make it only for their
own use, and must be obliged to manufacture it when they have done.
That he hoped he had done the country very great service by setting
so good an example.

Our conversation on this subject continued till dinner, which
was both elegant and plentiful. The afternoon was devoted to the
ladies, who showed me one of their most beautiful walks. They
conducted me through a shady lane to the landing, and by the way
made me drink some very fine water that issued from a marble
fountain, and ran incessantly. Just behind it was a covered bench,
where Miss Theky often sat and bewailed her virginity. Then we
proceeded to the river, which is the south branch of Rappahannock,
about fifty yards wide, and so rapid that the ferry boat is drawn
over by a chain, and therefore called the Rapidan. At night we
drank prosperity to all the colonel’s projects in a bowl of rack
punch, and then retired to our devotions.

Having employed about two hours in retirement, I sallied out
at the first summons to breakfast, where our conversation with the
ladies, like whip syllabub, was very pretty, but had nothing in it.
This; it seems, was Miss Theky’s birthday, upon which I made her my
compliments, and wished she might live twice as long a married
woman as she had lived a maid. I did not presume to pry into the
secret of her age, nor was she forward to disclose it, for this
humble reason, lest I should think her wisdom fell short of her

We had a Michaelmas goose for dinner, of Miss Theky’s own
raising, who was now good-natured enough to forget the jeopardy of
her dog. In the afternoon we walked in a meadow by the river side,
which winds in the form of a horseshoe about Germanna, making it a
peninsula, containing about four hundred acres. Rappahannock forks
about fourteen miles below this place, the northern branch being
the larger, and consequently must be the river that bounds my Lord
Fairfax’s grant of the northern neck.

The sun rose clear this morning, and so did I, and finished
all my little affairs by breakfast. It was then resolved to wait on
the ladies on horseback, since the bright sun, the fine air, and
the wholesome exercise, all invited us to it. We forded the river
a little above the ferry, and rode six miles up the neck to a fine
level piece of rich land, where we found about twenty plants of
ginseng, with the scarlet berries growing on the top of the middle
stalk. The root of this is of wonderful virtue in many, cases,
particularly, to raise the spirits and promote perspiration, which
makes it a specific in colds and coughs. The colonel complimented
me with all we found, in return for my telling him the virtues of
it. We were all pleased to find so much of this king of plants so
near the colonel’s habitation, and growing too upon his own land;
but were, however, surprised to find it upon level ground, after we
had been told it grew only, upon the north side of Stony Mountains.
I carried home this treasure with as much joy as if every root had
been a graft of the Tree of Life, and washed and dried it
carefully. This airing made us as hungry as so many hawks, so that
between appetite and a very good dinner, ’twas difficult to eat
like a philosopher. In the afternoon the ladies walked me about
amongst all their little animals, with which they amuse themselves,
and furnish the table; the worst of it is, they are so tender-
hearted they shed a silent tear every time any of them are killed.
At night the colonel and I quitted the threadbare subject of iron,
and changed the scene to politics. He told me the ministry had
receded from their demand upon New England, to raise a standing
salary for all succeeding governors, for fear some curious members
of the House of Commons should inquire how the money was disposed
of that had been raised in the other American colonies for the
support of their governors….

Our conversation was interrupted by a summons to supper, for
the ladies, to show their power, had by this time brought us tamely
to go to bed with our bellies full, though we both at first
declared positively against it. So very pliable a thing is frail
man, when women have the bending of him.

Oct. 1, 1732. Our ladies overslept themselves this morning, so
that we did not break our fast till ten. We drank tea made of the
leaves of ginseng, which has the virtues of the root in a weaker
degree, and is not disagreeable. So soon as we could force our
inclinations to quit the ladies, we took a turn on the terrace
walk, and discoursed upon quite a new subject. The colonel
explained to me the difference between the galleons and the flota,
which very few people know. The galleons, it seems, are the ships
which bring the treasure and other rich merchandise to Cartagena
from Portobello, to which place it is brought overland from Panama
and Peru. And the flota is the squadron that brings the treasure,
etc., from Mexico and New Spain, which make up at La Vera Cruz.
Both these squadrons rendezvous at the Havanna, from hence they
shoot the Gulf of Florida, in their return to Old Spain. That this
important port of the Havanna is very poorly fortified, and worse
garrisoned and provided, for which reason it may be easily, taken.
Besides, both the galleons and flota, being confined to sail
through the gulf, might be intercepted by, our stationing a
squadron of men-of-war at the most convenient of the Bahama
Islands. And that those islands are of vast consequence for that
purpose. He told me also that the assogue ships are they that carry
quicksilver to Portobello and La Vera Cruz to refine the silver,
and that, in Spanish, assogue signifies quicksilver. Then my friend
unriddled to me the great mystery, why we have endured all the late
insolences of the Spaniards so tamely. The Assiento contract, and
the liberty of sending a ship every year to the Spanish West
Indies, make it very necessary for the South Sea Company to have
effects of great value in that part of the world. Now these being
always in the power of the Spaniards, make the directors of that
company very fearful of a breach, and consequently very generous in
their offers to the ministry to prevent it. For fear these worthy
gentlemen should suffer, the English squadron, under Admiral
Hosier, lay idle at the Bastimentos, till the ships’ bottoms were
eaten out by the worm, and the officers and men, to the number of
5,000, died like rotten sheep, without being suffered, by the
strictest orders, to strike one stroke, though they might have
taken both the flota and galleons, and made themselves master of
the Havanna into the bargain, if they had not been chained up from
doing it. All this moderation our peaceable ministry showed even at
a time when the Spaniards were furiously attacking Gibraltar, and
taking all the English ships they could, both in Europe and
America, to the great and everlasting reproach of the British
nation. That some of the ministry, being tired out with the clamors
of the merchants, declared their opinion for war, and while they
entertained those sentiments they pitched upon him, Colonel
Spotswood, to be Governor of Jamaica, that by, his skill and
experience in the art military, they might be the better able to
execute their design of taking the Havanna. But the courage of
these worthy patriots soon cooled, and the arguments used by the
South Sea directors persuaded them once again into more pacific
measures. When the scheme was dropped, his government of Jamaica
was dropped at the same time, and then General Hunter was judged
fit enough to rule that island in time of peace. After this the
colonel endeavored to convince me that he came fairly by his place
of postmaster-general, notwithstanding the report of some evil-
disposed persons to the contrary. The case was this. Mr. Hamilton,
of New Jersey, who had formerly had that post, wrote to Colonel
Spotswood, in England, to favor him with his interest to get it
restored to him. But the colonel considering wisely that charity
began at home, instead of getting the place for Hamilton, secured
it for a better friend: though, as he tells the story, that
gentleman was absolutely refused, before he spoke the least good
word for himself.

The End