Handel and Music 113
would be sure to place Bach on a level with himself, if not
above him, and this probably made him look askance at
Bach. At any rate he twice went to Germany without being
at any pains to meet him, and once, if not twice, refused
Rockstro says that Handel keeps much more closely to
the old Palestrina rules of counterpoint than Bach does, and
that when Handel takes a licence it is a good bold one taken
rarely, whereas Bach is niggling away with small licences
from first to last.
Handel and the British Public
People say the generous British public supported Handel.
It did nothing of the kind. On the contrary, for some 30
years it did its best to ruin him, twice drove him to bank-
ruptcy, badgered him till in 1737 he had a paralytic seizure
which was as near as might be the death of him and, if he
had died then, we should have no Israel, nor Messiah, nor
Samson, nor any of his greatest oratorios. The British public
only relented when he had become old and presently blind.
Handel, by the way, is a rare instance of a man doing his
greatest work. subsequently to an attack of paralysis. What
kept Handel up was not the public but the court. It was
the pensions given him by George I and George II that
enabled him to carry on at all. So that, in point of fact,
it is to these two very prosaic kings that we owe the finest
musical poems the world knows anything about.
Handel and Madame Patey
Rockstro told me that Sir Michael Costa, after his severe
paralytic stroke, had to conduct at some great performance
—I cannot be sure, but I think he said a Birmingham Festival
—at any rate he came in looking very white and feeble and
sat down in front of the orchestra to conduct a morning
rehearsal. Madame Patey was there, went up to the poor
old gentleman and kissed his forehead.
It is a curious thing about this great singer that not only
should she have been (as she has always seemed to me)