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V. THE HOME LIFE OF A COURT LADY, . Temple Bar, .
Now 'twixt the twain who lately closed
In contest on time's petty stage, Eternity hath interposed
The shadow of its dateless age.
Every blossom on its stem
In their fresh adorning ;
On a showery morning!
TO AN INVALID LADY, ON HER HUSBAND'S
DEATH. DEAR lady, sorrow.sainted, whose long pain Rebuked us by its smile, or hushed, like
songs The sad, retired nightingale prolongs From depth of holy wood or dim green lane,
God waits a new smile from thee, as he turns A new smile on thee, and would draw forth
praise From holier shades, and tune thee to upraise The new song where the beauty solemn burns.
Death is the touch lets loose love's eloquence
As never it could speak in its young dream; The very Love Eternal could not seem Most winsome till it died, nor most intense.
O, called to pain, but chos'n to sorrow, know The eternal song that sounds in Christia: woe. Spectator.
P. T. FORSYTH.
From The Nineteenth Century. | collected by Mr. William Chappell, and ENGLISH SONGS: ANCIENT AND MODERN. shown to be equal to any in Europe, there
The poetical literature of England is is no excuse for an ignorance of which pathe richest and noblest of modern time - triotism ought to be ashamed.
" What a superior in some respects to that of the beautiful melody,” said Rossini to an EnGreeks and Romans, as all will confess glishman (who agreed with him), “is · The who have studied it, and who remember girl I left behind me'! It does honor to Shakespeare, Spenser, Milton, Words. Ireland.” But Rossini was wrong. That worth, Shelley, and Byron, and all the beautiful melody is pure English — pubglorious galaxy of the poets from the age lished in England long before it was first of Chaucer to the present day. But many played in Ireland by the soldiers of Wil. who acknowledge the claims of English liam the Third. “ How sweet," said an literature to the highest poetical pre-emi. English lady, “is the air of My lodging pence deny that in one great department is on the cold ground'! England has no of poetry, popular song, it can rank on an tunes so tender and so touching." In equality with other nations. The late this case also, the fair critic was as much Thomas Davis - one of the young Irish. at fault as Napoleon and Rossini. The men who conferred honor upon the litera- tune is old English ; and Ireland has no ture of bis country - declared that the other claim to it than the assertion of songs of England were the worst in the Thomas Moore, unsupported by a tittle of world. “ How can
a nation have good evidence. songs,” said he, “ when it has no music?” As songs are compositions that may be
English music is execrable,” said the sung, it is necessary to show that a people great Napoleon, when he discoursed to have good melodies before it can be adbis faithful Las Casas, in the mournful mitted that they have good songs. So days of his exile, on all imaginable sub. far from being an uomusical, the English jects — of war, policy, philosophy, and lit-are pre-eminently a musical nation. Long erature. “ The English have no music; before the invention of printing, long beor, at all events, no national music. They fore the age of Chaucer, England, from have, in fact, but one good tune.” And her love of singing and music, was called to show his qualifications for the office of “ Merry England;” and to hear the min. musical critic, he declared that tune to be strels sing, and to join in their choruses, “ Ye banks and braes o' bonnie Doon" was the favorite amusement both of the an excellent tune certainly, only it hap- nobles and the people. Chaucer, in his pens to be one that the Scotch have bor." Canterbury Tales,” makes frequent allurowed from the French. The emperor did sions to the love of the English of that not stand alone in his ignorance. Even period for music and song. At and before Dow we hear of English ladies and gentle. Chaucer's time the education of an Enmen who not only know nothing of the glish gentleman was held to be incomplete beautiful melodies of their native land, if he could not read music at sight; and but who actually deny that such melodies in the public schools it was compulsory have any existence. Not content with on every boy, and a necessary portion of shutting their ears against the sweet his studies, to learn part-singing. sounds, they affirm that there is no such The English glees, catches, rounds, thing as music in British, or at all events canons, and madrigals are thoroughly na. in English nature. lo days when the tional, and are admired by musicians of popular melodies of England had not been every country for their graceful complicacollected, as those of Ireland had been by tions both of melody and harmony. The Sir John Stevenson and Thomas Moore, English dance music is equally spirited, or as those of Scotland had been by and her country jigs and sailors' hornpipes George Thomson and Robert Burns, there are known all over the world. Some of was some excuse for Englishmen who did the most ancient popular melodies of the not know their own wealth in this respect. English are fortunately preserved in a But now, when their melodies have been little manuscript of the age of Queen Eliz
abeth, called “ Queen Elizabeth's Virginal | bards were either hymns or chants of de. Book,"containing airs that are still popu. votion — like the Psalms of David - or lar among the peasantry — such as “The celebrated the great deeds of the heroes, Carman's Whistle,” or “The Jolly Miller," who were first in and last out of the battle. and Shakespeare's favorite melody, of They aroused the patriotic enthusiasm of which he makes honorable mention, “Sing the living by glowing recitals of the it to the air of • Light o' Love.'” Those achievements of the dead. But never exquisitely pathetic tunes sung by Ophelia having been committed to writing, their in Hamlet are admired by all musicians, ballads and songs, or epic poems, if they and are far older than history can trace. produced any, have either perished altoSo famous were the English for their pro- gether, or only exist in fragments, such as ficiency in singing, that before the Refor. James Macpherson discovered among the mation the Churches of Belgium, Holland, peasantry in remote districts of the Highand France sent to England for choris- lands of Scotland, and gave to the world ters: and one of the most valuable collec- as the poems of Ossian, the greatest bard tions of popular English music that exists of the Celtic nations. The Danish skalds was published in Amsterdam at the com- and Saxon gleemen, who succeeded to the mencement of the seventeenth century. British bards, drew from their predecest
Such noble tunes as “The King shall sors many materials for popular song. enjoy his own again,” “ Crop-eared Round. The adventures of King Arthur and the heads," "The girl I left behind me," knights of the Round Table, the loves of “ Farewell, Manchester!” “ Balance a Guenever and Sir Lancelot du Lake, the Straw," " Packington's Pound,” “The pranks of the boy with that wonderful British Grenadiers,” “Drink to me only mantle described in Percy's “Reliques,” with thine eyes,” “ Down among the dead the merriment of King Cole, and the enmen,” “The Vicar of Bray," "The man chantments of Merlin — all traditions of allo will not merry be,” “ The Miller of the Celtic period - were embalmed in Dee," " Begone, dull care!" "'Tis my Celtic and afterwards in Saxon song, and
: delight, on a shiny night,” and others, found as much favor among the newer may be cited as fair specimens of English people who took possession of the British popular and traditional music. Its gen. Isles as the legends of the Mohicans, the eral characteristics are strength and mar. Cherokees, or the Creek Indians, when tial energy. It has a dashing, impulsive, enshrined in the classic pages of Cooper leaping, frolicsome spirit, occasionally or Longfellow, find among the English overshadowed by a touch of sadness. It and Americans of the present day. King has not the tender melancholy of the mu- Arthur, his court, his queen, his Round sic of Ireland, nor the light, airy grace, Table, and his knights were for a thousand delicate beauty, and heart-wrung pathos years the great themes of the minstrels in of the songs of Scotland, but it has a lilt England and Wales, and have not yet lost and style of its own. In one word, the their hold over the imagination of the music of England may be described as people. King Arthur and King Cole are “merry;” and her national songs partake cited in nursery rhymes, and the earliest of the same character, and and are jovial, songs of children; though Mr. Chappell, lusty, exultant, and full of life and daring in his excellent work on English music, is
There are no authentic records of the heterodox enough to suggest that the King earliest song writers of England. It is Cole of song is not the King Cole of his. known that among the ancient Britons, tory, but a mere public-house king or good the bard was next in rank to the Druid, fellow of the seventeenth century. Of the and that his character and functions were same period as King Arthur, though a invested with a high degree of veneration, generation or two later, were King Lud if not of sanctity. He was held to be a and King Lear, mere names and shadows seer and a prophet, as well as a bard, as of names except for poetry, that has made indeed true poets are in all ages. The them immortal. The King Arthur of his. . compositions of the British and Celtic' tory is less than a dream. The King
Arthur of song is a living reality. The redbreasts could but know how many of Lear that reigned in Britain has left no their lives have been spared for the sake record on which the historian can build; of an old song,” and the pity which it has but the Lear of the poet, the foolish, fond inspired, they would hover around the old man, sightless, and not in his perfect graves of poets as they did over the un. mind, stands out in Shakespeare's history, buried bodies of the "children in the hallowed in the light of poetry, a man wood,” and strew them with leaves in whom we know more intimately than we grateful remembrance of the power and do many persons whom we met yesterday tenderness of poetry. and talked to in the streets.
In the days prior to the invention of During the Saxon and early Norman printing, when the wealthy classes thought period the minstrels played an important it no shame to be unable to read and write, part in social life. They were the wel. the ballad-maker was a power in the State. come guests of all ranks and classes from Richard the First, the great Cour-de-Lion the monarch's palace and the baron's hall(whose name is still invoked to frighten to the tavern of the town and the cottage unruly children in Syria and Palestine), of the peasant.
was unable to sign his name, but he was
familiar with the poetry of the troubadours. 'Twas merry in the hall When beards wagged all;
He knew nothing of the songs of Celtic
or Saxon Englishmen, but had committed when the minstrels set the beard in mo. to memory the choicest effusions of the tion by singing their last new ballads of Norman muse. And, indeed, if kings and romance or adventure. The minstrels other high personages, to say nothing of united in their persons not only the func. the gentry and trading classes, would not tions of the song-maker and musician, but derive all their knowledge of the affairs those of the newspaper editor and re of this world from the priests, who pos. porter of the present day. Although they sessed the keys of learning, or from actual sang songs of the olden time, they did not observation with their own eyes, which confine themselves to the past, but de- was always difficult, and sometimes imtailed the freshest news from the court or possible, they were glad to gather infor. the camp, or put into verse the circum- mation, combined with amusement, from stances of the last horrible murder or des the minstrels, who travelled all over the perate love-tragedy.
country, mixed with all classes, heard all Of these minstrels, as of the bards who the news, and learned all the opinion that preceded them, few genuine remains have was current. But the invention of printcome down to us; although the tunes and ing gradually operated a change. The modernized versions of many of the bal. minstrels, who by this time had lost their lads which they sang have been preserved, original and honorable appellation, and such as the famous “ Ballad of Chevy were called “crowders ” or “fiddlers,” Chase,” the mournful story of “ Fair Ro- were thrown out of bread. They ceased, samond,” the adventures of the mythical by degrees, to be the favorites of the “Robin Hood,” who was not one but wealthy, and found their only refuge many, the doleful ballad of “ The Babes in among the poor and illiterate, and became the Wood,” a legend of unknown antiq. of scarcely more repute than the mounte. uity, of which it may be said that it has banks and merry-andrews of country fairs. made the robin redbreast a sacred bird in An act of Parliament of the thirty-ninth England, and touched with compassion year of Queen Elizabeth classed them as the heart of the roughest clodhopper. " rogues, vagabonds, and sturdy vagrants," The English boy will rob the nest of any a legal definition which still applies in bird that sings, or that cannot sing; but | England to strolling actors and singers, to disturb the best of the robin,“the bold and which might, with a little stretching, beggar with the glittering eye and scarlet be applied to a prima donna on a provin. bosom,” is held not only to be cruel and cial tour. King Henry the Eighth, not. ungenerous, but unlucky. If the robin I withstanding the cares of State, his love.