Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

modern poetry has no feet, is a ridiculous ab- of this restraint: but the number in all of these surdity. The feet that principally enter into the depends upon the syllables, and not upon the feet, composition of Greek and Latin verses, are either which are unlimited. ftwo or three syllables: those of two syllables are It is generally supposed that the genius of the either both long, as the spondee; or both short, as English language will not admit of Greek or Latin tne pyrrhic; or one short, and the other long, as measure; but this, we apprehend, is a mistake the iambic; or one long, and the other short, as the owing to the prejudice of education. It is impostroche. Those of three syllables, are the dactyl,sible that the same measure, composed of the same of one long and two short syllables; the anapest, times, should have a good effect upon the ear in of two short and one long; the tribachium, of three one language, and a bad effect in another. The short; and the molossus of three long. truth is, we have been accustomed from our infancy to the numbers of English poetry, and the very

From the different combinations of these feet, restricted to certain numbers, the ancients formed sound and signification of the words dispose the their different kinds of verses, such as the hexa-ear to receive them in a certain manner; so that meter or heroic distinguished by six feet dactyls its disappointment must be attended with a disaand spondees, the fifth being always a dactyl, and greeable sensation. In imbibing the first rudithe last a spondee; e. g. ments of education, we acquire, as it were, another ear for the numbers of Greek and Latin poetry, and this being reserved entirely for the sounds and significations of the words that constitute those dead

The pentameter of five feet, dactyls and spondees, languages, will not easily accommodate itself to or of six, reckoning two cæsuras.

the sounds of our vernacular tongue, though conveyed in the same time and measure. In a word, Latin and Greek have annexed to them the ideas of the ancient measure, from which they are not easily disjoined. But we will venture to say, this difficulty might be surmounted by an effort of attention and a little practice; and in that case we should in time be as well pleased with English as with Latin hexameters.

2 3 4 5 6 Principi-is obs-ta, se-rò medi-cina pa-ratur.

1 2 3 4 5 6 Cùm mala per lon-gas invalu-ere mo-ras.

They had likewise the iambic of three sorts, the dimeter, the trimeter, and the tetrameter, and all the different kinds of lyric verse specified in the odes of Sappho, Alcæus, Anacreon and Horace. Each of these was distinguished by the number, as well as by the species of their feet; so that they Sir Philip Sydney is said to have miscarried in were doubly restricted. Now all the feet of the his essays; but his miscarriage was no more than ancient poetry are still found in the versification of that of failing in an attempt to introduce a new living languages; for as cadence was regulated by fashion. The failure was not owing to any defect the ear, it was impossible for a man to write melo- or imperfection in the scheme, but to the want of dious verse, without naturally falling into the use taste, to the irresolution and ignorance of the pubof ancient feet, though perhaps he neither knows lic. Without all doubt the ancient measure, so their measure, nor denomination. Thus Spenser, different from that of modern poetry, must have Shakspeare, Milton, Dryden, Pope, and all our appeared remarkably uncouth to people in general, poets, abound with dactyls, spondees, trochees, who were ignorant of the classics; and nothing anapests, etc. which they use indiscriminately in but the countenance and perseverance of the learnall kinds of composition, whether tragic, epic, pas-jed could reconcile them to the alteration. We toral, or ode, having in this particular, greatly the have seen several late specimens of English hexaadvantage of the ancients, who were restricted to meters and sapphics, so happily composed, that particular kinds of feet in particular kinds of verse. by attaching them to the idea of ancient measure, If we then are confined with the fetters of what is we found them in all respects as melodious and called rhyme, they were restricted to particular spe- agreeable to the ear as the works of Virgil and cies of feet; so that the advantages and disadvan- Anacreon or Horace. tages, are pretty equally balanced: but indeed the English are more free in this particular, than any other modern nation. They not only use blank verse in tragedy and the epic, but even in lyric grace, nor expression. These must depend on the poetry. Milton's translation of Horace's ode to choice of words, the seat of the accent, the pause, Pyrrha is universally known and generally admir- and the cadence. The accent, or tone, is undered, in our opinion much above its merit. There stood to be an elevation or sinking of the voice in is an ode extant without rhyme addressed to Eve- reciting the pause is a rest, that divides the verse ning, by the late Mr. Collins, much more beautiful; into two parts, each of them called an hemistich. and Mr. Warton, with some others, has happily The pause and accent in English poetry vary ocsucceeded in divers occasional pieces, that are free casionally, according to the meaning of the words y

Though the number of syllables distinguishes the nature of the English verse from that of the Greek and Latin, it constitutes neither harmony,

:

so that the hemistich does not always consist of an | fugues, or often are barely unison. His melodies equal number of syllables: and this variety is also, where no passion is expressed, give equal agreeable, as it prevents a dull repetition of regu-pleasure from this delicate simplicity and I need lar stops, like those in the French versification, only instance that song in the Serva Padrona, every line of which is divided by a pause exactly in which begins Lo conosco a quegl' óccelli, as one the middle. The cadence comprehends that poeti- of the finest instances of excellence in the duo. cal style which animates every line, that propriety The Italian artists in general have followed his which give strength and expression, that numero- manner, yet seem fond of embellishing the delicate sity which renders the verse smooth, flowing, and simplicity of the original. Their style in music harmonious, that significancy which marks the seems somewhat to resemble that of Seneca in passions, and in many cases makes the sound an writing, where there are some beautiful starts of echo to the sense. The Greek and Latin lan- thought; but the whole is filled with studied eleguages, in being copious and ductile, are suscepti-gance and unaffecting affectation.

ble of a vast variety of cadences, which the living languages will not admit; and of these a reader of any ear will judge for himself.

ESSAY XIX.

Lully in France first attempted the improvement of their music, which in general resembled that of our old solemn chants in churches. It is worthy of remark, in general, that the music of every country is solemn in proportion as the inhabitants are merry; or in other words, the merriest sprightliest nations are remarked for having the slowest music; and those whose character it is to be melanA SCHOOL in the polite arts properly signifies choly, are pleased with the most brisk and airy that succession of artists, which has learned the movements. Thus in France, Poland, Ireland, principles of the art from some eminent master, and Switzerland, the national music is slow, melaneither by hearing his lessons, or studying his works, choly, and solemn; in Italy, England, Spain, and and consequently who imitate his manner either Germany, it is faster, proportionably as the people through design or from habit. Musicians seem are grave. Lully only changed a bad manner, agreed in making only three principal schools in which he found, for a bad one of his own. His music; namely, the school of Pergolese in Italy, of drowsy pieces are played still to the most sprightly Lully in France, and of Handel in England; audience that can be conceived; and even though though some are for making Rameau the founder Rameau, who is at once a musician and philosoof a new shoool, different from those of the for-pher, has shown, both by precept and example, mer, as he is the inventor of beauties peculiarly what improvements French music may still admit his own. of, yet his countrymen seem little convinced by his Without all doubt, Pergolese's music deserves reasonings: and the Pont-Neuf taste, as it is called, the first rank; though excelling neither in variety | still prevails in their best performances. of movements, number of parts, nor unexpected The English school was first planned by Purcel: flights, yet he is universally allowed to be the mu- he attempted to unite the Italian manner, that presical Raphael of Italy. This great master's prin- vailed in his time, with the ancient Celtic carol cipal art consisted in knowing how to excite our and the Scotch ballad, which probably had also its passions by sounds, which seem frequently oppo- origin in Italy; for some of the best Scotch balsite to the passion they would express: by slow lads, "The Broom of Cowdenknows," for instance, solemn sounds he is sometimes known to throw us are still ascribed to David Rizzio. But be that as into all the rage of battle; and even by faster move-it will, his manner was something peculiar to the ments he excites melancholy in every heart that English; and he might have continued as head of sounds are capable of affecting. This is a talent the English school, had not his merits been enwhich seems born with the artist. We are unable tirely eclipsed by Handel. Handel, though origito tell why such sounds affect us; they seem no nally a German, yet adopted the English manner; way imitative of the passion they would express, he had long laboured to please by Italian composiout operates upon us by an inexpressible sympa- tion, but without success; and though his English thy: the original of which is as inscrutable as the oratorios are accounted inimitable, yet his Italian secret springs of life itself. To this excellence he operas are fallen into oblivion. Pergolese excelled adds another, in which he is superior to every other in passionate simplicity: Lully was remarkable for artist of the profession, the happy transition from creating a new species of music, where all is eleone passion to another. No dramatic poet better gant, but nothing passionate or sublime; Handel's knows to prepare his incidents than he; the audi- true characteristic is sublimity; he has employea ence are pleased in those intervals of passion with all the variety of sounds and parts in all his pieces; the delicate, the simple harmony, if I may so ex- the perfomances of the rest may be pleasing, though press it, in which the parts are all thrown into executed by few performers; his requires the full

band. The attention is awakened, the soul is land. He says, that Handel, though originally roused up at his pieces: but distinct passion is sel- a German (as most certainly he was, and continued dom expressed. In this particular he has seldom so to his last breath), yet adopted the English found success; he has been obliged, in order to manner.t Yes, to be sure, just as much as Ruexpress passion, to imitate words by sounds, bens the painter did. Your correspondent, in the which, though it gives the pleasure which imitation course of his discoveries, tells us besides, that always produces, yet it fails of exciting those last- some of the best Scotch ballads, "The Broom of ing affections which it is in the power of sounds Cowdenknows," for instance, are still ascribed to to produce. In a word, no man ever understood David Rizzio. This Rizzio must have been a harmony so well as he : but in melody he has been most original genius, or have possessed extraordiexceeded by several. nary imitative powers, to have come, so advanced

The objector will not have Handel's school to be called an English school, because he was a German. Handel, in a

[The following OBJECTIONS to the preceding Es-great measure, found in England those essential differences SAY having been addressed to DR. SMOLLETT which characterize his music; we have already shown that (as EDITOR of the BRITISH MAGAZINE, in which he had them not upon his arrival. Had Rubens come over to it first appeared), that gentleman, with equal England but moderately skilled in his art; had he learned here candour and politeness, communicated the MS. to DR. GOLDSMITH, who returned his answers to the objector in the notes annexed.-EDIT.]

all his excellency in colouring and correctness of designing;

had he left several scholars excellent in his manner behind him; I should not scruple to call the school erected by him the English school of painting. Not the country in which a man is born, but his peculiar style either in painting er in ad-music-that constitutes him of this or that school. Thus

PERMIT me to object against some things vanced in the paper on the subject of THE DIF-Champagne, who painted in the manner of the French school, is always placed among the painters of that school, though he FERENT SCHOOLS OF MUSIC. The author of this was born in Flanders, and should, consequently, by the object. article seems too hasty in degrading the harmoni-or's rule, be placed among the Flemish painters. Kneller is ous Purcel* from the head of the English school, placed in the German school, and Ostade in the Dutch, to erect in his room a foreigner (Handel), who has though born in the same city. Priraatias, who may be truly not yet formed any school.t The gentleman, said to have founded the Roman school, was born in Bologna when he comes to communicate his thoughts upon have been placed in the Lombard. There might several though, if his country was to determine his school, he should the different schools of painting, may as well place other instances be produced; but these, it is hoped, will be Rubens at the head of the English painters, be- sufficient to prove, that Handel, though a German, may be cause he left some monuments of his art in Eng-placed at the head of the English school.

↑ Handel was originally a German; but by a long continuance in England, he might have been looked upon as naturalized to the country. I do not pretend to be a fine writer; however, if the gentleman dislikes the expression (although he must be convinced it is a common one), I wish it were mended.

I said that they were ascribed to David Rizzio. That they are, the objector need only look into Mr. Oswald's Collection of Scotch tunes, and he will there find not only "The Broom of Cowdenknows," but also "The Black Eagle," and several other of the best Scotch tunes, ascribed to him. Though this might be a sufficient answer, yet I must be permitted to go farther, to tell the objector the opinion of our best modern musicians in this particular. It is the opinion of the melodious Geminiani, that we have in the dominions of great Britain no original music except the Irish; the Scotch and English being originally borrowed from the Italians. And that his opinion in this respect is just (for I would not be swayed merely by authorities,) it is very reasonable to suppose, first from the conformity between the Scotch and ancient Italian music. They who compare the old French Vaudevilles, brought from Italy by Rinuccini, with those pieces ascribed to David Rizzio, who was pretty nearly contempora

↑ Handel may be said as justly as any man, not Pergolese excepted, to have founded a new school of music. When he first came into England his music was entirely Italian: he composed for the Opera; and though even then his pieces were liked, yet did they not meet with universal approbation. In those, he has too servilely imitated the modern vitiatedry with him, will find a strong resemblance, notwithstanding Italian taste, by placing what foreigners call the point d'ar- the opposite characters of the two nations which have pregue too closely and injudiciously. But in his Oratorios he served those pieces. When I would have them compared, 1 is perfectly an original genius. In these, by steering between mean I would have their bases compared, by which the siml the manners of Italy and England, he has struck out new litude may be most exactly seen. Secondly, it is reasonable harmonies and formod a species of music different from all from the ancient music of the Scotch, which is still preserved others. He has left some excellent and eminent scholars, in the Highlands, and which bears no resemblance at all to particularly Worgan and Smith, who compose nearly in his the music of the low-country. The Highland tunes are sung to manner: a manner as different from Purcel's as from that of Irish words, and flow entirely in the Irish manner. On the modern Italy, Consequently Handel may be placed at the other hand, the Lowland music is always sung to English head of the Engush school. words.

⚫ Had the objector said melodious Purcel, it had testified at least a greater acquaintance with music, and Purcel's peculiar excellence. Purcel in melody is frequently great: his song made in his last sickness, called Rosy Bowers is a fine instance of this: but in harmony he is far short of the meanest of our modern composers, his fullest harmonies being exceedingly simple. His Opera of Prince Arthur, the words of which were Dryden's, is reckoned his finest piece. But what is that in point of harmony, to what we every day hear from modern masters? In short, with respect to genius, Purcel had a fine one; he greatly improved an art but little known in England before his time: for this he deserves our applause; but the preBent prevailing taste in music is very different from what he left it, and who was the improver since his time we shall see by and by.

ens to make the best use of their time, for they will soon, for all their present bloom, be stretched under the table, like the dead body before them. Of all the bards this country ever produced, the last and the greatest was CAROLAN THe Blind. He was at once a poet, a musician, a composer,

in fife as he did, from Italy, and strike so far out of the common road of his own country's music. A mere fiddler,* a shallow coxcomb, a giddy, insolent, worthless fellow, to compose such pieces as nothing but genuine sensibility of mind, and an exquisite feeling of those passions which animate only the finest souls, could dictate; and in a man- and sung his own verses to his harp. The originer too so extravagantly distant from that to which nal natives never mention his name without raphe had all his life been accustomed!-It is impos- ture: both his poetry and music they have by sible. He might indeed have had presumption heart; and even some of the English themselves, enough to add some flourishes to a few favourite who have been transplanted there, find his music airs, like a cobbler of old plays when he takes it extremely pleasing. A song beginning upon him to mend Shakspeare. So far he might|

"O'Rourke's noble fare will ne'er be forgot,"

go; but farther it is impossible for any one to be

lieve, that has but just ear enough to distinguish translated by Dean Swift, is of his composition; between the Italian and Scotch music, and is dis- which, though perhaps by this means the best posed to consider the subject with the least degree known of his pieces, is yet by no means the most

of attention.

S. R.

deserving. His songs in general may be compared to those of Pindar, as they have frequently the same flights of imagination; and are composed (I do not say written, for he could not write) merely to flatter some man of fortune upon some excellence of the same kind. In these one man is

praised for the excellence of his stable, as in Pindar, another for his hospitality, a third for the beauty of his wife and children, and a fourth for the antiquity of his family. Whenever any of bled at feasting or revelling, Carolan was generally the original natives of distinction were assemthere, where he was always ready with his harp to celebrate their praises. He seemed by nature formed for his profession; for as he was born blind, so also he was possessed of a most astonishing respect memory, and a facetious turn, of thinking, which They gave his entertainers infinite satisfaction. Being their once at the house of an Irish nobleman, where there was a musician present who was eminent in the profession, Carolan immediately challenged him to a trial of skill. To carry the jest forward, his Lordship persuaded the musician to accept the challenge, and he accordingly played over on his fiddle the fifth concerto of Vivaldi. Carolan, im

mediately taking his harp, played over the whole piece after him, without missing a note, though he never heard it before; which produced some sur· prise: but their astonishment increased, when he assured them he could make a concerto in the and that with such spirit and elegance, that it may, same taste himself, which he instantly composed; compare (for we have it still) with the finest compositions of Italy.

• David Rizzio was neither a mere fiddler, nor a shallow coxcomb nor a worthless fellow, nor a stranger in Scotland. He had indeed been brought over from Piedmont, to be put at the head of a band of music, by King James V. one of the most elegant princes of his time, an exquisite judge of music, and, as he used to think, without any ill conse

His death was not more remarkable than his life. Homer was never more fond of a glass than he; he would drink whole pints of usquebaugh,

as weil as of poetry, architecture, and all the fine arts Rizzio, quence. His intemperance, however, in this reat the time of his death, had been above twenty years in spect, at length brought on an incurable disorScotland: he was secretary to the Queen, and a the same

time an agent from the Pope; so that he could not be so obder, and when just at the point of death, he called sure as he has been represented. for a cup of his beloved liquor. Those who were

March 18, 1760.

ESSAY XX.

THERE can be perhaps no greater entertainment than to compare the rude Celtic simplicity with

modern refinement, Books, however, seem incapable of furnishing the parallel; and to be acquainted with the ancient manners of our own ancestors, we should endeavour to look for their remains in those countries, which being in some measure retired from an intercourse with other nations, are still untinctured with foreign refinement, language, or breeding.

The Irish will satisfy curiosity in this preferably to all other nations I have seen. in several parts of that country still adhere to ancient language, dress, furniture, and superstitions; several customs exist among them, that still speak their original; and in some respects Cæsar's description of the ancient Britons is applicable to them.

Their bards, in particular, are still held in great veneration among them; those traditional heralds are invited to every funeral, in order to fill up the intervals of the bowl with their songs and harps. In these they rehearse the actions of the ancestors of the deceased, bewail the bondage of their coun

try under the English government, and generally

conclude with advising the young men and maid

standing round him, surprised at the demand, en- remembered this place in its pristine beauty, I deavoured to persuade him to the contrary; but he could not help condoling with him on its present persisted, and, when the bowl was brought to him, ruinous situation. I spoke to him of the many attempted to drink, but could not; wherefore, giv-alterations which had been made, and all for the ing away the bowl, he observed with a smile, that worse; of the many shades which had been taken it would be hard if two such friends as he and the away, of the bowers that were destroyed by necup should part at least without kissing; and then glect, and the hedge-rows that were spoiled by clipexpired. ping. The Genius with a sigh received my con. dolement, and assured me that he was equally a martyr to ignorance and taste, to refinement and rusticity. Seeing me desirous of knowing farther, he went on:

ESSAY XXI.

Or all men who form gay illusions of distant "You see, in the place before you, the paternal happiness, perhaps a poet is the most sanguine. inheritance of a poet; and, to a man content with Such is the ardour of his hopes, that they often are little, fully sufficient for his subsistence: but a equal to actual enjoyment; and he feels more in strong imagination and a long acquaintance with expectance than actual fruition. I have often re-the rich are dangerous foes to contentment. Our garded a character of this kind with some degree poet, instead of sitting down to enjoy life, resolved of envy. A man possessed of such warm imagi- to prepare for its future enjoyment, and set about nation commands all nature, and arrogates posses-converting a place of profit into a scene of pleasions of which the owner has a blunter relish. sure. This he at first supposed could be accomWhile life continues, the alluring prospect lies be- plished at a small expense; and he was willing for fore him: he travels in the pursuit with confidence, a while to stint his income, to have an opportunity and resigns it only with his last breath. of displaying his taste. The improvement in this It is this happy confidence which gives life its manner went forward; one beauty attained led him true relish, and keeps up our spirits amidst every to wish for some other; but he still hoped that distress and disappointment. How much less every emendation would be the last. It was now would be done, if a man knew how little he can therefore found, that the improvement exceeded do! How wretched a creature would he be, if he the subsidy, that the place was grown too large and saw the end as well as the beginning of his pro- too fine for the inhabitant. But that pride which jects! He would have nothing left but to sit down was once exhibited could not retire; the garden in torpid despair, and exchange employment for was made for the owner, and though it was beactual calamity. come unfit for him he could not willingly resign it

I was led into this train of thinking upon lately to another. Thus the first idea of its beauties convisiting the beautiful gardens of the late Mr. tributing to the happiness of his life was found unShenstone, who was himself a poet, and possessed faithful; so that, instead of looking within for satof that warm imagination, which made him ever isfaction, he began to think of having recourse to foremost in the pursuit of flying happiness. the praises of those who came to visit his improveCould he but have foreseen the end of all his ment.

schemes, for whom he was improving, and what "In consequence of this hope, which now took changes his designs were to undergo, he would possession of his mind, the gardens were opened have scarcely amused his innocent life with what to the visits of every stranger; and the country for several years employed him in a most harmless flocked round to walk, to criticise, to admire, and manner, and abridged his scanty fortune. As the to do mischief. He soon found, that the admirers progress of this improvement is a true picture of of his taste left by no means such strong marks sublunary vicissitude, I could not help calling up of their applause, as the envious did of their my imagination, which, while I walked pensively malignity. All the windows of his temples, and along, suggested the following reverie. the walls of his retreats, were impressed with the

As I was turning my back upon a beautiful characters of profaneness, ignorance, and obscenipiece of water enlivened wi'n cascades and rock-ty; his hedges were broken, his statues and urns work, and entering a dark walk by which ran a defaced, and his lawns worn bare. It was now prattling brook, the Genius of the place appeared therefore necessary to shut up the gardens once before me, but more resembling the God of Time, more, and to deprive the public of that happiness, than him more peculiarly appointed to the care of which had before ceased to be his own. gardens. Instead of shears he bore a scythe; and he appeared rather with the implements of husbandry, than those of a modern gardener. Having

⚫ 1773.

"In this situation the poet continued for a time in the character of a jealous lover, fond of the beauty he keeps, but unable to supply the extravagance of every demand. The garden by this time was completely grown and finished; the marks of art were

« VorigeDoorgaan »