The Handling of Hebrew Melodies

  • Tom Mole
Part of the Palgrave Studies in the Enlightenment, Romanticism and Cultures of Print book series (PERCP)


By the end of 1814, when Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage was in its ninth edition and his verse tales numbered four, Byron was a poet with a number of problems. He had mined his experiences of exotic travels almost to exhaustion — he had some unpublished scraps of Oriental poetry, but seemed incapable of turning them into a fifth verse tale. The sheen had worn off his celebrity, making fame a fact of life which was rapidly becoming routine. Worse still, his series of four Turkish Tales was increasingly being charged with that most un Byronic of qualities: predictability. Lord Byron, it was whispered, had written himself out, and what was to come promised only paler and paler imitations of his former glories. Where once Byron’s poetry had made him a celebrity, it now seemed that his poetry would be read only because he was a celebrity. George Daniel, in The Modern Dunciad (1814), put the complaint into Popeian couplets:

The town is pleas’d when BYRON will rehearse,

And finds a thousand beauties in his verse;

So fix’d his fame — that write whate’er he will,

The patient public must admire it still;

Yes, — though bereft of half his force and fire,

They still must read, — and, dozing, must admiref.]1


Title Page Foreign Word Ninth Edition Religious Theme Patient Public 
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  1. 1.
    George Daniel, The Modern Dunciad: A Satire (1814), cited in Byron: The Critical Heritage, ed. Andrew Rutherford (London: Routledge, 1970), p. 76.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Samuel Smiles, A Publisher and His Friends: Memoir and Correspondence of the Late John Murray, with an Account of the Origin and Progress of the House, 1768–1843, 2 vols (London: John Murray, 1891), I, 208.Google Scholar
  3. 7.
    See Michel de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life, trans, by Steven Rendall (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984), especially ‘“Making Do”: Uses and Tactics’, pp. 29–42.Google Scholar
  4. 8.
    There are discussions of Hebrew Melodies in Frederick W. Shilstone, Byron and the Myth of Tradition (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1988), pp. 99–112Google Scholar
  5. Bernard Blackstone, Byron: A Survey (London: Longman, 1975), pp. 129–45Google Scholar
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  9. Graham Pont, ‘Byron and Nathan: A Musical Collaboration’, The Byron Journal, 27 (1999), 51–65CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Judith Chernaik, ‘The Wild-Dove Hath Her Nest’, Times Literary Supplement, no. 5265, 27 February 2004, 12–14.Google Scholar
  11. Frederick Burwick and Paul Douglass have waged a campaign for the Hebrew Melodies to be understood as songs, beginning with Paul Douglass, ‘Hebrew Melodies as Songs: Why we Need a New Edition’, The Byron Journal, 14 (1986), 12–21; continuing with their contributions to the Paderborn Symposium: Frederick Burwick ‘Identity and Tradition in the Hebrew Melodies’ and Paul Douglass, ‘Isaac Nathan’s Settings for Hebrew Melodies’, both in English Romanticism: The Paderborn Symposium (Essen: Die Blaue Eule, 1985), pp. 123–38, 139–51; and culminating in their facsimile edition of Nathan’s settings: A Selection of Hebrew Melodies, Ancient and Modern, by Isaac Nathan and Lord Byron, ed. Frederick Burwick and Paul Douglass (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1988). This edition is hereafter cited as Burwick and Douglass.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 9.
    William Roberts, ‘Review of The Corsair, by Lord Byron’, British Review, 5 (February 1814), 506–11 (p. 506). See also Theodore Redpath’s comment that ‘[a]s the series [of Turkish Tales] went on there were […] grumbles on the score of monotony’.Google Scholar
  13. Theodore Redpath, The Young Romantics and Critical Opinion 1807–1824 (London: Harrap, 1973), p. 181.Google Scholar
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    For example, ‘Visionary as the prospect may be, we cannot resist the temptation to indulge ourselves, for a moment, in realizing the glorious emancipation which Christianity would induce on the faculties of so noble a mind. […] Deeply were it to be regretted, that such a mind should be occupied with anything short of the infinite and the eternal!’ Josiah Conder, ‘Review of Byron, The Corsair, 4th Edition (1814)’, Eclectic Review, 2nd Series, 1 (April 1814), 416–26 (pp. 424–5).Google Scholar
  15. 12.
    ‘H.S. B’, ‘Lines occasioned by reading The Bride of Abydos’, Gentleman’s Magazine, 84, no. 1 (1814), 592.Google Scholar
  16. 21.
    Thomas L. Ashton, Byron’s Hebrew Melodies (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1972), p. 26.Google Scholar
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    Joseph Slater, ‘Byron’s Hebrew Melodies’, Studies in Philology, 49 (1952), 75–94 (p. 76).Google Scholar
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    Roberts, ‘Review of Byron, Hebrew Melodies (1815)’, 200.Google Scholar
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    See Jean Baudrillard, Simulations (New York: Semiotext(e), 1983).Google Scholar
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    Rex Butler, Jean Baudrillard: The Defence of the Real (London: Sage, 1999), p. 17.Google Scholar
  21. 49.
    Donald Reiman, ed., The Romantics Reviewed, 9 vols (London: Garland, 1972), part B, 5 vols.Google Scholar

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© Tom Mole 2007

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  • Tom Mole

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