« PreviousContinue »
1 [Lord Byron never alludes to his share in these Melodies with complacency. Mr. Moore having, on one occasion, rallied him a little on the manner in which some of them had been set to music, -“Sunburn Nathan,” he exclaims, “why do you always twit me with his Ebrew nasalities 2 Have I not told you it was all Kinnaird's doing, and my own exquisite facility of temper ?”)
* [“Neither the ancient Jews,” says Dr. Burney, “nor the modern, have ever had characters peculiar to music; so that the melodies used in their religious ceremonies have, at all times, been traditional, and at the mercy of the singers.” – Kalkbrenner tells us, that “les Juifs Espagnols lisent et chantent leurs pseaumes bien differemment que les Juifs Hollandais, les Juiss Romains autrement que les Juifs de la Prusse ct de la Hesse ; et tous croient chanter comme on chantait dans le Temple de Jérusalem 1 " — Hist. de la Musique, tom. i. p. 34.]
* [These stanzas were written by Lord Byron, on returning from a ball-room, where he had seen Mrs. (now Lady) Wil;not Horton, the wife of his relation, the present Governor of Ceylon. On this occasion Mrs. Wilmot Horton had appeared in mourning, with numerous spangles on her dress.]
* [“In the reign of King David, music was held in the highest estimation by the Hebrews. The genius of that prince for music, and his attachment to the study and practice of it, as well as the great number of musicians appointed by him for the performance of religious rites and ceremonies, could not fail to extend its influence and augment its so ; for it was during this period, that music was first honoured by being
Which Music hallow'd while she wept
It soften’d men of iron mould,
No ear so dull, no soul so cold,
It told the triumphs of our King,
IF THAT HIGH WORLD.
If that high world, which lies beyond
It must be so : "t is not for self
admitted in the ministry of sacrifice, and worship of the ark ; as well as by being cultivated by a king.” – Bunsey.] * [“When Lord Byron put the manuscript into my hand, it terminated with this line. As this, however, did not complete the verse, I wished him to help out the melody. ... He replied, ...Why, I have sent you to heaven—it would be difficult to go further ' ' My attention for a few mil ites was called to some other person; and his Lordship, whom I had hardly missed, exclaimed." Here, Nathan, I have brought you down again;" and immediately presented me the beautiful lines which conclude the melody." — NATHAN.j
"[The hymns of David excel no less in sublimity and tenderness of expression, than in lostiness and purity of religious sentiment. In comparison with them, the sacr poetry of all other nations sinks into mediocrity. They have embodied so exquisitely the universal language of religious emotion, that (a few fierce and vindictive passages excepted, natural in the warrior-poet of a sterner age.) they have entered, with unquestionable propriety, into the Christian ritual. The songs which cheered the solitude of the desert caves of Engeli, or resounded from the voice of the Hebrew people as they wound along the glens or the hill-sides of Judea, have been repeated for ages in almost every part of the habitable world,—in the remotest islands of the ocean, amongst the forests of America. or the sands of Africa. How many human hearts have they softened, purified, exalted – of how many wretched beings have they becn the secret consolation : — on how many communities have they drawn down the ble, sings of 1)ivine Providence, by brinzing the affections in unison with their deep devotional servour ! — MulxıAN.]
THE WILD GAZELLE.
The wild gazelle on Judah's hills
A step as fleet, an eye more bright,
More blest each palm that shades those plains
But we must wander witheringly,
OH ! WEEP FOR THOSE. OH ! weep for those that wept by Babel's stream, Whose shrines are desolate, whose land a dream; Weep for the harp of Judah's broken shell ; [dwell ! Mourn – where their God hath dwelt the Godless
And where shall Israel lave her bleeding feet 7
Tribes of the wandering foot and weary breast,
ON JORDAN'S BANKS.
ON Jordan's banks the Arab's camels stray,
There — where thy finger scorch'd the tablet stone :
Oh I in the lightning let thy glance appear;
1 [Jephtha, a bastard son of Gilead, having been wrongfully expelled from his father's house, had taken refuge in a wild country, and become a noted captain of freebooters. His kindred, groaning under foreign oppression, began to look to their valiant, though lawless compatriot, whose profession, according to their usage, was no more dishonourable than that of a pirate in the elder days of Greece. They sent for hion, and made him head of their city. 13csore he went forth against the Ammonites, he made the memorable vow, that, if he returned victorious, he would sacrifice as a buret offering
As clouds from yonder sun receive
THY DAYS ARE DON e.
Thy days are done, thy fame begun;
The triumphs of her chosen Son,
The deeds he did, the fields he won,
Though thou art fall'n, while we are free Thou shalt not taste of death :
The generous blood that flow'd from thee
Within our veins its currents be,
Thy name, our charging hosts along,
Thy fall, the theme of choral song
To weep would do thy glory wrong;
1 [" It was generally conceived that Lord Byron's reported singularities approached on some occasions to derangement: and at one period, indeed, it was very currently asserted trat his intellects were actually impaired. The report only served to amuse his Lordship. He referred to the circumstance, and declared that he ...i try how a madman could write: seizing the pen with eagerness, he for a moment fixed his eyes in majestic wildness on vacancy; when, like a flash of inspiration, without erasing a single word, the above verses were the result.” — NATHAN.]
* [Haunted with that insatiable desire of searching into the secrets of futurity, inseparable from uncivilised man, Saul knew not to what quarter to turn. The priests, outraged by his cruelty, had forsaken him: the prophets stood aloof; no dreams visited his couch; he had persecuted even the unlawful diviners. He hears at last of a female necromancer, a woman with the spirit of Ob : strangely similar in sound to the Obeah women in the West Indies. To the cave-dwelling of this woman, in Endor, the monarch proceeds in disguise. He commands her to raise the spirit of Samuel. At this laring demand, the woman first recognises, or pretends to recognise, her royal visitor. “Whom seest thou?” says the king. —“Mighty ones ascending from the earth.”—“ Of what for a 2 " – “..An old man covered with a mantle.” Saul, in
SONG OF SAUL BEFORE IIIS LAST BATTLE.
WARRIons and chiefs should the shaft or the sword
Thou who art bearing my buckler and bow,
Farcwell to others, but nevcr we part, -
SAUL. 2 Thou whose spell can raise the dead, Bid the prophet's form appear. “Samuel, raise thy buried head : King, behold the phantom seer . " Earth yawn'd ; he stood the centre of a cloud : Light changed its hue, retiring from his shroud. Death stood all glassy in his fixed eye; His hand was wither'd, and his veins were dry; His foot, in bony whiteness, glitter'd there, Shrunken and sinewless, and ghastly bare; From lips that moved not and unbreathing frame, Like cavern'd winds, the hollow accents came. Saul saw, and fell to earth, as falls the oak, At once, and blasted by the thunder-stroke.
“Why is my sleep disquieted 2
terror, bows down his head to the earth ; and, it should secn, not daring to look up, receives from the voice of the spectre the awful intimation of his defeat and death. On the reality of this apparition we pretend not to decide: the figure, if sigure there were, was not seen by Saul : and, excepting the event of the of battle, the spirit said nothing which the living prophet had not said before, repeatedly and publicly. But the fact is curious, as showing the popular belief of the Jews in departed spirits to have been the same with that of most other nations.— MilxıAN.]
3 (“Since we have spoken of witches,” said Lord Byron, at Cephalonia, in 1823, “what think you of the witch of Endor? I have always thought this the finest and most finished witchscene that ever was written or conceived : and you will be of my opinion, if you consider all the circ cs and the actors in the case, together with the gravity, simplicity, and dignity of the language. It beats all the ghost scenes I ever read. The finest conception on a similar subject is that of Goethe's Devil, Mephistopheles; and though, of course, you will give the o to the former, as being inspired, yet the latter, if you W. t, will appear to you — at least it does to me — one of the sinest and most sublime specimens of human conception.”)