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the Editor to give some specimens of Welsh songs, the beauty and interest of which will, no doubt, lead musical readers to the inspection and study of the entire collection from which they are taken.
To the English, Scottish, Welsh, and Irish songs specified in the title-page, have been added a few American. In admitting them a rule excluding contemporary songs has been violated. Everything, however, in America comes quickly to maturity, and the flavour which, in the Old World, can be given to national melody only by age, seems to be communicable in the New, through other agencies. Certain it is that a considerable number of American songs which have taken strong hold, not only of America, but of Great Britain, cannot possibly number even the fewest years needed for the enrolment of any British composition among our national songs.
To what extent any considerable number of ancient melodies—of whatever nation—are intact; with how much of the detail, or even of the design, of their authors about them, they have come down to us, is a question which, however interesting, it is not likely there will ever be any means of answering satisfactorily. Many of the most ancient tunes must be the production of artists to whom the use of musical symbols was either unfamiliar or altogether unknown, and whose inspirations, caught up "by ear " have been passed on, from voice to voice, and from instrument to instrument, for long periods of time, before their forms were verified in the written note. Those whose only means of tradition are oral, have, no doubt, very retentive memories; but, admitting this to the fullest extent, variations innumerable, and more or less great, both in words and notes, must, in the course of frequent repetitions of the same songs, make their way into them. If we consider, too, the extent to which almost every performer impresses what he performs with his own individuality, we shall hesitate to set much store by the authenticity, whatever we may think of the beauty, of many of those versions of old melodies, which have been taken down, at such cost and trouble, by musical antiquarians, from the lips of " the oldest inhabitants" of out-of-the-way places.