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degrees more amenable to the laws of harmony and counter-point.

While profiting, however, by the improvements of the moderns, our style still keeps its original character sacred from their refinements; and though Carolan, it appears, had frequent opportunities of hearing the works of Geminiani and other great masters, we but rarely find him sacrificing his native simplicity to any ambition of their ornaments, or affectation of their science. In that curious composition, indeed, called his Concerto, it is evident that he laboured to imitate Corelli; and this union of manners, so very dissimilar, produces the same kind of uneasy sensation which is felt at a mixture of different styles of architecture. In general, however, the artless flow of our music has preserved itself free from all tinge of foreign innovation ; * and the chief corruptions of


strong traits of difference between their melodies and ours. They had formerly the same passion for robbing us of our Saints, and the learned Dempster was for this offence called “The Saint Stealer.” It must have been some Irishman, I suppose, who by way of reprisal, stole Dempster's beautiful wife from him at Pisa. - See this anecdote in the Pinacotheca of Erythræus, part i.

page 25.

* Among other false refinements of the art, our music (with the exception perhaps of the air called “Mamma, Mamma," and one or two more of the same ludicrous description,) has avoided that puerile mimicry of natural noises, motions, etc. which disgraces so often the works of even Handel himself. D'Alembert ought to have had better taste than to become the patron of this imitative affectation. – Discours Préliminaire de l'Encyclopédie. The reader may find some good remarks on the subject in Avison

" *

which we have to complain arise from the unskilful performance of our own itinerant musicians, from whom, too frequently, the airs are noted down, encumbered by their tasteless decorations, and responsible for all their ignorant anomalies. Though it be sometimes impossible to trace the original strain, yet, in most of them, “auri per ramos aura refulget," the pure gold of the melody shines through the ungraceful foliage which surrounds it, — and the most delicate and difficult duty of a compiler is to endeavour, by retrenching these inelegant superfluities, and collating the various methods of playing or singing each air, to restore the regularity of its form, and the chaste simplicity of its character.

I must again observe, that in doubting the antiquity of our music, my scepticism extends but to those polished specimens of the art, which it is difficult to conceive anterior to the dawn of modern improvement; and that I would by no means invalidate the claims of Ireland to as early a rank in the annals of minstrelsy, as the most zealous antiquary may be inclined to allow her. In addition, indeed, to the power which music must always have possessed over the minds of a people so ardent and susceptible, the stimulus of persecution was not wanting to quicken our taste into enthusiasm ; the charms of song were ennobled with the glories of martyrdom,

upon Musical Expression; a work which, though under the name of Avison, was written, it is said, by Dr. Brown. Virgil, Æneid, lib. vi. verse 204.


and the acts against minstrels, in the reigns of Henry VIII. and Elizabeth, were as successful, I doubt not, in making my countrymen musicians, as the penal laws have been in keeping them Catholics.

With respect to the verses which I have written for these Melodies, as they are intended rather to be sung than read, I can answer for their sound with somewhat more confidence than for their sense. Yet it would be affectation to deny that I have given much attention to the task, and that it is not through any want of zeal or industry, if I unfortunately disgrace the sweet airs of my country, by poetry altogether unworthy of their taste, their energy, and their tenderness.

Though the humble nature of my contributions to this work may exempt them from the rigours of literary criticism, it was not to be expected that those touches of political feeling, those tones of national complaint, in which the poetry sometimes sympathizes with the music, would be suffered to pass without censure or alarm. It has been accordingly said, that the tendency of this publication is mischievous,* and that I have chosen these airs but as a vehicle of dangerous politics, - as fair and precious vessels (to borrow an image of St. Augustint),


See Letters, under the signatures of Timæus, etc. in the Morning Post, Pilot, and other papers.

† “Non accuso verba, quasi vasa electa atque pretiosa; sed vinum erroris quod cum eis nobis propinatur.” — Lib. i. Confess, chap. xvi.

who see,


from which the wine of error might be administered. To those who identify nationality with treason, and


effort for Ireland, a system of hostility towards England, — to those, too, who, nursed in the gloom of prejudice, are alarmed by the faintest gleam of liberality that threatens to disturb their darkness, — like that Demophon of old, who, when the sun shone upon him, shivered, *.

- to such men I shall not condescend to offer an apology for the too great warmth of any political sentiment which may occur in the course of these pages. But as there are many, among the more wise and tolerant, who, with feeling enough to mourn over the wrongs of their country, and sense enough to perceive all the danger of not redressing them, may yet be of opinion that allusions, in the least degree inflammatory, should be avoided in a publication of this popular description - I beg of these respected persons to believe, that there is no one who more sincerely deprecates than I do, any appeal to the passions of an ignorant and angry multitude; but that it is not through that gross and inflammable region of society, a work of this nature could ever have been intended to circulate. It looks much higher for its audience and readers, it is found upon the piano-fortes of the rich and the educated, of those who can afford to have their national zeal a little stimulated, without exciting

This emblem of modern bigots was head-butler ( 7 PATESOTTOLOS) to Alexander the Great. — Sext. Empir. Pyrrh. Hypoth. Lib. i.

much dread of the excesses into which it may hurry them ; and of many whose nerves may be, now and

l then, alarmed with advantage, as much more is to be gained by their fears, than could ever be expected from their justice.

Having thus adverted to the principal objection, which has been hitherto made to the poetical part of this work, allow me to add a few words in defence of my ingenious coadjutor, Sir John Stevenson, who has been accused of having spoiled the simplicity of the airs by the chromatic richness of his symphonies, and the elaborate variety of his harmonies. We might cite the example of the admirable Haydn, who has sported through all the mazes of musical science, in his arrangement of the simplest Scottish melodies; but it appears to me, that Sir John Stevenson has brought to this task an innate and national feeling, which it would be vain to expect from a foreigner, however tasteful or judicious. Through many of his own compositions we trace a vein of Irish sentiment, which points him out as peculiarly suited to catch the spirit of his country's music; and, far from agreeing with those fastidious critics who think that his symphonies have nothing kindred with the airs which they introduce, I would say that, on the contrary, they resemble, in general, those illuminated initials of old manuscripts, which are of the same character with the writing which follows, though more highly coloured and more curiously ornamented.

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