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Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 3.djvu/408

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HEBREW MELODIES.

Braham. "Professional occupations" prevented Braham from fulfilling his part of the engagement, but a guinea folio (Part. I.) ("Selections of Hebrew Melodies, Ancient and Modern, with appropriate symphonies and accompaniments, by I. Braham and I. Nathan, the poetry written expressly for the work by the Right Honourable Lord Byron")—with an ornamental title-page designed by the architect Edward Blore (1789-1879), and dedicated to the Princess Charlotte of Wales—was published in April, 1815. A second part was issued in 1816.

The preface, part of which was reprinted (p. vi.) by Nathan, in his Fugitive Pieces and Reminiscences of Lord Byron, London, 1829, is not without interest—

"The Hebrew Melodies are a selection from the favourite airs which are still sung in the religious ceremonies of the Jews. Some of these have, in common with all their Sacred airs, been preserved by memory and tradition alone, without the assistance of written characters. Their age and originality, therefore, must be left to conjecture. But the latitude given to the taste and genius of their performers has been the means of engrafting on the original Melodies a certain wildness and pathos, which have at length become the chief characteristics of the sacred songs of the Jews....

"Of the poetry it is necessary to speak, in order thus publicly to acknowledge the kindness with which Lord Byron has condescended to furnish the most valuable part of the work. It has been our endeavour to select such melodies as would best suit the style and sentiment of the poetry."

Moore, for whose benefit the Melodies had been rehearsed, was by no means impressed by their "wildness and pathos," and seems to have twitted Byron on the subject, or, as he puts it (Life, p. 276), to have taken the liberty of "laughing a little at the manner in which some of the Hebrew Melodies had been set to music." The author of Sacred Songs (1814) set to airs by Beethoven, Mozart, Haydn, etc., was a critic not to be gainsaid, but from the half-comical petulance with which he "curses" and "sun-burns" (Letters to Moore, February 22, March 8, 1815, Letters, 1899, iii. 179, 183) Nathan, and his "vile Ebrew nasalities," it is evident that Byron winced under Moore's "chaff."