« ForrigeFortsæt »
and the most extravagant of poets? Simply because he is the most sunburnt of men. Why is the Frenchman all over caprice, feeble and violent, gay and gloomy, this month a worshipper of the Bourbon, and the next, si Diis placeat, un brave de la republique? Because he breathes a milder fitful sky, and is more frequently washed from head to foot by the free bounty of the heavens, and dried by the same cheap and summary exsiccation, than any man between the Poles. Why do an Englishman's doors and windows shut close, while beyond his shores there is not a door or window in Europe that is not freely entered and battered by shower and storm? Why is he a man of broad-cloth and bent brows, a lover of firesides and a puddler in desperate finance, of sullen aspect and sturdy politics? Because it rains every month in the year. His house is a ship, he must therefore spend his life in caulking and nailing. He has an instinctive horror of a chink; he navigates among the nations; and he has thus become the most plodding, humid, prosperous, and unhappy, of animals.
Half of this year has been rain. We are more fortunate in our power of resisting submersion than our forefathers; in Noah's time, it rained but forty days. Such is the benefit of custom. As it is, however, the effect of this determined irrigation was formidably obvious. I disdain to allude to the extinction of fields and farm-yards, and the utter absorption of all that once made the physiognomy of spring. The nobler operations of the mind, ministerial and opposition, were in a
THE English have been charged by foreigners with having no native music. This charge partakes of the spirit of all foreign accusations, and is partly prejudice, and partly ignorance, let the impeachment be laid by whom it may. With the chief portion it is rank ignorance; for under the name of England they have included the empire, and are still, in ninety-nine instances out of a hundred, to be told that Ireland and Scotland have had a
state of such utter dilution, that scarcely a speech has been uttered since the beginning of the year, loud or deep enough to remind us of the existence of the legislature. All public meetings seemed to have been soaked away. A few rash attempts made in York, in a vain reliance on waterproof cloaks, umbrellas, and popular irritation, were visited with immediate and vindictive torrents; and, from the utter silence which has since filled that region of wrongs and oratory, it is concluded that the chief speakers, several of whom had long found it difficult to keep their heads above water, had fairly gone down. In Parliament, Mr Canning's exposé of the Bourbons, and Mr Plunkett's exposé of himself, were expressly put off till those months when there might be a hope of fine weather. On the stage nothing had appeared, but a play by Miss Mitford, an extremely watery production, and an eastern melodrame, of which by much the finest scenery represented the bottom of the sea. In poetry we had but one publication, and that one was upon the deluge. Thus we were in a state of universal humectation at home,-abroad, war paused on the Pyrenees, and carried a barometer instead of a sword. In Africa, the invasion of the Mandingoes was washed back by an inundation, and Cape Coast Castle preserved for new crimes and calentures. Alongthe Zaura, supplications for sunshine were put up to Mahomet, through ten degrees of sand and lions; and, for the first time in the life of the colony, the settlers in Hottentots' Holland were wet from Heaven.
music of their own, infinitely purer, more original, and more touching, than all the canzonets and cavatinas, from the Alps to Vesuvius.
But even among ourselves there have been many shrewd doubts and bitter aspersions on the musical fertility of the centre of the island. That fat and flourishing district, which has supplied the realm with sovereigns and merchants, and has borne away the palm in beeves and battles, from time
The Loyal and National Songs of England, for one, two, or three Voices. Selected from original MSS. and early printed copies in the library of William Kitchener, M.D. London, Hurst and Robinson, 1823.
immemorial, has undoubtedly had occupations more stirring and engrossing than those of the whole host of minstrelsy, northern or western. A great, busy-governing, opulent, prosperous, public-speaking, turtle-feeding, trade loving country, cropped with parliament men, bishops, and philosophers; a huge mart for all the nations of the earth, a spot to which the Virginian, as he sets his tobacco, and the Kamschatkan, as he skins bis ermine, cast their eyes with a fellow-fondness for the due return ;-England has had other things to do with its sleek and pursy opulence, or with its turbulent and nervous industry, or with its haughty and supreme ambition, than the idlers of Italy. She has paid for their music; she has had the whole continent quick-eared and open-mouthed for her pay. In the spirit of political economy she has found it cheaper to import, than to raise the commodity, and she has imported it accordingly. If she have not hitherto shown a Catalani propagated on the banks of the Thames, or a Farinelli of indisputable Yorkshire, it is because she has not thought it worth her while; or if she be content to take Rossini's music at second-hand, or leave Germany the honour of the only Mozart, it is because she has been too busy and too much pleased with settling the affairs of the earth, to think about the manufacture of composers. Yet England has had great composers, (for the true estimate is genius, not volume,) though she neither forced the soil for them, nor extinguished her other products to fill the world with sonatas-yes, GREAT COMPOSERS. Some of these men are known but by a few melodies, but melodies of the heart, things perennis ævi; substantial additions to the national treasure of delights; bold, natural, and characteristic appeals to the natural impulses of the English character, or deep and most touching responses to the pathos of a people, that in all their busy life have as deep a tenderness as ever sang to the moonlight in the most sentimental casino in sight of St Marks. The majority of their songs are, as they should be, in the spirit of a brave, free, and conquering nation-the first on land and sea, with its heart eminently engaged in all the achievements, and chances of those whom it sends to struggle round the world. Doctor Kitchener deserves
an apotheosis for having gathered a volume of those fine records. His work comprehends fifty-six of the most celebrated old land songs. Another volume will present a selection of the finest in honour of our sea glories, and both will form a collection of singular value and interest, whether as specimens of English music, or me morials of the predominant feeling of our forefathers in their days of victory and patriotism.
The volume, a showy folio, is prefaced by an introduction treating of the general design of the work. The doctor here indulges in the triumphant tone of successful authorship. first number of the LOYAL AND NATIONAL SONGS OF ENGLAND will be a sufficient answer to those who have heedlessly said, the English have no national songs, and prove the proud fact in direct contradiction, that no nation in the world has half so many loyal, nor half so many national songs. What country can boast more beautiful national songs than God save the King, Toarms, Rule Britannia, Hearts of Oak, and a hundred others which are presented to the public in this work?" Then follows a list of names beloved by glee clubs and the men of cathedrals, but eclipsed in our degenerate day by foreign" balladmongers." The list is nearly thirty long, and boasts of Locke, Purcell, Bird, Carey, Leveridge, Croft, Green, coming down through the Arnes, &c. to Calcott.Even among the modern composers a vast number of works, popular in their day, have been flung into unmerited oblivion, as the occasion passed away. This is the natural course of things. Victory supersedes victory, and with the old success perishes the old song. Party is trampled under the heel of party; the Tory once shrunk before the Whig, and the Muses were furiously solicited to sing his discomfiture; the Whig changed his principles, grew contemptible, and lost the favour at once of the nation, and of Parnassus. Honest men eschewed the name, and good poets scorned to give an eleemosynary stanza to its manes. Toryism rose for the honour of common sense, and the good of the country; and if it has hitherto been tardy in cementing its constitutional supremacy by its harmonic captivations, yet, as all the songs in honour of English honour, loyalty, and glory, are palpably but
Toryism set to music, it is still at the head of affairs in Helicon, without costing itself an additional stave. Our musicians have not been idle. The complete published works of the English composers fill two hundred and fifty folio volumes; and we venture to predict, that the doctor's sale, serus in cœlum, will be the choicest compilation of black-letter melody that has been committed to the eloquence and the hammer of a Christie, or an Evans, since Queen Elizabeth played upon the virginals.
This collection is attended with all imaginable advantages for all kinds of professors and performers. Regular scores for the scientific; simple basses for the novice; in brief, all the cunning of counterpoint displayed in all its charms. The introduction discusses a question which had lately excited infinite curiosity among the cognoscenti, and been the unhappy parent of a thick quarto-the true history of God save the King. The quarto had decided that Doctor John Bull was the composer. No man will deny that the song, if it ever had a composer at all, ought to have had one bearing this name. But see "how a plain tale puts down" a happy theory. In all the volumes left by the doctor, and they are many and mighty, there is not a bar of the great symbol of loyalty.
"It is recorded in page 205 of Ward's Lives of the Gresham Professors, that one of Doctor John Bull's books contained a composition of his, which he entitled God save the Kinge.' The editor has the volume in his possession, and in it there is indubitably a God save the King, pressed into juxtaposition with a Fantarin, Felix affertorium, a Levez vous Cœur, and a Philis heft myn hert Gestoolen; but this associate of love and piety, Latin, French, and Dutch, is no more like the true, than the Doctor to Hercules. In the present publication, the work of Bull is not only made visible, but brought, by the industry of Mr Edward Jones, the King's bard, into a
form accessible to our modern performers, who would have been formidably repelled by its six-line staves, and its merciless variety of cleffs. This composition is "merely a ground or voluntary for the organ, of the four notes, C, G, F, E, with twenty-six different basses!" and, as the editor pledges himself, "is no more like them now sung, than a frog is like an ox." The editor's contemptuous conviction is, "that there is no other than mere hearsay evidence or vague conjecture, as to the composer or the time of this anthem, nor any proof that the words or the music of God save the King, as now sung, had been either seen or heard previously to October 1745, when it was published in the Gentleman's Magazine. In the table of contents prefixed to that month's magazine, it is styled, 'God save our Lord the King, a new song.""This is powerful authority, but it has not altogether cured the world of scepticism; and no subject can be worthier of the summer consideration of my Lord Aberdeen and the Antiquarian Society. In addition to this preface, curious little notices of the principal songs are given, and the work, in general, is a capital specimen of musical publication.
The names of the songs are a treasure of loyalty in themselves, the sound of a trumpet to the ear of all lovers of the Catch-club and the constitution. The praises, healths, and prosperities of monarchy, take, as they ought, the first place; and we have, including " God save the King" twice over, a whole succession of kingly melodies, in all the forms of song, glee, catch, and chorus. We have thus, "Long live the King, composed by Handel, in 1745," for the Gentlemen Volunteers of the City of London. The words are true, honest, straightforward allegiance, and such as might bring discomfiture to the heart of any Whig, even in our day of rebellious politics and romantic poetry. Ex. Gr.
"Come, let us drink it while we've breath,
Yet it has competitors, and Dr Blow's renowned catch may rely on immortality, if such can be gained by pithiness of conclusion.
"God preserve his Majesty,
No. 11., written in 1700, has all the merits of the Augustan era. It is true, terse, triumphant, and Toryish.
"Here's a health to the King, who has said from his throne,
"And the Church, fixed by law, is resolved to maintain
"Thus we need not to fear any danger to come,
While our arms rule abroad, and our King reigns at home."
But Harrington's Round distances all the rest. The sentiment is as old as the days of Alfred, and the phraseology was probably copied from the Runic. It is the true sublime.
"A Toast for the Enemies of Old England.
"Cobweb breeches, hedgehog saddles,
And tedious marches, (in æternum.")
The volume must now be left to its triumph, but a parting glance will fall from time to time on some fragment of touching and resistless captivation. What can be more native than the fine naval contempt of the beginning of Fight on, my boys"?
"Ye rakes and ye beaus, that wear the red clothes,
Come fight for your country, and conquer your foes;
So fight on, my boys, we shall beat them," &c.
The close of Jeremy Clarke's (1700) Song on "St George," is worthy of a Greek epigram.
"All the world can't shew the like Saint.
All the sacrifice that we expend,
Is to drink fair, and to deal square,
And to love our friend."
No. 43.-"Come, my lads," should stand beside it in the Anthologia. It was written on a Spanish war.
"Who cares a puff for France and Spain,
They'll soon be hang'd, as cross the main ;
"The Monsieurs want some English beef;
This is incomparably British; at once brave and benevolent, contemptuous and charitable. The idea of first feeding and then killing, could not have occurred to any other than a great nation, equally beef-eating and belligerent ; the spirit of agriculture and ambition could go no farther.
The praise of beef is, however, a subject at once so national and individual, that we are surprised at the editor's moderation, (to give it no more invidious name,) in limiting the glories of the matchless nutriment of British heroism to a single song. That one is, however, an apotheosis-The renowned "Roast Beef of Old England," (Leveridge, 1730.) The words have all the grace of fiction, and all the accuracy of history.
"King Edward the Third, for his courage renown'd,
"The Henrys, so famous in story of old,
The Fifth conquer'd France, and the Seventh, we're told,
"When good Queen Elizabeth sat on the throne,
The fortunate celebrity of the song almost prohibits quotation; and the Laus Kitcheneri must close; yet the " British Grenadiers" " detains the spirit still," and the reader shall have the parting delight of a few couplets from a composition whose mythology and music might have given new ardour to the troops of Leonidas, or reversed the fates of Charonea. It is Greek in the