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veniences which might arise from oar answering them.—Not to iosit on the impropriety of subjecting us to a tax, which no one hath a right to impose.
The same Correspondent wishes to know, whether Dr. Wende. bom's publication [Vid. our Foreign Literature for Sept. last, p. 229] is translated into English.—We have not heard of any translation. He also recommends a new pamphlet on the unfitness of imprisonment for deb-, as proper for our notice. We wish the gentleman had mentioned either the name of the author, or publisher :. but our collector will enquire for it.—We acknowledge the politeness of this unknown Letter-writer; and are sorry that we cannot oblige him, with respect to the first object of his inquiry.
„*# Although we are much pleased with, and obliged by, the friendly admonition contained in the Letter signed Candidus, vt scruple not to declare, to this respectable Correspondent, our firm assurance that, were we not more usefully employed (as we trust we are, in the honest and immediate discharge of t lit- public duty in which we are engaged), we could easily, and fully, defend every sentiment to which he objects, in our account of Mr. Newton's Messiah: but we have resolved to admit no religious controversy into the Review, in which the Reviewers themselves may be considered as parties. We desire, however, that this Correspondent, while he holds us excused from all theological contention with him, will accept our kind acknowledgment of his truly candid letter.
■ftf T. C.'s objection relates to Mr. Dawson, and not us. As sir as is consistent with the limits of this work, we freely made our remarks on the translation of, what appears, a more material passage than that relative to tithes, and which is equally inconsistent with the account in the New Testament: those remarks will apply to the other paragraph of which T. C. takes notice. By what art of construction the new translation can be reconciled with the account in the Epistle to the Hebrews, we will not enquire. For this Mr. Dawson is accountable. We will just add T. C.'s farther remark: ' However ingenious Mr. Dawson's criticisms may be, it should seem that they cannot be supported without supposing a palpable contradiction in Holy Writ, rather than admit which, I doubt not he would give up his opinion of the passage, even allowing that it might bear his interpretation.'—For our account of Mr. Dawson's translation of Genesis, fee Rev. for Aug. last, p. 140. jTt
C? We have taken some pains, in our researches concerning Quintus Sextius;—the result will appear in our Appendix.—This to Clerical.
N. B. The Letters of some other Correspondents remain to be noticed is. cur next.
For DECEMBER, 1787.
Art. I. Historical Memoirs of the Irish Bards. Interspersed with Anecdotes, and occasional Observations on the Music of Ireland. Also an historical and descriptive Account of the musical Instruments of the ancient Irish. And an Appendix, containing several Biographical and other Papers, with select Irish. Melodies. By Joseph C. Walker, Member of the Royal Irish Academy. 4*0. 133. Boards. Payne, &c. 1786.
THE present rage for antiquities in Ireland surpasses that of any other nation in Europe. The Welsh, who have no contemptible opinion of the antiquity of their poetry and music, are left among the younger children of the earth, by Mr. Walker, and the writers of the Collectanea De Rebus Hibernicis. Indeed there is no antiquity short of the creation that can gratify these authors *. 'In the tenth year of the last Belgic monarch, a colony, called by the Irish Tuatba-de-Danan% of the posterity of Nemedius, invaded and soon after settled themselves in Ireland.' Now, we hope that every curious reader is well acquainted with this period and person; if not, we refer them to Warner's History of Ireland, vol. i. where they will find the first mention of the Bardic profession. Mr. Walker, more modestly, supposes that the * true ara of the orders of Druids and Bards in Ireland, was the landing of the Milesians in that kingdom.— This is evident from tradition.—Yet our historians observe a profound silence (says the Author) with respect to the Bards, till Tighernmas succeeded to the monarchy, anno mundi 2815.'
This, our Readers will doubtless recollect, was during the middle of the siege of Troy.
Mr. W. fays, « it is the fashion of the day to question the antiquity of Irish MSS.;' and we fee plainly, in England, tbat it
* It is left to the learned in Bulls, not of the name of John, to determine, whether the Author of Memoirs of Irish Bards, and Irish Music of remote antiquity, as well as of the instruments of the ancient Irijh, can without a Jolccijm fay, that his work ' has novelty to recommend it.' Vide Pref.
Vol, JLXXVII. Cg < is the fashion of the day to give them an antiquity and a credence, in Ireland, that we are unable to allow. If the Irish ask too much respect and reverence for these fables, the English will certainly give them too little.
Mr. (not Dr.) T. Warton deduces the Bardic institution from the East. And Colonel Vallancey fays, that all that was brought into Ireland by the Milesians " has an Oriental origin." Traditions are given as evidences that M the arts of poetry and music obtained among the Milesians both before and after their arrival in Ireland." After this we have all the wild and conjectural rites of Druidical colleges and institutions of 'immemorableperiods.' Then the scattered fragments concerning the discipline and function of Bards are scrupulously collected from the poets, and given as "confirmations strong as proofs of holy writ:" the Author indiscriminately sweeping into his Bardic or Poet's corner whatever he can find, be it troe or false, probable or improbable. Even the nonsense of the Abbe du Bos has not escaped his broom. The Abbe had no doubt but that the ancients accompanied singing and declamation with a bajfecontinue, or thorough bass! So that, beside the difficulty of translating and of ascertaining the antiquity of these poetical lrijh witnesses, the Author's materials for filling a large book being scanty, they have been eked out with the dry, formal compliments to friends, and the parade of great reading, displayed in the notes, with the pomp and liberality of a German commentator. Even the common-place incredulity of Horace, Credat Judaus, Appella, which would have been an excellent motto for the title-page, has the space of three lines allowed to it in the text, with a whole line in the notes for the learned reference of Hor. lib. i. fat. 5. But notwithstanding these innumerable proofs of the Author's acquaintance with books in all the living as well as dead languages, they only remind us that he is a young bcok-maker, and has not y«t read enough to know what has been already often quoted, and what is still worthy of a place in a new book written with taste and elegance.
The dress of the Irish Bards has been thought as worthy of inquiry and dissertation as the wardrobe of an Asiatic prince, or European Darner; as if the luxury of truise, or shots, was ever known to a wild Irish minstrel.
Next to that, in tracing the extreme antiquity, and solemn use of the Irish Howl, or Caoine*, the death song, the Conchmath, Haliaho, Anglice Huihbaho--(wc suppose), the appearance of immense learning has been expended.
■Rardtjfes were not to be found in all these enquiries; bat the Reader is made ample amends by an account of * the melting
* Seep. 16, et scq. * sweetness sweetness of female voices in the chorus of the funeral sons.' These females, we are told, ' were taken from the lower daises of life, and instructed in music, and tbe eurjios (or elegiac measure), that they might assist in heightening the melancholy which that solemn ceremony was calculated to inspire.—These are still employed in Munster and Connaught at funerals, singing, as they flowly proceed after the hearse, extempore odes,—and expostulating with the cold corse, for relinquishing the blessings of this wicked world.'
Here music and poetry are still united, and form, as in high antiquity, a kind of Androgyne. Dr. Browne *, when he complained of their separation, and Fontenelle f, when he supposed that music would never be restored to its former miraculous powers till re-united in a single individual, were ignorant of the beauty and even existence of these extemporaneous compositions. It was very natural, that the nation polished at the most early period of time, should now abound with the most civilized common people in Europe.
The wisdom contained in the Psalters Of Tara, of CaShel, and of other places; the Mur-ollavan, or university of Teamor; the patronage of the munificent and accomplished Concovar Mac Nessa, King of Munster, whose character so much resembled that of Hiero, King of Sicily, all account for the uncommon politeness and urbanity'with which the natives of Ireland hough their neighbour's cattle, nay ham-string and even massacre their neighbours themselves. Can we wonder that a nation which has had ' so many men of profound erudition, unshaken integrity, and splendid abilities,' who, like Orpbeu*, softened and instructed them with harp and song, should surpn's the rest of the world in social and cosmopolite virtues? And if we consider, that * in days of old (according to Faid' y Mac D-iir), each King chose a Filia for his companion' (and perhaps a Fille), we may the more easily account for him and his subjects being uncommonly humanized and tender-hearted, as well as their descendants. Whatever poetry, romance, legends, or tradition can furnisti to excite the reader's wonder, has been carefully accumulated in Mr. Walker's book. Nor do the histories of the renowned Seven Champions of Christendom, of Guy Earl of Warwick, or of Jack the Giant-killer, abound with more romantic and marvellous circumstances than Mr. Walker's Memoir?. But this true believer in the gospels of Keating, Curtin, O'Halloran, and Warner, no more doubts the truth of their narrations, than a child does of those that he finds in the Tales of the Fairies, or Gulliver's Travels.
We (hall leave the Irish and Scots to ascertain the existence
• Dissert. t Essais de Troubles.
G g 2 of of Oisin or Oflian, and Fin, or Fingal; to authenticate thei> ancient poetry, and scramble for the property.
Some antiquaries have erroneously imagined that France had its plain chant from Rome; but we are better informed by Mr. O'Halloran, in a note to p. 56 of Mr. Walker's work; who asserts, that when the Abbey of Niville, in France, was founded, the wife of Pepin sent to Ireland for Doctors to instruct in church discipline, and for Musicians and Choristers for the church music.
The reigns of Cormac, King of Munster, and Brien Boiromh, King of Ireland, constitute the most honourable periods to poetry and music, after the conversion of the Island to Christianity by St. Patrick. The harp of this last prince, which is still supposed to subsist, has lately been the subject of a learned paper by Colonel Vallancey, in the 13th number of Collectanea De Rebus Hi HerMcIs. This instrument, however, from its form and number of strings, seems more like a Welsh, than an Irish harp; but we shall leave this point of musical history to be discussed by Dr. Burney, as well as to inform us whether an instrument with 28 strings might not have enabled the Irish Bards to cultivate counterpoint, instead of confining its use to mere melody *.
The celebrated champion for Hibernian antiquities, and the early civilization and refinements of the inhabitants of Ireland, Col. Vallancey, among many other curious discoveries equally flattering to that nation, has asserted, " that the Irish language can be better modulated to music than any other in Europe; as it possesses not only all the melodious qualities which Rousseaa has attributed to the Italian language, but, by a peculiarity of its own, the harsh consonants can be ellipsed f.'
Now, as Ireland is a rising nation, we may hops ere long to have our operas from that neighbouring island, instead of importing poets, singers, and composers from so remote a country as Italy. And this is more likely to bring about an union of the three kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland, into one common accord, than all the ministerial bills or parliamentary acts that ever were or can be framed. If an opera of Metastasio, as a coup d'estai, were translated into the Erse language, and set to Irish music, what raptures might we not expect from a music which, according to our Author, * is distinguished from that ot every other nation by an insinuating sweetness, which forces its lf-y*li/liV^e/ way, insensibly, to the heart, and there diffuses an extatic delight, that thrills through every fibre of the frame, awakens sen
* We wish likewise to be informed, what Col. Vallancey means by the keys of a harp i and whether, by an error in the press, tbe word keys has not been used for the fins round which the strings are wound, in order to receive from the tuning-hammer their proper degree of tensien. f P. 64. .