Imagens das páginas
[ocr errors]



composition, passion being only to be Shakspeare's songs are very unequal; conveyed by strong and natural ex- his most fanciful are perhaps his best. pression, which poetry has always 6 Blow, blow, thou winter wind," found it impracticable to render sus- powerful as is its language, is yet a ceptible of adventitious ornament. In little too didactic to be perfectly lyrishort, to the lyric poet is allotted the cal; “ but that's not much.”__ Five almost impossible task of giving, with- fathom deep thy father lies,” is a beauout the aids which novelty of situation tiful disappointment. The conclusion or of preparation affords the dramatic does not answer the commencement. author, a natural and striking, as well The “ ding dong bell,” in particular, as original expression of feeling, whilst I must venture to protest against ; he is at the same time subjected to even the name of Shakspeare cannot lyrical difficulties and limitations from sanctify the absurd burthens, the which the other is free. Such are the heigh-hos !” and “ hey nonny nondifficulties of this species of poeti- nies,” which the fashion of his time cal composition ; and it is from a has probably led him to affix to many noncompliance with some

of his songs. The formal quaintness other of the requisites which have of Harrington is directly at variance been described, that those disappoint- with lyrical effect, nor can I help ments which so often attend the lyri- thinking, that the lyrical parts of cal efforts of the greatest poetical ta- Fletcher’s Faithful shepherdess have lents arise. Sometimes the structure been over-praised. The well-known, of the thought embodied in each “ take, oh take those lips away,” is, afstanza is too artificial-sometimes the ter all, to me, the finest song of the time. description of sentiment in one stanza A little later, Ben Jonson's,

6 drink to differs from that in another, to which me only with thine eyes," is much the same air is consequently inappli- and deservedly celebrated. Those cable-sometimes the train of thought witty and elegant verses which are is throughout unsuitable to the air. called the songs of Charles the Second's Hence springs that apparent incon- time, are nearly worthless as Lyrics. sistency which causes us to reject, Let every one, however, read them, but when sung, stanzas of undoubted poe- let them only be read; they are pretty tical merit, and to prefer lines of little songs as they stand, and singing only original desert, of which, however, spoils them. the sentiment is similar to, and con- At what period the description of tinuous with the air to which they are lyrics, called “ Hunting songs,” bejoined.

came general, I cannot certainly say. The songs of the earlier poets, They are less satisfactory to me than Shakspeare, Fletcher, and others, were even drinking songs, of which last we probably written with little reference have, considering all things, marvelto the music which was to be appende lously few good specimens. Yet the ed to them. The crude and half bar- joyous and social spirit which is the barous science, which at once forma- spring of conviviality, would seem to lized and complicated the music of the be well adapted for lyrical and musical age, would afford little encouragement expression. to lyrics.

If we except a few excellent songs, Milton indeed appears to have ad- which are certainly to be found scatmired the rather more modern“ Ayres” tered throughout the pages of English of “ Master Henry Lawes,” but if poetry, and the admirable specimens the crabbed passages and awkward which are preserved amongst the early modulation of Queen Elizabeth's les- Scottish ballads, Robert Burns may be sons for the virginals are to be taken styled the first good song writer that as samples of the taste of her times, has appeared. Not that Allan Rammusical inspiration, in any shape, say is to be forgotten, many of whose must, I think, have been of rare oc- songs, as for instance, currence. Whether or not any of the heart that we should sunder,” and popular airs of that period have come others in “ the Gentle Shepherd,” are down to us, I do not know. It seems, of considerable poetical, as well as however, sufficiently evident, that En- lyrical merit. ---Bút Burns, besides his gland has never perfected a national genius as a poet, seems to have hit, style of music, and to this may be in almost by a sort of instinct, upon the part attributed the scarcity of good true principles of this department of lyrics in English poetry.

writing. From these he has rarely

«'Woes my

[ocr errors]

deviated. In his songs is displayed nor melodies ; but his Lordship can that continuity of passion or of pa- well afford to suffer for the misnomer. thetic sentiment, or of joyous or of

Of the dramatic songs of the present humorous feeling, expressed in sim- day I hardly know how to speak, for ple, yet bold and original language, I have nothing good to say of them. which constitutes the beau ideal of As far as they include scientific diflyrical composition. I would particu- ficulties, they may be interesting to a Jarly instance, “ Here's a health to few, but they are

caviar to the geane I lo’e dear;" “ From thee, Eliza, neral.” The words are, for the most I must go ;" “ Will ye gae to the In- part, wisely drowned in the accomdies ;" “ Ae fond kiss, an' than we paniments, and “ let them there lie sever;" and, “ O Tibbie, I hae seen mudded." I shall not attempt to disthe day;" as examples of perfect songs. turb their repose. Of the said accomThe ballad, “When wild war's deadly paniment, I would say, the fuller the blast;" " When Januar' winds;" better. The ear which would soon though poetical chef d'auvres, are sicken upon the thin diet, “ the walyrical failures. A few parts only ac

ter-brose or muslin-kail” of unmeancord with the expression of the airs, ing lines to an unmeaning air, is exand the narrative stanzas which com- cited and kept in good humour by the mence and conclude the poems, pro- stimulus of the harmony. When a duce, when sung, a dreary discord. song is sung with a full accompani

The songs of Moore are in a differe ment, the difficulty of judgment is ent style. They will probably long much increased, the general excitebe the models of future cultivators of ment of the accompanying chords

supEnglish lyre poetry, of which general- plying the want of pleasurable expresly speaking, they are the most perfect sion in the air. This power of genespecimens. By his felicitous ease of ral harmonic excitement is best proved expression, Moore has freed his ori- by the fact of its being known to proginality from that apparent artifice or duce an effect, even in direct opposilabour which is fatal to the effect of a tion to the excitement of the air and song. His tact, also, in adapting the words which it is intended to assist. train of sentiment to the air is equal to Of this the autobiography of the celethat of Burns. They are the twin brated Alfieri affords a singular and stars, the Castor and Pollux of the striking instance. Having before deBritish lyre. It is almost needless to scribed the tendency to depression of point out individual songs of this poet, spirits to which he was early subject, as especially displaying that exquisite he says, “By this subterfuge I had

, union of poetical and of musical ex- the pleasure of hearing the Opera Bufpression, with which they all, more fa of Mercato di Malmantile. It was or less, abound. I cannot, however, composed by a celebrated master, and resist mentioning, Oh! breathe not performed by the first singers of Italy, his name;" • When he that adores Carratoli Baglioni, and her daughters. thee;" and last and best, “Go where This varied and enchanting music glory waits thee;" nor do I envy those sunk deep into my soul, and made the who possess stoicism so great, or sym- most astonishing impression on my pathies so small, as to hear these me- imagination; it agitated the inmost

without experiencing recesses of my heart to such a degree, some of the strongest emotions that that for several weeks I experienced genius has ever united to language. the most profound melancholy, which În the song,

“ Let them rail at this was not however wholly unattended life,” Mr Moore has suffered his sati- with pleasure."-Chap. V. 2d Epoch. rical vein to entice him into a breach Again, after he had advanced to manof the continuity of sentiment. The hovd, and his constitutional tendency air is one of unmixed, though affec- to melancholy and nervous depression tionate and feeling, cheerfulness, and had more decidedly developed itself, ill bears the sarcastic turn which de- he says, My greatest pleasure conforms the concluding stanza. Amongst sisted in attending the Opera Buffa, the English lyrists, however, this au- though the gay and lively music left thor is unrivalled. He is worthy of a deep and melancholy impression on the melodies of Ireland, and they of my mind."-Chap. II. 3d Epoch. The him. After these, Byron's Hebrew rationale of this seemingly anomalous Melodies must not be named. To say result I take to be shortly this--that the truth, they are neither Hebrew the melancholic tenılency which the

lodies sung,


lively songs failed to overcome, was attempts to clothe grave thoughts in exacerbated by the harmony of the seaman's phraseology, good taste will accompaniments ; inasmuch as gene- always revolt. In one of his songs, ral stimulants increase the predomi- the resurrection is actually thus alludnant description of feeling of the mind ed which they are applied ; as for in

6. When he hears the last whistle, stance, drinking spirituous liquors is He'll come upon deck.” well known to heighten instead of al- One might as well think of extracting leviating the horrors of a shipwreck. the sublime from a shopboard. The

songs of the Beggar's Opera are “ Oh! penny pipers, and most painful probably the most happy of dramatic penners lyrics. They are indeed the only Of bountiful new ballads, what a subject !" English operatic songs that have be- But, to be serious-with vulgar slang come really and permanently popular. grave interest can never amalgamate. The airs of “ Woman is like a fair Divested of this, however, I do not see flower in its lustre," “ I like the fox why the peculiar vicissitudes of a shall grieve," and, “ Can love be con- sailor's life might not give variety to trolled by advice.” are in themselves the lyric muse, or why the exploits beautiful, without reference to the pe- of the “Vikingr," whether of good culiarities of the plot of the piece. For old Saxon or more modern times, are the right appreciation of the duet of not as capable of tuneful commemora

The Miser thus," and of the song tion as those of heroes upon dry land. of “ The Charge is prepared,” it must Campbell's “ Battle of the Baltic,” I be recollected, that we set out with a have read a hundred times, but have highwayman for a hero, and the whole never seen the music, if there is any action is under the atmosphere of New- appended to it. The Storm of G. A. gate. The songs of the Duenna I Stevens, too, no doubt contains pasmust always regard as the weakest part sages of high lyrical merit; but it is, of that performance, nor will the Ele- upon the whole, by far too much of a giacs of Burgoyne and Jackson of Exe- ballad. Black-eyed Susan, and Gloter, in the Lord of the Manor, go far ver's Admiral Hosier's Ghost, are, I to redeem the English opera from the think, hardly to be classed as mediocrity which seems to be its fate. songs. The scenes, to be sure, are

Incledon and Dibdin did their best laid on board of ship, but they emto make sea songs popular, and for a body no feelings or incidents of any while they succeeded. Dibdin, how- consequence, which are peculiar to a ever, wanted judgment, for, from his

sea life.--I am, &c.

D. T.





WHEN first I sought that smile of brightness, And, as the harp's enliven'd strain
More pleasing haply from its lightness, Doth oft to melancholy wane
I had but felt a transient grief,

Without the players will or care
To think our love might be as brief. So I am sad, ere well aware.
For tho' thine eyes, as now, were beaming, Alas ! though I had ever known
Oh! Leila, I was far from dreaming, My buried heart was turn’d to stone,
That thou would'st claim, when we should I might have known that this would prove

No hindrance to the growth of love.
So large a portion of my heart.
Methought the ice my breast defended

Which to the flinty rock will cling,
Would only make its fires more splendid,

And as the slender lichens spring, As sunbeams that in winter glow,

Obtaining life one knows not where, Glance brightest from the wreathed snow.

Strike root, and live, and flourish there : But, oh! my bosom, which before

Or say the fragile verdure drew Began so lightly to adore,

Its being from the air and dew; Would now perversely have thee be

So love its tender leaf uprears, E'en constant in inconstancy.

Sown but by sighs, and fed with tears.


IF fate will tear thee from my heart,
Without a warning sign depart,
For I can give no answering sign,
Nor faulter a farewell to thine.


If the last wafture of thy hand
Could let my soul forth where I stand,
If the stabb'd heart would truly bleed,
Then kindness would be kind indeed.


[ocr errors]

Extract of a Letter relative to the Death of Voltaire, and that

of Jean Jacques Rousseau. M. de Voltaire has just terminated to endure me at her side.” He was his long career amid the honours paid not allowed to be interred in Paris ; to him by Parisian enthusiasm. “He and the church in which he was was crowned at the Theatre Français, buried at Troyes en Champagne, has at the close of the representation of been interdicted. His punishment his Irene, a tragedy which savours was well merited by him, seeing that strongly of the chilled age when he he protested, until his latest hour, wrote it. On quitting the theatre, he against the divinity of Jesus Christ. was surrounded by the minor poets, He even composed the following epiwho demanded, on their knees, the gram, if it may be so named, against honour of kissing his hands. This religion, and repeated it to his friends, excess of enthusiasm, which was very when the agonies of death were fast ridiculous, became still more absurd approaching. on his reaching the house of Mr

Adicu, mes amis, Franklin, who fell on his knees, and

Adicu, la compagnie, asked a blessing of him for his young

Dans une heure d'ici, nephew. The excruciating pains felt

Mon ame, anéantie, by M. de Voltaire led him to ask a

Sera ce qu'elle était unc heure avant ma vie. remedy of his friend M. D. Richelieu, I have not heard that he has as yet who laboured under the same comé had an epitaph bestowed on him, unplaint. The latter sent him opium, less the ines which have been handed the remedy to which he had himself about, and which are quite in the had recourse ; and by its abuse he was epigrammatic style, are to be considerpoisoned. In his latest moments, he ed as such. expressed a wish to consult M. Tron- De Voltaire admirez la bizarre planette : chin, of whom, however, he did not Il naquit chez Ninon, et mourut chez Villette. entertain the most favourable opinion, The latter is a young Swiss lady, of and treated him as a quack, his art as whom he was greatly enamoured, and imposture, &c. Exasperated at these whom he had married to M. de insults, M. Tronchin told him, with Villette." much gravity, that, at the most, he Jean Jacques Rousseau has renderhad not more than two hours to live, ed his end singularly interesting by and that therefore it behoved him to the memoirs of his life, in which he see to his affairs. On this observation has made an exact avowal of all his he was desired to withdraw.

actions. These memoirs are comprised M. de Voltaire now raised himself in an octavo volume, which sells at a on his bed, with the help of his nurse most extravagant price. It is even and of his notary. The latter having said that copies have been purchased handled him somewhat roughly, re- at as high a rate as eighty livres, (more ceived a cuff, the force of which led than three guineas,) and from that to him to enter his protest against the twenty-five. The dearness of the prognostic of the doctor. As soon as book arises from the vigilance of the he was recovered from the disorder police, and from its interest—for M. into which the awkwardness of the Rousseau has developed in it the innotary had thrown him, he said to trigue of his novel. It is as follows: himself, “ At length I am to die. His Julie is Mademoiselle de MontBe it so; but let my end be conform- morency, married to a French nobleable to my life. It is more than pro- man, whose name I have not been bable that my body will be deposited able to learn, and whom he styles in the Chantier (timber-yard) of Madame Wolmar. This unfortunate Maurapas, where the ashes of La female has been long dead ; and it is Couvreur* repose.

Forty years ago said by several persons who were acshe would not permit me to sleep with quainted with Rousseau, that from her, but she will now be constrained that time he became unsocial and mis

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

* A celebrated actress, denied, with all those of her profession in the Catholic states, Christian burial.

+ These details were given by M. Mercier, who was present when M. de Voltaire breathed his last.



“ 'Tis only from the belief of the goodness and wisdom of a Supreme Being, that our calamities can be borne in that manner which becomes a man.”-HENRY MACKENZIE. In Summer there is beauty in the that modify or constitute the existence wildest moors of Scotland, and the of the poor. wayfaring man who sits down for an I have a short and simple story to hour's rest beside some little spring tell of the winter-life of the moorland that flows unheard through the cottager-a story but of one evening brightened moss and water-cresses, -with few events and no signal catasfeels his weary heart revived by the trophe-but which may haply please silent, serene, and solitary prospect. those hearts whose delight it is to On every side sweet_sunny spots of think on the humble under-plots that verdure smile towards him from a- are carrying on in the great Drama of mong the melancholy heather-unex- Life. pectedly in the solitude a stray sheep, Two cottagers, husband and wife, it may be with its lambs, starts half- were sitting by their cheerful peatalarmed at his motionless figure-in- fire one winter evening, in a small sects large, bright, and beautiful come lonely hut on the edge of a wide moor, careering by him through the desert at some miles distance from any other air-nor does the Wild want its own habitation. There had been, at one songsters, the grey linnet, fond of the time, several huts of the same kind blooming furze, and now and then the erected close together, and inhabited lark mounting up to heaven above the by families of the poorest class of daysummits of the green pastoral hills. labourers who found work among the During such a sunshiny hour, the distant farms, and at night returned lonely cottage on the waste seems to to dwellings which were rent-free, stand in a paradise ; and as he rises with their little gardens won from the to pursue his journey, the traveller waste. But one family after another looks back and blesses it with a had dwindled away, and the turf-built mingled emotion of delight and envy. huts had all fallen into ruins, except There, thinks he, abide the children one that had always stood in the cenof Innocence and Contentment, the tre of this little solitary village, with two most benign spirits that watch its summer-walls covered with the over human life.

richest honeysuckles, and in the midst But other thoughts arise in the of the brightest of all the gardens. It mind of him who may chance to jour. alone now sent up its smoke into the ney through the same scene in the de- clear winter sky—and its little endsolation of Winter. The cold bleak window, now lighted up, was the onsky girdles the moor as with a belt of ly ground star that shone towards the ice~life is frozen in air and on earth. belated traveller, if any such ventured The silence is not of repose but ex- to cross, on a winter night, a scene so tinction—and should a solitary human dreary and desolate. The affairs of dwelling catch his eye half-buried in the small household were all arranged the snow, he is sad for the sake of for the night. The little rough poney them whose destiny it is to abide far that had drawn in a sledge, from the from the cheerful haunts of men, heart of the Black-Moss, the fuel by shrouded up in melancholy, by po

whose blaze the cotters were now sitverty held in thrall, or pining away ting cheerily, and the little Highland in unvisited and untended disease. cow, whose milk enabled them to live,

But, in good truth, the heart of were standing amicably together, unhuman life is but imperfectly discov- der cover of a rude shed, of which one ered from its countenance; and before side was formed by the peat-stack, we can know what the summer, or and which was at once byre, and stawhat the winter yields for enjoyment ble, and hen-roost. Within, the clock or trial to our country's peasantry, ticked cheerfully, as the fire-light we must have conversed with them in reached its old oak-wood case across their fields and by their firesides ; and the yellow-sanded floor--and a small made ourselves acquainted with the round table stood between, covered powerful ministry of the Seasons, not with a snow-white cloth, on which over those objects alone that feed the were milk and oai-cakes, the morning, eye and the imagination, but over all mid-day, and evening meal of these the incidents, occupations, and events frugal and contented cotters. The


« AnteriorContinuar »