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That many of these airs possess great beauty so highly as Polydore Virgil and Major, in the and pathos, no one can doubt who is acquainted 15th, Clynn, in the middle of the 14th, or Forwith the selections that have been made by Mr dun, in the 13th. As we recede yet further, we Moore; but as a genus or a style, they also ex- find Giraldus Cambrensis, G. Brompton, and John hibit the most unequivocal proofs of a rude and of Salisbury, in the 12th century, bestowing still barbarous origin; and there is scarcely a more more lofty encoiniams; and these, again, falling striking instance of the proneness of mankind to short of the science among us in the with and exalt the supposed wisdom of their ancestors, and oth centuries. In conformity with this, Fuller, to lend a ready ear to the marvellous, than the in his account of the Crusade conducted by Godexaggerated praise which the authors of this mu- frey of Bologne, says, “ Yea, we might well think sic have obtained.
that all the concert of Christendom in this war It is natural to suppose that in music, as in all would have made no music, if the Irish Harp had other arts, the progress of savage man was gra- been wanting. dual ; that there is no more reason for supposing In those early times the Irish bards were inhe should have discovered at once the seven notes vested with wealth, honours, and influence. of the scale, than that he should have been able They wore a robe of the same colour as that at once to find appropriate language for all the used by kings; were exempted from taxes and nice distinctions of morals or metaphysics. We plunder, and were billeted on the country from shall now pass to some interesting accounts of the Allhallow-tide to May, while every chief bard Bards of the colden time,» which come within the had thirty of inferior note under his orders, and scope of our subject when speaking of the present every second-rate bard fifteen. Bard of Erin, and his « Irish Melodies.»
John of Salisbury, in the 19th century, says, Dr Burney observes, that « the first Greek mu- that the great aristocrats of his day imitated sicians were gods ; the second, heroes; the third, Nero in their extravagant love of fiddling and bards; the fourth, beggars!» During the infancy singing; that they prostituted their favour by of music in every country, the wonder and af- bestowing it on minstrels and buffoons; and fections of the people were gained by surprise; that, by a certain foolish and shameful munifibut when musicians became numerous, and the cence, they expended immense sums of money on art was regarded of easier acquirement, they their frivolous exhibitions. • The courts of lost their favour, and, from being seated at the princes," says another contemporary writer, « are tables of kings, and helped to the first cut, they filled with crowds of minstrels, who extort from were reduced to the most abject state, and ranked them gold, silver, horses, and vestments, by their amongst rogues and vagabonds. That this was flattering songs. I have known some princes the cause of the supposed retrogradation of Irish who have bestowed on these minstrels of the De. music, we shall now proceed to show, by some vil, at the very first word, the most curious garcurious extracts from contemporary writers. ments, beautifully embroidered with flowers and
The Bards, the earliest professors of whom we pictures, which had cost them twenty or thirty have not any account, having united to their marks of silver, and which they had not worn capacity of musicians the function of priests, above seven days! could not fail to obtain for themselves, in an age
From the foregoing account, by Salisbury of ignorance and credulity, all the influence and John, the twelfth century must, verily, have been respect which that useful and deserving class of the true golden age for the sons of the lyre ; who men have never failed to retain, even among na- were then, it seems, clothed in purple and fine tions who esteem themselves the most enlight- linen, and fared sumptuously every day. It is ened. But the remotest period in which their true, they were flatterers and parasites, and did character of musician was disengaged from that « dirty work » for it in those days ; but, at any 1 of priest is also the period assigned to the high- rate, princes were then more generous to their
est triumph of their secular musical skill and re- poet-laureates, and the sackbut and the song spectability. It is certain," says Mr Bunting were better paid for than in a simple butt of (in his Historical and Critical Dissertation on the sack. Harp), « that the further we explore, while yet any According to Stowe, the minstrel had still a light remains, the more highly is Irish border min- ready admission into the presence of kings in the strelsy extolled.
4th century. Speaking of the celebration of the « The oldest Irish tunes (says the same writer) feast of Pentecost at Westminster, he says, are said to be the most perfect,» and history ac- the great hall, when sitting royally at the table, cords with this opinion. Vin. Galilei, Bacon, with his peers about him, there entered a woman Stanishurst, Spenser, and Camden, in the 16th adorned like a minstrel, sitting on a great horse, i century, speak warmly of Irish version, but not trapped as minstrels then used, who rode about
the table showing pastime, and at length came lant gentleman of the north of Ireland has told up to the king's table, and laid before him a let- me, of his own experience, that in his wolf-huntter, and, forthwith turning her horse, saluted ings there, when he used to be abroad in the every one and departed: when the letter was mountains three or four days together, and lay read, it was found to contain animadversions on very ill a-nights, so as he could not well sleep, the king. The door-keeper, being threatened they would bring him one of these tale-tellers, for admitting her, replied, that it was not the that when he lay down would begin a story of a custom of the king's palace to deny admission to king, a giant, a dwarf, or a damsel, and such minstrels, especially on such high solemnities rambling stuff, and continue it all night long in and feast-days.»
such an even tone, that you heard it going on In Froissart, too, we may plainly see what ne- whenever you awaked, and believed nothing cessary appendages to greatness the minstrels any physicians give could have so good and so were esteemed, and upon what familiar terms innocent an effect to make men sleep, in any they lived with their masters. When the four pains or distempers of body or mind.» Irish kings, who had submitted themselves to In the reign of Elizabeth, however, civilization Richard II. of England, were sat at table, « on had so far advanced, that the music which had the first dish being served they made their min- led away the great lords of antiquity no longer strels and principal servants sit beside them, and availed to delude the human understanding, or eat from their plates, and drink from their to prevent it from animadverting on the pernicups.» The knight appointed by Richard to al cious effects produced by those who cultivated tend them having objected to this custom, ou the tuneful art. Spenser, in his view of the state another day « ordered the tables to be laid out of Ireland, says, « There is amongst the Irish a and covered, so that the kings sat at an upper certain kind of people called Bardes, which are table, the minstrels at a middle one, and the ser- to them instead of poets, whose profession is to vants lower still. The royal guests looked at set forth the praises or diipraises of men in their cach other, and refused to eat, saying, that he poems or rithmes ; the which are had in so high deprived them of their good old custom in which regard and estimation among them, that none they had been brought up.”
dare displease them, for fear to run iuto reproach However, in the reign of Edward 11., a public through their offence, and to be made infamous edict was issued, putting a check upon this li- | in :he mouths of all men. For their verses are cense, and limiting the number of minstrels to taken up with a general applause, and usually four per diem admissible to the tables of the sung at all feasts and meetings by certain other Great. It seems, too, that about this period the persons whose proper function that is, who also miustrels had sunk into a kind of upper servants receive for the same great rewards and reputaof the aristocracy: they wore their lord's livery, tion amongst them. These Irish Bardes for and sometimes shaved the crown of their heads the most part, so far from instructing young men like monks.
in moral discipline, that themselves do more deWhen war and hunting formed almost the ex- serve to be sharply disciplined; for they seldom clusive occupation of the great; when their sur- use to choose unto themselves the doings of good plus revenues could only be employed in sup- men for the arguments of their poems; but whomporting idle retainers, and no better means could soever they find to be most licentious of life, most be devised for passing the long winter evenings bold and lawless in his doings, inost dangerous than drunkenness and gambling, it may readily and desperate in all parts of disobedience and be conceived how welcome these itinerant musi- rebellious disposition : him they set up and glocians must have been in baronial halls, and how rifie in their rithmes; him they praise to the peoit must have flattered the pride of our noble an- ple, and to young men make an example to folcestors to listen to the eulogy of their own low. The moralizing poet then continues to achievements, and the length of their own pedi- show the a effect of evil things being decked with grees.
the attire of goodly words,» on the affections of Sir William Temple says, « the great men of a young mind, which, as be observes, the Irish septs, among the many officers of their rest;» for, « if he be not busied in some goodness, i family, which continued always in the saine races, he will find himself such business as shall soou haid not only a physician, a huntsman, a smith, busy all about him. In which, if he shall find and such like, but a poet and a tale-teller. The any to praise him, and to give him encouragefirst recorded and sung the actions of their ances- ment, as those Bardes do for little reward, or a tors, and entertained the company at feasts; the share of a stolen cow, then waxeth he most insolatter amused them with tales when they were lent, and half mad with the love of himself and melancholy and could not sleep; and a very gal- his own lewd deeds. And as for words to set
forth such lewdness, it is not hard for them to attempted to fashion them according to the mogive a goodly and painted show thereunto, bor-del of the modern music; and these acts are conrowed even from the praises which are proper to sidered in the country as capital improvements. virtue itself; as of a most notorious thief and We have gone into the above details, not wicked outlaw, which had lived all his life-time ouly because they are in themselves interestof spoils and robberies, one of their bardes in ing and illustrative of the a Irish Melodies,, but his praise will say, that he was none of the idle because we fully coincide with the bard of milksops that was brought up to the fire-side ; - Childe Harold, that the lasting celebrity of but that most of his days he spent in arms and Moore will be found in his lyrical compositions, valiant enterprises -- that he did never eat his with which his name and fame will be inseparmeat before he had won it with his sword; that ably and immortally connected. he lay not all night in slugging in a cabin under Mr Moore possesses a singular facility of seizhis mantle, but used commonly to keep others ing and expressing the prevailing association waking to defend their lives; and did light his which a given air is calculated to inspire in candle at the flames of their houses to lead him the minds of the greatest number of hearers, and in the darkness; that the day was his night, and has a very felicitous talent in making this discothe night his day; that he loved not to be long very, even through the envelopes of prejudice or wooing of wenches to yield to him, but, where he vulgarity. The alchemy by which he is thus came, he took by force the spoil of other men's accustomed to turn dross into gold is really love, and left but lamentation to their lovers ; ' surprising. The air which now seems framed that his music was not the harp, nor the lays of for the sole purpose of giving the highest effect love, but the cries of people and the clashing of to the refined and elegant ideas contained in the armour; and, finally, that he died, not bewailed stauzas Sing, sing-music was given,, has for of many, but made many wail when he died, that years been known only as attached to the words dearly bought bis death.»
of, « Oh! whack! Judy O'Flanagan, etc.," and the It little occurred to Spenser that, in thus re- words usually sung to the tane of Cumilum are of probating these poor bards, he was giving an ad-' the same low and ludicrous description. He mirable analysis of the machinery and effects of possesses, also, in a high degree,
that remarkable almost all that poets have ever done!
gift of a poetical imagination, which consists in In 1563 severe enactments were issued against elevating and dignifying the meanest subjects on these gentlemen, to which was annexed the fol- which it chuses to expatiate: lowing— « Item, for that those rhymers do, by their ditties and rhymes, made to dyvers lordes and
As they, who to their couch at night Gentlemen in Ireland, in the commendacion and
Would welcome sleep, first quench the light,
So must the hopes that keep this breast highe praise of extorsion, rebellion, rape, raven, and Awake, be quench d, ere it can rest. outhere injustice, encourage those lordes and gentle- Cold, cold my heart must grow, men rather to follow those vices than to leve them, Cochanged by either joy or woe, and for making of such rhymes, rewards are given
Like freezing founts, where all that's throwa by the said lordes and gentlemen ; that for abo
Within their current turns to stone. lishinge of soo heynouse an abuse,» etc., etc. The feudal system, which encouraged the po- applied, is not more remarkable than the success
The ingenuity with which the above simile is etical state of manners, and afforded the min- with which the homely image of putting out the strels worthy subjects for their strains, received a bed-candle before we sleep, is divested of every severe blow from the policy pursued by Elizabeth. This was followed up by Cromwell, and consum
particle of vulgarity. mated by King William, of Orange memory.
In the same way, and with equal facility, the
sudden revival of forgotten feelings, at meeting More recently a Scotch writer observes, « In Ireland the harpers, the original composers, and
with friends from whom we have been long sepathe chief depositories of that music, have, till rated, is compared to the discovering, by the lately, been uniformly cherished and supported
application of heat, letters written invisibly with
sympathetic ink: by the nobility and gentry. They endeavoured to outdo one another in playing the airs that What soften'd remembrances come o'er the heart were most esteemed, with correctness, and with In pazing on those we've been lost to so long! their proper expression. The taste for that style The sorrows, the jors, of which once they were part, of performance seems now, however, to be de
Still round them, like visions of yesterday, throng.
As letters some hand bath invisibly traced, clining. The native harpers are not much en
When held in the flame will steal out to the sight, couraged. A number of their airs have come So many a feeling that long wem'd cftuced, into the hands of forrige musicians, who have The warmth of a meeting like this bnng to light.
« Rich and Rare,» taken music, words and all, ens assembled on the green, and agreed to cele. is worth an epic poem to the Irish nation, --sim- brate the arrival of their poet with a dance; they ple, tender, elegant, sublime, it is the very essence fixed upon the air he was to play for them; it of poetry and music;—there is not one simile or was the merriest of his collection; the ring was conceit, nor one idle crotchet to be met with forined; all looked eagerly to the quarter from throughout.
which he was to arrive, determined to greet their The musical as well as the poetical taste of the favourite bard with a cheer. But they were author is evident in every line, nor is one allowed checked the instant he appeared; he came slowly, to shine at the expense of the other. Moore has and languidly, and loiteringly along; his councomposed some beautiful airs, but seems shy of tenance had a cold, dim, and careless aspect, exercising this faculty, dreading, perhaps, that very different from that expressive cheerfulness success in that pursuit would detract from his which marked his features, even in his more mepoetical fame. The union of these talents is lancholy moments; his harp was swinging hearare, and some have affirmed that they even vily upon his arm; it seemed a burthen to him; exclude one another. When Gretry visited it was much shattered, and some of the strings Voltaire at Ferney, the philosopher paid him a were broken. He looked at us for a few moments, compliment at the expense of his profession : then, relapsing into vacancy, advanced without
Vous êtes musicien,” said Voltaire, et vous quickening his pace, to his accustomed stone, avez de l'esprit: cela est trop rare pour que je and sate down in silence. After a pause, we venne prenne pas à vous le plus vif intérêt.» Nature tured to ask him for his friends; -- he first looked certainly may be supposed not over-inclined to up sharp in our faces, next down upon his harp; be prodigal in bestowing on the same object the then struck a few notes of a wild and desponding several gifts that are peculiarly hers; but, as far melody, which we had never heard before ; but as the assertion rests on experience, it is power- his hand dropped, and he did not finish it.fully contradicted by the names of Moore and Again we paused:- then knowing well that, if Rousseau.
we could give the smallest mirthful impulse to The late Mr Charles Wolfe, having both a lite his feelings, his whole soul would soon follow, rary and a musical turn, occasionally employed we asked him for the merry air we had choseu. himself in adapting words to national melodies, We were surprised at the readiness with which and in writing characteristic introductions to po- he seemed to comply; but it was the same wild pular songs. Being fond of «The Last Rose of and heart-breaking strain he had commenced. Summer» (Irish MEL. No V), he composed the fol- In fact, we found that the soul of the minstrel lowing tale for its illustration:
had become an entire void, except one solitary * This is the grave of Dermid: -- He was the best ray that vibrated sluggishly through its very minstrel among us all, - a youth of romantic ge- darkest part; it was like the sea in a dark calın, nius, and of the most tremulous, and yet the most which you only know to be in motion by the impetuous feeling. lle knew all our old nation-panting which you hear. He had totally foral airs, of every character and description: ac- gotten every trace of his former strains, not only cording as his song was in a lofty or a mournful those that were more gay and airy, but even strain, the village represented a camp or funeral; those of a more pensive cast; and he had gotten but if Dermid were in his merry mood, the lads in their stead that one dreary simple melody; and lasses hurried into a dance, with a giddy and it was about a Lonely Rose, that had outlived all irresistible gaiely. One day our chieftain con- its companions; this he continued singing and ! mitted a cruel and wanton outrage against one jplaying from day to day, until he spread an upof our peaceful villagers. Dermid's harp was in usual gloom over the whole village: he seemed his hand when he heard it:-with all the thought-to perceive it, for he retired to the church-yard, lessness and independent sensibility of a poet's and continued repairing thither to sing it to the indignation, he struck the chords that never day of his death. The afflicted constantly respoke without response, and the detestation be- sorted there to hear it, and he died singing it come universal. lle was driven from amongst to a maid who had lost her lover. The orphans us byour enraged chief; and all his relations, and have learnt it, and still chaunt it over Dermid's the maid he loved, attended the minstrel into the grave.» wide world. For three years there were no tid- The Fudge Family in Paris" is a most humoings of Derinid; and the song and the dance were rous work, written partly in the style of « The silent; when one of our little boys came running Twopenny-Post Bag. These poetical epistles rein, and told us that he saw our minstrel ap- mind many persons of the Bath Guide, but a comproaching at a distance. Instantly the whole parison can hardly be supported; the plan of Me village was in com:notion; the youths and muidMoore's work being less extensive, and the sub
ject more ephemeral. We pity the man, however, most serious, seems half in jest. The latter dallie who has not felt pleased with this book; even and trifles with his subject, caresses and grows those who disapprove the author's politics, and enamoured of it; the former grasped it eagerly to his treating Royalty with so little reverence, must his bosom, breathed death upon it, and turned be bigoted and loyal to an excess if they deny from it with loathing or dismay. The fine aroma his wit and humour.
that is exhaled from the flowers of poesy, every Mr Moore, in his preface to the Loves of the where lends its perfume to the verse of the bard Angels,» states, that he had somewhat hastened of Erin. The noble bard (less fortunate in his his publication, to avoid the disadvantage of muse) tried to extract poison from them. If having his work appear after his friend Lord By- Lord Byron cast his own views or feelings upon rei's e Heaven and Earth;« or, as he ingeniously outward objects (janndicing the sun), Mr Moore expresses it, « by an earlier appearance in the seems to exist in the delights, the virgin fancies of literary horizon, to give myself the chance of what nature. He is free of the Rosicrucian society; and astronomers call a heliacal rising, before the la- in etherial existence among troops of sylphs and minary, in whose light I was to be lost, should spirits,-in a perpetual vision of wings, flowers, appear. This was an amiable, but by no means rainbows, smiles, blushes, tears, and kisses. Every a reasonable modesty. The light that plays round page of his works is a vignette, every line that Mr Moore's verses, tender, exquisite, and brilliant, he writes glows or sparkles, and it would seem was in no danger of being extinguished even in (to quote again the expressive words of Sherithe sullen glare of Lord Byron's genius. One might dan) « as if his airy spirit, drawn from the sun, as well expect an aurora borealis to be put out continually Auttered with fond aspirations, to reby an eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Though both gain that native source of light and heat.. The bright stars in the firmament of modern poetry, worst is, our author's mind is too vivid, too active, they were as distant and unlike as Saturn and to suffer a moment's repose. We are cloyed with Mercury; and though their rising might be at the same time, they never moved in the same orb, uor
sweetness, and dazzled with splendour. Every met or jostled in the wide trackless way of fancy hue; -every syllable must breathe a sigh. A
image must blush celestial rosy red, love's proper and invention.
Thougb these two celebrated writers in some sentiment is lost in a simile- the simile is overmeasure divided the poetical public between them, loaded with an epithet. It is « like morn risen yet it was not the same public whose favour they on mid-noon. No eventful story, no powerful severally enjoyed in the highest degree. Though contrast, no moral, none of the sordid details of both read and admired in the same extended circle human life (all is etherial); none of its sharp caof taste and fashion, each was the favourite of a lamities, or, if they inevitably occur, his muse totally different set of readers. Thus a lover may throws a soft, glittering, veil over them, pay the same attention to two different women ; Like moonlight on a troubled sea, but he only means to flirt with the one, while the Brightening the storm it cannot calm. other is the mistress of his heart. The gay, the fair, the witty, the happy, idolize Mr Moore's de- We do not believe that Mr Moore ever writes a lightful muse, on her pedestal of airy smiles or
line that in itself would not pass for poetry, that transient tears. Lord Byron's severer verse is
is not at least a vivid or harmonious commonenshrined in the breasts of those whose gaiety place. Lord Byron wrote whole pages of sullen,
crabbed has been turned to call, whose fair exterior has a
prose, that, like a long dreary road, canker within-whose mirth has received a re
however, leads to doleful shades or palaces of buke as if it were folly, from whom happiness has the blest. In short Mr Moore's Parnassus is a Aed like a dream! By comparing the odds upon blooming Eden, and Lord Byron's a rugged wilthe known chances of human life, it is no wonder
derness of shame and sorrow. On the tree of that the admirers of his lordship's works should knowledge of the first you can see nothing but be more numerous than those of his more agree- perpetual flowers and verdure; in the last you able rival. We are not going to speak of any pre- see the naked stem and rough bark; but it heaves ference we may have, but we beg leave to make a hear the shrieks of a human voice withio.
at intervals with inarticulate throes, and you distinction. The poetry of Moore is essentially that of fancy, the poetry of Byron that of passion. If
Critically speaking, Mr Moore's poetry is chargethere is passion in the effusions of the one, the fan- able with two peculiarities : first, the pleasure or cy by which it is expressed predominates over it: interest he conveys to us is almost always derived if fancy is called to the aid of the other, it is still from the first impressions or physical properties subservient to the passion. Lord Byron's jests of objects, not from their connexion with passion are downright earnest ; Mr Moore, when he is or circumstances. His lights dazzle the eye, his