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no word that could be omitted without injury to the music or the meaning; and should avoid the jar of inharmonious consonants, which in the English language are so difficult to sing. Every stanza should be the very twin and counterpart of the other, as regards the rhythm; and the whole composition, whether sprightly, tender, patriotic, convivial, or melancholy, should be short and terse, and end with the natural climax of the sentiment. A ballad, while it should be as perfect as regards the rhythm, is allowed more license, and may extend to any length consistent with the interest of the story told in it, or the power of voice in the singer. Some writers and critics have confined the legitimate topics of song to the expression of amatory, convivial, or patriotic sentiment. This, however, is an undue limitation, for not only love and patriotism, and the less laudable feelings inspired by the Bacchanalian frenzy, but joy, hope, tenderness, gratitude, cheerfulness, melancholy, and even grief, are the proper themes of song. Their expression by musical cadences is as natural to men in all ages and climates as speech itself. All high emotion is rhythmical. Wherever there is life or hope, joy or sorrow, there are the materials of songs; and the youthful, more especially, give vent to their feelings in this natural music, as we may suppose the birds give vent to theirs, finding in the expression its own reward. The tender passion in all ages and in all languages has ever been the most prolific source of songs. The hope and fear-the joy and sorrow—the quarrels and reconciliation—the guilt and remorse—and even the hatred of lovers, have all found expression in these popular compositions; and, while there are young hearts to feel, and old ones to be interested in that passion, it is to be anticipated that songs will continue to be made and to be sung in celebration of the triumphs of love. No progress of philosophy or refinement will root from the heart that feeling which the American philosopher, Emerson, calls the “divine rage and enthusiasm, which seizes on man at one period, and works a revolution in his mind and body, unites him to his race, pledges him to the domestic and civic relations, carries him with new sympathy into Nature, enhances the power of the senses, opens the imagination, adds to his character heroic and sacred attributes, establishes, marriage, and gives permanence to human society”
“ All mankind," says the same deep thinker in another por: tion of his delightful Essay, "love a lover. Though the celestial
. rapture falling out of heaven seizes only upon those of tender age ; and although we can seldom see after thirty years a beauty overpowering all analysis or comparison and putting us quite beside ourselves, yet the remembrance of these visions outlasts all other remembrance, and is a wreath of flowers on the oldest brows. No man ever forgot the visitation of that power to his heart and brain which created all things new—which was the dawn in him of music, poetry, aud art— which made the face of Nature radiant with purple light, the morning and the night, varied enchantments."
Love is the fine spirit of song, and in all its Protean shapes gives music to expression.
English literature contains no amatory songs of any merit, with the exception of a few which we owe to the genius of those unfortunate friends, the Earl of Surrey and Sir Thomas Wyatt, of a date anterior to that golden age which produced a Shakspeare. Whatever songs of the kind may have been sung by the people have perished, or only exist in rude snatches and fragments, which Shakspeare himself, and some of his contemporaries, have pre. served. The amatory songs, or the songs of the affections, produced at that time, or such of them as have been handed down to us, are rather the productions of the learning and the fancy of scholars, than the simple and passionate effusions of lovers. There is an air of elegance about them highly pleasing to the refined taste; a finish and a grace, and an epigrammatic brilliancy which never fail to captivate; but heart is wanting. In the age which succeeded that of Shakspeare, the merit of the popular love songs became still less, and heart may be said to have disappeared from them altogether, or to have been but faintly discernible amid & mass of scholarly conceits and learned prettinesses. The public taste was vitiated, and at last became satisfied with mock sentiment, and pagan allusion. No lover considered himself a true devotee at the shrine of beauty without appealing to Cupid or to Venus, and interlarding his speech with thoughts and expressions - scarcely fitting in a Greek or a Roman-but utterly unsuited to the realities of passion in a land and among a people that were not heathen. Towards the end of the seventeenth century, an attempt to discard the ancient mythology was made by the best writers. It succeeded partially, but it was only to introduce a new style as objectionable as the old. Love played at masquerade, and bedizened itself in the costume of a stage shepherd. It was at this time that the loves of all the Chloes and Strephons came into fashion.
The famous song attributed sometimes to Pope, and sometimes to Swift, but most probably the composition of the former, and asserted to be written by a Lady of Quality,” happily ridiculed this class of songs, and those which had preceded them:
"Fluttering spread thy purple pinions,
Gentle Cupid, o'er my heart,
Nature must give way to art.
Nightly nodding o'er your flocks,
All beneath yon flowery rocks.
Melancholy smooth Meander,
Swiftly purling in a round,
With thy flowery chaplets crown'd.
Softly seeks her silent mate,
Melody resigns to Fate."
When English song writing was at its lowest ebb; when coarse and brutal Bacchanalian rhapsodies were sung at the table; when women's charms (her virtues were scarcely mentioned) were either portrayed in the silly masquerade of the writers of pastorals, or in the more natural, but less respectful, lyrical effusions of the wits and men about town, Captain Charles Morris, of the Life Guards, gallantly endeavoured to give a better tone to this department of literature. To use his own language, “he set his face against the lyrical scribblers of the eighteenth century, who, odious to relate, allowed not woman her true place in the heart, and placed her, in all their songs of glee and gladness, invariably below the bottle. She was held out in terrorem to all happiness and joy, and to fly from her was the burthen of every song.” He, on the contrary, wrote “to discipline anew the social bands of convivial life, to blend the sympathies of fellow hearts, and wreathe a sweeter and gayer garland for the brow of festivity from the divine plants of concord, gratitude, friendship, and love." His genius, however, was not equal to his good intentions, and of the many hundred songs which he wrote, not one is worth remembering, except as a slight improvement upon the verses of Pope's " Lady of Quality," --that mythological person who is supposed to have been the parent of all the love songs of the eighteenth century.
The return to the simplicity of nature, as the only source of poetic beauty, which signalized the revival of English literature at the commencement of the present century, had of course an effect upon the public taste as regarded songs; and a song writer appeared whose fame eclipsed that of all other competitors, Thomas Moore,
, whose Irish Melodies are Irish by their music, and by their nationality of sentiment, is, nevertheless, the best writer of English songs whom our literature has produced. He may be claimed for England, as well as for the country of his birth ;-and the example of heart, united with intellect, of vigour combined with elegance, and of philosophy with fancy, which he set to his contemporary writers of verse, will long exercise a genial influence upon the literature of song.
While English songs that are written to be read have gradually attained the highest beauty, English songs intended to be sung have not reached the same perfection. In this respect the fault lies with the musical composers, who seem to love the “ Lady of Quality' and her smooth“ ponsense verses" far better than they love poetry, and to fail in adapting to music the higher flights of fancy or imagination, and the tenderer bursts of natural feeling. Without their aid the song writer cannot win his way to the popular heart; and poets, disgusted with musicians, will neglect this fascinating branch of the poetic art, and direct the energies of their minds to more elaborate composition.
MY SWEET SWEETING,
Ah my sweet sweeting;
My little pretty sweeting,
She is so proper and pure,
As my sweet sweeting.
In all this world, as thinketh me,
As my sweet sweeting. 1 This is a small oblong paper volume—known to be of this early date by the badges on the binding, and the names on the fly leaf. It passed through the hands of Thomas Mulliner, Thomas Heywood, and Churchyard the poet. It was in the library of Sir John Hawkins, the musical historian, and afterwards in that of J. S. Smith, the author of "Musica Antiqua," and is now in the possession of Dr. Rimbault.