« ElőzőTovább »
or theological, Papistical, High Church, or character, the effect would be simply ludiultra-Protestant ?
crous. The emotions expressed must be more In arguing, then, in defence of the inhe- or less identical with those attributed to the rent and true expressiveness of musical despairing Jephtha, although, no doubt, the sound, it is, in the first place, necessary to circumstances which are supposed to arouse say. what is thus meant, and how far it can them may be varied. Or try the experiment be adequately described as an actual lan- of adaptation upon the Ave verum of Mozart, guage, corresponding to, and expressive of, or the concluding phrases of the Recordare the intelligent and emotional nature of man. in the same composer's Requiem, or on the That it possesses, apart from some accompa- last song in Beethoven's Lieder Kreis, or on nying words, the definiteness which attaches bis An dir allein, that sacred song in which to articulate speech, is not to be maintained. he expresses the emotions of religious penThose who contend for its wonderful and itence and exultation with the same extraunapproachable powers of expressing and ordinary intensity with which Mozart expresinfluencing the feelings, are often misled into ses those of adoration, love, and hope in the confounding force and depth with exact Ave verum and the Recordare. In all these, distinctness of intellectual conception. See- any attempt at the adaptation of different ing and delighting in its capacity for produ- words will only serve to show the perfect fitcing effects unattainable by other means, ness of their melodious cadences and the prothey claim for it an attribute to which it gresssive harmonies for embodying the ideas cannot pretend. It must be fully admitted which the composers had actually present in that the ideas and emotions that are called their minds. And it is the same with such into vivid action by the music of the greatest almost purely instrumental movements as masters are less distinct in their outline, so to the “ Amen” chorus with which Handel say, than those which are expressed by spo- closes his Messiah. Here we bave a fugue ken words, and in their own peculiar range, of by no means brief duration, worked up by painting and sculpture. If we take the with all the resources of counterpoint, and most powerfully expressive pieces of dra- the only syllables the singers utter through matic music, and sever them from the words its entire length, are those of the word which they were written to express, it can- Amen,” which is repeated again and again not be denied that they would, to a certain with interminable variations of spinning out, extent, suffer as exponents of human feel- as it appears to the non-musical ear, entireing, human thought, and human character. ly without any sense at all. Yet, in reality, Yet, on the other hand, they have a real the artistic propriety and the fulness of meaning of their own, which it would be as meaning of this fugue are as perfect as its absurd to deny, as to assert that laughter, contrapuntal skill. It is long, and it reas such, is not the expression of enjoyment. peats the one word " Amen” again an Take, for example, the following, which are again, because it is the concluding moveamong the greatest masterpieces of writers ment of a long work, in which each idea in of different periods. The “ Che faro," from the whole narrative of the life and death of Glück’s Orfeo, is a song scarcely to be sur. Christ is developed at considerable length. passed in the intensity of its tragic pathos, To say “ Amen” once, or to prolong its rewhich is felt even by those who scarcely un- petition only through a few bars, would be derstand a word of Italian. To those who do out of proportion to the previous treatment understand it, the appropriateness of every of the detailed portions of the whole work. phrase is manifest, and its effect is propor. The " Amen ” chorus is thus simply an extionately increased. But to adapt any other pression of the gratitude and joy with which words which should convey ideas not prac- the devout mind contemplates the conclutically corresponding with the original, and sion of the sufferings of Christ and the com. should yet be felt to be a natural vehicle for mencement of his glories in heaven. The the music, would be an impossibility. If they word“ Amen” is a mere conventional vedid not express emotions substantially the bicle for expressing the thoughts that absorb same with which the half-maddened husband the Christian intelligence; and, as the comis supposed to watch the lifeless body of the poser exerts his utmost powers in working striken Eurydice, the musical sounds would up his melodious theme till he attains the strike one as inappropriate and unmeaning. unrivalled climax (at the sixth bar from the Take next another masterpiece of tragic pas- end), it seems as if the mind could bear no sion and pathos, Handel's "Deeper and deep- more, and exhausted with exultation, suber still,” with the song “ Waft her, angels,” to sides at once into repose and silent thought. which the recitative leads up ; if these won. Here and there, indeed, it must be confessderful notes were sung to words dissimilar in /ed that even the greatest writers may set
music to words for which it is so ill-adapted with the final movement in Beethoven's lastthat it gains considerably by the substitution written pianoforte sonata, the wonderful Op. of others quite different in character; a fact CXI. T'he feeling of intensity, exultation, which, however, confirms my argument, power, and almost rapturous enjoyment is as though at the expense of the composer him- striking in both of them, as is the difference self. For example, there is a song of Handel's between their modes of treatment and the inin his opera Ælius, which in the Italian origi- strumentality by which the same result is atnal is simply narrative, and of a pastoral and tained. It is impossible to hear and undertrivial kind. When Dr. Arnold bashed up stand either of them, and yet uphold the theo a species of oratorio out of the great mas- ry that all the meaning of music lies in the ter's operatic works in general, he took this words. In their very identity of expression, same * Nasce al bosco” and set it to the too, the personal characters of the two men noble words of the Psalmist, “He layeth are revealed in the clearest light. In the the beams of his chambers in the waters, utmost height of the excitement of his cli&c., and the result is a splendid song, in max, Mozart's tendency to serenity, sweetwhich the music is perfectly expressive of ness, and enjoyment is vividly felt; while ideas which none but a very great writer from the simple announcement of his slowly could worthily embody. The recitative moving theme, up to the agitated trills in usually sung with the adapted song is said to which Beethoven's excitement culminates, be Arnold's own, and is so excellent, that for we are ever conscious that with him repose its sake, and in acknowledgment of his skill was the result of the forcible control of pasin the conversion of the air from a pastoral sionate emotion. ditty to a magnificent religious hymn, some As for the popular notion that there exportion of his barbarous proceedings may be, ists an essential difference between secular perhaps, condoned.
and sacred music as such, it is as superficial Those critics who insist that the meaning as it is untenable. It is as unreal as the of music entirely depends upon the words corresponding theory that religious emotions which it accompanies, should be further re. and ideas are the product of one set of facferred to one or two examples of purely in- ulties, and secular feelings and knowledge the strumental works, in which a distinct intelli- product of another set. Love is love, and gent sentiment is so irresistibly felt that there joy is joy, and hope is hope, whether the can be no two opinions as to what the music objects which arouse them are Divine or means. And I will take first the two men who human; and they therefore express themboth stand in the highest rank as composers, selves in similar language, whether spoken but whose modes, as artists, of expressing or sung. The idea that religious music is themselves were singularly unlike. It would in its nature unlike all other music, is of a be difficult to name two masters of the art piece with the preposterous but equally in whom the systems upon which musical prevalent belief, that when we speak on sounds are employed as a vehicle for thought religious subjects, especially when men are and feeling were more dissimilar than Mo- preaching from a pulpit, it is proper to zart and Beethoven. Mozart was one of the adopt a conventionally solemn tone of voice, greatest contrapuntists that have ever lived; and to use a conventional cast of phraseolowhile in Beethoven the contrapuntal facul- gy. Of course, as there are certain ideas ty was but feebly developed, though as an and emotions which never enter into acts of original and imaginative harmonist it is religious worship or meditation, so there are scarcely an exaggeration to say that he is certain varieties of musical expression which without a rival.* Listen, then, to the finale would be out of all character in sacred comin Mozart's “ Jupiter” symphony, in which position. Everything of the nature of frivan orchestral movement of the utmost bril- Olity, for example, is utterly out of characliancy is planned in the form of a fugue, and ter and senseless in religious music. But carried out on a scale and with a success after excluding all such ridiculous inconsimply marvellous ; and then compare it gruities, the fact remains that there is abso* For the sake of the general reader it may be as
lutely no difference in style between the well to add, that by counterpoint is meant the devel
. sacred and the secular works of the great opment of a melody by the apparently) independent masters. The madrigals of Palestrina are movement of the various voices or instruments, each repeating and modifying the melody in its own way, like bis masses and motets; Bach's fugues all in combination producing a harmonious whole; for the clavecin are just like many of the while by harmony, as such, is meant simply the choruses in his “ Passion Musik" and his progression of combinations of sounds in agreeable and expressive sequences. A fugue exhibits the masses; were it not for the words, nobody most elaborately planned form of contrapuntal treat: conld say whether any one of Handel's ment; an ordinary psalm or hymn tune is a specimen of mere harmony.
songs belongs to an oratorio or an opera ; the Agnus Dei in Mozart's First Mass is to a self in the works of a great composer as great extent like the Dove sono in his distinctly as those of a writer in ordinary Figaro; and so. with all the rest of his prose language. The peculiarities of the works, and those of still later writers. And man Mozart are as clearly revealed in his for the reason just stated, that human emo- music as in his letters and in the records of tions are identical in their nature, though his life. It is the same with Beethoven; the of course varying in their intensity and same with Mendelssohn; the same with Hancombinations, whether the outward objects del and Haydn. In Handel's writings there which excite them are Divine or human. is to be found the expression of every human
It should not be forgotten, too, that the passion; but it would be ridiculous to pretend various stages by which the present condi- that the tenderness, the sweetness, the mintion of the musical art has been developed, gled joyousness and sadness, which are alpractically correspond to the varieties of ar- most always present in combination in Moticulate languge, whether past or present. zart, are to be found prominent in the univerAll languages are not equally perfect as sally gifted Handel, who even in his lightest instruments for the embodiment of idea and moods impresses us with a sense of force and feeling. Greek and Latin, English and power. It may seem, perhaps, a whimsical French, Italian and German, all have their notion; but yet it is hardly extravagant to characteristics, their merits and their de- add that in Handel, as in Sbakspeare, we fects. So it is with the forms which have seem to be in company with a prosperous man. prevailed in the musical art during the last That the two men were prosperous in the three centuries. The musical forms of to- trade of money-getting, and, wonderful to day, as wrought out by Beethoven and add, as theatrical managers, is a fact which Mendelssohn, are as unlike those of Pales- everybody knows, and which ought ever to trina and Di Lasso, as Greek is unlike Lat- be enforced on the attention of those prosaic in, or German unlike French. The inter- people who imagine that there is a sort of invening forms, again, which may be taken compatibility between the gifts of genius as attaining their highest perfection in and a capacity for business. However, this Handel, have a character solely their own; much, I think, cannot be denied, that as noand, like the several varieties of articulate body would ever imagine, from their works, languages, each stage in musical develop- that either Shakspeare or Handel were un ment is especially adapted for the perfect fortunate, melancholy men, so nobody would expression of some one class of thoughts or ever imagine that Beethoven was the reemotions. The English tongue has a won- verse; or, again, that Weber was a thriving, derful power for poetic and oratorical ex- jovial man of the world, or that Rossini pression, but who would think of ranking it waged a fruitless struggle for bread and for with Greek or with French as a vehicle of health. In the great Sebastian Bach's writscientific expression, or with German as a ings, too, I see the revelation of the peculanguage of sentiment? And thus in mus- liarities of his history, as distinguished from ic. It was not alone the genius of Pales- that of his great contemporary. Fiery pastrina, but the musical forms of the time, sions, with their conflicts, find no expression which make his works and those of the oth- in any of the works of the quiet, contented, er great masters of the sixteenth century domestic musical director of Leipsic. Even the most purely spiritual music in existence. in the most jubilant and triumphant bursts At the same time, not only those forms, but and climaxes in his Mass in B minor, — the the forms of the seventeenth and eighteenth noblest mass ever written, and by a Protescenturies, were inadequate to the produc- tant, too, — the clear, bright, genial
, and tion of the gorgeous splendour of the orches- self-possessed nature of the man is still mantra as developed in the nineteenth century. ifest; and be goes on pouring forth his The highly cultivated and sympathetic mu- streams of brilliant, interlacing harmonies sical intelligence enjoys every school, and with a fertility and a sense of enjoyment finds in its works a true and natural expres- that bespeaks at once a mind at ease and sion of its thoughts and sensibilities; just as an imagination as exuberant as it t was pow: Homer, and Sophocles, and Horace, and erful and well-instructed. Altogether it Dante, and Goethe, and Molière, are the seems to me as impossible to deny that mucherished companions of the highly culti- sical sound is a voice speaking from the vated Englisbman.
mind, as that the written styles of Addison In
every musical school, too, there is that and Macaulay, and the spoken style of other capacity to be recognised which is to Johnson, were the natural products of the be noted in every spoken language. The peculiarities of their several characters. personal character of the writer displays it
J. M. CAPES.
From Good Words.
and impenetrable to light as the river
Thames at London Bridge, although on A PERSONAL EXPERIENCE OF FIRE-DAMP. the small scale both appear transparent.
Down, down, we went, and presently we SOME years since I paid a visit in Staf- became aware of a little drizzling rain. It fordshire, and one of the entertainments by was the water, which, pouring or trickling which my bost sought to make my time from the sides of the shaft, sparked off from pass pleasantly was a descent into a coal every projection. As we went deeper this mine. I rather liked the idea, as I had got worse, and by the time we reached the never been down one, and at once agreed bottom we were in a heavy shower. to go. The mine that was to be honoured Suddenly we stopped ; we had reached with our inspection was that of West the foot of the shaft. We found ourselves B
It was an old mine, of considera- in the midst of a group of horses, one of ble size and depth — the depth of the shaft which, a blind old beast, I remember, came being, if I recollect rightly, about 960 feet. knocking up against me and nearly upset There were some six or eight in our company, among whom were two young men,
Some of us were then furnished with the sons of the owner, and a superior work- lights. I was one of those that were not. man — I do not know his proper technical When I say that the lights were all naked designation - perhaps underground bailiff; and without protection, the reader will see at any rate, something equivalent to what that my visit must have been made a good we above ground should call the foreman. many years ago.
Under the guidance of I expected that we would go down in a the foreman we then set off on our tour. bucket, or box, but there was nothing of The main passage, along which we went at that sort; we stood upon something like a first, was what I imagine would be considsmall platform and clung to the chain by ered a lofty and spacious gallery, laid with which we were lowered. I rather repented rails. It was comparatively broad, and of my readiness to join the party when I seemed to my eye about nine or ten feet saw the means by which we were to de- high. We proceeded along this for, I darescend, but I had not courage or time to say, a quarter of a mile. By-and-by our dissent from what seemed the recognised leaders turned into an apparently unused mode of procedure. No one else seemed to side gallery, narrower than the main pasmind it, and two or three of those who sage, in which the foreman had something were familiar with the ways of the place about the ventilation to point out to the stuck out one of their legs at right angles owners.
Hitherto we had seen no to stave us off from the sides of the shaft as mining ; we had met men with horses we descended. “ All right,” said some one, drawing trucks, and others going about and away we went. My first sensation their occupations, but no men working. We was that sort of deliquium or swimming in proceeded along this smaller gallery for the head that the reader may have experi- about 150 yards or so. The place was direnced when he dreams that he is falling ty, sloppy, and wet, and, of course, dark ; down a precipice. Fortunately it did not and feeling no particular interest in what relax the muscles, for as it passed away I the foreman was desirous of pointing out found myself clinging to the chain like to the owners, I lagged behind a little. I grim death; probably it was only momen- might have been twenty paces behind the tary, as I had time to observe the rapidity rest of the party, when a sudden light startwith which we passed into total darkness. ed up among them - I can compare it to The story about seeing stars at noonday nothing but the flash with which lightning from the bottom of a coal pit cannot be is imitated in the theatre. The reader true, at any rate if the pit is what is called knows (or if he does not know, I shall tell an up-cast shaft. We went down the up- him) that this is done by placing a lighted cast shaft that is, the shaft by which the taper-end between the middle and ring finair which has entered the pit by the down- ger of the hand, held out with the palm cast shaft returns to the upper regions, af- upwards. Into the palm a quantity of powter having circulated through the mine; dered resin is poured, not spread out but and looking upwards through this air, we piled up around the taper. The resin is could see nothing of the opening of the pit then chucked into the air, and is ignited in almost immediately after beginning to de- passing through the flame, which then scend. I suppose the air was so loaded spreads out like a large mushroom. The with impurities, coal dust, vitiated vapours, whole is over almost instantaneously, and the &c., that, seen in quantity, it was as muddy resemblance to sheet lightning, to those who
do not see the operator or the mushroom, behind me cry out, “ Down on your face !” but merely the flash of light, is very per- and by-and-by one figure after another fect. Well, this was exactly what I saw sprang past me and dashed themselves headwith a difference. The difference was, that long on the ground. I can liken the reckwhen the light flashed up to the roof and as- less, frantic way in which it was done, to sumed the mushroom shape, it did not disap- nothing but boys, when bathing, taking pear like the other. Instead of being extin- headers” into a stream. Without reasongnished as instantaneously as it arose, it con- ing about it I followed suit, and flung mytinued extending and spreading out along self into a puddle, and then peering backthe roof on every side. My first idea when wards under my arm, waited the approach I saw the light was, that this was some civil- of the sea of flame, the wall of fire, which ity on the part of the owners to show off the was approaching. It had not yet come out mysteries of the place to their visitors, as I of the side gallery, but the glare of its light had seen the Blue-John Mine in Derbyshire, preceded it. Presently it rolled into sight, and other stalactitic caves, illuminated by filling the whole mouth of the side gallery, Roman candles and other lights. That idea from top to bottom. Had it overtaken us only lasted for a second. As the light ex- in it, not a soul would have escaped alive ; tended, every one rushed panic-stricken but when it entered the larger gallery it from it as fast as they could run. I guessed lifted, just as one sees a mist lifting on the the truth in a moment, and turned to fly. mountains, and then rolled along the roof, There was no difficulty in finding my way, passing over our beads.
How much space the whole place being illuminated. After there was between us and it, I cannot say; flying along for some time I looked back; I imagine it filled the upper two-thirds, the whole of the gallery where we had been leaving a space of perhaps two or three feet was one body of fire not a bright lam- free from fame. Nor can I well say how bent blaze, but lurid, reddish volumes of long we lay below this fiery furnace; it flame rolling on like billows of fiery mist. might have been five minutes or a quarter Their form was liker that of the volumes of of an hour. Judging from our sensations it black smoke which we may see at times is- must have been hours, but we did not expesuing out of large factory chimneys, than rience so great heat as
should have ex. anything else I can compare it to. My no- pected. We felt more afterwards; prob tions of explosions of fire-damp were, that ably the anxiety of the moment made us inthey took place with the rapidity of an ex- sensible to its intensity. plosion of gunpowder. But it was not so After the lapse of some time the volume in this case, at any rate. I do not mean of fire above began to diminish, the stratum that it was slow, but that its speed was no got thinner and thinner; it eddied, and greater than that of a man. All those who curled, and streamed about, leaving the were at the end of the gallery where it more prominent parts of the roof exposed took place did, in point of fact, outrun it. like islands; then it wandered about like Neither was there any noise or sound of fiery serpents and tongues of flame, licking explosion; at least, I noticed none, and if a corner here, or flickering about a stone there had been I think I must have ob- there, but ever moving towards the shaft. served it, for, all things considered, I was As it'thus abated, presently one head was tolerably collected. The report must have raised from the ground, then another, until taken place at the pit-mouth, as from the we all began to get up. We then gathered mouth of a gun. The fire rolled silently together, but there were no mutual congratalong in great billows of reddish flame, one ulations, nor external acknowledgment of wave tumbling over another, in quick suc- thanks to God, however much some may cession. And a curious and a very beauti- have felt. But I doubt if there was much ful thing was the edges of these billows; feeling of that kind, the sense of peril was they were fringed with sparks of blue flame, yet too strong; we had escaped one great dashed off like sparks from a grindstone. danger, but we knew that we were still exEven at that dreadful moment I could not posed to the risk of many others which often avoid being struck by their beauty. followed such explosions. The first danger
All this I must have gathered at a glance was want of air; the fire had used what
- in an instant of time. In front of the was in the mine almost wholly up, and we billowy mass of fire rolling on towards me I might perish from want of it. “ Follow me, saw the dark figures of my companions said the foreman, and he started off, not for tearing along at headlong speed. Then the mouth of the mine, but for some part of turning, I again dashed on. When I came it which, from its connections or position, he to the loftier main passage I heard a voice knew to be better, or more likely to be sup