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On the other hand, some things will be found here that might not have been anticipated. A few plays with nothing else in them worth preservation have supplied an excellent song; and others that had long been consigned to oblivion by their dulness or depravity, have unexpectedly thrown up an occasional stanza of permanent value.

The superiority in all qualities of sweetness, thoughtfulness, and purity of the writers of the sixteenth and the beginning of the seventeenth century over their successors is strikingly exhibited in these productions. The dramatic songs of the age of Elizabeth and James I. are distinguished as much by their delicacy and chastity of feeling, as by their vigour and beauty. The change that took place under Charles II. was sudden and complete. With the Restoration, love disappears, and sensuousness takes its place. Voluptuous without taste or sentiment, the songs of that period may be said to dissect in broad daylight the life of the town, laying bare with revolting shamelessness the tissues of its most secret vices. But as this species of morbid anatomy required some variation to relieve its sameness, the song sometimes transported the libertinism into the country, and through the medium of a sort of Covent-garden pastoral exhibited the fashionable delinquencies in a masquerade of Strephons and Chlorises, no better than the Courtalls and Loveits of the comedies. The costume of innocence gave increased zest to the dissolute wit, and the audiences seem to

have been delighted with the representation of their own licentiousness in the transparent disguise of verdant images, and the affectation of rural simplicity. It helped them to a spurious ideal, which rarely, however, lasted out to the end of the verse. The subsequent decline of the drama is sensibly felt in the degeneracy of its lyrics. The interval, from the end of the seventeenth century to the close of the eighteenth, presents a multitude of songs, chiefly, however, in operas which do not come strictly within the plan of this volume; but, with a few solitary exceptions, they are trivial, monotonous, and conventional. The brilliant genius of Sheridan alone shines out with conspicuous lustre, and terminates the series with a gaiety and freshness that may be regarded as a revival of the spirit with which it opens.

R. B.

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