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Our Familiar Songs.
They need no introduction ; they come with the latch-string assurance of old and valued friends, whose separate welcomes have encouraged them to drop in all together. They are not popular songs merely, nor old songs exclusively, but well-known songs, of various times, on almost every theme of human interest. They are the songs we have all sung, or wished we could sing ; the songs our mothers crooned over our cradles, and our fathers hummed at their daily toil; the songs our sisters sang when they were the prima donnas of our juvenile world ; the songs of our sweethearts and our boon companions ; the songs that have swayed popular opinion, inspirited armies, sustained revolutions, honored the king, made presidents, and marked historical epochs.
Very great songs—great in all respects—are comparatively few. Perhaps a continued and warmly-expressed interest in the makers of familiar songs-equivalent to that which other artists enjoy—would render those who are willing to make the songs of a nation quite as numerous as those who are anxious to make its laws. The revival of degenerate song begun by Burns was a new inspiration ; and although several Scottish ladies, immediately following him, kept themselves sedulously hidden from public view, while they produced some of the finest songs ever written, a deep personal interest became manifest toward the writers of lyric verse in Scotland. The result is, that no other people possesses such an array of poets whose rhyme can be echoed in written melody, and there is more popular knowledge of Scotland's song-writers than of those of any other nation. In England little interest has been manifested in this portion of the tuneful guild, and still less has our own country troubled itself about its singing men and singing women.
John Howard Payne's magnificent monument only testifies to consideration that came too late. But for him, and for others even more deserving, ostentatious and costly monumental remembrance is not to be desired. Something with more of human sympathy in its expression should take its place.
"Gi'e pillar'd fame to common men ; Nae need o' cairns for ane like thee,"
says Lady Nairne, whose songs are her own most fitting memorial. " Old Dog Tray" is as much a reality to us all as if we had never sung the song without his wagging tail to beat the time. Yet Stephen C. Foster, who drew that picture