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ON THE SONGS CONTAINED IN

THE LITERARY MISCELLANY.

Sept. 21, 1810. Though not connected, Sir, with your volume of Vocal Poetry, and your former work now re-published by Mr. Evans, yet intimately connected with the subject of these Letters are those numbers of Tue LITERARY MISCELLANY, which contain Songs, and which have, I suppose, a very extensive circulation; because it is a cheap, elegant and respectable periodical work: and I shall venture to consider the contents of the Numbers 8, 9, 10, 11 and 76 in this place.

The Advertisement prefixed to the 8th and 9th Numbers gives a hope to the Reader that violent passion, indecency, and other baleful ingredients, will be excluded from the compositions presented; and that moral sentiment and other valuable lessons will be taught in them. This intention is thus announced: "Respecting the nature and tendency of these selections-the songs retained are divested of expressions

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of violent and enthusiastic passion. Every subject presented possesses some preceptive rule, moral sentiment, or elegant thought. We have found no room for. indecency, trifling composition, or the insipidity of modern Operas : the most enchanting powers of musical composition cannot atone for the base alloy of levity, vulgarity and nonsense. All bacchanalian songs are rejected, because virtue and reason forbid us to join the crowd in misleading the inexperienced and unwary, or to scatter flowers in the paths of vice and profligacy. Songs favouring false notions of honour and glory to be obtained in war"_" will make another exception. Some of the ancient ballads, of this species of composition, will be retained, for the sake of their simplicity of style and pathos : relations of dreadful battles, and wonderful adventures of knights-errant and legendary saints, excite rather a curiosity respecting the folly, superstition, and credulity of former times, than impressions of reality and truth. Hunting is a savage, unmanly sport, comporting ill with European refinements, and ought to be employed, not as a diversion, but in cases of extreme necessity only, and even then with reluctance; songs of this class are therefore discarded."

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As I conceive that the Editor has, in his Selection of the Songs, departed from almost every one of these particulars, I shall consider the Songs under separate heads, and adduce instances wherein I think the rules just quoted are violated. The first head is Violent and enthusiastic passion.

I. In No. 8. p. 7. The lover says of his Mistress “ She was borne to be faire; I, to die for her love.” And again " he that 'plaines of his false love, mine's falser than she."

In No. 9, p. 15. is the Song " Come here, fond youth, whoe'er thou be,” which I have before noticed. (Letter v. p. 240.)

In 6 'Twas in that season of the year” we have (p. 18.) “ those graces that divinely shine”.

P. 23. we have

A cruel fate hangs threat'ping o'ér

The lovely shepherd I adore ! In'“ Soft Zephyr! on thy balmy wing" (p. 25.) we have

Her slumbers guard, some hand divine,
Ah! watch her with a care like mine.

Here his own care is put in comparison with, or
rather set above that of some hand divine.
No. 10. p. 3.

Encompassid in an angel's frame
An angel's virtues lay; &c.

My heart shall breathe a ceaseless strain
Of sorrow o'er her urn. &c. (p. 4.)
For all my soul, (oow she is dead)
Concepters in her urn.

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P. 8. In " From thee, Eliza, I must go, we have the very common extravagance of adore.

Ditto. In “ Adieu to the village delights, the almost equally common one of angel, “ bright angel”.

P. 17. In “How long shall hapless Colin mourn”, it is said,

Thy beauties, O divinely bright!
In one short hour by Delia's side,

I taste wbole ages of delight. P. 20. “ Despairing beside a clear stream”. I have noticed before, (Letter ii. p. 51.) that unwarrantable renunciation of life which implies violent passion.

P. 26. “ One morning, very early,” The Maid in Bedlam, I have before noticed, (L. ii. p. 47.) the phrase “ I'd claim a guardian angel's charge".

No. 11. p. 24. In" Oh how could I venture to luve ane like thee,” we have here again the adoring

No. 76. p. 38. In “On Richmond Hill there lives a lass,” the Lover says, “I die for her of love."

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P. 40. “ Mary, I believ'd thee true”, the lover says he would rather

“ die with thee, than live without thee !"

P. 42. “What shade and what stillness around !” we have here again the swain who adores her.

P. 52. “ Blest as the immortal gods” he is represented, who fondly sits by the side of her who is the subject of the song.

P. 56. In “Ask'st thou how long my love will last,” I have before noticed the expression, « Nor let us lose our Heaven here". (Letter v. p. 244. 331.)

P. 57. In “ To him who in an hour must die,” there is a strained metaphor, comparing the swiftness of time with such a wretch to the slowness of the minutes,

“ Which keep me from the sight of thee." Again, 6 O come! with all thy heavenly charms!”

P. 70.

“ Anna, thy charms my bosom fire!

And waste my soul with care,
But, ah! how bootless to admire,

When fated to despair.
Yet, in thy presence, lovely fair!

Desire may be forgiv'n,
For sure 'twere impious to despair

So much in sight of heaven,

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