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and fixing on Gentleman No. 2 a more pleasure to hear even a street glance of the most withering scorn organ play a simple old English air, and intense detestation, he spake once than it would to occupy the very again, and to my extreme astonish- choicest stall in the whole Italian ment, like Southey's Enchantress, Opera-House; and yet (though I fear “ still his speech was song,"-clear, I shall provoke nearly as many sneers loud, sustained, “ as though he felt as I shall have readers) I claim to be no wound,” until suddenly the uplift- counted among the lovers of music. ed voice and body fell together, and The dramatic part of the business is to the unfortunate Gentleman No. 1 me so irresistibly ludicrous, that the breathed his last in B flat.
beauty of the music and far be it I would go on to tell how there from me to deny that of Italy its due came on a fayre ladye,” weeping share) is lost and gone in the utter and wailing, and tearing her “ lang absurdity of the tout ensemble. I canlang yellow hair," and how she knelt not yield myself to any illusion at a by the side of the defunct Gentleman spectacle so unnatural. I can no more No. 1, and how she endeavoured to sympathize with a hero who lives, recall what the newspapers denominate loves, eats, drinks, fights, and dies o the vital spark," by a bravura of a singing, than I can sympathize, like quarter of an hour's duration ; and the Morning Herald, (admirable, an how an elderly gentlemen, with a editor though he be, with a condemncracked voice and cranium to match, ed murderer. I know many a sweet which latter was his only excuse for air, from many an opera, which I can not knowing better, made dishonour. drink in, again and again, with ever able proposals to the said fair one, in fresh delight; but it must not be witha very long-winded solo for a Sexa. in the walls of a theatre ; there must genarian ; and how, after much sor. be no tinsel and trappings-no footrow and trouble, the lady, towards the lights and finery—the air, the whole middle of the third act, after singing a air, and nothing but the air-no“chropassionate song over a small phial of matic tortures of “ quaint recitatipoison, swallowed the contents at a vos;”—and then I will sit and crygulp; and how the audience were “ Play on--let me have more of it!” treated to a specimen of an Italian co till the fair fingers of the minstrel ronach by fifteen young maidens, all grow weary of their task, and the sil. with tresses carefully dishevelled, and very voice pleads their excuse as many serving-men in disordered sweetly, that the melody of art is forliveries, headed by a Coryphæus in gotten in that of nature. the person of the aforementioned old A theatre is not, to my thinking, gentleman, by this time driven by re the proper place for vocal music; or, morse into a state of “very midsummer perhaps, it may be nearer the truth madness." But I should seem as one to say that vocal music is, for the that mocketh to many a worthy and most part, so awkwardly introduced simple-minded country cousin, and I in our drama, that I am apt unthinkforbear. I have never been to the ingly to find fault with the practice, Italian Opera from that day to this. instead of confining my censure to its I look upon 'it as the greatest outrage abuse. Nine-tenths of the songs which to common sense that ever was per we hear upon the stage are so lugged petrated. I regard a ballet with a far in by the head and shoulders, that we more lenient, and even favourable eye. cannot be surprised if they suffer from The ballet is a great philosophical ex the operation. People in plays sing, periment to ascertain the maximum for the most part, exactly when nodegree of indecency which the eye of body, in his senses would dream of the most moral public is able to endure their being musical. Companies of without flinching ; but which, alas ! banditti rove about, shouting out a seems destined, like too many meri chorus which cannot by any possibitorious undertakings, never to accom- lity fail to betray their whereabouts ; plish its object. My friend the may. young gentlemen, head over ears in oress would doubtless have preferred love, chant beneath their mistresses' an old-fashioned “ threesome reel” to windows with a strength of lungs all the elegant improprieties of the which must infallibly awaken the most “poetry of dancing.
snoring and somnolent of papas; and Honestly and seriously, it gives me wicked little soubrettes display their
vocal powers in the drawing-room, at tions but realities—to make him give the imminent risk of being turned out himself up to the illusion of the mo. of the house at a minute's warning by ment, annihilating both time and space their justly infuriated “missus.” No from the instant the curtain rises modern play-wright seems to have the transporting himself through centuslightest notion that there is a time pro- ries, and across oceans-undergoing per for singing, and a time proper for a living metempsychosis – now holding one's tongue. Shakspeare in- “royal Dane," and now an“ antique troduced songs, and why shouldn't they? Roman,"—and subsiding into bis prisTrue; but Shakspeare never went a tine John Bullism only when some single inch out of his way to accommo. second-rate son of the buskin glides date a song. His men and women sing delicately from behind the curtain, to exactly as men and women ought to sing announce the entertainments of the -at the proper time, and in the proper
I do not know whether or manner; two requisites which we, who no my principle be correct; but, be sing away,
o ab ovo usque ad mala," this as it may, it is that upon which have most unaccountably lost sight of. I like to act myself, if the gods would I quote the following words from the only allow me.
But no-the powers very last number of Maga, without of 'the one-shilling gallery are a curtailment, partly for the excellence straightforward, matter-of-fact race of of the criticism, and partly because deities, that have no notion of being they supplied the hint for these, my deluded in any way whatever: tailor present rude lucubrations : “ Joanna outsqueaks tailor, barber out-bravos Baillie,” says the critic, for he is barber, baker outclaps baker, butcher speaking of no less a name, “ takes outwhistles butcher--the play stands care to make no people sing in situa still the actors return to their old at tions in which it is not natural for them titudes—the song is sung again ; and to do so; the songs are all sung by Miss Snevellicci, act as she will, is, those who have little or nothing to act, for the rest of the evening, Miss --[so Amicus, in As you Like It,] Snevellicci, and Miss Snevellicci only. and introduced when nothing very in I never yet saw Richard dream or die teresting is going on; and they are a second time ; but, should it ever be supposed not to be spontaneous ex. the pleasure of the British public to pressions of sentiment in the singer, demand such an effort (and there are but, as songs in ordinary life usually many things, as far as I see, more are, compositions of other people, improbable), I could regard the exhiwhich have been often sung before, bition with exactly the same degree of and which are only generally appli- complacency. But I am running cable to the present occasion. In away from my friend the mayoress. these few words, which are nearly all I suppose a lady of fashion now-aher own, this great poetess has laid days would as soon think of admitting down the principles on which alone can that she did not adore Italian music, any musical drama be constructed as she would of confessing her age. agreeably to nature."
For my part, I look upon our ItaSo much for theatrical song-singing; lianizing dames pretty much as sturdy though, by the way, I have yet an. old Juvenal looked upon the Græcizing other crow to pick with it before I patricians—“non possum ferre, Quileave it, inasmuch as the better the rites, Græcam urbem." There is no song is sung, the more it tends, by end to our unnatural adoptions producing an encore, to dispel stiil « Jampridem Syrus in Tiberim defurther the already fading illusion of fluxit Orontes" - Italians, and French, the stage. The grand object of the and Germans--the Swiss family This, drama is, of course, to “ hold the and the Dutch family That, and the . mirror up to nature,” that it may ad Russian family T'other Chanteurs mire (which it may do without vanity) Montagnards, Siffleurs, and Chinits own beauties, and see and amend choppers-Alpine minstrels, and Bo. its own follies and deformities. Fore. hemian minstrels, and minstrels from most among its secondary aims, I take the Lord knows where; verily, the to be the endeavour. to impress the plague of foreigners is upon us, and of spectator with a belief, as far as such all live plagues defend me from this ! a thing is possible, that the scenes Were the evil confined to the boards which pass before his eyes are not fic of the Opera House, or the purlieus of
Leicester Square, I should not mind the most part scan; but as to any it so much, though it would still be thing beyond, why, a black swan bad enough. But this is, alas ! far would be nothing to the rarity. Our from being the case. Read a pro- list of modern song-writers (I do not gramme of a fashionable morning con. mean mere “ metre-ballad-mongers” cert—the probability is, that you will and Haynes. Bayley-ites, but good not find one English song in the list. honest song-writers) is small indeed ; Walk into a fashionable drawing-room, of living ones we have scarcely any. and ask Miss Mary or Miss Caroline Moore seems to think he has done to favour you with a little music- enough, and so he has, for fame; for fifty to one she strikes up some Italian there is immortality enough and to rigmarole, of which you understand spare in the Irish melodies. Allan not a syllable, but which you are bound Cunningham has written several stirto pronounce the most beautiful thing ring strains-why is his pen idle ? you ever heard in your life, as you Poor Captain Morris is dead !-peace would escape being set down for a to his manes ! his songs (and so were greater Goth than even Alaric him- Dibdin's) were superb in their wayself. An English audience, “gaping that is, when men were reasonably for wonderment” at a modern morn well advanced in the second bottle. ing concert, puts me strongly in mind Of Burns, I fear I may say, little but of a congregation of Roman Catholics the name is known in these parts, at their devotions. They are alike
save to a few. Walter Scott has most admiring and devout listeners to written some glorious songs, but who a service, of the meaning of which nine- sings them ? and last, " not least in tenths of them have no more compre our dear love," Felicia Hemans has hension than a cow has of mathematics. penned some strains of passing beauty, But the evil does not stop at morning which one would think the world concerts and crowded soirées ; like the would not willingly let die ; yet, are frogs of Egypt, it invades our very all these passing away silently to their chambers, and takes its station unre oblivion, to be recalled, now and then, sisted by our parlour firesides—those only by such old-fashioned folks as very citadels of John Bullism—our myself and the mayoress. very children of ten years old practise We English, I suppose, neglect our bravuras, and prattle of Donizetti. own music more than any people upon
The honest old English song never the face of the earth, and with as little was at a greater discount than in this reason for so doing. We are the most musical age.
We do not get a most loan-loving nation under the sun; decent one once a-year; and, when we we borrow pretty nearly every thing ; have that luck, it endures only for a our dresses, our habits of life, and week. Our modern fashionable bal.
now, at last, our music.
We are not lads are the most execrable compounds an idle people, nor a foolish people ; of mawkish sentimentality that ever but somehow or other we have got melted the soul of a nursery-maid- hold of a notion that nothing of our full of pale high brows, and dark own is worth a brass farthing, and flashing eyes, and long flowing tresses that every thing belonging to every of raven
blackness—strong spirit body else is worth its weight in gold. yearnings, and heart-tempests of ap. We go upon tick for taste, and we palling violence. Unhappy music are put off with an inferior material appears doomed henceforth to a per- into the bargain. I never yet heard petual state of ancient maidenhood; an overture, or a fantasia, or a fugue, for there is no longer any “immortal or an aria, that could stand any thing verse" to marry her to. Even good like a comparison with three-fourths music, when burthened with the of the old Irish and Scottish melodies, trashy words with which these days which one scarcely dares call for, for are afflicted, is, to my thinking, three fear of being stared down by a parcel parts ruined ; but this is a matter of people who never even heard of about which our modern musicians their existence. Those of Scotland, trouble their heads very little—words in particular, have to me, though I am are made for tunes, not tunes for no Scotchman, an inexpressible charm. words; and one would think they I could listen to “ Auld Robin Gray," were made by contract into the bar. and “ Ye banks and braes," and " My gain ; sometimes they rhyme, and for love is like the red red rose," and
fifty more that I could name, every luxury of music, I must have no hired
“ Shakes and flourishes, outroom, with its « intricacies of labori.
That mar, not grace, an honest English
song,” feelings: we are no more touched by “ Vivi tu,” much as we may applaud but clings still to the “ merit, not the its execution, than we are by the less precious that we seldom hear it,” street-minstrel, whom we bribe with the pathetic simplicity which nature a whole penny to bestow his oft-repeat- prompts—whose heart is in the strain ed “ All round my hat,” on the un she wakens, forgetful for the time of suspecting inhabitants of some more external things, and breathing only in distant locality. I cannot enjoy music, its own created atmosphere of harany more than I can read poetry, in a mony.
This is to me a banquet at crowd-except it be our own magnifi- which there is no chance “ that appecent National Anthem, or some strain tite should sicken, and so die." . To which, stirring us as with the sound such a feast I would even be selfish of a trumpet, summons up at once in enough to wish no fellow guests. I a thousand bosoms other and nobler would have no voice to break the spell, associations than those which music to startle the spirit from its trance of more generally endeavours to awake; enchantment—to mar with the sounds strains at which every heart beats of earth the tones which bless us with more proudly—to which every tongue dreams of heaven. bursts forth in involuntary chorus Our own Shakspeare, in one of the which kindle to a blaze in our bosoms most exquisite productions of his geall the pride, and the honour, and the nius, has drawn a lover of music after love of our fatherland, which, though my own heart. I love that musicthey may for a time burn dimly, may loving Duke of Illyria before he has never, like the Shebir's fire, be wholly spoken two lines :extinguished. To revel in the fuil
“Now, good Cæsario, but that piece of song,
That old and antique song we heard last night :
Of these most brisk and giddy-pated times.”
66 Mark it, Cæsario- it is old and plain :
The spinsters, and the knitters in the sun,
Do wont to sing it.'
of the crowds who ordinarily fill those Byron is on my side, notwithstand. receptacles, “ these feel not music's ing he asserts himself to be “a liege genuine power;" and beautifully does and loyal admirer of Italian music. he long to change the “ long-breath. The clever stanza which dashes off ed singer's uptrilled strain,” for the the “ long evenings of duets and melodies of the unnoticed minstrel, trios,” wants the feeling-marred as who
its effect is by the jingling rhyme“ Breathes on his flute sad airs, so wild and which characterises the following one, low
in which he speaks of
O'er far Atlantic continents or islands ;
All mountaineers with dreams that they are nigh lands
Yes! it is not the grand crash of to please only chromatic ears, but all the orchestra, or the painful effort of that are capable of distinguishing the concert-room - it is not your harsh from agreeable notes. A man “ Babylon's bravuras" that stir the of an ordinary ear is a judge whether heart of the wanderer who roams a passion is expressed in proper “ remote, unfriended, melancholy, sounds, and whether the melody of slow," among strangers in a strange those sounds be more or less plealand; but the honest simple strains sing." of the people-homely things which To these « chromatic ears" it is sink deep into the home-sick heart, the fashion now-a-days for John Bull strains which have cheered his evening to pretend—and he seems determined hours among friends far away-re to wear them long enough in all con. membrances of all that man holds science: but, though he has forsaken dearest-of friends, of kindred, of the national muse to attach himself love, of home. There is many a hardy with all the fervour of a renegade to Swiss heart that melts at the Ranz her foreign sisters, I cannot help des Vaches, to which the overture to thinking, and hoping, that we shall Guillaume Tell would be an unintel- yet see the day when he will be ligible and powerless congregation of pleased to resume the more « ordisounds.
nary" organs which naturally belong “ Music," says Addison, " is to de- to him when the strains 6 which duce its laws and rules from the gen. pleased of yore the public ear" shall eral sense and taste of mankind, and once more claim their ancient place not from the principles of the art it in his estimation ; and the manes of self ; or, in other words, the taste is the exasperated mayoress be appeased not to conform to the art, but the art by the restoration of the long-exiled to the taste. Music is not designed • simple ballat."