« AnteriorContinuar »
liberties, and may some day come to the conclusion that the present system is not essential to the preservation of them. But I purposely forbear to consider in what form our deliverance may
Fata viam invenient. It is enough to call attention to the truth, that if party government, which was once extolled by good judges as a useful and excellent device, is now condemned by the same as a source of weakness and mismanagement, it is because the conditions of the problem are altered, and that what answered very well under aristocratic or middle-class control has broken down under a democracy.
T. E. KEBBEL.
Song sweetens toil, however rude the sound,
All at her work the village maiden sings;
ISAAC D'ISRAELI, in his Curiosities of Literature, says, in speaking of the “Songs of Trades, or Songs for the People,' that,
Men of genius have devoted some of their hours, and even governments liave occasionally assisted, to render the people happier by song and dance. The Grecians had songs appropriated to the various trades. Songs of this nature would shorten the manufacturer's tedious task-work, and solace the artisan at his solitary occupation. A beam of gay fancy kindling his mind, a playful change of measures delighting his ear, even a moralising verse to cherish his better feelings, these ingeniously adapted to each profession and some to the display of patriotic characters, and national events, would contribute something to public happiness. Such themes are worthy of a patriotic bard, of the Southeys for their hearts, and the Moores for their verse.
There is scarcely an occupation, certainly none that demands unity of purpose and regularity of attack, that has not, or has not had, its own peculiar kind of song or accompanying chant. The anvil, the loom, the dairy, the field, the wharf, the plantation, ay, and even the collier's dreary world, are each in themselves an incentive to some sort of music, and their labourers in all parts make for themselves, if not a pleasing recreation, at any rate a soothing monotony by crooning, or humming, or chanting, some rhythmical measure.
Athenæus has preserved the Greek names of different songs as sung by various trades, but unfortunately none of the songs themselves. There was one for the corn-grinders, another for wool-workers; another for weavers; the reapers had their carol, the herdsmen a song composed by a Sicilian ox-driver ; the kneaders, the bathers, and the galley-rowers were not without their chant.
It is still the custom in Egypt and in Greece to carry on immense labour by an accompaniment of music and singing; hence the story of Amphion building Thebes with his lyre. In Africa to this day the labourers on the plantations at Yaoorie work to the sound of a drum.
Almost all these old Grecian trade-songs have their counterpart at the present time, in some land, if not universally.
The corn-grinders’ song is imitated on the Russian wharfs where the women sing in chorus as they crush the grain for exportation ; the weavers in Ayrshire, where are still to be found the almost obsolete hand-looms, croon some weird Highland tune as they sit at their work; the reapers in Russia have their wheat chorus and rye chorus, and the haymakers in many countries have special songs of their own. The beautiful chansons de vendange or vineyardsongs of the Champagne district are world-renowned for their harmonious gaiety; these, like the wheat-gatherers' chorus in Russia, are sung in procession; the men and women, each with a basket on their arm, assemble at the foot of a hill, and, stopping there, arrange themselves in a circle; one of them then bursts into a joyous song, the burthen of it is chorused; then they ascend and disperse in the vineyard and work and sing. Now and again new couplets will resound from some of the dressers. In the evening there is a big supper given to them all, followed by dancing and more singing, and then they disperse to their homes, and the last notes of the chansons de vendange die away only as the last jovial dresser closes his cottage door. The herdsmen's songs live to-day in the cantons of Switzerland and on the wide Mexican plains. Lawless Texas provides hog-feeders with a ditty that if not poetic is certainly realistic in tone. The kneaders must have suggested the chant du boulanger of the bread-eating France of to-day, and the galley-rowers have numberless imitators in the Venetian gondoliers, the Nile boatmen, and the Chinese trackers, whose songs have become so much a part of themselves that one never thinks of dissociating them.
Dr. Johnson noted in the Highlands that the strokes of the sickle were timed by the modulation of the harvest song, in which all the labourers' voices were united. They accompany every action which can be done in equal time with an appropriate strain, which has not much meaning, but its effects are regularity and cheerfulness. The Hebridean oar-songs or iorrams are remarkable for their vigour and freshness.
Professor Colin Brown (of Anderson's College, Glasgow), speaking of Gaelic labour-songs, says:
The general character of the songs sung to cheer labour was the absence of everything calculated to work on the feelings and passions. The chorus usually consisted of sounds accordant with the employment, and rendered significant and connected by a meaning line or catch-word; and the verses, though frequently arrayed in pleasing imagery, aimed only at calling up in the minds of the singers thoughts and scenes associated with the tender, attractive, or lofty and pleasing clan-traditions.
. . Impassioned thought and deep feeling were considered inappropriate. Professor Brown's remarks are peculiarly applicable to the nursery and dairy songs, or songs of the shielings, at one time so popular
in the Highlands of Scotland. There is nothing which betrays either much of passion or much of deep feeling in them; indeed, I think the spirit that pervades the dairy songs is decidedly one of coquetry.
It was customary at one period for the dairymaids and their folds to spend some months in summer and autumn amongst the hills, where the pasture was richest. Their pilgrimage was called
Dol air Airidle,' and the cottage they lived in ‘Bothan an Airidle.' The young women greatly enjoyed it, and the young men also, whose steps of an evening often led them up the hills. The effect of these milking songs amongst the mountains was very beautiful. I have yet in my mind's eye the picture of a Highland cow, standing out against the sky on a knoll-top in all the stateliness of her beauty, her wavy hair clothing her sides, and her majestic horns towering towards the heavens. There she stood, calmly and peacefully chewing her cud, and yielding her milk to the sweet maiden at her side, evidently enjoying that song which filled the air with melody, and whose rhythm breathed in time with the action of the soft and kindly milking. I believe the • Cows of Colin' is also one that ought to be included in these Songs of the Shielings.
CA MI GLIRIS-FHIONN (I SEE THE ROAN ONE).
Fonn (or Gaelic chorus).
Gaelic. let Verse.
Another milking song is :-
Turn the kine, Duncan,
Turn the white-ridged black cows,
Till an crodle drimean duble,
Odhar duble ceannean duble, Brown hair is almost always looked upon in Gaelic poetry as a type of all that is most beautiful, so one can readily imagine the enthusiasm of the chorus-namely, the dairymaids' swains, when singing this:
BHANARACH DHOMI A (BROWN-IAIRED DAIRYMAID).
Oh! sweeter thy music,
Charmed by their pathos.