Abell, John

, an English musician, was celebrated for a fine counter-tenor voice, and for his skill on the lute. Charles II. of whose chapel he was, and who admired his singing, had formed a resolution of sending him to the carnival at Venice, in order to shew the Italians what England could produce in this way; but the scheme was dropped. Abell continued in the chapel till the Revolution, when he was discharged as being a Papist. Upon this he went abroad, and distinguished himself by singing in public in Holland, at Hamburgh, and other places; where, acquiring considerable wealth, he set up a splendid equipage, and affected the man of quality, though at intervals he vyas so reduced, as to be obliged to travel through whole provinces with his lute slung at his back. In rambling he got as far as Poland, and at Warsaw met with a very extraordinary adventure. He was sent for to court; but, evading to go by some slight excuse, was commanded to attend. At the palace he was seated in a chair, in 'the middle of a spacious hall, and suddenly drawn up to a | great height, and the king, with his attendants, appeared in a gallery opposite to him. At the same instant a number of wild bears were turned in, when the king bid him choose, whether he would sing, or be let down among the bears Abell chose to sing, and declared afterwards, that he never sung so well in his life.

After having rambled for many years, he probably returned to England; for, in 1701, he published at London a collection of songs in several languages, with a dedication to king William. Towards the end of queen Anne’s reign he was at Cambridge with his lute, but met with little encouragement. How long he lived afterwards is not known. This artist is said to have possessed some secrets, by which he preserved the natural tone of his voice to an extreme old age. 1

1

Hawkins’s Hist. of Music.