Imágenes de página

thusiasm, that we doubt not they will With these opinions, it will be rea. ere long regain their legitimate ascend- dily conceived that we have hailed eney in the ball-room. Our humour- with great pleasure a recent addi. ous airs have an eminent power of tion to the musical lore of Scotland in clever or grotesque merriment. Our the publication of the Skene MS., serious melodies are often highly po- which has been long known and relished and graceful; and those of a ferred to, as existing in the Advocates' plaintive character are as exquisitely Library, but which is now for the first pathetic as the most finished composi. time given to the light, under the care of tions of the greatest masters. Taken Mr Dauney, a member of the Scottish all in all, we are not convinced that bar, who has engrafted on the legal there is any other body of national profession many elegant accomplishmusic in the world that surpasses that ments, and, in particular, a very reof Scotland, in force, in character, in fined and enlightened acquaintance versatility, or in genius. We certainly with musical science. We shall give feel not a little exultation at our su- a short account of this MS. in Mr periority in this respect over our Dauney's own words :neighbours of England, to whom we “ The collection of ancient music are willing to bow with a proud humi- now submitted to the public is the lity in many other subjects of compe- property of the Faculty of Advocates tition, but whom, we rejoice to think, at Edinburgh. It was bequeathed to we can always out-do in the matter of that learned body, about twenty years mountains and music. We are far ago, by the late Miss Elizabeth Skene, from denying to the English the praise the last surviving member, in a direct of musical feeling, and we are grate- line, of the family of Skene of Currie. ful for the great contributions which, bill and Hallyards in Mid-Lothian, by their regular and scientific compo- along with a charter-chest containing sitions, they have made to the general a variety of documents relating to that stock of musical pleasure. Not to family, of which that lady had become enumerate the early madrigal and ca- the depositary, as their representative, non writers of England, who were and great-great-grand-daughter of equally remarkable for their talent, John Skene of Hallyards, who was the learning, and ingenuity, or to refer to son of Sir John Skene, the author of her ancient church music, which will the treatise • De Verborum Significaalways command admiration, the coun- tione,' and Clerk Register during a try that owns Purcell for her son, and great part of the reign of King James can boast of Handel for her foster. VI.”... “ The MS. is without date, child, deserves one of the highest and there is great difficulty in speak. places among modern nations in the ing as to the precise time when it was scale of musical genius. But we are written. Indeed upon this point we here speaking of that aboriginal or cannot venture upon a nearer approxi. self-sown music which is referable to mation than twenty or thirty years. no individual author, or school of au- From the appearance of the paper, the thors, but seems to be the fruit of the handwriting, and the fact that some of very soil itself, and reveals, by the the tunes are here and there repeated, raciness of its character, the peculiar with very little alteration as regards qualities of its native bed. In point the music, it is extremely probable of national music, properly so called, that they had been taken down at dif. we think ourselves entitled to claim ferent times, during a period of about the advantage over our southern coun- that duration. Further than this, the trymen, The English have, undoubt- most careful examination will only edly, a national music, and we see permit us to add, that one part of the with interest the present progress of MS. was written beween the years an elegant and judicious collection of 1615 and 1620, and that while none their melodies under the direction of of it is likely to have been much more Mr Chapell. But although recognis- recent than the last-mentioned era, ing the great spirit and sweetness of some of the collection may have been many of the English airs, we think formed as early as the commencement that, as far we have yet seen, few or of the seventeenth century.” Done of them exhibit those decided Mr Dauney notices various circumfeatures either of antiquity or of pecu- stances of a chronological nature in liar origin by which our Scottish airs confirmation of this opinion, and are are so strikingly marked.

rives at the conclusion that John Skeno

of Hallyards, the son of the Clerk ton in 1652. Of this very excellent Register, was the original owner of air, which seems to have been a poputhe MS., and most probably the per- lar favourite in the seventeenth censon under whose auspices the collec. tury, we have a gossiping story told tion was formed.

by Sir John Hawkins in his History The degree ofinterest and importance of Music, which we are tempted to attaching to any collection of Scotch extract :-“ This tune was greatly admusic made in the beginning of the mired by Queen Mary, the consort of 17th century, may not, at first sight, King William ; and she once affronted be apparent to those who are unac- Purcell by requesting to have it sung quainted with the length of time for to her, he being esent: the story is which national music may remain in as follows: The Queen having a a traditionary form. The date which mind, one afternoon, to be entertained has been assigned to the Skene MS. with music, sent to Mr Gostling, then would not, certainly, be considered one of the chapel, and afterwards subas of high antiquity in the general dean of St Paul's, to Henry Purcell, history of music. England, in parti- and Mrs Arabella Hunt, who had a very cular, had, before that period, pro. fine voice, and an admirable hand on duced very learned and eminent names the lute, with a request to attend her ; in musical science, and these were they obeyed her commands; Mr Gostclosely followed by still more distin- ling and Mrs Hunt sung several comguished composers in the course of positions of Purcell, who accompanied the 17th century. It might be thought, them on the harpischord ; at length therefore, that the era of novelty, in the Queen, beginning to grow tired, reference to the national music of asked Mrs Hunt if she would not sing Scotland, must have long gone by, the old Scots ballad, “Cold and Raw? when that of regular composition was

Mrs Hunt answered yes, and sung it so far advanced on the other side of to her lute. Purcell was all the while the Border. It is a singular fact, sitting at the harpischord unemployed, however, that, previous to the pre- and not a little nettled at the Queen's sent publication of the Skene MS., preference of a vulgar ballad to his the earliest printed collection of music ; but seeing her Majesty deScotch music was of so recent a date lighted with this tune, he determined as 1725. The work that we now that she should hear it upon another allude to is the “Orpheus Caledonius" occasion ; and accordingly, in the of William Thomson, which appeared next birth-day song, viz., that for the in London, in the form of a single year 1692, he composed an air to the folio volume, in the year we have just words, May her bright example mentioned, and of which a second edi. chase vice in troops out of the land,' tion, of smaller size, with an additional the bass whereof is the tune to Cold and volume, was published in 1733. The Raw; it is printed in the second part Skene collection is thus more than a of the Orpheus Britannicus, and is, century earlier in date than the earliest note for note, the same with the Scotch similar work of which we have been tune." hitherto in possession.

Mention is made of other individual It is true, that several Scottish me- Scottish airs, in anecdotes and notices lodies had appeared in a scattered relating to the middle and end of form previous to the publication of the 17th century. Thus, in referThomson's Orpheus ; but none of ence to the period after the Restorathem, so far as we can discover, so tion, we are told of a “ Scottish laird early as the date of the Skene MS. who had been introduced to King In the Introductory Enquiry which Charles, with whom he had afterwards Mr Dauney has prefixed to his work, had many merry meetings while in we find the notices of these collected Scotland, enlivened by the song and together in such a manner as to direct the dance of his country. Having attention to this interesting subject, become unfortunate in his affairs, he which it would probably require a very is said to have found his way to Lonlaborious and extensive investigation don, with the view of making an apto exhaust. The oldest printed edition peal to the royal favour, and for a of any Scotch air previously known long while to have been unable to was that of “Cold and Raw,” or “ Up obtain access, until one day, when he in the Morning Early," inserted in the bethought himself of the expedient of collection of catches published by Hil. slipping into the seat of the organist,

at the conclusion of the service, in the under the title of “ Laugh and be Fat, Chapel Royal, and of arresting his or Pills to purge Melancholy." The Majesty's attention as he departed, prescription seems to have been pretty with the homely and unexpected strain generally taken and well liked; and of “ Brose and Butter"-a tune which Addison, in No. 29 of the Guardian, very naturally awakened the recollec- refers to it as the canse to which “so tion of their former friendship, and in many rural squires in the remotest a few minutes brought about the re- parts of this island are obliged for the cognition which it was so much his dignity and state which corpulency desire to effect."

gives them.” Enlarged editions of the We have no edition of this very work were published, in six volumes, characteristic song contemporaneous in 1707–20, under the name of “ Wit with the time of the anecdote. But and Mirth, or Pills to Purge Melanwe have no reason to doubt that the choly.” It would appear, both on his air which is thus commemorated is the own testimony, and on that of Addisame as that with which we are still son in another number of the Guardian delighted at the present day, and which (No. 67), tbat D'Urfey had enjoyed is to some persons better known under the good graces of Charles II., who the title of “ The Grinder."

would lean on his shoulder, and hum In the year 1680, the air of Kathe- over a song with him from the same rine Ogie was sung at a concert in paper. He seems, indeed, to have Stationers' Hall, by Abell, the lutanist been generally popular, and more parand counter-tenor singer, of whom the ticularly so with the fair sex, if we do strange story is told, that when he was not suppose Addison to have had in Poland, the King, in revenge for either a jocular or a satirical meaning some exhibition of that caprice for when he recommended to the young which singers are proverbial, compel- ladies, his disciples, to give their paled him to sing in a suspended chair, tronage to the benefit of his old friend, upon pain of being let down among “who,” he says, “ has often made their wild bears; a threat under the influence grandmothers merry, and whose sonof which Abell declared that he sung nets have perhaps lulled asleep many better than he had ever done in his a present toast when she lay in her life. There can be no doubt of the cradle." If the ladies of the sevenidentity of this air of Katherine Ogie teenth century derived their merriwith that which now bears the same ment from the fountain-head, and could name, and of which a set is to be swallow the “ Pills'' entire as they found in print dated a few years after- came from Tom's own laboratory, wards.

their constitutions must certainly have The accession of the Stuart family been very different from those of their to the throne of England, and the in- modern descendants, who would be creasing intercourse thence arising shocked at a mixture where there was between the two countries, may ac- so large a dose of indecency to so small count for the popularity which the a proportion of wit. It so happens, melodies of Scotland seem gradually however, that the copy of the Pills to bave obtained among the English which is now before us seems to have in the course of the seventeenth cen. been the property of a lady who writes tury. Several Scotch airs are said to her name “ Ann Addison," with the be inserted in Playford's Dancing- date 1744 ; though whether she was master, published in 1657; but we have any relation of Tom's illustrious friend never seen tbat collection, of which we we are unable to say. It is but fair believe there are very few copies to be to add, that Addison concludes his found in this part of the kingdom. It character of D'Urfey by telling bis would appear, however, as Mr Dauney readers that “they cannot do a kindtells us, that little is to be gleaned, ness to a more diverting companion, at least from accessible sources of in- or a more cheerful, honest, good-naformation, as to the publication and tured man. It is not here exactly performances of these airs in England, said that his life was a very regular before the appearance of D'Urfey's one; but if it was so, Tom was cerMiscellany, as to which we shall now tainly of the opinion expressed by Ca. make a few observations.

tullus, This extraordinary compilation seems to have first seen the light about

-Castum esse decet pium poetam the end of the seventeenth century, Ipsum : versiculos nihil necesse est.”

A recommendation addressed to the have been borrowed from the Orpheus ladies by a moral essayist, in favour of Caledonius. This we take to be the the author of such a work as D’Ur- case with the “ Broom of the Cowdenfey's Miscellany, and founded upon knows," “ An thou wert my ain thing," the merits of that very work, would, and “ The last time I came o'er the at the present day, be a curious phe- Moor," none of which we remember nomenon. But we must allow for the to have noticed in D'Urfey. age; and, after all, we would as soon We should deviate, however, from connect our name, or burden our con- our present purpose if we further proscience, with the “ Pills to purge Me- secuted this historical detail. We in. lancholy,” as with some modern poems tended merely to direct attention to in which vice has been presented in a these important facts :- 1st, That the more elegant costume.

Orpheus Caledonius, published in 1725, Whatever deductions we may make has hitherto been the earliest printed from the respectability of D'Urfey's collection of Scottish melodies ; and, memory in other points, we feel a cer- 2d, That the earlier copies of any such tain degree of gratitude to him for melodies as we possessed, in a scatterhelping to give celebrity to the melo- ed or insulated state, were to be found dies of Scotland. In four, out of his in publications not of Scottish but of six volumes that we have at hand, we English origin. These circumstances find the following airs presented in a are the more remarkable, as Forbes's very tolerable form,-“ Dainty Da- Cantus, a collection of secular music, vie," “ Diel tak’ the Wars” (though was published at Aberdeen about 1666, Mr Dauney doubts if this be not an but, strange to say, does not contain English air), a “Scotch song," of any native Scottish melody. From which the music closely resembles that publication we should suspect that that of “Jock of Hazledean," “ Corn our ancestors had then arrived at that Riggs," “ Cold and Raw," “ Kathe- stage in the progress of taste in which rine Ogie,” “ Bonny Dundee," the proverb is realized, that a prophet “ Lumps of Pudding, 66 Over the is not honoured in his own country. hills and far awa'," &c. It must be The collector of that work seems to confessed, however, that the compli- have had his admiration entirely turnment thus paid to our nation is some- ed to the more regular airs which were what alloyed by the intermixture of a then coming into notice from the hands number of spurious Scotch airs, of of Italian or English composers. which the music is very miserable, and In such a state of matters, it was by the union even with the best airs not wonderful that the antiquity of of lyrical effusions in the Scottish Scottish music should have been altodialect, of which the sentiments and gether questioned by some sceptical diction are equally execrable, and fully enquirers. Ritson, after enumerating more libellous than any thing that the names of some airs which are reWilkes suffered for as the writer of corded by early writers, observed — the North Briton.

- No direct evidence, it is believed, The publication of Thomson's Or- can be produced of the existence of pheus Caledonius, in 1725, was speed. any Scottish tune now known prior to ily followed by other productions that the year 1660, exclusive of such as are tended still further to bring Scotch already mentioned; nor is any one music into notice. Allan Ramsay, in even of these to be found noted, either the same year, published, as a supple. in print or manuscript, before that pement to his Tea-Table, a small collec- riod." And in one of his letters he tion of national airs, with basses; and enquired—“ Upon what foundation, the celebrity that soon attended his then, do we talk of the antiquity of Gentle Shepherd would direct atten- Scottish music ?" tion to those airs to which the songs in It is satisfactory to be able to apit were adapted. In 1727 the public peal to the publication of the Skene were regaled, in the Beggars' Opera, MS. as affording a more decisive anwith a melange of popular airs, which swer to this question than any that we were almost entirely selected from were previously able to render. We those in D'Urfey's Pills, and of which can now refer to an authentic national several were genuine and beautiful collection, of a comparatively early specimens of Scottish melody. One date, in which a number of our Scottish or two of the Scotch airs in the Beg- 'melodies are to be found, and among gars' Opera must, we should think, these, as we shall presently show some of those which have been most which they were known in their genedeservedly admired, and which are ration, and which, now that they have here presented, as we conceive, in even passed away, like epitaphs, serve a more engaging form than that under merely to mark the period of their exwhich they are popularly known. istence, or the spot where their ashes

While the Skene MS. thus carries are laid.” Sepulchri similis nil nisi us back, by its direct evidence, to the nomen retineo. commencement of the seventeenth cen- Mr Dauney's Dissertation, also, as. tury, it gives no indication that the sembles together much curious infor. airs contained in it were then of recent mation as to the musical instruments date. They bear, for the most part, chiefly used in Scotland, which seem, the appearance of antiquity, even at indeed, to have been those which were that period, being designated by titles generally prevalent over the rest of that seem to be the initial lines of po- Europe. The harp, clavichord, orpular or vulgar songs, with which gan, and lute, seem to have been chiefly they must have been allied for a pe- in use. The bagpipe, presented to riod of at least some duration. The us in monkish Latin under the sininstrumental symphonies and varia gular name of chorus, seems not to tions, also, which are introduced into bave been peculiar to Scotland, but to some of the airs, seem to imply that have been more fainiliarly used by the they were familiar themes, of which English. the celebrity offered an inducement to Mr Dauney has mentioned a good present them in a novel aspect. A many MSS. of. Scottish music which new point of time is thus, in truth, af- he has seen, of various eras, from that forded us, from -which we may, with of the Skene MS. downwards, and of more confidence, direct our researches which, it is to be hoped, the most into the regions of conjectural en- valuable part of the contents will, ere quiry.

long, be made public. He refers, Mr Dauney has accordingly taken also, to a very important manuscript the opportunity afforded by the public volume, belonging to Mr Chalmers cation of this curious MS. to review of London, which had been presented generally the various questions that to Dr Burney, by Dr George Skene relate to the history and character of of Marischal College, Aberdeen. It Scottish melody. The preliminary bears this curious title : “An Playdissertation, in which this task is per. ing Book for the Lute, wherein ar formed, is written with much ease and contained many currents, and other elegance, and with equal judgment and Musical Things. Musica mentis Me. learning. We believe that in this Dis. dicina Mæstæ. At Aberdein. Notted sertation the musical antiquary will and Collected by Robert Gordon. In find the fullest materials that have the year of our Lord, 1627. In Feany where been collected for a candid bruarie.” The person here mentioned and deliberate investigation of the as the collector, was Sir Robert Gor. questions at issue.

don of Straloch. We have reason to We may merely mention the heads hope that some of the most interesting of the most interesting topics of which melodies contained in this volume, or he has treated.

at least those of Scottish growth, will be Mr Dauney has brought together made accessible, erelong, to the musical all the vestiges of old vocal poetry world. Mr Dauney further expresses which are to be found in our early an opinion that, “if the archives of writers—which consist chiefly in an some of our ancient families were well array of the mere titles of melodies and diligently sifted, other original -Dow unknown. He observes, accord. MSS. of a similar kind might still be ingly, that in this enquiry little solid brought to light." It is probable that information is gained, except that many such MSS., where they are dismusic and song did exist at those re- covered, are regarded as useless, from mote periods. “We feel ourselves," the apparent illegibility of the musical it is said, “ like beings wandering notation ; but the possessors of such among the tombs, surrounded by the documents should be informed that the crumbled relics of former ages, with ancient notation is generally well nothing to guide us to the objects of known to scientific persons, and can our search beyond a few casual in- be perfectly well deciphered. scriptions designative of the names by We have next our attention directed

« AnteriorContinuar »