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Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 3.djvu/407

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INTRODUCTION TO THE HEBREW MELODIES.

According to the "Advertisement" prefixed to Murray's First Edition of the Hebrew Melodies, London, 1815 (the date, January, 1815, was appended in 1832), the "poems were written at the request of the author's friend, the Hon. D. Kinnaird, for a selection of Hebrew Melodies, and have been published, with the music, arranged by Mr. Braham and Mr. Nathan."

Byron's engagement to Miss Milbanke took place in September, 1814, and the remainder of the year was passed in London, at his chambers in the Albany. The so-called Hebrew Melodies were, probably, begun in the late autumn of that year, and were certainly finished at Seaham, after his marriage had taken place, in January-February, 1815. It is a natural and pardonable conjecture that Byron took to writing sacred or, at any rate, scriptural verses by way of giving pleasure and doing honour to his future wife, "the girl who gave to song What gold could never buy." They were, so to speak, the first-fruits of a seemlier muse.

It is probable that the greater number of these poems were in MS. before it occurred to Byron's friend and banker, the Honble. Douglas James William Kinnaird (1788-1830), to make him known to Isaac Nathan (i 792-1864), a youthful composer of "musical farces and operatic works," who had been destined by his parents for the Hebrew priesthood, but had broken away, and, after some struggles, succeeded in qualifying himself as a musician.

Byron took a fancy to Nathan, and presented him with the copyright of his "poetical effusions," on the understanding that they were to be set to music and sung in public by John