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E'en through the blood-marks left by Camden * there,
* Not the Camden who speaks thus of Ireland :
"To wind up all, whether we regard the fruitfulness of the soil, the advantage of the sea with so many commodious havens, or the natives themselves, who are warlike, ingenious, handsome and well-complexioned, soft-skinned, and very nimble by reason of the pliantness of their muscles, this island is in many respects so happy that Giraldus might very well say, “Nature had regarded with more favourable eyes than ordinauy this Kingdom-of Zephyr.""
Such was the spirit, grandly, gently bright,
APPENDIX. The following is part of a Preface which was intended by a friend and countryman of mine for a collection of Irish airs, to which he has adapted English words. As it has never been published, and is not inapplicable to my subject, I shall take the liberty of subjoining it here.
Our history, for many centuries past, is creditable neither to our neighbours nor ourselves, and ought not to be read by any Irishman who wishes either to love England or to feel proud of Ireland. The loss of independence very early debased our character; and our feuds and rebellions, though frequent and ferocious, but seldom displayed that generous spirit of enterprise with which the pride of an independent monarchy so long dignified the struggles of Scotland. It is true this island has given birth to heroes who, under more favourable circumstances, might have left in the hearts of their countrymen recollections as dear as those of a Bruce or a Wallace; but success was wanting to consecrate resistance, their cause was branded with the disheartening name of treason, and their oppressed country was such a blank among nations that, like the adventures of those woods which Rinaldo wished to explore, the fame of their actions was lost in the obscurity of the place where they achieved them.
-Errando in quelli boschi
Che non se n'ha notizia le più volte.*
he can venture at this day to commemorate, with safety to himseh, or perhaps with honour to his country, are to be looked for in those times when the native monarchs of Ireland displayed and fostered virtues worthy of a better age ; when our Malachies wore collars of gold which they had won in single combat from the invader, * and our Briens deserved the blessings of a people by all the most estimable qualities of a king. It may be said, indeed, that the magic of tradition has shed a charm over this remote period to which it is in reality but little entitled, and that most of the pictures, which we dwell on so fondly, of days when this island was distinguished amidst the gloom of Europe, by the sanctity of her morals, the spirit of her knighthood, and the polish of her schools, are little more than the inventions of national partiality,--that bright but spurious offspring which vanity engenders upon ignor. ance, and with which the first records of every people abound. But the sceptic is scarcely to be envied who would pause for stronger proofs than we already possess of the early glories of Ireland ; and were even the veracity of all these proofs surrendered, yet who would not fly to such flattering fictions from the sad degrading truths which the history of later times presents to us?
The language of sorrow, however, is, in general, best suited to our Music, and with themes of this nature the poet may be amply supplied. There is not a page of our annals which cannot afford him a subject, and while the national Muse of other countries adorns her temple with trophies of the past, in Ireland her altar, like the shrine of Pity at Athens, is to be known only by the tears that are shed upon it; “lacrymis altaria sudant." +
There is a well-known story, related of the Antiochians under the reign of Theodosius, which is not only honourable to the powers of music in general, but which applies so peculiarly to the mournful melodies of Ireland that I cannot resist the temptation of introducing it here.— The piety of Theodosius would have been admirable if it had not been stained with intolerance; but his reign, I believe, affords the first example of a disqualifying penal cude enacted by Christians against Christians.I Whether his interfer. ance with the religion of the Antiochians had any share in the alienation of their loyalty is not expressly ascertained by historians; but severe edicts, heavy taxation, and the rapacity and insolence of the men whom he sent to govern them, sufficiently account for the discontents of a warm and susceptible people. Repentance soon followed the crimes into which their impatience had hurried them ; but the vengeance of the Emperor was implacable, and punishments of the most dreadful nature hung over the city of
See Warner's History of Ireland, vol. i. book ix.
Statius, Thebaid. lib. xii. I "A sort of civil excommunication," says Gibbon, "which separated them from their fellow-citizens by a pecudida brand of infamy; and this declaration of the supreme magistrate tended justify, or at least to excuse, the insults of a fanatic populace. The sectaries were gradually disqualified for the possession of honourable or lucrative employments, and Theodosius was satisfied with his own justice when he decreed that, as the Eunomians distinguished the nature of the Son from that of the Father, they should be incapable of making their wills, or of receiving any advantage from Lestamentary donations."
Antioch, whose devoted inhabitants, totally resigned to despondence, wandered through the streets and public assemblies, giving utterance to their grief in dirges of the most touching lamentation. At length, Flavianus, their bishop, whom they had sent to intercede with Theodosius, finding all his entreaties coldly rejected, adopted the expedient of teaching these songs of sorrow which he had heard from the lips of his unfortunate countrymen to the minstrels who performed for the Emperor at table. The heart of Theodosius could not resist this appeal ; tears fell fast into his cup while he listened, and the Antiochians were forgiven.-Surely, if music ever spoke the misfortunes of a people, or could ever conciliate forgiveness for their errors, the music of Ircland ought to possess those powers
Why, let the stingless critic chide
TO A LADY, WITH SOME MANUSCRIPT POEMS.
ON LEAVING THE COUNTRY.
I leave the friends I cherish here