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able to the feelings of the illustrious personage who bestowed it, as to the professional and general character of him on whom it was conferred. The Prince, who had long known Mr. Shield's value, both as a musician and as a member of society, seized the first opportunity that presented itself of serving a distinguished artist and a man whom he esteemed, without waiting for even the slightest request; and when Mr. Shield attended at the Pavilion to express his gratitude, his Royal Highness interrupted him in the midst of his acknowledgments, by the flattering words, — " My dear Shield, the place is your due; your merits, independently of my regard, entitle you to it."
At the late coronation, he, in his robes of office, conducted the musical part of that ceremony in Westminster Abbey; but as the performance of an ode at St. James's Palace on the King's birth-day and New Year's day never was called for during the time he held the appointment of master of the band, he had no opportunity of showing his zeal in the execution of this, the most important part of the duty that used to attach to the office. He enjoyed his two hundred and fifty pounds per annum, rather as the reward of past services, than as a retaining fee for services never, perhaps, intended to be required.
Mr. Shield was one of the original members of that body which has wrought so remarkable a change in the musical taste of this country, the Philharmonic Society, though he never took any active share in its management. Indeed he began to feel the infirmities of age rather earlier than usual. He was naturally disposed to corpulency, the tendency to which was not diminished by the sedentary habits that grew on him. During the few latter years of his life, his health and strength visibly declined, and in the beginning of the winter of 1828, symptoms of water on the chest assumed too decided a character to be mistaken. The disease made rapid progress, and on the 25th of January, 1829, he expired at his house in Berner's Street, where he had long resided, leaving a widow, but no children, to lament his loss.
VOL. XIV. H
The remains of this eminent musician and most amiable man, were removed from his residence on Wednesday, the 4th of February, and deposited in the south cloister of Westminster Abbey, amongst other men of genius who have done honour to their country. The procession was of the most simple and unostentatious kind, like the estimable composer himself, and consisted merely of a plain hearse and two mourning coaches, containing a few of Mr. Shield's most intimate friends, followed by the private carriages of some of his other acquaintances. The mourners were Mr. Thomas Broadwood (the executor), Colonel Crosdil, Mr. J. B. Cramer, Mr. V. Novello, Mr. Blake, Mr. Taylor, Mr. Parkinson, and Mr. Cahusac. The body was received at the door of the Abbey (where it arrived about twelve o'clock) by the gentlemen of the choirs, of whom there was a most numerous attendance, and the musical part of the service began. It consisted of the admirable service in G minor, by Dr. Croft. On the entrance of the coffin into the choir, and after the mourners had taken their places in the stalls, the fine funeral chant by Thomas Purcell was performed. This was followed by Dr. Greene's masterly anthem in A minor, "Lord, let me know mine end," in which the fine processional bass, stalking throughout the movement, had a most charming effect. The coffin was now removed towards the cloisters, during the progress to which was performed the inimitably fine verse composed by Purcell, to the words, " Lord, thou knowest the secrets of our hearts;" which Croft, who composed all the rest of the service, would not even attempt to reset, as he despaired of producing anything at all to compare with this exquisite specimen of Purcell's deep feeling and pathetic expression. On the body's being lowered into the grave, (which is quite close to that of his old friend, Mr. Salomon, and not very far from his still more intimate friend, Mr. Bartleman — who lies in the west cloister, by his master Dr. Cooke), the remainder of the service was concluded in the most solemn and affecting manner, by the voices alone, which contrasted most powerfully with the preceding movements that were accompa
nied by the organ, and produced an indescribably striking and impressive effect. Nearly the whole of the most eminent members of the musical profession surrounded the grave. Seldom have more genuine sorrow and regret been evinced than were depicted on the countenances of all present at this sad ceremony; for never was committed to his " parent dust," any one more universally or more deservedly respected and beloved.
Musicians seldom die rich, and Mr. Shield is no exception to the rule, though he has left his widow in a state of independence. He was always most affectionately attached to Mrs. Shield; of whom, in one of his letters to a friend, he speaks in the following terms: —
"I ought to be the happiest of mortals at home, as Mrs. Shield is one of the best women in the world, and it is by her good management that I have been able to assist my mother, who laboured hard after the death of my father to give her four children a decent education. This power of contributing to her support I consider as one of the greatest blessings that Heaven has bestowed upon me."
There is in Mr. Shield's will a legacy deserving of notice. In terms highly respectful and proper, he bequeaths his fine viola, or tenor violin, to the King, humbly entreating his Majesty to accept it as a testimony of his gratitude. This being communicated through Sir Frederick Watson, by the testator's executor, Thomas Broadwood, Esq., the King was pleased to signify, in the kindest and most condescending terms, his acceptance of the legacy; but at the same time directed that the utmost value should be set upon the instrument by competent judges, it being his Majesty's determination that Mr. Shield's widow shall be no sufferer by a bequest which so strongly proves the attachment and gratitude of his late faithful servant.
Mr. Shield was endowed by nature with a lively imagination, and a strong enquiring mind. Though his early education had been rather neglected, his thirst for knowledge led to exertions which enabled him to teach himself much more than, in all probability, he would have learnt in the time-wasting routine of a grammar-school. He devoted all his spare hours to reading, and well digested what he read: added to which, he lived during the greater part of his life much with men of letters, whose society was his delight, and to whose conversation he was indebted for a large portion of that cultivation which all who knew him, and could appreciate his acquirements, readily acknowledged. His moral character stood unimpeached — Detraction herself never ventured to assail it. He had, in fact, no enemy; for such were the uprightness of his conduct and the sweetness of his temper, that he won the confidence of honest men, awed without offending less scrupulous persons, and appeased the most irascible and vehement. Among other proofs of his honourable feeling, it is stated by Mr. Reynolds, in his "Life and Times," that when he presented him, by Mr. Harris's desire, with one hundred guineas, as part payment for composing an opera which had proved unsuccessful, Shield rejected the offer, saying, "I thank Mr. Harris, but I cannot receive money which I feel I have not earned."
As a composer, his genius was for melody; and the great, the captivating feature of his melodies, is simplicity. The natural manner in which they flow, and the facility with which they appear to have been produced, lead some to imagine that they have only to make the attempt to become equally successful; but the moment the experiment is tried, the illusion vanishes, and they then learn the truth of Carissimi's reply, " Ah ! questo facile quanto e difficile!" Another great merit in his airs is accuracy of rhythm: his periods are so well proportioned that expectation is never disappointed. To this we may add, that his words are always set with a strict regard to their meaning, and a never-failing attention to accent. The placidity of his mind is reflected in his compositions: in the bustling scene, where loud obstreperous music is required, and in scenes of deep passion which demand appropriate harmony, he is comparatively unsuccessful. The rural opera was most congenial to his feelings, and in this he is yet unrivalled; witness his « Rosina," his "Poor Soldier," his "Marian," his "Woodman," and his "Farmer:" for "Love in a Village," which might be put in competition with these, is a pasticcio, a delightful one certainly, and not the production of a single mind like the foregoing, but a selection from the favourite works of many eminent musicians, though the credit of the whole is almost universally ascribed to Arne.
His instrumental music wants the condiments of the modern school. It was not inferior to most of its class when written, but would now fail to keep attention alive. Haydn was only beginning to be known when Shield first composed ; the fame of Mozart had not passed the Danube; and the slender overtures,— sinfonias as they were called,—of Galuppi, Paisiello, &c., were the models on which most others were formed. In truth, Shield's strength lay in vocal music; in the ballad principally; though some of his sea-songs are excellent, and two or three of his hunting-songs have not less claims to notice.
His finales, and small number of concerted pieces (for the latter were but rarely introduced in his day), are, when compared with those of the present period, feeble. What, however, we have said, of his instrumental music, may justly be applied to these. His was the age of melody; ours of harmony; and as beautiful melody is perennial in its nature, and cannot permanently lose the power to please, so Shield's airs will never be wholly discarded, but, like those of Arne and Purcell, the former of which have stood the test of seventy years, and the latter of nearly a century and a half, be often reproduced, will appear at each revival in unfaded loveliness, and recover that influence which was gained by their early charms.
The following is a list of the principal of his published works: —
"An Introduction to Harmony," 4,to. London . 1800
A second and augmented edition, do. . 1814
"Rudiments of Thorough Bass," do. . 1815
A Cento, &c. . • • • 1809