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Of songes and of detees glade.-GOWER.
Old songs the happy music of the heart-WORDSWORTH.
POETRY, Music, and Painting, are universally acknowledged to be the early offspring of all nations, even in their rudest state, "wherever language is found," says Mr. Southey, verse of some kind or other is found also ;"* and the great Dryden has said, that " mankind even the most barbarous, have the seeds of poetry implanted in them." + Music, I may add, had its origin at the same time, but painting was of somewhat later growth, when knowledge was greater and refinement more extensive:
"Our arts are sisters, though not twins in birth,
so the author of Absalom and Achitophel, wrote to Sir Godfrey Kneller. It is remarked by Ritson, that "all writers agree in speaking of song as the most ancient species of poetry, its origin," he adds, " is even thought to be coeval with mankind." ‡
* Preface to his Continuation of Ellis's Specimens.
+ Preface to the Translation of Juvenal.
+ IIistorical Essay on National Song, 1783.
When the earth was 'young and green,' we are informed by our Bibles, every man was a shepherd and attended his own flocks as they browsed on unmown plains and sunny declivities, where, though sin was known, yet harmony more widely prevailed, and love influenced alike shepherd and shepherdess. Our first parents we may suppose, sung not verses in celebration of each other, but tuned their voices "in the wild notes of natural poetry"* to the praise of their Creator, who had placed them in the midst of such blessings; and so Milton has poetically, and perhaps, correctly described them. To some disconsolate swain who was desirous of making widely known either the charms or the cruelty of his mistress, we must impute the birth of our love-songs; those were the strains that " delayed the huddling brook, and lapped the prisoned soul in soft elysium;" the maid was then likened to a sportive lamb, her teeth to the white fleeces of a newly washen flock of sheep, and her lips to the dropping honey; those sweet strains sung to the music of a shepherd's reed, described by Allan Ramsay, as—
"A dainty whistle with a pleasant sound,"
after the dance with timbrels in the cool of evening, presented to the mind all that earth could offer of paradise.
* Dryden. Preface to Juvenal.