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When through life unblest we rove,
Losing all that made life dear
In days of boyhood, meet our ear,
Wakening thoughts that long have slept,
In faded eyes that long have wept !
Like the gale, that sighs along
Beds of oriental flowers,
That once was heard in happier hours.
Though the flowers have sunk in death;
Its memory lives in Music's breath!
Music !-oh! how faint, how weak,
Language faints before thy spell
When thou canst breathe her soul so well.
Love's are ev'n more false than they :
Can sweetly soothe, and not betray !
It has been said by many that Moore did not give sufficient credit to the labours of Edmund Bunting, who led the way in the reproduction of the Irish Melodies. The following beautiful passages from one of Moore's prefaces, prove the statement the preservation of her old national airs. During the prevalence of the Penal Code, the music of Ireland was made to share in the fate of its people. Both were alike shut out from the pale of civilised life, and seldom anywhere but in the huts of the proscribed race could the sweet voice of the
There can be no doubt that to the zeal and industry of Mr. Bunting, our country is indebted for songs
of other days be heard. Even of that class, the itinerant harpers, among whom for a long period our ancient music had been kept alive, there remained but few to continue the precious tradition, and a great music-meeting held at Belfast, in the year 1792, at which two or three still remaining of the old race of wandering harpers assisted, exhibited the public effort made by the lovers of Irish music, to preserve to their country the only grace of ornament left to her out of the wreck of her liberties and hopes. Thus what the fierce legislature of the pale had endeavoured vainly through so many ages to effect-the utter extinction of Ireland's minstrelsy-the deadly pressure of the Penal Laws had nearly, at the close of the eighteenth century, accomplished, and, but for the zeal and intelligent research of Mr. Bunting at that crisis, the greater part of our musical treasures would probably have been lost to the world. It was in the year 1796 that this gentleman published his first volume, and the national spirit and hope then awakened in Ireland, by the rapid spread of the democratic principle throughout Europe, could not but ensure a most cordial reception for such a work ; flattering as it was to the forced dreams of Erin's early days and containing in itself, indeed, remarkable testimony to the truth of her claims to an early date of civilisation.”
“ It was in the year 1797, that, through the medium of Mr. Bunting's book, I was first made acquainted with the beauties of our native music. A young friend of our family, Edward Hudson, the nephew of an eminent dentist of that name, who played with much taste and feeling on the flute, and, unluckily for himself, was but too deeply warmed with the patriotic ardour then kindling around him, was the first who made known to me this rich mine of our country's melodies--a mine, from the working of which my humble labours as as a poet have since then derived their sole lustre and value.”
Moore's Melodies were translated into several continental languages. The poet had also the honour of seeing his immortal lyrics translated into Irish by that illustrious defender of the Catholic Church, the Lord Archbishop of Tuam. The following eloquent passage from the Most Reverend translator's introduction shews how deeply his accomplished mind was touched by those exquisite songs, which his knowledge of the Irish language enabled him to present to his fellow countrymen in a Celtic dress.
“ The powerful influence of music and poetry on the feelings and habits of every people, is too well attested by experience to require any elaborate illustration. Of our incontrovertible claims to a refined and cultivated music, and to the high intellectual tone of which it is at once the index and the offspring, the few following specimens from the now classical melodies of our country, furnish abundant evidence. If further proofs were wanting, they may be found in the published Minstrelsy of Mr. Hardiman, or the many popular songs in the possession of Mr. Bunting, to both of whom every Irishman owes lasting obligations, for the patriotic devotion with which they have successfully laboured to rescue from oblivion some of the most valuable relics of our ancient poetry and music. That the specimens of poetry that are left us did not always correspond with the beauty of the melody that breathes through them, cannot surprise any reader familiar with the records of that ruthless spirit which, equally jealous of both, strove to involve them in the same common destruction. Against the growth and perfection of our poetry and literature, it was, alas ! as they were placed within its reach, but too successful, and hence they were so impaired by repeated aggression as to be almost extinguished : whilst our music, like the morning bird, so emblematic of its sweetness and its freedom, sought safety in higher regions from the shafts of its pursuers ; and whether it lighted on the valleys or poured its wild melodies along the summits of our mountains, it always possessed the magic power of charming the wounds which were inflicted by the persecutions of the stranger.
“ Yet it is not from the poetical compositions of our native bards that our melodies sustained most injury. Though the dress in which they clothed their thoughts was simple, it was in general natural and graceful, and in our popular songs in the native dialect, passages might be pointed out to the classic reader not unworthy of lyrical poets of higher fame, so faithfully was the ancient muse transmitted through the Irish language. It was only when our music was forcibly united with the coarse and barbarous pedantry of ignorant English songsters, that it suffered from the connexion. Under this yoke it continued to sink, and would have sunk still more, until taste should have at last shrunk from the contact of its acquaintance, had not a fond and master spirit seasonably interposed to save it from the degrading association. To MOORE our native music shall ever be indebted, for clothing it in a manner befitting its dignity and lineage, and throwing over it much of the rich Oriental drapery, with which a congenial fancy had so amply furnished him. Thus attired, our melodies have been introduced into the most fashionable musical saloons of Europe, nay, sometimes adorned in a foreign costume; but no sooner do they breathe and speak than they are at once revealed—the genuine daughters of the land not less famed for song, than for the fidelity, heroism, and sanctity of its children, To introduce these melodies to my humble countrymen, robed in a manner worthy of their high origin, has been my object in the following translation. The banishing of those gross compositions with which our musical airs were oftentimes defiled, will be doing a service to the taste and morality of the people; how much more so when for them will be substituted those pure and lofty sentiments of patriotism and virtue which these selections of the Irish Melodies so abundantly supply. The genius of Moore must ever command admiration—its devotion to the vindication of the ancient faith of Ireland, and the character of its injured people, must inspire every Irishman with still more estimable feelings. Seated amidst the tuneful followers of Apollo, he essayed the instrument of