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a tak, perhaps, unneceffary, certainly, impossible. The reader, not better informed, must, therefor, remain satisfied with this general affertion: That there is no reason to conclude any of them much older than the latter part of the reign of queen Elizabeth, nor any more modern than the time of king Charles the first.
A TUNE is so effentially requisite to perfect the idea which is, in strictness and propriety, annexed to the term song, in its most extensive sense, that every compilation of this nature which does not, together with the words or poetical part of the songs, likewise include their respective melodies or tunes, in the character appropriated to the expression of musical language, must necessarily be defective and incomplete. That this character is not familiar or intelligible to the general eye can be no objection. It is, indeed, much to be lamented that it is not rendered more fo, by becoming an eftablished branch of education. There are, however, many to whom the perusal of music is not more difficult, or less delightful, than the reading of poetry: and few, very few, are so unfortunate as to be incapable of perceiving the force and beauty of the language conveyed by these technical characters, when communicated to the ear.
Most people can either fing, whistle or hum some favourite air; and is not that ignorance to be lamented which does not permit them to read and write what they can thus utter! No apology is, therefor, necessary for the most useful and effential appendix subjoined to the present volumes, even to those who do not understand it; because they may easily receive the full benefit of it from those who do; and the latter will, it is imagined, be too sensible of its use and value to require one. Every reader, at all acquainted with the nature of this part of the undertaking, must be sufficiently aware of the pains necessarily used to amass such an unexampled number of original and authentic tunes; many of which are the production of the most eminent characters of the musical world, and display the sublimelt efforts of genius. Readers of this description will,
likewise, have the candour to make every proper allowance for whatever defects may be discovered in the mu. fical part of the work. The difficulties to be surmounted in the compilation were great: many of the old melodies (especially those of the ancient ballads) are, it is to be feared, irrecoverably loft; and, of later compositions, some have never been sent to the press, and others, which have, are not now to be obtained but by mere accident. This excuse is, however, somewhat more extensive than the nature and circumstances of the case seem to demand; as, it is believed, much fewer and less confiderable omissions will occur than could reasonably have been expected. There are not many preceding publications which have made this their object; and a competition from these is not at all dreaded.
To such fair readers as may complain of the want of a bass part for their harpsichords, the editor will beg permission to say, that, had it been practicable, however inconsistent with the design of the work, so earneft was his desire to render it of the utmost service to them, he would have thought no trouble too great in procuring their gratification in this particular. But they will be pleased to remember, that most of the old melodies are without any accompaniment; that to others the bass has been added by different and inferior composers (a liberty which may still be taken for the accommodation of those who require it); and that the sole object of this compilation was the voice and song, to which the bass would have been of no service. For a similar reason, no regard has been paid to any fymphony or harmony, or to the compass of any particular inttrument.
It may not be impertinent to take notice, that several of the moít eminent musical composers have frequently indulged theirselves in great and unwarrantable liberries with the poetry they have set: among these, none has offended more than the late dr. Arne, whose own profellional excellence might have better taught him the respect due to that of another, and mr. Jackson of Exeter, who has even gone so far as to prefix to one of his pub,
lications a formal defence of the freedoms he has exer, cised
upon the unfortunate bards who have fallen into his clutches : it is well known, however, that this ingenious gentleman has increased neither his moral nor his scientific character by such reprehenfible and illiberal practices. Whereever a restoration of the original words could be effected without injuring, or creating any material variation in the music, they have been, uniformly, replaced; but, as this could not be always done, the reader will not be surprised at, sometimes, finding a few. words in the musical, different from those in the poetical part of the collection. On all occasions, however, where the alterations were violent and injudicious, the tune was totally omitted ; and this, perhaps, would have been the method observed with all those musical compositions in which the authors vanity has led him to attempt improvements upon the most finished performances of real poets, had not the superior excellence of the melody pleaded too forcibly for their retention.
The types here made use of presented the only mode of printing the music which could be adopted. The reader may be surprised to learn that, in this great kingdom, where all arts and sciences are supposed to flourish in their highest perfection, there is not; perhaps, above one printer possessed of a sufficient quantity of these useful characters, and that of no other size. They who are acquainted with the degree of elegance to which this and every other branch of the typographical art are arrived upon the continent, or have even looked into that most beautiful specimen of it, the ANTHOLOGIE FRANÇOISE, will have sufficient reason to condemn that purblind and selfish policy which can restrain and prevent all emulation in science in favour of a private monopoly.
Impelled by no lucrative or unworthy motives, the publisher of the present volumes has been solely careful to do justice to the work ; a purpose, to effect which neither labour nor expence has been spared. And he is vain enough to fatter hisself that the public will have
now in their poffeffion, what has been so long wanted, so much defired, fo frequently attempted, and hitherto, he thinks, fo imperfe&tly executed, A NATIONAL REPOSITORY OF MELODY AND SONG. The intrinsic value of the work, in both respects, will be left to pronounce its own eulogium. The editor is, indeed, answerable for what may be deemed injudiciously preserved, or unjustly discarded. But, whatever may be the defects of any of the poetical or musical compofitions he has inserted, he can safely aver that not a single performance of either kind was wilfully rejected without the most deliberate confideration. And, though he is conscious of having exerted his utmost endeavours to recover every song and melody of merit, he will not be forward to affirm that those endeavours have, in every instance, been crowned with success. Some few compositions there may undoubtedly be (for it is scarcely possible there should be many) which have eluded his researches, and with which he must be contented to refer his acquaintance to time, accident, more extensive enquiry, or liberal communication. The collection, as it is, will, it is hoped, be found infinitely superior, in every respect, to any publication of the like nature which has been yet offered to the public, to whose justice and candour it is resigned with pleasure; in a full confidence, that they will not think either that it is unworthy of their acceptance, or that too much has been here urged in its praise.
ORIGIN AND PROGRESS
§ 1. Since
ONG, in its most general acceptation, is de
fined to be the expression of a fertiment, sensation or image, the description of an action, or the narrative of an event, by words differently measured, and attached to certain sounds, which we call melody or tune (1).
All writers agree that Song is the most ancient species of poetry. Its origin is even thought to be coeval with mankind (2): to fing and dance seeming almost as natural to men as the use of speech and walking. Hence we find the dance and the song whercover we find fociety; in the least polished, or most favage nations (3). It is assumed as a fact by a very learned and ingenious writer of our own country, that the manners of a rude
(1) The inhabitants of most countries have different clafles or orders of Songs, to which they generally adapt particular names. With us, fongs of sentiment, expreilion, or even description, are properly termed songs, in contradiflinction to mere narrative compofitions, which we now denominate BALLADS. A similar idea is adopted by the Spaniards : and, in France, every division almost of which the subject is capable fias an appellation peculiar to it.
(2) Burneys History of Music, I. 311.
(3) M. M. de Querlon, Memoire sur La Chanson. (Antho, Fran.) VOL. II.