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REIGN OF QDEEN ANNE TO GEORGE II.
709
Moore was in the habit of making alterations in the airs. In the year 1825, my father was engaged as arbiter between the late John Power, Moore's publisher, and the late Robert Purdie, of Edinburgh. Purdie had published a work entitled The Irish Minstrel, the editor of which had taken, some of the melodies from' Moore's collection, believing those versions to be genuine. Power resisted this, as an infringement of his copyright, and proved that so many of the airs had been altered by Moore, that Purdie chose rather to suppress his entire work than to make such numerous alterations as would have been required. " The girl I left behind me" was not one of the airs in dispute, because it was so universally known, that Purdie's editor had no occasion to copy from Moore. The termi­nations in Purdie's Irish Minstrel agree with my copy, and are those which I argue to be correct.
With Bunting the case is different. I cannot suppose that he would alter any iir, and he is undoubtedly a great authority upon Irish music. If Bunting's version can be shewn to be older than the English copy, I readily give up the point.
The case stands thus. Bunting prints it as " procured from A. O'Neil, harper, a.d. 1800—author and date unknown." It is singular that, having it from a harper in 1800, Bunting did not include so very popular an air in his second General Collection of the Ancient Music of Ireland, printed in 1811. Did he think it decidedly Irish at that time ? If not, the omission is accountable.
Bunting informed me that he had not heard it played by any of the harpers at the Congress in 1792, when they were assembled at Belfast, from every part of Ireland, and liberal premiums were distributed among them. If the air had then been known for thirty years in Ireland, as it was in England, surely such would not have been the case.
In a letter addressed to me by Bunting, and now before me (dated 24th January, 1840), he says of this air, " It is a pretty tune, and has been played for the last fifty years, to my knowledge, by the fifes and drums, and bands of the different regiments, on their leaving the towns for new quarters." Thus Bunting's own memory carries it back in Ireland as a military air to a period ten years before he received his copy from a harper. Surely the harper may also have heard one of the bands. His arrangement is a florid one, not the simple air, and no band ever yet played it with those Irish terminations.
Finally, this harper's copy cannot have been generally known, not even to Moore, or he would certainly have adopted the alteration instead of his own very inferior one. The harper's terminations would also have answered equally well for the march.
Moore and Bunting both adopt the English name, " The girl I left behind me." The words relate to England, and to England only. It does not com­mence, " I'm lonesome since I cross'd the sea."
If it be necessary to prove that Irish harpers occasionally play airs that are not Irish, I have abundant proof at hand; but cannot suppose that any one conversant with the subject will dispute it.
My readers have now the facts before them, and can draw their own conclu­sions. I care not which way they decide. These enquiries should be conducted in the calm spirit of research after truth, and not as contentions of nationality.







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