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FAREWELL, FAIR ARMIDA.
This Song was written on the death of Captain Digby, a younger
son of the Earl of Bristol, who was killed in the great sea-fight between the English and Dutch, on the 28th May, 1672. The relentless beauty to whom the lines were addressed, was Frances Stuart, Duchess of Richmond ; called in the Memoires de Grammont, La Belle Stuart. Count Hamilton there assures us, that her charms made conquest of Charles II., and were the occasion of much jealousy to the Countess of Castlemaine. Dryden's
song is parodied in “ The Rehearsal,” in that
made by “ Tom Thimble's first wife after she was dead.” “Farewell, fair Armida, is printed in the Covent-Garden Drollery, 1672, p. 16, where there is an exculpatory answer by the Lady, but of little merit.
FAREWELL, fair Armida, my joy and my grief!
On seas and in battles, in bullets and fire,
But if the kind flood on a wave should convey, And under your window my body should lay, The wound on my breast when you happen to see, You'll say with a sigh-it was given by me.
These verses are addressed to Louise de la Querouailles. That lady
came to England with the Duchess of Orleans, when she visited her brother Charles II. in 1670. The beauty of this " fair stranger" made the intended impression on Charles; he detained her in England, and created her Duchess of Portsmouth. Notwithstanding the detestation in which she was held by his subjects, on account of her religion, country, and politics, she continued to be Charles's principal favourite till the very hour of his death, when he recommended her and her son to his successor's protection.
A SONG FOR ST CECILIA'S DAY.
Sr Cecilia was, according to her legend, a Roman virgin of rank, who flourished during
the reign of Marcus Aurelius AnShe was a Christian, and, by her purity of life, and constant employment in the praises of her Maker, while yet on earth, obtained intercourse with an angel. Being married to Valerianas, a Pagan, she not only prevailed upon him to abstain from using any familiarity with her person, but converted him and his brother to Christianity. They were all martyrs for the faith in the reign of Septimius Severus. Chaucer has celebrated this legend in the “ Second Nonne’s Tale,” which is almost a literal translation from the “Golden Legend” of Jacobus Januensis. As all professions and fraternities, in ancient times, made choice of a tutelar saint, Cecilia was elected the protectress of music and musicians. It was even believed that she had invented the organ, although no good authority can be discovered for such an assertion. Her festival was celebrated from an early period by those of the profession over whom she presided.
The revival of letters, with the Restoration, was attended with a similar resuscitation of the musical art; but the formation of a Musical Society, for the annual commemoration of St Cecilia's day, did not take place until 1680. An ode, written for the occasion, was set to music by the most able professor, and
rehearsed before the society and their stewards upon the 22d November, the day dedicated to the patroness. The first effusions of this kind are miserable enough. Mr Malone has preserved a few verses of an ode, by an anonymous author, in 1633 ; that of 1684 was furnished by Oldham, whom our author has commemorated by an elegy; that of 1685 was written by Nahum Tate, and is given by Mr Malone, Vol. I. p. 274. There was no performance in 1686; and, in 1687, Dryden furnished the following ode, which was set to music by Draghi, an eminent Italian composer. Of the annual festival, Motteux gives the following account: