Page:Lyrics from the Song-Books of the Elizabethan Age (1896).djvu/22

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xviii
PREFACE.

Airs." The music was partly written by Campion and partly by Rosseter; but the whole of the poetry belongs to Campion. From the dedicatory epistle, by Rosseter, to Sir Thomas Monson, we learn that Campion's songs, "made at his vacant hours and privately imparted to his friends," had been passed from hand to hand, and had suffered from the carelessness of successive transcribers. Some impudent persons, we are told, had "unrespectively challenged" (i.e. claimed) the credit both of the music and the poetry. The address to the reader, which follows the dedicatory epistle, is unsigned, but appears to have been written by Campion. "What epigrams are in poetry," it begins, "the same are airs in music: then in their chief perfection when they are short and well seasoned. But to clog a light song with a long preludium is to corrupt the nature of it. Many rests in music were invented either for necessity of the fugue or granted as an harmonical licence in songs of many part; but in airs I find no use they have, unless it be to make a vulgar and trivial modulation seem to the ignorant strange and to the judicial tedious." It is odd that this true poet, who had so exquisite a sense of form, and whose lyrics are frequently triumphs of metrical skill, should have published a treatise ("Observations in