Odington, Walter

, or Walter of Evesham, a monk of that monastery in N. part of which is the Black Country, rich in coal and iron mines, with Dudley for capital, and the SW. occupied by the Malvern…">Worcestershire, was eminent in the early part of the thirteenth century, during the reign of Henry III. not only for his profound knowledge in | music, but astronomy, and mathematics in general. The translator and continuator of Dugdale’s Monasticon, speaks of him among; learned Englishmen of the order of St. Benedict in the following manner:

Walter, monk of Evesham, a man of a facetious wit, who applying himself to literature, lest he should sink under the lahour of the day, the watching at night, and continual observance of regular discipline, used at spare hours to divert himself with the decent and commendable diversion of music, to render himself the more cheerful for other duties.” This apology, however, for the time he bestowed on music, was needless; for it was, and is still, so much the business of a Romish priest, that to be ignorant of it disqualifies him for his profession. And at all times, where an ecclesiastic thought it necessary to trace the whole circle of the sciences, music having the second or third rank, could not be neglected. But what this author adds farther concerning Odington is still less defensible: “Whether,” says he, “this application to music drew him off from other studies I know not, but there appears no other work of his than a piece entitled ‘Of the Speculation of Music’.” Yet we are told by Pits, Bale, Tanner, Moreri, and all his biographers, that he wrote fc De Motibus Planetarum, et de Mutatione Aeris," as well as on other learned subjects. His treatise on music is preserved in the library of Bene’t college, Cambridge, and is, in the opinion of Dr. Burney, so copious and complete, with respect to every part of music when it was written, that if all other musical tracts, from the time of Boethius to Franco and John Cotton, were lost, our knowledge would not be much diminished, if this ms. was accessible. The musical examples, adds Dr. Burney, as usual in old manuscripts, are incorrect, and frequently inexplicable, owing to the ignorance of music in the transcribers; but if this tract were corrected, and such of the examples as are recoverable, regulated, and restored, it would be the most ample, satisfactory, and valuable, which the middle ages can boast; as the curious inquirer into the state of music at this early period may discover in it not only what progress our countrymen had made in the art themselves, but he chief part of what was then known elsewhere. 1


Burney’s Hist, of Music.