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yet, notwithstanding, the splendid church music of the English excites the deep admiration of Europe; and their glees and madrigals have never been excelled. Purcell, Locke, Jackson, and Arne, have written many charming melodies: but to come nearer to the present day, if I may venture an opinion, I would say that justice has scarcely been done to Shield, a sound, manly composer, who has left a number of things behind him which really and truly deserve to live and flourish amid the mass of musical compositions that, fungus-like, hourly spring into existence, and as rapidly decay. "The Thorn," "Let Fame sound the Trumpet," "Old Towler," "Heaving the Lead," "Ere round the huge Oak," and a number of others, if they cannot justly lay claim to any great degree of imaginative beauty, have at least an infusion of genuine melody-a body, ay, and a soul, that will long preserve them from oblivion.
Shakspeare's songs, for the most part, have been fortunate in being married to good music; some of them almost better than they deserve. Whether in ridicule or not of the song-writers of his time, he certainly made too liberal a use of the "heigh hos" and "ninny nonnys." Next to Ariel's pretty fancy, "Where the bee sucks, there lurk I," the one with the most freedom and lyrical beauty is, to my taste,
"Under the Greenwood Tree." But it loses half its effect when transplanted from the forest of Arden, and sung in a modern room, amid long coats, cravats, decanters, and etiquette. Neither does it assimilate better with boisterous mirth and whiskey punch. Yet it is an ill-used song, even on the stage. It is too operatically given. Your Amiens is generally (like the majority of male music-mongers) a stiff-limbed piece of humanity, who understands singing, and little else; he generally takes his station about four feet from the foot-lamps, and there, with elongated physiognomy, and one arm protruded towards the pit, goes through his work with most clock-like precision. To parody a beautiful simile, it is "music breathing from a wooden block;" all which is very unlike the free-hearted lord whom we imagine, throwing himself at the root of some antique oak, and, in a fine, mellow voice, trolling forth, until the old forest rang again, his most joyous invitation. But this may be amended when, amid the other astonishing improvements of the times, leading vocalists shall be endowed with joints and ideas. Next to this, I like the one now invariably put into the mouth of Rosalind, and christened the "Cuckoo Song"
"When daisies pied, and violets, blue."
But your stage Rosalind is generally the reverse of Amiens-an arch, vivacious lass, who imparts due effect to the mixture of natural images and domestic ideas suggested by the saucy words of the song.
The sea, "the battle and the breeze," and the rapid and manifold vicissitudes incident to the life of a sailor, furnish a bold and beautiful variety of subjects capable of being turned to good account in a song or ballad. Yet, somehow or other, Apollo does not much affect the quarter-deck. The ocean brine is too powerful for the waters of Castaly. Poesy in some sort suffers by a "sea-change ;" and the quantity to be extracted from a volume of genuine naval ditties is wofully disproportionate to the bulk of rhyme. Some of the best sea songs have been written by landsmen, and one great cause of their being so, is their comparative freedom from perplexing technicalities; for though a characteristic phrase may occasionally impart life and spirit to a production, yet a technicality, whether in marine or agricultural poetry, is a sore stumblingblock to the uninitiated. Now every line (or plank) of three-fourths of your nautical melodies is calked with them, independently of containing a much larger infusion of tar than tenderness-of pitch
than pathos. They abound, likewise, in an inordinate degree, in descriptions of tornadoes, and discharges of artillery-in slaughter and sudden death; and the sentiments correspond thereunto, being as rough as a hawser, and as boisterous as a northwester. Though admirably adapted to be growled out by the boatswain when the vessel is scudding under double-reefed topsails, they would on land, and in a room, go off like a discharge of musketry. But, worse than all, is the minuteness of detail— the distressing particularity which ever pervades them. They are mere paraphrases of the log-book; and the due course and reckoning of the ship is most especially insisted on
"That time bound straight for Portugal,
But when we made Cape Ortugal,
gale blew off the shore," &c.
Yet, after all, there are some noble things in this branch of the "service," amply sufficient to redeem it from dislike. Who is there that has not held his breath when he has heard a rich, deep-toned voice, commence Gay's glorious ballad
"All in the Downs the fleet lay moor'd;
and listened throughout, with a quickened pulse, to
that "plain unvarnished tale" of humble love and tenderness. There is much, too, to please any man, who is not over and above fastidious, in dozens of Dibdin's vigorous and hearty sketches of a sailor's hardships and enjoyments, to say nothing of Pearce and others of inferior note; but from your regular forecastle narratives, Apollo deliver us!
Things called "comic songs," to wit, "Four and twenty tailors all in a row," &c., are, in my mind, striking exemplifications of the depth of debasement of which the human intellect is susceptible.
In whatever way America is, or may become re nowned, she will probably never be a land of song; and for two or three reasons. There are already a sufficiency of standard songs in the world to answer all purposes; and she has imported an ample sufficiency to supply the varied tastes and caprices of her musical population. Moore's Melodies are as common in the cities of the west as in their native land; and those of Burns are no rarity. The geography of the country, too, is strikingly unfavorable for indigenous song. Nature has created the land in one of her most liberal and magnificent moods, and formed its features on a scale of grandeur that is impossible to grasp in this kind of writing. The ocean-lakes-the mighty rivers-the interminable forests- the boundless prairies, are all