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The Modern Scottish Minstrel, Volume III - The Songs of Scotland of the Past Half Century

312 pages
Project Gutenberg's The Modern Scottish Minstrel, Volume III, by VariousThis eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and withalmost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away orre-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License includedwith this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.orgTitle: The Modern Scottish Minstrel, Volume IIIThe Songs of Scotland of the Past Half CenturyAuthor: VariousRelease Date: September 26, 2006 [EBook #19385]Language: English*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK MODERN SCOTTISH MINSTREL ***Produced by Susan Skinner, Ted Garvin and the OnlineDistributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.netTHE MODERN SCOTTISH MINSTREL; BY CHARLES ROGERS, LL.D. F.S.A. SCOT.VOL. III. ABBOTSFORD EDINBURGH: ADAM & CHARLES BLACK, NORTHBRIDGE, BOOKSELLERS AND PUBLISHERS TO THE QUEEN.Allan Cunningham. Lithographed for the Modern Scottish Minstrel, by Schenck &McFarlane. Allan Cunningham.cLithographed for the Modern Scottish Minstrel, by Schenck & M Farlane.THEMODERN SCOTTISH MINSTREL;OR,THE SONGS OF SCOTLAND OF THE PAST HALF CENTURY.WITHMemoirs of the Poets,ANDSKETCHES AND SPECIMENSIN ENGLISH VERSE OF THE MOST CELEBRATEDMODERN GAELIC BARDS.BYCHARLES ROGERS, LL.D.F.S.A. SCOT.IN SIX VOLUMES;VOL. III.EDINBURGH: ADAM & CHARLES BLACK, NORTH BRIDGE, BOOKSELLERS AND PUBLISHERS TO HERMAJESTY.M.DCCC.LVI.EDINBURGH:PRINTED BY BALLANTYNE AND COMPANY,PAUL'S WORK.TOLIEUTENANT-COLONELSIR JAMES EDWARD ...
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Project Gutenberg's The Modern Scottish Minstrel,
Volume III, by Various
This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no
cost and with
almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it,
give it away or
re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg
License included
with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org
Title: The Modern Scottish Minstrel, Volume III
The Songs of Scotland of the Past Half Century
Author: Various
Release Date: September 26, 2006 [EBook #19385]
Language: English
*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK
MODERN SCOTTISH MINSTREL ***
Produced by Susan Skinner, Ted Garvin and the
Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.netTHE MODERN SCOTTISH MINSTREL; BY CHARLES
ROGERS, LL.D. F.S.A. SCOT. VOL. III.
ABBOTSFORD EDINBURGH: ADAM & CHARLES
BLACK, NORTH BRIDGE, BOOKSELLERS AND
PUBLISHERS TO THE QUEEN.
Allan Cunningham. Lithographed for the Modern
Scottish Minstrel, by Schenck & McFarlane. Allan
Cunningham.
Lithographed for the Modern Scottish Minstrel, by
cSchenck & M Farlane.
THE
MODERN SCOTTISH
MINSTREL;
OR,
THE SONGS OFSCOTLAND OF THE
PAST HALF CENTURY.
WITH
Memoirs of the Poets,
AND
SKETCHES AND
SPECIMENS
IN ENGLISH VERSE OF
THE MOST
CELEBRATED
MODERN GAELIC
BARDS.BY
CHARLES ROGERS,
LL.D.
F.S.A. SCOT.
IN SIX VOLUMES;
VOL. III.
EDINBURGH: ADAM & CHARLES BLACK, NORTH
BRIDGE, BOOKSELLERS AND PUBLISHERS TO
HER MAJESTY.
M.DCCC.LVI.
EDINBURGH:
PRINTED BY BALLANTYNE AND COMPANY,
PAUL'S WORK.
TO
LIEUTENANT-COLONEL
SIR JAMES EDWARD ALEXANDER,
K.L.S., AND K.ST.J.,
A DISTINGUISHED TRAVELLER, A GALLANT
OFFICER, AND A PATRIOTIC SCOTSMAN,THIS THIRD VOLUME
OF
The Modern Scottish Minstrel
IS DEDICATED,
WITH SENTIMENTS OF RESPECT AND
GRATITUDE,
BY
HIS VERY OBEDIENT, FAITHFUL SERVANT,
CHARLES ROGERS.
SCOTTISH AND HELLENIC
MINSTRELSY:
An Essay.
By JAMES DONALDSON, A.M.
Men who compare themselves with their nearest
neighbours are almost invariably conceited, speak
boastingly of themselves, and disrespectfully of
others. But if a man extend his survey, if he mingle
largely with people whose feelings and opinions havebeen modified by quite different circumstances, the
result is generally beneficial. The very act of
accommodating his mind to foreign modes of thought
expands his nature; and he becomes more liberal in
his sentiments, more charitable in his construction of
deeds, and more capable of perceiving real goodness
under whatever shape it may present itself. So when a
Scotsman criticises Scotch poetry viewed by itself
alone, he is apt to be carried away by his patriotism,—
he sees only the delightful side of the subject, and he
ventures on assertions which flatter himself and his
country at the expense of all other nations. If,
however, we place the productions of our own country
side by side with those of another, the excellences and
the deficiencies of both are seen in stronger relief; the
contrasts strike the mind, and the heart is widened by
sympathising with goodness and beauty diversely
conceived and diversely portrayed. For this reason, we
shall attempt a brief comparison of Hellenic and
Scottish songs.
Before we enter on our characterisation of these, we
must glance at the materials which we have to survey.
Greek lyric poetry arose about the beginning of the
eighth century before the Christian era, and continued
in full bloom down to the time when it passed into
drama on the Athenian stage. The names of the poets
are universally known, and have become, indeed,
almost part of our poetic language. Every one speaks
of an Anacreon, a Sappho, and a Pindar; and the
names of Archilochus, Alcman, Alcæus, Stesichorus,
Simonides, Ibycus, and Bacchylides, if not so often
used, are yet familiar to most. Few of these lyrists
belonged to Greece proper. They belonged to Greeceonly in the sense in which the Greeks themselves
used the word, as including all the colonies which had
gone forth from the motherland. Most of the early
Greek song-writers dwelt in Asia Minor—some were
born in the islands of the Cyclades, and some in
Southern Italy; but all of them were proud of their
Greek origin, all of them were thorough Greeks in their
hearts. It is only the later bards who were born and
brought up on the Greek mainland, and most of these
lived to see the day when almost all the lyric poets
took their grandest flights in the choral odes of their
dramas. These odes, however, do not fall within the
province of our comparison. The lyrical efforts both of
Æschylus and Sophocles were inwoven with the
structure of their plays, the chorus in Æschylus being
generally one of the actors; and they have their
modern representatives, not in the songs of the
people, but in the arias of operas. Setting these aside,
we have few genuine efforts of the Greek lyric muse
belonging to the dramatic period—the most important
being several songs sung by the Greeks at their
banquets, which have fortunately been preserved.
After this era, we have no lyric poems of the Greeks
worth mentioning. The verse-writers took henceforth
to epigrams—epigrams on everything on the face of
the earth. These have been collected into the "Greek
Anthology;" but the greater part of them are
contemptible in a poetic point of view. They are
interesting as throwing light on the times; but they are
weak and vapid as expressions of the beatings of the
human heart, and they are full of conceits. Besides
these, there are the Anacreontic odes, known to all
Greek scholars and to a great number of English,
since they have been frequently translated. With oneor two exceptions, they were all written between the
third and twelfth centuries of the Christian era, though
some scholars have boldly asserted that they were
forgeries even of a later date. Most of them seem to
be expansions of lines of Anacreon. They are in
general neat, pretty, and gaysome, but tame and
insincere. There is nothing like earnestness in them,
nothing like genuine deep feeling; but thus they are all
the more suited for a certain class of lovers and
drinkers, who do not wish to be greatly moved by
anything under the sun.
Scotch lyric poetry may be said to commence with the
lyrics attributed to James I., or with those of
Henryson. There is clear proof, indeed, that long
before this time the Scotch were much given to song-
making and song-singing; but of these early popular
lilts, almost nothing remains. Henryson's lyrics,
however, belonged more to the class that were
intended to be read than to be sung, and this is true of
a considerable number of his successors, such as
Dunbar, and Maitland of Lethington, who were learned
men, and wrote with a learned air, even when writing
for the people. The Reformation, as surely as it threw
down every carved stone, shut up the mouth of every
profane songster. Wedderburne's "Haly Ballats" may
have been spared for a time by the iconoclasts,
because they had helped to build up their own temple;
but they could not survive long,—they were cast in a
profane mould, they were sung to profane tunes, and
away they must go into oblivion. Our song-writers, for
a long time after, are unknown minstrels, who had no
character to lose by making or singing profane songs,
—they were of the people, and sang for them. Somatters continued, until, at the commencement of the
eighteenth century, Scottish songs began to be the
rage both in England and Scotland, and an eager
desire arose to gather up old snatches and preserve
them. Henceforth Scotch poetry held up its head, and
a few remarkable poets won their way into the hearts
of large masses of the people. At last appeared the
emancipator of Scottish song in the form of a
ploughman, stirring the deepest feelings of all classes
with songs that may be justly styled the best of all
national popular songs, and for ever settling the claims
of a song-writer to one of the highest niches in the
temple of Fame.
The first thing that strikes us, on dipping into a book of
Greek songs, and then a book of Scotch, is the
different position of the poets. The Greek poet was
regarded as a kind of superior being—an interpreter
between gods and men; and, supposed to be under
the special protection of Divinity, he was highly
honoured and reverenced wherever he went. The
Scotch bard, on the other hand, is a poor wanderer,
whose name is unknown, who received little respect,
and whose knowledge of God and the higher purposes
of life cannot be reckoned in any way great. There
may be a few exceptions. We find nobles sometimes
writing popular songs, and occasionally a learned man
may have contributed strains; but these are generally
not superior either in wit, pathos, or morality, to the
verses of the unknown and hard-toiling. This striking
contrast arises from a change that had taken place in
the history of song. In Greece, all the teeming ideas of
the fertile-minded people found expression in
harmonious measures, and their songs touched every