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to be invested with this dignity but those of illustrious families. Their songs were chiefly designed to transmit to pofterity the national history and memorable acts of their own time. Those which were deemed moft authentic were preserved in the custody of the kings antiquary; and many of them are cited by Keating as the materials of his Irish history. We are told that St. Patrick, when he converted this kingdom to Christianity, out of a burning zeal for the religion he came to inculcate, destroyed no less than three hundred volumes of ancient Pagan fongs (108). It is to be hoped that the doctrine he taught would atone for the mischief it occafioned.
These bards had, at one time, increased so much, and grown so insolent and formidable, that it was, in a folemn convention of the states, resolved to banish them irto-SCOTLAND!--The severity of this sentence struck such a terror into our unruly musicians as quickly brought them to their senses: they implored pardon, and, upon a promise of amendment, were suffered to disperse theirselves up and down the kingdom. This was in the sixth century. At some later period we find them again become troublesome, and their number lessened and regulated. Every chief had one bard allowed him to record the atchievements of his family, and independence and a competent revenue were still preserved them. This regulation was the standard for succeeding ages (109). In the time of the poet Spenser, however, they had fallen into their former irregularities, and were a most abandoned, corrupt, and desperate set of men ; “ the abet“ tors of thieving and robbery,” and, indeed, of every other crime. The account he has given us of them is equally curious and minute.
Although the profession is, at present, supposed to be nearly extinct, yet the original of a very favourite English Bacchanalian song is ascribed to an itinerant harper, who seems, from the description we have of him (110), to be a genuine representative of the ancient bard.
But (108) Keating. Brown.
(109) lidem. (110) They (i.e. the Irish) talk of a wonderful master they had * of late, called Carolan, who, like Homer, was blind, and, like
But independent of this fpecies of poets, the modern Irish possess many beautiful and tender songs. One of them, beginning (in its English dress)
Bless'd were the days when in the lonely shade, seems to have uncommon elegance and merit as a pastoral love song. Another, translated, or imitated by George Ogle, esquire, member of parliament for the county of Wexford, is well known by the title of Grammachree Molly. Its only fault is rather too much fimplicity. The tune of this piece, however, appears to be Scotish (111). But there is a peculiar spirit and affecting pathos in many of the native Irish melodies which may almoft rival, the most admired airs of Caledonia.
“ him, went about finging and playing his rhapsodies. His poetry
was in Irish, and not much praised, but his music is celebrated. « From an early disappointment in love he is said to have attuned his “ harp to the elegiac strain. I have heard one of these compostions “ played, and to me the sounds were as expreflive of such a fituation of « mind, as the words of a love-lick elegy. The history of one of “ his famous compofitions called Tiarna Mayı —which was fomewhat “ in the dirge ftile, is said to be this: the musician had offended lord “ Mayo by some witry sarcasms, of which he is reported to have “ been very liberal, and was forbid his house. After some time he' “ prevailed to be heard, and he sang this palinode in concert with « his harp at dinner, with which, Orpheus-like, he so charmed « the powers of resentment, that he was presently restored to his “ lordships favour. I have heard divers others of his tunes called “ Planxties, which are in the convivial strain, and evidently calcu“ lated to inspire good humour, and heighten the jollity of the festive “ hour. They go by the names of those gentlemen, for whose enter.. “ tainments they were composed, as Planxty-Connor, Planxty-Johns“ ton, Planxty-Jones, &c. The last of these has been dignified by “ better words than those of the bard, by mr. Dawson, late baron of “ the Exchequer, and is now called Bumf er Squire Jones
. They tell “ me, that in his latter days he never composed without the inspira« tion of whiskey, of which, at that critical hour, he always took “ care to have a bottle behide him. His ear was so exquisite, and his “ memory so tenacious, that he has been known to play off, at first “ hearing, some of the most difficult pieces of Italian music, to the “ astonishment of Geminiani.” CAMPBELLS PHILOSOPHICAL SURVEY OF THE SOUTH OF IRELAND, p. 450.
(111) i. e. “ Will you go to Flanders, my Mally 0." It is, ne. vertheless, wished that the musical antiquaries of either country would make a more particular enquiry into this matter,
$ 7. Having
$7. Having taken this cursory view of the melody and song of the Celtic nations, we shall now turn back to enquire into their existence among the Teutones or Goths, from whom we are to consider ourselves as mediately descended (112). The Germans, supposed to be a branch of these people, in their old ballads, which with them anfwered the purpose of registers and history, celebrated Tui to, a God sprung from the earth, and his son Mannius, as the fathers and founders of their nation. They had a tradition that Hercules had been in their country, and this hero, above all others, they extoled as they advanced to battle. They possessed another species of song, the singing of which (by them called Barditum) inspired courage, and predicted the fortune of the approaching fight (113).
The originals of all ancient nations are loft in darkness or obicurity : it cannot, therefor, be expected that
(112) The pedigree of the Fins and Lapianders is not yet ascertained. The latter nation, in a state rather of savage refinement than of nature, has cultivated song with success. When the amourous Laplander is Aying to visit his mistress, he beguiles the length and drearyness of the journey, and encourages his rein-deer, by a song in her praise. Two beautiful specimens are preserved by Schoeffer, both of which have been (and one of them with remarkable elegance), translated into English, and are inserted in the first part of the present collection. The Greenlanders, likewise, have their songs ; so have - the Russians; and if travelers can find song in vogue among the samoiedes, they need hardly deipair of success in a similar research among the wolves and bears of the Siberian deserts.
(113) Tacitus, De mori. Germa. Of the poetical genius and history of the more modern Germans little can be collected. It appears, however, that the Gay Science while it flourished in other countrius was not neglected in theirs. A most curious manuscript has been lately discovered,containing the compositions of a hundred and forty German troubadours of the twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth centuries. The emperor Henry VI. a king of Bohemia, several princes, electors, dukes, margraves, bishops, &c. are among the number. This invaluable curiosity is embellished with paintings of the various martial and civil employments and diversions of those ages. We cannot doubt, therefor, that a taste for Song has always prevailed in this and the adjacent countries, though we have no particular information on the subject. “In Hun“ garie,” says fir Philip Sidney, “I have seene it the manner ai all “ feastes and other fuch like meetings, to have songs of their ancestors 66 valure, which that right souldierlike nation, thinke one of the chief. « eft kindlers of braue courage.”
one should be able to point out with certainty whence or at what time the Goths first came into Europe. That they were a distinct people from the Celtæ is a fact not to be controverted: and that Scythia was their mother country is, at least, probable. The event of the war carried on by Pompey against Mithridates king of Pontus obliged the Scythians to leave their country in great numbers ; of these, Odin or Woden, a valiant and powerful chief, whose true name was Sigge, is thought to have led large bands into the ancient Scandinavia and other parts occupied by the Teutones and Cimbri, the pofterity of former emigrants. Odin was a warrior, a legislator, and a God. We shall shortly have occasion to speak of him again, let us, in the mean time, pursue our subject.
The Scalds (polishers) or poets of Iceland, the university of the North, are as famous for their skill in poetry and long as the Celtic bards. They resided in the courts of kings and princes, whom it was part of their office to accompany to battle, in order to be eye-witnesses of the actions they were to celebrate and record, and which they afterwards sung at great and folemn entertainments. They animated the soldiers to fight, and extoled the chieftains who signalized their courage or fell in
Not only the particular exploits, but sometimes the whole lives of their kings and heroes were thus recited. These songs, which, being communicated from one to another, were every where publicly chanted, are by the ancient and modern writers of the North (114), resorted and referred to as authorities for the earlyer periods of their history. Great numbers of these compositions are extant in print or preserved in manuscript. The poetic art was not, however, entirely confined to the Scalds ; persons of the highest rank cultivated this agreeable science. It is even supposed to have been introduced by Odin, who pretended to have ceived it from the Gods, and boasted that it could produce hiin the most wonderful and miraculous effects. “ I am poflessed of Songs,” says he : “ such as neither
(114) Saxo, Torfæus, &c.
“ the spouse of a king, nor any son of man can repeat; “ one of them is called the Helper: it will help thee “s at thy need, in sickness, grief, and all adversities. I “ know a Song, which the sons of men ought to fing, if “ they would become skilful physicians. I know a
Song, by which I soften and enchant the arms of my “ enemies; and render their weapons of none effe&t. I s know a Song, which I need only to sing when men have s loaded me with bonds; for the moment I sing it, my “ chains fall in pieces, and I walk forth at liberty. I “ know a Song, useful to all mankind; for as soon as “ hatred inflames the sons of men, the moment I sing it “ they are appeased. I know a Song, of such virtue, “ that were I caught in a storm, I can hush the winds, “ and render the air perfectly calm (115).” He likewise knew a Song, by which, with the asistance of his Runic characters, he could compell the dead to rise and converse with him. An adventure of this sort is related of him in a very ancient ode, beautifully translated by mr. Gray. The Scalds were believed to possess the same power.
Regner Lodbrog was a great prince, poet, and pirate, in the ninth century. He invaded the dominions of Ella king of Northumberland, who took him prisoner, and caused him to be thrown into a deep dungeon, where he was killed by serpents. In the midft of his tortures he composed his Death-Song, which is still extant, and has frequently appeared in English (116). It is conjectured, however, that but a few stanzas were the actual composition of Regner, and that the rest were added by his attendant Scald, whose duty it was to celebrate the death and heroism of his lord. There is a love-song by Harald the Valiant, a famous adventurer of the eleventh age, in which, reciting his extraordinary accomplishments, and feats in arms, he complains that they were not able to make any impression on the heart of a Rullian princess. Examples of this nature are numerous. Many
(115) Northern Antiquities, II. 217.
(116) See the Five pieces of Runic poetry; the Northern Antiquities; Wartons poems, 1748 ; and a quarto pamphlet, by one Downman, 1781.