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dison pleasantly observes, gave the Whigs (to whom honeft Tom was a sworn foe, till he lived to see them get into power) a blow they were never able to recover during that reign; was a very good musician, and porsessed an excellent voice; with which he had frequently the high honour to entertain his majesty at Newmarket and elfewhere; the good-natured monarch familiarly condescending to hold the paper, and accompany his 'artful strains, or beat the time by gentle taps upon
his Ahoulder (146).
The fort time of the misguided and unfortunate James might pass unnoticed. We only discover, in the party fongs of this period, the most rancourous hatred displayed in the grosseft fcurrility. But what an aftonishing effect these vulgar and despicable rhapsodies had upon the temper of the times, we may, in some meafure conjecture from the brags of that unprincipled chafacter, lord (afterwards marquis of) Wharton, who was wont to boast that, by the most foolish of them all (147), he had rimed the king out of his dominions. James was not insensible to the
and wit; he had conceived a great friendship for Wycherly, on whom he bestowed
favours. We mention this poet as a song-writer ; but all his performances, as such, however well adapted they might be to the licentious manners and too luxuriant wit of his age, are now deservedly neglected.
The Revolution, one may be certain, did not take place without giving rise to numbers of songs and ballads both for and against that important event. But all of them are too strongly tinctured with the venom of party, to retain the least appearance of merit.
The prince who obtained possession of the vacant throne was too much of the phlegmatic Dutchman to be fenfible of the merit, or susceptible of the power of
(146) The king understood music fufficiently to fing the tenor part of an easy fong. He would sometimes fing with mr. Gosling, one of the gentlemen of his chapel, who was matter of a fine voice; the duke of York accompanying them on the guitar. Hawkins, IV. 359. (147) Lilliburlero. See Percy. II. 367.
poetry, music, or song. Even the harp of Orpheus would have made no impression upon him. Her majesty, however, as we learn from a curious anecdote, had not sacrificed to a throne her infantine relish for the homely English ballad (148).
Prior is the firlt poet of eminence we meet with after this period. His songs are numerous ; most of them are spirited, ingenious, and witty ; a few are tender, sentimental and pathetic; all excellent of their kind. Lansdown, a writer of name, has left us some indifferent fongs. Congreve, gay, spritely, and licentious, too frequently suffered his wit to surprise his judgement. T'he little piece, however, beginning
False though she be to me and love, is no unpleasing proof of what he was capable of. The songs of Rowe, on the contrary, are all loft, tender and plaintive. The consequence is, that his De(pairing Shepherd will be admired when Buxom Joan is entirely forgotten.
With Steel, who has left such a favorable specimen of his talents for two different kinds of song, the tender and the lively, as to make us regret they were not more exerted, we may commence the reign of queen Ann.
(148) “ The queen having a mind one afternoon to be entertained * with music, sent to mr. Goftling, then one of the chapel, and af“ terwards subdean of St. Pauls, to Henry Purcell and mrs. Arabella " Hunt, who had a very fine voice, and an admirable hand on the “ lute, with a request to attend her; they obeyed her commands;
mr, Goftling and mrs. Hunt sung several compositions of Purcell, “ who accompanied them on the harpsichord ; at length the queen be“ ginning to grow tired, asked mrs. Hunt if he could not sing the
old Scots ballad · Cold and Raw', mrs. Hunt answered yes, and " sung it to her lute. Purcell was all the while ficting at the harpli“ chord unemployed, and not a little nettled at the queen's preference “ of a vulgar bailad to his music; but seeing her majesty delighted « with this tune, he determined that she should hear it upon another « occasion; and accordingly in the next birth-day song, viz, that for “ the year 1692, he composed an air to the words, May her bright “ example chace vice in troops out of the land,' the bass whereof is « the tune to Cold and Raw; it is printed in the second part of the “ Orpheus Britannicus, and is note for note the same with the Scots “ tune," Hawkins, IV. 6,
Philipses happy version of Sappho is deservedly esteemed a considerable acquisition to English fong. The name of Addison will do the subject more credit than the two pieces to which it could with certainty be prefixed may be thought to do him. The first of them, however, is in the true spirit of Rochester, and has abundant merit. And there is some reason to suspect that many of his best fongs have been usually printed either under a different name, or without any name at all. Tickell has united the tenderelt sentiments with the most interesting narrative: Colin and Lucy is unrivaled. Of the few songs of Parnell, though none of them seems to be remarkable for that peculiar sweetness which distinguishes his more serious compositions, the little pastoral in the present volume has been always admired. Hill, without his affectation and love of conceit, would have been, if not a poet, a song-writer of eminence. He is one of those writers whom we can hardly praise, and must be loth to condemn. Byroms beautiful and celebrated pastoral song of Colin and Phæbe was the production of this æra. Of this species of song simplicity is the principal requisite, but even fimplicity may be affected, excessive and puerile, and such has, not, perhaps, without reason, been pronounced the fault of this popular performance; though much may, doubtless, be alledged in extenuation of it, from the nature of his subject and the practice of greater writers.
Gay, the accomplished, the inimitable Gay, is the ornament of the ensuing reign. The infinite obligations which the lovers of long are under to this admirable writer can never be sufficiently expressed. Lively, humourous, witty, elegant, tender and pathetic; happy and successful in whatever the universality of his genius prompted him to undertake ; his fpirit, his sentiment, his language are pure nature; and, while a love of poetry and fong, or a particle of taste remains among us, will certainly be remembered, and must always please. The ingenious and libertine duke of Wharton is a song-writer of this period. Booth, Croxall, Concanen, Budgell, lady M. W. Montague, fir W. Yonge,
and others, are intitled, with various degrees of merit, to the same character. Carey ought not to be mentioned without every commendation. His happy fimplicity and unaffected manner interest and charm the reader of natural taste. Sally in our ally was a particular favourite of mr. Addison; and his judgment, which, however, wants no countenance, is confirmed by its popularity.
The name of Pope will shed a luftre over the long reign of George II. in which we have the gratification to introduce him. The single performance he condescended to leave is an exquisite parody or satirical imita. tion, written in 1733, in the character of “ a person of " quality,” of the fashionable fing-song of that and the preceding age. It was inadvertently omitted in the col. lection, but the reader will not be forry to find it here,
Mournful cypress, verdant willow,
Gilding my Aurelias brows,
Hear me pay my dying vows.
Swiftly purling in a round,
With thy flowery chaplets crown'd.
Softly seeks her absent mate,
Melody religns to fate (149).
While this great poet was thus endeavouring to laugh out of countenance the flowery infipidity, difcordant images, and unnatural conceit of a favourite species of love song, his friend Swift was employed in turning into deserved ridicule the strange affected musical jargon then in vogue (150). And never, surely, was any thing more juftly conceived, or more happily executed than these two efforts of wit and genius in support of common sense and true taste. Nor does a want of success, (if that be the case) any way detract from, or lessen the merit of the attempt. Swift, who might, with equal propriety, have been placed in either of the two preceding reigns, produced a number of political, satirical, and jocose pieces, upon common and popular subjects, which appear to have been designed for the capacity and notice of the vulgar, in aid of the cantilenæ triviæ of his time. Clever Tom Clinch is a master-piece in its way. But how far these compositions suited the comprehension and taste of an English or Irish mob we are not certified. The known song-writers of this period are, as it might be naturally expected, indifferently numerous, and many
(149) Compare Song XL. Class 1. See also Hill's Poems. The musical reader will be at no loss for a pertinent tune, who recollects the admired air of
How imperfect is expression, a composition in the true spirit of Pope. (150) See bis incomparable Cantata, set by Lampen