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FIRST AND SECOND NUMBERS.
“ land—very often without even the honesty of " acknowledgment-we have left these treasures “ in a great degree unclaimed and fugitive. Thus " our Airs, like too many of our Countrymen, for “ want of protection at home, have passed into the " service of foreigners. But we are come, I hope, 66 to a better period both of Politics and Music ; " and how much they are connected, in Ireland " at least, appears too plainly in the tone of sor“ row and depression which characterizes most of
our early Songs.—The task which you propose to “me, of adapting words to these airs, is by no
means easy. The Poet, who would follow the 6 various sentiments which they express, must feel “ and understand that rapid fluctuation of spirits, " that unaccountable mixture of gloom and levity, " which composes the character of my countrymen,
and has deeply tinged their Music. Even 66 in their liveliest strains we find some melan
choly note intrude-some minor Third or flat 66 Seventh-which throws its shade as it passes, " and makes even mirth interesting. If BURNS “ had been an Irishman (and I would willingly “give up all our claims upon Ossian for him), his
“ heart would have been proud of such music, " and his genius would have made it immortal.
“ Another difficulty (which is, however, purely - mechanical) arises from the irregular structure of
many of those airs, and the lawless kind of metre “ which it will in consequence be necessary to adapt " to them. In these instances the Poet must write 66 not to the
eye but to the ear; and must be con“ tent to have his verses of that description which " Cicero mentions, Quos si cantu spoliaveris, " nuda remanebit oratio.' That beautiful Air, "The Twisting of the Rope, which has all " the romantic character of the Swiss Ranz des “ Vaches, is one of those wild and sentimental
rakes, which it will not be very easy to tie down " in sober wedlock with Poetry. However, not6 withstanding all these difficulties, and the very " little talent which I can bring to surmount
them, the design appears to me so truly Na
tional, that I shall feel much pleasure in giving 66 it all the assistance in my power.
" Leicestershire, Feb. 1807."