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of domestic life. Alceus breathed the lofty sontimelits of patriotio heroism. Horuce himself mingles in his lyrical miscellany the heroical, the martial, the philosophi cal, the tender, the gay, and the amorous, and seems to adapt his measures with equal felicity to all. The range of song, however, as we understand the word, bis more limited; for, relinquishing to the ode the more elevated subjects and elaborate exertions of the lyric musejr it chiefly confines itself to lighter topics, and especially delights to express the pleasures and pains of love, and the unrestrained hilarity of the convivial board. Not that it entirely discards more serious arguments; but always having in view a real or possible union with vocal music, it regulates itself in its subjects, and the mode of treating them, by the usual oocasions in which such music is called for. Hence it is precluded from the compass,
digression, and inequality of measure, permitted to the odez, and for the same Teason it adopts a simpler and more intelligible style of diction;linot, however, rejecting the rich and glowing, when suited to the subject; and even demanding in most cases a high degree of polished elegance. .But before we enter into further particulars relative to the arrangement and rules of construction of these compositions, it will be necessary to clear the way by disposing of the claims to kindred of an ambiguous species of production often confounded with the song, namely, the ballad.
There are few nations which do not possess records of the events of early times, especially of those in which public or private valour has been signalized, in metrical narratives, stamped indeed with the rudeness of the ages that produced them, but capable by the force of as
sociation of exciting the most lively emotions. Singing these pieces to the sound of some musical instrument has in many countries formed the sole occupation of a class of men, who thence have obtained high regard from persons of all ranks, and have been the constant attendants at solemn and social festivities. To these national subjects they frequently added legendary and marvellous tales, and remarkable adventures; everything, in short, that could interest those who were strangers to all other intellectual gratification. Many of these metrical stories ran out to great length, almost reaching the measure of epic narration ; but notwithstanding the monotony of a perpetually recurring tune and measure, they were eagerly listened to by the rustic hearers, whilst passing whole nights round the social hearth. In process of time, as manners and
language became more refined, and the art of writing brought the productions of the mind to a severer test than that of the ear, these rude performances lost their attraction with the superior ranks in society, and were succeeded by others displaying more skill and contrivance. And if the popularity of national stories rendered them still dear to the recollection, they were retold in newer and more polished diction, perhaps retrenched in their prolixity, and enlivened by touches of sentiment. The two editions of the ballad of Chevy Chase, which may be seen and compared in Dr. Percy's “Reliques of Ancient Poetry,” form an example of this alteration.
In the further progress of literary taste, these compositions came to be considered as objects of curiosity on account of the insight they afforded into the manners and modes of thinking of remote times ; while the strokes of nature with which they abounded, and the artless simplicity and strength of their language, excited the admiration of liberal critics. When, therefore, they had long ceased to be current in popular song or recitation; they were carefully collected by poetical antiquaries, and elucidated by historical notes; and thus a secondary importance was attached to them, scarcely inferior to that which they possessed when chanted to the harp of the itinerant minstrel. Admiration naturally produced imitation; and it became a trial of skill to counterfeit or copy these reliques of a distant age. The well-known collection of Dr. Percy above referred to contains numerous specimens both of the genuine and the fictitious historical or narrative ballad, and was very efficacious in diffusing a taste for these compositions. They have, however, lately appeared with more ad