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My rose blooms on a gown!
That marks the Bell and Crown!
Where are ye, birds! that blithely wing
Or mourn in thickets deep?
My blackbird is a sweep!
Where are ye, linnet ! lark! and thrush !
And tune the various song?
Are all my “ tuneful throng."
Where are ye, early-purling streams,
And colours of the skies?
Sweet are the little brooks that run
Singing in soothing tones :
Though never “ off the stones.”
Where are ye, pastoral, pretty sheep,
Beside your woolly dams?
And skin-not shear_the lambs.
The pipe whereon, in olden day,
Sweetly, here soundeth not ;
The rank weed—“piping hot.”
All rural things are vilely mock’d,
With objects hard to bear:
An Ingram's rustic chair!
Where are ye, London meads and bow'rs,
Wherein the zephyr wons ?
And that bare wood-St. John's.
No pastoral scene procures me peace;
No cot set round with trees :
banks With brokers, not with bees.
Oh! well may poets make a fuss
Of city pleasures sick:
This endless meal of brick.
It was not in the winter
Our loving lot was cast; It was the time of roses,
We plucked them as we passed !
That churlish season never frowned
On early lovers yet! Oh no,—the world was newly crowned
With flowers, when first we met.
'Twas twilight, and I bade you go,
But still you held me fast; It was the time of roses,
We plucked them as we passed !
What else could peer my glowing cheek
That tears began to stud?
You snatched a damask bud ;
And oped it to the dainty core,
Still glowing to the last; It was the time of roses,
We plucked them as we passed !
CHARLES DIBDIN, the son of a silversmith, at Southampton, was born in that town, in the year 1745. At an early age he ventured to try his fortune in the metropolis, where he at once set himself to compose songs and ballads ; but was occupied chiefly in tuning piano-fortes. In 1762, he made his debut as an actor at the Rich. mond theatre; and two years afterwards appeared on the London boards, as Ralph, in the “Maid of the Mill.” He soon began to write for the stage; and, it is said, produced above one hundred dramas, of various degrees of merit. The “ Deserter,” brought out in 1772; the “Waterman,” in 1774; and the “Quaker," in 1775, are still occasionally performed. Dibdin, however, did not like his profession; and took the earliest opportunity of quitting it. He opened a kind of theatre, in Leicester Square, to which he gave the title of " Sans Souci;" and had evening entertainments, at which he sung his own songs, and accompanied himself on the piano:—this simple design was amazingly successful. He is said to have written from time to time, during the period of the per. formances, above twelve hundred songs—to nearly all of which he composed the music. He died in indigent circumstances, in 1814.
In 1803, a pension of £200 a year was granted to Charles Dibdin : after enjoying it for three years, a new administration, in order to display the economical principles upon which it de. signed to manage Great Britain, thought proper to deprive the aged vocalist of this resource. Other branches of his family have displayed talents of no common order; and have, we believe, also had to encounter adversity. As yet, we have manifested no desire to repay any portion of the large debt which is owing to him from a nation. The country has been recently called upon to grant annuities to professors of literature, whose claims are not half so urgent, or so just. We may hope that some part of the debt to Charles Dibdin will yet be discharged. In estimating his merit as a nautical song writer, we should not confine it to the mere gratification derived by the sailors themselves from singing his songs : we find in the sentiments expressive of the character of seamen, so much kindliness of feeling, and a total absence of selfishness and worldly wisdom, that has tended in no small degree to raise sailors in the esteem of the country, and to render the maritime profession popular. This consideration, during a period
of protracted naval war, is essential, in order to arrive at a due estimate of the services conferred by Dibdin upon the State.
A sound critic, Mr. Hogarth, states that “ Dibdin had hardly received any musical education ; and his attainments in the art were so small, that he had not skill enough to put a good accom. paniment to his own airs. But he possessed a gift which no edu. cation or study can bestow,-an inexhaustible vein of melody." Among the hundreds of airs which he composed, it is wonderful to observe how few are bad, or even indifferent; and how free they are from sameness and repetition : and yet, with all this variety, there is no straining after novelty. The airs flow so naturally, that they appear to have cost him no sort of effort. In their ex. pression, too, they are not less various than in their phrases. Whether the poetry is tender, lively, or energetic, the music never fails to speak a corresponding language.
If we try the púetry of Dibdin by a severe standard, it will undoubtedly be found wanting ; but if it be a triumph of genius to achieve COMPLETELY the object desired, we must allot a high sta. tion to the most popular song-wri er of the age. It is scarcely an exaggeration to say, that “a nation's balłads” have greater in. Auence on its people than “ a nation's laws ;" and it may be safely asserted, that the co-operation of Charles Dibdin has been largely effective in giving truth to the line,
“ Britannia rules the waves."
His songs come home to the uneducated minds of seamen : they are simple in language, and homely in construction. Refined and embellished, their effect would be lost. That they have had a prodigious—almost a universal—influence over our mariners, is certain : it has been as salutary as it is powerful. They teach that while courage is a noble quality, it is elevated into a virtue when exerted for our country; and that something more than brute force is necessary to make a good sailor. They not only inculcate bravery in battle, but patience under less exciting perils ; and describe discipline and subordination as leading duties. They have been quoted with effect to suppress mutiny ; they have, in. deed, contributed largely to strengthen the great bulwarks of Britain-her “wooden walls"—to raise the eharacter of her best defender" the British tar”—and to establish that which is a sub stance, and not a sound—“ British glory!"