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* The tides of Music's golden sea, 
Setting toward eternity." 


By the Rev. H. R. HAWEIS, M.A. 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2012 with funding from 
Brigham Young University-Idaho 





E ©ctifcate 


iFirst Cook. 



1 . The Fount of Color 15 

2. The Fount of Sound 1G 

3. Nature and Art 16 

4. Music and other Arts 19 

5. Emotions and Objects 21 

6. Abstract Emotion 24 

7. Analysis of Emotion 28 

8. Connection between Music and Emotion 31 

9. Dull Music 33 

10. Objections 34 

1 1 . Connection between Music and "Words 35 

12. Sound-Art and Color- Art 38 

13. Music and the Age 41 

1 4. Art and Morals 44 

1 5. Morality defined 45 

1G. Morality applied 48 

1 7. Music and Morality 50 

18. Emotion and Morals 53 

1 9. The Composer 54 

20. Rise of Music 55 

21. Realism and Sentimentalism 56 

22. German, Italian, and French Schools 58 

23. The Executive Musician 61 

24. Soloists 65 

25. Orchestral Players 71 

2G. Culture 77 

27. Morality 79 

28. Longevity 87 

29. The Listener 87 

30. Planes of Emotion 90 

31. Shakspeare and Raphael 92 

32. Italian and German Sentiment 94 

33. Patriotic Songs 95 

v iii CONTENTS. 


34. Musical Perturbations 97 

35. Memory 99 

36. Musical Quotation 101 

37. Women and Music 102 

38. Dream-life 103 

39. Sacred Music— The Oratorio 104 

40. Congregational Singing 106 

41 . Slow Church 107 

42. Choir Reformation 1.08 

43. Use of Anthems and Voluntaries 109 

44. Need of Artistic Unity 110 

Qctorib JBook. 

From Ambrose to Handel. 

45. First and Second Periods 115 

46. Third Period 118 

47. Carissimi.— Italy 120 

48. John Dunstable. — England 121 

49. Lulli.— France 122 

50. Purcell 123 

51. Handel. — Germany 124 


52. His Portraits 125 

53. Childhood 127 

54. Early Manhood 129 

55. Italy 131 

56. England 135 

57. Second Visit to England 136 

58. Handel and his Friends 1 38 

59. Operas 144 

60. Reverses 145 

61. More Trials 147 

62. Contemporary Composers 151 

63. Music in England , 155 

64. Oratorios 1 58 

65. Cabals 160 

66. Handel at Oxford .162 

67. More Operas and Cabals 162 

68. A Funeral Anthem 165 

69. Failure and Success 166 

70. Saul and Israel in Egypt 168 




71. Handel in Ireland 172 

72. The Messiah 173 

73. Samson and the occasional Oratorio 181 

74. Judas Maccabasus 183 

75. Joshua, Solomon, Susannah, Theodora 184 

76. Handel at Peace 186 

77. A Visit to Master Hardcastle 188 

78. The last Act 191 


79. Portrait of Gluck 194 

80. Rise of Gluck, and State of Music in 1 714 195 

81. Gluck and Haydn 197 

82. Gluck's Style 198 

83. The Opera a defective Form of Art 199 

84. Rise of the German Opera 201 

85. Gluck in Paris 202 

86. Gluckists and Piccinists 204 

87. Old Age and Death 206 

88. Estimate of his Character 207 


89. Likeness and Difference 209 

90. Early Days 211 

91. Metastasio and Porpora 213 

92. Quartets 214 

93. Tempests 215 

94. Symphonies 216 

95. Prince Esterhazy 217 

96. Work and Wife 217 

97. Mozart. 219 

98. Haydn in England 220 

99. The Creation and the Seasons 223 

100. Characteristics 225 


101. Schubert and Chopin 227 

102. Precocious Talent 228 

103. Early Compositions 230 

104. His Eriends 232 

1 05. His Appearance 234 

106. Work and Romance 235 

107. Beethoven 239 

108. Last Days 241 

1 09. His Compositions 241 



Chopin. Page 

110. Romantic and Classical School 249 

111. First Years 251 

1 12. His Manners 252 

113. His Style 253 

114. Paris 253 

115. His Friends 254 

116. Chopin and Madame Sand 257 

117. England 259 

1 1 8. Death 2G0 

119. His Compositions 261 

The Letters of Mozart. 

120. Omissions explained 263 

121. Vivid Letters 264 

122. Paris, Vienna, and Love 266 

123. Haydn 267 

124. Activity and Death 268 

The Letters of Beethoven. 

125. Appearance 272 

126. Childhood and only Loves 273 

127. Deafness 275 

128. Carl, the Young Rascal 276 

129. His Generosity and Poverty 278 

130. His Religion and his Art 279 

131. Death 280 


132. Books about Mendelssohn 283 

1 33. Characteristics 284 

134. Temperament 286 

135. Wife, Children, Death 287 

136. Elijah.— Introduction 289 

137. Entrance of the Prophet Elijah 289 

138. Famine and Dearth 290 

139. The Desert 292 

140. The Sacrifice on Mount Carmel 293 

141. The Storm on Mount Carmel— " Thanks be to God" 295 

142. The Elijah and the Messiah \ 296 

143. Exultation, and "Be not Afraid" 297 

144. Jezebel 299 

145. Elijah forsaken and comforted 300 

146. Earthquake on Mount Horeb > . . 303 

1 47. Elijah is taken up into Heaven 305 

148. A Perfect Close 307 


&l)ir& Book. 


Violins. Page 

149. Introduction 313 

150. Origin of the Violin 314 

151 . Gasparo di Salo, Magini, and the Amatis 320 

152. Stradiuarius 323 

153. Violin-making 329 

154. Conclusion 335 


155. Origin of the Piano-forte 337 

15G. The Virginal 339 

157. The Spinet 342 

158. The Piano-forte 342 

159. Sebastien Bach 343 

160. Mozart and Clementi 344 

161. Erard, Broadwood, Collard, Pleyel 346 


162. Towers and Belfries 348 

163. Bell-hunting 354 

164. Antiquity of Bells 355 

1 65. Use of Bells 357 

1 66. Bell-founding in Belgium 359 

167. Belgium Bell-founders 364 

1 68. Inscriptions 367 

1 69. St. Paul's and Westminster Abbey 370 

1 70. Big Ben 372 


171. Our Belfries 378 

1 72. Waste and Ruin 380 

173. Remedies 382 

174. Our Musical Country again 384 

175. The Bells of Belgium 387 

176. Bell Music 388 

177. The Carillon 389 

178. Carillonneurs 392 

179. Matthias van den Gheyn 394 

180. Van den Gheyn's Music 396 

181. Van den Gheyn Redivivus 399 

182. English Bell Works 402 

183. Reform needed 405 


JFourt!) Sock. 




1 84. England not Musical 409 

1 85. English Liberality 412 

18G. Seed and Soil 413 

187. Mendelssohn in England 414 

188. Growing Taste for good Music 416 

189. Mons. Jullien 417 

190. His Followers 418 

191 . Musical Progress „ 419 

192. Conductors 420 

193. The Opera 423 

194. Music Halls and Negro Melodies 429 

195. String Quartets 431 

196. The Musical Amateur 435 

197. People who Play the Piano 435 

198. Concerted Chamber Music 440 

199. The People who Sing 443 

200. The Quartet Party 446 

201. The Scratch Quartet 448 

202. Orchestral Societies.. 450 

203. Vocal Associations 452 

204. Harp, Bagpipes, Cornemuse, and Hurdy-gurdy 454 

205. The Organ-grinder 457 

206. Bands 461 

207. The Brass without the Band 463 

208. The Band without the Brass 464 

209. The String Band 464 

210. The String Band dissolved 465 

211. Miscellaneous Artists 467 

212. Vocal Street Music 469 

213. Ballad Singers, Male and Female 471 

214. Blind Singers 471 

215. Negro Melodists 472 

Conclusion 475 

Appendix » 477 

Jfirst Book. 



first Book. 



The sun smiting through crystal drops shakes its white 
l. light into blue, and red, and yellow fire : and, as 

The Fount to ' . . 

of Color, the beads of fresh-fallen rain tremble in the wind, 
we may watch the primary colors of the rainbow, com- 
bined and recombined with wondrous alchemy into more 
subtle flame of emerald, purple, and orange. A cloud pass- 
es over the sky, and in a moment every tiny globe hangs 
before us, scintillant still, but pale and colorless, with its 
one quivering speck of crystalline light. Then we can see 
with quiet eyes the metallic lustre upon the wide blue 
wings of the Brazilian butterfly — the green dissolving into 
glitter of rubies upon the breast of the humming-bird — 
the long reaches of golden kingcups in June meadows, or 
opal tints upon wet shells and blown foam. Have we not 
looked into the great laboratories of light itself? Have 
we not seen the essential colors in the very moment of 
their evolution falling like shattered flame-flakes from the 
sun? It is so strange to find them mingled bountifully 
with all created things, and made fast in every conceiva- 
ble tint upon plume of bird and petal of flower? 


The painter goes forth each clay into a new Eden, and 
finds his palette already laid for him. He can not choose 
but take the materials and follow the suggestions which 
Nature so freely gives him. He, too, can combine and re- 
combine; can distribute his hues in concord and discord 
of color ; can associate them with definite images, or, mak- 
ing them the vehicles of poetic emotion, paint " the sun- 
shine of sunshine, and the gloom of gloom." 

The wailing of the wind at night, the hum of insect life, 

2. the nigh ting ale's note, the scream of the eagle, the 

The Fount °„ ° _ ' . „ ., f ' 

of Sound, cries of animals, and, above all, the natural inflec- 
tions of the human voice — such are the rough elements of 
music, multitudinous, incoherent, and formless. Earth, and 
sea, and air are full of these inarticulate voices; sound 
floats upward from populous cities to the Cloudland, and 
thunder rolls down its monotonous reply. Alone by the 
sea we may listen and hear a distinct and different tone 
each time the swelling wavelet breaks crisply at our feet ; 
and when the wind with fitful and angry howl drives in- 
land the foam of the breakers, the shriek of the retiring 
surge upon the shingles will often run through several de- 
scending semitones. 

It would seem, then, that we have only to take the Col- 

3. or and the Sound provided for us by Nature, and 
Art. transform them at once through the arts of Paint- 
ing and Music into the interpreters of human thought and 
emotion. But, in reality, between music and painting 
there is fixed a great gulf of difference. Nature gives man 
the art of Painting, as it were, ready made. For him the 
sun sets and rises, and the summer glows, and the woods 
change so softly and slowly beneath his gaze, that he has 
time to chronicle every tint before it has passed away. 


All forms of beauty, from the supreme outline of the hu- 
man body to the filmy speck of the minutest insect, are 
constantly limning themselves upon the retina of his eye 
until his sensitive brain is supplied with objects of en- 
chanting loveliness, which he is at liberty to reproduce and 
recombine at will. Nature not only provides the painter 
with fair forms and rich colors, but she also teaches him 
the magical art of selection and arangement. But what 
has she done for the musician ? She has given him sound, 
not music. Nowhere does there fall upon his ear, as he 
walks through the wide world, such an arrangement of 
consecutive sounds as can be called a musical subject, or 
theme, or melody. Far less does he find any thing which 
can be described as musical harmony. The thunder is not 
affecting because it is melodic, but because it is loud and 
elemental. The much-extolled note of the lark is only 
pleasant because associated with the little warbler, the 
" sightless song" in the depth of the blue sky ; for when 
the lark's trill is so exactly imitated (as it can be with a 
whistle in a tumbler full of water) that it deceives the 
very birds themselves, it ceases to be in the least agreea- 
ble, just as the sound of the wind, which can also be well 
imitated by any one compressing his lips and moaning, 
ceases under such circumstances to be in the least roman- 
tic. The nightingale's song, when at its best, has the ad- 
vantage of being a single and not unpleasantly loud whis- 
tle. That, too, can be imitated so as to defy detection. 
But once let the veil of night be withdrawn, and the hu- 
man nightingale disclosed, and we shall probably all ad- 
mit that his performance is dull, monotonous, and unmean- 
ing. The cuckoo, who often sings a true third, and some- 
times a sharp third or even a fourth, is the nearest ap- 
proach to music in Nature ; but this tuneful fowl gets less 
credit for his vocal powers than almost any other ; and 


while he is screamed at and hunted from hedge to hedge 
by his own species as a very outlaw among birds, he is 
voted but a coarse and vulgar songster by man. At any 
rate, though some may admire his call as the herald note 
of spring, yet when "cuckoo cuckoo" is blown, as boys 
know how to blow, upon the hollow fists, no one except 
the cuckoo cares to listen to the strain for its own sweet 
sake. The cries of most large birds, such as the ostrich 
and peacock, are intolerably disagreeable. Nor are the 
voices of the animals, from the pig, the cat, and the don- 
key downward, any better. We need not go so far as Mr. 
Darwin's Gibbon monkey to find an animal that sings sev- 
eral notes and occasionally hits an octave, for the same can 
be said of the domestic cat ; but in neither case is there 
such an arrangement of notes as can be called Melody, or 
such a combination of notes as can be called Harmony. 
Poets from time immemorial have tried to throw dust in 
the eyes of mankind whenever they have touched upon 
this subject, but it is high time the truth should be told. 
The Harmonies of Nature are purely metaphorical. There 
is no music in Nature, neither melody nor harmony. Mu- 
sic is the creation of man. He does not reproduce in mu- 
sic any combination of sounds he has ever heard or could 
possibly hear in the natural world, as the painter transfers 
to his canvas the forms and tints he sees around him. 
No; the musician seizes the rough element of sound and 
compels it to work his will, and having with infinite pains 
subjugated and tamed it, he is rewarded by discovering 
in it the most direct and perfect medium in all Nature for 
the expression of his emotions. 

The Painter's art lies upon the surface of the world ; its 
secrets are whispered by the yellow cornfields spotted 
with crimson fire, and the dappled purple of heather upon 
the hills ; but the Musician's art lies beneath the surface. 


His rough material of Sound is like the dull diamond, 
earth-incrusted and buried in deep mines ; it simply does 
not exist as a brilliant and a thing of priceless beauty un- 
til it has been refined and made luminous by deliberate 
arrangement of glittering facets, set in splendor of chaste 

And then — what then ? it will be asked ; what does all 
4. this manipulation of sound end in ? what is the 

Music and . 

other Arts, value or dignity of this art 01 Music? We easily 
recognize the foundation of other arts. The art of Sculp- 
ture rests upon the fact that when man awakens to a sense 
of the beauty, power, or even grotesqueness of form, he is 
impelled by a creative instinct to reproduce, select, and 
combine its various qualities — firstly, that he may perpet- 
uate the forms of fleeting beauty that he sees around him ; 
and secondly, that he may impart to the ideal conceptions 
of his imagination an outward and concrete existence. We 
are not ashamed to derive the keenest satisfaction from 
the Niohe or the Antinous, for we see in these a perennial 
and dignified expression of human grace and pathos. And 
even when we turn to such painful and distorted figures as 
the Laocoon, although we may call them " debased art" 
according to our canons of taste, yet neither these nor any 
other specimens, however corrupt or weak, can effect the 
real dignity of sculpture itself. Similarly, the art of Paint- 
ing rests upon a rational impulse to select and combine 
colors chiefly in connection with intelligible forms and 
subjects of definite interest; and although painting is less 
definite in some respects, and less complete in others, than 
sculpture, yet its range is wider, its material infinitely 
more ductile, while its command of emotion through the 
vehicle of color, and of ideas through variety of outline, 
gives it an importance and dignity which it would be dif- 


ficult to overestimate. Even such an art as Legerdemain 
is capable of a satisfactory explanation ; for it is the out- 
ward realization in one department, however narrow, of 
certain excellent qualities of the eye and hand. A Phidian 
sculpture, a picture by Titian, even a conjuring trick by 
Professor Frikell, can be accounted for and justified in a 
few words ; but when we come to a Symphony by Beetho- 
ven, philosophy is dumb, or rides off upon a quibble about 
the scientific structure of music or its technical qualities, 
all true and interesting, no doubt, but still leaving un- 
touched the great Art-problem of music — What is the ra- 
tionale of its existence, and what the secret of its power 
over the soul ? 

Music, as distinguished from the various rude attempts 
of the past, is only about four hundred years old. Modern 
music, which is alone worthy of the name, is, in fact, the 
youngest of the arts, and stands at present in a correspond- 
ingly unfavorable position ; for while it has been brought 
to the highest perfection, the secret of its power is almost 
wholly unexplored ; and as long as this is the case, music 
must continue to be ranked last among the fine arts. But 
the day is at hand when the veil of the prophetess will be 
lifted. Already in Germany, the land of thought, music 
has been adopted as the national art — as painting was 
once in Italy, and sculpture in Greece. Already the names 
of Beethoven and Mozart are whispered through the civil- 
ized world in the same breath with those of Phidias and 
Michael Angelo ; and the time is probably not far distant 
when music will stand revealed perchance as the mightiest 
of the arts, and certainly as the one art peculiarly repre- 
sentative of our modern world, with its intense life, com- 
plex civilization, and feverish self-consciousness. 

It has often been said that music is the lan^uasre of the 
emotions ; but what there is in music to act upon emotion, 


or how it both expresses and excites it, sometimes com- 
pelling the mind to clothe the awakened emotion with defi- 
nite ideas — at others, dispensing with ideas altogether — 
this has never yet been explained. With the cautiousness 
and humility of one who feels himself upon untrodden 
ground, I offer the following reflections as a contribution 
to the much-neglected study of Musical Psychology. 


We can not do better than start with the popular asser- 
5. tion that music is the language of the emotions. 

Emotions . . . „ 

and objects. But before we attempt to show the points ol 
contact between emotion and its art-medium, and before 
we can understand how it is that music finds itself on the 
same plane of action with the emotion, and so fitted to be- 
come at one time their minister expressing them, at an- 
other their master commanding them, it will be necessary 
to form a clear and almost concrete conception of the emo- 
tions themselves. Of course we can no more get to the 
root of that aspect of life exhibited in emotion than we 
can get to the root of life itself in man, or beast, or vegeta- 
ble. Life is only known by the sensations and appearan- 
ces which accompany it — by its proximate, and not its ul- 
timate causes. Speaking physically, then, what happens 
when a person is moved or excited ? A certain quicken- 
ing of the blood as it rushes through the heart, or what we 
call a hurried pulse, and a corresponding disarrangement 
of molecules in the brain. If it were not for these, acting 
through what we may call nerve-currents, we should not 
be capable, constituted as we are at present, of experien- 
cing any emotion at all. The nature of our emotions may 
depend either upon the nature of external objects present- 
ed to the senses, or upon internal and unexplained process- 
es connected with what we call our thoughts. Now what 


most people are alive to is the existence of emotions in 
their more intense forms., Once in the course of the day, 
or two or three times during the month, they have been 
greatly moved or excited pleasurably or otherwise. But 
what few people realize is that emotion is actually coex- 
tensive with consciousness. Physically this is the case, 
for there is no pause in the incessant disturbance and re- 
arrangement of the cerebral molecules which are insepara- 
bly connected with the phenomena of human conscious- 
ness, and human consciousness itself is nothing but an un- 
interrupted concatenation of emotions, most of them so 
unimportant, so involved, and succeeding each other with 
such intense rapidity that we take no note of them. Like 
distant lights in a dark night, only those of a certain 
brightness are visible to the naked eye. As a traveler in 
a railway carriage sees the objects fly by him with a ra- 
pidity which lessens the impression that each is calculated 
to make by itself, but takes note of a cathedral or a regi- 
ment of soldiers, so the multitudinous objects and events 
that crowd upon us during the most uneventful day may 
indeed affect us consciously, and produce a great variety 
of feelings without once awakening the self-consciousness 
of a strong emotion. 

It may be a relief to the reader if we ask him to pause 
at this stage of the proceedings, and analyze very roughly 
a few of the emotions which in a very short space of time 
he is in the habit of experiencing. It would require vol- 
umes to analyze properly the emotional history of a single 
hour, but the reality and continuity of such a history may 
be briefly indicated. 

On first awakening we may all have experienced at 
times a puzzled kind of feeling. This is produced by the 
conflict between the conditions of the waking and the 
sleeping states. A feeling of doubt as to whether we are 


really going to be hanged, as we just now dreamed, is suc- 
ceeded by a sense of relief, passing quickly into a sense of 
humor, which in its turn is arrested by a sense of depres- 
sion caused by the eye falling on a letter containing bad 
news received on the previous night. Then follows a train 
of speculation, resulting in an infinite series of little ela- 
tions and depressions as we take a hopeful view of the 
concern or otherwise. A knock at the door brings a wel- 
come distraction, and we leap up with an energy which is 
really the result of a complex state of feeling; that is to 
say, emotion of relief at getting rid of a disagreeable sub- 
ject ; emotion caused by a resolution to get dressed ; emo- 
tion caused by anxiety to be in time for an engagement ; 
emotion caused by a chilly feeling, which reminds us of a 
fire down stairs, etc., etc. Upon opening the door and 
seizing the hot-water jug, we experience a sudden depres- 
sion on finding the water barely tepid ; but quick as 
thought the elation of anger succeeds as we rush to the 
bell-rope, which comes down beneath our too vigorous ef- 
forts, and again supplies us with a complex emotion : emo- 
tion of resentment against the servant, the cause of all the 
mischief; ditto against the carpenter who put up the bell- 
rope the day before ; ditto against ourselves for angry 
haste ; reflex feeling of resolve to be more careful next 
time ; prospective feeling of annoyance at having to pay 
for putting up the rope again. It is, perhaps, needless to 
continue the analysis of that internal life which consists of 
such an infinite variety of important, trivial, and complex 
feelings. But before we consider how music deals with 
emotion, we must try and seize the fact that the history 
of each hour does not only consist of outward incidents, 
but that each one of these incidents and objects, as also 
every thought which flits through the mind, has its own 
accompanying emotion, or train of emotions, and that the 


whole of human life forms one vast emotional fabric, begun 
long before thought, and continued down to the feeblest 
pulse of second childhood. 

Hitherto we have considered emotion in connection with 
e. definite images such as letters, bell-ropes, hot-water 
Emotion, jugs ; but it is quite a mistake to suppose that defi- 
nite images, or even thoughts, are indispensable to the ex- 
istence of emotion. We may be tempted to think that 
emotions derive all their importance and dignity from the 
thoughts with which they happen to be associated. The 
very reverse of this, however, is the case. Emotion is oil- 
en weakened by association with thought, whereas thoughts 
are always strengthened by emotion. Indeed, emotion is 
the very breath and life-blood of thought, which without 
it would remain but a pale and powerless shadow, incapa- 
ble of asserting itself, or of exercising any kind of influ- 
ence, good or bad. As the sun brings light and warmth 
to the visible world, as without it the whole realm of 
physical life would lie forlorn in one long midnight of cold 
paralysis, even so the solar orb of our emotions kindles 
each thought and endows each conception with fertile ac- 
tivity. What power can any thought have without emo- 
tion ? When a man is exhausted with hunger and fatigue, 
you may pass through his mind the most striking thoughts 
of Shakspeare, or the most thrilling images of Byron, but 
they will be without effect, because of the absence of emo- 
tional force in him. On the other hand, the commonest 
object in nature, a wayside daisy, 

"The meanest flower that blows," 
seen a thousand times without the smallest emotion, may 
one day be seen with the poet's eye, and will suddenly be 
found to contain thoughts 

" Too deep for tears." 


No doubt, granting a certain measure of sensibility, out 
of a definite thought an emotion of some sort will arise ; 
it is equally true that out of an indefinite emotion corre- 
sponding thoughts will often arise. But there is this dif- 
ference between Thought and Emotion — thought is dead 
without emotion, whereas emotion has a life of its own en- 
tirely independent of thought. Thoughts are but wander- 
ing spirits that depend for their vitality upon the magnetic 
currents of feeling. 

The essential power of emotions over thoughts is recog- 
nized in the most popular forms of language. The thought 
of heaven as a Place is sufficiently powerless, however much 
we may deck it out with apocalyptical splendors ; but we 
speak of the State of the Blessed as of a certain emotional 
condition of joy, and are perfectly satisfied to rest in that 
definition as the profoundest of all realities, although we 
may not be able to illustrate it by one definite thought or 
associate it with any one distinct image. But further, when 
viewed through the lenses of more abstract reflection, all 
definite thoughts and distinct images are seen more clearly 
still to be but the helps and crutches to something beyond 
them — something which may hereafter become in its turn 
definite and distinct, leading us on to yet another dim- 
ness and yet another Revelation. Once raise a thought to 
its highest power, and it not only is accompanied by the 
strongest emotion, but, strange, to say, actually passes out 
of the condition of a thought altogether into the condition 
of an emotion, just as hard metal raised to a sufficient pow- 
er of heat evaporates into the most subtle and attenuated 
gases. The pious Roman Catholic kneeling before the cru- 
cifix passes through successive emotional stages, from the 
gross representation of a tortured human body to the ideal 
form of a risen and glorified Savior, until at length to the 
devotee, whose adoring eyes are still fixed upon the wood- 



en crucifix, nothing remains but the emotion of a presence, 
felt but not understood, in which he seems to live, and 
move, and have his being. That is the moment, he will 
tell you, of his highest life ; the seventh heaven has been 
reached, more intensely real than any scene of earth ; but 
it is wholly internal, a kingdom within, the fullness of life, 
and yet, to the common senses impalpable, without form 
and void. The same phenomena are presented to us by 
every fine actor; we feel that his art culminates, not in 
the rounded period, nor even in the loud roar and violent 
gesticulation of excited passion, but in the breathless si- 
lence of intense feeling, as he stands apart and allows the 
impotency of exhausted symbols, the quivering lip and the 
glazed eye, to express for him the crisis of inarticulate 

But, it will be urged, in each case we start from some- 
thing definite ; in the latter we start from the incidents of 
the play. That provides us with a key to the emotion. 
Exactly so. But what I am maintaining is, not that emo- 
tion does not accompany definite thought, but simply that 
thought, in proportion to its intensity, has a tendency to 
pass into a region of abstract emotion independent and 

In the same way Poetry, which, as Mr. J. S. Mill ob- 
serves, is nothing but " thought colored by strong emo- 
tion, expressed in metre, and overheard," is constantly 
composed of words which will hardly bear analysis, as 
simple vehicles for the expression of definite thoughts, but 
which may be justified as attempts to express the quicken- 
ing of an idea, or the evaporation of thought in emotion. 
Nothing is more common than to hear a person say, "A 
truly exquisite poem ; but what on earth does it mean ?" 
A search for definite thoughts may very likely be in vain. 
What the poem really means is a certain succession or ar* 


rangement of feelings, in which emotion is every thing, 
and the ideas only helps and crutches. This result is oft- 
en obtained by what stupid people call extravagance of 
language or confusion of imagery, and by what Mr. R. II. 
Hutton has happily termed " the physical atmosphere of 
words." J. M. W. Turner's vagueness and extravagance, 
so much complained of by common folk, is another exam- 
ple of the transformation of thoughts into emotion. Mr. 
Ruskin has observed that Turner paints the sottls of pict- 
ures. Even Turner's opponents will agree that in many 
of his pictures most of the distinct images have evapora- 
ted, while others perceive that these have only vanished to 
make way for emotions of transcendent force and beauty. 

It seems to us evident, then, that the tendency of emo- 
tion in all its higher stages is to get rid of definite thoughts 
and images — is it equally certain that it occupies an inde- 
pendent region, and can start without them ? A very lit- 
tle reflection will probably convince us that we may be in 
a state of emotional depression, or otherwise — what we 
call in good spirits or in bad spirits — without being able 
to assign any definite reason, or to trace the mood in any 
way to any one thought or combination of ideas. A 
thought may, indeed, flash upon the depressed spirit, and 
dissipate in an instant our depression — or the fit of depres- 
sion may pass away of itself by mere force of reaction. 
Sensitive temperaments are peculiarly liable to such " ups 
and downs;" but we shall find, if we examine our experi- 
ences, that although the emotional region is constantly 
traversed by thoughts of every possible description, it has 
a life of its own, and is distinct from them even as water 
is distinct from the various reflections that float across its 


So far we have merely attempted to show the connec- 
7. tion which exists between Thoughts and Emo- 

Analysis of . _ 

Emotion, tions ; and during the process we have amrmed 
the independent existence of an emotional region, in which 
there takes place a never-ceasing play and endless succes- 
sion of emotions, simple and complex. But, in order to 
show the ground of contact between music and emotion, it 
will be necessary to put emotion itself into the crucible of 
thought, and express its properties by symbols. 

We shall then subject Sound, as manipulated by the art 
of music, to the same kind of analysis ; and if we find that 
Sound contains exactly the same properties as emotion, we 
shall not only have established points of resemblance be- 
tween the two, but we shall have actually reached the 
common ground, or kind of border-land, upon which inter- 
nal emotion becomes wedded to external sound, and real- 
izes for itself that kind of concrete existence which it is 
the proper function and glory of art to bestow upon hu- 
man thought and feeling. If we now attempt to analyze 
a simple emotion, we shall find that it invariably possesses 
one or more of the following properties ; complex emo- 
tions possess them all. 

I. Elation and Depression. — When a man is suffering 
from intense thirst in a sandy desert, the emotional fount 
within him is at a low ebb, a ; but, on catching sight of a 
pool of water not far off, he instantly becomes highly ela- 
ted, and, forgetting his fatigue, he hastens forward upon a 
new platform of feeling, b. On arriving at the water he 
finds it too salt to drink, and his emotion, from the highest 
elation, sinks at once to the deepest depression, c. 

II. Velocity. — At this crisis our traveler sees a man 
with a water-skin coming toward him, and his hopes in- 
stantly rise, d ; and, running up to him, he relates how his 
hopes have been suddenly raised, and as suddenly cast 



Emotional Symbols. 

I. Elation and Depression 


IT. Velocity 

(Fig. 2.) 


III. Intensity. 

(Fig. 3.) 

IV. Variety. 

V. Form (see Fig. 5). 

(Fig. 4.) 

Emotional Diagram of the Man in the Desert. 

(Fig. 5.) 




A. Thirst. 

B. Expectation. 

C. Disappointment. 

x. Mental repetition of A,B,C. 

D. Satisfaction. 

E. Complex feeling. 


clown, at b and c respectively ; but long before his words 
have expressed, or even begun to express his meaning, he 
has, in a moment of time, ^ — x, in fact spontaneously, with 
the utmost mental velocity, repassed through the emotions 
of elation and depression, a, b, c, which may at first have 
lasted some time, but are now traversed in one sudden 
flash of reflex consciousness. 

III. Intensity. — As he drinks the sparkling water, we 
may safely affirm that his emotion increases in intensity 
up to the point where his thirst becomes quenched, and 
that every drop that he takes after that is accompanied by 
less and less pungent or intense feeling. 

IV. Variety. — Up to this time his emotion has been 
comparatively simple ; but a suffering companion now ar- 
rives, and as he hands to him the grateful cup, his emotion 
becomes complex, that is to say, he experiences a variety 
of emotions simultaneously. First, the emotion of content- 
ment at having quenched his own thirst ; second, gratitude 
to the man who supplied him with water — an emotion 
probably in abeyance until he had quenched his thirst; 
third, joy at seeing his friend participating in his own re- 

V. Form. — If the reader will now glance over this sim- 
ple narrative once more by the aid of the accompanying 
diagrams, he will see that both the simple and the com- 
plex emotions above described have what, for w T ant of a 
better term, we may call f*r??i; i. e., they succeed each 
other in one order rather than another, and are at length 
combined with a definite purpose in certain fixed propor- 

Now although I have, in order to lighten the burden of 
metaphysics, tacked on a story to the above emotional dia- 
gram, I wish to remind the reader that it needs none, and 
that it is capable of indicating the progression and the 


qualities of emotion without the aid of a single definite 
idea. It must also be observed that, although I have ex- 
pressed by symbols the properties of emotion, simple and 
complex, no art-medium of emotion has as yet been arrived 
at ; nothing but barren symbols are before us, incapable 
of awakening any feeling at all, however well they may 
suffice to indicate its nature and properties. We have 
now to discover some set of symbols capable of bringing 
these emotional properties into direct communication with 
sound, and Music will then emerge, like a new Venus from 
a sea of confused murmur, and announce herself as the 
royal Art-medium of Emotion. 

The reader will perceive in a moment that musical nota- 
8 tion is the symbolism required, for it is capa- 

fwee"i e MuSc be " ^\e not on ^J of indicating all the properties of 
and Emotion. emo ti on , but of connecting these with every 
variety and combination of sound. That every musical 
note corresponds to a fixed sound may be called a self- 
evident proposition. I hasten further to point out that 
the art of music is an arrangement or manipulation of 
sounds, which clearly reveals to us the fact that sound 
possesses all the properties of emotion, and is, for this rea- 
son, admirably calculated to provide it with its true and 
universal language. 

In order to realize this, we had better at once compare 
our analysis of Emotion with the following brief analysis of 
Sound, as it comes before us in the art of musical notation. 

I. Elation and Depression. — The modern musical scale 
consists of seven notes, or an octave of eight, with their 
accompanying semi-tones. The human voice, or a violin, 
will, in addition, express every gradation of sound between 
each note ; thus from C to C, ascending or descending, we 
can get any possible degree of Elation or Depression. 


II. Velocity. — This property is expressed by the em- 
ployment of notes indicating the durations of the different 
sounds, e. g., minims, quavers, crotchets, etc. Also by terms 
such as adagio, allegro, etc., which do not indicate any 
change in the relative value of the notes, but raise or low- 
er the Velocity of the whole movement. 

III. Intensity. — Between ppp and fff lie the various 
degrees of intensity which may be given to a single note. 
Intensity can also be produced by accumulating a multi- 
tude of notes simultaneously, either in unisons, octaves, or 
concords, while the words crescendo and diminuendo, or 
certain marks, denote the gradual increase or decrease of 

IV. Variety. — We have only to think of the simplest 
duet or trio to realize how perfectly music possesses this 
powerful property of complex emotion ; and we have only 
to glance at a score of Beethoven's or Spohr's to see how 
almost any emotion, however complex, is susceptible of 
musical expression. 

V. Form. — Nothing is more common than to hear it 
said that Mozart is a great master of form ; that Beetho- 
ven's form is at times obscure, and so forth. Of course 
what is meant is, that in the arrangement and develop- 
ment of the musical phrases, there is a greater or less fit- 
ness of proportion producing an effect of unity or inco- 
herence, as the case may be. But the idea of musical form 
can be made intelligible to any one who will take the 
trouble to glance at so simp'e a melody as the "Blue Bells 
of Scotland." That air consists of four phrases, each of 
which is divided into an elation and depression. The first 
two phrases are repeated; the third and fourth occur in 
the middle ; and the first two phrases recur at the close. 
We might express the form numerically in this way : 



The Blue Bells of Scotland. 

<\/\ A/\ \//\ A/\ 

1 2 12 3 4 ^ i ^ 

Thus music appears visibly to the eye to possess all the 
essential properties of emotion. May we not therefore 
say that the secret of its power consists in this, that it 
alone is capable of giving to the simplest, the subtlest, 
and the most complex emotions alike, that full and satis- 
factory expression through sound which hitherto it has 
been found impossible to give to many of them in any- 
other way? 

When alluding to the succession of emotions through 
9 which we pass hour after hour, I called attention 

Dull Music. ^- j. ke fact that most of them were so unimpor- 
tant as hardly to be worth the name of emotion ; that yet, 
so long as consciousness lasts, we must be in some emo- 
tional state or other. This consideration may help us to 
understand the nature of a good deal of dull music, which 
is, in fact, the expression of what may be called neutral 
emotion. Plow strange it seems to some people that com- 
posers should think it worth while to Avrite down page 
after page which is devoid of interest ! But if we lived 
more in the composer's world, our wonder would cease. 
We should soon feel with him that our neutral states 
called for musical expression as well as the higher Inten- 
sities and Velocities of Elation and Depression. Music 
does not cover a little excited bit of life, but the whole of 
life; and the mind, trained to the disciplined expression 
of emotion in music, takes delight in long trains of quiet 
emotion, conscientiously worked out by what some may 



call diffuse and dull music. There is a quantity of music 
■ — of Schubert, for instance — which seems hardly written 
for the public at all. It is the expression of unimportant 
and uninteresting successions of emotion, whose only merit 
consists in their being true to life; and until we have 
learned to think of every moment of our lives as being a 
fit subject for music, we shall never understand the Sound- 
reveries of Tone Poets who were in the habit of regarding 
the whole of their inner life as melodic and symphonic, 
and setting vast portions of it to music, quite regardless 
of what the world at large was likely to say or think 
about it. 

And here let me pause to say that I am perfectly aware 
10 of the objections that may be urged against my 
objections. ana iysi s f emotion and music into five proper- 
ties. I shall be told that my explanation is inadequate ; 
that it is impossible to analyze a great many emotions at 
all; that music is often in the same way incapable of be- 
ing cut up into the above-named five properties. My an- 
swer is, that it is only possible to indicate very roughly 
by words and symbols the bare outlines and coarsest forms 
of the general laws and properties of emotion. At the bot- 
tom of some historical engraving containing the portraits 
of a number of eminent personages we may have some- 
times noticed a row of heads in outline sketched, without 
color, shadow, or expression, yet docketed with the names 
of the eminent personages above ; so we have sketched in 
the bare outlines of emotion. They lie before us dumb 
and passionless. They are no more than skeleton like- 
nesses of what can not be given in mere black and white. 
Bat it would be possible to show by diagrams much more 
clearly the enormous detail and intricacy of musical phra- 
seology covered in our diagram by one meagre line un 


and clown, and expressed in such words as elation and de- 
pression ; I might show that an elation can consist of any 
length, and might contain within itself an infinite number 
of subordinate elations and depressions, involving different 
measures of velocity and intensity, and as complicated in 
form and variety as those gossamer webs we meet with on 
misty commons about sunrise. The eye gathers some no- 
tion of the capacities of sound for the expression of the 
most labyrinthine and complex emotion by looking at a 
full orchestral score, or trying to follow the minute inflex- 
ions made by the baton of a fine conductor. Such things 
no words can convey. Language is given us to indicate 
the existence of a vast number of truths which can only 
be fully realized by other and more subtle modes of ex- 

As emotion exists independently of Thought, so also 
n does Music. But Music may be appropriate- 

fwe«r C Music b aud *J wedded to Thought. It is a mistake to 
Words - suppose that the music itself always gains 

by being associated with words, or definite ideas of any 
sort. The words often gain a good deal, but the music is 
just as good without them. I do not mean to deny that 
images and thoughts are capable of exciting the deepest 
emotions, but they are inadequate to express the emotions 
they excite. Music is more adequate, and hence will often 
seize an emotion that may have been excited by an image, 
and partially expressed by words — will deepen its expres- 
sion, and, by so doing, will excite a still deeper emotion. 
That is how words gain by being set to music. But to set 
words to music — as in Oratorio or Opera, or any kind of 
song — is, in fact, to mix two arts together. On the whole, 
a striking effect may be produced, but, in reality, it is at 
the expense of the purity of each art. Poetry is a great 


art ; so is music : but as a medium for emotion, eacli is 
greater alone than in company, although various good ends 
are obtained by linking the two together, providing that 
the words are kept in subordination to the greater expres- 
sion-medium of music. Even then they are apt to hinder 
the development of the music. What an amount of feeble 
recitative and incoherent choral writing do we not owe to 
the clumsy endeavors of even good composers to wed mu- 
sic to words ! How often is the poet hampered by the 
composer, and the composer by the poet ! And yet when 
we remember such operas as Don Giovanni, and such ora- 
torios as the Elijah, and note how instinctively the com- 
poser has treated the leading emotions, without being ham- 
pered by the words and the sentences of the libretto, we 
are bound to admit that the objections to the mixed art 
may be to a great extent overcome, while its advantages 
are obvious. Words, situations, and ideas are very useful 
to the composer, and still more so to his audience ; for a 
story, or the bare suggestion of some situation, provides a 
good skeleton form, and serves to awaken trains of emo- 
tion, which music is all-powerful to deepen ; and while the 
words are being declaimed, the music has already passed 
into depths of feeling beyond the control of words. Let 
any one look at the four parts of a chorus, and see the 
kind of subordinate use made of the words. After the first 
glance no one thinks much about the words : they come 
in more as incidents of vocalization than of thought, and 
are piled up often without sense, and repeated by the dif- 
ferent voices pele-mele. And yet the first sentence of such 
choruses as a Rex Tremende," in the Requiem, or "The 
night is departing," in the Lobgesang, is an immense as- 
sistance to the hearer, striking the key-note to the emo- 
tions which music alone can fully express. On the other 
hand, when we turn to the pure art, and inquire what good 


could any words do to a symphony of Beethoven, it must 
be answered, less and less good just in proportion as the 
symphony itself is musically appreciated. Even an opera 
is largely independent of words, and depends for its suc- 
cess, not upon the poetry of the libretto, or even the scen- 
ery or the plot, but upon its emotional range — i. e., upon 
the region which is dominated by the musical element. 
Has the reader never witnessed with satisfaction a fine 
opera, the words of which he could not understand, and 
whose plot he was entirely unable to follow ? Has he nev- 
er seen a musician, in estimating a new song, run through 
it rapidly on the piano, and then turn back to the begin- 
ning to see what the words were all about ? We may be 
sure, long before he has read the words he will have esti- 
mated the value of the song. The words were good to set 
the composer's emotions a-going. They are interesting to 
his audience exactly in proportion to its ignorance of, and 
indifference to, music. Persons who know and care little 
about music are always very particular about the words 
of a song. They want to know what it all means — the 
words will tell them, of course. They are naturally glad 
to find something they can understand ; yet all the while 
the open secret which they will never read lies in the mu- 
sic, not the words. The title " Songs without Words," 
which Mendelssohn has given to his six books of musical 
idylls, is full of delicate raillery, aimed good-humoredly 
enough at the non- musical world. "A 'song without 
words !' What an idea ! How can such a song be possi- 
ble ?" cries one. " What more perfect song could be im- 
agined ?" exclaims another. If we are to have words to 
songs, let us subordinate the thought to the emotion. The 
best words to music are those which contain the fewest 
number of thoughts and the greatest number of emotions. 
Such are the shorter poems of Goethe, of Heine, of Byron, 


and, as ?i consequence, it is notorious that Beethoven, 
Schubert, Mendelssohn, and Schumann between them have, 
with pardonable avidity, set to music almost all these pre- 
cious lyrics. 

The only possible rival to Sound as a vehicle for pure 
12. emotion is Color, but up to the present time no 

Sound-art and . . 

Color-art. art has been invented which stands in exactly 
the same relation to color as music does to sound. No 
one who has ever attentively w^atched a sunset can fail to 
have noticed that color, as well as sound, possesses all the 
five qualities which belong to emotion : the passing of dark 
tints into bright ones corresponds to Elation and Depres- 
sion. The palpitations of light and mobility of hues give 
Velocity, poorness or richness of the same color constitutes 
its Intensity, the presence of more than one color gives Va- 
riety, while Form is determined by the various degrees of 
space occupied by the different colors. Yet there exists no 
color-art as a language of pure emotion. The art of paint- 
ing has hitherto always been dependent upon definite ideas, 
faces, cliffs, clouds, incidents. Present by the engraver's 
art a Sir Joshua Reynolds, or even a Turner, and although 
the spectator has no notion of the coloring of the original, 
he gets some notion of the work because the color was an 
accessory — most important, no doubt, but still an accessory 
— not an essential of the artist's thought. But to present 
a symphony without sound, or without the notes or sym- 
bols which, through the eye, convey to the ear sound, is 
impossible, because sound, heard or conceived, is not the 
accessory, but the essential, of the composer's work. The 
composer's art makes sound into a language of pure emo- 
tion. The painter's art uses color only as the accessory of 
emotion. No method has yet been discovered of arrange 
ing color by itself for the eye, as the musician's art ar- 


ranges sound for the ear. "We have no color pictures de- 
pending solely upon color as we have symphonies depend- 
ing solely upon sound. In Turner's works we find the 
nearest approach ; but even he, by the necessary limitation 
of his art, is without the property of velocity. The canvas 
does not change to the eye — all that is, is presented simul- 
taneously as in one complex chord, and thus the charm of 
velocity, which is so great a property in emotion, and 
which might belong to a color-art, is denied to the painter. 
Color now stands in the same kind of relation to the paint- 
er's art as Sound among the Greeks did to the art of the 
gymnast. But just as we speak of the classic age as a time 
long before the era of real music, so by-and-by posterity 
may allude to the present age as an age before the color- 
art was known — an age in which color had not yet been 
developed into a language of pure emotion, but simply 
used as an accessory to drawing, as music was once to 
bodily exercise and rhythmic recitation. And here I will 
express my conviction that a Color-art exactly analogous 
to the Sound-art of music is possible, and is among the 
arts which have to be traversed in the future, as Sculpture, 
Architecture, Painting, and Music have been in the past. 
Nor do I see why it should not equal any of these in the 
splendor of its results and variety of its applications. Had 
we but a system of color-notation which would as intensely 
and instantaneously connect itself with every possible tint, 
and possess the power of combining colors before the mind's 
eye, as a page of music combines sounds through the eye 
to the mind's ear — had we but instruments, or some ap- 
propriate art-mechanism for rendering such color-notation 
into real waves of color before the bodily eye, we should 
then have actually realized a new art, the extent and gran- 
deur of whose developments it is simply impossible to es- 
timate. The reader, whose eye is passionately responsive 


to color, may gain some faint anticipation of the Color-art 
of the future if he will try to recall the kind of impression 
made upon him by the exquisite tints painted upon the 
dark curtain of the night at a display of fireworks. I se- 
lect fireworks as an illustration in preference to the most 
gorgeous sunset, because I am not speaking of Nature, but 
Art — that is to say, something into the composition of 
which the mind of man has entered, and whose very mean- 
ing depends upon its bearing the evidences of human de- 
signs; and I select pyrotechny, instead of painting of any 
kind, because in it we get the important emotional prop- 
erty of velocity, necessarily absent from fixed coloring. 

At such a display as I have mentioned, we are, in fact, 
present at the most astonishing revelations of Light and 
Color. The effects produced are indeed often associated 
with vulgar patterns, loud noises, and the most coarse and 
stupid contrasts. Sometimes the combinations are felici- 
tous for a moment, and by the merest chance ; but usual- 
ly they are chaotic, inherent, discordant, and supportable 
only owing to the splendor of the materials employed. But 
what a majestic Symphony might not be played with such 
orchestral blazes of incomparable hues ! what delicate mel- 
odies composed of single floating lights, changing and melt- 
ing from one slow intensity to another through the dark, 
until some tender dawn of opal from below might perchance 
receive the last fluttering pulse of ruby light, and prepare 
the eye for some new passage of exquisite color ! Why 
should we not go down to the Palace of the People, and 
assist at a real Color-prelude or Symphony, as we now go 
down to hear a work by Mozart or Mendelssohn ? But the 
Color-art must first be constituted, its symbols and phrase- 
ology discovered, its instruments invented, and its com- 
posers born. Up to that time, music will have no rival as 
an Art-medium of emotion. 



Modern Music is the last great legacy which Rome has 
13. left to the world. It is also remarkable as a dis- 

Musicaud . ..... ~. . . 

the Age. tmct product oi modern civilization. Christianity 
ended by producing that peculiar passion for self-analysis, 
that rage for the anatomy of emotion, and that reverence 
for the individual soul which was almost entirely, unknown 
to the ancient world. The life of the Greek was exceed- 
ingly simple and objective. His art represented the phys- 
ical beauty in which he delighted ; but the faces of his 
statues were usually without emotion. His poetry was 
the expression of strong rather than subtle feeling. He 
delighted in dramas with but few characters and with 
hardly any plot. He could have but little need of music 
to express his emotions, for they could be adequately ren- 
dered by sculpture and recitation. Ancient Rome, in its 
best times, had no sympathy with any kind of art ; to con- 
quer and to make laws for the conquered was her peculiar 
mission. Still less than Greece could she stand in need of 
a special language for her emotions, which were of a sim- 
ple, austere, and practical character, and found in the daily 
duties of the citizen-life a sufficient outlet of expression. 
Christianity, by dwelling especially upon the sanctity of 
the individual life, deepened the channels of natural feel- 
ing, and unfolded capacities of emotion which strove in 
vain for any articulate expression.* But Christianity had 
to pass through several stages before she met with Modern 
Music. The active missionary spirit had first to subside 
and be replaced by the otiose and contemplative mood be- 
fore the need of any elaborate Art-medium of expression 
could make itself felt in Christendom. Unrest is fatal to 
Art. It was in the peaceful seclusion of monastic life that 
* See Second Book. — I. Introduction to Modern Music. 


a new tonal system and a sound method of instruction first 
arose. From being intensely objective and practical, the 
genius of Christianity became intensely meditative, and in- 
trospective, and mystical. The Roman monks may thus 
be said to have created modern music. The devotee, re- 
lieved from poverty and delivered from persecution, had 
time to examine what was going on within him, to chroni- 
cle the different emotional atmospheres of his ecstasy, to 
note the elations and depressions of the religious life, the 
velocity of its aspirations, the intensity of its enthusiasms, 
the complex struggle forever raging between the spirit and 
the flesh, and the ever-changing proportions and forms as- 
sumed by one and the other. Out of these experiences at 
length arose the desire for art-expression. Gothic archi- 
tecture supplied one form, and the Italian schools of paint- 
ing another ; but already the key-note of a more perfect 
emotional language had been struck, which was destined 
to supply an unparalleled mode of utterance both for the 
Church and the World. Such a language would be valua- 
ble exactly in proportion to the complexity of thought and 
feeling to be expressed and the desire for its expression. 
The fusion of the Church and the World at the time of the 
Reformation was at once the type and the starting-point 
of all those mixed and powerful influences which charac- 
terize what we call Modern Civilization, and it is remarka- 
ble that the sceptre of music should have passed from fall- 
en Rome to free Germany just at the time when Rome 
showed herself most incompetent to understand and cope 
with the rising Spirit of the New Age, which Germany may 
almost be said to have created. 

If we were now asked roughly to define what we mean 
by the Spirit of the Age, we should say the genius of the 
nineteenth century is analytic. There is hardly any thing 
on earth which Goethe — the very incarnation of modern 


culture— lias not done something toward analyzing. Sci- 
entific research has taken complete possession of the unex- 
plored regions of the physical world. Kant and Hegel 
have endeavored to define the limits of the pure reason. 
Swedenborg strove to give law and system to the most 
abnormal states of human consciousness. There is not an 
aspect of nature, or complication of character, or contrast 
of thought and feeling, which has not been delineated by 
modern novelists and painted by modern artists, while the 
national poets of Europe, whether we think of Goethe, 
Heine, Lamartine, De Musset, or our own living poets — 
Tennyson and Browning — have all shown the strongest 
disposition to probe and explore the hidden mysteries of 
thought and feeling, to arrange and rearrange the insoluble 
problems of life, which never seemed so insoluble as now, 
to present facts with all their by-play, to trace emotion 
through all its intricate windings, and describe the varia- 
tions of the soul's temperature from its most fiery heats 
down to its most glacial intensities. 

If I were asked to select two poems most characteristic 
of the emotional tendencies of this age, I should select the 
" In Memoriam" and the " Ring and the Book ;" for in 
both these works the introspective tendency and the rest- 
less endeavor to present, with minute fidelity, an immense 
crowd of feelings with something like a symphonic unity 
of effect, culminate. Art, literature, and science are all re- 
dundant with the same analytical and emotional tenden- 
cies. Is it wonderful that such an age should be the very 
age in which music, at once an analytical Science and a 
pure Art-medium of Emotion, has, with a rapidity like that 
of sculpture in Greece or painting in Italy, suddenly reach- 
ed its highest perfection ? Music is pre-eminently the art 
of the nineteenth century, because it is in a supreme man- 
ner responsive to the emotional wants, the mixed aspira- 
tions, and the passionate self-consciousness of The Age. 



But if Music stands in such definite and important rela- 
14. tions to The Age, it becomes highly desirable to 

Art and ° ' . & ? 

Morals, know whether Music has any definite connection 
with Morality, and, if so, what that connection really is. 
Of course this question is part of a much wider subject, 
viz., The general connection between Art and Morals. We 
must often have heard people anxiously inquiring, " Must 
good art be moral ? may it be un-moral ?" Or perhaps the 
problem is more often stated thus: "Is the object of Art 
to produce Pleasure or to promote Morality?" To this 
general question the best answer is, "Art should do both." 
But before we can discuss the subject at all, another ques- 
tion has to be answered, namely, What is the origin of 
Art? Without attempting any exhaustive research, we 
may remind the reader that all The Arts arise out of a 
certain instinct, which impels man to make an appeal to 
the senses by expressing his thoughts and emotions in 
some external form. When his thoughts and emotions hap- 
pen to be worthily directed toward great subjects, his Art 
will have dignity; when, in addition to being happily and 
wisely selected, what he aims at is represented with fidel- 
ity and skill, his Art will have aesthetic worth ; and when 
its general tendency is good, his Art may be called moral. 
It is quite clear from this that Morality is a quality which 
Art may or may not possess ; it does not, except in a very 
secondary sense, belong to its constitution. The Morality 
depends upon the Artist, not upon the Art. If a man is a 
good man, the tendency of his work will probably be mor- 
al ; and if a bad man, it will most likely be the reverse; 
but you may have a work of Art at one and the same time 
aesthetically good and morally bad. Provided there be 
intelligent selection, fidelity, and skill, although the sub- 


ject be presented in a manner disastrous to morals, the 
Art will be in a sense good. Even then we may say that 
its goodness depends upon the moral qualities of patience, 
industry, and truthfulness ; but we can not call it moral 
Art, because these qualities have been used without regard 
to, or in defiance of, Morality. Those who are content to 
value art merely for its power of representing the imagina- 
tions of a man's heart through the senses are perfectly en- 
titled to say that Art need not aim at promoting morals ; 
that it is in its nature an un-moral thing, and of course it 
is so in the same sense in which a drug given one day as 
a poison and another day as a medicine is in itself perfect- 
ly un-moral. The morality lies in the administration, and 
comes from a quality which belongs, not to the drug, but 
to the agent who administers it. In like manner, the mor- 
ality of an artist's work depends upon the good intention 
of the artist, as displayed in the general effect which the 
expression of his thoughts and emotions is calculated to 
produce. Thus, while it is a great mistake to confuse the 
nature and constitution of Art with its effects and possi- 
ble tendencies by asking such inconsequent questions as 
whether it is meant to produce Pleasure or to promote 
Morality, it seems to us a still graver mistake to ignore 
the fact that the region of Art has every where points of 
contact with the region of Morals, and that its dignity and 
helpfulness to man depend not only upon a propitious se- 
lection and happy execution, but also upon the manifest 
aims and objects of the work itself. 

But what do we mean by the Region of Morals ? When 
15. a man is placed at the equator, and told to travel 

Morality r , , . ^ . ' . , . 

defined, north or south, his first question will be, which is 
the north pole and which is the south pole ? and, unless he 
makes up his mind on this preliminary question, he can 


not tell whether his steps are leading him right or wrong. 
And before we begin to speculate about the good and evil 
tendencies of art, we must, in like manner, be able to point 
to the poles of Good and Evil themselves. Of course peo- 
ple will dispute endlessly about the application of princi- 
ples, just as people may select different roads to get to the 
north and south, but the poles and their general where- 
abouts must be assumed before any kind of certain progress 
can be made. 

I must here ask the reader to give his assent to some 
general principles. I must induce him to admit, for in- 
stance, that moral health consists in a certain activity com- 
bined with the relative subordination of all his faculties — 
in a self-control not checking development, but assisting 
it ; enabling him at once to prevent any disastrous vio- 
lence through the rebellion of the senses, while giving fair 
play to these too often pampered menials. And, above all, 
I must ask him to condemn as immoral the deliberate cul- 
tivation of unbalanced emotions merely for the sake of pro- 
ducing pleasure. Our rough scheme of morals, or our gen- 
eral idea of right and wrong, will moreover insist upon the 
healthful activity of each individual according to his special 
gifts and capacities, directed in such a way as to respect 
and promote the healthful activity of society in general. 
This may be thought a sufficiently vague statement of 
morals, but it is quite definite enough for our present pur- 
pose, and will be found to cover most cases in point. I 
will venture to call special attention to the assertion that 
moral health is consistent with development according to 
special gifts and capacities. It will not do to make moral 
health consist only in the equal development of all a man's 
faculties; he may be fitted to excel in some one direction; 
we must admit the principle of specialty in Human Na- 
ture, and, if a man be born to excel in eloquence, we must, 


if necessary, let him off his arithmetic ; or it he is to be a 
good engineer^ we must excuse him his arts and literature, 
if needful Will that be healthy development ? Well, it 
may be on the whole, considering the limits and imperfec- 
tions of our present state, the best kind of development of 
which he is capable ; for it is morally more healthful to ar- 
rive at perfection in one department than to enjoy a puny 
mediocrity, or even an inferior excellence in several, and 
Nature herself guides us to this conclusion by signally en- 
dowing men with special faculties. For this reason, our 
notion of moral health should include a special develop- 
ment of the individual according to his gifts. But as man 
is not a unit, but a member of society, his activity has to 
be judged not only with a reference to himself, but also 
with reference to his fellows; and here the word healthful 
supplies us with a key-note, for what is really morally 
healthful for the individual will be found, as a general rule, 
healthful to society at large. The man, for instance, whose 
art is chiefly devoted to the delineation of love under its 
most self-indulgent and least ennobling aspects must be 
called an immoral artist, not because he paints the soft 
side of love, which is legitimately entitled to have a soft 
side to it, but because he dwells exclusively and obtrusive- 
ly, for the mere sake of producing pleasure, upon that side 
of love which, when unrestrained and exaggerated, is of 
all others most calculated to injure the moral health, both 
of the individual and of society at large. No doubt every 
thing may be represented in art, and when once a subject 
has been chosen, nothing is gained by a timorous holding 
back of any thing which adds to its power as a faithful 
representation of the artist's conception. But the morali- 
ty of the work must depend upon the way in which the 
conception, as presented, is calculated to affect the moral 
health of society. Now, in attempting to judge the ethv 


cal value of a work of art, we must, as I have said, have a 
general notion of what we mean by good and evil ; then 
we shall have to look at the work itself, not with reference 
merely to the actual good and evil expressed by it, but to 
the proportions in which the two are mixed, and, above 
all, to the kind of sympathy with which they are intended 
to be viewed. 

In some of the Gothic cathedrals we may have noticed 
16. strange figures hiding in nooks and corners, or ob- 

Morality , , . . . 

applied, trusively claiming attention as water-spouts. Some 
of them are revolting enough, but they are not to be sev- 
ered from their connection with the whole building. That 
is the work of art; these are but the details, and only some 
of the details. How many statues are there in all those 
niches ? — let us say a thousand. You shall find seventy 
pure Virgins praying in long robes, and forty Monks, and 
Apostles, and Bishops, and Angels in choirs, and Archan- 
gels standing high and alone upon lofty facade, and pinna- 
cle, and tower ; and round the corner of the roof shall be 
two devils prowling, or a hideous-looking villain in great 
pain, or (as in Chester Cathedral) there may be a propor- 
tion — a very small proportion — of obscene figures, hard, 
and true, and pitiless. " What scandalous subjects for 
church decoration !" some may exclaim ; yet the whole im- 
pression produced is a profoundly moral one. The sculp- 
tor has given you the life he saw ; but he has given it from 
a really high stand-point, and all is moral, because all is in 
healthy proportion. There is degradation, but there is also 
divine beauty ; there is passionate and despairing sin, but 
there is also calmness and victory; there are devils, but 
they are infinitely outnumbered by angels; there lurks the 
blur of human depravity, but as we pass out beneath 
groups of long-robed saints in prayer, the thought of sin 


fades out before a dream of divine purity and peace. We 
can see what the artist loved and what he taught ; that is 
the right test, and we may take any man's work as a whole, 
and apply that test fearlessly. If we would know whether 
a work of art is moral or not, let us ask such questions as 
these : Does the artist show that his sympathies lie with 
an unwholesome preponderance of horrible, degraded, or 
of simply pleasurable, as distinct from healthy, emotions ? 
Is he for whipping the jaded senses to their work, or mere- 
ly for rejoicing in the highest activity of their healthful ex- 
ercise ? Does he love what is good while acknowledging 
the existence of evil, or does he delight in what is evil, and 
merely introduce what is good for the vicious sake of 
trampling upon it. 

How differently may the same subject involving human 
sin be treated ! Given, for instance, the history of a crime ; 
one man will represent a bad action as so pleasurable and 
attractive as to make us forget its criminality, while anoth- 
er, without flinching from descriptive fidelity, will mix his 
proportions of good and evil, and distribute his sympathies 
in such a manner as to deprive us of all satisfaction in con. 
templating the wrong, and inspire us with a wholesome 
horror of the crime involved. I need only refer to the ca- 
tastrophe in Lord Lytton's " Alice, or the Mysteries," and 
in George Eliot's "Adam Bede," as illustrations of the pro- 
foundly immoral and moral treatment of the same subject. 
The morbid taste which French and Belgian painters ex- 
hibit for scenes of bloodshed and murder is another in- 
stance of the way in which art becomes immoral by stimu- 
lating an unwholesome appetite for horrors. Tintoret's 
" Plague of Milan" is horrible enough, but there is this dif- 
ference between that picture and such a picture as the two 
decapitated corpses of Counts Egmont and Horn, by Louis 
Gallait — the Italian masterpiece reflects the profound irm 



pression made upon a people suffering from a great na- 
tional calamity, while the other is simply a disgusting sop 
cast forth to a demoralized and bloodthirsty Parisian pop- 

The best art is like Shakspeare's art, and Titian's art, 
always true to the great, glad aboriginal instincts of our 
nature, severely faithful to its foibles, never representing 
disease in the guise of health, never rejoicing in the exer- 
cise of morbid fancy, many-sided without being unbal- 
anced, tender without weakness, and forcible without ever 
losing the fine sense of proportion. Nothing can be falser 
than to suppose that morality is served by representing 
facts other than they are ; no emasculated picture of life 
can be moral : it may be meaningless, and it is sure to be 
false. No; we must stand upon the holy hill with hands 
uplifted like those of Moses, and see the battle of Good 
against Evil with a deep and inexhaustible sympathy for 
righteousness, and a sense of triumph and victory in our 
hearts. The highest service that art can accomplish for 
man is to become at once the voice of his nobler aspira- 
tions and the steady disciplinarian of his emotions, and it 
is with this mission, rather than with any aesthetic perfec- 
tion, that we are at present concerned. 

I proceed to ask how Music, which I have shown to be 
the special Art-medium of Emotion, is capable, in common 
with all the other arts, of exercising by itself moral and 
immoral functions. 


When music becomes a mixed art — that is to say, when 
„ V- , it is wedded to words, and associated with definite 

Music and , 7 

Morality, ideas — when it is made the accompaniment of 
scenes which in themselves are calculated to work power- 
fully for good or evil upon the emotions — then it is as easy 


to see how music is a moral or an immoral agent as it is 
to decide upon the tendency of a picture or a poem. The 
song is patriotic, or languishing, or comic, and in each case 
the music is used, not as a primary agent to originate, but 
as a powerful secondary agent to deepen and intensify the 
emotion already awakened by the words of the song or 
the operatic situation. But how can a piece of music, like 
a picture, be in itself moral, immoral, sublime or degraded, 
trivial or dignified ? Must it not entirely depend for such 
qualities as these upon the definite thoughts and images 
with which it happens to be associated ? I will answer 
this question by reminding the reader of another. Does 
emotion itself always need definite thoughts and images 
before it can become healthful or harmful — in other words, 
moral or immoral ? I have endeavored, Book First, II., 6, 
7, to show that there was a region of abstract emotion 
in human nature constantly indeed traversed by definite 
thoughts, but not dependent upon them for its existence ; 
that this region of emotion consisted of infinite varieties 
of mental temperature ; that upon these temperatures or 
atmospheres of the soul depended the degree, and often 
the kind of actions of which at different moments we were 
capable, and that, quite apart from definite ideas, the emo- 
tional region might be dull, apathetic, eager, brooding, se- 
vere, resolute, impulsive, etc., but that each one of these 
states might exist and pass without culminating in any 
kind of action, or being clothed with any appropriate set 
of ideas. But if this much be granted, who will deny that 
the experience of such Soul-atmospheres must leave a defi- 
nite impress upon the character ? For example, the expe- 
rience of sustained languor without an effort at acquiring 
a more vigorous impulse will be deleterious ; excitement 
passing into calmness — vague fear or discomfort giving 
place to deep and satisfied feelings of peace or a sense of 


exhaustion, followed by recreation and revival of power — 
such will be beneficial, productive, on the whole, of a hope- 
ful and encouraging temper of mind; and it is just as pos- 
sible to classify these various atmospheric states of mind 
as wholesome or the reverse, as it is to classify the various 
appropriate thoughts and images to which they may be 
attached. Of course, in a thousand instances they are 
actually so attached; for as thought is always seeking 
emotion, so is emotion always seeking thought, and the 
atmospheres of the soul may be said to be constantly pen- 
etrated by crowds of appropriate thoughts, which take 
their peculiar coloring and intensity only upon entering 
the magic precincts of emotion. But if, as we have main- 
tained, music has the power of actually creating and ma- 
nipulating these mental atmospheres, what vast capacities 
for good or evil must music possess ! For what troops of 
pleasurable, stimulating, or enervating ideas and fancies is 
good dance-music responsible, by providing all these with 
the emotional atmospheres which invite their presence, 
and by intensifying the situation ! The strains of martial 
music as a military band passes by are capable of rousing 
something like a spirited and energetic emotion, for a mo- 
ment at least, in the breast of the tamest auditor, and the 
Bible itself pays a tribute to the emotional eifect and pow- 
er of changing the soul's atmosphere possessed by even 
such a primitive instrument as David's harp — " When the 
evil spirit from God was upon Saul, then David took an 
harp, and played with his hand. So Saul was refreshed, 
and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him" (1 
Sam., xvi., 23). Poor George III., in his fits of melancholy 
madness, was deeply sensible of the power of music to cre- 
ate atmospheres of peace, and restore something like har- 
mony to the "sweet bells" of the spirit "jangled out of 
tune." I have no doubt whatever that the acknowledged 


influence of music over the insane might be far more ex- 
tensively used — indeed, if applied judiciously to a disor- 
ganized mind, it might be as powerful an agent as galvan- 
ism in restoring healthy and pleasurable activity to the 
emotional regions. Who can deny, then, if such a mysteri- 
ous command as this is possessed by music over the realm 
of abstract emotion, that music itself must be held responsi- 
ble for the manner in which it deals with that realm, and 
the kind of succession, proportion, and degrees of the vari- 
ous emotional atmospheres it has the power of generating? 

I pause for a moment to meet the objection often 
is. brought against the exercise of emotion apart 

Emotion . . . 

and Morals, from action. Every thing, it may be said, music 
included, which excites an emotion not destined to cul- 
minate in action, has a weakening and enervating effect 
upon character. This is true when an emotion is roused 
which has for its object the performance of a duty. We 
may derive pleasure from a glowing appeal to help the 
suffering — we may listen with excitement to the details 
of the suffering we are called upon to alleviate ; yet, if we 
do no more, the emotion will indeed have enervated us. 
But to be affected by a drama, a novel, or poem, which 
points to no immediate duty of action in us, need not ener- 
vate — it may be a healthy exercise or discipline of emo- 
tion ; we may be the better for it, we may be the more 
likely to act rightly when the opportunity occurs for hav- 
ing felt rightly when there was no immediate call for ac- 
tion. We ought not to be afraid of our emotions because 
they may not be instantly called upon to inspire action. 
Depend upon it, a man is better for his formless aspira- 
tions after good, and the more powerful and disciplined 
the emotions become through constant exercise, the better 
it will be for us. It is better to feel sometimes without 


action, than to act often without feeling. The unpardon- 
able sin is to allow feeling to supersede action when the 
time for action as the fruit of feeling has arrived. This is 
the barren sin of Sentimentalism. 

In considering practically the Good and Evil of music 
as it comes before us in its highly-developed modern form, 
we shall naturally have to refer to the three classes of 
people most concerned — the Composee, the Executive 
Musician, the Listener. 


The Composer lives in a world apart, into which only 

19 those who have the golden key are admitted. 

The composer. T}ie gol( j en k ey j s not ttie gense f hearing, 

but what is called an "Ear for Music." Even then half 
the treasures of the composer's world may be as dead let- 
ters to the vulgar or untrained, just as a village school- 
boy who can read fluently might roam, with an un appre- 
ciative gape, through the library of the British Museum. 
The composer's world is the world of emotion, full of deli- 
cate elations and depressions, which, like the hum of mi- 
nute insects, hardly arrest the uncultivated ear — full of 
melodious thunder, and rolling waters, and the voice of 
the south wind — without charm for the many who pass 
by. Full of intensity, like the incessant blaze of Eastern 
lightning — full of volocity, like the trailing fire of the fall- 
ing stars — full of variety, like woodlands smitten by the 
breath of autumn, or the waste of many colors changing 
and iridescent upon a sunset sea. The emotions which 
such images are calculated to arouse in the hearts of those 
who are prepared to entertain them, the composer, who 
has studied well the secrets of his art, can excite through 
the medium of sound alone ; formless emotions are his 
friends. Intimately do the spirits of the air, called into 


existence by the pulsing vibrations of melody and har- 
mony, converse with him. They are the familiars that he 
can send forth speeding to all hearts with messages too 
subtle for words — sometimes sparkling with irresistible 
mirth, at others wild with terror and despair, or filled with 
the sweet whispers of imperishable consolation. All this, 
and far more than any words can utter, was to be done, 
and has been done for man, by music ; but not suddenly, 
or at once and altogether, as the first rude attempts, still 
extant and familiar to most of us in the shape of Grego- 
rian chants, live to attest. 

As the early violin-makers, by long lives of solitary toil 
20 and intense thought, slowly discovered the per- 

Rise of Music. f ect \[ nes an( j exquisite proportions which make 
the violins of Stradiuarius the wonder of the world; as the 
various schools of painting in Italy brought to light, one 
by one, those elements of form, color, and chiaroscuro 
which are found united, with incomparable richness and 
grace, in the master-pieces of Raphael, Tintoret, and Titian, 
so did the great maestros of the sixteenth century begin 
to arrange the rudiments of musical sound in combinations, 
not merely correct according to the narrow code of melo- 
dy and harmony suggested by a few leading properties of 
vibration and the natural divisions of the scale, but in 
studied and sympathetic relations adapted to the ever- 
changing, complex, and subtle emotions of the heart. 
About the time that Italian painting reached its acme of 
splendor, the dawn of modern music — that form of art 
which was destined to succeed painting, as painting had 
succeeded architecture — had already begun. Palestrina, 
to whom we owe modern melody, and whose harmonies 
enchanted even Mozart and Mendelssohn when they first 
heard them in the Pope's chapel at Rome, was born in 


1524, nine years after the death of Raphael. In two hun- 
dred and fifty years from that date, the delights of melo- 
dy, the depths and resources of harmony, had been ex- 
plored. The powers of the human voice, the capacities of 
stringed instruments, every important variety of wind in- 
strument, the modern organ, and the piano-forte, had been 
discovered. Music could no longer be called a terra incog- 
nita. When Mozart died, all its great mines, as far as we 
can see, had at least been opened. We are not aware that 
any important instrument has been invented since his day, 
or that any new form of musical composition has made its 
appearance. Innumerable improvements in the instru- 
mental department have been introduced, and doubtless 
the forms of Symphony, Cantata, Opera, and Cabinet mu- 
sic, bequeathed to us by the great masters of the eight- 
eenth century, have been strangely elaborated by Beetho- 
ven, Mendelssohn, and Schumann, and are even now un- 
dergoing startling modifications in the hands of Wagner 
and his disciples. It is not for us to say in what direction 
the rich veins of ore will be found still further to extend, 
or what undiscovered gems may yet lie in the rivers, or be 
imbedded in the mountain ranges of the musical cosmos. 
But we may safely affirm that for all purposes of inquiry 
into the rationale or into the moral properties of music, we 
are at this moment as much in possession of the full and 
sufficient facts as we ever shall be, and therefore we see no 
reason why inquiries to which every other Art has been 
fully and satisfactorily subjected should be any longer de- 
ferred in the case of Music. 

The difference between "tweedledum and twcedlcdee" 

21 . has always been a subject of profound mystery 

scntimcuui- to the unmusical world; but the musical world 

18m ' is undoubtedly right in feeling strongly upon 


the subject, though unhappily often wrong when trying 
to give its reasons. It is quite impossible for any one, 
who has thoughtfully and sympathetically studied the dif- 
ferent schools of music, not to feel that one style and con- 
ception of the art is nobler than another. That certain 
methods of using musical sound are affected, or extrava- 
gant, or fatiguing, or incoherent, while others are digni- 
fied, natural, or really pathetic, arranging and expressing 
the emotions in a true order, representing no vamped-up 
passion, but passion as it is, with its elations, depressions, 
intensities, velocities, varieties, and infinitely fine inflexions 
of form. Between the spirit of the musical Sentimentalist 
and the musical Realist there is eternal war. The contest 
may rage under different captains. At one time it is the 
mighty Gluck who opposes the ballad-mongering Piccini ; 
at another it is the giant Handel versus the melodramatic 
Bononcini ; or it is Mozart against all France and Italy ; 
or Beethoven against Rossini ; or Wagner against the 
world. In each case the points at issue are, or are sup- 
posed by the belligerents to be, substantially the same. 
False emotion, or abused emotion, or frivolous emotion 
versus true feeling, disciplined feeling, or sublime feeling. 
Musicians perhaps can not always explain how music is 
capable of the above radical distinctions — granted. I am 
concerned just now with this remarkable fact — the distinc- 
tion exists in their minds. They arrange the German, the 
Italian, French, and the Franco-German schools in a cer- 
tain order of musical merit and importance; there is a fair 
general agreement about what this order should be ; and, 
perhaps without knowing why, an enlightened musician 
would no more compare Rossini to Beethoven, or Gounod 
to Mozart, than a literary critic would speak of Thomas 
Moore in the same breath with Shakspeare, or place Bouci- 
cault by the side of Schiller. 

C 2 


The reason of the superiority of the modern German 
22# school from Gluck to Schumann over the 

ian rD and French French and Italian we believe to be a real 
Schools. an( j substantial one, although, owing to the 

extraordinary nature of the connection between sound and 
emotion, it is far more easy to feel than to explain the dis- 
tinction between a noble and an ignoble school of music. 
This difference, however, we believe consists entirely in 
the view taken of the emotions, and the order and spirit 
in which they are evoked and manipulated by the compo- 
ser's magical art. Toward the close of the seventeenth 
century, in Italy, music began to feel its great powers as 
an emotional medium. The great musical works were then 
nearly all of a sacred character, and devoted to the service 
of the Roman Catholic churches. The art was still firmly 
held in the trammels of strict fugue and severe counter- 
point ; the solemn and startling process of musical discov- 
ery was nevertheless in rapid progress. The composers 
seemed a little overawed by the novel effects they were 
daily producing, and the still powerful devotion to the 
Catholic religion hallowed their emotions, and gave to 
their Masses a seventy and purity quite unknown to the 
Italian music of the nineteenth century. We can not now 
stop to inquire whether it was the rapid decline of the Pa- 
pal Power, and consequently of the Roman Catholic faith, 
which caused the degradation of Italian music, or whether, 
when sound came to be understood as a most subtle and 
ravishing minister to pleasure, the temptation to use it 
simply as the slave of the senses proved too great for a po- 
litically-degraded people, whose religion had become half 
an indolent superstition and half a still more indolent skep- 
ticism ; certain it is that about the time of Giambattista 
Jesi (Pergolesi), who died in 1736, the high culture of mu- 
sic passed from Italy to Germany, which latter country 


was destined presently to see the rise and astonishing 
progress of Symphony and modern Oratorio, while Italy 
devoted itself henceforth to that brilliant bathos of art 
known as the " Italian Opera." 

We can not deny to Italy the gift of sweet and enchant- 
ing melody. Rossini has also shown himself a master of 
the very limited effects of harmony which it suited his 
purpose to cultivate. Then why is not Rossini as good as 
Beethoven ? Absurd as the question sounds to a musician, 
it is not an unreasonable one when coming from the gen- 
eral public, and the only answer we can find is this. Not 
to mention the enormous resources in the study and culti- 
vation of harmony which the Italians, from want of incli- 
nation or ability, neglect, the German music is higher than 
the Italian, because it is a truer expression, and a more 
disciplined expression, of the emotions. To follow a move- 
ment of Beethoven is, in the first place, a bracing exercise 
of the intellect. The emotions evoked, while assuming a 
double degree of importance by association with the ana- 
lytic faculty, do not become enervated, because in the mas- 
terful grip of the great composer we are conducted through 
a cycle of naturally progressive feeling, which always ends 
by leaving the mind recreated, balanced, and ennobled by 
the exercise. In Beethoven all is restrained, nothing mor- 
bid which is not almost instantly corrected, nothing luxu- 
rious which is not finally raised into the clear atmosphere 
of wholesome and brisk activity, or some corrective mood 
of peaceful self-mastery, or even playfulness. And the 
emotions thus roused are not the vamped-up feelings of a 
jaded appetite, or the false, inconsequent spasms of the 
sentimentalist. They are such as we have experienced in 
high moods or passionately sad ones, or in the night, in 
summer-time, or by the sea ; at all events, they are unfold- 
ed before us, not with the want of perspective, or violent 


frenzy of a bad dream, but with true gradations in natural 
succession, and tempered with all the middle tints that go 
to make up the truth of life. Hence the different nature 
of the emotional exercise gone through in listening to typ- 
ical German and typical Italian music. The Italian makes 
us sentimentalize, the German makes us feel. The senti- 
ment of the one gives the emotional conception of artifi- 
cial suffering or joy, the natural feeling of the other gives 
us the emotional conception which belongs to real suffer- 
ing or joy. The one is stagey — smells of the oil and the 
rouge-pot — the other is real, earnest, natural, and repro- 
duces with irresistible force the deepest emotional expe- 
riences of our lives. It is not good to be constantly dis- 
solved in a state of love-melancholy, full of the languor of 
passion without its real spirit — but that is what Italian 
music aims at. Again, the violent crises of emotion should 
come in their right places — like spots of primary color 
with wastes of gray between them. There are no middle 
tints in Italian music ; the listeners are subjected to shock 
after shock of emotion — half a dozen smashing surprises, 
and twenty or thirty spasms and languors in each scene, 
until at last Ave become like children who thrust their 
hands again and again into water charged with electric- 
ity, just on purpose to feel the thrill and the relapse. But 
that is not healthy emotion— it does not recreate the feel- 
ings ; it kindles artificial feelings, and makes reality taste- 

Now, whenever feeling is not disciplined, it becomes 
weak, diseased, and unnatural. It is because German mu- 
sic takes emotion fairly in hand, disciplines it, expresses its 
depressions in order to remove them, renders with terrible 
accuracy even its insanity and incoherence in order to give 
relief through such expression, and restores calm, flinches 
not from the tender and the passionate, stoops to pity, and 


becomes a very angel in sorrow ; it is because German 
music has probed the humanities and sounded the depths 
of our nature — taught us how to bring the emotional re- 
gion not only into the highest activity, but also under the 
highest control — that we place German music in the first 
rank, and allow no names to stand before Gluck, Bach, 
Handel, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Spohr, Men- 
delssohn, and Schumann. 

It would not be difficult to show in great detail the es- 
sentially voluptuous character of Italian music, the essen- 
tially frivolous and sentimental character of French music, 
and the essentially moral, many-sided, and philosophical 
character of German music ; but I hasten to pass on to the 
Executive Musician, merely qualifying the above remarks 
with this general caution : Let not the reader suppose that 
in the schools of music that take rank after the German 
School, there is nothing worthy and beautiful to be found. 
Rossini, and even Verdi, are manifestly full of extraordi- 
nary merit ; the veteran Auber was a real musical giant ; 
and M. Gounod is surely a very remarkable genius. Nor 
must we forget that before the rise of German music there 
were in England such composers as Tallis, Gibbons, and 
Purcell. What I have said above on the three national 
Schools of European music applies to the general tenden- 
cies of each as a School, and is not intended to condemn in 
the productions of individual composers much that is, and 
that deserves xo be, the admiration of the civilized world. 


What possible moral influence can an Executive Mu- 
23. sician either receive or distribute through his 

The Executive . . 

Musician. Art ? First let us inquire what he is with ref- 
erence to his Art. The Player, like the Composer, is pass- 
ive. The one is possessed by the inspirations of his own 


genius, the other by the inspirations of a genius not his 
own. The Player, like the Composer, is active. The one 
exerts himself to put his conceptions into a communicable 
form ; the other charges himself with the office of convey- 
ing them, through that form, to the world. The compos- 
ing and executive faculties are quite distinct. A great 
composer is often an ineffective player, while many a lead- 
ing player, with all the requisite knowledge and study, is in- 
capable of composing good music. The same is true of the 
Drama. The great actors are seldom great dramatists; 
neither Garrick nor any of the Keans or Kembles have 
been famous authors. The great dramatic authors, in their 
turn, have usually been but mediocre before the foot-lights. 
Shakspeare himself, if we may trust tradition, was not more 
than respectable in his great parts. The originative fac- 
ulty is usually considered more heaven-born, as it is cer- 
tainly far more rare than the executive gift. Few women 
have hitherto possessed the first, numbers have attained 
the highest rank in the second. We have had peerless 
actresses, but no female dramatists of mark. Music has an 
unlimited number of notable sirens and lady instrumental- 
ists, but not one original female composer has yet made her 
appearance. The ladies of the period, even in England, no 
doubt write drawing-room ballads, and their friends sing 
them ; but the typical English ballad — we do not speak of 
really fine old tunes, or the good work of Mr. Sullivan, and 
a few other true English musicians — can hardly be called 
a musical composition, even when warbled in bad English 
by a Patti. But, however high we may place the com- 
poser (and if we regard him as the recreator and disciplina- 
rian of the emotions we shall place him very high), the 
person who stands between the composer and the audience 
has a vast and direct power of which we are bound to give 
some account. 


And here I notice the double function of music as an ex- 
ecutive art ; not only is it a means of revealing a certain 
order or succession of emotion in the composer's mind, but 
it provides each player with a powerful medium of self- 
revelation. There are many different ways of playing the 
same piece of music ; the conscientious player will no doubt 
begin by carefully studying the movement, noting any p's 
or fs, etc., which the composer may have vouchsafed to 
give us as hints of his meaning ; and having tried to mas- 
ter the emotional unity of the piece, he will then*— bearing 
a few prominent p>s andjf's in his mind — trust to a certain 
infection of impulse to carry him through its execution. 
But as the music develops beneath his fingers, what oppor- 
tunities there are for the expression of his own individuali- 
ty ; what little refinements, what subtle points, what im- 
perceptible artifices for riveting choice turns in the compo- 
sition upon the ear of the listener ! The great composers 
seem to cast off all egotism when they lay down their 
pens. They are the generous and sympathetic friends of 
those who interpret them ; they will give them all reason- 
able license. " The music," each master seems to say, " is 
yours and mine; if you would discover and share my im- 
pulse through it, I would also discover and share yours in 
it. I will bring the gem and you shall bring the light, and 
together we will set before the world the raptures and 
mysteries of sound, wrought through the golden art of 
music into immortal Tone Poems." 

But, although music is given to the player as a sort of 
private property, the player must no doubt respect the 
general outline and balance of emotion discoverable upon 
a careful study of his sonata or solo; but he was intended 
to interpret its detail for himself, to express through the 
unalterable elations and depressions involved in the struc- 
ture of the music the various and subtle degrees of inten- 


sity of which he may be at the time capable. He may 
give inflexions of his own, delicate treatments in different 
measures of velocity, often unperceived by the many, but 
none the less of infinite importance and meaning to the in- 
telligent hearer. 

In different hands, the same piece will sound quite dif- 
ferently. Then music has no fixed significance of its own, 
and is merely the plaything of caprice, and the vague and 
doubtful echo of emotion ? Not so. Every piece of music 
worthy of the name has a fixed progression and complete- 
ness of emotion, but within its outlines it also possesses an 
elastic quality and a power of expressional variety which 
helps it to combine and cling about each new executant as 
though made for him alone. The player thus discovers in 
his music not only the emotional scheme and conception 
of the composer, but also congenial elements, which he ap- 
propriates after his own fashion, and which constitute that 
striking bond of momentary sympathy which exists so 
strangely between fine singers or soloists and their audi- 
ences. But may I here observe, that substantially there 
is far less difference than is generally supposed between 
the " readings" of eminent players. Between M. Charles 
Halle's and Madame Schumann's readings of the Moonlight 
Sonata, for instance (and we select these eminent artists as 
the opposite poles of the musical temperament), there is the 
same kind of difference as we might notice between Miss 
Glyn's and Mrs. Kemble's readings of a scene in Shakspeare, 
or between Mr. Phelps's and M. Fechter's impersonations 
of Hamlet. Difference of minute inflexions and variety of 
inflexions — difference of degrees in the intensity or veloci- 
ty of the emotion traversed ; but substantially each would 
be found to preserve the same general appreciation of the 
way in which the different sections are intended to march. 
Here and there a dispute would arise ; but, in fact, the good 


reader or actor does exactly what the performer ought to 
do. In the first place, he carefully studies the meaning of 
his author ; and, in the second, he allows his own individ- 
uality free play, in flowing period and subtle rendering 
within the elastic limits always characteristic of a highly 
emotional work of art. The best executive musician, then, 
is he who has thoroughly mastered his composer's thought, 
and who, in expressing that thought to others, allows his 
own individuality to pierce freely, as every man must do 
who has not only learned by rote, but really assimilated 
what he comes forward to reproduce. To the above defi- 
nition of what an executant should be, every other descrip- 
tion of what executants are can be easily referred. Exec- 
utants are of six kinds : 

1. Those who study the composer, and also express them- 

2. Those who express themselves without regard to the 

3. Those who express the composer without regard to 

4. Those who caricature both. 

5. Those who express other people's views of the com- 

6. The dullards, who express nothing. 

It would be very tempting to dilate upon these six class- 
es. We can only at present afford to enumerate them, and 
pass on. 

The life of a successful singer or an illustrious instru- 

24, mentalist is full of peril — peril to virtue, peril to 
Soloists. art ^ p er -j tQ soc j et y . aiK ] t hj s j s not ow i n g a t all to 

the exigencies of the executive gift in itself, but entirely 
owing to the conditions imposed upon the artist from with- 
out. There need be nothing in the life-work of a great 


Prima-donna to demoralize any more than in the life-work 
of any other gifted and industrious woman. There are 
great operas which are calculated to ennoble while they 
delight ; there are songs which stir within us the finest 
impulses ; there are characters to be impersonated on the 
operatic stage which not only do not shock decency, but 
tend to promote the highest and most generous sentiment. 
There are many others of an un-moral description, perfect- 
ly harmless, and calculated to produce the utmost enjoy- 
ment. Given a right selection of songs — given a course 
of operas dealing, if you will, with a certain amount of 
crime and a fair instalment of horrors, but so constructed 
as to be effective in result without beinsr immoral in tend- 
ency (and the greatest works of Shakspeare and Beetho- 
ven satisfy both these conditions) ; given to the singer 
good remuneration, and, above all, sufficient repose ; given 
some choice of congenial subjects; given a sphere of whole- 
some activity, and, lastly, given a recognized and an hon- 
orable social position, and all special peril to personal vir- 
tue immediately ceases. It is nonsense to say that a cer- 
tain physical exhaustion which must accompany any high- 
ly-sustained effort of mind or body is especially deleteri- 
ous in the case of a musician. Exertion need not produce 
disease. People were intended to exert themselves. Does 
the Parliamentary orator speak for four hours without fa- 
tigue ? Does the medical man see one hundred patients 
in the course of the morning without severe mental ten- 
sion ? Does a judge deliver his charges without a similar 
effort ? Does the author compose without highly-wrought 
and sustained attention, practiced advisedly, and without 
necessary injury to his brain, or stomach, or moral equilib- 
rium ? Let us settle it in our minds, there is nothing de- 
moralizing in deliberately, and for a definite art purpose, 
putting one's self or others through the experience of a 


highly-strung series of emotions. It is even a good and 
healthy function of art to raise our feelings at times to 
their highest pitch of intensity. It is part of a right sys- 
tem of discipline, calculated to bring the emotions into 
high condition and healthy activity, and to keep them in a 
good state of repair. The body is intended and fitted to 
bear at times an extreme tension of its muscles. The pro- 
fessional athlete knows this, and when he is rubbed down 
and rolled up in his hot blanket after violent exercise, he 
is not alarmed at feeling himself going off into a profound 
sleep through sheer exhaustion, for he knows that such 
systematic exertion and exhaustion must be undergone in 
order to raise his physique to its highest state of health 
and power. Well, the laws which regulate the life and 
health of the emotions are exactly similar, and these laws 
prescribe steady exercise, rest, recreation, and sometimes 
extreme tension. In itself, we repeat, the habitual exer- 
cise and discipline of the emotions, as, for example, in mu- 
sic or acting, is not the ruin of, but the very condition of, 
moral health. It is the kind of strain imposed upon our 
musical artists, not by their art, but by the struggle for 
existence, and by the thoughtless, extravagant, indolent, 
and often immoral demands of a public that has little mu- 
sical education, and that little bad, which hurries nine 
tenths of all our gifted executants to a premature grave. 
The cantatrice should be allowed to unfold her aspirations 
in noble music ; but she has the misfortune to have half an 
octave more than other singers, and so bad and flimsy 
songs must be chosen, or noble songs must be spoiled, for 
the sake of an upper C, E, or G. The public go mad, not 
about the superb trio in William Tell (for example), but 
for the one bar in which the tenor has to come out with a 
high chest-note. Can any thing be more sadly indicative 
of the low musical feeling of the British public than the 


way in which Mademoiselle Carlotta Patti was run after 
for her head-notes, and Herr Wachtel for his chest-notes? 
These excessive calisthenic and gymnastic explosions are 
the degradation of taste and the ruin of many an incom- 
parable voice. Again : has a musician no private taste, 
no feeling, no love for good music ? Possibly he may 
have ; but what is he to do ? Composers pay him to sing 
their trash ; publishers bribe even good composers to write 
the kind of stuff the public have been fooled into applaud- 
ing. That is one, and not the only, chronic complaint 
from which Music in England is suffering at present. 

There are hundreds of magnificent songs of Schubert, of 
Beethoven, and Schumann; but these composers, who had 
but few bank-notes to spare during their lifetime, have un- 
fortunately left no money to pay singers after their death. 
The public do not hear numbers of the best songs that ex- 
ist. One or two perhaps emerge. " Adelaide" forever ! 
and what other song by Beethoven does a certain eminent 
Tenor habitually sing ? And what songs does he general- 
ly sing, and why ? There are a good many first-rate En- 
glish ballads. Thanks to the enterprise of a few bold and 
conscientious singers, we occasionally hear some of them. 
But are the English ballads most commonly sung at con- 
certs selected for their merit ? Why are they sung ? The 
truth had better be told ; they are sung because they are 
paid for, and they are clapped and puffed by people who 
ought to know better; and who do know better, but who 
are paid to pocket their conscience, and applaud what they 
know to be meaningless trash. How are singers to fulfill 
the first simple duty they owe to their art, and sing good 
music, when there is a conspiracy to make them stoop to 
the humiliation of their noble gifts, or starve ? Once more : 
there is the peril of overwrought powers. When the mind, 
through excessive artistic excitement," like a jarred pend- 


ulum, retains only its motion, not its power," then absolute 
repose is wanted. All may have been within the bounds 
of healthful though intense excitation ; it is not that we 
complain of — not the excitement of singing and playing, 
but the want of rest which follows it. After (let us say) 
an opera of M.Wagner, where the screeching has been in- 
tense, and the crises almost constant for some hours, the 
Prima-donna must have rest ; no stormy rehearsal next 
morning, no fatiguing opera the next night. One or two 
great sustained efforts during the week are sufficient. But 
let any one glance at the programme which a favorite 
singer is expected to carry out day and night, at opera 
and concert, during the season. No flesh and blood can 
stand such an ordeal. Chronic exhaustion begins to set 
in ; and exhaustion is not met by rest, but by stimulants 
— it must be so ; and then more exhaustion is met by more 
stimulants, and what becomes of healthy emotional activ- 
ity and emotional discipline? Mind and body are un- 
hinged. The artist's health suffers, the artist's voice suf- 
fers, and probably becomes extinct in a few years. Hence 
we can not blame popular singers for asking enormous 
sums so long as they have a note left in their voices. It 
is the public that makes them abuse their priceless gifts 
for gold. It is the public who are content to demand the 
sacrifice of fresh, girlish constitutions, and the shattering 
of the young, manly frames, and the general wreck of 
mind, and sometimes of morals, through overfatigue and 
overexcitement, and unhealthy conditions of activity. 

But, be it observed, the perils above alluded to, and oth- 
ers which can not here be discussed in detail, are not in- 
separable from the vocation of a public singer or solo in- 
strumentalist. The vocation is simply honorable ; it might 
and ought to be always noble in its use and exercise. How 
many esteemed and high-minded musicians are there who 


resist the perils which I have mentioned? Thank God 
there are many, and we trust every year there will be 
more and more as Music in England becomes more and 
more appreciated. Let music be recognized here as in 
Germany, as a thing of Reason and a thing of Morals as 
well as a thing of Beauty and Emotion, and the public will 
cease to look upon musicians as mere purveyors of Pleas- 
ure. We should not encourage singers to wear themselves 
out ; should not clamor for incessant encores, which utter- 
ly ruin the balance of a sustained work of art; and we 
should remember that the gifted persons who delight us 
are made of flesh and blood like ourselves ; that they have 
human hearts, and passions, and trials, and are often ex- 
posed, when very young and at a great disadvantage, to 
temptations not easily resisted even under favorable cir- 
cumstances. And those who love music should make al- 
lowance for those who devote themselves to music, and 
not tempt them to make money by the degradation of art 
to the ruin of their own moral sense and the destruction 
of the public taste. 

I honor the musical profession ; but I declare that musi- 
cal taste in England is degraded and kept low by jealousy 
and time-serving, and that musical criticism is so gagged, 
and prejudiced, and corrupt, that those whose business it 
is to see that right principles prevail seem too often led by 
their interest rather than their duty. When it comes to 
judging a new composer, the truth is not told, or only half 
told ; when a new player is allowed to appear, his success 
depends, not upon his merits, but upon his friends ; and 
while it is, of course, impossible entirely to quell first-class 
merit, second-class merit is constantly ignored, and many 
sound English musicians are often compelled to stand aside 
and see their places taken by young quacks or foreigners 
inferior to~themselves. No one wishes to deny the su- 


preme merit of artists like M. Joachim or Madame Schu- 
mann, and none but the interested or the envious can 
grudge them their distinguished popularity; but in En- 
gland, when a foreigner and an English artist are of equal 
merit, the English artist ought to receive at least an equal 
share of support from the public and the press. But he 
never does ; and why ? because the employers of musical 
talent in this country pander to the appetite for every 
thing that is foreign ; because they keep down the devel- 
opment of English talent in order to gain an easy reputa- 
tion in accordance with established prejudices by constant- 
ly bringing over players and singers from abroad whose 
chief merits seem to consist in long hair and a very im- 
perfect acquaintance with the English language. It is dif- 
ficult for a musician, especially an English musician, in En- 
gland to be at once true to his own interests and to the in- 
terests of his art ; it is difficult for him to be true to his 
conscience in the exercise of his profession ; but he may 
receive some small comfort from the reflection that this 
last difficulty, at least, is one which he shares with every 
man in every profession, and that, at all events, it is not a 
difficulty inherent in his art, neither is it altogether insur- 

I am not writing a dissertation upon "Music in En- 
25. Hand " and although I have allowed myself in 

Orchestral ° . , ., , , 1 ■ 

Players, this place to take a sidelong glance at that impor- 
tant subject, I am not bound here to discuss English mu- 
sicians in particular, whether composers or players. Much 
might be said about musical taste in the provinces ; our 
system of piano-forte instruction, which is, in fact, that 
branch of the musical profession to which a large majority 
of our musicians owe their incomes; our organist, and our 
orchestral players, and choral singers. To follow out such 


a programme in detail would lead me beyond my present 
limits. I am dealing simply with the general moral tend- 
encies of executive art; and as that divides itself natural- 
ly into solo playing and cabinet playing, such as the play- 
ing of quartet music, and orchestral playing, or the per- 
formance of full instrumental scores, a few words upon the 
Morals of the Orchestra may not be out of place. As I 
shall elsewhere speak of cabinet music, and as from the 
quasi-solo position of cabinet players a good deal which 
has been said about solo players applies to them, I shall 
not here dwell upon them, but pass at once to the Orches- 
tral Player. 

The orchestral player, if he knows his business, will deny 
himself the luxury of expressing too much of himself, yet 
is he not therefore a machine. Through the medium of the 
conductor, whose inspiration trickles to him by a kind of 
magnetism from that electric wand, he, too, realizes the 
music in its double capacity of expressing the composer's 
thought and the conductor's private reading or expression 
of that thought. But the Conductor is now in the place 
of the Soloist: his instrument is the orchestra, but that in- 
strument is not a machine. You may imagine, if you 
please, a number of instruments worked by machinery ; 
they may play a movement accurately with all its^>'s and 
f's, but that will not be an orchestral rendering of the 
work. It will be like the grinding of a barrel-organ, and 
that is all — no life, no emotion, no mind. Catgut, wooden 
tubes, hammering of calf-skins, and fatal explosion of bra- 
zen serpents, all this you shall accomplish with cunning 
mechanism, more than this you shall not. Therefore the 
mind, and the heart, and the skill of a man shall be re- 
quired in every member of an orchestra. To the eye of an 
uninitiated spectator, that uniform drawing up and down 
of bows all in the same direction and all at once — that si- 


niultaneous blare of horns, trumpets, and flute-notes sound- 
ed instantly at the call of the magic wand, may seem like 
human mechanism, but it is not — it is Sympathy. The in- 
dividuality of each player may indeed be merged in a larger 
and more comprehensive unity of thought and feeling, but 
it is a unity with which he is in electric accord, and to 
which he brings spontaneously the faculties of personal ap- 
preciation and individual skill. 

Let no one say that orchestral work is beneath the dig- 
nity of a good musical artist. The very delays and vexa- 
tions of rehearsal often unfold new turns and critical points 
in a great work which might otherwise pass unnoticed. 
The position and use of the other instruments is better 
realized by one who is playing in the orchestra than by any 
one else. The fact of the drums being close behind you 
will sometimes rivet your attention, unpleasantly, perhaps, 
upon the way in which but two notes are made to pro- 
duce the illusive but beautiful effect of several repeating 
the leading subject, as in the opening movement of Men- 
delssohn's Lobgesang. The tenor close beside you forces 
a phrase upon your ear, the ghost of which, or a fragment 
of which, may be just suggested again by a distant flute a 
line or two farther on. You can not miss the author's in- 
tention. Of course it is not impossible, but it is not easy 
for any one who has not played a violin or some other 
prominent instrument in such words as Beethoven's C 
minor, or Pastoral Symphony, and played it often, to real- 
ize the reasons why certain passages are given to the ten- 
ors rather than to the violoncellos; why some notes are 
re-enforced by the double-bass while some are left to the 
violoncellos; why the rhythmic beat of the drum is broken 
here or completed there. A great deal, no doubt, can be 
done by reading a full score without an orchestra. Some 
kind, and a very good kind, of appreciation may be formed 



of an orchestral work from a piano-forte score, especially 
if it be arranged for four hands. For perfect enjoyment 
again, let a person study his score at home, and then, tak- 
ing his seat in a favorable position, not too near the or- 
chestra, with his score marked for reference at certain 
points rather than for steady perusal, let him concentrate 
his mind upon the emotional development of the work 
with a full and foregone appreciation of its intellectual 
form. But still, if you really want to discover the techni- 
cal mysteries of the orchestration, you must get inside and 
look more closely at the astonishing works ; nay, you must 
become one of the works ; you must take an instrument, 
and plod away in the orchestra yourself. When you have 
tried that, you will begin to understand why so few people 
succeed in writing well for an orchestra. How easy it is 
to mistake a tenor for a 'cello effect, or to give a phrase to 
the clarionet w T hen the texture or consistency of the har- 
mony w r ould be best consulted by the thinner, sweeter, but 
equally incisive oboe. 

There is, therefore, in the orchestra incessant work for 
the player's mind; and as he is also greatly privileged 
in constantly assisting in the production of masterpieces, 
what opportunities for the culture and discipline of the 
emotional regions of the soul are his ! When he opens 
his part of the "Italian Symphony," or plunges into the 
"Fidelio," what a magnificent panorama of emotion opens 
out before him ! But it is no unreal spectacle. Like Ulys- 
ses, who was a part of all he saw, he is a part of all he 
hears; shall not something of the spirit and power of the 
great composers, with whose works he is constantly iden- 
tifying himself, pass into him as the reward of his enthusi- 
asm, his docility, and his self-immolation? 

It may be said that we are taking an ideal view of or- 
chestral playing. No doubt we are dealing with the es- 


sence of the thing itself — not as it is, but as it should be. 
Practically as it is, the vocation of the orchestral player 
has many drawbacks. The weary repetition of what he 
knows for the sake of other players who do not know their 
parts, the constant thwarting of the gifted players by the 
stolid ones, and the tension of long and harrowing rehear- 
sals under conductors who do not know their own minds, 
or who can not impart what they do know to the players, 
or who are so irritable, cantankerous, and, at the same 
time, so vexatiously exacting as to destroy every particle 
of pleasure or sympathy with their work in the breasts of 
the executants at the very moment when these qualities 
are most indispensable to the execution of the music. Then 
there is the cheerless musical wear and tear of regular or- 
chestral life. The pantomine music, not in moderation and 
once in a way, but every night all through a protracted 
season ; for we are afraid to say how long the pantomine 
goes on after the departure of that inveterate bore, Old 
Father Christmas. 

Then really excellent players are occasionally subjected 
to the demoniac influences of that rhythmic purgatory 
known as the Quadrille Band ; or the humbler violinists 
are to be met with, accompanied by a harp and cornet-a- 
piston, making what is commonly understood to be music 
for the dancers in "marble halls," or any where else, it 
matters little enough to them. Shall we blame them if 
they look upon such work as mere mechanical grind — as 
the omnibus-horse looks upon his journey to the city and 
home again — a performance inevitable, indeed, but highly 
objectionable, and not to be borne save for the sake of the 
feed at the end? Then we must not forget the low sala- 
ries of many orchestral players, the small prospect of a 
slow rise, and the still smaller chance of ever becoming 
leaders in any orchestra worth leading. Or, again, the 


weariness and disgust of your efficient men at seeing them- 
selves kept out of their right places by old, incompetent 

On the Continent wise provisions are made, and retiring 
pensions provided by government, or there are special so- 
cieties for superannuated musicians. Every man in the or- 
chestra knows that he will have to retire when his hand 
begins to lose its cunning ; in his old age he is honorably 
supported, as he deserves to be, and his place is filled up 
by an efficient substitute, Art does not suffer, the public 
does not suffer, the interests of music are not jobbed, and 
no one is the worse. But in England the government 
treats music with a supercilious smile, and with the most 
undisguised stinginess ; as who should say, " A fig for your 
bands and Bear-gardens !" And the prime minister would 
as soon think of granting pensions to superannuated musi- 
cians as of giving an annual banquet in Westminster Hall 
to the industrious fraternity of the metropolitan organ- 

It is quite impossible to say at what age a man gets 
past his work, but the conductor of every orchestra knows 
very well who it is that mars the whole ; and it is quite 
notorious that whatever inferiority there is in our leading 
orchestras in comparison with leading Continental orches- 
tras is chiefly owing to the fact that a conductor in En- 
gland can not very easily get rid of men who have grown 
infirm in their places, and who would have retired long 
ago from any foreign orchestra as a matter of course. 

It would be foolish to underrate the value of veteran 
experience and steadiness, but it must be remembered that 
the muscles will stiffen, and the ear and eye will grow dull, 
and that many a man whose brain is still active may be- 
come, through mere want of flexibility and feebleness of 
nerve, unfit for efficient work in the orchestra. We repeat 


emphatically, it is impossible, with so many still splendid 
old players before the public, to say when age means in- 
firmity ; and when we think of the prodigies of military 
valor, forensic ability, literary and artistic power which we 
have witnessed within the last few years ; when we recol- 
lect that Lord Brougham, Lord Lyndhurst, and Lord Pal- 
merston have but lately passed away ; that Thomas Carlyle 
is still with us ; that M. Victor Hugo but lately published 
one of the most stirring and eloquent apostrophes to Lib- 
erty ; that Sir E. Landseer continues to paint his best pic- 
tures ; that M. Auber still composed operas in extreme old 
age; that General Garibaldi is still ready (1871) to draw 
the sword ; that even the Pope feels equal to an (Ecumen- 
ical Council ; and that the aged monarch of Prussia, in 
company with the still more aged Yon Moltke, has just 
been leading his troops to victory against what all Europe 
supposed to be the greatest military nation in the world — 
when we remember a few of such facts, it is not too much 
to say that the nineteenth century is emphatically the tri- 
umphant Era of Old Age. 

That musicians are commonly devoid of culture is an as- 
2G sertion only half true. The culture of ideas they 
Culture. ma y or ma y not possess — the culture of emotion 
the true musician has in a degree incomparably greater 
than the self-satisfied flaneurs, who talk the common slang 
about culture, can believe or understand. On the other 
hand, there are classes of musicians, as there are classes of 
lawyers, and classes of painters. There are pettifoggers, 
for whom no job is too dishonorable, and there are law 
lords and incorruptible judges of the realm ; there are sign- 
board manufacturers, and servile tricksters, and copyists, 
who may call themselves painters, and there are Wattses 
and Holman Hunts ; and so there are drunken fiddlers and 


Joachims, low ballad-writers and Mendelssohns. Still, ic 
must be admitted that an ordinary musician is likely to be 
less cultured in the common acceptation of the term than 
a good painter, and probably, as a rale, the executive mu- 
sicians, as a class of thoughtful and well-read men, rank be- 
low the Artist-world ; and for this reason : They have not 
so much time for reading and thinking. A piano -forte 
teacher gives lessons all day long; an orchestral player 
must practice incessantly ; so must the solo player. It may 
be replied, so must the artist paint incessantly. True ; but 
practicing on an instrument to keep the fingers well " in," 
or to master difficult passages, is almost entirely mechan- 
ical, and painting is not. 

The practice of musical mechanism is not intellectual — 
it does not nourish the brain or feed the heart ; it does not- 
even leave the mind at liberty to think — it chokes every 
thing but its own development, and that is mere physical 
development. But as the painter works on, every stroke 
of the brush is not only a mechanical action, but a thought 
or an emotion; and there is no reason why the emotions 
he experiences should not clothe themselves with definite 
trains of definite ideas — they are nearly certain to do so — 
he will think when he paints alone; he can also converse 
while painting ; all his manual labor is inseparably con- 
nected with intellectual, imaginative, or emotional process- 
es. The musician's strict exercise, which, after all, takes 
up a great deal of his time, admits of very little intellect, 
imagination, or emotion. It requires industry, perception, 
and nerve ; in short, because it is more mechanical, it is 
therefore less refining and elevating. And this is the worst 
that can be said concerning the Intellectual effects of his 
essential training upon the Executive Musician. 


Of course, good people who think music and the drama 
2T necessarily wicked must be respected, but can not 
Morality. ^ e reasone( j with. However, it is hardly fair not 
to recognize in society an undercurrent of belief to the 
effect that executive musicians are less distinguished for 
morality than their neighbors. The belief may not be quite 
unfounded, but it is, nevertheless, most unfair. Inspect 
closely any class of persons, and attention to morals will 
not appear to be one of its strong points. But some class- 
es fail more publicly than others. The executive musician 
is always before the world, and, as a consequence, his pri- 
vate life is more frequently and rudely handled than other 
people's. Yet it can not be denied that he has fewer out- 
ward inducements to be moral, and more temptations to 
be the reverse, than falls to the lot of men in other pro- 
fessions. One of his disadvantages consists in the compar- 
ative indifference of the public to his morals. There have 
been cases in England of great solo players excluded from 
public engagements owing to a momentary sentiment of 
indignant virtue on the part of the Public, and received 
back to favor only a few months after some more than usu- 
ally glaring violation of morals. Others have left this mor- 
al country hurriedly, and under a cloud, and been raptur- 
ously welcomed back to London in the following season. 
So long as the virtuoso plays well, the Public seems will- 
ing to condone his offenses more easily than those of any 
other professional man, and for this obvious reason — it feels 
no direct interest in his morality. An intemperate doctor 
may poison you, a dishonest lawyer may cheat you ; but a 
musician may be both intemperate and dishonest, and yet 
may play superbly, which means that, apart from morality, 
he may have a fine perception of the functions of musical 
sound, and a delicate executive gift in expressing the subtle 
atmospheres of the soul. 


That intemperance will end by impairing his powers — 
that, even while occasionally stimulating them to high 
achievements, it will destroy the fine balance and natural 
healthy force of the emotions themselves — this can hardly 
be doubted ; and, indeed, within the last few years we have 
seen lamentable cases in point. That dishonesty will make 
the musician sadly indifferent to the interests of art when 
opposed to his own, that he will be unscrupulous in the use 
of his gifts, and unconscientious in music as in other things, 
this we might fairly expect, and it is, unhappily, a matter 
of daily notoriety ; but the Public, who hears what he can 
do, does not much trouble itself with what he might do ; 
and it is just this apathy which destroys one very common 
incentive to external morality by removing the pressure 
put upon a man from without to lead a respectable life. 
What is here said of the male portion of the musical com- 
munity is equally true of the female portion. As a rule, 
women have been far more valued by society for their per- 
sonal virtue than for their gifts ; and as an eminent writer 
has observed, society condones in men certain offenses 
which it deems almost unpardonable in women, because it 
values men, and needs them for their intellectual, imagina- 
tive, or administrative powers quite independently of their 
morals; but when women come before the world as pos- 
sessed of gifts which cause them to be valued apart from 
their virtue, like the sterner sex, society shows a disj^osi- 
tion to extend to them the same weak indulgence it gives 
so freely and so selfishly to men. 

Again, the unhealthy conditions of work alluded to 
above oppose special and often very great obstacles to 
virtue ; but to say that executive musical art has a tend- 
ency to demoralize, or that, taking every thing into con- 
sideration, executive musicians as a class are worse than 
other people, is either the assertion of one who knows 


nothing at all about them or their art, or who, knowing 
them, is guilty of pronouncing a cruel and unjust libel 
upon both. Together with a sprinkling of very distin- 
guished vocalists and instrumentalists from other coun- 
tries, a large number of very low-class foreigners, with 
foreign habits and very foreign morals, have unhappily 
taken up their abode in England. They announce them- 
selves as professors of music, and it is to be feared that 
people of limited information and intelligence are in the 
habit of sometimes visiting the irregularities of these un- 
welcome strangers upon the whole of the musical profes- 
sion. In defense of music in general, and to the honor of 
English musicians in particular, be it said, that whoever 
will think of the most prominent English singers and play- 
ers now before the public will have to recall the names of 
a number of distinguished men and women who have led 
laborious and honorable lives, and who are justly entitled 
to the esteem and affection of an ever-widening circle of 

But if we turn for a moment from the world of Execu- 
tants to the world of Composers, one fact must strike us 
— that not only were the great composers, as a rule, not 
addicted to the excesses which some would have us believe 
almost inseparable from a musical temperament, but they 
appear to have been singularly free from them. Without 
asserting that every portion of a man's work is always a 
true index of his character^ it is, nevertheless, noteworthy 
that so many great composers have been men whose emo- 
tions were so severely disciplined, and whose lives were so 
well regulated, that they stand out as examples not only 
of steady and indefatigable workers, but also of high- 
minded moral and even religious men. Nor is it true that 
the constant emotional excitement of a composer's life is 
calculated to impair his health and bring him to an early 



grave. His profession, rightly exercised, does not lead to 
the unbalanced excitement of sensuous emotions, which is 
certainly highly prejudicial to both moral and physical 
health, but to the orderly education and discipline of emo- 
tion, which is a very different thing. This consideration 
may help to explain not only the settled principle and 
moral impulse, but also the longevity of so many great 
composers. The early Italian masters became great chief- 
ly through their sacred music ; and while it must not be 
supposed that the fact of composing for the Church makes 
a man holy, we can not deny to these men, as a class, a 
great deal of exalted and often mystical religious fervor. 
Unhappily, this quality does not seem to be inconsistent 
with an occasional laxity of morals which can not be too 
much deplored ; but, in judging the men, we must think of 
the age in which they lived, the temptations to which they 
were exposed, and the loose state of morals which in Italy, 
Germany, and France seems at certain epochs to have 
been all but universal. We shall then see that the com- 
posers were no worse than their neighbors, and we shall 
be surprised to find how often they actually rose superior 
to the moral level of their age and country. 

Alessandro Scarlatti, who was born in Sicily in 1649, 
was one of the most industrious composers that ever lived. 
He discharged for many years the functions of Royal 
Chapel Master at Naples ; but his chief claim to the es- 
teem and affections of the Neapolitans consisted in his 
gratuitous and indefatigable labors as music-master in a 
large charity school known under the name of " Jesus 
Christ's Poor of Loretto." He was universally respected. 

Mabcello, born at Venice, 1686, underwent what some 
persons would call a regular conversion. As he was hear- 
ing mass in the Church of the Holy Apostles, the pavement 
gave way, and let him through into the vault beneath. 


This sudden meeting with the Dead seems to have made a 
lasting impression upon him, and he is said to have aban- 
doned from that time forth his somewhat free habits for a 
more strict style of living. His greatest works are the 
"Psalmi" and "Laudi Spirituali ;" and his monument at 
the Church of S. Joseph at Brescia, subscribed to by all 
the poets and musicians of the age, bears the inscription, 
" Benedicto Marcello, patricio Veneto, piissimo philologo." 

The gentle Lalande, born in 1657, was much respected 
by the dissolute courtiers of Louis XIV. He was natu- 
rally of a religious temperament, nor does he seem to have 
been spoiled by the corruption of the Parisian court. He 
was twice married, and had two beautiful daughters, both 
of whom died ; and one of the few pious sentiments re- 
corded of the Grand Monarque, who had just lost his own 
son, the Dauphin, was addressed to the bereaved composer : 
"You have lost two daughters full of merit; /have lost 
Monseigneur." Then, pointing to the sky, the king added, 
"Lalande, we must learn submission to the will of God." 

Gluck, born in 1714, was the most severe and conscien- 
tious of men in his own vocation. He first conceived the 
germs of those ideas which under Mozart were destined to 
blossom into the classical school of German opera. Not- 
Avithstanding his immense popularity, he made few friends, 
but those few respected him. Incessant labor at length 
shattered his naturally robust constitution, and in his de- 
clining years he was unfortunately somewhat addicted to 
drinking ; yet no one remembering what Paris was in the 
time of the Gluckists and Piccinists, Marmontel, D'Alem- 
bert, and Marie Antoinette, can deny that Gluck, in his 
best days, gave a good example to the dissolute capital of 
moderation and self-respect. 

Of dear old Sebastian Bach, born at Eisenach, 1685, let 
us merely say that he was a good husband, father, and 


friend ; in the words of his friend Kittell, " he was an ex- 
cellent man." 

Handel, born in 1685, need not found his claim to relig- 
ion on the number and sublimity of his sacred composi- 
tions alone. He lived so lono- among*- us that we know he 
was a good man. He was brought up as a Lutheran Prot- 
estant, and in an age of bitter sectarianism has often been 
charged with lukewarmness for refusing to define accurate- 
ly his religious opinions, and still more for refusing to ex- 
communicate Roman Catholics, Jews, Turks, infidels, and 
heretics; but his honor was unblemished, his personal pu- 
rity (a matter in the eyes of the religious world apparently 
of less consequence than theological opinions) was always 
absolutely unquestioned, and his genuine piety is fully at- 
tested by his affectionate biographer Hawkins. 

Haydn, born in 1*732, was naturally of a most happy and 
equable disposition. For many years he bore with great 
patience and fortitude the society of a most uncongenial 
wife ; and although in the decline of life, after a friendly 
separation had been effected, and a liberal allowance set- 
tled upon the partner of his sorrows, his relations with a 
certain Mademoiselle Boselli are said to have been more 
than Platonic, this accusation has never been proved, and 
certainly no words would be less fit to describe his hab- 
its of life at any time than " excess" or " intemperance." 
Whatever may have been his weaknesses, it is certain that 
Papa Haydn to the end retained a lively sense of religion, 
and it is interesting and characteristic of this great and 
simple man to know that he never began writing without 
inscribing his compositions with the words "In nomine 
Domini," and that whenever he found it difficult to com- 
pose he would resort to his rosary in prayer, a practice 
which he declared was always accompanied with the hap- 
piest results. He was a man without ambition and with- 


out jealousy, simply devoted to his art, quite uncovetous, 
and, until comparatively late in life, equally unconscious 
of his own immense merit and widespread fame. 

Cherubtnt, born at Florence in 1760, for many years 
commanded the respect and admiration of the French pub- 
lic by his steady and conscientious labors at the Conserva- 
toire at Paris. 

Spohr, born at Brunswick, 1784> and Meyerbeer, born 
at Berlin, 1794, were both distinguished for their abste- 
mious and laborious lives. The name of neither is associ- 
ated with excesses of any kind : both were personally re- 
spected and beloved by a large circle of friends. 

Mozart, born in 1756, at Salzbourg, was a man of the 
most singularly well-balanced character. His natural dispo- 
sitions seemed all good, his affectional instincts all healthy, 
and his religious life earnest and practical. The following 
passage out of one of his letters to his father, in 1782, will 
give a better idea of the man's rare simplicity and relig- 
ious feeling than pages of eulogy : 

" Previous to our marriage we had for some time past attended mass 
together, as well as confessed and taken the Holy Communion, and I 
found that I never prayed so fervently nor confessed so piously as by her 
side, and she felt the same. In short, we are made for each other ; and 
God, who orders all things, will not forsake us." 

Beethoven, born at Bonn, 1770, was equally great in 
his intellect and his aifections. How deep and tender was 
that noble heart, those know who have read his letters to 
his abandoned nephew whom he commits so earnestly to 
" God's holy keeping." There is no stain upon his life. 
His integrity was spotless ; his purity unblemished ; his 
generosity boundless ; his affections deep and lasting ; his 
piety simple and sincere. "To-day happens to be Sun- 
day," he writes to a friend in the most unaffected way, " so 
I will quote you something out of the Bible : ' See that ye 


love one another.'" Beethoven was not only severely 
moral and deeply religious, hut he has this further elaim 
to the admiration and respect of the musical world, that 
his ideal of art was the highest, and that he was true to 
his ideal — utterly and disinterestedly true to the end. 

Of Mendelssohn, born at Hamburg in 1809, it is diffi- 
cult even yet to speak without emotion. Many are still 
alive who knew him and loved him. That keen, piercing 
intellect, flashing with the summer lightning of sensibility 
and wit ; that full, generous heart ; that great and child- 
like simplicity of manners ; that sweet humanity, and ab- 
solute devotion to all that w T as true and noble, coupled 
with an instinctive shrinking from all that was mean ; that 
fierce scorn of a lie; that strong hatred of hypocrisy ; that 
gentle, unassuming goodness — all this, and more than this, 
they knew who knew Mendelssohn. Those volumes of 
priceless letters, and that life of him which some day must 
be written, will make him beloved and honored forever by 
generations yet unborn. Like Beethoven, he had the high- 
est conception of the dignity of art and the moral respon- 
sibility of the artist. In this age of mercenary musical 
manufacture and art degradation, Mendelssohn towers 
above his contemporaries like a moral light-house in the 
midst of a dark and troubled sea. His light always shone 
strong and pure. The winds of heaven were about his 
head, and the " Still Small Voice" was in his heart. In 
a lying generation he was true, and in an adulterous gen- 
eration he was pure, and not popularity nor gain could 
tempt him to sully the pages of his spotless inspiration 
with one meretricious eifect or one impure association. 
Of Robert le Diable he writes : "In this opera a young girl 
divests herself of her cfarments and sin^s a sons: to the 
effect that next day at this time she will be married. All 
this produces effect, but I have no music for such things. 


I consider it ignoble. So, if the present epoch exacts this 
style and considers it indispensable, then I will write ora- 
torios." These are the words of the greatest master of 
musical form since Mozart, and also of the most popular 
composer who ever lived. We commend them to the at- 
tention of the artistic and musical circles in England. 

The notion that the pursuit of music, owing to its excit- 
28j ing character, is prejudicial to health and longev- 
Longevity. j^ gathers small weight from facts. Great com- 
posers, as a rule, have been remarkably healthy and long- 
lived. Scarlatti was 76 when he died ; Lalande, 76 ; Pal- 
estrina, 70 ; Handel, 74 ; Bach, 65 ; Marcello, 53 ; Gluck, 73 ; 
Piccini, 72 ; Haydn, 77; Paisiello, 76 ; Cherubim, 82 ; Beet- 
hoven, 55 ; Spohr, 75 ; Meyerbeer, 70 ; Rossini, 78 ; and 
Monsieur Auber still composed, and was in the enjoyment 
of excellent health, at the advanced age of 88. On the 
other hand, Purcell died at the early age of 37 ; Pergolesi 
at 27 ; Mozart at 35 ; Bellini at 33 ; Schubert at 31 ; Men- 
delssohn at 38 ; Chopin at 39. 

We fear that, from causes already referred to, the health 
and longevity of executive musicians as a class might bear 
a somewhat less satisfactory scrutiny; but we must again 
repeat that such a result would be owing, not to tenden- 
cies inherent in the executive art itself, so much as to the 
unfair and sometimes pitiless conditions which have been 
too often imposed by society upon the Executive Musician. 


Like the sound of bells at night, breaking the silence 

CD ' O 

29> only to lead the spirit into deeper peace ; like a 

The Listener. ] cat ] en C \ 0U( [ a t morn, rising in gray twilight to 
hang as a golden mist before the furnace of the sun; like 
the dull, deep pain of one who sits in an empty room, 


watching the shadows of the firelight, full of memories ; 
like the plaint of souls that are wasted with sighing ; like 
paeans of exalted praise ; like sudden songs from the open 
gates of Paradise — so is Music. 

Like one who stands in the midst of a hot and terrible 
battle, drunk with the fiery smoke, and hearing the roar 
of cannon in a trance ; like one who sees the thick fog 
creep along the shore, and gathers his cloak about him as 
the dank wind strikes a thin rain upon his face ; like one 
who finds himself in a long cathedral aisle, and hears the 
pealing organ, and sees a kneeling crowd smitten with 
fringes of colored light ; like one who from a precipice leaps 
out upon the warm midsummer air toward the peaceful 
valleys below, and, feeling himself buoyed up with wings 
that suddenly fail him, wakens in great despair from his 
wild dream, so is he who can listen and understand. 

No such scenes need be actually present to the Listen- 
ee; yet the emotions which might accompany them mu- 
sic enables him to realize. To him belongs a threefold 
privilege. He hears the composer's conception, he feels 
the player's or conductor's individuality, and he brings to 
both the peculiar temperature, or what I may call the har- 
monic level of his own soul. Ask him to describe his feel- 
ings, and he will seek some such imagery as I have used 
above. And there can be no great objection to this so 
long as such an expression of feeling passes for what it is 
worth, and no more. No music — except imitative music 
(which is rather noise than music), or music acting through 
association — has in itself power to suggest scenes to the 
mind's eye. When we seek to explain our musical emo- 
tions we look about for images calculated to excite similar 
emotions, and strive to convey through these images to 
others the effect produced by music upon ourselves. The 
method is, no doubt, sufficiently clumsy and inadequate, 


but it helps to make clear some things in connection with 
our musical impressions which might otherwise puzzle us. 

Perhaps the great puzzle of all is why, if music has any 
meaning, different people suppose different things to be 
shadowed forth by the same piece. The answer is, be- 
cause Music expresses Emotion. Now, as I have shown, 
the same emotion may take very different forms, or ex- 
press itself by very different images, according to circum- 

When the fire-irons are thrown down, a sleeper may 
start from his slumbers under the impression that he is in 
Strasbourg during the late siege, and that a shell has just 
burst into his room ; or that he finds himself up in the 
Westminster belfry when Big Ben strikes the hour; or 
that a great rock has rolled from a precipitous cliff into 
the sea, threatening to crush him; or the dreamer will 
raise his hand in fright to ward off an impending blow 
which seems to descend upon his skull. Here, then, are a 
number of distinct images which might be connected with 
the same emotion. If, then, in sleep, the Emotional Region 
is so ready to assimilate appropriate ideas, no wonder if it 
retain this property when the mind is in full and wakeful 
activity. Mr. Grewgious's emotions afford a fine example 
of this. One and the same energetic feeling finds vent in 
two separate and equally forcible ideas in fcJv* following 
remarkable passage : 

" * I will ! ' Cried Mr. Grewgious. < Damn him ! 
' Confound his politics. 
Frustrate his knavish tricks. 
On thee his hopes to fix — 

Damn him again.' 

After this most extraordinary outburst, Mr. Grewgious, quite beside him- 
self, plunged about the room to all appearance undecided whether he was 
in a Jit of loyal enthusiasm or combative denunciation ,"—( 1 '' Edwin Drood," 
p. 15G.) 


Emotion aroused by music, in like manner, clothes itself 
in different draperies of ideas. Six different people, hear- 
ing the same piece of music, will give you six different ac- 
counts of it. Yet between all their explanations there will 
be a certain kind of emotional congruity, quite enough to 
persuade us that they have been under a fixed influence 
and the same influence. But here we are constrained to 
push this question well home. Is music, after all, in any 
sense a fixed influence ? Is it really expressive of the same 
emotion to different people ? Yes, music is the same, but 
people are not. People think and feel on different planes 
of thought and feelinsr. 

There are different Planes of Emotion. If your charac- 
30. ter is base, the plane of your emotion will be low. 

Planes of ' r . / 

Emotion. It your character is noble, the plane ot your emo- 
tion will be high. Every emotion is capable of being ex- 
pressed in both planes. For example, what is craven fear 
in a low plane becomes a reverent awe when expressed in 
a high plane. Mean and gnawing spite in a low plane be- 
comes an emotion of bitter and just vengeance in a high 
one, and low desire is raised to the power of pure and 
burning love. The question for the listener then is, What 
are his planes of thought and feeling — in other words, what 
is the character of his musical mediumship? Music will 
give him whatever he is capable of receiving. The same 
strain will kindle the same emotion with its elations, de- 
pressions, velocities, intensities, etc., in the plane of awe 
and in the plane of fear. The mind habitually at home in 
meanness and spite will yield its emotions in that plane to 
combinations of music which, to a nobler spirit, suggest 
the higher longings for a retributive justice. He whose 
ideas of Love are merely sensual will travel contentedly 
along a correspondingly groveling plane of emotion, while 


the very same music will kindle in another the noble self- 
abandonment of a lofty and purifying Passion. 

This surely explains how very easy it is to put different 
words to the same song. Handel constantly used up mel- 
odies which had done duty as love-songs in operas, and 
made them the vehicles for religious aspiration and prayer. 
The supplicating love-song, " Cara sposa amante cara," in 
JZinaldo, raised from the plane of a lover's adoration to the 
high level of devotional longing, becomes the sacred air, 
"Hear my crying." The exalting strain of earth, "To the 
triumph of our fury," is raised to the high plane of a devo- 
tional paean in "Praise ye Jehovah, which dwelleth in 
Zion." We wish, for the honor of music and for the honor 
of Handel, it could be said that he was always equally con- 
scientious in choosing words of higher or lower congruity 
to the feeling of the music ; but, like so many great com- 
posers, he seems to have been often indifferent to his words, 
under the conviction that the music was all-powerful to 
convey the right emotional expression, whatever the words 
might say to the contrary. But the difficulties with which 
composers have to deal in setting several verses to the 
same piece of melody are often very great, and if we at- 
tempt, like Wagner, to make every bar — almost every note 
— correspond to a word, we may almost say that such dif- 
ficulties can only be surmounted by the sacrifice of melody 
and the destruction of musical form. We must be content 
if the words selected help to set the mind going in a cer- 
tain plane of emotion. We may then hope to find them 
true enough in the main, although quite unreasonable 
when pressed in detail. 

Poor Weber, in his famous " Mermaid" song in Oberon^ 
has the first verse thus : 

" Softly sighs the voice of evening, 

Stealing through yon willow groves." 


And in the next lie has to set the same exquisitely peace' 
ful melody to the words — 

" Oh, what terrors fill my bosom ! 

Where, my Rudolph, dost thou roam?" 

But the two verses, taken as a whole, are quite near enough 
to the general emotion expressed by their music, for the 
last two lines of the first verse are, 

"While the stars, like guardian spirits, 
Set their nightly watch above," 

and the last two lines of the second verse, which begins 
with the highly perturbed sentiment above quoted, stand 

"Oh, may Heaven's protection shelter 
Him my heart must ever love!" 

Of course, in speaking of high and low planes of emotion, 
I have here assumed what I have tried to establish in this 
First Book, II., 6 : that Emotions, although traversed by 
Ideas, are not merely states of sensation produced by one 
idea, or any number of ideas, but enjoy an independent ex- 
istence and a special character of their own, which give 
them a moral dignity, and enable them to place them- 
selves at the disposal of ideas congenial to their various 

But I think at this point an objector may fairly say, 
31. After all, then, music does not determine what 
and Raphael, you call the Plane of our Emotions — has noth- 
ing to do with either a high or low plane of Love, for in- 
stance — but merely lends itself to each individual, and is 
willing to express the force, feebleness, or complexity of his 
emotions in any plane in which they may happen to lie at 
the time. No doubt the moral effect of music largely de- 
pends upon the moral state of the listener; but so does the 
moral effect of painting, and every thing else. Show me 


what a man is, and I will show you the kind of influences 
he is likely to assimilate. I will show how what to others 
shall be harmless, shall to him be as poison ; how he will 
select from what he sees and hears every thing that is con- 
genial to his disposition, and leave the rest ; in this sense 
all the arts will give him back the reflection of himself — 
he will " see himself in all he sees ; it does not, therefore, 
follow that there will be nothing else to see. A work of 
art may really be calculated to create a very high level of 
emotion, yet a man may be so base that, owing to a refu- 
sal on his part to see, or a willful distortion of what he sees, 
or a wanton selection of only such suggestions as coincide 
with what is base in him, the work of art may produce 
nothing but an emotion worked out on the level of his own 
baseness. To the pure all things are pure ; but the vicious 
will find in the most guileless innocence only one more in- 
centive to vice. The noblest themes may also be approach- 
ed through licentious avenues. But what should we say 
of a man who read through Shakspeare and selected only 
the coarse passages for his meditation, viewing all the oth- 
ers as in some way connected with them, but existing only 
for their sakes? We should say not Shakspeare is a low 
teacher, but the man who receives such an impression from 
Shakspeare is a low man. What should we say of one who 
accepted the " Fornarina" of the Barberini as the true type 
of Raphael's art, and viewed all his Madonnas from that 
ignoble stand-point ? We should say, of course, the man's 
own mind was to blame for the deplorable nature of his 
impressions. There was that in the art of Raphael, there 
is that in the teaching of Shakspeare, which is not only ca- 
pable of, but infinitely more conducive to a high than to a 
low state of feeling. And we do not hesitate to say ex- 
actly the same of music. It is, more than any other art, 
ready to mould itself about our emotions; but it is unde- 


niable that music, however we may wrest it to express our 
own levels of feelings, has its own proper and distinct lev- 
els, which it should be our business to discover and appro- 
priate, if we wish to understand or rightly estimate a com- 
poser's work. And this is so true, that at times the music 
itself opposes the greatest obstacles to any attempts on 
our part to twist it into accordance with our private levels 
of feeling. 

The modern Italian music is so imbued w T ith the lan- 
32. guid sentimentalism in which that nation has 
Germaifsen- un til lately been sunk, that, however vigorous 
timeut. we ma y f ee i ? we g r0 w insensibly languid and 

sentimental in either hearing or singing it. On the other 
hand, you can not sentimentalize Beethoven's music ; you 
can not make it a vehicle for permanently morbid trains of 
emotion. When it deals with the emotions of Love, for in- 
stance, it deals with them on the high planes of pure and 
strong passion. Beethoven is the " true and tender North." 
Italy is the "fierce and fickle South." The Italians know 
this, and that is why the Italians dislike Beethoven. They 
can not make his music express emotion down to their lev- 
el, and so they do not sing him or play him. Nothing is 
more ludicrous than to hear a fashionable Italian pianist 
attempt a sonata of Beethoven. Exaggerated pathos has 
to be pumped into the quiet phrases, hectic explosions must 
be let off where nothing but a grave forte is required, and 
the repose of the whole is broken up by an uneasy effer- 
vescence which shows that the player is like a fish on shore 
— excited and bewildered, but quite out of his element. 

The emotional plane of Italy is one thing, and that of 
Germany is another. Your clown may put on the monk's 
cowl, but he forgets to wipe off the paint, and by-and-by, 
in spite of his costume, he will grin and throw his somer- 


sault as usual. Let any one who doubts that music is real- 
ly capable of pitching a high plane for the emotions to 
work in, recall Beethoven's love -song "Adelaide." No 
modern Italian master could have written that song. No 
one can suppose the melody to be expressive of languid 
sentimentality. We are thrilled ; we are not dissolved, 
we are moved, yet without losing our self-control ; and we 
are too much in earnest to be the mere sport of our emo- 
tions. They sweep with flame and thunder through the 
soul, leaving its atmosphere purified and sweetened by the 
storm. Let us now think of any popular Italian love-song, 
e.g., "Si fossi un Angelo del Paradiso non potere vivere di 
te diviso." Most of our readers may have heard this song 
by Marras, and it is a very typical one. The emotions are 
all upon a low plane. The kind of man who could so ex- 
press his love is an artificial sentimentalist ; his feeling is 
at once exaggerated and extravagant, but not deep ; and 
we have a shrewd idea that the whole thing is poured out 
by a sham lover, in the presence of a person of a doubtful 
character, by the light of an artificial moon. Without do- 
ins; absolute violence to the obvious intention of Beetho- 
ven, you can not sentimentalize "Adelaide," whereas it is 
impossible to do any thing else with such a song as "Si 
fossi un Angelo." If the reader admits the justice of the 
above remarks, he can hardly refuse to believe that music 
not only expresses the various qualities of emotion, but has 
also the power — subject, no doubt, to perturbing influences 
— of determining the level of emotion, or what may be 
termed the moral atmosphere of feeling. 

And now it is a very noteworthy thing, as bearing upon 
33. the life of a Nation, that whatever the spirit which 

Patriotic .' l 

Songs, pervades its music happens to be — whether that 
spirit be languid and erotic, as in Italy ; or frivolous, grace- 


fill, noisy, and, at times, blustering, as in France — the mu- 
sic of patriotic tunes and national anthems is invariably 
earnest and dignified. The tune known as Garibaldi's 
Hymn, which raged like a fever throughout Italy during 
the Revolution, is so fresh, and buoyant, and manly in its 
cheerful vigor and determination, that it fails to suggest a 
single characteristic of modern Italian music, save only 
that exemplary one of clear and facile melody. The time 
for Love-languor is past ; the sun of Liberty has dawned, 
the breeze is on the mountain, the bugle sounds the reveille, 
and the youth of Italy, active, alert, hopeful, and confident, 
march cheerfully to the deliverance of their beautiful but 
enslaved country. In the Marseillaise there is an almost 
sombre severity, wholly unlike the frivolous superficial 
grace and sentimental pathos of the ordinary French school. 
The men who sing it are not playing at war, like fools, nor 
are they mere children, delighting in its outward pomp and 
circumstance. They trudge on, footsore and weary, know- 
ing all the horror and the pain that is in store for them, 
and still willing to conquer and to die. That is the spirit 
of the Marseillaise; and in it, as in Garibaldi's Hymn, the 
seriousness of the crisis has called forth the finest qualities 
of both the French and Italian characters, and banished for 
a time what is languishing in the one and frivolous in the 
other. I need hardly allude here to the English, Austrian, 
and Russian hymns, or to our own national anthem, as 
there has never been any question about the musical merit, 
dignity, and earnestness of these. 

Philosophers have often been at a loss to explain the se- 
cret of the strange power which patriotic tunes seem to 
exercise over the people, and especially over the armies 
of nations. Historians have been contented simply to re- 
cord the fact; but the mystery is at an end if we are will- 
ing to attribute to music the power which I have claimed 


for it, of pitching high the plane of the emotions, and driv- 
ing them home with the most efficacious and incomparable 

The laws which regulate the effect of music upon the 
34. listener are subject to many strange perturba- 

Musical Per- . ** . / or 

turbations. tions. Unless we admit this to be the case, and 
try and detect the operation of certain irregular influences, 
we shall be at a loss to understand why, if music really 
has its own planes as well as progressions of emotion, gay 
music should make us sad, and solemn music should some- 
times provoke a smile. Musical perturbations are some- 
times due to the singer, player, or conductor — sometimes 
to the listener. Madame Lind-Goldschmidt had, or let us 
rather say has, the power of perturbing a trivial melody 
of any kind almost to any extent. A magical prolongation 
of single notes here and there, until the vulgarity of the 
rhythm be broken — a pause, a little appogiatura, even a 
smile — and the original melody, such as we may know it 
to be, is changed and sublimated into the high expression 
of a high individuality. Ernst, certainly the most roman- 
tic player we have had since Paganini, possessed the same 
marvelous quality of perturbing almost every thing he 
played until it became absolutely nothing but a melodic 
expression of his own wild mood. Those who remember 
the way in which he was wont to play one of his great 
solos on Hungarian airs, with orchestral accompaniments, 
will remember the profound meditation, almost coma, into 
which he seemed to fall in the middle of one of those 
slow and measured melodies — losing the sense of time and 
rhythm — allowing, as it were, his own soul to float out 
upon the waves of melody, which swelled and shook with 
sensitive thrills, holding the audience breathless, until, in 
the utter stillness cf the room, it was impossible to tell 



when the notes actually ceased to vibrate. Such players 
as he must be classed under the head of "those who ex- 
press themselves through the music," just as such players 
as Joachim belong emphatically to the class of those who 
invariably express the composer's thought, not their own. 
It is hardly necessary to allude to the manner of any liv- 
ing conductors to establish the fact that immense powers 
of perturbation are in the hands of orchestral conductors. 
We had no idea that Mendelssohn's Hymn of Praise could 
be made to sound positively trivial until it was our misfor- 
tune to hear it under the auspices of a thoroughly senti- 
mental and incompetent conductor. 

But the perturbations in the natural effect of the music 
which come from the listener are even more numerous and 
perplexing. They proceed chiefly from association and 
memory. If one is by the death-bed of a friend, and a 
band passes in the street playing a cheerful tune, that tune 
will sound even more sadly than a really mournful air, 
which might serve at once to express and to relieve the 
deep heaviness of the heart. An unhappy girl, out of her 
mind for the loss of her lover, singing a merry song to 
herself in a madhouse, will make the joyous melody sound 
sad enough — sad as the raptures of an imprisoned skylark 
hanging caged in the London streets. On the other hand, 
a grave tune may, in like manner, be fairly perturbed out 
of all sobriety ; and, as we have shown it is possible to 
pass from gay to grave in the lunatic asylum, so we may 
pass from grave to gay, in spite of our best intentions, 
upon hearing some well-known psalm-tune intoned through 
the nose by an ancient schoolmaster in a country church, 
where the service resembles nothing so much as a pitched 
battle between the clergyman and the clerk in the pres- 
ence of a silent congregation, and where the said school- 
master is, for some unintelligible reason, occasionally per- 


mitted to interrupt the duel with an extraordinary succes- 
sion of sounds supposed to represent the 119th Psalm. In 
this case, however grave the melody may really be in it- 
self, it will be undeniably perturbed by an unfortunate as- 
sociation of ideas at the moment w T hen it reaches the ears 
of the judicious hearer. 

The strangest phenomena of all connected with musical 
35 perturbation are to be found in alliance with mem- 
Memory. or y . j^ mus j ca | sound is only one of many me- 
diums which connect us vividly with the past. Scents 
have a remarkable power of recalling past scenes. Who 
has not got memories connected with otto of roses or the 
perfume of violets ? The peculiar combination of odors to 
be met with only in a steam-boat cabin will recall to some 
many a disastrous passage across the British Channel. To 
a Londoner, the smell of a tan-yard or tallow manufactory 
will certainly be associated with those lines of railway run- 
ning out of London over the roofs of serried houses over- 
looking certain odorous yards — instantly he may remem- 
ber his holding his nose, or seizing the window-strap to 
pull up the window of the railway carriage. The odor of 
tar calls up many a watering-place in summer : we are on 
the pier in an instant, with some little child, perchance now 
grown up or dead ; the fishing-smack lies alongside lazily, 
smoke issuing from a pot at the stern ; a sailor sits with 
a pipe in his mouth, throwing vegetable parings into the 
black kettle for the nondescript midday meal ; the hot sea 
beneath a blazing sun lies almost stagnant, waiting for the 
turn of the tide; the white cliffs glimmer along the coast 
- — and all this flashes for a moment before the mind's eye 
as we chance to pass over a piece of asphalt pavement 
newly laid down, and smelling faintly of pitch. 

The sight of a faded flower pressed in a book brings 


back, with a little shock of feeling, the hand that gathered 
it, or the distant hills upon which it once bloomed years 
ago. The touch of satin or velvet, or fine hair, is also ca- 
pable of reviving the recollections of scenes, and places, 
and persons. But for freshness, and suddenness, and pow- 
er over memory, all the senses must yield to the sense of 
hearing. Memory is the great perturber of musical mean- 
ing. When memory is concerned, music is no longer it- 
self; it ceases to have any proper plane of feeling ; it sur- 
renders itself wholly, with all its rights, to memory, to be 
the patient, stern, and terrible exponent of that recording 
angel. What is it ? Only a few trivial bars of an old 
piano-forte piece — "Murmures du Rhone," or "Pluie des 
Perles." The drawing-room window is open, the children 
are playing on the lawn, the warm morning air is charged 
with the scent of lilac blossom. Then the ring at the bell, 
the confusion in the hall, the girl at the piano stops, the 
door opens, and one is lifted in dying or dead. Years, 
years ago ! but passing through the streets, a bar or two 
of the " Murmures du Rhone" brings the whole scene up 
before the girl, now no longer a girl, but a middle-aged 
woman, looking back to one fatal summer morning. The 
enthusiastic old men, who invariably turned up in force 
whenever poor Madame Grisi was advertised to sing in her 
last days, seemed always deeply affected. Yet it could 
hardly be at what they actually heard — no, the few notes 
recalled the most superb soprano of the age in her best 
days ; recalled, also, the scenes of youth forever faded out, 
and the lights of youth quenched in the gray mists of the 
dull declining years. It was worth any money to hear 
even the hollow echo of a voice w T hich had power to bring 
back, if only for a moment, the " tender grace of a day that 
was dead." 


Composers, by re-treating, quoting, or paraphrasing well- 
36. known airs and harmonic sequences, misrht have 

MuSical J u * A • 4-' 

Quotation, made much more use ol memory and association 
than they have. Schumann has shown us what might be 
done in this way by the amazing effect produced in his 
song "The Two Grenadiers," by the introduction of the 
" Marseillaise." The words of this wonderful little song 
of Heinrich Heine's are intended, like the music, to express 
that peculiar type of character in the French army called 
into existence by the genius of the first Napoleon. 

The disastrous campaign in Russia is over. The great 
Emperor has been taken captive. Two French grenadiers, 
wearied, dispirited, one of them suffering from a deadly 
wound, approach the German frontier. The same desolate 
feeling has taken possession of both, and the veterans are 
moved to tears as they think over the humiliation of 
France, and the defeat of their Emperor, who is dearer to 
them than life itself. Then up speaks the wounded war- 
rior to his companion. "Friend, when I am dead, bury me 
in my native France, with my cross of honor on my breast, 
and my musket in my hand, and lay my good sword by 
my side." Up to this point the melody has been in the 
minor key. A slow, dreary, and dirge-like stave ; but as 
the old soldier declares his belief that he will rise once 
more and fight when he hears the Emperor walk over his 
grave amid the tramp of horsemen and the roar of cannon, 
the minor breaks into a truly ghostly form of the " Mar- 
seillaise." It rolls forth in the major key, but is not car- 
ried through, and is brought to an abrupt close with five 
solemn bars of chords in adagio, upon which the smoke of 
the battle seems to sweep into the distance as the vision 
of the phantom host fides out upon the wide plain, with 
its lonely green mounds and mouldering wooden crosses. 


The emotional force in women is usually stronger, and 
37. always more delicate, than in men. Their consti- 

Women . J , ' 

and Music, tutions are like those fine violins which vibrate to 
the lightest touch. Women are the great listeners, not 
only to eloquence, but also to music. The wind has swept 
many an iEolian lyre, but never such a sensitive harp as 
a woman's soul. In listening to music, her face is often 
lighted up with tenderness, with mirth, or with the simple 
expansiveness of intense pleasure. Her attitude changes 
unconsciously with the truest, because the most natural, 
dramatic feeling. At times she is shaken and melts into 
tears, as the flowers stand and shake when the w T ind blows 
upon them and the drops of rain fall off. The woman's 
temperament is naturally artistic, not in a creative, but in 
a receptive sense. A woman seldom writes good music, 
never great music ; and, strange to say, many of the best 
singers have been incapable of giving even a good musical 
reading to the songs in which they have been most famous. 
It was rumored that Madame Grisi had to be taught all 
her songs, and became great by her wonderful power of 
appropriating suggestions of pathos and expression which 
she was incapable of originating herself. Madame Mali- 
bran had a great dash of original genius, and seldom sang 
a song twice in the same way. Most women reflect with 
astonishing ease, and it has often been remarked that they 
have more perception than thought, more passion than 
judgment, more generosity than justice, and more religious 
sentiment than moral taste. 

Many a woman, though capable of so much, is frequent- 
ly called upon in the best years of her life to do but little, 
but at all times society imposes upon her a strict reticence 
as to her real feelings. What is she to do with the weary 
hours, with the days full of the intolerable sunshine, and 
the nights full of the pitiless stars? Her village duties or 


town visits are done. Perchance neither have any attrac« 
tions for her. She has read till her head aches ; but all the 
reading leads to nothing. She has worked till her fingers 
ache ; but what is the work good for when it is done ? To 
set women to do the things which some people suppose are 
the only things fit for them to do, is often like setting the 
steam-hammer to knock pins into a board. The skillful 
and ingenious operation leaves them dissatisfied or listless, 
or makes them, by a kind of reaction, frivolous, wicked, and 
exaggerated caricatures of what God intended them to be. 
Some outlet is wanted. Control is good, but at a certain 
point control becomes something very much like paralysis. 
The steam-hammer, as it contemplates the everlasting pin's 
head, can not help feeling that if some day, when the steam 
was on, it might give one good smashing blow, it would 
feel all the better for it. To women — and how many thou- 
sands are there in our placid modern drawing-rooms ! — 
who feel like this, music comes with a power of relief and 
a gentle grace of ministration little short of supernatural. 

That girl who sings to herself her favorite songs of Schu- 

38 bert, Mendelssohn, or Schumann, sings more than 

Dream-life. a son g . ft j s h er own plaint of suffering floating 

away on the wings of melody. That poor lonely little sor- 
rower, hardly more than a child, who sits dreaming at her 
piano, while her fingers, caressing the deliciously cool ivory 
keys, glide through a weird nocturno of Chopin, is playing 
no mere study or set piece. Ah ! what heavy burden seems 
lifted up, and borne away in the dusk ? Her eyes are half 
closed — her heart is far away ; she dreams a dream as the 
long, yellow light fades in the west, and the wet vine-leaves 
tremble outside to the nestling birds ; the angel of music 
has come down ; she has poured into his ear the tale which 
she will confide to no one else, and the " restless, unsatisfied 


longing" lias passed; for one sweet moment the cup of life 
seems full — she raises it to her trembling lips. What if it 
is only a dream — a dream of comfort sent by music ? Who 
will say she is not the better for it ? She has been taken 
away from the commonplaceness and dullness of life — from 
the old books in the study, and the familiar faces in the 
school-room, and the people in the streets ; she has been 
alone with herself, but not fretting or brooding — alone 
with herself and the minstrel spirit. Blessed recreation, 
that brings back freshness to the tired life and buoyancy 
to the heavy heart ! Happy rain of tears and stormy wind 
of sighs sweeping the sky clear, and showing once more 
the deep blue heaven of the soul beyond ! Let no one say 
that the moral effects of music are small or insignificant. 
That domestic and long-suffering instrument, the cottage 
piano, has probably done more to sweeten existence, and 
bring peace and happiness to families in general, and to 
young women in particular, than all the homilies on the 
domestic virtues ever yet penned. 


The social effects of music would be a very interesting 
39. subject of discussion, but thev lie a little out- 

Sacred Music. - . 

The oratario. side the purpose of our present article. In writ- 
ing on a subject so extremely fertile as music, it is almost 
impossible not to diverge at times into pleasant by-ways 
and unexplored paths. I have now only space for a few 
remarks on the moral effects of sacred music upon the list- 
ener. Those who attend the performances of the Sacred 
Harmonic Society at Exeter Hall, and the other great mu- 
sical festivals in England, need not be told that almost all 
the greatest composers have found, in the sacred cantata 
or oratorio, a form of art capable of expressing the noblest 
progressions of the religious sentiment in the highest planes 


of emotion. Those who have been familiar with the Bible 
from childhood are apt to grow insensible to the majestic 
beauty of its style, to the frequently inspired level of its 
ideas, and the subtle charm of its diction. Some day they 
may chance suddenly to read a passage of it in French or 
German, and the simple novelty of form will wonderfully 
arrest their attention and kindle their emotion. But this 
is nothing compared with the effect which is produced by 
arranging the magnificent episodes of Scripture in a dra- 
matic — not operatic — form, and translating their emotional 
significance into the universal language of music. In the 
oratorio, unlike the opera, there is nothing absurd or outre. 
The fact of Elijah standing before us in a well-trimmed 
mustache and clean kid gloves does not in the least shock 
our sense of propriety, because no impersonation is attempt- 
ed. The singers are there, not to personate character, but 
to help us to realize the force and procession of certain emo- 
tions through which the characters in the sacred drama are 
supposed to pass. By doing this, and no more, we attempt 
the possible, and succeed. A good deal depends upon the 
libretto. Mendelssohn was himself ever a loving and rev- 
erent student of the Bible. He selected and arranged in 
great measure the words of his own oratorios ; and so ad- 
mirably has he entered into the spirit of his work, that it 
is difficult to listen to the Elijah or St. Paul, with the words 
before us, without each time receiving some new impres- 
sion of the depth and sublimity of those characters, whose 
figures at this distance of time stand out prominently 
among all the prophets of the Old and New Testaments. 
I have written so much elsewhere upon oratorios, that I 
willingly, without further preamble, pass on to congrega- 

tional singing. 

E 2 


Iii all times men and women have shown a strong dis- 
40. position to express their praises and lamenta- 

Congregatiou- * 

ai Singing. tions by what for some better term may be 
called a kind of howling or wailing. This method may 
not be thought very musical or hymn-like. Nevertheless, 
all such vocal expressions are actual attempts to utter 
deep feeling through appropriate channels of sound. When 
properly disciplined and elaborated, that mode of utter- 
ance becomes devotional and congregational singing. The 
Lollards, who, according to some, took their name from 
lullen, " to sing," found in hymn tunes and chants a great 
medium for expressing the rush of a new religious life 
upon their spirits, and within the last hundred years the 
Methodist hymns have served a like purpose. No doubt, 
upon entering a chapel where the congregation were sing- 
ing, heart and soul, some easily-learned and well-known 
hymn, the hearer was liable to be caught by the devotion- 
al impetuosity thus expressed through musical sound ; and, 
indeed, no greater bond of worship could be devised than 
hymn tunes suited to the capacities and tastes of the peo- 
ple. Mr. Henry Ward Beecher, in his own peculiar vein, 
has lately preached a very eloquent sermon to his congre- 
gation upon this subject, and we need make no apology 
for presenting our readers with the following extract to 
the point : 

" Singing is that natural method by which thoughts are reduced to feel- 
ing, more easily, more surely, and more universally than by any other. 
You are conscious when you go to an earnest meeting, for instance, that, 
while hymns are being sung and you listen to them, your heart is, as it 
were, loosened, and there comes out of those hymns to you a realization 
of the truth such as you never had before. There is a pleading element, 
there is a sense of humiliation of heart, there is a poignant realization of 
sin and its guiltiness, there is a yearning for a brighter life in a hymn 
which you do not find in your closet ; and, in singing, you come into sym- 
pathy with the truth as you perhaps never do under the preaching of a 


discourse, There is a provision made in singing for the development of 
almost every phase of Christian experience. Singing has also a wonder- 
ful effect upon those feelings which we wish to restrain. All are not alike 
susceptible, but all are susceptible to some extent. I speak with emphasis 
on this point, because I am peculiarly sensitive to singing, and because I 
owe so much to it. How many times have I come into the church on 
Sunday morning jaded and somewhat desponding, saddened at any rate, 
and before the organ voluntary was completed, undergone a change as 
great as though I had been taken out of January and been plumped down 
in the middle of May, with spring blossoms on every hand ! How many, 
many times have I been lifted out of a depressed state of mind into a 
cheerful mood by the singing before I began to preach! How often, in 
looking forward to the Friday-night meeting, has my prevailing thought 
been, not of what I was going to say, but of the hymns that would be 
sung ! My prayer-meeting consists largely of the singing of hymns which 
are full of prayings, and my predominant thought in connection with our 
Friday-night gatherings is, 'Oh, that sweet, joyful singing!'" 

As faith in the great evangelical movement cooled, the 
41 hearty congregational singing also began to die 

Slow Church, down in the Church of England, and in fashion- 
able chapels the voices of the people were represented by 
a few careless professional ladies and gentlemen, who show- 
ed themselves off to considerable advantage in a private 
box, situated in the west gallery, in front of the organ. 
There the ladies were wont to fan themselves and flirt dur- 
ing the prayers, and there the gentlemen " made up" their 
" little books," or sat yawning through the sermon. The 
congregation being mostly asleep, and the clergyman also 
somewhat comatose, it seemed for some time unlikely that 
the above odious performance would give way to any 
thing a shade less irreverent, when lo ! the great High- 
Church movement in a very few years pulled the wheezy 
organs out of their dingy nooks, and swept half the old 
musical boxes in the land from our churches, concert sing- 
ers and all. 


Then arose the age of white surplices, and new hymn 
42. tunes, and decent versicles and anthems. In short, 
ormation. a cathedral service soon became fashionable all 
over England, not in High-churches only, but even in Low 
and Broad churches. Whatever we may think of their 
doctrines, the High-Church party have stood up for the 
aesthetic element in devotion, and by introducing a respect- 
able amount of ritual, with good music, they have shown 
us how it was possible to be emotional without being vul- 
gar. The charge brought against the High-Church sing- 
ing is that it is uncongregational, and this is held to be a 
fatal objection, especially to anthems. The objection is 
only one more proof of how much the English people have 
still to learn concerning the real functions of music. There 
is a grace of hearing as well as a grace of singing ; there 
is a passive as well as an active side of worship. In every 
congregation there must be some who can not join even in 
the simplest tune. Some are too old, some have no voices, 
others have no ear for music ; but it would be a great mis- 
take to suppose that all who are thus reduced to the state 
of listeners get nothing at all out of the singing. If we 
take note of old and devout worshipers as some familiar 
hymn is being sung, Ave shall see their faces lighten up and 
their heads move in unconscious sympathy, and we shall 
know that, although their lips are silent, they are singing 
in the spirit. One day, noticing a very poor and aged 
woman in tears during the service, I spoke to her at the 
close, and inquired the cause of her grief. " Oh, sir," she 
replied, " that blessed, blessed song in the middle of the 
prayers !" She could say no more ; but she was alluding 
to an anthem by Professor Sterndale Bennett — " O Lord, 
thou hast searched me out." 

The function of anthems is no doubt quite different from 
that of psalms or hymns. It is greatly to be wished that 


the congregation would never attempt to join in the an- 
them — not even in the chorus, strong as the temptation 
may sometimes be. Above all, let not people with musi- 
cal ears sing fancy parts to their own edification and the 
great distress of their fellow-worshipers. The strength of 
the congregation during the anthem is emphatically to sit, 
or, at all events, to stand, still. They need lose nothing 
by their silence, for, rightly understood, it may be quite as 
blessed a thing to allow music to flow into the soul as to 
pour forth actively songs of praise. This is hardly a pop- 
ular view of the subject. In every church where an an- 
them is sung, the majority of the congregation seems to 
belong to one of two classes — those who look upon the an- 
them as an unwarrantable interloper, and those who re- 
gard it simply in the light of a show-off for the choir. 
Need we observe that neither of these two views is the 
correct one ? 

The worshiper has for some time been engaged in the 
43 service of active prayer and praise, when there 
the e ms f and" comes " m choirs and places where they sing" a 
voluntaries. pauge? and "Here followeth the anthem." The 
active phase of devotion is exchanged for the passive at 
the moment when the powers of congregational attention 
begin to fail, and physical energy is waxing a little faint. 
The emotions which we have just been connecting in pray- 
er with solemn, perhaps even harrowing, thoughts — the 
feelings we have been laboring to express with a certain 
strained and fatiguing mental effort — in short, all burden- 
some activity, is suddenly suspended, and the spirit, raised 
into the atmosphere of devotion, remains passive, in order 
that it may be recruited, by having its weight of feeling 
lifted up and its emotion expressed for it, through music in 
harmony with its inner consciousness. It is as though a 


traveler grown weary in a winter's walk were suddenly to 
be lifted up and borne along upon wings without word or 
action of his own, what time the land grew warm with sun- 
light, the air scented with flowers and full of angel voices. 
When the times of refreshing are past he finds himself 
again upon the earth ; but all his fatigue has vanished, 
and he is now able to go on his journey with renewed life, 
and " compassed about with songs of rejoicing." When 
the hearing of voluntaries and anthems is thus regarded as 
part of the needful solace and recreation of the religious 
life, we shall, no doubt, find music much more widely and 
intelligently used in our churches than it is at present. 

Musically speaking, there is as yet in the Reformed 
44. churches nothing approaching the grandeur of 
tistic Unity, the great Roman Catholic Masses, where we have 
a mind like that of Mozart or Beethoven steadily working- 
out, in strains of incomparable depth and pathos, a great 
connected series of thoughts, embodying all the varied 
phases of religious emotion. Indeed, the notion that a re- 
ligious service may be wrought out with the force and 
majesty of a great work of art, having its various parts 
welded into a powerful and satisfactory unity by the agen- 
cy of music, is a conception which has evidently not yet 
reached this isle of the Protestant Gentiles. Yet no relig- 
ious service can with impunity violate, in however small a 
degree, the great laws of beauty, fitness, and order which 
are involved in the conception of a Mass ; nor is it impos- 
sible, without making the music incessant throughout the 
service, to arrange our own liturgy in such an order, and 
so to incorporate the musical element as to sustain the at- 
tention of the congregation, and produce a unity of effect 
far greater than is at present at all usual. In some High- 
churches we find a glimmering: of what a musical service 


might and ought to be ; but, what with unbending medi- 
evalism and rigid ecclesiastical prejudices, we must not 
hope for any thing like a good type of congregational 
service from that quarter. On the other hand, any thing 
more disjointed and slovenly than the ordinary brown- 
colored sort of Church service still prevalent in most coun- 
try churches and London chapels can hardly be conceived. 
Have people no ears — do they not care what is piped and 
what is harped — is their attention never exhausted — have 
they no idea of the strain which the human mind is con- 
structed to bear — that they can listen for an hour to a na- 
sal droning of the prayers, interlarded here with a chant, 
the very memory of which makes one yawn, and there 
with some hymn tune, sung at a pace compared to which 
adagio might be called fast ? There is a hopeless want of 
decision and energy in the ordinary conduct of our Church 
prayers. We do not want rapidity so much as a definite 
conception of the emotional fabric of the whole ; and here 
is the point where music might come to our assistance, by 
defining the pauses and divisions which the life and inter- 
est of the whole service demands. Every orator, every 
singer, every soloist, and every conductor will readily un- 
derstand what I mean. He who arranges a religious serv- 
ice, if he wishes it to secure the attention and minister to 
the edification of the people, should place himself some- 
what in the position of an orchestral conductor ; it is his 
business to arrange every detail of the proceedings. The 
exact moment at which the opening hymn is sung, the 
general impulse and feeling of the hymn, should be im- 
pressed upon the choir ; the organist should enter into the 
spirit of the music, and understand its place and function 
in the service ; he should be always on the watch ; there 
should be no unin tentional delays in giving out the hymns 
— no unsettled pauses before the hymn is commenced; 


the hymns, responses, canticles, anthems, and voluntaries 
should succeed one another in such a succession and style 
as to relieve one another, each fitting into its place at the 
nick of time, never dragging, never jolting, not balking the 
attention, or executed in so aimless a manner as to allow 
the congregation to grow listless. But to accomplish all 
this, or a tithe of it, there must be true art feeling, and 
true religious feeling, and true musical taste ; and although 
we are inclined to admit that the English are on the whole 
a Religious People, we arrive at the sad conviction that, 
however improving and improvable, the English are not, 
as a nation, an artistic people, and the English are not a 
Musical People, 


Second Book. 





Saonti Book. 




We sometimes hear music called the universal language. 
45. That will be true some day. Civilized music 

First aud Sec- . . . _ . _ 

ond Periods, must ultimate! j r triumph over every other kind 
of music, because it is based upon natural principles dis- 
covered once and forever, and capable of being universally 
applied and understood. But at present to speak of mu- 
sic, ancient and modern, savage and scientific, as a univer- 
sal language, is only true in a limited sense. There is 
probably no nation upon earth so devoid of tonal sensibil- 
ity as to be quite callous to the attraction, or even fascina- 
tion, of sounds produced artificially with a view to excite 
or to relieve emotion. If we like to call any such medley 
of sounds music, of course we are at liberty to do so. The 
rudest howl of the savage as he dances round his bonfire, 
in the pages of " Robinson Crusoe" or elsewhere, the wild- 
est monody of the Eastern donkey-driver, or the most ex- 
asperating scrape of a Japanese fiddle, is essentially a kind 
of music. 


Sound, as an emotional vehicle, is universal — in the same 
way that speech is universal. But if we mean by univer- 
sal that every kind of music possesses the property of be- 
ing every where equally intelligible, that is simply not the 
case. The Indian who sits down to yell for two hours and 
beat the tom-tom may possibly soothe the savage mind, 
but he drives the European mad. Mr. Hullah, to whose 
excellent lectures we are indebted for much of the follow- 
ing essay, tells us of an Arabian artist whose conception 
of the scale on his eoud, or lute, was not only different 
from ours, but who refused to tolerate the order of tones 
and semitones adopted in our major and minor. The mu- 
sic of the savage is not as our music, neither do we de- 
light in the music of the past — by which I mean the mu- 
sic of the ancients and the music of the Middle Ages. The 
monuments, the paintings, the literature of the past are 
still eloquent. We still admire Westminster Abbey, Notre 
Dame de Chartres, or the frescoes at Padua. We are still 
warmed by the rough geniality of Chaucer, and the lines 
of Petrarch and Dante are woven like golden threads into 
the fabric of our conversation and literature ; but when 
we are asked to sit down with these worthies and hear a 
little music, we can not pretend to be very anxious to do 
so : there might have been a certain charm about the wild 
inspirations of the Trouvlres, but not sufficient to atone for 
the want of form and the fixed tonality of modern melo- 
dy ; while at church the monks would treat you to a kind 
of harmony, consisting of one bourdon in the bass, and a 
few consecutive fifths and octaves to relieve the ear ! So 
bad must have been these effects, that many writers have 
maintained that the art of reading the old music is lost, 
and that sharps, flats, and rhythm were really used long 
before they were indicated in the notation. 

Nor is the music of the Old World more satisfactory- 


We may, indeed, trace music from India to Egypt, from 
Egypt to Judaea, from Judaea to Greece ; but the pre-Gre- 
cian period is utterly barren, and the Grecian period, with 
its better-understood octave and monotone notation, is 
dullness itself. The attempts of the Old World, B.C., in- 
genious and complicated as some of them were, may be 
safely dismissed as clumsy and unsuccessful ; they are not 
worth the study that has been bestowed upon them. Mr. 
Hullah reckons the First Period of music from 370 A.D. to 
1400. Until about the year TOO A.D. people did not even 
stumble in the right direction, and not until 1400 was that 
glorious vista opened up, at whose distant extremity sat 
the crowned genius of Modern Music presiding over the 
immortal tone-poetry of the sixteenth, seventeenth, eight- 
eenth, and nineteenth centuries. However, it would be un- 
fair, even in the most cursory sketch, not to notice the 
attempts made by St. Ambrose of Milan (elected 374) to 
adapt a few of the Greek scales for the use of the Church. 
Much of his work was afterward undone by the stupidity 
of his followers, until Gregory the Great (elected 590) re- 
vived what could be found of the Ambrosian system, add- 
ed four new scales, and issued an antiphonary, or author- 
ized book of ecclesiastical music. 

The monk Hucbald, of St. Armand, diocese of Tournay, 
who died in 932, has collected and systematized the best 
music current in his day. The harmony then admired 
must have resembled the mixture-stop of our organs play- 
ed alone. Guido of Arezzo (1020) and Franco of Cologne 
(about 1200 — some writers place him much earlier) are the 
only other names worth mentioning at this early period. 
The labors of the first culminated in the rise of descant, 
i. e., the combination of sounds of unequal length, or " mu- 
sic in which two or more sounds succeed each other while 
one equal to them in length was sustained" (Ilullah) ; the 


labors of Franco may be connected with a better system 
of musical notation, the introduction of sharps and flats, 
and the cantus mensurabills, or division of music into bars. 
Both were voluminous authors ; to the first, Guido, un- 
doubtedly belongs the honor of popularizing the study of 
music by the invention of a simple method of instruction. 
In his day there were very few organs, and a great dearth 
of other instruments. Thus the music -master had the 
greatest difficulty in directing the voice and forming the 
musical ear ; and, indeed, apart from his immediate pres- 
ence, little practice or progress could be made by the pu- 
pil. Guido used a simple instrument, called a monochord, 
which had letters written on a finger-board corresponding 
to definite notes ; the said notes being produced by shift- 
ing a movable bridge up and down the letters, just as the 
finger is shifted up and down the frets of a guitar. No 
doubt, also, Guido taught all that was then known of the 
art, and formulated a great deal which he is erroneously 
supposed to have invented. 

The Second Period (1400-1600) is marked toward its 
close by a definite system of " tonality," or arrangement 
of the scale. The name of Josquin des Pres may be con- 
nected with its rise and progress, while France and Bel- 
gium divide between them the honors of its early develop- 
ment. About the end of the sixteenth century the Gallo- 
Belgian was completely absorbed into the Italian school, 
and as Josquin des Pres is the foundation, so Palestrina is 
the crown of the Second Period. 

The Third Period (1600-1750), or the transition, bridges 
46. over the great gulf between the second and fourth 

Third . 

Period, periods, or between the ancient and the modern 

The Third, or Transition Period, begins with the close of 


the sixteenth century. The old tonality was the great ob- 
stacle to all progress. A scale of notes arranged on a sim- 
ple and uniform system was the remedy. The old masters 
would begin a scale any where in the series, without writ- 
ing flats or sharps to make the semitones fall in the same 
places, whatever the key or mode. The change from such 
a system to our simple major and minor, with its uniform 
arrangement of accidentals, was immense. 

=3= This, and the consequent discovery of the 
perfect cadence, made the radical differ- 

ea — EfsEE ence between the old and the new music. 

I No man is responsible for these startling 

innovations, but most of them are attributed to Monte- 
verde (15 70). At all events, it is certain that about this 
time the world s^ot very tired of the old forms. And no 
wonder ; for a scientific movement in music was worked 
out like an equation in algebra, and was necessarily devoid 
of either life or expression. The wild strains of the wan- 
dering minstrels, on the other hand, were full of feeling, 
but had no consistency or method. In short, as Mr. Hul- 
lah well expressed it, " the scholastic music had no art, the 
popular music no science." 

The glory of the Transition Period is the marriage of 
Art with Science. Science, grim and ecclesiastical, peep- 
ed forth from his severe cloister and beheld the wild and 
beautiful creature singing her roundelays, captivating the 
hearts of the people, who followed her in crowds — detain- 
ed by princes to sing the story of crusades and the tri- 
umphs of love — all the while knowing nothing and caring 
nothing for the modes " authentic" and "plagal" but strik- 
ing the harp or bandoline to the wild and irregular rhythm 
of fancy or passion ; and Science, greatly shocked, with- 
drew itself from so frivolous a spectacle, just as the monks 
of the day lived apart from a bad world. But presently 


the grave face looked out once more, opened a window — 
a door — stepped forth and mingled with the crowd, just as 
the preaching friars came forth, until the line between the 
secular and the religious began slowly to fade. The stern 
heart of Science was smitten by the enchantress, popular 
Art, and conceived the daring plan of wooing and winning 
her for himself. It was a long process ; it took nearly two 
hundred and fifty years. Science was so dull and preju- 
diced ; Art was so impatient, and wild, and careless. But 
the first advances of Science were favored by that won- 
drous spring-tide which followed the winter of the Middle 
Ages — the Renaissance. Emerging from the cold cell into 
the warm air and sunlight of a new world, Science relaxed, 
cast his theories to the winds, sighed for natural Art, and 
raved incoherently about the "musical declamation of the 
Greeks." Here, then, was the first point of sympathy. 
Wild enthusiasm and impatience of forms was, for one mo- 
ment, common to Science and Art, and that was the mo- 
ment of their betrothal. Immediately afterward, with Ca- 
rissimi, Science recovered the lost equilibrium, but Art was 
captivated by the strong spirit, and the perfect marriage 
was now only a matter of time. 

Carissimi (born 1585, died 1672) was the very type of 
47. The Transition. He might have seen Palestrina, 


—Italy. and he lived to hear Corelli. 1 he germs of every 
style of music known since arose during his long and 
eventful lifetime. He witnessed the bloom and gradual 
decay of the madrigal in England and Germany ; the birth 
and adolescence of the musical drama in France, under 
Lulli ; the invention of the oratorio in the oratory of San 
Philippo Neri, at Rome ; and, lastly, the rise and progress 
of instrumental music as an independent branch of the art. 
About 1659 Francisco Pistocchi established his great school 


of Italian singing at Bologna. "Before this," says an old 
writer, '• they used to howl like wolves." He was follow- 
ed, twenty years later, by Scarlatti, at Naples, and this im- 
provement in vocal operatic music made corresponding de- 
mands upon the orchestra. Between 1650 and 1750 flour- 
ished the schools of the great violin makers near Cremona, 
the Amatis, the Guarnerii, and Stradiuarius, and with them 
rose at once the dignity and importance of instrumental 
music. Overtures, sonatas, quartets began to be written 
in vast quantities, and the way was thus rapidly paved for 
the later developments of the modern symphony. Ger- 
many, meanwhile, though far from original, had not been 
idle. Deriving her inspiration copiously from Italy, she 
became, during the seventeenth century, the land of or- 
gans and organists, and at the beginning of the eighteenth 
showed signs of independent thought, and began to encour- 
age native effort in such men as Zachau and Reiser. 

But we must now glance for a moment at the place 
48. which England holds in the rise and progress 

JohnDansta- ° ^ & 

bie.— England, ofmusic. The gloomy period of the old tonali- 
ty, i. e., before 1600, is relieved in this country by the lus- 
tre of one great name — John Dunstable. His fame was 
prodigious, and yet his own age could hardly have under- 
stood him. He had misgivings about the prevalent sys- 
tem of timeless music, strange anticipations of coming har- 
monies, and he is even said to have invented counterpoint. 
But toward the close of the Second Period (1500-1600) 
was born a real English school — a school, no doubt, which 
took largely from others, and, owing perhaps to our insu- 
lar position, gave little in return, but a school which could 
boast of Tallis, Farrant, Byrd, and Bevin in church music ; 
Morley,Ward,Wilbye, and Weelkes in the madrigal; Bull 
equally great as an executant and a composer ; Dowland, 



the friend of Shakspeare, in the part-song; and, last in the 
catalogue, but first in every style of composition, Orlando 
Gibbons. Then comes a blank. The old traditions were 
fairly used up; and the echoes of the new music, with 
which France and Italy were ringing, had not yet reached 
us. The civil wars seemed to paralyze our musical inven- 
tion and extinguish our enthusiasm. In Germany, during 
the Thirty Years' War, organs and organists abounded, 
and composers were busy absorbing all the new influences. 
In England, under similar circumstances, music got old and 
dull; few composed and played, and fewer cared to listen. 

In 1660, Pelham Humphrey, a chorister boy in the roy- 
49. al choir of his majesty Charles II., went to Paris. 
France. There he fell in with the new opera school of Lulli. 
He immediately placed himself under the great French 
composer ; and the result was, that Master Humphrey re- 
turned in a few years " an absolute Monsieur, disparaging 
every thing and every body's skill but his own." — {PepyJs 
Diary.) The astonished gentlemen of the king's baud 
then got their first peep into the new world. Humphrey 
told them that, besides playing old rubbish, they could 
keep neither time nor tune; and as for the king's musical 
director, he promised to "give him a lift out of his place, 
for that he (Master Humphrey) and the king understood 
each other, and were mighty thick." In truth, " that brisk 
and airy prince" was charmed with the new style: and 
Pepys describes him nodding his royal head, and beating 
time in chapel with the greatest zest. 

The songs of Lulli, founded on Carissimi, and the an- 
thems of Humphrey, founded on Lulli, must indeed, as Mr. 
Hullah observes, have come upon English ears like a rev- 
elation, and startled the lovers of Gibbons, Lawes, and 
Jenkins, as much as Mozart's "Idomeneo" surprised the 
operatic world, or Beethoven's " Eroica" the lovers of the 


older symphonies. Humphrey died in 1674, at the early 
age of twenty-seven ; but his direct influence may be traced 
in Wise, Blow, and Henry Purcell. 

Purcell, born 1658, is distinguished by some of those rare 
50 qualities peculiar to genius of the highest order. 
Purcell. jj e sympathized with and drank deeply into the 
spirit of his age, but was not, like Humphrey, absorbed 
by it. His music stands, as it were, nicely balanced be- 
tween the past and the future. He felt his relations to 
the one by sympathy, and to the other by a kind of almost 
prophetic intuition. In his day, " that grave and solemn 
manner of music by Byrd, Tallis, etc.," was in sad disre- 
pute ; the king liked cheerful airs he could hum and beat 
time to. Purcell satisfied him fully ; and yet we can not 
listen to his music without being struck sometimes by a 
certain old flow of rhythm and harmony, which we feel 
could only have been derived from a deep study of the 
schools of Henry VIII. and Elizabeth. As in reading Ten- 
nyson we are sometimes affected with a strange sense of 
George Herbert and Milton, so in listening to Purcell there 
steals over us a memory of the olden time, like a kindly 
ghost that rises and floats by with a sweet and solemn 

It is a pity that Purcell should have stooped occasional- 
ly to musical imitation. The passion for expressing words 
in notes, founded, as we believe, on a puerile and mistaken 
view of the sphere and legitimate functions of music, reach- 
es the ridiculous in him. For instance, he has to set the 
words, " They that go down to the sea in ships," and pro- 
ceeds to perform that operation musically by taking the 
bass down a couple of octaves, and leaving him drowned 
at the lower D. The same unhappy bass is soon after 
" carried up to heaven" on a high dotted crotchet. Other 
composers have been fond of similar devices. Handel's 


"plagues" arc full of them ; Haydn's "Creation" rejoices 
in " a long and sinuous worm" of the earth, earthy ; the il- 
lusion of Beethoven's " Pastoral" vanishes with the ap- 
pearance of a real cuckoo ; and even Mendelssohn must 
disturb with what can hardly be any thing but a live don- 
key the enchantment of "A Midsummer Night's Dream!" 
But with all abatements, the music of Purcell, which after 
two hundred years has still the power to charm, bears a 
signal witness to the force and originality of his genius. 
Purcell died in his thirty-eighth year, 1696. 

Handel came to England in 1710. The year 1706 is the 
51. turning-point in his musical history. In that year 
Germauy. he visited Naples, and met Scarlatti, Porpora, and 
Corelli. It was to him a period of rapid assimilation. 
With one stride he reached the front rank, and felt that 
henceforth no musician alive could teach him any thing. 
He died in 1759, aged seventy-eight. There can be no 
doubt that Handel, by his single might, greatly advanced 
music in all its branches; but his action is far more re- 
markable on vocal than on instrumental music. Modern 
instrumental music is simply the most extraordinary art- 
development which the world has ever seen. It can only 
be compared to the perfection reached so suddenly, after a 
certain point, by the Greek drama. But the stride from 
Corelli to Beethoven was too great even for the giant 
Handel, and yet the men who completed that stride were 
Handel's contemporaries. Handel was forty-seven when 
Haydn was born, and Mozart was in his third year when 
Handel died. Musically, how many centuries does Han- 
del seem to us behind modern music ! yet we can all but 
join hands with him; and the musical enthusiast is filled 
with a certain awe when he thinks that men are still alive 
(1871) who may have listened to Mozart, and conversed 
with the venerable Haydn. 


Born 1C85, Died 1757. 

e^l'/trffretle/etffftJm ffid 


(j -foftf^t^ 


It may sound like an anachronism to call Handel a con. 
52 temporary, and yet he seems so constantly pres- 

His Portraits. ent w ^h ns that a t times we can hardly believe 
that he has passed away. We are surrounded by his effi- 
gies ; no living face is more familiar — no modern minstrel 
more beloved than he who has now lain quietly in the great 
Abbey for some one hundred and ten years. 

A few hours after death the sculptor Roubiliac took 
a cast of his face: that dead face made alive again, and 
wrought into imperishable marble, is indeed the very face 
of Handel. There, towering above his tomb, towering, too, 
above the passing generations of men, he seems to accept 


their homage benignly, like a god, while he himself stands 
rapt from the " fickle and the frail," and " moulded in co- 
lossal calm." 

The frequenters of Exeter Hall are familiar with another 
figure of him clothed in a long robe, with the legs crossed, 
and holding a lyre in his hand. A marble bust of the same 
date (1738) is at the Foundling Hospital. The head is 
shaven, and crowned with a sort of turban cap; the face is 
irascible and highly characteristic. Casts of this bust have 
been multiplied through the land, and can be easily ob- 

The original of what is perhaps the best known of all 
(1758) is in the queen's private apartments at Windsor. 
The little china bust sold at all music-shops is a fair copy ; 
on either side of the face falls down a voluminous wig 
elaborately wrought. The sculptor seems to have felt he 
could no more dare to treat that wig lightly than some 
other persons whom we shall have to refer to by-and-by. 

There are more than fifty known pictures of Handel, and 
the best of them happens to be also the best known. It is 
by T. Hudson, signed "1756 A," at Gopsall, the seat of his 
remarkable friend, Charles Jennens. Handel is seated in 
full gorgeous costume of the period, with sword, shot-silk 
breeches, and coat gorge de pigeon, embroidered with gold. 
The face is noble in its repose ; a touch of kindly benevo- 
lence plays about the finely-shaped mouth ; every trace of 
angry emotion seems to have died out; yet the lines of 
age that are somewhat marked do not rob the countenance 
of its strength. The <n*eat master wears the mellow dis:- 
nity of years without weakness or austerity. 

In that wonderful collection of pictures lately exhibited 
at the South Kensington Museum, the often-recurring face 
and figure of Handel — young, middle-aged, and old — life- 
size, full figure, head and shoulders, standing up, and sit- 


ting down — filled us with the sense of one who had left a 
deep and yet bewildering impression upon his own age. 
The portraits were not only different in look, but even in 
features. The same face has been subjected to the minute 
photographic treatment of Denner, and the robust handling 
of Wolfand, who makes the composer fat, rosy, and in ex- 
cellent condition. There are few collectors of prints who 
have not a lithograph, wood-cut, or line engraving of him. 
He is exposed in every second-hand print-shop, still hangs 
on the walls of many old nook-and-corner houses in Lon- 
don, or lies buried in unnumbered portfolios throughout 

With such memories fresh in our minds, and with the 
melodious thunders of the great Festival constantly ring- 
ing in our ears, let us attempt to trace once more the his- 
tory of Handel's life, and hang another wreath upon the 
monument of his imperishable fame. 

Handel or Handel (George Frederick) was born at Halle, 
53 on the Saale, in the duchy of Magdeburg, Lower 
Childhood. g axon y # The date on his tomb in Westminster 
Abbey is a mistake (Feb. 23, 1684); his real birthday is 
Feb. 23, 1685. Germany was not then the great musical 
country which it has since become, and was chiefly en- 
gaged in cultivating at second-hand the flowers of Italian 
music, which grew pale enough beneath those alien skies. 
The Italian maestro might be looked upon with some re- 
spect, but the native artist was not yet considered a proph- 
et in his own country. Even eighty years later Mozart 
and Haydn were treated like lackeys. " Music," remarked 
Handel's father, about a hundred and seventy years ago, 
" is an elegant art and fine amusement, but as an occupa- 
tion it hath little dignity, having for its object nothing 
better than mere entertainment and pleasure." 

128 UANDEL. 

ISTo wonder the boy Handel, who, from his earliest child- 
hood, seems to have been passionately fond of sweet 
sounds, encountered opposition and disappointment in his 
early musical endeavors. He was to go to no concerts, 
not even to a public school, for fear he should learn the 
gamut. He must be taught Latin at home, and become a 
good doctor, like his father, and leave the divine art to 
Italian fiddlers and French mountebanks. But up in a lit- 
tle garret the child of seven years, perhaps with the con- 
nivance of his nurse or his mother, had hidden a dumb 
spinet — even at night the faint tinkling could not be heard 
down below — and in stolen hours, without assistance of 
any kind, we are told the boy taught himself to play. 

By-and-by Father Handel has a mind to visit another 
son in the service of the Duke of Saxe-Weissenfels, and lit- 
tle George runs after the carriage, and begs so hard to go, 
that at last he is taken to the ducal palace. But he soon 
turns out to be an enfant terrible to his poor old father. 
He is caught playing the chapel organ, and is brought up 
before the duke, trembling more, no doubt, at his father 
than at the duke, who has heard him, and now pats him 
on the back with " bravo !" Then, turning to his enraged 
and afflicted parent, he tells him that his son is a genius, 
and must not be snubbed any more. The boy's fear is now 
exchanged for the wildest delight, and the father's rage is 
quickly followed by astonishment. Handel would often tell 
the story in after years ; and he never forgot the duke, the 
kindest, because the earliest of his benefactors. 

From this moment fortune seemed to smile upon him, 
and his early career exhibits a combination of circumstan- 
ces wonderfully favorable to the orderly development of 
his genius. Severe training, patronage, and encourage- 
ment, ardent friendship, the constant society of the first 
composers, wholesome rivalry, and regular orchestral prac- 


tice, all seem to be suddenly poured upon him out of For- 
tune's great Horn of Plenty. As the favorite pupil of the 
great Halle organist, Zachau, he analyzes at the outset very 
nearly the whole existing mass of German and Italian mu- 
sic, and is set to write a cantata or motett once a week. 
At last the good Zachau has not the conscience to put 
him through any more fugues ; tells him with kindly pride 
that he already knows more than his master, and advises 
him to go to Berlin, and study the opera school, under the 
auspices of the Elector of Brandenburg. Attilio Ariosti 
and Bononcini were then the favorite composers. The first 
received Handel with open arms ; but the second scowled 
at him from the beginning, and determining to put the 
conceited boy's powers to the test, composed an elaborate 
piece, which he challenged him to play at sight. Handel 
played it off like any other piece, and from that hour Bo- 
noncini, who had a bad disposition, but excellent brains, 
treated the boy with the hatred of a rival, but with the 
respect due to an equal. 

Dr. Handel's failing health brought George Frederick 
54. back to Halle. In 1697 the old man died, leaving 

Early .... 

Manhood, his family ill provided for, and young Handel was 
thus driven into a course of immediate, though somewhat 
dry industry. He descended into the ranks, and became 
a kind of occasional second violin at the Hamburg Opera- 
house. As he played little, and badly, the band soon be- 
gan to sneer at an artist who could hardly earn his salt ; 
but one day the harpsichordist (the principal person in the 
orchestra) being absent, Handel, then about nineteen, laid 
his fiddle aside, sat down in the maestro's place, and fin- 
ished by conducting the rehearsal with such ability, that 
the whole orchestra broke into loud applause. About this 
time Handel received an offer of marriage. He might be 

F 2 

130 HAND EL. 

organist of Lubeck if he would take the daughter of the 
retiring organist along with the organ. He went down 
with his friend Mattheson, and Mattheson appears to have 
been offered the same terms. Something, however, did not 
suit — whether it was the organ, or the daughter, or the 
salary, we are not told ; but both the young men returned 
in single blessedness to Hamburg. 

Handel was never married ; and perhaps he felt it would 
be neither wise nor generous to accept as a gift what he 
had not asked for and did not want. The rivals in unre- 
quited affection were also rivals in music : both Matthe- 
son and Handel composed operas for the Hamburg Opera. 
They had not come to blows over love, but what love 
could not do, music did, and the two, who had probably 
laughed heartily together at the maid of Lubeck, found 
themselves soon after with drawn swords in front of the 
theatre, surrounded by a circle of friends and admirers. 
They fought, as young men will fight in Germany to this 
day, for the merest trifles. Mattheson's rapier struck Han- 
del on the bosom, but the point shivered on a great brass 
button ; a distinguished councilor of the town then step- 
ped in, and gravely declaring that the claims of honor were 
satisfied, called on the combatants to desist, and " on the 
30th of the same month," writes Mattheson, " I had the 
pleasure of having Handel to dine with me, and we were 
better friends than ever." 

The mind of genius in its early stages is habitually 
gloomy, and dark tales of crime and sorrow often possess 
irresistible attractions for the happiest and most innocent 
of men. Shakspeare early painted the tragedy of Lucrece 
and the death of Adonis ; Schiller first made his mark 
with "The Robbers;" Goethe with the "Sorrows ofWer- 
ther ;" Schubert, when a mere boy, wrote the " Parricide" 
and a " Corpse Fantasia." We shall, therefore, not be sur- 

ITALY. 131 

prised to learn that Handel's first opera, Almira, turns on 
the misfortunes of a dethroned queen ; while his second, 
Nero, is, as the prospectus briefly explains, intended to 
show how " Love" is " obtained by Blood and Murder." 

Handel, not content with manufacturing Italian operas 
55 in Germany, had, in common with every other musi- 
Italy * cian of that day, a strong desire to visit Italy itself, 
the great seat of musical learning. With singular inde- 
pendence, he refused the offers of Prince Gaston de' Medici 
to send him, but by working hard with his pupils he soon 
got together money enough to go at his own expense. In 
the month of July, 1706, being twenty-one years old, he 
first entered Florence. 

In that beautiful city, where the flowers seem to come 
so early and linger so late, the German musician staid, 
under the auspices of the Grand-duke, until Christmas. 
Equal to Venice as a great centre of art revival in Italy, 
with its strange octagonal dome, its matchless Giotto cam- 
panile of black and white marble, its bronze doors, its du- 
cal palazzo, and rich memories of Giovanni, or Angelico da 
Fiesole — second only to Rome in its passion for the revival 
of learning, and second to no city in poetic fame — Flor- 
ence was, indeed, a fit residence for the re-creator of all 
music. Remembering the vivid impression which the first 
aspect of Italy left upon the minds of Mozart and Mendels- 
sohn, we can not but regret that Handel's life at Florence 
is a simple blank to us. He composed the opera of Rode- 
rigo, for which he obtained one hundred sequins, and left 
for Venice, where he came in for the thick of the Carnival. 
Here, too, we would fain know what impression the city in 
the sea made upon him. The marble palaces, not yet ruin- 
ed by the hand of decay — the facades, the domes, and the 
porticoes, still retaining a certain splendor long after the 

132 HANDEL. 

bloom of the Renaissance had passed away — the shrines 
decorated with the spiritual heads of Bellini — the stairca- 
ses and ceilings plastered all over by Tintoret — the cool 
plash of the oars in the still lagunes — the sound of a guitar 
at night in the dark water-streets — the sights and sounds, 
and, above all, the silences peculiar to Venice, must have 
exerted a powerful influence over a mind upon which noth- 
ing was thrown away. 

Whatever effect Venice had upon Handel, it is certain 
that Handel took Venice by storm. " II caro Sassone," 
the dear Saxon, came upon a formidable rival in the per- 
son of Domenico Scarlatti, the first harpsichord player in 
Italy, and the two met frequently in the brilliant saloons 
of the Venetian aristocracy. One night during the Carni- 
val, Handel, being masked, seated himself at the harpsi- 
chord and began playing. The Masques took little notice 
until Scarlatti, entering, arrested their attention. The 
great Italian was soon struck as his ear caught the sound 
of the harpsichord, and, making his way across the room, 
he shouted, " It is either the devil or the Saxon !" It was 
not the devil ; and let it be written for the learning of all 
other Saxons and Italians, that Handel and Scarlatti were 
ever afterward honorable rivals and fast friends. In a lat- 
er contest at Rome the superiority of Handel on the harp- 
sichord was thought doubtful, but he remained the unchal- 
lenged monarch of the organ. Handel always spoke of 
Scarlatti with admiration ; and Scarlatti, whenever he was 
complimented on his own playing, used to pronounce Han- 
del's name, and cross himself. 

To satisfy the Venetian public, Handel composed in three 
weeks the opera of Agrippina, which made furor even in 
that emporium of connoisseurs, and gained for its compos- 
er the above-mentioned title, " II caro Sassone." Having 
seen summer in Florence, and the Carnival in Venice, it 

ITALY. 133 

was natural that he should hurry on to be in time for the 
great Easter celebrations in the Eternal City. 

Rome in those days was still a power, and, though shorn 
of much strength, she remained the greatest ecclesiastical 
force in Europe. Let us hope that the Pope's retinue was 
not quite so shabby as it is now, and that the cardinals' 
dingy old coaches were gilded and painted a little more 
frequently. Probably they were ; for, although the Pope 
himself was comparatively poor, some of the cardinals had 
managed to amass enormous wealth. Cardinal Ottoboni, 
Handel's great friend at Rome, was something of a plural- 
ist, and lived above all sumptuary laws. He advanced to 
the purple a mere stripling of twenty-two, and he died 
forty years later the possessor of five abbeys in Venice, 
and three more in France (which last were alone worth 
56,000 livres). He was Dean of the Sacred College, Bishop 
of Velletri and Ostia, Protector of France, Archpriest of 
St. John Lateran, besides being an official of the Inquisi- 
tion. Unlike some of his compeers, he was not a mere vo- 
luptuary, but was the friend of the people. He kept for 
them hospitals, surgeries, was princely in the distribution 
of alms, patronized men of science and art, and entertained 
the public with comedies, operas, puppet-shows, oratorios, 
and academics. 

Under the auspices of such a man, Handel composed the 
operas of Amadir/i, Silla, and TZoderigo, in 1715; and the 
oratorios of the Resurrection and the Triumph of Time. 
This last was composed in honor of the great cardinal him- 
self, whose band-master was no other than Corelli, who 
gave an orchestral performance in his house once a week. 

At this early period of his composition, Handel began 
insensibly to part company with the old Italian traditions, 
although not until he had abandoned entirely the false 
forms of opera was it possible for him to carry out the 

134 HANDEL. 

changes in choral and orchestral music with which his name 
is forever associated. In the Triumph of Tune the dead 
level of melody and recitative is definitely abandoned, and 
we find there, in addition to the usual chorus at the end, a 
striking innovation in the shaj^e of two long vocal quartets. 
The MS. of the Resurrection contains an unusual number 
of wind instruments, although it may be doubted, for this 
very reason, whether it was ever performed in Italy with 
the full orchestra. 

Bidding adieu to the pomps and splendors of Rome, 
Handel now went southward, and chose the Bay of Naples 
for his second summer in Italy ; and no doubt among the 
vine-clad hills that rise above that delightful city he en- 
countered the scenes, and came upon the types of rugged 
men, gentle swains, and Neapolitan women, which provided 
him with the mise en scene and dramatis personam of Aci, 
Galatea e Polifemo (1708). 

This Italian serenata differs from the English cantata of 
Acts and Galatea, although, when the latter was brought 
out in 1732, it contained several Italian airs, among them 
the popular " Non sempre no crudele," which, although 
quite distinct from " O, ruddier than the cherry," is excel- 
lent rough singing for a basso giant. While in this roman- 
tic and pastoral vein, he composed a number of songs on 
the model of the French canzonets, which became fashion- 
able all over Europe. Then touching, as it were, cautious- 
ly the fringes of Catholicism, he composed a few sacred 
pieces for the Mass ; but this kind of thing was never much 
to his taste. Handel brought from the land of the Refor- 
mation all the instincts of a stern Lutheran. He seems to 
have revolted from shams of all kinds. No wonder, then, 
if he found it impossible to clothe with a religious senti- 
ment dogmas which his common sense repudiated, and 
which his section of the Church denounced. PaRsing back 


slowly through Rome, Florence, Venice, there seemed to 
him less and less inducement to linger any where. The 
composer of Halle was made of sterner stuff than the maes- 
tros of Italy, and probably began to be dimly conscious of 
the fact that his methods of work and his mission were es- 
sentially different from theirs. 

In the autumn of 1709 he arrived in Hanover, and it w r as 
56 at the court of George of Brunswick (afterward 
England. King of England) that he fell in with certain En- 
glish noblemen, who invited him over to see them. Al- 
though he was retained in the service of the Elector at a 
salary of £300 a year, he obtained leave from that liberal 
prince to visit England ; and after once more greeting his 
old master Zachau, and embracing his aged mother at 
Halle, he prepared to cross that untried and treacherous 
ocean on which poor Papa Haydn (who was to be born only 
twenty-three years afterward) was destined to be so terri- 
bly tossed about before he arrived here on a similar mis- 
sion. Both found London mad for Italian music; but, 
while Haydn w 7 as able, through the advance of taste, to im- 
pose his own style in the symphony, Handel, less fortunate, 
had to fall in with the prevalent taste, and toil through 
many years of Italian opera-manufacturing before he could 
gain a hearing for his real creations in oratorio music. 

What the public adored was opera " after the Italian 
model" — what they tolerated was " English singing be- 
tween the acts by Doggett ;" and Handel proved fully equal 
to the occasion. His first opera, Rinaldo, was brought out 
at a theatre which stood on the site of the present Hay- 
market. It proved an immense success. Nearly the whole 
of it was arranged for the harpsichord, and thrummed in- 
cessantly throughout the kingdom. The march was adopt- 
ed by the band of the Life Guards, and died hard about 


the beginning of this century. It has since been revived 
in the gardens at the Crystal Palace. One air has at least 
survived, and by virtue of a certain undefined quality, in- 
herent only in the highest works of art, seems to have de- 
fied with success the developments of modern music and 
the changes of taste. Like Stradella's divine " I miei Sos- 
piri," like Gluck's " Che faro," Handel's " Lascia che io pi- 
anga" is still listened to with profound interest and genuine 
emotion. Handel considered it one of his best airs. Walsh 
published the whole opera, and is said to have made a profit 
of £1500 out of the sale. When Handel, who, it was said 
(apparently without much foundation), had been but shab- 
bily paid, was told of this, he accosted the publisher in the 
following characteristic manner: "My friend, next time 
you shall compose the opera, and I will sell it." It is prob- 
able that Walsh, who published many of Handel's works 
in after years, took the hint. 

But the Elector's Chapel -master could no longer be 
5T. spared. He returned to Hanover in about six 

Second Visit 

to England, months, and settled down to compose all sorts 
of trifles for the court dilettanti. After the stir and ex- 
citement of London, that dull and pompous little court 
must have been terribly monotonous. Chapel-master Han- 
del soon escaped back to England, and in 1712 he brought 
out an ode for Queen Anne's birthday. In 1713, to cele- 
brate the peace of Utrecht, appeared two more works, that 
must always be listened to with interest — the famous Te 
Deum and Jubilate. They were played then with a full 
band and organ, and not a little startled people who were 
unaccustomed to hear sacred music with such an accom- 
paniment. The queen granted the composer a pension of 
£200 a year, and he seems to have immediately forgotten 
all about Elector George and his stupid court. But the 


day of reckoning was not far off, and the truant Chapel- 
master soon found himself in an awkward position. When 
good Queen Anne died, Elector George took possession of 
the empty throne as George I. of England, and Handel was 
forbidden to appear before his old patron, who was natu- 
rally very angry with him. 

But the atmosphere of London was charged with Han- 
del. People sang him in the streets, and he came floating 
in at the windows; the band played him in the Palace 
Yard ; his name filled the opera-house, and was inscribed 
on numberless music-books, programmes, and newspapers 
— nay, at last, the first violinist of the day insisted on hav- 
ing Handel into the king's antechamber to accompany 
some sonatas. It was obvious that terms must be made 
with so irrepressible a person. One day, as the king went 
down the river in his state barge, a boat came after him 
playing new and delightful " water music." But one man 
could have written such music, and the king knew it ; he 
called for Handel, who could now have no temptation to 
run away, and sealed his pardon with a new pension of 
£200 a year. The day on which the king and Handel 
were reconciled was a day of feasting and joy. Houses on 
both sides of the river were brilliantly illuminated. As 
they came back, numbers of boats, filled with spectators, 
put off to meet the royal barge, and cannons continued to 
fire salutes until after nightfall. 

The "water music" may be said to be steadily written 
down to the requirements of the age. The author seems 
to say to himself all the way through, "Let us be popular, 
or we are nothing." Within the stiff periods, which seem- 
ed so charming and so spontaneous to our forefathers, and 
which are so tedious to us, there is, no doubt, a considera- 
ble play of fancy ; and had there been more originality, the 
music would doubtless have had a less immediate success. 

138 HANDEL. 

Soon after, the opera of Amadigi made its appearance, 
and with it came that infallible symptom of dramatic de- 
cline — minute attention to stage fittings and gorgeous 
scenery; and we fear it must be confessed that these ac- 
cessories, and not Handel's music, began to be relied on for 
success. Melancholy stress is laid on the "new clothes, 
and scenes, and novel variety of dancing;" and among 
other things, attention was called "particularly to the 
fountain," which, like the " pump" property belonging to 
another illustrious company of players, was real, and had 
to be lugged in on all occasions. The music certainly at- 
tempted some novel effects, and in the accompaniment to 
one cavatina, the experiment first tried in the Resurrection 
in Rome, 1708, of making the violins all play in octaves, 
was repeated in London, 1715. 

Handel at this time moved in good society. Rival fac- 
es, tions had not yet been organized to crush him. 

Handel and _,_,,. , , 

his Friends. Lord Burlington w T as glad to have him at his 
mansion, which was then considered out of town. When 
the king twitted this nobleman good-humoredly for living 
out at what we may call the St. John's Wood of the pe- 
riod, his lordship replied that he liked his " house in the 
middle of the fields," for he was fond of solitude, and was 
placed where none could build near. The beadle of the 
Burlington Arcade, much like a superannuated relic of his 
lordship's household, had not then come into existence. 
For years the noisy stream of life has flowed along Picca- 
dilly, close past the portico of the^once secluded "house 
in the fields." 

It is strange now to think of the people with whom 
Handel must daily have rubbed elbows, without knowing 
that their names and his would in a century be famous. 
Yonder heavy, ragged-looking youth, standing at the cor- 


ner of Regent Street, with a slight and rather more re- 
fined-looking companion, is the obscure Samuel Johnson, 
quite unknown to fame. He is walking with Richard 
Savage. As Signor Handel, " the composer of Italian mu- 
sic," passes by, Savage becomes excited, and nudges his 
friend, who takes only a languid interest in the foreigner. 
Johnson did not care for music ; of many noises he consid- 
ered it the least disagreeable. 

Towards Charing Cross comes, in shovel hat and cassock, 
the renowned ecclesiastic Dean Swift. He has just nodded 
patronizingly to Bononcini in the Strand, and suddenly 
meets Handel, who cuts him dead. Nothing disconcerted, 
the dean moves on, muttering his famous epigram : 

" Some say that Signor Bononcini, 
Compared to Handel, is a ninny ; 
While others vow that to him Handel 
Is hardly fit to hold a candle. 
Strange that such difference should be 
'Twixt tweedledum and tweedledee." 

As Handel enters the "Turk's Head" at the corner of 
Regent Street, a noble coach and four drives up. It is the 
Duke of Chandos, who is inquiring for Mr. Pope. Present- 
ly a deformed little man, in an iron-gray suit, and with a 
face as keen as a razor, hobbles out, makes a low bow to 
the burly Handel, who, helping him into the chariot, gets 
in after him, and they drive off together to Cannons, the 
duke's mansion at Edgware. There they meet Mr. Addi- 
son, the poet Gay, and the witty Arbuthnot, who have 
been asked to luncheon. The last number of the Spectator 
lies on the table, and a brisk discussion soon arises be- 
tween Pope and Addison concerning the merits of the Ital- 
ian opera, in which Pope would have the better if he only 
knew a little more about music, and could keep his temper. 
Arbuthnot sides with Pope in favor of Mr. Handel's operas; 

140 HANDEL. 

the cluke endeavors to keep the peace. Handel probably 
uses his favorite exclamation, "Vat de tevil I care!" and 
consumes the recherche wines and rare viands with undi- 
minished gusto. 

The magnificent, or the Grand-duke, as he was called, 
had built himself a palace for £230,000. He had a private 
chapel, and appointed Handel organist in the room of the 
celebrated Dr. Pepusch, who retired with excellent grace 
before one manifestly his superior. On week-days the duke 
and duchess entertained all the wits and grandees in town, 
and on Sundays the Edgware Road was thronged with the 
gay equipages of those who went to worship at the ducal 
chapel and hear Mr. Handel play on the organ. 

The Edgware Road was a pleasant country drive, but 
parts of it were so solitary that highwaymen were much 
to be feared. The duke was himself attacked on one oc- 
casion ; and those who could afford it never traveled so 
far out of town without armed retainers. Cannons was 
the pride of the neighborhood, and the duke — of whom 
Pope w T rote, 

"Thus gracious Chandos is beloved at sight" — 

was as popular as he was wealthy. But his name is made 
still more illustrious by the Chandos anthems. They were 
all written at Cannons between 1718 and 1720, and num- 
ber in all eleven overtures, thirty-two solos, six duets, a 
trio, quartet, and forty-seven choruses. Some of the above 
are real masterpieces ; but, with the exception of " The 
waves of the sea rage horribly," and " Who is God but the 
Lord ?" few of them are ever heard now. And yet these 
anthems were most significant in the variety of the cho- 
ruses and in the range of the accompaniments; and it was 
then, no doubt, that Handel was feeling his way toward 
the great and immortal sphere of his oratorio music. In- 


deed, his first oratorio of Esther was composed at Cannons, 
as also the English version of Acis and Galatea. 

But what has become of the noble duke and his man- 
sion ? The little chapel, now Whitchurch, at Edgware, 
alone survives. Handel's organ is still there ; and Mr. Ju- 
lius Plummer, of honorable memory, fixed this plate upon 
it in 1750: 





The castle has been pulled down, and the plow has pre- 
pared the site for cultivation. In the prophetic words of 

"Another age has seen the golden ear 
Embrown the slope and nod on the parterre ; 
Deep harvests bury all his pride has plann'd, 
And laughing Ceres reassumes the land." 

But Handel had other associates, and we must now visit 
Thomas Britton, the coal-heaver of Clerkenwell Green. As 
he stands at the door of his stable, with his dustman's hat 
on, a coarse blouse, and a kerchief tied round his neck like 
a rope, who should drive up but the beautiful Duchess of 
Queensberry — not to order coals, forsooth, but to visit Mr. 
Britton. Laying down his pipe, he receives her like one 
accustomed to mix with "the quality," and pushing open 
a rickety wooden door, discloses a narrow staircase. This 
leads up to a long, low room, built over the stable. As 
the lovely duchess trips laughingly up the stairs after her 
strange host, sounds of a chamber organ and stringed in- 
struments reach them, and as they enter the imperfectly- 
lighted apartment, they perceive that Mr. Handel is at the 
organ, helping the others to tune up. 

142 HANDEL. 

There is Mr. Banister, the first Englishman who distin- 
guished himself on the violin : he gave concerts of his own 
at Whitefriars, near the Temple back gate, fitted up a room 
over the " George Tavern" with seats and tables — charge, 
"one shilling admission and call for what you please;" 
but he was always glad to play gratis for his friend the 
coal-heaver, in whose den he met with the last musical 
novelties and the best society in town. Then there is Sir 
Roger l'Estrange, gentleman, in close converse with the 
excise officer, Henry Needier; and Robe, a justice of the 
peace, is telling the last bit of scandal about Madame Cuz- 
zoni to John Hughes, who wrote the " Siege of Damascus," 
a poem which his friends considered equal to Dryden, and 
superior to Mr. Pope. And there is Mr. Woolaston, the 
painter, who, when Britton has sat down with his viol de 
gamba, and got to work on a trio of Hasse or a sarabund 
by Galuppi, will take out his pencil and make a rough 
sketch of him, to be afterward worked into one of his fa- 
mous pictures (for he painted two portraits of his singular 

Anions other friends that are crowding into the lon£ 
room to listen to a particularly favorite trio of Corelli's, or 
to hear Mr. Handel play his original piece called the "Har- 
monious Blacksmith" — that favorite 7norceau from the 
"Suites de pieces pour le Clavecin," which, like Stephen 
Heller's " Nuits Blanches," or " Wanderstunden," was soon 
reprinted in France, Switzerland, Holland, and Germany — 
among other distinguished guests we notice Henry Sy- 
monds, Abiel Wichello, and Obadiah Shuttleworth. The 
little form of Pope is probably not far from the fair Queens- 
berry, or her Grace of Chandos ; and later in the evening, 
the celebrated Dr. Pepusch will look in with that wag Col- 
ley Cibber, whose jokes he will in vain endeavor to pre- 
vent from exploding in the middle of some favorite ga- 
votte by Bononcini. 


But the gentleman with a full, good-natured face, the 
carefully-powdered wig, the maroon-colored coat, who en- 
ters on tiptoe, is evidently of importance in the present 
circle. Britton motions him to a seat, and Handel makes 
room for him close to the organ. It is Mr. Charles Jen- 
nens, the amateur poet, who wrote many of Handel's libret- 
tos for him, and arranged the words for the Messiah. He 
lived in Great Ormond Street, in such magnificence that 
the neighbors called him " Soliman the Magnificent." Later 
in life he had a controversy with Samuel Johnson about 
Shakspeare, but the world, which has since learned to love 
the dear doctor, has forgotten the magnate of Great Or- 
mond Street ; and even at that time it was commonly al- 
lowed that the dictionary-maker had the best of the argu- 

It is hard to leave that goodly company of wits, poets, 
musicians, and philosophers when we have once drawn 
aside the curtain and taken a peep at their faces. We fol- 
low them about from one great dingy house to another — 
some of their houses are still standing. They have deep 
wainscoted walls, and narrow windows and back yards, 
with perhaps a superannuated fig-tree, and a classic foun- 
tain dripping over some Cupid with a large sham cockle- 
shell. All is dreary enough and changed — the place is 
probably a hospital or an attorney's chambers now — but 
the old tenants come back to us in imagination as we stand 
at the door or sit down in the dining-room. While the 
vision lasts we long to have more details ; but scene after 
scene rises only to vanish too rapidly from the mind's eye. 
We have hardly time to master the trains and puffs, the 
frills and the patches of the ladies; to note the set of the 
nodding wigs, the glitter of color in plush and satin, the 
clinking swords of the cavaliers, the rumble of the heavy 
coaches and four, the shouts of the link-boys and torch- 

144 UANDEL. 

bearers, the swearing of the tall footmen who wait outside 
in the ill-lighted streets w r ith those snug sedan chairs : they 
are there, but only, like Mr. Pepper's ghosts, behind glass ; 
the voices sound hollow and distant, the magic light is 
flashed upon them for a moment, presently it fades out, 
and they are gone. 

In 1720, Handel, being at the time the organist at Can- 
59 nons, was engaged by a society of noblemen, includ- 
operas. j n g y g @ race of Chandos, to compose operas for the 
Royal Academy of Music at the Haymarket, and the Post- 
boy soon afterward announces " the most celebrated opera 
Badamistus, by Mr. Handell." Of this opera, " Ombra 
Cara," w 7 hich Handel considered one of the finest airs he 
had ever written, may still be occasionally heard. The 
work was fairly successful, and was followed, in 1721, by 
Muzio Sccevola, to which we shall return presently. 

In 1721 Floridante also appeared. It was this opera 
which called forth the remark from Dr. Burney, " I am 
convinced that his slow airs are as much superior to those 
of his contemporaries as the others are in spirit and 
science." Otto, which appeared in 1723, was generally 
considered the flower of his dramatic works. Like Mo- 
zart's Don Juan, Weber's Freischutz, Rossini's Tell, Mey- 
erbeer's Propliete, and Gounod's Faust, it was a work com- 
posed of one long string of gems, and each air became in 
its turn a favorite throughout the land. Pepusch, who 
could never quite forget that he had been the best organ- 
ist in England before the arrival of Handel, remarked of 
"Affani del pensier," "That great bear was certainly in- 
spired when he wrote that song." The celebrated Ma- 
dame Cuzzoni came out in it. On the second night the 
tickets rose to four guineas each, and the Cuzzoni was paid 
£2000 for the season. 

OPERAS. 145 

In the same year Flamo and Giulio Cesare were pro- 
duced. The first is celebrated for the " Doni Pace" (the 
first scenic quintet ever composed). The second is forever 
associated with poor George IIL It was revived in 178V 
in order to attract him to the theatre to hear some of Han- 
del's music, of which he was passionately fond. "Da 
Tempesta" and "Alma del gran Pompeo" are still much 
esteemed by connoisseurs. In 1725 Rodelinda was re- 
ceived with enthusiasm ; the public going so far as to 
adopt in society the costume worn by the favorite prima 

Between 1726 and 1727 appeared Scipio, Siroe, and Ptol- 
emy, of which little can now be said. The principal airs 
were popular at the time, and published in the favorite 
form of harpsichord pieces, in which some of them are still 
extant ; and many more have been worked up by subse- 
quent composers until their phrases have passed into mod- 
ern music, and now live over again unrecognized in the 
works of many a contemporary composer, and, perhaps, 
suspected least of all by the composer himself. We re- 
member our astonishment at discovering M. Jullien's once 
celebrated " Bridal Waltz" in a trio of Corelli ; it is noto- 
rious that " Where the Bee Sucks," by Dr. Arne, is taken 
from a movement in Rinaldo ; and we doubt not that a 
farther study of the old masters would bring to light simi- 
lar cases. Thus the soil of music is ever growing rich 
with the dead leaves of the past, and what appears to us 
the new life in forest and glade is, after all, but the old life 
under a new form. 

But a change was at hand. In 1720 this Royal Acade- 
co my of noblemen had subscribed £50,000 to get up 
Reverses. the Italian opera, and they had engaged Mr. Han- 
del to compose. The first operas, as we have seen, made 


146 HANDEL. 

furor ; the singers were the finest in the world, the audi- 
ence of the very grandest description. Opera after opera 
rolled from Mr. Handel's facile pen. But, as time went on, 
sinister rumors got afloat. It was said the funds were not 
coming in. It is quite certain they were going out. In two 
years the committee of management had spent £15.000; 
the wits and critics were beginning to abuse Mr. Handel, 
and laugh at his supporters. The appeals for money be- 
came urgent. The libretto to Ptolemy even announces 
that they were " in the last extremity." Some of his warm 
supporters began to cool ; either they could not or would 
not pay. Threats at last caused an open breach. Many 
forsook the Opera-house ; the rest got up a ball to pay the 
expenses, and invitations were issued to improper charac- 
ters. The proceedings were declared by legal authority 
to be "an offense to his majesty's virtuous subjects;" the 
opera itself "a nursery of lewdness, extravagance, and im- 
morality." It ended by the whole thing being put a stop 
to by order of the king ; and poor Handel, who had noth- 
ing to do with the ball, and never got the money, found 
himself defiled without having touched the pitch. To 
make matters worse, an opposition house started up. The 
Beggars' Opera, with music by Dr. Pepusch, who stole 
some of it from Handel, was brought out at the Lincoln's 
Inn Fields Theatre, and the fickle public, suffering under 
a surfeit of Julius Ccesar, Cyrus, and all the Ptolemies, 
went off in crowds to enjoy a little low life with the bur- 
glar Macheath and Polly. Rich was the name of the man- 
ager, and Gay that of the poet ; and the people who night- 
ly greeted the smiling manager, and called loudly for the 
needy poet, remarked that the Beggars' 1 Opera had made 
Gay rich and Rich gay. 

Handel, who either could not or would not see that a 
change had taken place in the public taste, gathered up 


the remnant of his fortune, and, making arrangements with 
Heidegger, proprietor of the Haymarket, prepared to make 
another serious attack on the musical world in the charac- 
ter of an operatic composer. He made up his various quar- 
rels with the singers and managers, got together his scat- 
tered orchestra, and finally went off in person to Italy for 
re-enforcements. His energy w T as undiminished ; he was 
in his finest musical vein, and prepared to pour forth opera 
after opera upon a public whose ears and eyes seemed 

In 1729 Lothario was produced. Parthenope followed 
in 1731. Both fell flat. The wonderful voice of Senesino 
carried Porus through fifteen representations in 1731, then 
JRinaldo was revived with " new cloathes," but the public 
had heard the music and did not care for the "cloathes;" 
and when JEtius appeared in the following year, they 
grumbled at the old clothes, and did not care for the new 
music. A faint flicker of interest was shown in Sosarme, 
produced in the same year, but the audience steadily drop- 
ped off; and Orlando (1733), although the scenery was ad- 
mitted to be " extraordinary fine and magnificent," died 
without a struggle in an empty house. 

True originality has usually the same battle to fight 
61 with conventional tastes, stupidity, or ignorance. 
More trials. The Duke of Wellington, in the Peninsula, con- 
tending for his own measures with a distant government; 
Nelson disobeying orders at Copenhagen ; Jenner trying 
to persuade people to be vaccinated ; or the Liberal poli- 
ticians of our own age laboring for years to pass Liberal 
measures, are only instances in other spheres of action of 
what is constantly going on in the world of Art. 

It would be interesting to inquire in such cases how far 
circumstances control men and their measures, and how far 


148 1IANBEL. 

men and their measures were influenced by circumstances. 
In some cases we seem to have very nearly a balance of 
power. Handel's operatic career is a case in point. It 
would be curious to study how far the very music and in- 
strumentation were dictated to him at times by the tyran- 
ny, necessity, or solicitation of circumstance. One of the 
airs allotted to Polifemo was certainly written for an ex- 
ceptional voice, for it contains a range of two octaves and 
five notes. Semiramis, Caius Fabricius, and Arbaces, play- 
ed in 1734, are simply pasticcio operas, composed of all 
sorts of airs, in which each singer has the opportunity of 
singing his bravura songs. Some of them are Italian, oth- 
ers German, and these fragmentary songs are all strung to- 
gether by a recitative, which is the only new part of the 
opera. It would not be difficult to find curious hints and 
suggestions in the writings of other composers which point 
to a similar pressure or peculiarity of circumstance. The 
soprano part of Mozart's Flauto 3fagico, especially the 
great aria with the staccato passages, was written for a 
special voice. 

The only reason why Schubert did not write more sym- 
phonies was the difficulty of getting them played. It has 
been remarked in the notices in the Crystal Palace Satur- 
day programmes that Beethoven's relations with the in- 
struments of his orchestras, and especially with the horn, 
are often suggestive. In the B flat symphony there is only 
one flute instead of two. Of Mozart's G minor symphony 
there are two versions, one with clarionets and one with- 
out. It is well known that the opening to William Tell 
overture was written for a celebrated violoncello at Vi- 
enna, while there can be little doubt that Handel wrote 
many of his finest airs for particular voices. 

But it is refreshing to learn that the voices had occa- 
sionally to bend to the genius of the composer or the im- 


perious will of the man. When Carestini, the celebrated 
evirato, sent back the air "Verdi Prati," Handel was furi- 
ous, and, rushing into the trembling Italian's house, shook 
the music in his face with, " You tog ! don't I know better 
as yourself vat you shall sing ? If you vill not sing all de 
song vat I give you, I vill not pay you ein stiver !" Care- 
stini afterward found that Handel was right. " Verdi Pra- 
ti" was one of his grands succ&s. When, in a similar spirit 
of ill-timed revolt, the famous Cuzzoni declined to sing 
" Falsa Immagine" at the rehearsal, Handel, who had been 
waxing hot at sundry signs of insubordination, exploded at 
last. He flew at the w T retched woman, and, seizing her 
arm, shook her like a rat. "Ah ! I always knew you were 
a fery tevii," he cried ; " and I shall now let you know that 
I am Beelzebub, de prince of de tevils !" and, dragging her 
to the open window, was just on the point of pitching her 
into the street, when, in every sense of the word, she re- 
canted. Although Handel sometimes gained his point in 
this way, yet his violence occasionally laid him open to the 
ridicule and contempt of small minds. 

Persons have been known to appreciate that indescriba- 
ble mixture of sound produced by the preparatory tuning 
of an orchestra with the organ even more than the per- 
formance itself. Handel was not of this opinion. After 
he was once at his desk, woe betide the belated fiddle that 
scraped a fifth, or the inexperienced flute that attempted 
the least " tootle." Some of us may have witnessed the 
despair of a professional conductor at the endless and insa- 
tiable tuning of an amateur orchestra. Others may have 
watched the calm distraction of an accompanyist at having 
to play through "Vaga Luna" to some one not more than 
half a semitone flat. Others may have seen the expression 
on the master's face when in some pause the drum comes 
in with a confident, but perfectly uncalled-for " rataplan ;" 

150 II AND EL. 

but tiiese incidents are trivial compared with the scene 
which it is now our painful duty to describe. 

It was a grand night at the Opera. The Prince of Wales 
had arrived in good time, remembering how Handel had 
been annoyed sometimes at his coming in late. The in- 
struments, supposed to be in perfect tune, were lying 
ready, and the performers entered. Alas ! a wag had 
crept in before them, and put every one of the stringed in- 
struments out of tune. Handel enters ; and now all the 
bows are raised together, and at the given beat they all 
start off con spirito. The effect must have been as if ev- 
ery one of the performers had been musically tumbling 
down stairs. The unhappy maestro rushes wildly from 
his place, kicks to pieces the first double bass that opposes 
him, and, seizing a kettle-drum, throws it violently at the 
leader of the band. The effort sends his full-bottomed wig 
flying, but he does not heed it ; and, rushing bareheaded to 
the foot-lights, he stands for a few moments amid the roars 
of the house, snorting with rage, and choked with passion. 

The prince, although highly amused, soon thought this 
kind of entertainment had lasted long enough, and, going 
down in person, he besought Handel to be calm, and with 
much difficulty prevailed on him to resume his wig and his 

Like Burleigh's nod, Handel's wig seems to have been a 
sure guide to Handel's temper. " When things went well 
at the oratorio," writes Burney, " it had a certain nod or 
vibration which manifested his pleasure and satisfaction. 
Without it, nice observers were certain that he w r as out of 
humor." The ominous sign always appeared if, when 
Handel was conducting the Prince of Wales's concerts, 
any of the ladies-in-waiting talked instead of listening. 
" Hush ! hush !" the princess would say ; " don't you see 
Handel is in a passion ?" 


But it must be added that Handel, who knew his own 
hastiness, was often willing to apologize ; and on one oc- 
casion, after roundly scolding Burney, then a mere lad, for 
what turned out to be an error of Smith, the copyist, he in- 
stantly made the amende honorable. " I peg your pardon ; 
I am a very odd tog ; Meister Schmidt is to plame." 

Handel paid his singers what in those days were consid- 
ered enormous prices. Senesino and Carestini had each 
£1200 for the season; and on one occasion, as we have 
seen, the Cuzzoni got £2000. Toward the close of what 
may be called his operatic period, most of the singers, and 
almost all the nobles, forsook Handel, and supported the 
greatest singer of the age, Farinelli, at the rival house in 
Lincoln's Inn Fields. But, before we proceed further, we 
will give the reader a glance at some of the composers 
with whom Handel came into immediate contact, and with 
whose genius, effrontery, or cabals he was forced to con- 

To Gluck I have devoted a separate notice. He cross- 
ed Handel's path late, and was but slightly connected with 

Of Domenico Scaelatti, who died 1757, we shall not 
62. say much more here. He was the real creator 

Contemporary • i -i i * /» i 

Composers. of the advanced harpsichord school of the pe- 
riod, as much as Mendelssohn was of the advanced piano- 
forte school of the present day. But his range, like that 
of Chopin, was limited, and he wrote little besides harpsi- 
chord music. Those who care to examine some of his al- 
legros in ^ time will be surprised to find the prototypes 
of many of the tarantelles written in such profusion for the 
modern piano-forte. His father, the celebrated Alessandro 
Scarlatti, was the greater of the two. He wrote a hun- 
dred and fifteen operas, besides an immense mass of sacred 

152 UANDEL. 

Of all Handel's rivals Bononcini was certainly the most 
formidable. He came to England about 1*720, with Arios- 
ti, a composer of merit. When something or other in the 
tone and spirit of Handel's music (not then recognized as 
the high peculiar tone of the German school) made people 
feel that he was quite different from the beloved Italians, 
factions began to form themselves, and the Handelists, 
backed by the Prince of Wales, ranged themselves against 
the Bononcinists, supported by the Duke of Marlborough 
and most of the nobility. A whole chorus of popular 
writers rehearsed the sublime merits of the Italian school, 
while Pope, Arbuthnot, and a few others stood by Handel. 

Exactly the same drama repeated itself with a different 
raise en scene, and other actors, about thirty years later. 
Paris was then the seat of war : Gluck was the German 
hero, supported by Marie Antoinette ; Piccini fought for 
Italy, under the meretricious banners of the Du Barry ; 
l'Abbe Arnault plied his dignified pen for Gluck, while 
Marmontel answered with daring and unscrupulous sar- 
casm for Piccini. Even before the open breach the paral- 
lel holds good; for as Gluck and Piccini were each en- 
gaged to compose an opera (Iphigenia) on the same sub- 
ject, so Bononcini, Ariosti, and Handel were associated to- 
gether in the composition of Muzio Scczvola / and, more- 
over, as Gluck was clearly victorious, so was Handel. 
Here, however, the parallel ceases. Gluck left Paris in 
possession of the Italian opera ; Bononcini, to our honor 
be it said, left London in possession of German oratorio. 

Between two giants like Handel and Bononcini, poor 
Ariosti seems to have been crushed to pieces. Originally 
he had been a Dominican monk. His temperament was 
gentle ; he loved music, and wrote compositions much ad- 
mired in his own country; but he should never have met 
cither the Achilles or Hector of his day. His feeble light, 


that would have illumined a smaller sphere with a mild 
and gentle lustre, paled at once before the mighty sun of 
Handel, and the continuous blaze of Bononcini's fireworks. 
His Act oiMuzio Sccevola (1721) was voted the worst — a 
decision in whicli he fully acquiesced. In 1730 it was not 
worth while to compose any more; his place was filled; 
the public would hardly listen to his performances on the 
viol de gamba — an instrument which he himself had intro- 
duced into England in 1716. A humble-minded and inof- 
fensive man, as graceful as a woman, and nearly as timid, 
he lapsed into silence and poverty, and died neglected, but 
not before he had been forgotten. 

The career in England of the brilliant, but arrogant Bo- 
noncini, came to a fitting end in 1733. A certain madrigal 
of his was discovered to be note for note the composition 
of a Signor Lotti in Italy. Lotti was communicated with 
by the Royal Academy of Music. The matter was made 
public, and Bononcini, not caring to plead guilty, left the 
country, never to return, amid the jubilations of the Han- 
delists. The defeated maestro traveled through Europe, 
still pouring out from his astonishingly facile brain things 
new and old, and at last fell into the hands of an impostor, 
who professed to have discovered the philosopher's stone. 
He died soon afterward in obscurity and solitude, having 
outlived his popularity and lost his character. 

Not the least of Handel's rivals was Porpora, or, as 
Handel used to call him, " old Borbora." Without the ro- 
mantic fire of Bononcini, the grace of Ariosti, or the orig- 
inality of Handel, he represented the high and dry Italian 
school. He was a great singing-master, a learned contra- 
puntist, famous throughout Italy. He was invited over in 
1733 by the Italian faction in London, under the patronage 
of Marlborough and Lord Cooper. His opera of Ariadne 
was brought out at Lincoln's Inn Fields, and was a great 


154 HANDEL. 

success. Rut when, later on, he had the audacity to oppose 
to Handel's oratorios his own David, his failure was con- 
spicuous, and he was candid enough to admit his great ri- 
val's superiority in sacred music. He thought no one's 
operas equal to his own. He wrote fifty of them ; and had 
the distinguished honor, when an old man, of teaching 
young Haydn, who, in return, cleaned his boots and pow- 
dered his wig for him. 

Among other Italians who were as thorns in Handel's 
side we may mention Hasse, a man of real genius, whose 
chamber music is still esteemed by amateurs. Arrigoni 
came over with Porpora, and helped to supply the Italian 
programmes at Lincoln's Inn Fields Theatre. 

We must not forget to mention one or two other celeb- 
rities — Dr. Pepusch, the Prussian, and Dr. Greene, the 
Englishman. Pepusch held the first place in England be- 
fore the arrival of Handel, and made a distinct sphere for 
himself even when Handel and the Italian composers were 
in their glory. His Beggars' Opera killed every thing at 
the time, and still keeps possession of the stage. Pepusch 
may be said to have understood the merits of the English 
ballad. They are not considerable ; but, whenever the pub- 
lic taste gets jaded with Italian sirup or German solids, 
English ballads have ever been found useful as a kind of 
fillip. Pepusch was a learned, but not a very original com- 
poser, and his skill in arranging and adapting, especially 
the popular songs of the day, was greater than his skill in 
creating. He had the sense to bow before Handel, and the 
grace to subscribe to his works. 

Dr. Boyce, Dr. Arne, and Dr. Greene were all com- 
posers of the day : no lover of cathedral music is ignorant 
of their names ; and many of Boyce's anthems have become 
regular items in the week's services. Boyce was incom- 
parably the greatest, Arne was more graceful than power- 


ful, while the name of Greene is usually more respected 
than loved by the frequenters of choral services. His re- 
lations with Handel and Bononcini are hardly creditable 
to him. He seems to have flattered each in turn. He up- 
held Bononcini in the great madrigal controversy, and ap- 
pears to have wearied Handel by his repeated visits. The 
great Saxon easily saw through the flatteries of a man who 
was in reality an ambitious rival, and joked about him, not 
always in the best taste. When he was told that Greene 
was giving concerts at the " Devil Tavern," near Temple 
Bar, " Ah !" he exclaimed, " mein poor friend Toctor Greene 
— so he is gone to de Tevil !" 

On one occasion we are told that Greene had left a new 
solo anthem of his with Handel, who good-naturedly asked 
him to breakfast the next morning. The great German 
was most affable, and discoursed on every possible subject, 
but all Greene's attempts to lead the conversation round 
to the anthem proved futile. At last, growing desperate, 
he interrupted his host's flowing talk with, 

"But my anthem, sir — how do you like my anthem?" 

" Oh, your anthem ? Veil, sir, I did tink it wanted air." 

" Wanted air, sir ?" 

" Yes, sare — air — so I did hang it out of de vindow !" 

It must be noticed how entirely English music was 
C3. swamped by German and Italian masters. It is an 

Music in * J 

England, unwelcome fact to many, but it must not be over- 
looked. Much offense has been taken at the phrase, " The 
English are not a musical people." That phrase, interpret- 
ed to mean " the English do not care for music," or " they 
can not be got to like good music," or " they do not make 
good executive artists," is certainly untrue, and we should 
never use it in any of the above senses ; but if a musical 
nation means a nation with a musical tradition and school 

156 HANDEL. 

of its own — a nation not only in possession of old popular 
melodies, whose origin it is always difficult and sometimes 
impossible to trace, but also possessing a development of 
the musical art distinct in character from that of all other 
nations, and subject to the inspiration of national genius — 
then we fear that England can scarcely yet be said to have 
established her claim to be called a musical nation. It is 
hardly possible not to see that the facts of history bear out 
the assertion. As the religion of England was Roman up 
to the time of Henry VIII., Church music in England, that 
came along with Rome's ecclesiastical system, drew its 
chief inspiration from Italy. In so far as there was a pop- 
ular movement running side by side with the ecclesiastical, 
it is still more easy to trace that popular movement to the 
Trouveres and Troubadours of Provence, who wandered all 
over Europe, and whose very names betray their foreign 
origin. If, however, we admit that Tallis, and Farrant, and 
Byrd founded an English school, and that Morley, Ward, 
and Weelkes, in their madrigals (observe, the very word 
madrigal is an Italian one), and Orlando Gibbons, contin- 
ued the good work, it remains to be explained why Hum- 
phrey deliberately chose the French school in the reign of 
Charles II. — a school of music which was enthusiastically 
received in England — and why Purcell (died 1695), origin- 
al, prolific, and, above all, eclectic, had no followers at all. 
The fact is, the so-called English school had not life enough 
to survive the paralysis of the Civil Wars, nor memory 
enough to continue its own tradition ; and France and Italy 
alternately or jointly contended for the honor of carrying 
off the musical prizes in England, until Germany, like a 
very David, arose and slew both the lion and the bear. 

We do not observe, then, from looking back, that En- 
gland has had a great musical past ; what we do see is a 
constant taking root, and springing up, and withering, a 


certain appetite, succeeded by nausea and repose. With 
the growing passion for good — in other words, for whole- 
some food, this state of things may perhaps cease. Once, 
we know, she w r as distinguished among the nations for her 
commercial apathy. That apathy has passed away. There 
w T as a time before even Germany had developed her mu- 
sical genius. Italy and France were long the leading com- 
posers of the world. That time has passed away, and En- 
gland herself may even now be about to rise and claim a 
position among musical nations. Meanwhile, let us be just 
to the patrons of music in England. It is the fashion to 
say that native talent was crushed by the Hanoverian 
Georges, who showed favor only to German musicians. 
But this is not the case. On the contrary, native talent 
was for long protected in England. Italian music was not 
preferred to English until the two met in a fair fight, and 
Italy won. Nor was Germany installed supreme until she 
had beaten Italian opera out of the field with German ora- 

For many years great efforts were made to encourage 
English talent. As late as George II.'s reign only an En- 
glishman could hold the place of king's organist. Almost 
every English composer of any note was a Doctor of Mu- 
sic, and installed in some place of honor and emolument. 
The cathedral choirs were superintended by Englishmen ; 
nor was there any effort made to suppress the ballads they 
wrote, or to keep their operas off the stage. The Beggars' 
Opera was full of English songs, and Pepusch, who, al- 
though a Prussian, was a naturalized English subject, col- 
lected and arranged large quantities of them. But En- 
gland originated nothing, or next to nothing. Pistochi in- 
vented tlie singing-school; the Amatis, Stradiuarius, and 
his followers, lay at the foundation of modern instrumental 
music. It is to Italy again we have to turn for the opera; 

158 HANDEL. 

while Handel gave us the highest form of the oratorio, and 
Haydn may be fairly said to have created the symphony. 

But to return to Handel. We left him playing Orlando 

C4 to empty houses in 1733. But an event had al- 
oratonos. reac ]y occurred which was destined ultimately to 
turn the tide in his favor, and which struck the key-note 
of his immortality. We know that the MS. of Sir Walter 
Scott's " Waverley" was laid aside for many years ; so was 
the MS. of Handel's first oratorio, Esther. It was com- 
posed as early as 1720 for the Duke of Chandos at Can- 
nons. Eleven years afterward (1731), Bernard Gates, Roy- 
al Chapel-master of St. James's, got it up in private with 
his choir. Its fame soon spread, and a society called the 
Philharmonic, as also the Academy of Music, produced it 
©n a larger scale under the direction of Gates. Handel 
seems to have thoroughly revised it himself, and in 1732 
we read that "Hester, an English oratorio, was performed 
six times, and very full." 

To us it is tolerably clear that there was something in 
the form as well as in the subjects of oratorio music espe- 
cially appropriate to the genius of Handel; and yet such 
were the force of habit and the tyranny of fashion that it 
was not until 1741 — twenty-one years after the composi- 
tion of Esther — that Handel definitely, upon repeated fail- 
ures, abandoned the composition of Italian operas. 

Without seeing these works represented, it may be diffi- 
cult to decide why they failed. One thing is certain, that 
the better the music, the less did it suit the operatic tastes 
of the age. The most popular parts were the most puerile. 
Compare the silly, but celebrated march in Rinaldo (1711) 
with the splendid, but little known march in Scipio (1726). 
perhaps the singers did not follow the development of his 
genius, and got tired of him as he marched on with colos- 


sal strides toward the music of the future. We know that 
Cuzzoni and Carestini both refused to sing some of his 
finest airs. Perhaps the public grew tired of the singers. 
At all events, Farinelli, the greatest of them, left England 
in 1737 rather than sing to an audience of five-and-thirty 
pounds. But the best reason is indicated by Colley Cib- 
ber, and explains why Italian opera could never satisfy 
the requirements of the great German composer, or be any 
thing more than an artificial luxury with the English peo- 
ple : " The truth is, that this kind of entertainment is en- 
tirely sensual." 

As Handel's instincts ripened his intellect also devel- 
oped. Perhaps he may have felt that dramatic action and 
musical emotion were two things that ought not to be 
mixed up together by making actors sing; and assuredly 
in the cantata and oratorio he attained a more satisfactory 
and philosophical form by presenting a drama to the mind 
clothed with musical emotion, but not confounded with 
dramatic action. Incidents can be acted, and incidents 
can be described in song, but incidents can not be sung 
except in the way of description, simply because music 
does not express acts, but the emotions which underlie ac- 
tion. Probably Handel did not explain his reasons for 
abandoning Italian opera thus ; but the fact that his ope- 
ras are forgotten, while Acis and Galatea and the Messiah 
remain, shows that in these last he had hit upon a form 
sufficiently philosophical to outlive all the operas of the 
day, and one which they did not possess. 

From 1732 to 1740 he presents the familiar spectacle of 
a man of genius struggling with the tendencies of his age 
— half sailing, half drifting, but gaining strength with ev- 
ery passage of conflict. In those twelve memorable years 
he composed sixteen operas and five oratorios. After 1740 
he composed no operas, and from 1741 to 1751 he com- 

100 HANDEL. 

posed eleven oratorios, beginning with the Messiah and 
ending with Jephtha. The success of the long-neglected 
Esther induced Handel to compose Deborah in 1733, and 
the success of Deborah awoke all the dogs that had gone 
to sleep during the failure of his operas and the decline of 
his popularity. 

" The rise and progress of Mr. Handel," writes one paper, 
" are too well known for me to relate. Let it suffice to 
say that he has grown so insolent upon the sudden and 
undeserved increase of both, that he thinks that nothing 
ought to oppose his imperious and extravagant will." We 
are then treated to a description of " the thing called an 
oratorio," and informed that " the fairest breasts were fired 
with indignation against this new imposition." 

The Italian faction opposed him with close and serried 
65 ranks, and all the malcontents, from whatever cause, 
Cabals, deserted from Handel's camp and joined Bononcini. 
It does not appear that opposition improved a tempera- 
ment naturally hot, and there can be little doubt that as 
Handel went on in life he lost friends and' made enemies. 
He quarreled w T ith the celebrated Senesino, who, of course, 
joined his rival; and many of the nobles, who were accus- 
tomed to treat musicians like servants, and even to cane 
them, were so taken aback at the great German's haughty 
and overbearing demeanor, that they decided in favor of 
the astute and servile Italian, who lived in Lady Godol- 
phin's house in the enjoyment of a large pension. 

No slander was spared. Handel was a swindler, he was 
a false friend, a glutton, a drunkard, a raving idiot, a pro- 
fane fellow, to whom not even Holy Writ was sacred. The 
very idea of setting Deborah to music scandalized deeply 
the Pietists, who applauded loudly the operas of Bononcini 
and the canzonets of Arrigoni. 


Rolli satirized him, and Goupy caricatured him : his per- 
son was voted ridiculous, and his innovations monstrous. 
People complained of the loud effects produced by his new 
brass instruments, his heavy choruses, and his numberless 
violins. We are accustomed to think of Handel's orches- 
tra as poor ; but, in fact, with the exception of the clario- 
net, cornet-a-piston, and ophicleide, it comprised all the in- 
struments now used, and several extinct ones besides — i. c, 
violetta marina, Theorbo lute, etc. He also wrote for ser- 
pents, although few could then play them ; and we are told 
of a bassoon sixteen feet high, which only one man could 
play : this was called a grand double bassoon (contrafa- 
gotto), and was made by Mr. Stanesby, the Distin of the 

Under these circumstances, we are not surprised to find 
Bold Briareus with a hundred hands abused and laughed 
at. Fielding, in " Tom Jones," has the following amusing 
hit at the taste of the period. " It was Mr. Western's cus- 
tom every afternoon, as soon as he was drunk, to hear his 
daughter play on the harpsichord ; for he was a great lover 
of music, and, perhaps, had he lived in town, might have 
passed for a connoisseur, for he always excepted against 
the finest compositions of Mr. Handel." Even his friends 
complained that he "tore their ears to pieces;" and one 
writes, " I expected his house to be blown down with his 
artificial wind; at another time the sea overflowed its 
banks and swallowed us up. But, beyond every thing, his 
thunder was most intolerable ; I shall never get the horrid 
rumbling out of my head." 

So much had it become the fashion to criticise the new 
effects, that some years later Mr. Sheridan makes one of his 
characters let off a pistol simply to shock the audience, 
and makes him say in a stage whisper to the gallery, " This 
hint, gentlemen, I took from Handel." 


In 1733, Esther and Deborah, together with Floridante 
66. (1723) and Orlando (1732), were the chief attrac- 

Haiidelat \ ' TX , '1 _ 

Oxford, tions at the Haymarket. On July 5th of that year 
we find " one Handell, a foreigner (who, they say, was born 
at Hanover), was desired to come to Oxford to perform in 
music." The same writer goes on to say " that Handel, 
with his lowsy crew, a great number of foreign fiddlers, 
had a performance for his own benefit in the theatre. 
1ST.B. — His book (not worth id) he sells for Is." The 
grave Dons seemed rather perplexed at the whole per- 
formance. " This," says one, " is an innovation," but every 
one paid their 55., and went to " try how a little fiddling 
would sit upon them ;" and so great was the crush to get 
in, that, " notwithstanding the barbarous and inhuman 
combination of such a parcel of unconscionable scamps, he 
disposed of most of his tickets." 

Before "Handel and his lowsy crew" left Oxford, the 
victory was won. Athalie was received " with vast ap- 
plause by an audience of 3700 persons." Some of his Uni- 
versity admirers, who appear to have thought then, as 
now, that any University honor was of priceless value, 
urged Handel to accept the degree of Doctor of Music, for 
which he would, of course, have to pay a small fee. We 
can understand the good Dons opening their eyes at his 
characteristic reply : "Vat te tevil I trow my money away 
for dat vich the blockhead vish ? I no vant !" 

When Handel opened the Haymarket in the autumn of 
67. the same year (1733), he did so as manager on 

More Operas J \ /> » 

aud Cabals, his own account. His recent successes seem to 
have inspired him with confidence, and he was slow to be- 
lieve that the public had done with his Italian operas. 
He made great efforts to write in a popular style. The 
Ariadne (1733) was avowedly written to outbid the Ital- 


ian composers, and regain the favor of the faithless nobles. 
He plied them alternately with quality and quantity, and 
in the following year produced several patchwork operas, 
into which many favorite Italian airs were introduced to 
please either the singers or the public. Then comes an al- 
legorical poem in Festa (1734). After which we have a 
relapse into instrumental music, e. g., the Hautboy con- 
certos (1734), which are more like symphonies than con- 
certos; and, above all, the famous " six fugues or volunta- 
ries" (1735) — a species of composition in which Handel 
must own his superior in Sebastien Bach. Then we have 
a ballet written for a French danseuse newly arrived. 
Gods in the clouds and out of the clouds were to appear — 
Jupiter with plenty of thunder, and actually " two Cu- 
pids." What could be more attractive? The Cupids and 
the danseuse had to be lugged into the Ariodante (1735) ; 
after which, in the same year, was composed and produced 
Alcina, which contained thirty-two airs, one duet, and no 
less than four little choruses. Then comes, as it were, a 
sudden revulsion of feeling. Opera is once more abandon- 
ed, and Athaliah, with parts of Esther and Deborah, is ad- 

But, notwithstanding all his efforts, the Italian opposi- 
tion at Lincoln's Inn Theatre grew stronger every day. 
Almost all the good singers had joined Porpora, Arrigoni, 
and Bononcini. Farinelli, whom the fashionable world 
raved about ; Cuzzoni, whose very dresses were copied by 
the court ladies ; Senesino, whose departure for Italy cast 
a gloom over the London season ; Montagnana, considered 
by some the most finished artist that Italy ever produced 
— all sung at the opposition house against Bold Briareus, 
in order to crush him entirely. The nobles sent for the 
celebrated Hasse ; but the great man, with becoming mod- 
esty, exclaimed, " Oh ! then Handel is dead ?" and on being 

101- HANDEL. 

told he was yet alive, refused indignantly to go over in op- 
position to one so much his superior. It is strange to no- 
tice how, partly by the progress of his genius, and partly 
by the force of circumstances, Handel was being drifted 
out of Italian opera at the very moment when he tried to 
tighten his grasp on it. 

The free introduction of choral and instrumental music 
into opera offended the singers and retarded the action of 
the drama in the eyes of the audience. Yet it was by 
these unpopular characteristics that the public mind was 
being trained to understand a species of composition which, 
from the first, seems to have proved attractive under the 
form of the cantata and the oratorio. 

It was in 1736 that Carestini, the only great Italian 
singer who had stood by Handel, left for Italy, and with 
his departure all further operas at the Haymarket became 
impossible. It was in that year also that Handel, once 
more left to follow the bent of his own genius, revived Acts 
and Esther, and composed the music to Alexander's Feast. 
However, in April, 1736, the Italian singer Conti was got 
over, and another Italian opera was tried — Atalanta. 

The piece was in honor of the Prince of Wales, on the 
occasion of his marriage with a princess of Saxe-Gotha; 
and was followed, in the same month, by a light wedding 
anthem, written down to their royal highnesses' taste. 
But the flicker of popularity which attended these two 
works came too late to restore the fortunes of a lost game, 
and although Handel stood out stoutly to the last, he must 
have been aware of the impending ruin. In 1737 Arminius 
appeared. Burney says, " It had few captivating airs." 
At any rate, it failed. Justin (1738) followed; and al- 
though it is acknowledged to be one of Handel's most 
agreeable compositions, it had but five representations. 
The master was getting worn and depressed with exertion, 


disappointment, and failure. The public seemed tired of 
every thing. The Italian singers had not only deserted the 
Haymarket, but were again beginning to leave the country. 

In eight years Handel had dissipated a fortune of £10,000 
on Italian opera, and on the fall of Berenice he was forced 
to suspend payment, and closed the theatre. 

The rival house lasted but a few months longer. Its 
pride and success had been, after all, the pride of party 
spirit and the vamped-up success of a clique, and when 
Handel gave in, the game seemed hardly worth the candle 
— the candle having cost the Duchess of Marlborough and 
her friends as nearly as possible £12,000. 

In April, 1737, the daily papers announced that Mr. Ham 
68. del, who had been indisposed with rheumatism, 

A Funeral . _ _ . , . . _ 

Anthem, was recovering. In October we read in the Daily 
Post that Mr. Handel, " the composer of Italian music, was 
hourly expected from Aix, greatly recovered in health." 
All sorts of rumors had been afloat. Handel had left the 
country, some said mad — others dying — all knew in debt. 
But the iron frame with the iron will lasted out. Handel 
did not return from Aix-la-Chapelle, like Mozart from Ba- 
den, towrite his own Requiem, but some one's else. 

Queen Caroline's failing health had long been the talk 
of town, and it was commonly said that anxiety and wea- 
riness of spirit were rapidly hastening her to the grave. 

When the last hour had struck, Handel was called in to 
make music for the king's sorrow, and the Funeral Anthem 
was performed in Henry VII.'s chapel in the presence of an 
immense concourse of people. The whole of this magnifi- 
cent anthem was afterward introduced into the oratorio of 
Saul as an elegy on the death of Saul and Jonathan, and 
the whole of it is, on second thoughts, crossed out in the 
MS. of that oratorio. 

166 HANDEL. 

With an inexplicable tenacity of purpose, Handel in- 
go. stantly resumed the composition of opera music 

Failure and . " _ . * . . x 

Success. whicli had only just now ruined him, and lrara- 
mondo was immediately produced with La Francesina and 
the famous Cafarelli Duca di Santi Dorato, who thought 
himself the greatest singer in the world, and wrote out- 
side his chateau in Italy," Amphion Thebas, Ego Domum." 
Faramondo failed. On the 25th of February, 1728, came 
Alexander JSeverus, a pasticcio of favorite airs — that failed. 
Two months afterward, Jferxes, with a comic man in it, 
failed. The work does not flow easily in spite of the com- 
edy, and the scored and blotted MS. attests to this day the 
agitations of a mind ill at ease and fevered with anxiety. 
In fact, the house was empty — the band grumbled — the 
singers were not paid — and somewhere about March of the 
same year one Signor Strada threatened to arrest Handel 
for debt. At this crisis his friends induced him to give a 
great benefit concert, which brought him in — some said — 
£1500, and which enabled him to pay many of his debts. 

In his adversity he was not without consolations. His 
creditors believed in his sterling integrity, and were, as a 
rule, very patient with him. The king paid him well for 
his work, and at a time when the nobles forsook him, his 
royal patron went steadily to all the oratorios. George 
H. taught the youthful Prince of Wales, afterward George 
III., to love his music. Southey tells us that Handel ask- 
ed the boy, then quite a child, who was listening very ear- 
nestly to his playing, if he liked the music, and when the 
little prince expressed his delight, " A good boy ! a good 
boy !" cried Handel ; " you shall protect my fame when I 
am dead." Little did the young prince know how much 
he would require in later years all the solaces that can be 
derived from art and light literature to soothe him in the 
lucid intervals of his lonely aberration. Sir Walter Scott's 


novels and Handel's music proved the chief resources of 
his old age. 

There were many besides the king who never for a mo- 
ment despaired of Handel ; among them were Gay, Arbuth- 
not, Hughes, Colley Cibber, Pope, Fielding Hogarth, and 
Smollett. These were the men who kept their fingers on 
the pulse of the age : they gauged Handel accurately, and 
they were not wrong. At a time when others jeered at 
his oratorios, these men wrote them up ; when the tide of 
fine society ebbed, and left Handel high and dry on the 
boards of a deserted theatre, they occupied the pit ; when 
he gave his benefit concert they bought the tickets, and 
when his operas failed they immediately subscribed and 
had them engraved. 

And it is curious to notice how true the really popular 
instinct was to Handel. It was the nobles, not the people, 
who refused to hear his oratorios and complained of his 
instrumentation ; but when for a time he was forced to 
abandon opera, and to devote himself to oratorio and cab- 
inet music, the tide of adverse fortune received an instant 
check. His attention being drawn off opera, he poured 
forth organ concertos and pieces for stringed instruments, 
which rapidly spread through the kingdom. About this 
time he seems to have grown very popular as a player, 
and whenever an oratorio was performed he gave what 
were called " entertainments" on the organ. It was soon 
found that Mr. Handel's music was good bait for the holi- 
day makers of the period as well as for the men of genius. 
The proprietor of Vauxhall was so impressed with Han- 
del's usefulness in bringing grist to his mill, that he had 
his music constantly played there, and erected a statue to 
the great man at his own expense. The manager of the 
Marylebone Gardens also set up a band and played the 
people in with similar effect. Handel himself was some- 

168 HAND Eh. 

times to be seen there with a friend. " Come, Mr. Foun- 
tayne," said lie one day, " let us sit down and listen to this 
piece; I want to know your opinion of it." The old cler- 
gyman (for such he was) sat down and listened for a time, 
and at last turning round impatiently, said, " It's not worth 
listening to ; it's very poor stuff." " You are right, Mr. 
Fountayne," said Handel, " it is very poor stuff: I thought 
so when I finished it !" 

The year 1739 was one of prodigious activity. The or- 
70. atorio of Saul was produced and repeated five 

Saul and Is- r . . r 

raei in Egypt, times. The overture is not entirely unknown 
by the public of to-day, and is full of grace and delicacy. 
The chorus " a Carillons," " Welcome, welcome, mighty 
King," should be more frequently heard. The parts of Jon- 
athan and David, are full of tender pathos, and the scene 
between the king and the witch of Endor is all the more 
dramatic for not being coupled with action. To this day 
no dirge is complete without the "Dead March," which is 
especially important, from a musical point of view, as be- 
ing one of the few intensely sad and solemn symphonies 
written in a major key. In the same year Alexander's 
Feast was twice played ; an early oratorio, II Trionfo del 
Tempo, was revived ; and last and most notable fact of all, 
the Israel in Egypt was composed in the incredibly short 
space of twenty-seven days. The Israel in Egypt hardly 
survived three representations. It was certainly the least 
popular oratorio yet produced. Said was preferred to it, 
and about this time Signor Piantanida, the great fiddler, 
arriving from Italy, was preferred to both. The Israel was 
produced but nine times in Handel's lifetime. Each time 
it had to be cooked — sometimes by cutting out choruses 
and putting in airs, at others by leaving out both. No 
book of extracts from it was published, and the score re- 
mained unedited in 1759, the year of Handel's death. 


With the exception of a brief and disastrous return to 
Italian opera in 1740, Imeneo arid Deidamia, Handel now 
definitely renounced the stage which had witnessed the 
triumph of his youthful powers and the failure of his ma- 
ture genius. He was now fifty-five years old, and had en- 
tered, after many a long and weary contest, upon his last 
and greatest creative period. His genius culminates in 
the Israel / elsewhere he has produced longer recitatives 
and more pathetic arias, nowhere has he written finer tenor 
songs than " The Enemy saith," or finer duets than " The 
Lord is a man of war ;" and there is not in the history of 
music an example of choruses piled up like so many Ossas 
on Pelions in such majestic strength, and hurled in open 
defiance at a public whose ears were itching for Italian 
love-lays and English ballads. 

In these twenty-eight colossal choruses we perceive at 
once a reaction against and a triumph over the tastes of 
the age. The wonder is, not that the Israel was unpopu- 
lar, but that it should have been tolerated ; but Handel, 
while he appears to have been for years driven by the pub- 
lic, had been, in reality, driving them. His earliest orato- 
rio, II Trionfo del Tempo, had but two choruses — into his 
operas more and more were introduced, with disastrous 
consequences — but when, at the zenith of his strength, he 
produced a work which consisted almost entirely of these 
unpopular peculiarities, the public treated him with re- 
spect, and actually sat out three performances in one sea- 
son ! 

But the choruses themselves were not without a popular 
fibre, and probably they were saved by the very qualities 
which are now least esteemed. The notion that music 
should be imitative (except in a very secondary sense) is 
rapidly losing ground. The function of music is to kindle 
emotion, not to raise images. No doubt images, when 


1 /o HANDEL. 

raised, have the power of kindling emotions, but music can 
do it without them, and better than they can. When, then, 
music seeks first to raise an image in the mind, that through 
the image emotion may be kindled, it is abdicating its 
proper authority in committing its own special business to 
an inferior agent. However, since no one wishes to rewrite 
the " Hailstone Chorus," we may admit that a skillful com- 
promise between images and emotions may be made by 
music. But then it becomes more than ever necessary to 
ask how far music may suggest images without injury to 
its own peculiar function as an emotional agent. And the 
answer seems to be this : laying aside the whole subject 
of association and memory in music, we may say that the 
effect of music as the language of the emotions is in pro- 
portion to the unimpeded beauty of its expression. There- 
fore no tempting imitation must impede that expression, 
or render it less musical — the image, if introduced at all, 
must be absorbed naturally by the music, and woven into 
the very texture of the work. This, we may fairly say, 
has been done in the fire and hail, which run along the 
ground, in the " Hailstone Chorus." It was possible to im- 
itate the running and rattling of hail, and it has been done, 
but without controlling the free and beautiful expression, 
or disturbing the essential development of the chorus. 

When we come to the frogs leaping, the image begins to 
get the upper hand, and the emotional force is instantly 
diminished, and necessarily so ; for images derive their sig- 
nificance from the emotion with w r hich you are prepared 
to clothe them ; and if, as is certainly the case, they ever 
create emotion by themselves, it is only because the mind 
at some previous time has invested them with the emotion, 
which it subsequently draws from them. But images in 
themselves are passionless symbols, and that mysterious 
movement of life which we call emotion is the only heat 


and glory of them. To appeal, then, from sound, which 
touches directly the very springs of emotion, to images, 
which only affect us when they are touched by those very 
springs, is like appealing from the sun itself to a pool of 
water in which we may have once seen it reflected. 

But Handel's finest effects are not imitations, although 
they have been called so ; they are analogies, or musical 
counterparts. It is obvious that a thing like darkness, 
which is simply the negation of light, is not imitable by 
any sound ; yet the emotion of darkness that may be felt 
is very intensely produced by means of that wonderful 
sound analogue beginning, " He sent a thick darkness." 
We have another fine sound analogue in Joshua, where 
the sun standing still is represented by a long-drawn-out 
note. But we repeat that analogy is not imitation ; and 
if we wish to compare musical analogy with musical imita- 
tion, we can not do better than pass from Handel's "dark- 
ness" in the Israel, and " light" in the Joshua, to Beetho- 
ven's real " cuckoo" in the Pastoral Symphony, and Men- 
delssohn's live donkey in the Midsummer NigkCs Dream. 

It was clear that henceforth neither praise nor blame 
could turn Handel out of his course. He was not popular 
at this time with the musical world ; his operas had been 
quenched for good, and the first surprise of his oratorio 
music over, his greatest works failed to bring him in much 
money ; his enemies tore down his handbills, and his finest 
cantatas, such as IJ Allegro and II Penseroso, were voted 
tedious. But we find no more undignified catering for 
popular taste ; no more writing in the Italian style ; no 
more ballets ; no more silly and emasculated operas. The 
eagle has finally left the small birds chattering on the 
tree-tops, and has soared once for all into the higher re- 

Handel continued to compose with the greatest indus- 


try, but he was getting very tired of London, and was be- 
ginning to turn his eyes from an ungrateful English pub- 
lic toward Ireland. 

Handel was very fond of the Irish, and this truly musical 
71. people had longj been devoted to him. The Duke 

Handel in l J . , . 

Ireland, of Devonshire, lord lieutenant, had asked him over, 
and an influential society of amateurs in Dublin requested 
him to come and compose music for a festival in aid of 
" poor and distressed prisoners for debt" in the Marshalsea 
of Dublin. 

There was nothing to keep him in London, and the Dub- 
lin papers announce that on the " 18th of November, 1741, 
Dr. Handel arrived here in the packet-boat from Holyhead ; 
a gentleman universally known by his excellent composi- 
tion in all kinds of music." 

From the moment of his arrival, Handel's house in Ab- 
bey Street, near Liffey Street, became the resort of all the 
professors and amateurs in Dublin. No time was lost in 
producing selections from the splendid repertory of music 
which the German composer had brought over with him. 
One after another his principal works were unfolded to an 
admiring audience in the New Music Hall, Fishamble 
Street. The crush was so great to hear the Allegro and 
Penseroso that the doors had to be closed, and a handbill 
put up to say that no more money could be taken, and the 
papers declared there never had been such a scene. Han- 
del gave twelve performances at incredibly short intervals, 
comprising almost all his finest and chiefly his latest works. 
In these concerts the Acis and Alexanders Feast held the 
most prominent places. But the lustre even of these com- 
positions was about to pale before the Messiah, as the mere 
vestibule is forgotten when we stand at last by the sacred 
shrine of the inner temple. 


At midday of the 13th of April, 1742, the great hall in 
72 Fishamble Street was densely crowded with an 

The Messiah, enthusiastic audience. Mr. Handel's new orato- 
rio, the Messiah, composed in England especially for Dub- 
lin, was to be performed for the first time. Mrs. Cibber, 
Mrs. Avolio, and Mr. Dubourg were the chief singers, and, 
following the example of Handel, they gave their services 
gratuitously ; for, by a remarkable and perhaps not wholly 
undesigned coincidence, the first performance of the Mes- 
siah literally proclaimed deliverance to the captives, for it 
was, as we have said, for the benefit and enlargement of 
poor distressed prisoners for debt in the several prisons in 
the city of Dublin. 

The newspapers and the critics, the poets and the tat- 
tlers, exhausted every trope and figure in their praise of 
the new oratorio. A reverend gentleman in the audience 
is recorded to have so far forgotten himself or his Bible as 
to exclaim at the close of one of Mrs. Cibber's airs, " Wom- 
an, for this be all thy sins forgiven thee ;" while another en- 
thusiast observed, in terms even more poetical and scarce- 
ly less secular, that 

" To harmony like his celestial power was given, 
To exalt the soul from earth and make of hell a heaven. " 

The penny-a-liners wrote that " words were wanting to 
express the exquisite delight that it afforded," etc., etc. ; 
and, lastly, to their honor be it recorded, the ladies of the 
period consented to leave their hoops at home in order that 
an additional one hundred listeners might be got into the 
room. The proceeds amounted to about £400, and the 
event may truly be regarded as the greatest in Handel's 
life. Years of misconception, partial neglect, and bitter 
rivalry were forgotten in that hour of triumph. A few 
months before, the equally great oratorio of Israel had 
been but coldly received in England ; it had been reserved 

174 II AN DEL. 

for the Irish people without hesitation to set their seal of 
enthusiastic approval upon an oratorio which, to this day, 
is considered by the majority of the English people the 
greatest oratorio that was ever written. 

Works of the highest genius should not be compared. 
The Messiah has surely earned for itself the right of being 
judged by itself, as a great whole, without reference to 
any other great whole. So has the Israel, and so, we may 
add, has the Elijah. 

When generations have been melted into tears, or raised 
to religious fervor — when courses of sermons have been 
preached, volumes of criticism been written about, and 
thousands of afflicted and poor people supported by the 
oratorio of the Messiah, it becomes exceedingly difficult to 
say any thing new. Yet no notice of Handel, however 
sketchy, should be written without some special tribute of 
reverence to this sublime treatment of a sublime subject. 
Bach, Graun, Beethoven, Spohr, Rossini, and, it may be 
added, Mendelssohn, and, later still, Mr. Henry Leslie, have 
all composed on the same theme ; but no one in complete- 
ness, in range of effect, in elevation and variety of concep- 
tion, has ever approached Handel's music upon this partic- 
ular subject. 

The orchestral prelude, fairly overstepping the manner- 
isms of that period, opens with a series of chords which, in 
their abrupt and deliberate shocks of startling harmony, 
immediately arrest the attention, and inspire the hearer 
with a certain majestic anticipation. This strange grave 
soon breaks into the short fugue, which, in its simple and 
clear severity, prepares the mind with an almost ascetic 
tone for the sustained act of devotional contemplation 
about to follow. 

Upon this temper of devout expectation the words "Com- 
fort ye my people" fall like a refreshing dayspring from on 


high. The soul seeking for God has but just withdrawn 
itself from an evil and a suffering world to wait in faith, 
when at the hour of that world's greatest need — in the 
moment of a resignation almost stoical — a glimpse of the 
blue heaven is seen, and the voice of prophecy rolls forth, 
"Thus saith the Lord!" Immediately the heat and stir 
of human interest is once more kindled, and the Deliverer 
seems very near. With a merry noise of joyful encour- 
agement, each man finds some work to do — these in level- 
ing the mountains, those in bridging the vales with via- 
ducts, for the King of Glory to pass over. We hear a vast 
multitude, not of slaves, but of freemen, singing at their 
work, "Every valley shall be exalted," and suddenly break- 
ing from monologue into chorus, their lips send forth the 
one thought that possesses them, " The glory of the Lord 
— the glory of the Lord shall be revealed." 

But the exceeding light will surely blind them ; they are 
so weak with sin, and He is of purer eyes than to behold 
iniquity. "Who may abide the day of His coming?" — a 
terror seems to seize them. The voice scales up to a high 
pitch, and dwells with a kind of awful suspense and fasci- 
nation on the word " appeareth." The first burst of joyful 
activity over, their sinful hearts quail before the thought 
of the mighty and spotless King. But do they indeed de- 
sire Him ? Would they rather have his severity than their 
own sin ? Then He himself will fit them for his presence. 
" He shall purify them," and help them to " offer unto Him 
an offering of righteousness." 

Therefore, with hearts docile and teachable, waiting for 
the Messiah, they eagerly listen to the words of the Seer, 
" Behold, a virgin shall conceive." Is it indeed so ? What 
a different message from the one they expected, and yet 
how reassuring ! All their fears are at once calmed. He 
was to be humble as well as mighty. He was to be one 


of them, and yet in some mysterious way exalted above 
them all. The image of a King coming with pomp and 
majesty is now withdrawn, and in its place we have sim- 
ply a Virgin and a Child. 

But at that moment, while a chorus of those who accept 
this strange and unexpected revelation with the utmost 
joy and confidence, believing that, in spite of appearances, 
" the government shall be upon his shoulders," the first 
ominous forebodings of the impending catastrophe may be 
noticed in the recitative and aria, dwelling on the gross 
darkness of the people at large, and forcibly reminding us 
of "the light which shone in the darkness, and the dark- 
ness which comprehended it not." 

Then comes one of those pauses so common in the works 
of the great dramatists, where the mind has been led up to 
the threshold of certain startling events, and is called upon 
to recreate itself for a moment before entering upon a train 
of the most exciting interest and rapid action. 

We are upon the hill-sides around Bethlehem ; the de- 
licious pastoral symphony makes us aware of a land of 
flocks and herds. It is toward evening- the flocks of 
sheep are being gathered by the shepherds, and are wind- 
ing slowly toward the wells before settling down on the 
mountain slopes for the night. The melody breathes peace 
as the shadows lengthen with the setting sun ; at length 
we seem to hear the faint tinkle of the last bells die away 
in the distance, and then all is still. The flocks are rest- 
ing, the shepherds are watching beside them in the dark- 
ness, when, lo ! the angel of the Lord comes upon them, 
and in an instant the bright light gleams out upon the 
green and glittering sward ; the gloom is suddenly broken 
up with tints of heavenly color, and the night is filled with 
music. The accompaniment to the recitative " And lo !" 
gives the sensation of the mustering from afar of the an- 


gels ; and by the time we come to the angelic chorus, " Glo- 
ry to God," which is exquisitely written, chiefly in treble, 
and is ringing with pure melody, the whole air seems full 
of visions — myriads of flame-like faces, sublime and tender, 
such as Fra Angelico loved to paint, are around us, the 
distance is thronged with them, the air vibrates with the 
pulsation of their innumerable wings as they chant to each 
other, with the voices of another world, the hymn of glory ; 
and then, just as the shepherds are beginning to realize 
their own ecstasy, the light fades, the sound seems to as- 
cend and be lost among the stars, and all is again dark on 
the hill-sides of Bethlehem. But the light was evermore 
in the shepherds' eyes, and the sound of the angels' voices 
in their ears, and, with images culled from their own gentle 
calling, they returned bringing a message of joy to Zion, 
and proclaiming in snatches of that very melody they had 
heard by night the advent of One " who should feed his 
flock like a shepherd, and carry the lambs in his bosom." 

The second part, which is occupied with the sufferings 
and exaltation of Christ, the spread and final triumph of 
the Gospel, opens with what is probably the finest piece 
of choral declamation in existence. " Behold the Lamb of 
God !" now sounds through the world, and each time, as 
the august cry sinks, it is taken up again and again, until 
the whole land is ringing with the announcement. 

It is curious to observe how, in obedience to the prev- 
alent theology of the day, the teaching of Jesus is sup- 
pressed, and only his more conspicuous sufferings and 
death are dwelt upon. 

We are now brought close to a Messiah very different 
from the popular conception at the beginning of the first 
part ; and, instead of a triumphant King, one appears who, 
" without form or comeliness," treads the path of suffering, 
and is made acquainted with grief. A heavy shame and 


178 HANDEL. 

sorrow seems to pervade the next few pieces, as of some 
beloved disciple who stands aside comprehending in part 
the nature of the tragic spectacle before him, and a prey 
to all its desolating influences. The floodgates of feeling 
are at length loosed, and after the air, " He was despised 
and rejected of men," written singularly enough in the 
major key, three choruses are poured forth in succession. 
The first two, " Surely He hath borne our griefs," and 
" With his stripes we are healed," bringing before us the 
willing victim and the propitiation for sin, and the third, 
" All we like sheep have gone astray," representing with 
marvelous fidelity the constant and hopeless wanderings 
of the sheep. It was this hopeless disorder that had to be 
atoned for, these hopeless wanderers that had to be re- 
claimed. The Shepherd of Israel could alone seek and save 
that which was lost. He would not shrink from the nec- 
essary suffering ; He would endure scorn, and solitude, and 
agony ; He was the Good Shepherd who laid down his life 
for the sheep. Then we are shown the outside world 
laughing Him to scorn, and the vulgar rabble shooting out 
their tongues and mocking Him in harsh and abrupt staves 
of ribald irony — " He trusted in God that He would deliv- 
er Him !" till at last the disciple who stands by can bear 
the sight no longer, and, as he hears the Savior cry out, 
" Eloi,Eloi,lama sabachthani !" he himself turns away, over- 
come with misery, exclaiming, " Thy rebuke hath broken 
his heart !" 

The first feeling at the sight of the dead Christ upon 
the cross is one of simple and blank despair. He who 
should have redeemed Israel — upon whose shoulders the 
government was to rest — the Mighty Counselor, the Prince 
of Peace — He was no victorious monarch — only a crucified 
man ! " He was cut off out of the land of the living." 
But this train of thought is soon arrested, and we are car- 


ried rapidly forward through death and the grave, until, 
ascending from those depths with the now glorified Savior, 
we rise higher and higher toward the blinding splendors 
of the heavenly courts. A shout of triumph bursts forth 
as the everlasting gates roll asunder, and throngs of angels 
with the bright seraphim stream forth to meet the King. 
The sky itself seems to throb with the thrilling cry, " He 
is the King of Glory !" and just as we begin to feel that we 
have been whirled along with the prodigious power of the 
sound until w T e have almost forgotten our own powers of 
endurance, and are made sensible that we can no longer 
bear the strain of excitement, the abrupt dead pause falls, 
and then, with a last, long, shattering cry " of glory," the 
mighty paean swoons away into the echoless silence. 

After such a climax we are not surprised to find the 
next three pieces deficient in interest ; this may even be 
intentional. The great artist knows when the eye requires 
rest, and lays on his middle tints until our emotion has 
been subdued, and we are ready to contemplate with calm- 
ness the progress of the Gospel in the w r orld. 

Something like a second pastoral now follows — the Lord 
Christ speaks from heaven, and sends forth shepherds to 
feed his lambs — " How beautiful are their feet !" and then 
the mind is absorbed by the stir and enterprise of mission- 
ary labor until the chorus, " Their sound is gone out into 
all lands," is felt to be as powerfully descriptive as the go- 
ing astray of the sheep themselves. In another moment 
the shepherds have become warrior-pilgrims, the nations 
rage furiously together, but their bows are broken asunder 
— the rod of iron smites them, and God himself declares for 
the soldiers of the Cross. The battle-scene in its turn van- 
ishes, and the final triumph of good over evil is anticipated 
by a daring and indomitable effort of faith ; for a moment 
all heaven is opened ; we are caught up in the clouds, and 


hear from the vast multitude which no man can numbc* 
the hallelujahs of those that chime "after the chiming of 
the eternal spheres." 

The "Hallelujah Chorus" stands alone. It is not easy 
to speak of it. It appears to have the same overpowering 
effect upon learned and unlearned ; it is felt and under- 
stood by all. The thought is absolutely simple, so is the 
expression ; two or three massive phrases growing out of 
each other, or, rather, rising one after another, in reitera- 
ted bursts of glory, a piece of divine melody in the middle, 
succeeded by the last clause of the triumphal shout, "And 
He shall reign forever and ever," which is taken up raptur- 
ously by the flaming choirs of the immortals, and hurled 
from side to side, until at last the energies of heaven itself 
seem spent, and the mighty strain itself dies away before 
" the Great White Throne, and Him that sitteth thereon." 

Such are the leading ideas and sensations of this chorus. 
But perhaps Handel's own words are the only ones fit to 
describe this shout of inspired praise — " I did think I did 
see all heaven before me, and the great God himself!" 

That tw T o such choruses as "Lift up your heads" and the 
" Hallelujah" should be placed not far from each other in 
one and the same part without prejudice to either, is in it- 
self a marvel ; but the greater marvel is, that after the 
" Hallelujah" Handel should be able to recover himself 
and carry his audience through a third part. Mendels- 
sohn has done something similar in the Elijah, after the 
great choruses " Thanks be to God" and " Be not afraid," 
and the scene of the fiery chariot, with w r hich an inferior 
man would certainly have culminated. He has shown 
that he could refresh and recreate the heart with less tre- 
mendous but not less elevating emotions until his hearers 
are fairly restored to their self-possession, and finally left 
in a calm and almost severely meditative frame of mind 
by the last chorus. 


The third part of the Messiah is purely theological, yet 
the interest does not flag. When the history of the first 
two parts has been told, there is left to the world a body 
of Christian truth than which nothing can be more consol- 
atory and sublime. "I know that my Redeemer liveth" 
belongs to a type of melody that is never likely to grow 
old nor pass away. The two doctrinal quartets, " Since by 
man came death," and "As in Adam all die," have never 
been surpassed ; while in sweetness and solemn force " The 
trumpet shall sound" will probably retain its popularity as 
long as there is a silver-toned trumpet in existence. 

The oratorio closes with two choruses, of which the first, 
"Worthy is the Lamb," is by far the most florid. The 
last is the measured and severe "Amen" chorus. 

It is a fitting and dignified close to so exciting, and, at 
the same time, majestic a work. All emotion has now 
been spent, and the mind, like the still heaving waves of 
the sea after a storm, is left to rock itself slowly into deep 
and perfect peace. Thus the oratorio opens with the hope 
of " comfort," and ends with the full calm joy of attain- 
ment. One feeling now fills the Christian disciple through 
and through, and one word only is found sufficient to ex- 
press it — it is the glorious "Amen" of the final chorus. 

On his return from Ireland in 1742, Handel immediately 
73. prepared a new oratorio — Samsoji — for the 

occas?onaf ora- e following Lent season ; and this, together with 
tona the Messiah, then heard for the first time in 

London, was intended to form the staple of twelve per- 
formances. Whether many people went to hear them or 
not is doubtful ; the papers have not a word of comment 
on that season. It is to be feared that the fashionable 
world in London had made up its mind not to care for Mr. 
Handel. One Lady Brown, a lady of fashion, gave large 

182 HANDEL. 

tea-partie6 whenever his music was advertised ; there were 
regular sets made up at Lady Godolphin's to play cards on 
those nights ; one Mr. Russell, a comic man, was hired to 
sing at the great houses; a few went to hear a new Italian 
opera, the Caduta cli Giganti^hy a young man just arrived 
from abroad named Gluck; and Horace Walpole had the 
impudence to say of Handel (who had excellent singers), 
that " he had hired all the goddesses from farces, and sing- 
ers of roast-beef,* from between the acts of both theatres, 
with a man with one note in his voice, and a girl with nev- 
er a one, and so they sang, and made brave Hallelujahs !" 
In 1745, poor Handel, deserted by the paying world, 
struggled through fifteen performances of his finest orato- 
rios, but the effort cost him dear. He was unable to dis- 
charge his debts, and for the second time in his life was 
forced to suspend payment as a complete bankrupt. Luck- 
ily his health did not give way, and with indomitable en- 
ergy he sat down to compose the first two acts of the Oc- 
casional Oratorio, the third act of which, though contain- 
ing many new pieces, is of the nature of pasticcio. Hence- 
forth he determined to enter into no eng^ao'ement with sub- 
scribers for so many performances per season, but to give 
concerts when he chosB, and to throw himself rather upon 
the general public, who, as it had no share in the luxuries 
and follies of the nobles, felt little enough sympathy with 
their musical tastes and prejudices. Although constantly 
persecuted by a frivolous and effeminate clique, Handel 
never appealed in vain to the people at large. In a short 
time he had discharged his unfulfilled obligations to sub- 
scribers by issuing free tickets for some Lent performances, 
and had also laid by sufficient to pay off most of his debts. 
This was in 1746. 

* In allusion to the ' ' Roast Beef of Old England, " a popular song of 
the period. 


In the following year, the third of his great masterpieces, 
74. the Judas Jfaccabceus. appeared. It was com- 

Judas Mac- . . A1 

cabseus. posed in thirty days, between the 9th of July and 
the 11th of August, and was produced at Covent Garden 
on the 1st of April, 1747. 

Justice is usually discovered to be on the winning side, 
and after the victory of Culloden, Prince William, Duke 
of Cumberland, not too popular in some quarters, had to 
be greeted as the Judas Maccabaaus of the age. The ap- 
plication was not obvious, but it served Handel's turn. 
The first part opens with the celebrated chorus, " Mourn 
ye afflicted ;" but grief for the departed hero who had 
roused the Jews to resist the oppression of Antiochus 
Epiphanes soon vanished before the fair promise of his no- 
ble son Judas. The "pious orgies" for the father over, 
"Arm, arm, ye brave !" is the war-cry of the son, and the 
rest of the part is occupied with appropriate meditations 
on, and preparations for, the war, until at length they go 
to battle with the chorus, " Hear us, O Lord." The second 
part celebrates the victories of Judas Maccabaaus, and con- 
tains one of the best known of Handel's songs, "Sound an 
alarm !" It concludes with one of the freest and most 
original of his choruses, " We never will bow down." The 
last part celebrates the return of Judas after re-establish- 
ing the liberties of his country, and winds up with the na- 
tional thanksgiving. " O lovely Peace" is one of the fresh- 
est soprano duets ever written, and " See the conquering 
Hero comes," which originally belonged to Joshua, is per- 
haps the most widely popular of all Handel's compositions. 

The Messiah excepted, no oratorio is more often perform- 
ed in England than Judas Maccabceas. In many respects 
it is not so difficult to get through passably, and is conse- 
quently a great favorite with amateur choirs; although 
not too long, it readily admits of being shortened, and in 

184 HANDEL. 

provincial towns is seldom heard in its entirety. It con- 
tains much repetition of sentiment, and yet little that we 
can afford to lose : it is one of the very finest works of his 
most mature period. The Morning Herald of the 19th of 
February, 1852, indulged in the following sapient criti- 
cisms, which w T e can not do better than quote : " The airs 
of Judas Maccabwus, like those of many other works of 
Handel, are occasionally feeble and insipid ; but two or 
three of them are exactly the reverse, and in the hands of 
singers of ability become both important and interesting." 
patria ! mores ! 

In 1747 appeared Joshua. The graceful air, " Hark, 'tis 
75 the linnet," still never fails to please. Haydn 

mon^Sufannah, observed of the chorus, " The nations tremble," 
Theodora. \\\$x only one inspired author ever did, or ever 

would, pen so sublime a composition. The amount of reci- 
tative makes the oratorio heavy as a whole. In 1748, 
Handel, being then in his sixty-fourth year, wrote the ora- 
torio of Solomon ; between the 5th of May and the 19th 
of June the oratorio of Susannah ; between the 11th of 
July and the 24th of August, toward the close of the same 
year, he prepared the Firework Music, w T hich was played 
at night before the king's palace in the Green Park. Let 
us hope that his love of noise was for once fully gratified. 
The music ended with the explosion of a hundred and one 
brass cannons, seventy-one six pounders, twenty twelve- 
pounders, and ten twenty-four pounders. There was no 
lack of hunting-horns, hautboys, bassoons, kettle-drums 
and side-drums, besides bass-viols innumerable. Every 
one seems to have been delighted ; and when the magnifi- 
cent Doric temple, under the superintendence of that great 
pyrotechnist, the Chevalier Servardoni, went off with a 
terrific bang, it w r as thought success could go no farther, 


and the king's library was very nearly burnt down. When, 
in 1749, the Firework Music was repeated at the Yauxhall 
Gardens by a band of a hundred musicians, twelve thou- 
sand persons are said to have attended. There was such 
a stoppage on London Bridge that no carriage could pass 
for three hours, and the receipts were set down at the fab- 
ulous sum of £5700. 

In 1749 Handel produced one of his least popular ora- 
torios, Theodora. It was a great favorite with him, and 
he used to say that the chorus, " He saw the lovely Youth," 
was finer than any thing in the Messiah. The public were 
not of this opinion, and he was glad to give away tickets 
to any professors who applied for them. When the Mes- 
siah was again produced, two of these gentlemen who had 
neglected Theodora applied for admission. " Oh ! your 
sarvant, meine Herren !" exclaimed the indignant composer. 
"You are tamnable dainty! You would not go to Teo- 
dora — dere was room enough to dance dere when dat was 
perform." When Handel heard that an enthusiast had 
offered to make himself responsible for all the boxes the 
next time the despised oratorio should be given — "He is 
a fool," said he ; " the Jews will not come to it as to Judas 
Maccabceus, because it is a Christian story ; and the ladies 
w r ill not come, because it is a virtuous one." 

It is difficult to believe that virtue itself, under so at- 
tractive a form, could fail to charm. "Angels ever bright 
and fair" is probably the highest flight of melody that even 
Handel ever reached. 

But the long struggle was drawing to a close, and the 
battle was nearly w T on, as the great ship floated out of the 
storm into the calm sunset waters. Handel had turned 
from the nobles to the people, and the people had welcomed 
him throughout the length and breadth of the land. An 
aristocratic reaction soon began to take place : it w T as found 

1 80 1IANDEL. 

necessary to produce pasticcio operas by the lately-neglect- 
ed composer, and to republish numbers of airs as harpsi- 
chord pieces which in their original connection had found 
small favor. Publishers vied with each other in producing 
works with Mr. Handel's name, and there is reason to fear 
that unscrupulous persons manufactured music by Handel 
as freely as Italian artists are in the habit of attaching the 
name of Domenichino to their dull and smoky daubs. By 
the time Handel had reached his sixty-seventh year the 
merits of rival factions were pretty generally understood, 
and the last ten years of his life were passed in compara- 
tive tranquillity. 

No voice was now raised to proclaim the superior charms 
. 76. of Bononcini — no rival composer sent for to ruin 

Handel at L 

peace. the great sacred writer with Italian rubbish — no 
foreign fiddler announced to supersede Mr. Handel's enter- 
tainments on the organ — nor any comic man to grin the 
Israel or the Judas Maccdbwus out of court. The closing 
years of the great master's life witnessed a general draw- 
ing together of adverse parties and reconcilement of pri- 
vate quarrels. Handel at last found his way to an eleva- 
tion from which no one thought of dislodging him. 

It is pleasant, before the last sad short act of his life, to 
bring him before us as he appeared at this time to those 
who knew him best, and loved him most. His life of al- 
ternate contemplation, industry, and excitement, from be- 
ginning to end, is unstained by any suspicion of dishonesty 
or licentiousness. A few indistinct rumors of unsuccessful 
love affairs in very early life (unsuccessful on the part of 
the ladies) reach us ; and w T e hear no more of women, nor 
of any need of their love experienced by Handel. He lived 
for the most part very quietly in the house now numbered 
57 Brook Street, Hanover Square, and let the charmers of 



this world go their way. Of no man was it ever truer than 
of Handel, that he was wedded to his art. His recreations 
were few and simple. Occasionally he would stroll into 
St. Paul's Cathedral, and amuse himself with ineffectual at- 
tempts to play the people out ; then taking sculls, or, when 
in better circumstances, indulging himself in oars, he would 
be rowed toward the village of Charing, along the banks 
of the Thames, whose waters were then somewhat more 
transparent than they are now. Not far from his favorite 
organ at St. Paul's there was a favorite tavern called the 
" Queen's Head." Thither he often resorted at nightfall, 
and smoked his pipe and drank his beer with three others 
— Goupy, the painter ; Hunter, the scarlet dyer ; and John 
Christopher Smith, his secretary. There was an old harp- 
sichord in the tavern, and he would often sit thrumming 
away to himself and a few musical connoisseurs, who were 
content to drop in and spend their time over papers, por- 
ter, silence, and applause. These were the times of Han- 
del's social exhilaration ; and although we have no reason 
to believe that he indulged in excesses, we have abundant 
evidence that he despised not conviviality. Surrounded 
by a circle of familiars, his conversation flowed freely, and 
sparkled with satire and fun of all kinds. He spoke En- 
glish, like some Italians, with great fluency and infinite sat- 
isfaction to himself, but with a strong accent, and the con- 
struction of his sentences was sometimes German, some- 
times Italian. He was often passionate, but never ill-na- 
tured ; no man ever had more rivals, or was less jealous of 
them. Although he had numerous acquaintances, he had 
few friends ; and during the last years of his life he stead- 
ily declined the invitations of the nobles, whose patronage 
might twice have saved him from ruin, but whose flattery 
he could now afford to dispense with. His friend Goupy, 
whose caricatures, although often leveled against himself, 


Dcvcr seemed to have offended him, would frequently ac- 
company him to picture-galleries, in which he took the most 
vivid interest, and it is more than likely that his operas 
owe as much to the classical inspiration of Poussin and 
Duval, or the Pastorals of Watteau, as his sacred music 
undoubtedly does to the great sacred painters of Italy. In 
his latter years he was a regular attendant at St. George's, 
Hanover Square, and it was noticed by one, who records 
the fact with affectionate emotion, that on such occasions 
he appeared to be deeply absorbed by his devotions. 

Let us look once more at this noble and portly figure 
tt. saunterinGf alone: with the peculiar rocking mo- 

A Visit to Mas- . , , , ,. i 

ter Hardcastie. tion common to those whose legs are a little 
bowed ; let us note the somewhat heavy but. expressive 
face gathering freshness from the morning air, moved at 
times with a frown like a thunder-cloud, or with a smile 
like the sun that bursts from behind it. The general im- 
pression is the right one. There was a man of inflexible 
integrity, of solid genius and sterling benevolence ; a man 
fitted to cope with the puerilities of fashion, singularly 
generous to foes, singularly faithful to friends. So, uncon- 
scious of the approaching shadow that was to dim the 
brightness of his last days, with a light heart which comes 
of a conscience void of offense toward God or man, we may 
picture to ourselves good Father Handel as he rocks along 
this morning toward Paper Buildings to see his friend 
Master Hardcastie, and crave his hospitality for breakfast. 
It happened to be the very day on which a competition 
was to take place for the post of organist to the Temple 
Church, and Zachary Hardcastie had bidden his old friends, 
Colley Cibber, Dr. Pepusch, and Dr. Arne, be with him to a 
dish of coffee and a roll at nine o'clock, in order that they 
might all go together to hear the contest. 


" Vat, mem dear friend Hardcastle !" exclaimed Handel, 
breaking in upon the party ; " vat ! and Mr. Golley Gibber 
too ! and Toctor Bepusch as veil ! Yell, dat is gomical. 
And how vags the vorld mit you, mein dears ? Bray, bray 
let me sit down a moment !" Pepusch took the great man's 
hat, Colley Gibber took his stick, and old Zachary Hard- 
castle wheeled round his reading-chair, which was some- 
what about the dimensions of that in which kings and 
queens are crowned, and then the great man sat him down. 
" Yell, I thank you, gentlemens. Now I am at mein ease 
vonce more. 'Bon my vord, dat is a bicture of a ham ! and 
I have brought along mit me a nodable abbetite." 

" You do me great honor, Mr. Handel," said the host. 
" I take this early visit as a great kindness. It is ten min- 
utes past nine. Shall we wait more for Dr. Arne ?" 

"Let us give him another five minutes," says Colley 
Cibber ; " he is too great a genius to keep time." 

"Let us put it to the vote," says Pepusch, smiling. "Who 
holds up hands ?" 

"I will zecond your motion wid all mein heart," says 
Handel. "I will hold up mein feeble hands for my old 
friend Gustos" (Arne's name was Augustine), " for I know 
not who I would wait for over and above mein old rival, 
Master Dom" (meaning Thomas Pepusch) ; " only, by your 
bermission, I vill take a snag of your ham and a slice of 
French roll, or a modicum of chicken ; for, to dell you the 
honest fact, I am all but famished, for I laid me down on 
my billow in bed the last night mitout mein supper, at the 
instance of mein physician, for which I am not altogether 
inglined to extend mein fast no longer." At this moment 
Arne's footstep being heard outside — " Bresto ! be quick !" 
roared Handel ; " fifteen minutes of dime is bretty well for 
an ad libitum." 

Arne enters, a chair is placed, and they soon fall to. " So, 

190 UANDEL. 

sir, I presume you are come to witness the trial of skill at 
the old round church ? I understand that the amateurs 
expect a pretty round contest," said Arne. 

" Gontest !" echoed Handel, laying down his knife and 
fork, " no doubt ; your amateurs have a passion for gon- 
test. Not what it was in our remembrance. Hey, mein 
friend ? Ha, ha, ha !" 

" No, sir ; I am happy to say those days of envy, bicker- 
ing, and party feeling are gone and past. To be sure, we 
had enough of such disgraceful warfare. It lasted too 

" Why, yes, it tid last too long. It bereft me of my poor 
limbs ; it tid bereave me of that vot is de most blessed 
gift of Him vat made us, and not we ourselves" (in allusion 
to the paralysis and mental alienation of 173V). " And for 
vat ? Vy, for nodings in the world bote the Measure and 
bastime of them who, having no wit, nor no want, set at 
loggerheads men as live by their wits, to worry and de- 
stroy von anodere as wild beasts in the Golloseum in the 
dimes of the Romans." 

" I hope, sir," said Dr. Pepusch, who had evidently been 
sitting on thorns, " you do not include me among those 
who did injustice to your talents?" 

" Nod at all, nod at all ; God forbid ! I am a great ad- 
mirer of the airs of the Peggars 1 Ohera, and eveiy profes- 
sional gentleman must do his best for to live. Put why 
play the Peggar yourself, Toctor, and adapt old ballad 
humstrum, ven, as a man of science, you could gompose 
original airs of your own ? Here is mein friend, Gustus 
Arne, who has made a road for himself for to drive along 
his own genius to the Demple of Fame." Then, turning to 
our illustrious Arne, "Mein friend, you and I must meet 
togedere sometimes before it is long, and hold a tede-a- 
tede of old days vat is gone. Oh ! it is gomical, now dat 


it is all gone by. Do not you remember as it was almost 
only of yesterday dat she-devil Cuzzoni and dat odere pre- 
cious daughter of iniquity, Beelzepup's spoilt child, the 
bretty-faced Faustine ? Oh, the mad rage vat I have to 
answer for ! vat with von and the odere of dese fine ladies' 
airs and graces ! Again, do you not remember dat up- 
start buppy, Senesino, and cle goxcomb Farinelli? Next, 
again, mein someclime notable rival, Master Bononcini and 
old Borbora ? All at var mit me, and all at var mit dem- 
selves ; such a gonfusion of rivalships, and doublefaced- 
ness, and hypogrisy, and malice, vot would make a gom- 
ical subject for a boem in rhymes, or a biece for the stage, 
as I hopes to be saved !"* 

In 1751, while composing Jephtha, Handel w T as attacked 

78. with that peculiar blindness produced by gutta sere- 
Act. na. Between January and August, this, his last or- 
atorio, was nevertheless completed ; again and again with 
indomitable ardor he seized his pen, and in the growing 
dimness traced the last choruses with his own hand. The 
same year the Messiah was twice performed for the Found- 
ling Hospital, Handel presiding at the organ. 

In 1752 he was couched for the third and last time, and 
at first he was tempted to believe that his sight was re- 
turning; but the darkness soon settled down upon him, 
and toward the close of the year he became quite blind. 

Beethoven standing deaf in the middle of his orchestra ; 
Handel turning his sightless eyes toward the sun ; it is not 
easy to think upon either without emotion. The great mas- 
ter presided at the organ to the last, but it is said that he 
could never hear the pathetic air allotted to blind Samson, 
in the oratorio of that name, without being visibly affected ; 

* A clever fiction quoted by V. Schoelcher from Somerset House Gazette, 

192 HANDEL. 

we quote Milton's well-known lines in preference to the 
garbled version in the libretto of Samson : 

" Oh dark, dark, dark, amid the blaze of noon, 
Irrecoverably dark, total eclipse 
Without all hope of day ! 
Oh first created Beam, and thou great Word, 
' Let there be light,' and light was over all ; 
Why am I thus bereaved thy prime decree? 
The sun to me is dark " 

When Handel became conscious that his blindness was 
incurable, he was perfectly resigned, and seemed to know 
that his end was not far off. With the exception of " Zion 
now her head shall raise," and " Tune your harps," dictated 
to Smith for the Judas Maccabosus, he almost ceased to 
compose, but not to play ; and he was as active as ever 
in organizing the performances of his oratorios. The last 
years of his life were also the most lucrative. He often 
drove home at night in a coach quite heavy with bags 
of silver and gold. But the bags of silver and gold were 
not unfrequently transferred to some charitable institution. 
Sometimes it was the Society for Poor Musicians, at others 
the Sons of the Clergy, and very often the Foundling Hos- 

His friends noticed that after his blindness, instead of be- 
coming soured, impatient, or irritable, he grew gentle and 
subdued. He desired now to be at peace with all men, 
showed himself more than ever anxious to assist poor and 
suffering people by the performance of his music, and look- 
ed forward to his departure without anxiety or dismay. 
Latterly his thoughts constantly turned upon the subject, 
and he was heard to express a wish that "he might breathe 
his last on Good Friday, in hopes," he said, " of meeting his 
good God, his sweet Lord and Savior, on the day of his 


On the 6th of April, 1759, at Covent Garden, Handel, be- 
ing in his seventy-fifth year, conducted the oratorio of the 
Messiah for the last time. The same night he was seized 
with a deadly faintness, and, calling for his will while in 
the full possession of his reason, he added a codicil. On 
Good Friday, April 13th, it being the anniversary of the 
first performance of the Messiah, the Public Advertiser has 
this short announcement : " Yesterday morning died G. F. 
Handel, Esq." This is, according to Schoelcher, incorrect ; 
and he proceeds to affirm, on the alleged testimony of Dr. 
Warren, the physician who attended him, that Handel died 
late on Good Friday night. The question is exhausted in 
Husk's Preface to the Handel Festival of 1868, from which 
it appears that the 14th is, after all, the right date. He had 
always longed to rest in the old Abbey among the people 
who had made room for him in their homes and hearts. 

We have all read the simple inscription beneath hig 
monument : 




G L U C K. 

Born 1714, Died 1787. 


I shall now proceed to notice in succession two men 
who exercised a vast influence over the course and prog- 
ress of modern music in the eighteenth century — Gluck 
and Haydn : Gluck, if not the founder of the modern ope- 
ra, certainly the founder of the German opera ; Haydn, if 
not the founder of the modern orchestra, certainly the foun- 
der of the modern quartet and symphony. 

As we turn over the well-known batch of letters, recent- 

79. ly translated by Lady Wallace, the <?host of Chris- 
Portrait J J J > & 
ofGiuck. tophe Gluck looks out from the pages, and gradu- 
ally assumes more and more the semblance of flesh and 


blood. His portrait, finely painted by Duplessis, and of 
which a miserable travestie is affixed to the above-named 
volume, explains the man and many of his abrupt and ex- 
ultant utterances : he is looking straight out of the canvas 
with wide and eager eyes — his nostril a little distended, as 
of one eager to reply — his mouth shut, but evidently on 
the point of hastily opening. The noble brow and pro- 
nounced temples carry off the large development of the 
cheek-bone, and slightly heavy, though firm and expressive 
nose. The attitude is one of noble and expectant repose, 
but has in it all the suggestion of resolute and even fiery 
action. " Madame," said he, drawing himself up to his full 
height, and addressing Marie Antoinette, then dauphiness, 
who inquired after his opera of Armida, "Madame, il est 
bientot fini, et vraiment ce sera superbe !" 

These words might be written at the foot of Duplessis's 
picture ; they evidently express one of Gluck's most char- 
acteristic moods. His life seems to have been illumined 
and buoyed up by the indomitable sense of his own power. 
He exults in his music : like a giant refreshed with wine, 
he rejoices in his strength. A wretched French writer has 
lately mistaken this for vanity. It is the vanity of the ea- 
gle as he wheels above the horde of small birds, and re- 
joices to be alone with the sun. " I have written," he says, 
" the music of my Armida in a manner which will prevent 
its soon growing old." If ordinary men are permitted to 
be conscious of life, why should we grudge to genius the 
consciousness of its own immortality ? 

Christophe Willibald Ritter von Gluck was the son of a 
80 gamekeeper in the service of Prince Lobkowitz, 

?nd e state ! of k ' an( l was born at Weidenwang, in the Upper 
M U8 icini7i4. p a i at i nat e, on July, 2, 1714. The shadow of It- 
aly still lay far and wide over the fields of German music. 

19G 6 LUCK. 

Bach and Handel, it is true, had created a national school 
of sacred music ; but then, and long afterward, Italy was 
popular with the masses. Handel, in common with Gluck, 
and even Mozart in his early days, wrote operas for the 
people in the Italian style. 

Orchestral music, as such, was not as yet in high repute. 
Indeed, the orchestra Avas usually eked out with a harpsi- 
chord, and the conductor alternately strummed away on 
the keys and beat time on the back of his instrument to a 
few violins, basses, a flute, a drum, oboes, and trumpets. 

Cabinet instrumental music had only reached as far as 
trios ; and although Correlli and Hasse w T ere both a good 
deal played in Germany, yet, until the string quartet came 
into fashion, the combination most favorable to the prog- 
ress of cabinet music was wanting. 

Choir-singing and organ-playing were far more advanced, 
and it was to this department that Gluck, in common with 
m6st other young musicians, had to look for a maintenance. 
From the first, the musical training of Gluck was happily 
varied and comprehensive. At the age of eighteen he 
emerged from the Jesuit college of Kommotau, where he 
had received a good education, and been taught to sing, 
and to play the organ, the violin, and the harpsichord. 
Prague was at that time famous for musical discernment ; 
and its connoisseurs, who a few years later rejoiced in the 
title of Mozart's favorite public, were the first to recognize 
and to support Gluck. But they supported him as they 
supported dozens of others. They only saw in him an ex- 
cellent violin-player, a steady chorister, and a fair organist, 
in all which capacities he figured at the Polish convent of 
Saint Agnes. Probably there was nothing more to see. 
He was groping about in the dark himself, and had not 
even begun to break into the track of his future glory. 
In 1736, after giving a few concerts in the neighborhood, 


he decided upon finishing his musical education at Vienna 
under the guidance of such masters as Caldara, Fux, and 
the brothers Conti. Up to this time the attention of Gluck 
had been impartially divided between Italian and German 
influences; but Prince Lobkowitz, who remembered his 
old gamekeeper, and took a kindly interest in his son, in- 
troduced Christophe to the Italian prince Melzi, whose 
usual residence was at Milan ; and when that nobleman 
went back, Gluck was easily prevailed upon to accompany 
him to Italy. He soon became the devoted pupil of the 
well-known Italian composer and organist Sammartini. 
The first age, even of genius, is more imitative and recep- 
tive than original or independent, and Gluck began to pour 
forth Italian operas to Italian audiences. In four years he 
had produced eight, every one of which may safely be for- 
gotten. They were all successful, and success then, as 
now, proved a ready passport. What was good enough 
for Italy was good enough for London, and to London was 
Gluck, now aged twenty-two, summoned by the managers 
of the Haymarket Theatre. 

Here he fell in with Handel, who, after listening to one 
si. of his operas, the Cadnta di GiqantL merelv ob- 

Gluck and \ \ - 

naydu. served that the author knew no more of counter- 
point than his cook. This may have been true enough, 
but the remark was hardly appreciative. Great men do 
not always look at genius with prophetic eyes. Weber 
failed to see the merits of Schubert. Goethe, sixty of 
whose songs he set to music, took no notice of him. Spohr 
never fairly appreciated Mendelssohn. We must not won- 
der if the author of the Messiah, foiled to see, in such feeble 
glimmer of transalpine melody as may be found in the 
Artamene, the rising sun of Orpheus and Eur y dice. 

Thus it was from Handel, no unfitting Mentor, that 

198 GLUCK. 

Gluck received the first blow which led to his happy dis- 
enchantment with the Italian opera. There must be some- 
thing wrong ; henceforth he would not go on composing 
opera after opera on the same model. Perhaps the model 
itself might be a wrong one. What was the model? A 
story, told as much as possible by a series of songs ; dra- 
matic declamation in recitative much neglected; orches- 
tral accompaniment still more so ; and, worst of all, the 
character and the style of the song music itself not neces- 
sarily in keeping with the words. Any taking tune seems 
to have done for almost any words; a little scraping and 
strumming by way of accompaniments, which nobody was 
supposed to attend to, and V opera, le voild ! 

The discovery of these defects, now so patent to all the 
world, was the second and last blow which ruined the 
credit of Italy with Gluck, and it happened on this wise. 
His operas had hitherto not pleased in England. He now 
determined to please. Pyramus and Thisbe was to be the 
triumph. He chose the best bits out of all his most suc- 
cessful operas, and this omnium gatherum was to be the 
music of Pyramus and Thisbe. The opera was a misera- 
ble failure. The experiment was too glaring, although it 
was, after all, nothing but a reductio ad absurdum of the 
Italian method. 

Gluck perceived henceforth the necessity for a more ex- 

82# act and rigid correspondence between the drama 

Giuck's style. an( j ^ ie mus i c< j^ never occurred to him to 

abandon the form of opera altogether as a form of art 
which was false, because it used music to express not only 
the emotion which accompanies action, but action itself; 
but he thought, and thought rightly, that the opera might 
be improved philosophically, by at least making the music 
always express emotions in harmony with the dramatic 


action, instead of any emotion in connection with any 

Shortly afterward, passing through Paris, Gluck heard 
for the first time the French operas of Rameau ; he re- 
ceived a new element, and one sadly wanting to the Ital- 
ian opera — the dramatic declamation of recitative. This 
was the one element that France contributed to the forma- 
tion of the opera as now existing. We observe, there- 
fore, three sources from which this composer derived the 
elements of his own system. His early training in Italy 
determined the importance which he ever afterward at- 
tached to pure melody. His subsequent acquaintance with 
France taught him the value of dramatic declamation. 
Germany gave him harmony, a more careful study of the 
orchestra, and that philosophical spirit which enabled him 
to lay the foundation of the distinctive German opera. 

We have often expressed an opinion that opera is a de- 
83 fective form of art. That music can only repre- 
defec?fie* a a sent the emotions of a drama, and not its inci- 
formofArt. c | en t Sj j s a truth enunciated alike by Gluck the 
first, and Richard Wagner the latest, of the German opera 
writers. Gluck writes, " My purpose was to restrict music 
to its true office, that of ministering to the expression of the 
poetry without interrupting the action." 

Wagner, in extolling legendary subjects as best fitted 
for the opera, observes that " music does not stop at the 
exterior incidents, but expresses the underlying emotion." 
Yet neither of these writers seems to perceive that his ad- 
mission is fatal to the very existence of the opera. We 
may fairly ask Gluck, "Must not music, when sung by the 
person acting, always interrupt the spontaneity of the ac- 
tion ?" And we may say to Wagner, " The music at the 
opera, in so far as it is acted, loses its power of expressing 

200 OLUCK. 

the emotion of an action by becoming itself the action," or, 
as he says, " stopping at the exterior incident." The sun is 
distinct from the planets which it illumines. The sphere 
of musical emotion is equally distinct from that of dramatic 
action. The two spheres may have important mutual re- 
lations, but they must not be confounded. 

A situation can be expressed by action and language ; 
the emotion of the situation can be expressed by music ; 
but music can not express a situation, and we must not try 
to make it do so by making the actor sing. People do not 
go about the world singing incidents ; people do not wail 
out melodious strains in the midst of consumptive agonies. 

But it may be asked, in reply to these remarks, " If the 
opera is a false form of art, because men do not sing off, as 
they do on, the stage, is not the whole drama false in art, 
since men do not speak and act off, as they do on, the 
stage?" ~No. The drama is not false in art, because wc^ds 
and actions are fitted to express situations, do actually en- 
ter into all situations ; it is for the dramatist to represent 
and combine them in the most forcible and natural manner 
which the necessary limits of his art will allow. Even in 
the case of soliloquy no radical violence is done to nature, 
since people do really sometimes think aloud ; besides, it is 
universally admitted that language and action are the fit 
exponents of thought and incident, while it must not be 
for a moment conceded that music can express definite 
thoughts or incidents, but only the emotions which accom- 
pany these. The fallacy that music expresses incidents or 
any definite thought whatever lies at the root of all the 
nonsense that is talked about this tune meaning the sea, 
and the moon, Vesuvius, or the scarlet fever. 

Nor, to return to the drama, is undue violence done to 
the mind by years being supposed to have elapsed between 
the acts of a play, as it is not attempted in any way to rep* 


resent the passage of those years before the public. That 
is left to the imagination, and no exception can be taken 
to the representation of that which is not represented. In 
Macbeth, as produced some time ago by Mr. Phelps, no 
man could take exception to the manner in which the 
ghost of Banquo was represented, because the ghost never 
appeared at all. It was left to the imagination of the au- 
dience. If they do not conceive them aright, it is no busi- 
ness of his. 

We submit, then, that the drama and the opera have 
separate foundations, or, rather, the one has a foundation 
which the other lacks. It is perfectly fair in all forms of 
art to leave to the imagination what can not be expressed, 
but it is perfectly false in any form of art to try and make 
a power — like music, for instance — express what it is in- 
capable of expressing. 

But it is time to return to Gluck. Disconcerted by the 
54 failure of Pyramits and Thisbe, perhaps with Han- 
Germm/op- del's music fresh in his mind, and strongly impress- 
era * ed with the importance of copious recitative and 

plenty of declamation, after the manner of the French, he 
entered upon his transition period. From Telemacco (1750) 
to II Re Pastore, produced at Vienna, 1756, w T e may notice 
a continuous development in the direction of the new Ger- 
man opera style. Between 1756 and 1762 he appears, like 
a man struggling with the apprehension of new ideas, to 
have tried various experiments. We can not regard his 
comic operas as any thing but tentative ; they bear witness 
more to his versatile activity than to his judgment. The 
Pilgrims of Mecca might indeed have established the fame 
of a lesser composer, but it is little better than waste from 
the author of Orpheus and Ear y dice. 

The time now drew nigh for that fortunate conjunction 

202 GLUCK. 

of circumstances upon which genius itself is obliged to 
wait. In 1762 Gluck at last met the man capable of un- 
derstanding him, and of producing a libretto after his own 
heart. This man was Calzabigi, the writer of Orpheus and 
Eurydice, Alceste, and other librettos belonging to Gluck's 
finest period. The Orpheus and Alceste were produced at 
Vienna with that amount of success which the author's 
name could by this time command. But Gluck, with his 
strong feeling for dramatic declamation, was dissatisfied 
with the German actors and with the German stage, and 
turned his eyes toward Paris. His overtures were gladly 
met by the directors of the French opera, and the event 
proved their discernment. 

The success of Gluck at Paris has to be accounted for. 
85- Although Paris has o-enerally admitted the results 

Gluck in ° .... 

Paris. of German music, as it has in due time appropriated 
the results of German philosophy, it has seldom been for- 
ward to acknowledge any new development of either. Ger- 
man composers have usually found themselves specially 
miserable in Paris ; Mozart, Beethoven, Schumann, Wag- 
ner, have each in their day been snuffed out by the Parisian 
public, and only enjoyed a tardy recognition when it could 
no longer be withheld. Yet both Gluck and Haydn were 
from the first feted and admired by at least important sec- 
tions of the French musical world. 

How can this be explained in the case of Gluck? We 
must remember, in the first place, that Gluck hoisted no 
opposition flag. Of the deep lines which have been since 
drawn, and rightly drawn, between German, Italian, and 
French music, hardly a trace at this time existed. 

Modern music was not sufficiently developed for each na- 
tion to appropriate its own specialty, and what existed of 
music was cosmopolitan rather than national. So little 


conscious was Gluck of founding a school, that he writes 
innocently to his old pupil, Marie Antoinette : 

"It has been no pretension of mine, though some have reproached mc 
with it, to come here to give lessons to the French in their own language. 
I thought that I might attempt with French words the new style of music 
that I have adopted in my three last Italian (sic) operas. I see with sat- 
isfaction that the language of nature is the universal language." 

Hence we observe that he had the singular good fortune 
of entering Paris under the auspices of the Dauphiness 
Marie Antoinette, and without a thought of rivalry, but 
simply with the naive intention of improving the French 
music ; and this pacific garb, no doubt, greatly conduced 
to his courteous reception. 

The political revolution was also favorable to a revolu- 
tion in art. The old fabric of the French monarchy was 
ready to crumble. The Encyclopaedists had set up a fer- 
ment of new ideas throughout the country, which not only 
pointed to an abuse, but had a remedy to propose. The 
signs of the times were not hard to read, yet no one seem- 
ed to read them. There was something in the very air 
which told of imminent change. None escaped the subtle 
influence. The doomed palace itself was full of it. And 
the courtiers, in listening to Rousseau's Devin du Village, 
in admiring a return to nature, in craving for ideals as far 
as possible removed from the effete civilization of their 
own age and country, in applauding the classical but rev- 
olutionary operas of Gluck, were like children playing with 
the sparks that were destined presently to burn the house 

Meanwhile Gluck had it all his own way. Armed with 
a French libretto by Du Rollet, protected by the mantle 
of royalty, and filled unconsciously, like so many others, 
with the revolutionary spirit, he produced his opera of 
Ip/iir/e?7ia in Aulis. The orchestra, as orchestras will, tit- 

204 OLUCE. 

tercel over his scores, and grumbled at the instrumentation, 
but ended by playing them, and playing them well. The 
audience, as audiences will, acted philosopher on the first 
night, but applauded vigorously on the second. The Abbe 
Arnault, a great leader of taste, is said to have exclaimed, 
"With such music one might found a new religion." The 
orchestral effects of the Iphigenia were found somewhat 
difficult to understand at times, but deemed vastly learn- 
ed by the connoisseurs ; while the apostrophe sung by Ag- 
amemnon to the Creator of Light, as also the celebrated 
phrase, " I hear within my breast the cry of nature," were 
considered quite sublime by the general public. 

It was the midsummer of 1774. The Parisians, then as 
now, were in the habit of flying from the white heat of the 
city to the cool retreats of their suburban villas, but the 
Opera-house still continued to be crammed nightly. Gluck 
was called the Hercules of music. Admirers doomed his 
footsteps in the streets. His appearance at public assem- 
blies was the sign for loud acclamations. And a few priv- 
ileged ones were admitted to the rehearsal of his new op- 
era Alceste, to see him conduct in his night-cap and dress- 

But the enemy was not far off. The musicians who had 
8G grumbled at his scores, the old school who had 
anefpicci- ^ een shocked, and the second-rate composers who 
msts. ^ad \ )een shelved, were only biding their time to 
organize an open attack. The Italian Piccini was pitted 
against Gluck. There were powerful leaders on both sides, 
and the chances at one time seemed about equal. Marie 
Antoinette (Gluckist) was influential, but so was Madame 
du Barri (Piccinist), the king's mistress; 1' Abbe Arnault 
(Gluckist) was sarcastic, but Marmontel (Piccinist) was 
witty ; Du Rollet was diplomatic, but La Harpe was elo- 


quent ; and the storm burst thus upon the unsuspecting 
Gluck. During his absence from Paris, he learned that 
Piccini had been commissioned to compose music for the 
same opera {Roland) upon which he himself was engaged. 
Gluck tore up his unfinished score in a rage, and declared 
open war upon the Italian school. The boards of the op- 
era became the scene of hot contentions, and the rival par- 
tisans abused and bullied each other like school-boys. "I 
know some one," says Gluck, " who will give dinners and 
suppers to three fourths of Paris to gain proselytes for M. 
Piccini. Marmontel, who tells stories so well, will tell one 
more to explain to the whole kingdom the exclusive merits 
of M. Piccini." " The famous Gluck," wrote La Harpe, 
" may puff his own compositions, but he can not prevent 
them from boring us to death." And the wags of Paris, 
who looked on and thought of the difference between 
tweedledum and tweedledee, named the street in which 
Gluck lived " Rue du Grand Hurleur," while Piccini's and 
Marmontel's quartiers were nicknamed respectively "Rue 
des Petits Chants" and "Rue des Mauvaises Paroles." 
But, pleasant and exciting as all this must have been, it 
had its inconveniences. Piccini was very well, but Paris 
could not afford to lose Gluck, and Gluck declined at first 
to compose as Piccini's rival. At this crisis, a bright idea 
occurred to Berton, the new opera director : could not the 
rival maeslros be induced to compose an opera jointly? 
He asked them both to dinner, and inter pocula all seemed 
to go well. But it was only the convivial lull that was to 
precede a post-prandial storm. It was arranged that each 
should compose an opera of his own on the subject of Iphi- 
genia in Tauris. In 1779 Gluck produced his second Iphi- 
genia first, and Piccini was so conscious of its superior ex- 
cellence that he shut his own opera up in a portfolio, which 
was not opened until two years later, when the Italian 


Iphigenia was brought out, and fell quite flat. Vce victisf 
The Italian school seemed fairly vanquished; but even now 
Fortune was turning her capricious wheel. Four months 
afterward Gluck produced his Echo and Narcissus, which, 
to the consternation of the Gluckists, fell as flat as Piccini's 

He was offered many consolations, and Marie Antoinette 
87. besought him eagerly to stay and retrieve the po- 

Old Afp 

and Death, sition which seemed for the moment lost; but he 
was getting old and fretful ; all his life long he had been 
the spoiled child of Fortune, and he was less able than most 
men to bear any reverses. He had amassed considerable 
wealth, and in 1780 left Paris for Vienna; but he does not 
appear to have been happy in his old age. Nervous mal- 
adies, long kept off by dint of sheer excitement and inces- 
sant labor, seemed now to grow upon him rapidly. He 
had always been fond of wine, but at a time when his sys- 
tem was least able to bear it he began to substitute bran- 
dy. The very thought of action after his recent failure in 
Paris filled him with disgust. He did nothing, but his in- 
activity was not repose, and the fire which had been a 
shining light for so many years, now in its smouldering 
embers seemed to waste and consume him inwardly. His 
wife, who was ever on the watch, succeeded in keeping 
stimulants away from the poor old man for weeks togeth- 
er; but one day a friend came to dine. After dinner cof- 
fee was handed round, and liqueurs were placed upon the 
table. The temptation was too strong. Gluck seized the 
bottle of brandy, and before his wife could stop him he 
had drained its contents. That night he fell down in a fit 
of apoplexy, and he died November 25th, 1787, aged sev- 


Gluck has been hardly handled by his French critics. 
88. To be a successful German musician in France 

Estimate of . . 

his character, is no doubt a crime; a hot temper is perhaps 
another; but when we read that Gluck was consumedly 
vain, full of a malevolent egotism, that he seized every oc- 
casion to injure his rivals, that he was the enemy of rising 
or foreign merit, that he tried to stifle Mozart and to sneer 
down Piccini, we require an explanation. Some of us may 
be consoled by the reflection that these assertions — com- 
ing from M. Felix Clement, whose book is more distin- 
guished for bulk than benevolence, for screams and com- 
monplaces than for criticism or candor — are unfounded. 

The vanity of Gluck consisted in the consciousness of 
his own superiority. His malevolent egotism was merely 
the ebullition of a hasty temper stung into self-assertion 
by detraction and abuse. When party spirit ran so high 
at Paris between Gluckists and Piccinists, without imput- 
ing to either malevolent egotism, we might expect to find 
the rivals themselves not always calm and measured in 
their language. But, in truth, Gluck was a single-minded 
man, devoted to music and generous to other musicians. 
In his sixty-fourth year he writes, not to his own support- 
ers, but to "the friends of music in Paris" — Paris, the 
stormy scene of his first contentions with the Italian fac- 
tions; Paris, the witness of his early triumphs and his late 
discomfiture ; Paris, the place where he is said to have 
shown nothing but malevolent egotism: 

" M. Gluck is very sensible of the politeness of Messieurs les amateurs 
and M. Cambini. He has the honor to assure these gentlemen that it will 
give him much pleasure to hear the performance of M. Cambini's scene 
from Armida [the subject of one of his own operas]. It would be indeed 
tyranny in music to seek to prevent authors from bringing forward their 
productions. M. Gluck enters into rivalry with no one, and it will always 
give him pleasure to listen to music better than his own. The progress 
of art ought alone to be considered." 

208 QLUCK. 

An old broken-down man, he sat in a box and applaud- 
ed the young Mozart's new symphonies. He extolled Mo- 
zart's music in Viennese circles, and asked him and his wife 
to dinner ; and Mozart speaks of him every where in his 
letters in terms of reverence and affection. It is said that 
he was fond of money, and he was, no doubt, in his later 
years unhappily addicted to wine; but his purse-strings 
were often loosed for the needy, and many of his detract- 
ors were fed at his hospitable board. Under trying cir- 
cumstances, he always maintained the dignity and inde- 
pendence of his art ; and the favorite of princes and court- 
iers, he knew how to enlist sympathy without truckling to 

M. Felix Clement is facetious on the subject of the in- 
temperance which marked the failing years of a man whose 
nerves had been shattered by hard work and the excite- 
ment inseparable from his vocation. We prefer to recall 
one who, in the midst of an immoral court, remained com- 
paratively pure, and who, in an age of flippant atheism, re- 
tained to the last his ■ trust in God and his reverence for 


Born 1732, Died 1809. 




Gluck and Haydn worked parallel to each other. We 

so. are not aware that they ever met. Both car- 
Likeness and . . 
Difference, ned out great reforms — Gluck in the sphere of 

opera, Haydn in symphonic and instrumental music. Both 
were adored in foreign countries : while Gluck was known 
in England and worshiped in France, Haydn was known in 
France and worshiped in England. Both, however, were 
recognized and admired in Germany; both were generous 
in their recognition of others ; both were the friends of 
Mozart; both knew how to be popular with princes with- 
out forfeiting the respect of equals ; both could compose 

210 HAYDN. 

for the people without pandering to what was vicious or 
ignorant in their tastes ; both began as " poor devils" (to 
use Haydn's phrase), and lived to enjoy an easy compe- 
tence ; and both descended to the grave, after long, labo- 
rious lives, heavy with years and honors — Gluck dying 
1787, at the age of seventy-three ; Haydn 1809, at seventy- 

We may thus draw an outward parallel between the 
founder of the German opera and the inventor of the Ger- 
man symphony; but the parallel belongs more to the ca- 
reer than to the character, to the work than to the person, 
of the composers. As we turn from that eager, restless, 
ambitious face by Duplessis, to the placid, easy-going, and 
contented profile by Dance, the contrast between Chevalier 
Gluck and "Papa Haydn," as Mozart loved to called him, 
is complete. 

The face of Haydn is remarkable quite as much for what 
it does not as for what it does express. No ambition, no 
avarice, no impatience, very little excitability, no malice. 
On the other hand, it indicates a placid flow of even health, 
an exceeding good humor, combined with a vivacity which 
seems to say, " I must lose my temper sometimes, but I can 
not lose it for long ;" a geniality which it took much to dis- 
turb, and a digestion which it took more to impair ; a pow- 
er of work steady and uninterrupted ; a healthy devotional 
feeling; a strong sense of humor; a capacity for the en- 
joyment of all the world's good things, without any morbid 
craving for irregular indulgence; affections warm, but not 
intense ; a presence accepted and beloved ; a mind content- 
ed almost any where, attaching supreme importance to one, 
and one thing only — the composing of music — and pursu- 
ing this object with the steady instinct of one who believed 
himself to have come into the world for this purpose alone 
— such was Francis Joseph Haydn, born on the 31st of 


March, 1732, at Rohrau, a little village about thirty miles 
from Vienna, on the confines of Austria and Hungary. 

The father, Matthias Haydn, coachmaker and parish clerk, 
90 had married a domestic servant in the household 
Early Days. f one Count Harrach. He was fond of the harp, 
and after the day's work he delighted to sing and play 
while Frau Haydn sat busily knitting, and joined in occa- 
sionally, after the manner of German fraus. Joseph, when 
about five years old, began to assist on these occasions 
with two pieces of stick, grinding away in perfect time, 
like any real fiddler. These wooden performances were 
not thrown away, for one day a Hamburg schoolmaster 
named Franck happened to see the child thus earnestly em- 
ployed, and ascertaining that he had a good voice, took him 
off to Hamburg, and promised to educate him, to the great 
delight of the honest coachmaker. 

Franck seems to have taught him well, although he 
knocked him about a good deal ; but the boy was a merry 
and industrious little fellow, and did not mind, providing 
he was allowed to transfer the blows in play-hours to a big 
drum, on which he practiced incessantly. When he was 
about nine years old, Reuter, the Capellmeister of St. Ste- 
phen's, Vienna, happened to be dining with Franck, and 
Joseph was produced as a musical prodigy. Franck had 
taught him to sing, and all that his master knew he could 
do. At the close of his song the delighted Reuter cried 
" Bravo ! But, my little man, how is it you can not shake?" 
" How can you expect me to shake when Herr Franck him- 
self can not ?" replied the enfant terrible. " Come here, 
then ;" and, drawing the child to him, he showed him how 
to hold his breath, and then make the necessary vibrations 
in his throat once or twice, and the boy caught the trick 
and began shaking like a practiced singer. The Copellmeis- 

212 HAYDN. 

ter had found a new star for his cathedral choir, and Haydn 
was carried off in triumph to Vienna. Here he gained in- 
struction in singing, and an acquaintance with sacred mu- 
sic; but it was no part of Reuter's plan to teach him the 
theory of music. At the age of thirteen he tried to com- 
pose a mass, at which his master merely laughed ; indeed, 
Haydn was wholly uninstructed in composition, and no 
doubt the mass was poor stuff. But genius was not to be 
daunted; money was hoarded up, the "Gradus ad Parnas- 
sum" and the " Parfait Maitre de Chapelle," by Mattheson, 
were purchased, and with these two dull and verbose damp- 
ers to enthusiasm the lad set to work to discover the sci- 
ence of harmony. We have no means of knowing what 
progress he made ; we only know that he worked away for 
eight years. At the end of that time his voice broke, and 
he was turned away by Reuter on quite a frivolous pre- 
text. Some say the master was afraid of finding a rival in 
the pupil, but we think this improbable, as at this time 
there is no proof that Haydn had arrived at any special 
excellence in composition ; but Reuter was a selfish, and, in 
Haydn's case, a disappointed man. From the first he had 
desired to perpetuate, by the usual means, the fine soprano 
of his pupil, and thus retain him in his service forever. 
Happily this project w T as firmly withstood by the parents ; 
and Reuter, who was no doubt annoyed, kept the boy as 
long as he could sing, and when his voice broke, not car- 
ing to trouble himself with any further connection, picked 
a quarrel w T ith him and turned him out. But the choris- 
ter's sweet voice was known to many who came to wor- 
ship at the cathedral of St. Stephen, and when Keller, th© 
barber, heard that Haydn was a homeless wanderer, he 
came forward and offered him free board and lodging. 

In a little upper room, witli a little worm-eaten harpsi- 
chord, Haydn pursued his studies, and down stairs lie 


dressed and powdered away at the wigs. Unhappily, there 
was something besides wigs down stairs — there was Anne 
Keller, the barber's daughter, to whom, in a luckless hour, 
he promised marriage, and of whom more presently. 

By-and-by things began to improve. He played the 
91. violin in one church, the organ in another, and 

Metastasio „ 

and Porpora. got a few pupils. Vienna was not the city to 
allow a good musician to starve, and Haydn soon found 
those who could appreciate and help him. He left Keller, 
took a small attic in a large house, and, as luck would have 
it, in the state apartments of that very house lived the 
great poeta Oesareo, or, as we should say, poet laureate of 
the day — Metastasio. Through the poet Haydn's good 
fortune began : he introduced him to the Venetian embas- 
sador's mistress, a rare musical enthusiast, and in her cir- 
cle he met the famous Italian singing-master Porpora, then 
a very crusty old gentleman, who appears to have occu- 
pied at Vienna the same post of musical dictator and privi- 
leged censor which Rossini for so many years held in Paris. 
The relations between Haydn and the Porpora were 
sufficiently amusing. Madame Sand, in " Consuelo," has 
sketched them in her own incomparable way. Of course 
Porpora could have nothing to say to so lowly a personage 
as Joseph Haydn. But he was always meeting him. They 
even lived in the same house for some time, for they both 
accompanied the embassador to the Manensdorf baths for 
the season. However, Haydn had found his man in the 
Porpora, and was not slow to take his cue. He wanted in- 
struction : no one in Italy or Germany could give it better 
than Porpora ; so he cleaned Porpora's boots, trimmed his 
wig to perfection, brushed his coat, ran his errands, and 
was his very humble and devoted servant. Before such 
attention as this the old man at last gave way. Haydn 

214 HAYDN. 

became the master's constant companion, disciple, and ac- 
companyist, and the benefits which he derived in return 
were soon manifested in the increased salableness of his 

At the age of eighteen Haydn composed his first string- 
m ed quartet. It consists of a number of short move- 
Quartets. men t Sj an( j does not differ materially from other 
cabinet music of the period, save in being written for four 
instruments. Let any one take up the famous eighty-four 
quartets, and trace the growth of the master's mind, and 
he will be astonished how slow, and yet how steady, is the 
development. Nothing hurried — no torch blown by the 
wind — but a lamp, well guarded from gusts and currents, 
slowly consuming an abundant supply of oil. It is not till 
we get past the No. 50's that all traces of the Boccherini 
school begin to disappear ; the movements become fewer, 
but longer, and yet quite symphonic in their development, 
until we break upon such perfect gems as 63 ; while in 77, 
78, 81, the master reaches that perfect form and freedom 
of harmony which is observed in the quartets of Mozart 
and Beethoven. 

As quartets, Haydn's have never been surpassed. Mo- 
zart has been more rich, Beethoven more obscure and sub- 
lime, Spohr more mellifluous and chromatic, Schubert more 
diffuse and luxuriant, Mendelssohn more orchestral and 
passionate, but none have excelled Haydn in completeness 
of form, in fine perception of the capacities of the four in- 
struments, in delicate distribution of parts to each, and in 
effects always legitimate — often tender, playful, and pa- 
thetic — sometimes even sublime. 

At night the young minstrel, accompanied by two 
friends, used to wander about the streets of Vienna by 


93# moonlight, and serenade with trios of his compo- 
A Tempest. s fti on n i s friends and patrons. 

One night he happened to stop under the window of 
Bernardone Curtz, the director of the theatre. Down rush- 
ed the director in a state of great excitement. 

" Who are you ?" he shrieked. 

"Joseph Haydn." 

" Who's music is it ?" 


" The deuce it is ! at your age, too !" 

" Why, I must begin with something." 

" Come along up stairs." 

And the enthusiastic director collared his prize, and waB 
soon deep in explaining his mysteries of a libretto entitled 
"The Devil on Two Sticks." Haydn must write music for 
it according to Curtz's directions. It was no easy task; 
the music was to represent all sorts of things — catastro- 
phes, fiascos, tempests. The tempest brought Haydn to his 
wits' end, for neither he nor Curtz had ever witnessed a 

Haydn sat at the piano banging away in despair: be- 
hind him stood the director fuming, and raving, and ex- 
plaining what he did not understand to Haydn, who did 
not understand him. At last, in a state of distraction, the 
pianist, opening wide his arms and raising them aloft, 
brought down his fists simultaneously on the two extrem- 
ities of the key-board, and then drawing them rapidly to- 
gether till they met, made a clean sweep of all the notes. 

" Bravo ! bravo ! that's it — that's the tempest !" cried 
Curtz; and, jumping wildly about, he finally threw his 
arms round the magician who had called the spirits from 
the vasty deep, and afterward paid him one hundred and 
thirty florins for the music — storm at sea included. 

216 HAYDN. 

In 1759, at the age of twenty-eight, Haydn composed his 
94 first symphony, and thus struck the second key- 

symphonies. note of hig originality. To have fixed the form 
of the quartet and the symphony was to lay deep the foun- 
dations of all future cabinet and orchestral music. Of the 
one hundred and eighteen symphonies comparatively few 
are now played, but probably we have all heard the best. 
The twelve composed for Salomon in the haste of creative 
power, but in the full maturity of his genius, are constant- 
ly heard side by side with the amazing efforts of Mozart 
and Beethoven in the same department, and do not suffer 
by the comparison because they are related to them, as the 
sweet and simple forms of early Gothic are to the gorgeous 
flamboyant creations of a later period. 

Haydn's last symphonies stand related to his earlier ones 
as the last quartets to the earlier. In both at first the form 
is struck, but the work is stiff and formal; latterly the out- 
line is the same, but it is filled in with perfect grace and 
freedom. There is Mozart's easy fertility of thought, but 
not Mozart's luxurious imagination ; there is Beethoven's 
power of laying hold of his subject — indeed, Haydn's grip 
is quite masterful in the allegros, and the expression of his 
slow movements is at all times clear and delicious — but 
the heights and the depths, together with the obscurities 
of the later master, are absent. Ravished at all times with 
what was beautiful, sublime, or pathetic in others, he him- 
self lived in a work-a-day world — a world of common 
smiles and tears ; a world of beautiful women and gifted 
men ; of woods, and mountains, and rivers ; of fishing and 
hunting ; of genial acclamation, and generous endeavor, 
simple devotion, and constant, joyous, irreproachable laboi 
and love. 


Soon after his first symphony he had the good fortune 
95. to attract the attention of a man whose iamily 

Prince Es- . . . , . , 

ternazy. has since become intimately associated with mu- 
sical genius in Germany : this was old Prince Esterhazy. 

" What ! you don't mean to say that little blackamoor" 
(alluding to Haydn's brown complexion and small stature) 
"composed that symphony?" 

" Surely, prince !" replied the director Friedburg, beck- 
oning to Joseph Haydn, who advanced toward the orches- 

" Little Moor," says the old gentleman, " you shall enter 
my service. I am Prince Esterhazy. What's your name ?" 

" Haydn." 

" Ah ! I've heard of you. Get along, and dress yourself 
like a Capellmeister. Clap on a new coat, and mind your 
wig is curled. You're too short ; you shall have red heels ; 
but they shall be high, that your stature may correspond 
with your merit." 

We may not approve of the old prince's tone, but in 
those days musicians were not the confidential advisers of 
kings, like Herr Wagner ; rich bankers' sons, like Meyer- 
beer ; private gentlemen, like Mendelssohn ; and members 
of the Imperial Parliament, like Verdi ; but only " poor dev- 
ils," like Haydn. Let these things be well weighed, and 
let England remember that as she has had to follow Ger- 
many in philosophy and theology, so must she sooner or 
later in her estimation of the musical profession. 

Haydn now went to live at Eisenstadt, in the Esterhazy 
96. household, and received a salary of 400 florins. 

Work and 

Wife. The old prince died a year afterward, and Haydn 
continued in the service of his successor, Nicolas Esterha- 
zy, at an increased salary of 700 florins, which was after- 
ward raised to 1000 florins per annum. Nothing more uK 


218 HA TDK 

interesting than the dull routine of a small German court, 
and nothing less eventful than the life of Haydn between 
1760 and 1790, can be imagined. He continued the close 
friend and companion of Prince Nicolas, and death alone 
was able to dissolve, after a commerce of thirty years, the 
fair bond between him and his Maecenas. Every morning 
a new composition was laid upon the prince's breakfast 
table, generally something for his favorite instrument, the 
baryton, a kind of violoncello. One hundred and fifty of 
these pieces, we believe, are extant. His work was regular 
and uninterrupted, his recreations were calm and healthful, 
occasional journeys to Vienna, months and months passed 
at the prince's country seat, mountain rambles, hunting, 
fishing, open-air concerts, musical evenings, and friendly in- 
tercourse, and Haydn lived contented, laborious, and per- 
fectly unambitious. 

There was but one cloud in his sky — that was his wife. 
The promise made to the hair-dresser's daughter in a rash 
moment was fulfilled in what some may think a moment 
still more rash. Haydn could have been happy with most 
women, but there are limits to the endurance of a man, 
however amiable ; and Haydn found those limits exceeded 
in the person of Anne Keller. His temperament was easy 
and cheerful ; hers difficult and dismal. His religion turned 
on the love of God; hers on the fear of the devil. Her de- 
votion was excessive, but her piety small; and she passed 
easily from mass to mischief-making, or from beads to 
broils. We are told that the tongue is a little fire, but it 
proved too hot for Haydn. He found that the incessant 
nagging of a quarrelsome partner was ruining his life-work, 
and the world has probably long pardoned him for refus- 
ing to sacrifice his time and genius to the caprices of a 
silly and ill-tempered woman. He did what was probably 
best for both. He gave her a fair trial, and then separated 

MOZAST. 219 

himself from her, making her a liberal allowance, and thus 
permitting her to enjoy the fruits of his labor without de- 
stroying his peace of mind or robbing the world of his 

In the retirement of the prince's family, between 1760 
and 1790, an incredible number, and among them some of 
his most famous works, were produced. We may note sev- 
eral of the later quartets, six symphonies written for Paris, 
and the famous last seven works written for Cadiz. 

The labor of thirty years had not been thrown away. 

97 Haydn appears to have been very unconscious of 
Mozart. t j ]e j mmense reputation which he had been acquir- 
ing all through France, Spain, and England, and was prob- 
ably never more astonished in his life when a stranger 
burst into his room, only a few days after the death of his 
beloved patron, Prince Nicolas, and said abruptly, " I am 
Salomon from London, and am come to carry you off with 
me ; we will strike a bargain to-morrow." There was no 
bond now sufficiently strong to keep him in Germany. He 
was getting on in life, although still hale and hearty ; and 
now, at the age of sixty, he prepared to cross the sea on 
that journey to London so famous in the annals of music. 
Yet were there dear friends to part from. Dr. Leopold von 
Genzinger, the prince's physician ; and the charming Frau 
Yon Genzinger, to whom so many of his letters are ad- 
dressed, who made him such good tea and coffee, and sent 
him such excellent cream. Then there were Dittersdorf 
and Albrechtsberger; and, lastly, Mozart. These would 
fain have kept him. " Oh, papa !" said Mozart, who had al- 
ready traveled so much and knew every thing, "you have 
had no education for the wide, wide world, and you speak 
too few languages." " Oh, my language," replied the papa, 
with a smile, "is understood all over the world." 

220 HAYDN. 

December 15, 1*790, was the day fixed for his departure. 
Mozart could not tear himself away, nor was he able to re- 
press the tears that rose as he said in words so sadly pro- 
phetic, " We shall now doubtless take our last farewell." 
They dined together indeed for the last time. Both were 
deeply affected, but neither could have dreamed how very 
soon one of them, and that the youngest, was to be taken 
away. A year after we read in Haydn's diary, " Mozart 
died December 5, 1791." Nothing could exceed Haydn's 
admiration for Mozart. In 1785 Mozart wrote the six cel- 
ebrated quartets dedicated to Haydn. " I declare to you," 
said the old composer to Mozart's father, " before God, that 
your son is the greatest composer who ever lived." In 
1787 he thus writes: 

"I only wish I could impress upon every friend of music, and on great 
men in particular, the same deep musical sympathy and profound appre- 
ciation which I myself feel for Mozart's inimitable music ; then nations 
would vie with each other to possess such a jewel within their frontiers. 
It enrages me to think that the unparalleled Mozart is not yet engaged at 
any imperial court ! Forgive my excitement j I love the man so dearly." 

His wife must needs write to worry him in England by 
saying that Mozart had taken to running him down. " I 
can not believe it," cried Haydn ; " if true, I will forgive 
him." As late as 1807, the conversation turning one day 
on Mozart, Haydn burst into tears ; but, recovering him- 
self, " Forgive me," he said ; " I must ever, ever weep at 
the name of my Mozart." 

On his way to England Haydn was introduced to Beet- 
98. hoven, then twenty. Beethoven actually had a 

Haydn in . 

England, lesson or two from him, and Haydn was exceed- 
ingly anxious to claim him as a pupil. Beethoven, upon 
hearing this many years afterward, said characteristically 
and no doubt truly, " Certainly I had a lesson from Haydn, 


but 1 was not his disciple ; I never learned any thing from 

"By four o'clock we had come twenty-two miles. The 
large vessel stood out to sea five hours longer, till the tide 
carried it into the harbor. I remained on deck during the 
whole passage, in order to gaze my fill at that huge mon- 
ster, the ocean." Haydn was soon safely, but, according to 
his moderate German notions, expensively housed at 18 
Great Pulteney Street, London. He was to give twenty 
concerts in the year, and receive £50 for each. The novelty 
of the concerts was to consist in the new symphonies which 
Haydn was to conduct in person, seated at the piano. His 
fame had long preceded him, and his reception every where 
delighted him. " I could dine out every day of the week," 
he writes. At concerts and public meetings his arrival 
was the sign for enthusiastic applause ; and how, in the 
midst of Lord Mayors' feasts, royal visits, and general star- 
ring, he managed to have composed and produced the Sa- 
lomon Symphonies and countless other works written in 
London, is a question we can not attempt to solve. 

But Haydn was hundred-handed, and had, moreover, 
eyes and ears for every thing. He tells us how he enjoy- 
ed himself at the civic feast in company with William Pitt, 
the Lord Chancellor, and the Duke of Lids (Leeds). He 
says, after dinner, the highest nobility — i. e., the Lord 
Mayor and his wife (!) — were seated on a throne. In an- 
other room the gentlemen, as usual, drank freely the whole 
night ; and the songs, and the crazy uproar, and smashing 
of glasses, were very great. The oil-lamps smelt terribly, 
and the dinner cost £6000. He went down to stay with 
the Prince of Wales (George IV.), and Sir Joshua Reynolds 
painted his portrait. The prince played the violoncello 
not badly, and charmed Haydn by his affability. "He is 
the handsomest man on God's earth. He has an extraor- 

222 HA YDS. 

dinary love for music, and a great deal of feeling, but very 
little money." From the palace he passed to the laboratory, 
and was introduced to Herschel, in whom he was delighted 
to find an old oboe' player. The big telescope astonished 
him, so did the astronomer. " He often sits out of doors in 
the most intense cold for five or six hours at a time." 

From these and other dissipations Haydn had constant- 
ly to hasten back to direct his concerts at the Hanover 
Square Rooms, and before he left England he produced at 
the Haymarket the first six symphonies of the twelve com- 
posed for Salomon. The public was enthusiastic ; but so 
much orchestral music was both a novelty and a trial ; it 
is even possible that people may have gone to sleep in the 
middle of some of the adagios. The well-known " Surprise 
Symphony" is, in that case, Haydn's answer to such culpa- 
ble inattention. The slow movement, it will be remember- 
ed, begins in the most ^'cmzo and unobtrusive manner, and 
by about the time the audience should be nodding, a sud- 
den explosive fortissimo, as Haydn remarked, " makes the 
ladies jump !" In amateur orchestras it is not unusual for 
some enthusiast to let off a pistol behind the stage to give 
tone to the big drum, but it has been generally thought 
unnecessary to paint the lily in this manner. 

The evenings at the Haymarket were triumphs that it 
was not easy to rival. In the public prints we read : 

"It is truly wonderful what sublime and august thoughts this master 
weaves into his works. Passages often occur which it is impossible to 
listen to without becoming excited — we are carried away by admiration, 
and are forced to applaud with hand and mouth. The Frenchmen here 
can not restrain their transports in soft adagios ; they will clap their hands 
in loud applause, and thus mar the effect." 

To stem this tide of popularity the Italian faction had 
recourse to Giardini ; and to beat the German on his own 
ground, his own pupil, Pleyel, was got over to conduct 


rival concerts. At first Haydn writes, "He behaves him- 
self with great modesty ;" but later we read, " Pleyel's pre- 
sumption is every where criticised;" yet he adds, "I go to 
all his concerts and applaud him, for I love him." 

Very different were the social amenities which passed 
between Papa Haydn and the Italian Giardini. " I won't 
know the German hound !" cries the excited Italian. " I at- 
tended his concert at Ranelagh," says Haydn ; " he played 
the fiddle like a hog !" 

In a year and a half (July, 1792) Haydn was back at Vi- 
enna, conducting his new symphonies, which had not yet 
been heard in Germany. In 1794 he returned to the large 
circle of his friends in England, and in the course of anoth- 
er year and a half produced the remaining six symphonies 
promised to Salomon. In May, 1795, Haydn took his bene- 
fit at the Hay market. He directed the whole of his twelve 
symphonies, and pocketing 12,000 florins, returned to Ger- 
many, August 15, 1795. 

The eighteenth century was closing in, dark with storms, 
99 and the wave of revolution had burst in all its 

and the e sea- n ^ nr Y over France, casting its bloody spray upon 
S0U8 ' the surrounding nations. From his little cot- 

tage near Vienna Haydn watched the course of events. 
Like many other princes of art, he was no politician, but 
his affection for his country lay deep, and his loyalty to the 
Emperor Francis was warm ; the hymn, " God save the 
Emperor," so exquisitely treated in the seventy-seventh 
quartet, remained his favorite melody; it seemed to have 
acquired a certain sacredness in his eyes in an age when 
kings were beheaded and their crowns tossed to a rabble. 
But his own world, the world of art, remained untouched 
by political convulsions. In 1795 he commenced, and in 
1798 he finished the cantata or oratorio called the Creation. 

224 HAYDN. 

It very soon went the round of Germany, and passed to 
England : and it was the Creation that the First Consul 
was hastening to hear at the Opera on the memorable 24th 
of January, 1801, when he was stopped by an attempt at 

In 1800 Haydn had finished another great work, "The 
Seasons," founded on Thomson's poem. In 1802 his two 
last quartets appeared. A third he was forced to leave un- 
finished ; in it he introduced a phrase which latterly he 
was fond of writing on his visiting card : 

" Hin ist alle meine Kraft, 
Alt und schwach bin ich!" 

He was now seventy years old, and seldom left his room. 
On summer days he would linger in the garden. Friends 
came to see him, and found him often in a profound melan- 
choly. He tells us, however, that God frequently revived 
his courage ; indeed, his whole life is marked by a touch- 
ing and simple faith, which did not forsake him in his old 
age. He considered his art a religious thing, and constant- 
ly wrote at the beginning of his works, " In nomine Dom- 
ini," or " Soli Deo gloria ;" and at the end, " Laus Deo." 

In 1 809 Vienna was bombarded by the French. A round- 
shot fell into his garden. He seemed to be in no alarm, but 
on May 25 he requested to be led to his piano, and three 
times over he played the " Hymn to the Emperor" with an 
emotion that fairly overcame both himself and those who 
heard him. He Avas to play no more ; and being helped 
back to his couch, he lav down in extreme exhaustion to 
wait for the end. Five days afterward, May 26, 1809, died 
Francis Joseph Haydn, aged seventy-seven. He lies buried 
in the cemetery of Gumpfendorf, Vienna. 

The number of Haydn's compositions is nearly estimated 
at eight hundred, comprising cantatas, symphonies, orato- 


ioo. rios, masses, concertos, trios, quartets, sonatas, niin- 
Character- > ' ' ... 

istics. uets, etc. ; twenty-two operas, of which eight are 

German, and fourteen Italian. But the great father of 

symphony is not to be judged by his operas any more than 

the great father of oratorio. 

The world has often been tantalized by the spectacle of 

genius without industry, or industry without genius, but in 

Haydn genius and industry were happily married. 

' ' Ego nee studium sine divite vena 
Nee rude quid possit video ingenium." 

In early years he worked sixteen, and sometimes eighteen 
hours a day, and latterly never less than five ; and the work 
was not desultory, but very direct. No man had a clearer 
notion of what he meant to do, and no man carried out his 
programme more rigidly. He was equal to Schubert in 
the rich flow of his musical ideas, but superior to him in 
arrangement and selection. He could be grave and play- 
ful ; serious, and sometimes sublime, but seldom romantic. 
In him there is nothing artificial, nothing abnormal ; his 
tenderness is all real, and his gayety quite natural ; nor is 
the balance of symmetry any where sacrificed to passion or 
to power. The abundance of his ideas never tempted him 
to neglect the fit elaboration of any. He applied himself 
without distraction to his thought until it became clear to 
himself. He would often compose, and then recompose on 
a given theme, until the perfect expression had been found. 
We remember, some years ago, one of the finest classical 
scholars at Cambridge, who was in the habit of making 
miserable work of his Greek-construing during class-time. 
Few of his pupils could understand what he was about ; to 
the inexperienced freshman it sounded like the bungling of 
a school-boy. The sentence was rendered over and over 
again, and at the close probably not a word retained its 
original position. While the novices scribbled and scratch- 


226 HAYDN. 

ed out, the older hands waited calmly for the last perfect 
form. The process was fatiguing, but amply repaid the 
toil. Poets have been known to spend days over a line 
which may afterward have been destined to sparkle forever 

"On the stretched forefinger of all time." 

Like good construing or good poetry, good music demands 
the most unremitting toil. No doubt the artist attains at 
length a certain direct and accurate power of expression. 
We know that many of Turner's pictures were dashed off 
without an after-touch. While Macaulay's manuscripts are 
almost illegibly interlined and corrected, many of Walter 
Scott's novels are written almost without an erasure ; but 
such facility combined with accuracy is, after all, only the 
work of a mind rendered both facile and accurate by long 

Haydn is valuable in the history of art, not only as a 
brilliant, but also as a complete artist. Perhaps, with the 
exception of Goethe and Wordsworth, there is no equally 
remarkable instance of a man who was so permitted to work 
out all that was in him. His life was a rounded whole. 
There was no broken light about it; it orbed slowly witli 
a mild, unclouded lustre into a perfect star. Time was 
gentle with him, and Death was kind, for both waited upon 
his genius until all was won. Mozart was taken away at an 
age when new and dazzling effects had not ceased to flash 
through his brain : at the very moment when his harmonies 
began to have a prophetic ring of the nineteenth century, 
it was decreed that he should not see its dawn. Beethoven 
himself had but just entered upon an unknown "sea whose 
margin seemed to fade forever and forever as lie moved ;" 
but good old Haydn had come into port over a calm sea 
and after a prosperous voyage. The laurel wreath was 
this time woven about silver locks; the gathered-in har- 
vest was ripe and golden. 


Born 1797, Died 1828. 


In passing from the great gods of music to those other 
delightful tone-poets and singers whose works the world 
will not willingly let die, we could scarcely find any names 
more dear to the heart of the true musician than those of 
Franz Schubert and Frederick Chopin. 

Schubert, the prince of lyrists — Chopin, the most roman- 
101 tic of piano-forte writers ; Schubert rich with an in- 
andCho- exhaustible fancy — Chopin perfect with an exqui- 
pin * site finish, each reaching a supreme excellence in 
his own department, while one narrowly escaped being 
greatest in all — both occupied intensely with their own 


meditations, and admitting into them but little of the out- 
er world — both too indifferent to the public taste to become 
immediately popular, but too remarkable to remain long un- 
known — both exhibiting in their lives and in their music 
striking resemblances and still more forcible contrasts — 
both now so widely admired and beloved in this country 
— so advanced and novel, that although Schubert has been 
in his grave for thirty-eight years and Chopin for seventeen, 
yet to us they seem to have died but yesterday — these men, 
partners in the common sufferings of genius, and together 
crowned with immortality in death, may well claim from 
us again and again the tribute of memory to their lives, 
and of homage to their inspiration. 

In the parish of Lichtenthal, Vienna, the inhabitants are 
102. fond of pointing out a house commonly known bv 

Precocious x ° . . " 

Talent. the sign of the " Red Crab," which, in addition to 
that intelligent and interesting symbol, bears the decora- 
tion of a small gray marble tablet, with the inscription 
" Franz Schubert's Geburtshaus." On the right hand is a 
sculptured lyre, on the left a wreath, with the date of the 
composer's birth, January 31, 1797. 

Franz Schubert was the youngest son of Franz and Eliz- 
abeth Schubert ; he had eighteen brothers and sisters, few 
of whom lived very long. His father was a poor school- 
master, who, having little else to bestow upon his children, 
took care to give them a good education. " When he was 
five years old," his father writes, " I prepared him for ele- 
mentary instruction, and at six I sent him to school; he 
was always one of the first among his fellow-students." As 
in the case of Mozart and Mendelssohn, the ruling passion 
was early manifested, and nature seemed to feel that a ca- 
reer so soon to be closed by untimely death must be begun 
with the tottering steps and early lisp of childhood. From 


the first, Schubert entered upon music as a prince enters 
upon his own dominions. What others toiled for he won 
almost without an effort. Melody flowed from him like 
perfume from a rose ; harmony w T as the native atmosphere 
he breathed. Like Handel and Beethoven, he retained no 
master for long, and soon learned to do without the assist- 
ance of any. His father began to teach him music, but 
found that he had somehow mastered the rudiments for 
himself. Holzer, the Lichtenthal choir-master, took him in 
hand, but observed that " whenever he wanted to teach him 
any thing, he knew it already ;" and some years afterward 
Salieri,* who considered himself superior to Mozart, admit- 
ted that his pupil Schubert was a born genius, and could 
do whatever he chose. At the age of eleven Schubert w T as 
a good singer, and also an accomplished violinist ; the com- 
posing mania soon afterward set in, and at thirteen his con- 
sumption of music-paper was something enormous. Over- 
tures, symphonies, quartets, and vocal pieces were always 
forthcoming, and enjoyed the advantage of being perform- 
ed every evening at the concerts of the u Convict"! school, 
where he was now being educated — Schubert regarding 
this as by far the most important part of the day's work. 
At times music had to be pursued under difficulties ; Ada- 
gios had to be written between the pauses of grammar and 
mathematics, and Prestos finished off when the master's 
back was turned. Movements had to be practiced, under 
some discouragements, during the hours of relaxation. "On 
one occasion," writes a friend, "I represented the audience: 
there w T as no fire, and the room was frightfully cold !" At 
the age of eleven he had been admitted as chorister into 

* Salieri, born 1750, died 1825, now chiefly remembered as the person 
to whom Beethoven dedicated three sonatas. 

t A sort of free grammar-school, where poor students were boarded gra- 


the Imperial choir, then under the direction of Salieri, where 
he remained until 1813, when his voice broke. There can 
be no doubt that Salieri, the avowed rival of Mozart, and 
as narrow and jealous a man as ever lived, was very fond 
of Schubert, and exercised an important influence over his 
studies, and yet it would be impossible to conceive of two 
minds musically less congenial. Salieri was devoted to 
Italian tradition, and was never even familiar with the Ger- 
man language, although he had lived in Germany for fifty 
years. Schubert was the apostle of German romanticism, 
and almost the founder of the German ballad, as distinct 
from the French and Italian Romance. Schubert thought 
Beethoven a great composer — Salieri considered him a 
very much overrated man; Schubert worshiped Mozart, 
Salieri did not appreciate him. It was evident that per- 
sons holding: such dissimilar view T s would not Ions; remain 
in the relation of master and pupil, and one day, after a 
bitter dispute over a Mass of Schubert's, out of which Sa- 
lieri had struck all the passages which savored of Haydn 
or Mozart, the recalcitrant pupil refused to have any thing 
more to do with such a man as a teacher. It is pleasing, 
however, to find that this difference of opinion was not fol- 
lowed by any personal estrangement; and while Schubert 
always remained grateful to Salieri, Salieri watched with 
affectionate interest the rapid progress of his favorite pupil. 

The boyish life of Schubert was not marked by any pe- 
rn culiarities apart from his devotion to music. He 

Early Com- 
positions, was light-hearted, disposed to make the best of 

his scanty income, a dutiful and obedient son, fond of so- 
ciety, and of all kinds of amusement. "We find nothing to 
account for the lugubrious titles which belong to so many 
of his early works, and which seem to fall across the spring- 
time of his life like the prophetic shadows of coming sor- 


row and disappointment. Between the ages of eleven and 
sixteen his compositions were "A Complaint," " Hagar's 
Lament," " The Parricide," and "A Corpse Fantasia !" He 
left the " Convict Academy" in his seventeenth year (1813), 
and, returning to his father's house, engaged himself vigor- 
ously in the tuition of little boys. The next three years 
were passed in this delightful occupation, but the continu- 
ous stream of his music never ceased, and 1815 is marked 
as the most prolific year of his life. It witnessed the pro- 
duction of more than a hundred songs, half a dozen operas 
and operettas, several symphonic pieces, church music, 
chamber music, etc., etc. It is remarkable that at this ear- 
ly period he wrote some of his finest songs ; and that, while 
many of his larger works at that time, and for some years 
afterward, continued to bear a strong resemblance to Mo- 
zart, some of these ballads are like no one but himself at 
his very best. Such are the "Mignon Songs," 1815, and 
the " Songs from Ossian." 

Early in 1810 Schubert produced the most popular of 
all his works, " The Erl King." It was composed, charac- 
teristically enough, in the true Schubertian fashion. One 
afternoon Schubert was alone in the little room allotted 
to him in his father's house, and happening to take up a 
volume of Goethe's poems, he read the "Erl King." The 
rushing sound of the wind and the terrors of the enchant- 
ed forest were instantly changed for him into realities. 
Every line of the poem seemed to flow into strange un- 
earthly music as he read, and seizing a pen, he dashed 
down the song nearly as it is, in just the time necessary 
for the mechanical writing. 

The song so hastily composed was destined to have a 
remarkable future. It was sung some years after by Vogl 
at Vienna, and produced a great sensation. The timid 
publishers who had hitherto declined to publish Schubert's 


comj)ositions now began to think him a young man of 
some talent, and Diabelli was induced to engrave and sell 
the song. Schubert got little enough, but in a few months 
the publishers made over £80 by it, and have since real- 
ized thousands. A few hours before his death, and when 
lie was quite blind, Jean Paul desired to have it sung to 
him. Two years before Goethe's death (1830), and two 
years after Schubert's, Madame Schroder Devrient was 
passing through Weimar, and sang some songs to the 
aged poet ; among them was the " Erl King." Goethe 
was deeply affected, and, taking Schroder's head between 
both his hands, he kissed her forehead, and added, "A 
thousand thanks for this grand artistic performance : I 
heard the composition once before, and it did not please 
me ; but when it is given like this, the whole becomes a 
living picture !" The startling effect produced by Madame 
Viardot in this song may still be fresh in the memory of 
some of our readers. 

In 1816 Schubert applied for a small musical appoint- 
ment at Laibach under government. The salary was only 
£20 a year; but, although now a rising young man, and 
highly recommended by Salieri, he proved unsuccessful. 
However, he was not destined to struggle much longer 
with the trials of the pedagogue's vocation, and soon aft- 
erward he consented to take up his abode in the house of 
his friend Schober. Schubert soon gathered about him a 
small but congenial circle of friends, and from the very 
scanty biographical materials before us we are able to 
catch some glimpses of them. 

Schober was several years his friend's senior, and lived 
104. a quiet bachelor life with his widowed mother. 
His Fnends. jj e wag nQ ^ eS p ec j a iiy musical himself, but pas- 
sionately attached to art in all its forms, and when unable 


to give, was all the more ready to receive. Schober was a 
poet, but his great merit will always consist in having rec- 
ognized and assisted Schubert in the days of his obscurity, 
and the one poem by which he will be longest remembered 
is the poem inscribed on his friend's coffin, beginning, 

"Der Friede sei mit dir, du engelreine Seele!" 
"All bliss be thine, thou pure angelic soul!" 

Gahy was a close friend of Schubert's, especially toward 
the close of his short life. He was a first-rate pianist, and 
with him Schubert studied Beethoven's symphonies, ar- 
ranged for four hands, which could then so seldom be 
heard, besides immense quantities of his own fantasies, 
marches, and endless piano-forte movements. 

At once the most singular and the most intimate of 
Schubert's friends was Mayehofee, the poet. Tall and 
slight, with delicate features and a little sarcastic smile, he 
came and went, sometimes burning with generous emotions, 
at others silent and lethargic. He seemed to be swayed 
by conflicting passions, over which he had no control. He 
was constantly writing poetry, which Schubert was con- 
stantly setting to music. But as time went on, his nerv- 
ous malady developed itself. He wrote less, and for hours 
gave himself up to the dreams of confirmed hypochondria. 
He held a small post under government. One morning, 
going into his office as usual, he endevored in vain to fix 
his attention. He soon rose from his desk, and, after a few 
turns up and down the room, went up to the top of the 
house. A window on the landing stood wide open — he 
rushed to it, and sprang from a great height into the street 
below. He was found quite unconscious, and expired in a 
few moments. 

Schubert could not have got on well without the broth- 
ers Hltttenbrennee ; to the end of his life they fetched 


and carried for him in the most exemplary manner. They 
puffed him incessantly at home and abroad ; they bullied 
his publishers, abused his creditors, carried on much of his 
correspondence, and not unfrequently paid his debts ; they 
were unwearied in acts of kindness and devotion to him — 
never frozen by his occasional moroseness — never soured 
or offended by the brusqueness of his manner. They have 
still in their possession many of his MSS., every scrap of 
which they have carefully preserved, with the exception 
of two of his early operas, which the housemaid unluckily 
used to light the fires with. 

The last and most important of this little coterie was 
Johaxn Michael Vogl, born in 1768. He was educated 
in a monastery, and although he sang for twenty years in 
the Viennese opera, he never lost his habits of meditation 
and study, and might often be met with a volume of the 
New Testament, Marcus Aurelius, or Thomas a Kempis in 
his hand. Twenty years older than Schubert, and pos- 
sessed of a certain breadth and nobleness of character in 
which his friend was somewhat deficient, he very soon ac- 
quired a great ascendency over him. They became fast 
friends, and Yogi was the first to introduce Schubert to 
the Viennese public. He could hardly have been more for- 
tunate in his interpreter. Vogl not only possessed a re- 
markably fine voice, perfect intonation, and true musical 
feeling, but he was universally respected and admired ; and 
as he had ample means of studying the real spirit of Schu- 
bert's songs, so he had frequent opportunities of extending 
their popularity. 

Schubert himself was now about twenty years old. His 
105. outward appearance was not prepossessing; he 

His Appear- L \ , . - - 

ance. was short, with a slight stoop; his face was puf- 

fy, and his hair grizzled ; he was fleshy without strength, 


and pale without delicacy. These unpleasant characteris- 
tics did not improve with years. They were partly, no 
doubt, constitutional, but confirmed by sedentary, perhaps 
irregular habits, and we are not surprised to find his doc- 
tors, some years later, recommending him to take fresh air 
and exercise. Schubert, though a warm-hearted, w r as not 
always a genial friend, and his occasional fits of depression 
would sometimes pass into sullenness and apathy; but mu- 
sic was a never-failing remedy, and Gahy used to say that, 
however unsympathizing and cross he might be, playing a 
duet always seemed to warm him up, so that, toward the 
close, he became quite a pleasant companion. Hittten- 
brenner, it is true, called him a tyrant because he w T as in 
the habit of getting snubbed for his excessive admiration. 
" The fellow," growled out Schubert, " likes every thing I 
do !" Schubert did not shine in general society. He pos- 
sessed neither the political sympathies of Beethoven, nor 
the wide culture of Mendelssohn and Schumann. Almost 
always the greatest man present, he was frequently the 
least noticed ; and while drawing-room plaudits were oft- 
en freely lavished upon some gifted singer, few thought of 
thanking the stout, awkward, and silent figure who sat at 
the piano and accompanied the thrilling melodies which 
had sprung from his own heart. Only when music was 
the subject of discussion would he occasionally speak like 
one who had a right to be heard. At such times his face 
would seem to lose all that was coarse or repulsive, his 
eyes would sparkle with the hidden fire of genius, and his 
voice grow tremulous with emotion. 

In 1818, Count Esterhazy, a Hungarian nobleman, with 
106. his wife Rosine, and his two daughters Marie and 

Work and ' & 

Romance. Caroline, aged respectively fourteen and eleven, 
passed the winter at Vienna. Schubert, who, as a rule, re- 


fused to give music-lessons, was induced in ibis one in- 
stance to waive his objections, and entered this nobleman's 
house in the capacity of music-master. He found the whole 
family passionately devoted to the art. Marie had a beau- 
tiful soprano voice, Caroline and her mother sang contral- 
to, Baron Schonstein took the tenor, and the count com- 
pleted the quartet by singing bass. Many of Schubert's 
most beautiful quartets were written for the Esterhazy 
family; among them, "The Prayer before the Battle," on 
the words of La Motte Fouque, and numbers of his songs 
(such as "Abendlied," "Morgengruss," "Blondel zu Ma- 
rien," and "Ungeduld") were inspired by the charms of 
their society, and the scenes which he visited with them. 

At the close of the season the family thought of leaving 
Vienna ; but Schubert had become necessary to them, and 
they could not bear to part with birn, so he went back 
with them to Hungary. Count Esterhazy's estate was sit- 
uated at the foot of the Styrian Hills, and here it was that 
Schubert fell in love with the youngest daughter, Caroline 
Esterhazy. As his affectionate intercourse with the fam- 
ily was never interrupted, we may suppose that Schubert 
kept his own counsel at first, and was never indiscreet 
enough to press his suit. The little girl was far too young 
to be embarrassed by his attentions, and when she grew 
older, and may have begun to understand the nature of 
his sentiments, she was still so fond of him and his music 
that, although she never reciprocated his love, there was 
no open rupture between them. Caroline played at pla- 
tonic affection with great success, and afterward married 
comfortably. She could, however, sometimes be a little 
cruel, and once she reproached her lover with never hav- 
ing dedicated any thing to her. " What's the use," cried 
poor Schubert, " when you have already got all !" 

Had not art been his real mistress, he would probably 


have been still more inconsolable. Perhaps no one ever 
knew what he suffered from this disappointment in early 
love. Even with his most intimate friends he was always 
very reserved on these subjects. That he was not insensi- 
ble to the charms of other women is certain, and in the 
matter of passing intrigues he was perhaps neither better 
nor worse than many other young men. But it is also cer- 
tain that no time or absence ever changed his feelings to- 
ward Caroline Esterhazy, for whom he entertained to the 
last day of his life the same hopeless and unrequited pas- 
sion. In Baron Schonstein, the family tenor, he found an- 
other powerful and appreciative admirer, and a vocalist 
second only to Vogl. " Dans les salons," writes Liszt in 
1838, " j'entends avec un plaisir tres vif, et souvent avec 
une emotion qui allait jusqu'aux larmes, un amateur le 
Baron Schonstein dire les lieder de Schubert — Schubert, le 
musicien, le plus poete qui fut jamais !" 

Schubert was not a happy man, and as he advanced in 
life he lost more and more of his natural gayety and flow 
of spirits, and at times would even sink into fits of the deep- 
est despondency. He writes to a dear friend in 1824, 

"You are so good and kind that you will forgive me much which oth- 
ers would take ill of me — in a word, I feel myself the most wretched and 
unhappy being in the world ! Imagine a man whose health will never 
come right again, and who, in his despair, grows restless and makes things 
worse — a man whose brilliant hopes have all come to naught, to whom the 
happiness of love and friendship offers nothing but sorrow and bitterness, 
whom the feeling — the inspiring feeling, at least of the beautiful, threatens 
to abandon forever, and ask yourself whether such a one must not be mis- 
erable? Every night when I go to sleep I hope that I may never wake 
again, and every morning renews the grief of yesterday ; my affairs are 
going badly — we have never any money." 

No doubt Schubert suffered from the exhaustion and re- 
lapse which is the torment of all highly sensitive and im- 
aginative temperaments. But his troubles, after all, were 


far from imaginary. Step by step life was turning out for 
him a detailed and irremediable failure. Crossed in early 
love, he devoted himself the more passionately to art, and 
with what results ? He had, indeed, a small knot of ad- 
mirers, but to the public at large he was comparatively un- 
known. He set about fifty of Goethe's songs to music, and 
sent some of them to the poet, but never got any acknowl- 
edgment, nor was it until after his death that Goethe paid 
him the compliment of a tardy recognition. Although 
many of his airs were treasured up in the monasteries, when 
Weber came to Vienna in 1823 he was unacquainted with 
any of his music, and called him a dolt; and in 1826, when 
Schubert humbly applied for the place of vice-organist at 
the Imperial Chapel, Chapel-master Eybler had never heard 
of him as a composer, and recommended Weigl, who was 
accordingly chosen instead. Although the publishers ac- 
cepted a few of his songs, he constantly saw the works of 
men like Kalkbrenner and Romberg preferred to his own. 
Of his two great operas, Alfonso and JEstrella was practi- 
cally a failure, and Fierrabras was neither paid for nor per- 
formed. Public singers not unfrequently refused to sing 
his music, and his last and greatest symphony, the Seventh, 
was pronounced to be too hard for the band, and cast aside. 
Much of this failure may be attributed, no doubt, to his 
constant refusal to modify his compositions, or write them 
down to the public taste. His behavior toward patrons 
and publishers was not conciliatory; he was born without 
the " get on" faculty in him, and was eminently deficient in 
what a modern preacher has called the " divine quality of 
tact." In the midst of all these disappointments, although 
Schubert was never deterred from expressing his opinion, 
his judgment of his rivals was never embittered or unjust. 
He w r as absolutely without malice or envy, and a warm 
eulogist of Weber and even Rossini, although both of these 


favorites were flaunting their plumage in the sunshine 
while he was withering in the shade. 

In 1824 he revisited the Esterhazys in Hungary. His 
little love was now sixteen, but with her dawning woman- 
hood there was no dawn of hope for him. And yet he was 
not unhappy in her society. His many troubles had made 
him so accustomed to pain — it was so natural for joy to be 
bitter, and life to be " mixed with death," " and now," he 
writes, "I am more capable of finding peace and happiness 
in myself." All through the bright summer months, far 
into the autumn, he staid there. Many must have been 
the quiet country rambles he enjoyed with this beloved 
family. Marie seems now to have become his confidante, 
and from the tender sympathy she gave him, and the care 
she took of every scrap of his handwriting, we may well 
believe that a softer feeling than that of mere friendship 
may have arisen in her breast as they w T andered together 
among the Styrian Hills, or listened to the woodland notes 
which seem to be still ringing through some of his inspired 
melodies. Gentle hearts! — where are they now? — the 
honest Count and Rosine — the laughing, affectionate girls 
— the simple-hearted, the gifted, the neglected Schubert? 
— not one of them survives, only these memories — like 
those sad garlands of immortelles which are even now from 
year to year laid upon the tomb of Germany's greatest 

There remains little more to be told of Schubert's life ; 
yet one scene before the last must not be passed by. 

For thirty years Schubert and Beethoven had lived in 

10T the same town and had never met. Schubert 

Beethoven. wors hi pec i at a distance. " Who," he exclaimed, 

" could hope to do any thing after Beethoven ?" On their 

first meeting, Beethoven treated Schubert kindly, but with' 


out much appreciation, and contented himself with point- 
ing out to him one or two mistakes in harmony. Being 
quite deaf, he requested Schubert to write his answers; but 
the young man's hand shook so from nervousness that he 
could do and say nothing, and left in the greatest vexation 
and disappointment. It was only during his last illness 
that Beethoven learned with surprise that Schubert had 
composed more than five hundred songs, and from that 
time till his death he passed many hours over them. His 
favorites were " Iphigenia," " The Bounds of Humanity," 
" Omnipotence," " The Young Nun," " Viola," and " The 
Miller's Songs." Between the intervals of his suffering he 
w T ould read them over and over, and was repeatedly heard 
to exclaim with enthusiasm, " There is, indeed, a divine 
spark in Schubert. I, too, should have set this to music." 
But the days of Beethoven were numbered, and in March 
of the year 1827 he was overtaken by his last illness. 
Several of his friends, hearing of his dangerous state, came 
to visit him — among them came Schubert, with his friend 
Htittenbrenner. Beethoven was lying almost insensible, 
but as they approached the bed he appeared to rally for a 
moment, looked fixedly at them, and muttered something 
unintelligible. Schubert stood gazing at him for some 
moments in silence, and then suddenly burst into tears and 
left the room. On the day of the funeral, Schubert and 
two of his friends were sitting together in a tavern, and 
after the German fashion, they drank to the soul of the 
great man whom they had so lately borne to the tomb. 
It was then proposed to drink to that one of them who 
should be the first to follow him — and hastily filling up the 
cup, Schubert drank to himself! 

In the following year (1828) he finished his seventh and 
last great Symphony in C, and produced, among other 


108 works, the Quintet in C, the Mass in E flat, and 
LastDkys. the Sonata ]sj 0# 3 (Halle edit.), B flat major. His 
health had been failing for some time past, but although 
he now suffered from constant headache and exhaustion, 
we do not find that he ever relaxed his labors in composi- 
tion. In the spring he gave his first and last concert. 
The programme was composed entirely of his own music. 
The hall was crowded to overflowing ; the enthusiasm of 
Vienna was at length fairly awakened, and the crown of 
popularity and success seemed at last within his reach ; but 
the hand which should have grasped it was already grow- 
ing feeble. He thought of going to the hills in July ; but 
when July came he had not sufficient money. He still 
looked forward to visiting Hungary in the autumn, but was 
attacked with fever in September, and expired November 
19, 1828, not having yet completed his thirty-second year. 

He lies near Beethoven, in the crowded cemetery of 
Wahring. On the pediment beneath his bust is the fol- 
lowing inscription : 

' ' ' Music buried here a rich possession, 

and yet fairer hopes.' 

Here lies Franz Schubert ; born Jan. 31, 1797 ; died Nov. 19, 1828, 

aged 31 years." 

We pass from the composer to his works. Works be- 
109. longing to the highest order of genius depend 
eitions. upon the rare combination of three distinct quali- 
ties — (l) Invention, (2) Expression, (3) Concentration. 
Speaking generally, we may say that Beethoven and Mo- 
zart possessed all three. Mendelssohn,* the second and 

* The quality, at once delicate, tender, and sublime, of Mendelssohn's 
creations is not questioned ; but the endless though bewitching repetitions, 
or inversions of the same phrase, and an identity of form which amounts 
to more than mere mannerism, compel us to admit that the range of his 
musical ideas was limited. 



third in the highest degree ; Schumann,* the first and 
third ; Schubert, the first and second. As fast as his ideas 
arose they were poured forth on paper. He was like a 
gardener bewildered with the luxuriant growth springing 
up around him. He was too rich for himself — his fancy 
outgrew his powers of arrangement. Beethoven will often 
take one dry subject, and, by force of mere labor and con- 
centration, kindle it into life and beauty. Schubert will 
shower a dozen upon you, and hardly stop to elaborate 
one. His music is more the work of a gifted dreamer, of 
one carried along irresistibly by the current of his thoughts, 
than of one who, like Beethoven, worked at his idea until 
its expression was without a flaw. His thought possess- 
es Schubert — Beethoven labors till he has possessed his 

Schubert has left compositions in every style — operas, 
church music, symphonies, songs, and unexplored masses 
of piano-forte music. His ojDeras were uniformly unsuccess- 
ful, with the exception of " War in the Household," which 
is on a very small scale, and has the advantage over all the 
others of an experienced librettist, Castelli. The truth is 
that Schubert was probably deficient in the qualities which 
are necessary to the success of an opera. Besides melody, 
harmony, facility, and learning, an attention to stage ef- 
fect, a certain tact of arrangement, and, above all things 
(what Schubert never possessed), the faculty of coming to 
an end, are necessary. Any thing like diffuseness is a 
fault. A successful opera must have definite points to 
work up to, and a good crisis. How many Italian operas 

* Again, extraordinary powers of expression are not denied to Schu- 
mann. He sometimes hits you, like Robert Browning, with the force of 
a sledge-hammer, but you often feel that, like that poet, he is laboring with 
some thought for which he can find and for which there is no adequate 
verbal expression. 


depend upon three situations, one quartet, and a good 
murder ! And how many of them are worth a page of 
Schubert's music ? 

Some of his Masses and Psalms are still unpublished ; 
the few we have had the good fortune to hear possess all 
the breadth and sweetness of his secular works. The twen- 
ty-third Psalm, for women's voices, might be sung by a 
chorus of angels. 

Schubert wrote in all seven complete symphonies. Of 
these, the sixth, in C, is interesting, as showing the transi- 
tion from the forms of Mozart and Beethoven to true Schu- 
bertian. The seventh and last (1828) is a masterpiece, 
and tastes of nothing but Schubert from beginning to end. 
Comparisons of merit are usually senseless or unjust, but 
different qualities are often best observed by the light of 
contrast. In Schubert's piano-forte music and symphonic 
writing for strings or full orchestra we miss the firm grip 
of Beethoven, the masterful art-weaving completeness of 
Mendelssohn, the learning of Spohr, or even the pure melo- 
dic flow of Mozart ; grip there is, but it is oftener the grip 
of Phaeton than the calm might of Apollo ; a weaving 
there is, no doubt, but like the weaving of the Indian loom 
— beautiful in its very irregularity ; learning there is, and 
that of the highest order, because instinctive ; but how oft- 
en do we find a neglect of its use in the direction of cur- 
tailment or finish ! — melodies there are in abundance, but 
they are frequently so crowded upon each other with a de- 
structive exuberance of fancy that we fail to trace their 
musical connection or affinity. In speaking thus, we are 
dealing, of course, with characteristics and tendencies, not 
with invariable qualities. Movements of Schubert might 
be pointed out as rounded and complete, as connected in 
thought and perfect in expression, as the highest standard 
of art could require ; but these will be found more often 


among his piano-forte four-hand and vocal music than in 
his larger works. We must, however, admit that the ex- 
ceptions to this rule are triumphant ones, and criticism 
stands disarmed before such works as the Quintet in C, 
the Sonata in A minor, and the Seventh Symphony. 

In describing this symphony, Schumann has not fallen 
into the shallow mistake of explaining to us the particular 
thought which the author had in his mind ; but, while ad- 
mitting that probably he had none, and that the music was 
open to different interpretations, he neither there, nor else- 
where in the mass of his criticism, explains how the same 
piece of music can mean different things, or why people 
are so apt to insist upon its meaning something. The fact 
is, when we say a piece of music is like the sea or the 
moon, what we really mean is that it excites in us an emo- 
tion like that created by the sea or the moon ; but the 
same music will be the fit expression of any other idea 
which is calculated to rouse in us the same sort of feeling. 
As far as music is concerned, it matters not whether your 
imagination deals with a storm gradually subsiding into 
calm, passionate sorrow passing into resignation, or silence 
and night descending upon a battle-field ; in each of the 
above cases the kind of emotion excited is the same, and 
will find a sort of expression in any one of these different 
conceptions. In illustration of the number of similar ideas 
which will produce the same emotion, and of the different 
ways in which the same emotion will find an utterance, see 
an article in the Argosy, II., by Matthew Browne : " It has 
seemed to me that no note of pain, shriek of agony, or 
shout of joy — for either would do — could be strong enough 
to express sympathy with a meadow of buttercups tossed 
and retossed by the wind." 

How often in Beethoven is it impossible to decide wheth- 
er he is bantering or scolding, and in Mendelssohn whether 
he is restless with joy or anxiety ! 


Thus a very little reflection will show us that music is 
not necessarily connected with any definite conception. 
Emotion, not thought, is the sphere of music ; and emotion 
quite as often precedes as follows thought. Although a 
thought will often, perhaps always, produce an emotion of 
some kind, it requires a distinct effort of the mind to fit an 
emotion with its appropriate thought. Emotion is the at- 
mosphere in which thought is steeped — that which lends 
to thought its tone or temperature — that to which thought 
is often indebted for half its power. In listening to music, 
we are like those who gaze through different colored lenses. 
Now the air is dyed with a fiery hue, but presently a wave 
of rainbow green, or blue, or orange floats by, and varied 
tints melt down through infinite gradations, or again rise 
into eddying contrasts, with such alterations as fitly mir- 
ror in the clear deeps of harmony the ever-changeful and 
subtle emotions of the soul. Can any words express these? 
No ! Words are but poor interpreters in the realms of 
emotion. Where all words end, music begins ; where they 
suggest, it realizes ; and hence the secret of its strange, in- 
effable power. It reveals us to ourselves; it represents 
those modulations and temperamental changes which es- 
cape all verbal analysis ; it utters what must else remain 
forever unuttered and unutterable ; it feels that deep, in- 
eradicable instinct within us of which all art is only the 
reverberated echo — that craving to express, through the 
medium of the senses, the spiritual and eternal realities 
which underlie them ! Of course, 'this language of the 
emotions has to be studied like any other. To the inapt 
or uncultured, music seems but the graceful or forcible 
union of sounds with words, or a pleasant meaningless vi- 
bration of sound alone. But to him who has read the open 
secret aright, it is a language for the expression of the 
soul's life beyond all others. The true musician cares very 


little for your definite ideas, or things which can be ex- 
pressed by words — he knows you can give him these ; what 
he sighs for is the expression of the immaterial, the impal- 
pable, the great " imponderables" of our nature, and he 
turns from a world of painted forms and oppressive sub- 
stances to find the vague and yet perfect rapture of his 
dream in the wild, invisible beauty of his divine mistress! 
Although music appeals simply to the emotions, and rep- 
resents no definite images in itself, we are justified in using 
any language which may serve to convey to others our mu- 
sical impressions. Words will often pave the way for the 
more subtle operations of music, and unlock the treasures 
which sound alone can rifle, and hence the eternal popular- 
ity of song. Into the region of song Schubert found him- 
self forced almost against his will. He could get himself 
heard in no other, and this, after all, proved to be the sphere 
in which he was destined to reign supreme. His inspira- 
tions came to him in electric flashes of short and over- 
whelming brilliancy. The white heat of a song like the 
"Erl King," or " Ungeduld," must have cooled if carried 
beyond the limits of a song. Nowhere is Schubert so great 
as in the act of rendering some sudden phase of passion. 
Songs like "Mignon" and "Marguerite Spinning" remind 
one of those miracles of photography where the cloud is 
caught in actual motion — the wave upon the very curl. 
Schubert was always singing. The Midas of music, every 
thing dissolved itself into a stream of golden melody be- 
neath his touch. All his instrumental works are full of 
melodies piled on melodies. We need not wonder at the 
number of his songs. He began by turning every poem 
he could get hold of into a song, and, had he lived long 
enough, he would have set the whole German literature to 
music. But he who, like Coleridge, is always talking, is 
not always equally well worth listening to. Schubert com- 


posed with enormous rapidity, but seldom condensed or 
pruned sufficiently, and his music sometimes suffers from a 
certain slipper- and- dressing- gown style, suggestive of a 
man who was in the habit of rising late, and finishing his 
breakfast and half a dozen songs together. His warmest 
admirers can not be quite blind to an occasional slovenli- 
ness in his accompaniments ; but, like Shelley, he is so rich 
in his atmospheric effects that we hardly care to look too 
nearly at the mechanism. His songs may be divided into 
seven classes. We can do no more at present than barely 
enumerate them, pointing out specimens of perfect beauty 
in illustration of each. We quote the " Wolfenbiittel" edi- 
tion, in five volumes, edited by Sat tier. The first number 
refers to the volume, the second to the page. 

I. Religious— •" Ave Maria," ii., 248 ; " The Young Nun," h\, 222. 
II. Supernatural—" The Double," v., 183 ; "The Ghost's Greeting,'' 
hi., 431. 

III. Symbolical— ."The Crow," ii., 409 ; " The Erl King," i., 2. 

IV. Classical— " Philoctetes," iv., 97 ; " ^Eschylus," iv., 125. 

V. Descriptive— " The Post," ii., 406 ; "A Group in Tartarus," i., 112. 
VI. Songs of Meditation— "The Wanderer," i., 20; "Night and 

Dreams," ii., 225. 
VII. Songs of Passion— "Mignon," iv., 176; "Thine is my heart," i., 
132 ; "By the Sea," v., 181 ; "Anne Lyle," ii., 348. 

Notwithstanding the opinion of an illustrious critic to 
the contrary, we must be allowed to doubt whether Schu- 
bert ever reached his climax. Those works of his latest 
period not manifestly darkened by the shadow of approach- 
ing death — e. #., " Seventh Symphony" and " A minor So- 
nata" — bear the most distinct marks of progress; and dur-' 
ing the last year of his life he had applied himself with vig- 
or to the study of Bach, Handel, and the stricter forms of 
fugue and counterpoint. What the result of such severe 
studies might have been upon a mind so discursive we can 
only conjecture. He might have added to his own rich- 


ness more of Beethoven's power and of Mendelssohn's fin- 
ish; but, in the words of Schumann, "lie has done enough;" 
and as we take a last glance at the vast and beautiful ar- 
ray of his compositions, we can only exclaim again with 
Liszt, "Schubert ! — Schubert, le musicien,le plus poete qui 
fut jamais!" 



Born 1810, Died 1849. 

£Ujl. V 




*< w- 



What Schubert was to Song, Chopin was to the Piano ; 
110 but while the genius of Schubert ranged freely 
andciassi- over every field of musical composition, that of 
cai Schools. ch pi n was confined within certain narrow limits. 
Borne into the mid-current of that great wave of Romanti- 
cism first set in motion by Schubert, he was destined, with 
the aid of Liszt and Berlioz, to establish its influence per- 
manently in Paris. Paris — at once so superficially brilliant 
and so profoundly acute — the same in theology, philoso- 
phy, and the arts — always slow to receive German influ- 
ences, and always sure to adopt them in the long-run — 
Paris became in reality the great foreign depot of the Ro- 
mantic school. But political events had something to do 
with this. About 1832, the effervescence of the first years 


250 CSOPIjs. 

of t lie July Revolution seemed to pass naturally into ques- 
tions of art and literature, and as the French are occasion- 
ally tired of blood but never of glory, the great battle of 
the Romantic and Classical schools was fouejht out in the 
bloodless arena of the arts. 

It was the old contest, with which in so many other 
forms we have grown familiar — what Mr. Mill calls "the 
struggle between liberty and authority"* — or as Mr. Car- 
lyle once said at Edinburg, " the question of whether we 
should be led by the old formalities of use and wont, or by 
something that had been conceived of new in the souls of 
men." Dead fruit has to be shaken periodically from ev- 
ery branch of the tree of knowledge. But if any good is 
to be done, the shaking must be severe and thorough. 
The constantly recurring question between the new wine 
and the old bottles admits of no compromise. " What 
compromise,"! asks Liszt, " could there be between those 
who would not admit the possibility of writing in any oth- 
er than the established manner, and those who thought 
that the artist should be allowed to choose such forms as 
he deemed best suited for the expression of his own ideas ?" 
We know how the question was settled. We know how 
Mendelssohn saved the movement from suicidal extrava- 
gance in its early stages — while Schumann, and, later still, 
"Wagner, have done something: toward sanctioning its very 
excesses. The cause of freedom, in music as elsewhere, is 
now very nearly triumphant; but at a time when its ad- 
versaries were many and powerful, we can hardly imagine 
the sacred bridge of liberty kept by a more stalwart trio 
than Schubert the Armorer, Chopin the Refiner, and Liszt 
the Thunderer. 

* Mill on "Liberty," chap. i. 

t Liszt's fifth chapter. "Life of Chopin," contains a statement of the 
points ot ^ssue- 

FUtS r YEARS. 251 

Frederick Francis Chopin was born in 1810, atZela- 
m zowa-Wola, near Warsaw. His family was of 
First Years. F renc h extraction, and, though gifted with a cer- 
tain native distinction, seems to have been neither rich nor 
prosperous. Frederick was a frail and delicate child, and 
a source of constant anxiety to his parents. He was pet- 
ted and coaxed on from year to year, and seemed to gain 
strength very slowly. He w r as a quiet and thoughtful 
child, with the sweetest of dispositions — always suffering 
and never complaining. At the age of nine he began to 
learn music from Ziwna, a passionate disciple of Sebastien 
Bach; but it does not appear that either he himself or his 
friends were at that time aware of his remarkable powers. 
In 1820 he was introduced to Madame Catalani, who for 
some reason gave him a watch — whether merely as a wom- 
an she was attracted tow T ard the pale and delicate boy, or 
as an artist, with a certain prophetic instinct, when his life 
was yet in the bud — 

" She too foretold the perfect rose" — 
we can not say. At any rate, the bud soon began to open. 
Through the kindness of Prince Radziwill, a liberal patron 
of rising talent, Chopin was sent to the Warsaw College, 
where he received the best education, and where his music- 
al powers began to make themselves felt. At the age of 
sixteen he became the favorite pupil of Joseph Eisner, Di- 
rector of the Conservatory at Warsaw, and from him he 
learned those habits of severe study, and that practical sci- 
ence, which gave him in later years so complete a mastery 
over his subtle and dreamy creations. At college he made 
many friends, more especially among the young nobility, 
and upon being introduced to their families, he assumed 
without an effort that position in society which he ever 
after retained, and for which nature had so peculiarly fit- 
ted him. " Gentle, sensitive, and very lovely, he united 

252 CHOPIN. 

the charm of adolescence with the suavity of a more ma- 
ture age ; through the want of muscular development he 
retained a peculiar beauty, an exceptional physiognomy, 
which, if we may venture so to speak, belonged to neither 

age nor sex It was more like the ideal creations 

with which the poetry of the Middle Ages adorned the 
Christian temples. The delicacy of his constitution ren- 
dered him interesting in the eyes of women. The full yet 
grateful cultivation of his mind, the sweet and captivating 
originality of his conversation, gained for him the atten- 
tion of the most enlightened men, while those less highly 
cultivated liked him for the exquisite courtesy of his man- 

The manners of Chopin seem to have impressed every 
112 one with the same sense of refinement. Tinged 

His Manners. ^^ a cer tain melancholy which was never ob- 
trusive, and which exhaled itself freely in his music alone, 
he was nevertheless a most charming companion. Only 
those who knew him well knew how reserved he really was. 
He received every one with the same facile courtesy, and 
was so ready to be absorbed by others that few noticed 
how little he ever gave in return. He was unmoved by 
praise, but not always unmortified by failure ; yet he never 
lost that quiet and affable dignity which some may have 
thought a little cold and satirical, but which to others 
seemed at once natural and charming. He was usually 
cheerful, but seldom showed deep feeling. He was not, 
however, deficient in impulse nor wanting in depth, and 
beneath a somewhat placid exterior lay concealed the 
warmest family affections, a burning patriotism, a passion- 
ate love, and a stern, unalterable devotion to the true prin- 
ciples of his art. 

* George Sand. 


Soon after completing his education at Warsaw he visit- 
113 ed Vienna, where he played frequently in public ; 
His style. ^^ ;Li SZ t fa^ been before him, and he found those 
large audiences, whose ears had been so lately stunned 
with the thunder of cascades and hurricanes, wholly unpre- 
pared to listen to the murmuring of the waterfall or the 
sighing of the midnight wind. The genius of Chopin could 
never cope with the masses. " I am not suited for con- 
cert-giving," he said to Liszt. " The public intimidate me 
— their breath stifles me. You are destined for it, for 
when you do not gain your public, you have the force to 
assault, to overwhelm, to compel them." But he found 
some compensation for the indifferentism of the many in 
the enthusiastic admiration of the few. A little circle of 
friends, consisting of several distinguished amateurs, and 
some of the first artists of the day, began to gather round 
the new pianist, and the public prints soon took the hint, 
and described him as "a master of the first rank," and the 
most remarkable meteor then shining in the musical firma- 
ment, and so forth.* 

After the Revolution of 1830, the position of Poland 
114 seemed more hopeless than ever, and Chopin, like so 
Paris " many of his compatriots, determined to leave his 
country, and seek a temporary asylum in England. But 
unforeseen events delayed the accomplishment of this plan. 
On his way to England he often said, with a sad and satir- 
ical smile, " he passed through Paris ;" but when he left 
Paris it was not for London, but for an island in the Medi- 
terranean. Great was the curiosity in some French circles 
when Chopin's visit was announced. All the first musi- 
cians and connoisseurs, including Liszt, M. Pleyel, Kalk- 
brenner, Field, and others, assembled in M. Vleyel's con- 
* Leipsic Gazette, 1829, No. 46. 


cert-rooms to hear him. Chopin played his First Concerto 

and several of his detached pieces, a,nd the sensation which 
lie produced is still fresh in the memory of Liszt and oth- 
ers who were present on that oeeasion. But, while all 
were astonished, some were not convinced, and sober pian- 
ists like Kalkbrenner took exception to such unconstitu- 
tional effects as the new virtuose was in the habit of pro- 
ducing by using his third finger for his thumb, and vice 
versa. Chopin was at once received into the best society, 
and here he breathed the atmosphere most congenial to 
him. Unlike Schubert, he was not averse to giving les- 
sons, but chose only pupils of the highest natural endow- 
ments ; and when we add that the most distinguished and 
beautiful women in Paris eagerly sought his instructions 
on any terms, we can imagine him engaged in a more un- 
palatable occupation. Chopin, in a Avord, became the rage : 
he was feted in the salons, and sought after by the highest 
circles. There he formed many admirable pupils, who 
closely imitated his style, and generally played nothing 
but his music. 

Meanwhile he lived quietly in the Chaussee d'Antin — 
115 shunned the celebrities, literary and philosophic* 
His Friends. a j — seldom entertained, and objected to the in- 
vasion of his privacy. But his friends and admirers would 
sometimes take no refusal, and occasionallv invade his 
apartments in a body. Through the kindness of Dr. Liszt, 
who was usually the ringleader in such disturbances, we 
can easily transport ourselves in imagination to one of 
these impromptu levees. It is about nine o'clock in the 
evening. Chopin is seated at the piano, the room is dimly 
lighted by a few wax candles. Several men of brilliant 
renown are grouped in the luminous zone immediately 
around the piano. 


Heine, the sad humorist, leans over his shoulder, and as 
the tapering fingers wander meditatively over the ivory 
keys, asks " if the trees at moonlight sang always so har- 

Meyerbeer is seated by his side : his grave and thought- 
ful head moves at times with a tacit acquiescence and de- 
light, and he almost forgets the ring of his own Cyclopsean 
harmonies in listening to the delicate Arabesque -woven 
mazourkas of his friend. 

Adolphe Nourrit, the noble and ascetic artist, stands 
apart. He has something of the grandeur of the Middle 
Ages about him. In his later years he refused to paint 
any subject which was wanting in true dignity. Like 
Chopin, he served art with a severe exclusiveness and a 
passionate devotion. 

Eugene Delacroix leans against the piano, absorbed in 
meditation — developing, it may be, in his own mind, some 
form of beauty, or some splendid tint, suggested by the 
strange analogies which exist between sound and color. 

"Buried in afauteuil, -with her arms resting on a table, 
sat Madame Saxd, curiously attentive, gracefully subdued" 
(Liszt). She was listening to the language of the emo- 
tions; fascinated by the subtle gradations of thought and 
feeling which she herself delighted to express, she may 
have there learned that wondrous melody of language 
which so often reminds one of a meditation by Chopin. 
It is in memory of some such golden hours that she writes, 
"There is no mightier art than this, to awaken in man the 
sublime consciousness of his own humanity ; to paint be- 
fore his mind's eye the rich splendors of nature ; the joy 
of meditation ; the national character of a people; the pas- 
sionate tumult of their hopes and fears; the languor and 
despondency of their sufferings. Remorse, violence, terror, 
control, despair, enthusiasm, faith, disquietude, glory, calm 


— these and a thousand other nameless emotions belong to 
music. Without stooping to a puerile imitation of noises 
and effects, she transports us in the spirit to strange and 
distant scenes. There we wander to and fro in the dim 
air, and, like iEneas in the Elysian fields, all we behold is 
greater than on earth, godlike, changed, idealized !"* 

It was soon after the extraordinary creation of "Lelia," 
in which all the vials of her passionate scorn are poured 
out upon man, while every thing except " the Eternal Fem- 
inine"! is exalted in woman, that Madame Sand first met 
Chopin. She was then suffering from that exhaustion and 
lassitude which generally follows the attempt to realize an 
impossible ideal. Her creation was still before her, but it 
did not satisfy her; like the statue of Pygmalion, it want- 
ed life. What was, after all, the world of dreams to her, if 
there were no realities to correspond to them? She would 
not ask for a perfect realization, but, womanlike, something 
she must have. She who " had surprised such ineffable 
smiles on the faces of the dead"J — she who " had dreamed 
of scenes which must exist somewhere, either on the earth 
or in some of the planets, whose light we love to gaze upon 
in the forests when the moon has set"§ — seemed to find for 
the time an outward reflection of her ideal world in the 
mind and music of Chopin. Her strong, energetic person- 
ality at once absorbed the fragile musician. She drew him 
as a magnet draws steel. He was necessary to her. She 
felt that one side of her nature had never been adequately 
expressed. She was many-sided. She would have every 
thing in turn. She would lay heaven and earth under con- 
tribution. The passing moment was her eternity. Noth- 
ing seemed to her limited which filled the present phase. 
For a time, in the course of her imperious self-develop- 

* "Consuelo." X "Spiridion." 

t " Das ewig Weibliche."— Goethe. § " Lettres d'un Voyageur.'* 


ment, the part represented to her the whole, and thus it 
happened that Chopin, whose whole was only a part, was 
offered up, among others, upon the altar of her comprehen- 
sive and insatiable originality. 

In his twenty-seventh year (183V) Chopin Avas attacked 
116. w T ith the lung disease which had threatened him 

Madame Sand, from his earliest childhood. Madame Sand had 
now become his constant and devoted companion, and with 
her he was induced to leave the heated drawing-rooms 
and perfumed boudoirs of Paris for the soft and balmy 
breezes of the South. They finally settled in the island of 
Majorca, and for the events which followed we must refer 
the reader to the pages of " Lucrezia Floriani," where Ma- 
dame Sand is "La Floriani," Chopin the "Prince Karol," 
and Liszt the " Count Salvator Albani." Those who have 
lingered in feeble health by the shores of the Mediterra- 
nean know how from those sunny waters and cloudless 
skies a sweet, new life seems to pass into the veins, while, 
as it were, Nature herself arises to tend her sickly children. 
The grounds of the Villa Floriani were bounded only by 
the sand of the sea-shore — here and there the foliage dip- 
ped into the water. Can we wonder if, in this momentary 
and delusive rest, health returned to the overtasked and 
exhausted musician, or that some of his loveliest inspira- 
tions arose as he lingered by the blooming coast, gazed 
upon the summer sea, or floated out into its moonlit wa- 
ters ? 

He returned to Paris with a show of health which was 
soon to disappear beneath the shocks of passion and disap- 
pointment which now awaited him. The dream of Cho- 
pin's life w r as union with Madame Sand in marriage. He 
had not followed her in her speculations — he did not agree 
with her conclusions — he only prayed that what had be- 

258 CHOFIX. 

come dearer to him than life itself might be secured to him 
forever, and he asked the woman he loved to sacrifice her 
philosophical opinions to his passionate devotion. But, 
unfortunately, marriage found no place in Madame Sand's 
system of morals. She considered it a snare to a man and 
a delusion to a woman. This controversy first brought 
out the glaring differences of character which had always 
existed between them, and from the hour of Madame Sand's 
deliberate refusal Chopin was seized with a restless and 
inextinguishable jealousy. Although Madame Sand had 
been considerate and consistent enough to remove every 
cause, yet Chopin was never satisfied, and in his misery 
and impatience he began to attack her philosophy and re- 
ligion. It was a fatal step ! Off his own peculiar ground 
he was not able to meet her. The "Floriani" confesses 
that at last she grew tired of his endless reproaches, and 
the knell of their separation at length sounded. It could 
not be otherwise. They met and parted in dreamland, 
and it is the keenest satire on Madame Sand's philosophy 
of passion that an intimacy, begun with the conviction that 
here at last were all the elements of a deep and enduring 
union, should end with the mournful confession that " tw r o 
natures, the one rich in its exuberance, the other in its ex- 
clusiveness, could never really mingle, and that a whole 
world separated them !"* 

But the love that was only an episode in the life of Ma- 
dame Sand proved to be the whole life of Chopin. "All 
the cords," he would frequently say, " that bound me to 
life are broken." From this time his health visibly de- 
clined. He was soon seized with another severe attack of 
his old complaint, but he was now no longer tended by his 
incomparable nurse. Her place was supplied by his favor- 
ite pupil, M. Gutman," whose presence," he said," was dear- 

" Lucrezia Floriani." 

EX GLAND. 259 

er to him than that of any other person." Contrary to ex- 
pectation, he rallied ; but a great change had passed over 
him ; he had lost much of his outward equanimity, and 
looked so pale and cadaverous that his friends hardly rec- 
ognized him. He soon began to resume his former occu- 
pations, but with an ever-growing restlessness which an- 
nounced too surely the beginning of the end. He seemed 
utterly careless about his health : " Why should he care?" 
he would sometimes ask; there was nothing to live for 
now — " no second friend." He had " passed through Paris" 
— Paris could never be the same to him again — he had 
best leave it, and go any where — to London. So his friends 
and disciples assembled once more in M. Pleyel's rooms, 
and there they heard him for the last time. In vain they 
besought him to delay his visit ; Chopin was bent upon 
leaving Paris immediately, and, although threatened with 
a relapse, at the most inclement season of the year he start- 
ed for England. 

His fame had preceded him, and the highest circles 
117. opened their ranks to receive him. He was pre- 
Engiand. sen ted to the Queen by the Duchess of Sutherland ; 
played twice in public at Willis's Rooms, and at many 
private concerts. He went much into society, sat up late 
at night, and exposed himself to constant fatigues. Against 
the advice of his physicians he next visited Scotland, and 
returned to London in the last stage of consumption. One 
more concert, the last he ever played at — in aid of his ex- 
iled countrymen, the Poles — and then he hurried back to 
Paris. But his favorite physician, Dr. Molin, who had 
saved his life more than once, was dead, and Chopin had 
no confidence in any other. His unnatural energy was 
now succeeded by the deepest lassitude and dejection. 
He scarcely ever left his bed, and seldom spoke. M. Gut- 

260 CHOPLX. 

man, Louise, his own sister, and the beautiful and accom* 
plished Countess Delphine Potocka, were his constant at- 

One evening toward sunset, Chopin, who had lain insen- 
11S sible for many hours, suddenly rallied. He observed 
Death. t j ie C0U11 t esSj draped in white, standing at the foot 
of the bed. She was weeping bitterly. " Sing !" mur- 
mured the dying man. She had a lovely voice. It was a 
strange request, but so earnest a one that his friends wheel- 
ed the piano from the adjoining parlor to his bedroom 
door, and there, as the twilight deepened, with the last 
rays of the setting sun streaming into the room, the count- 
ess sang that famous canticle to the Virgin which it is said 
once saved the life of Stradella. " How beautiful it is I" 
he exclaimed. " My God, how beautiful ! — Again, again !" 
In another moment he swooned away. 

On the 17th of October, 1849, having entered upon his 
fortieth year, Chopin breathed his last in the arms of his 
devoted pupil, M. Gutman. Many of his intimate friends 
came to see him. His love of flowers was well known, and 
the next day they were brought in t such quantities that 
the bed on which he lay, and, indeed, the whole room, 
disappeared beneath a variegated covering of a thousand 
bright tints. The pale face seemed to have regained in 
death all its early beauty ! there was no more unrest — no 
signs of care — he lay sleeping tranquilly among the flow- 

On the 30th day of October his requiem was sung at 
the Madeleine Church in Paris, Signor Lablache, Madame 
Viardot, and Madame Castellan claiming the principal so- 
los, and M. Wely presiding at the organ. He lies in the 
cemetery of Pere la Chaise, between Cherubini and Bel- 


Chopin was essentially a national musician. Although 
119. he lived much in France, his music is never 

His Compo- _ _ „ _ . , ,. 

sitions. French. "He sings to one clear harp in divers 
tones," the swan-song of his people's nationality. His ge- 
nius Avas elegiac. He is more often tender than strong, 
and even his occasional bursts of vigor soon give way to 
the prevailing undertone of a deep melancholy. His coun- 
try is ever uppermost in his thoughts. His Polonaises re- 
flect the national ardor of a noble but unhappy patriotism. 
His mazourkas and scherzos are full of the subtle coquetry 
and passionate sensibility of his gifted countrywomen, 
while his ballads* are nothing but the free, wild songs of 
his native land, transcribed for the first time by himself. 

He, first of all musicians, understood the dignity of 
manners and the language of deportment, and with varied 
utterance he seems to be continually reminding us that 
"Manners are not idle, but the fruit 
Of noble nature and of loyal mind." 

His dance music has added a strange and fascinating 
solemnity to the graces of the ballroom, elevating a mere 
pastime into what may almost be called a philosophy. 

As a romance writer for the piano-forte he had no models 
and will have no rivals. He was original without extrava- 
gance, and polished without affectation. It is to him we 
owe the extension of chords struck together in arpeggio, 
the little groups of superadded notes "falling like light 
drops of pearly dew upon the melodic figure;" he also in- 
vented those admirable harmonic progressions which lend 
importance to many a slender subject, and redeem its 
slightest efforts from triviality. Of Schubert he once re- 
marked that " the sublime is desecrated when followed by 

* There are sixteen (the " Ringlein") published. They are very little 
known. No. 12, "My Joy," and 10, "Riding Home from the Fight,' 
are quite remarkable. 

262 CHOPIN. 

the trivial or commonplace." A certain rollicking fun, and 
vulgar though powerful energy, that frequently peeps out 
in Schubert's marches, was abhorrent to him. Perhaps he 
hardly appreciated the enormous range of men like Beet- 
hoven or even Schubert. His own range was limited, but 
within it he has probably never been equaled in absolute 
perfection of finish. His works are marked by a complete 
absence of commonplace, and you will search throughout 
them in vain for a slovenly chord or an unskillful combina- 
tion. His boldness is always justified by success, and his 
repetition by a certain weird and singular pathos. 

He was great in small things, but small in great ones. 
His two concertos with orchestral accompaniments are 
more ambitious than successful. The other instruments, 
like the general public (thin as are his orchestral scores), 
seem to stifle and embarrass him, and we long to have 
Chopin alone again at the piano-forte. 

Thus much in general. Volumes more might doubtless 
be written about these men and their music, but they had 
better be left to speak for themselves to the listening ear 
and the loving heart. We lay down the pen of the critic 
— we look up once more at the familiar features of Fraxz 
Schubert and Frederick Chopin. They have long been 
to us a running commentary upon all nature, and the gen- 
tle companions of our solitude; May never comes w T ith its 
glittering freshness and myriad bloom but the songs of 
Schubert are rinprino; in our ears, nor June with its sjlo\v- 
ing tints and tender twilights but the melodies of Chopin 
seem to haunt the air. 

"For the stars and the winds are unto them 
As raiment, as songs of the harp-player ; 
For the risen stars and the fallen cling to them, 
A.nd the southwest wind and the west wind sing!" 










A geoup of musical biographies without two such cen- 
tral figures as Mozart and Beethoven is like a collection of 
the British poets without Shakspeare and Milton ; but we 
must remind our readers that, in this book, there is a third 
great name that has only been mentioned incidentally, the 
name of Sebastien Bach, while an illustrious group of nine- 
teenth-century composers in France, Italy, and Germany 
have not been touched. 

Mozart and Beethoven may be hereafter treated in two 
120. separate volumes. The position of Sebastien Bach 


explained, would, according to our method, be most aptly 
considered whenever a detailed biography of Mendelssohn 
comes to be written. The modern Italian and French 

264 MOZART. 

schools may also form an interesting subject for future 
consideration, while the germs of musical art in England 
should not be regarded as hopeless or trivial. 

The present volume should be taken, not as a complete 
survey of musical art, but merely as a serious tribute to 
its importance combined with a group of biographies sug- 
gestive of a few great landmarks in the rise and develop- 
ment of modern music. 

I have felt it impossible to close this second book with- 
out trying to give the reader a passing glimpse of Mozart, 
Beethoven, and Mendelssohn. The study on Elijah will, 
I trust, not be considered cle trop. 

To open Mozart's letters is like opening a painted tomb. 

121. W e are surrounded by people long dead — we 

Vivid Letters. Yea( \ ^ ie once familiar names, forgotten now — 

we look curiously at the busy every-day life of a century 
ago — we almost catch the ringing laugh and the sound of 
voices. The colors are all fresh, the figures are all distinct. 
Let us select one group. There is Leopold Mozart, the 
father, with his old threadbare coat and oaken stick, a God- 
fearing, sensible, but somewhat narrow-minded man ; his 
wife — the very model of a thrifty housewife. There is 
pretty little Nannerl, now about fifteen, who " looks like 
an angel in her new clothes," and plays the clavier to the 
astonishment of Herr von Molk, the stupid lover, and the 
other court musicians who frequent the worthy Capell- 
meister's house at Salzburg. There is Bimberl the clog, 
who gets so many kisses, and the canary that sings in G 
sharp; and, last, there is the glorious boy Wolfgang Ama- 
deus Mozart, now about thirteen, in his little puce-brown 
coat, velvet hose, and buckled shoes, and long, flowing 
curly hair, tied behind after the fashion of the day. He 
has already visited Paris, London, and Rome, and is no less 


famous for uproarious merriment than for music. At the 
age of four he wrote tunes, at twelve he could not find his 
equal on the harpsichord, and the professors of Europe 
stood aghast at one who improvised fugues on a given 
theme, and then took a ride a cock-horse on his father's 

The first two sections of Letters, which carry us up to 
his twenty-second year, reach from 1769 to 1778, and are 
dated variously from Verona, Milan, Rome, Bologna, and 
Venice. We have also an account of a professional tour 
in Germany with his mother, in the fruitless search after 
some settled employment. He seems to have met with 
many friends, much praise, some jealousy, but so little 
money that he charged only four ducats for twelve lessons, 
and could write to Martini, the old Italian Nestor of mu- 
sic, " We live in a country where music has very little suc- 
cess." Meanwhile he has excellent spirits, and laughs at 
every thing and every body — at the ascetic friar, who ate 
so enormously — at Nannerl's lover, poor Herr von Molk, 
whimpering behind his pocket-handkerchief — at the violin 
professor, who was always saying," I beg your pardon, but 
I am out again," and was always consoled by Mozart's in- 
variable reply, " It doesn't in the least signify" — at the 
Italian singer who had " una rugged voce e canta sempre 
about a quarter of a note too hardi o troppo o buon ora /" 
Contrasted with these lighter moods, it is striking to ob- 
serve a deep undertone of seriousness, as when he assures 
his father of his regularity at confession, and exclaims, "I 
have always had God before my eyes. Friends who have 
no religion can not long be my friends ;" "I have such a 
sense of religion that I shall never do any thing that I 
would not do before the whole world :" and we recognize 
the loving, unspoiled heart of a boy in the young man's 
words, "Next to God comes papa." This period was 


266 MOZART. 

marked by the composition of the greater number of his 
masses, most of which were written before his twenty- 
third year. 

The year 1778 and 1779, which he spent in Paris, were 
129. probably the most uncongenial of his life. He 

Paris, Vienna, * / ° . . 

and Love. found the people coarse and intriguing, the mu- 
sicians stupid and intractable, the nobles poor and stingy, 
the women unconversable and dissolute. The whole tone 
of the French mind displeased him. "The ungodly arch- 
villain Voltaire has died like a dog," he writes. But upon 
the French music he pours all the vials of his wrath. 
" The French are, and always will be, downright donkeys." 
" They can not sing — they scream." " The devil himself 
invented their language." In 1779 he came back to Ger- 
many, resolved to abandon forever both the French and 
Italian styles, and devote himself to the cultivation of a 
real German opera school. The Idomeneo was the first- 
fruits. It was produced at Munich for the Carnival of 
1780 — a date forever memorable in the annals of music as 
the dawn of the great classical period in Mozart's history. 
From 1781 to 1782, all his letters are dated from Vien- 
na, where he finally settled down. Money is still scarce. 
"I have only one small room," he writes: "it is quite 
crammed with a piano, a table, a bed, and a chest of draw- 
ers ;" but, combined with his almost austere poverty, we 
notice the same regularity in his religious duties, the same 
purity in his private life; of this, such letters as vol. ii., 
No. 180-182, afford the strongest circumstantial evidence. 
In 1781, his reasons for marrying, though quaintly put, are 
quite unanswerable — viz., because he had no one to take 
care of his linen ; because he could not live like the disso- 
lute young men around him; and, lastly, because he was 
in love with Constance Weber. The marriage took place 

HAYDK 267 

in 1782, Mozart being then twenty-six, and his bride eight- 
een. The same year witnessed the production of II Se- 
raglio, and shortly afterward we find him dining pleasant- 
ly with the veteran composer Gluck, who, although of 
quite another school, and in some sense a rival, was always 
cordial in his praises of Mozart. So thoroughly, indeed, 
had the spirit of the new music begun to revolutionize the 
public mind, that popular Italian composers engaged Mo- 
zart to write arias for them, in order to insure the success 
of their operas. 

The rest of Mozart's life can be compared to nothing 
123. ^ ut a torch burning out rapidly in the wind. Un- 
Haydn * wearied alike as a composer and an artist, he kept 
pouring forth symphonies, sonatas, and operas, while dis- 
ease could not shake his nerve as an executant, and the 
hand of death found him unwilling to relinquish the pen 
of the ready writer. In April, 1783, we find him playing 
at no less than twenty concerts. The year 1785 is marked 
by the six celebrated quartets dedicated to Haydn. " I de- 
clare to you," exclaimed the old man, upon hearing them, 
to Mozart's father, "before God and on the faith of an hon- 
est man, that your son is the greatest composer who ever 
lived." In 1786 Figaro was produced; and in 1787 Don 
Giovanni was written for his favorite public at Prague. 
It will hardly be believed that all this time Mozart was in 
the greatest want of money. His works were miserably 
paid for. He visited Berlin, Dresden, and Leipzic to re- 
cruit his fortunes : the nobles gave him watches and snuif- 
boxes, but very little coin ; and in 1790 we find Mozart, at 
the zenith and fame of his popularity, standing dinnerless 
and "in a state of destitution" at the door of his old friend 
Puchberg. It is difficult to account for this, as he cer- 
tainly made more money than many musicians. His purse, 

268 MOZART. 

indeed, was always open to his friends; he was obliged to 
mix on equal terms with his superiors in rank ; he had an 
invalid wife, for whom he procured every comfort. There 
must, indeed, have been bad management, but we can 
scarcely read his letters and accuse him of wanton extrav- 

In 1791 he entered upon his thirty-sixth and last year. 

124. Into it, among other works, were crowded La 
and Death. CUmenza cli Tito, II Flauto Magico, and the Re- 
quiem. His friends looked upon his wondrous career, as 
we have since looked upon Mendelssohn's, with a certain 
sad and bewildered astonishment. That prodigious child- 
hood — that spring mellow with all the fruits of autumn — 
that startling haste " as the rapid of life shoots to the fill" 
— we understand it now. "The world had waited eight 
centuries for him, and he was onty to remain for a mo- 
ment" (Oulibicheff). In the October of 1791 he closes a 
letter to his wife with the words from Zauberfldte, " The 
hour strikes. Farewell ! we shall meet again !" These are 
the last written words of Mozart extant. 

His wife returned from Baden somewhat invigorated by 
the waters, but she noticed with alarm a pallor more fatal 
than her own upon her husband's face. His passionate 
love for her never waned, but he had grown silent and 
melancholy. He would constantly remain writing at the 
Requiem long after his dinner-hour. Neither fatigue nor 
hunger seemed to rouse him from his profound contempla- 
tion. At nio-ht he would sit brooding over the score until 
he not unfrequently swooned away in his chair. The mys- 
terious apparition of the stranger in black, who came to 
Mozart and gave the order for the Requiem, has been re- 
solved into the valet of a nobleman w T ho wished to pre- 
serve his incognito, but it doubtless added to the sombre 


melancholy of a mind already sinking and overwrought. 
One mild autumn morning his wife drove him out in an 
open carriage to some neighboring woods. As he breathed 
the soft air, scented with the yellow leaves that lay thickly 
strewn around, he discovered to her the secret of the Re- 
quiem. " I am writing it," he said, " for myself." A few 
days of flattering hope followed, and then Mozart was car- 
ried to the bed from which he was never destined to rise. 
Vienna was at that time ringing with the fame of his last 
opera. They brought him the rich appointment of organ- 
ist to the Cathedral of St. Stephen, for which he had been 
longing all his life. Managers besieged his door with hand- 
fuls of gold, summoning him to compose something for 
them — too late ! He lay, with swollen limbs and burning 
head, awaiting another summons. On the night of Decem- 
ber 5, 1791, his wife, her sister, Sophie Weber, and his friend 
Susmeyer, were with him. The score of the Requiem lay 
open upon his bed. As the last faintness stole over him, 
he turned to Susmeyer — his lips moved feebly — he was 
trying to indicate a peculiar effect of kettle-drums in the 
score. It was the last act of expiring thought ; his head 
sank gently back ; he seemed to fall into a deep and tran- 
quil sleep. In another hour he had ceased to breathe. 

On a stormy December morning, through the deserted 
streets of Vienna, amid snow and hail, and unaccompanied 
by a single friend, the body of Mozart was hastily borne, 
with fifteen others, to the common burial-ground of the 
poor. In 1808, some foreigners, passing through the town, 
wished to visit the grave ; but they were told that the 
ashes of the poor were frequently exhumed to make room 
for others, and no stone then remained to mark the spot 
where once had rested the body of Johann Ciirtsostom 
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. 

These letters in great measure supply the want of mate- 

270 MOZART. 

rial noticeable in every biography of Mozart between the 
years 1785-90, and are further valuable as correcting sev- 
eral hasty and ill-advised statements in the otherwise 
learned and elaborate narrative of M. Oulibicheff, such as, 
that Mozart had a passion for traveling, when he declares 
that he could never sleep in his carriage, and hated being 
from home — or that he was fond of wine and women, when 
throughout his life he was scoffed at for being chaste and 
sober — or that he was extravagant, when he continually 
sent large sums to his father, wore the coarsest linen, and 
devoted every thing else to the comfort of an invalid wife 
— or that his talents were not recognized at Vienna, where 
many of his most successful concerts were given — or that 
Figaro was received coldly there, when he writes, "There 
were seven encores." 

The following passages will be perused with interest, as 
specimens of Mozart's style of letter-writing. 

On a January in 1778, from Paris to Strasburg, he writes: 

"I submitted to this conveyance for eight days, but longer I could not 
stand it — not on account of the fatigue, for the carriage was well hung, but 
from want of sleep. We were off every morning at four o'clock, and thus 
obliged to rise at three. Twice I had the satisfaction of being forced to 
get up at one o'clock in the morning, as we Mere to set off at two. You 
know that I can not sleep in a carriage, so I really could not continue this 
without the risk of being ill. I would have taken the post, but it Avas not 
necessary, for I had the good fortune to meet with a person who quite 
suited me — a German merchant who resides in Paris and deals in English 
wares. Before getting into the carriage we exchanged a few words, and 
from that moment we remained together. We did not take our meals with 
the other passengers, but in our own room, where we also slept. I was 
glad to meet this man, for, being a great traveler, he understands it well." 

The following passage may be safely commended to per- 
sons about to marry. Mozart writes to the reluctant par- 
ent of the period ; it is the old story. Papa thinks it un- 
wise to marry without means, and again it is the old story 
— son of a contrary opinion: 


" You can have no possible objection to offer, nor can there be any, and 
this you admit in your letters. Constanze is a well-conducted, good girl, 
of respectable parentage, and I am in a position to earn at least daily bread 
for her. We love each other, and we are resolved to marry. All that you 
have written, or may possibly write, on this subject, can be nothing but 
well-meant advice, which, however good and sensible, can no longer apply 
to a man who has gone so far with a girl. There can, therefore, be no 
question of further delay. Honesty is the best policy, and can not fail to 
insure the blessing of Providence. I am resolved to have no cause for 
self-reproach. Now farewell!" 

Just after the wedding he writes : 

"My darling is now a hundred times more joyful at the idea of going 
to Salzburg, and I am willing to stake — ay, my very life, that you will re- 
joice still more in my happiness when you know her ; if, indeed, in your 
estimation, as in mine, a high-principled, honest, virtuous, and pleasing 
wife ought to make a man happy." 

Late in his short life he writes the following character- 
istic note to a friend, whose life does not appear to have 
been one of the most regular : 

" Now tell me, my dear friend, how you are. I hope you are all as well 
as we are. You can not fail to be happy, for you possess every thing that 
you can wish for at your age and in your position, especially as you now 
seem to have entirely given up your former mode of life. Do you not 
every day become more convinced of the truth of the little lectures I used 
to inflict on you ? Are not the pleasures of a transient, capricious passion 
widely different from the happiness produced by rational and true love ? I 
feel sure that you often in your heart thank me for my admonitions. I 
shall feel quite proud if you do. But, jesting apart, you do really owe me 

some little gratitude if you are become worthy of Fraulein N , for I 

certainly played no insignificant part in your improvement or reform. 

" My great-grandfather used to say to his wife, my great-grandmother, 
who in turn told it to her daughter, my mother, who repeated it to her 
daughter, my own sister, that it was a very great art to talk eloquently 
and well, but an equally great one to know the right moment to stop. I 
therefore shall follow the advice of my sister, thanks to our mother, grand- 
mother, and great-grandmother, and thus end, not only my moral ebulli- 
tion, but my letter." 



Born 1770-2, Died 1827. 

jjuwg Vw^ 


The person of Beethoven, like his music, seems to have 
125 left its vivid and colossal impress upon the age. 
Appearance. « rpj^ S q uare Cyclopean figure, attired in a shab- 
by coat, with torn sleeves," described by Weber, is familiar 
to all, and the face too — the rough hair brushed impatient- 
ly off the forehead, the boldly arched eyebrows, resolute 
nose, and firmly set mouth — truly a noble face, with a cer- 


tain severe integrity, and passionate power, and lofty sad- 
ness about it, seeming, in its elevation and wideness of ex- 
pression, to claim kindred with a world of ideas out of all 
proportion to our own. The face at the beginning of vol. 
i. of Beethoven's published letters is better than any thing 
in the book. 

We open these letters with the greatest eagerness ; we 
close them with a feeling of almost unmingled pain and 
disappointment. Unlike Mozart's, they are not a spark- 
ling commentary on a many-colored life. Beethoven's out- 
ward life was all one color, and his letters are mainly oc- 
cupied with unimportant, vexatious, or melancholy details. 
His inward life has long since been given to the world, but 
not in words, only in 

"The tides of music's golden sea, 
Setting toward eternity." 

Born in 1770 or 1772,* Ludwig van Beethoven early 
126. showed a strong dislike to music. His father 

Childhood and & 

only Loves. had to beat him before he would sit down at 
the piano. At the age of eleven, however, he declares that 
for several years music had been his favorite pursuit. His 
compositions were always abundant, and from the first met 
with the approval of the publishers. His early composi- 
tions were at once understood. And no wonder, for in him 
the bereaved public found Mozart redivivits with varia- 
tions. " Mind, you will hear that boy talked of!" whis- 
pered the great composer when he first heard Beethoven 
play. Did he foresee with what firm and gigantic strides 
the " boy," as he entered manhood, would lead the way to 
fresh woods and pastures new? ever triumphant and suc- 
cessful — amid what trials and disasters ! 

On the very threshold of his career he was met by two 
* See Fetis, "Biographie Universelle des Musiciens," art. "Beethoven." 

M 2 


gloomy companions — Poverty and Disease — who acompa- 
nied him to the grave. In 1800 he lost his patron, the 
Elector of Cologne, and with him a small salaiy, and in 
1801 he became partially deaf. Both evils were lightened 
by success ; but what is success without health or spirits ? 
"Oh, blissful moment! how happy do I esteem myself!" 
and in the same letter, " I can not fail to be the most un- 
happy of God's creatures !" About this time occur those 
strange letters to his " immortal beloved," the Countess 
Giulietta Guicciardi ; and in the still more immortal song 
of "Adelaide," written then, we can almost hear the refrain 
of" My angel! my all! my life!" (15), and such-like pas- 
sionate utterances. The countess married some one else, 
and Beethoven does not seem to have broken his heart. 
His relations with women were always severely honorable. 
This is the only burst of love he ever permitted himself, 
and if we except his unhappy love for Marie Pachler, and 
the wild fancy which that strange little being, Bettina Bren- 
tano, seems to have inspired in Goethe, Beethoven, and ev- 
ery one who came near her, we must suppose that the myth 
of Platonic affection became for once real history. He was 
not, however, at all insensible to the charms of female so- 
ciety. The ladies might knit him comforters, make him 
light puddings, he would even condescend to lie on their 
sofas after dinner, and pick his teeth with the snuffers, 
while they played his sonatas. Madame Breuning and 
Frau Von Streicher especially seem to have been inval- 
uable friends and advisers. He told them all his petty 
troubles: "Nany is not strictly honest;" "I have a cough 
and severe headache." Then follow details about servants' 
clothes and wages. If, however, his relations with women 
were unromantic, they were proportionably constant. His 
correspondence was limited in range, but the same names, 
both male and female, recur to the end of his life. This 


fact speaks volumes. It is more to retain than to win. The 
head may win ; the heart alone can keep. 

Walking one day in the woods with his devoted friend, 
127 Ferdinand Ries, he disclosed to him the sad secret 
Deafness. Q f j^g i ncrea sing deafness : this was as early as 
1800. From this time his patience and money were vainly 
lavished on doctors without success. The world of sweet 
sounds and pleasant voices were gradually closing up for 
him. " I wander about here with music-paper among the 
hills, and dales, and valleys, and scribble a great deal. No 
man on earth can love the country as I do." But he could 
not hear the birds sing. No one was naturally a more in- 
telligent converser, but he could hardly hear the voices of 
his friends. Early in life he writes, " I must tell you my 
extraordinary deafness is such that in the theatre I am 
obliged to lean close up against the orchestra ; a little way 
off, I lose the high notes of both instruments and singers ;" 
and latterly no sound from the thunder of a full orchestra, 
while he stood in the midst of it with his back to the au- 
dience, could reach him. They used to turn him round at 
the end of his symphonies that he might see the enthusi- 
asm which his music had created. Thus, in 1802, he bids 
iarewell to his hearing in one of those bitter heart-cries 
which remind us of that other immortal plaint, 

" When I consider how my life is spent, 
Ere half my days in this dark world and wide :" 

"As autumn leaves fall and wither, so are my hopes blighted. Almost 
as 1 came I depart. Even the lofty courage which ^o often animated me 
in the lovely days of summer is gone forever. Oh, Providence! vouch- 
safe me one day of pure felicity ! How long have I been estranged from 
the glad echo of true joy ! When, O my God ! when shall I feel it again 
in the temple of nature and man ? — never !" 

When we hear it recorded of Beethoven that he was a 


morose, churlish, and ill-tempered man, " full of caprice, and 
devoid of all complaisance," let us rather remember one 
who, in the midst of sufferings which we can not estimate, 
and trials which we have not known, never lost his rever- 
ence for God, his deep and tender devotion to all that was 
highest in man, his patient forbearance with the weak and 
selfish, and a certain indomitable courage, wideness of vis- 
ion, and power of will, which has raised him, the lonely 
worker, to one of the most solitary pinnacles of Fame. 

The years from 1805 to 1808 witnessed the production 
of " The Mount of Olives," " Leonora," " Pastorale," and 
" Eroica," besides a host of minor concertos, songs, and 
sonatas. In 1809, his affectionate patron, the Archduke 
Rudolf, settled a small pension on him for life, and hence- 
forth Beethoven hardly ever moved from Vienna, except to 
go to Baden in the summer months. 

In 1816 he writes in better spirits to his comical friend 
128 Zmeskall,"For the sake of various scamps in this 
yoing h Ras- world I should like to live a little longer." His 
cai. general health had improved, a new and sudden 

interest in life had come to him with the guardianship of 
his nephew Carl, who, upon his father's death, was res- 
cued by his uncle from the clutches of a most abandoned 

His love for this young rascal is the most affecting thing 
in his whole life. He put him to school — had him home 
for the holidays — gave him every indulgence, and lavished 
upon him all the love which was never destined to flow 
through happier channels. He had a natural horror of 
business and detail, but nothing could be small or vexa- 
tious which concerned Carl. The size of his boots — the 
cut of his coat — his physic — his food — and, above all, his 
piano-forte playing, were subjects of unfailing interest to 


Beethoven. By the way, here is a valuable hint to teach- 
ers, from the great master to the pianist Czerny : " When 
sufficiently advanced, do not stop his (Carl's) playing on 
account of little mistakes, but only point them out at the 
end of the piece. I have always followed this system, 
which quickly forms a musician." But, unfortunately, Carl 
was not a musician, but an idle fellow who cared for noth- 
ing but pleasure, and nobody but himself. It was the last 
bitter drop in the poor uncle's cup — a drop which he re- 
fused to taste until his hair began to get gray — that he, 
who had been father, mother, servant, nurse, every thing 
to Carl, was only looked upon by him in the light of the 
"relieving officer.* The saddest letters are those from 435 
to 450, addressed to this miserable nephew : 

"Dear son, I still feel very weak and solitary — my weakness often 
amounts to a swoon. Oh, do not further grieve me ! Farewell, dearest 
boy ; deserve this name ; any thing you want shall be purchased. If it is 
too hard a task for you to come and see me, give it up ; but if you can by 
any possibility come, etc., let us not refer to the past. If you had any 
depth of feeling you would have acted differently. Be my own dear pre- 
cious son ! imitate my virtues, not my faults." 

The " precious son" seems to have met all this affection 
with coldness, ingratitude, and the meanest lying. At last 
the whole truth breaks upon the unhappy old man, and he 
exclaims, we can almost fancy with tears, " I know now 
you have no pleasure in coming to see me — which is only 
natural, for my atmosphere is too pure for you. God has 
never yet forsaken me, and no doubt some one will be 
found to close my eyes." Carl, after attempting suicide, 
gambling, and commerce, and failing signally in each, final- 
ly enlisted, and so disappears from these letters ; but we 
read his last forgiveness in the brief codicil of Beethoven's 
will — " I appoint my nephew Carl my sole heir." 


Beethoven's external life presents us with the familiar 
129. picture of the man of genius and misfortune 

His Generosity * , ' 

and Poverty, struggling with the world. " Miser sum pau- 
per" he would often say. He was wretched, because deaf, 
and solitary, and disappointed in the deepest and most 
sensitive parts of a nature singularly tender and profound. 
He was poor because the best pay in those days was bad, 
and because the men who could have helped him hang 
back until the life that might have been prolonged and 
cheered by their kindly support was closed abruptly with- 
out it. George IV., then Prince Regent, never acknowl- 
edged the dedication of the battle symphony, or took the 
slightest notice of its composer. Neither the Imperial fam- 
ily nor the Austrian government ever showed the smallest 
interest in either Haydn, Mozart, or Beethoven. They left 
them to the mercy of private patrons. Beethoven was 
always very poor, but in his poverty he never forgot to be 
generous. At a concert given in aid of the soldiers wound- 
ed at Hanau, he supplied music and conducted. Schuppan- 
sigh, Spohr, and Mayseder were among the violins, and old 
Salieri played the drums and cymbals (Meyerbeer, Mos- 
cheles, and Hummel also assisted). When some offer of 
payment was made, he writes, " Say Beethoven never ac- 
cepts any thing ivhere humanity is concerned." 

On another occasion, when the concert was for poor Ur- 
suline nuns — " I promise you an entirely new symphony : 
my joy will be beyond bounds if the concert prove a suc- 
cess." But his charity was not merely for show — it began 
at home. His friends never applied in vain for money as 
long as he had any to give, and his purse-strings were often 
loosed for those who had injured him deeply. 

Beethoven's relations with his London publishers were 
very satisfactory. The Philharmonic paid liberally for his 
works, honored him with appreciation during his life, and 


sent him a present of £100 when he was lying on his death- 

Beethoven's domestic life was one of singular discom- 
fort. He was always changing his lodgings — getting into 
worse ones and falling among thieves. He no sooner got 
into new rooms than the chimneys began to smoke, or the 
rain came in through the roof, or the chairs came down 
when sat upon, or the doors came off their hinges. He 
was no more fortunate with his servants. " Nancy is too 
uneducated for a housekeeper — indeed, quite a beast." 
" My precious servants were occupied from seven o'clock 
till ten trying to heat the stove." " The cook's off again." 
"I shied half a dozen books at her head." They made his 
dinner so nasty that he could not eat it. " No soup to-day, 
no beef, no eggs again — got something from the inn at 

From a life of public neglect, and private suffering and 
i3o. trial, he turned to the ideal life in art. In all his 

His Religion . . . , 

and his Art. earthly strivings he might well say with Goethe, 
"I have ever looked up to the highest." To him art was 
no mere recreation or luxury, but the expression of all that 
was conceivable and most worthy of being expressed in 
things divine and human. It was a call, a mission, an in- 
spiration ; and the ear so early closed to the discords of 
earth seemed all the more intently open to the voice of the 

informing Spirit: 

' ' Lo, I have given thee 
To understand my presence and to feel 
My fullness : I have filled thy lips with power. 
I have raised thee nigher to the spheres of heaven, 
Man's first, last home; and thou with ravished senee 
Listenest the lordly music flowing from 
Th' illimitable years." 

" Nothing can be more sublime," he writes, " than to 


draw nearer to the Godhead than other men, and to dif- 
fuse here on earth these Godlike rays among mortals." Bat 
none understood better than he that "the exeellency of the 
power was not of him :" 

"What is all this compared to the grandest of all Mas- 
ters of harmony — above, above !" And so this mighty 
spirit seemed always reaching forward with the glorious 
"not as though I had attained" forever on his lips. "I 
feel," he writes in 1824, "as though I had written scarcely 
more than a few notes of music !" for to him 

"All experience seemed an arch, wherethrough 
Gleamed that untravel'd world whose margin fades 
Forever and forever as we move." 

Beethoven had worked too hard. In 1823 his eyes gave 
i3i. wa y 5 f° r several years before his death he had been 
Death, gp^ing blood, and his digestion was nearly gone. 
In December of the year 1826 he found himself upon a 
sick-bed, in great poverty, and unable to compose a line 
of music. There are a few more letters, written in a trem- 
ulous hand; others only signed still more illegibly; letters 
to Moscheles, to Sir George Smart, and to Baron Pasqua- 
lati, an old friend, who sent him fruit, wine, and other del- 
icacies during his illness. 

On the 18th of March, 1827, all hopes of Beethoven's re- 
covery were abandoned. On the 23d they read him his 
will. It was suggested that the words " natural heirs" 
should be put in the place of" heirs of my body," as he had 
no children, and the words might provoke disputes. He 
replied that the one term was as good as the other, and 
that it should remain just as it was. This was his last 

In the afternoon of March 26th, 1827, Beethoven was 
seized with his last mortal faintness. Thick clouds were 

DEATH. 281 

hanging about the sky ; outside, the snow lay upon the 
ground ; toward evening the wind rose ; at nightfall a ter- 
rific thunder-storm burst over the city of Vienna, and while 
the storm was still raging the spirit of the sublime master 

Ludwig van Beethoven died in his fifty-fifth year, and is 
buried in the cemetery of Wahring, near Vienna. 

The passages which I am about to quote from Beetho- 
ven's Will are likely to tell the reader more of Beethoven's 
inner life than almost any of his letters: 

" Oh yo, who consider or declare me to be hostile, obstinate, or misan- 
thropic, what injustice ye do me ! Ye know not the secret causes of that 
whioh to you wears such an appearance. My heart and my mind were 
from childhood prone to the tender feelings of affection. Nay, I was al- 
ways disposed even to perform great actions. But only consider that, for 
the last six years, I have been attacked by an incurable complaint, aggra- 
vated by the unskillful treatment of medical men, disappointed from year 
to year in the hope of relief, and at last obliged to submit to the endurance 
of an evil the cure of which may last perhaps for years, if it is practicable 
at all. Born with a lively, ardent disposition, susceptible to the diversions 
of society, I was forced at an early age to renounce them, and to pass my 
life in seclusion. If I strove at any time to set myself above all this, oh 
how cruelly was I driven back by the doubly painful experience of my de- 
fective hearing ! and yet it was not possible for me to say to people, ' Speak 
louder — bawl — for I am deaf!' Ah! how could I proclaim the defect of a 
sense that I once possessed in the highest perfection — in a perfection in 
which few of my colleagues possess or ever did possess it ? Indeed, I can 
not ! Forgive me, then, if ye see me draw back when I would gladly 
mingle among you. Doubly mortifying is my misfortune to me, as it 
must tend to cause me to be misconceived. From recreation in the soci- 
ety of my fellow-creatures, from the pleasures of conversation, from the 
effusions of friendship, I am cut off. Almost alone in the world, I dare 
not venture into society more than absolute necessity requires. I am 
obliged to live as an exile. If I go into company, a painful anxiety comes 
over me, since I am apprehensive of being exposed to the danger of be- 
traying my situation. Such has been my state, too, during this half year 
that I have spent in the country. Enjoined by my intelligent physician 
to spare my hearing as much as possible, I have been almost encouraged 


by him in my present Datura] disposition, though, hurried away by my 
fondness for society, I sometimes suffered myself to be enticed into it. 
But what a humiliation when any one standing beside me could hear at a 
distance a flute that I could not hear, or any one heard the shepherd sing- 
ing, and I could not distinguish a sound ! Such circumstances brought me 
to the brink of despair, and had well-nigh made me put an end to my life: 
nothing but my art held my hand. Ah ! it seemed to me impossible to 
quit the world before I had produced all that I felt myself called to ac- 
complish. And so I endured this wretched life — so truly wretched, that a 
somewhat speedy change is capable of transporting me from the best into 
the worst condition. Patience — so I am told — I must choose for my 
guide. Steadfast, I hope, will be my resolution to persevere, till it shall 
please the inexorable Fates to cut the thread. 

"Perhaps there may be an amendment — perhaps not; I am prepared 
for the worst — I, who so early as my twenty-eighth year was forced to be- 
come a philosopher — it is not easy — for the artist more difficult than for 
any other. O God ! thou lookest down upon my misery ; thou knowest 
that it is accompanied with love of my fellow-creatures, and a disposition 
to do good ! O men! when ye shall read this, think that ye have wronged 
me ; and let the child of affliction take comfort on finding one like him- 
self, who, in spite of all the impediments of nature, yet did all that lay in 
his power to obtain admittance into the rank of worthy artists and men. 

$ * * # £ ♦ ♦ * • 

"I go to meet death with joy. If he comes before I have had occasion 
to develop all my professional abilities, he will come too soon for me, in 
spite of my hard fate, and I should wish that he had delayed his arrival. 
But even then I am content, for he will release me from a state of endless 
suffering. Come when thou wilt, I shall meet thee with firmness. Fare- 
well, and do not quite forget me after I am dead ; I have deserved that 
you should think of me, for in my lifetime I have often thought of you to 
make you happy. May you ever be so ! 

" Ludwig van Beethoven. 
"M.P. (L. S.) 

" Heiligenstadt, October 6th 7 1802." 



t < 

A biography of Mendelssohn has yet to be written; but, 
132. before presenting the reader with an analysis of 

Books about . . 3 J 

Meudeissohu. the Elijah, I propose to transfer to these pages 
a slight sketch, not of Mendelssohn's life, but of Mendels- 
sohn himself, drawn almost entirely from a volume of Rem- 
iniscences published by his intimate friend Edward Dev- 


rient. The book is neither a biography nor a book of scat- 
tered notes, but it is a kind of narrative, giving a connected 
and vivid impression of Mendelssohn as he appeared to one 
of his most intimate friends, from a very early age to the 
time of his death. Nothing so real and life-like about him 
has yet come before the public. " CEcolampadius" only 
professes to give a sketch. Mr. Benedict's charming little 
work is but the shadow of an affectionate sketch. The 
two volumes of Mendelssohn's own letters are, of course, 
priceless ; but Elise Polko's anecdotes are almost disfig- 
ured by enthusiasm. Edward Devrient is content to draw 
very fully, as far as he could see it, the picture of one who 
was more than a brother to him — whose genius he pro- 
foundly reverenced, whose character he understood perhaps 
better than any body now living, whose virtues he never 
ceased to extol, but whose faults he never attempted to 
conceal. Some will doubtless consider that the additional 
letters of Mendelssohn, there published for the first time, 
are the most valuable portion of the book ; and, indeed, 
they possess in the highest degree all those qualities which 
drew the public toward the first two volumes of Mendels- 
sohn's letters. The little vivid touches of description be- 
tray the same poetic heart and facile pen : 

"I send you this from Styria. The convent is quite inclosed by gveen 
wooded hills ; there is a rushing and murmuring on every side, and the 
consequence is trout for supper. It is now only seven o'clock, and already 
quite dark. This reminds one of autumn, no less than by day do the 
thousand tinted hills, where the red of the cherry-trees and the pale green 
of the winter gleam gayly through each other. I went in the twilight to 
the convent, and made acquaintance with the organ.*' 

Educated with an almost Spartan rigor — early brought 

133 into contact with every department of human 

Characteristics. knowledge, an( j associating constantly with his 

elders, Mendelssohn nevertheless retained throughout his 


life the simplicity and impulsiveness of a child ; yet his 
career is full of manly energy, enlightened enthusiasm, and 
the severest devotion to the highest forms of art. He had 
a passion for cake and sweetmeats, and a detestation of 
every kind of meanness and hypocrisy. He could romp 
like a child, but shrunk from any thing like dissipation or 
excess. Nothing can be more genuine than his indigna- 
tion upon one occasion when his anxious friend Devrient, 
hearing of the adulation lavished upon him in London, 
wrote to warn him of the dangers and seductions of Lon- 
don society. Mendelssohn was then a very young man, 
and his older friend might well be excused some little 
anxiety on his account. 

1 ' If you were here, I might walk up and down your room, and vent my 
vexation about many things, but it will be some time till we meet, and if 
you have not full reliance in one whom you should know, you will have 
cause enough hereafter to feel uncomfortable about him. Now I should 
be sorry for this, and very sorry if any thing again were to be useful or 
hurtful to me in your good opinion, or that you thought I could ever 
change. Upon my word, Devrient, when I improve or deteriorate I shall 
let you know by express. Till then, believe it not. Of course I mean as 
to certain things usually called sentiments." 

Mendelssohn's very weaknesses were lovable. If he 
was sometimes sharp with his friends, it was because he 
could not bear the shadow of suspicion ; if he was some- 
times suspicious himself, it was because his sensitive na- 
ture was too open to sudden and often one-sided impres- 
sions ; if he could not pardon jealousy or meanness in low- 
er natures than his own, it was because he was incapable 
of understanding them. His want of resolution is some- 
times charming. When Devrient had persuaded him to 
go to old Zelter, his beloved master, in order to try and 
win him over to the production of Bach's Passions Musik, 
Mendelssohn characteristically says at the door, 

"' If he is abusive I shall go. I can not squabble with him.' ' He is 

2 s 6 MEND EL S3 01IX. 

sure to be abusive,' said I, ' but I will take the squabbling in hand my- 
What delicate little touches of character are these! 

" lie came to us at twilight to say good-by, anxious and cast down. I 
went with him across the court, and we walked up and down a long time 
under the projecting eaves by the summer drawing-room, as there was a 
gentle rain. Felix poured himself out in almost infantile lamentations ; 
he wept, nor was I able to comfort him." 

He had little coaxing ways with his friends, which made 
them love him with something like a child's love. When 
in company with Devrient, he w T ould sometimes pronounce 
his name with an affectionate and lingering drawl, " Ede- 
ward," apropos of nothing in particular, and gently stroke 
his head or lean confidingly upon his arm. Devrient tells 
us with emotion how, years later, when much had passed 
between them, many things had changed, and he some- 
times fancied his friend w T as not the same Mendelssohn of 
old times, the old word, pronounced in the old loving way, 
recalled him to himself, and almost brought tears to his 

Mendelssohn's brain was from the first overstimulated. 
134 But nature had prepared remedies for him — 

Temperament. reme( Ji es which could not prevent premature 
decay, but which, no doubt, lengthened out his short life. 
Trifles sometimes excited him almost to frenzy ; he could 
not bear disappointment or opposition. On one occasion, 
when there was some likelihood of a royal summons inter- 
fering with a little domestic fete, 

"His excitement increased so fearfully that, when the family was as- 
sembled for fhe evening, he began to talk incoherently and in English, to 
the great terror of them all ... . they took him to bed, and a profound 
sleep of twelve hours restored him to his normal state." 

It was by these sleeps, often almost like death in their si- 
lent torpor, that nature recreated a frame ^ousiantly over- 


taxed to the extreme limits of endurance by nervous ex- 
citement. His appetite, also, never failed him ; he could 
eat almost at any time, and, according to his own playful 
admission, to any extent. 

"With such a temperament there was keen joy, much 
work, and great suffering for him in life ; and deeply he 
drank of each cup, until one by one he put them down 
empty, and composed himself for his last deep sleep. It 
has been the fashion to say in England that Mendelssohn 
was not a good conductor ; that he was too irritable and 
exacting. The same was said in Berlin ; but this was nev- 
er said at Leipsic. No doubt, when out of a sympathetic 
atmosphere, when contending at his desk with the obsti- 
nacy of the Berliners, who looked upon him as an inter- 
loper, and the stupidity of the English players, many of 
whom thought him an upstart, he failed sometimes to con- 
ciliate the orchestra or to conquer its defects. Yet it is 
allowed that with the most stubborn materials he wrought 
wonders in England ; and although he was never appreci- 
ated at Berlin, he always had the greatest difficulty in es- 
caping. Devrient is probably right when, admitting his 
excessive irritability at times, he speaks of his conducting 
when surrounded by those who loved to play as quite per- 
fect. He declares that the way in which he was able to 
infuse himself into the band was little short of magical, 
and at times he would leave off in a kind of trance, and 
listen with his head a little on one side, quite rapt with 
delight at the band itself having become Mendelssohn, 
and therefore hardly needing Mendelssohn's baton for the 

But there are pages in Mendelssohn's life which have 
135. never been filled up, and points of interrogation 

Wife, Chil- . r> I i=> 

drcn, Death, which have never been answered. His relations 


with his wife Cecile nee Jean-Renaud appear to have been 
tender and satisfactory, and yet her name is hardly ever 
mentioned in any letter or book of reminiscences which 
has yet appeared. She seems before her own death to 
have destroyed all his letters to herself, and with the ex- 
ception of a few casual, but affectionate remarks in some 
letters written very soon after their marriage, Mendelssohn 
does not allude to her in his published correspondence. 

A change, which Devrient himself can only partially ac- 
count for, seems to have passed over Mendelssohn on his 
return from England in 1848. 

' ' I became clearly conscious of a change that had come over the sour- 
ces of his inner life. His blooming, youthful joyousness had given place 
to a fretfulness, a satiety of all earthly things, which reflected every thing 
back from the spirit of former days. Conducting concerts, every thing 
that savored of business, was an intolerable annoyance to him ; he took 
no longer any pleasure in the conservatorium ; he gave over his piano- 
forte pupils ; not one of the young people inspired him with any sympa- 
thy ; he could not bear to see any of their compositions." 

If there is any explanation of this change beyond disease 
of the brain, which seems to have been hereditary in the 
Mendelssohn family, we shall probably not know yet a 
while, or, indeed, until some of his contemporaries, who 
may have the keys of the enigma in their hands, have 
passed away. 

He never got over the death of his favorite sister Fanny. 
He went to Interlachen with his family, and w-orked hard 
at the education of his children, the unfinished Lorelei and 
the unfinished Christus. Soon after, at Leipsic, working 
with ever more and more application as he felt the night 
approaching, he was seized with a fatal pain in his head. 
A relapse followed. 

"On the 5th I went in the evening to Bendemann, where I hoped to 
learn the latest tidings from Leipsic. There came Clara Schumann with 
a letter, weeping ; Felix had died yesterday evening, Nov. 4th." 


We must conclude with a few more of Devrient's own 

touching words : 

"Hensel led me to the corpse, which he had thoughtfully decorated. 
There lay my beloved friend in a costly coffin, upon cushions of satin, em- 
broidered in tall growing shrubs, and covered with wreaths of flowers and 
laurels. He looked much aged, but recalled to me the expression of the 
boy as I had first seen him. Where my hand had so often stroked the 
long brown locks and the burning brow of the boy, I now touched the 
marble forehead of the man. This span of time in my remembrance in- 
closes the whole of happy youth in one perfect and indelible thought. " 



Next to the Messiah, the Elijah is the most popular 
136 oratorio in England. It is shorter and more 

introduction. j rama tic than Handel's masterpiece, less theo- 
logical than Spohr's Last Judgment, and infinitely less di- 
dactic and monotonous than the wondrous Passion Music 
of Sebastien Bach. Thus, while the subject-matter of the 
Elijah is full of the most stirring incidents, its artistic 
form is sufficiently brief to rivet the attention of even an 
uncultivated audience from the first recitative down to the 
last chorus. No man ever wrote more in the presence of 
his public and less in the seclusion of his study than Men- 
delssohn, and in no other work has he so finely calculated 
the capacities of the ordinary music-loving mind, and so 
richly poured forth treasures which the most experienced 
musician will find, if not inexhaustible, yet always perfect. 

The strange and majestic figure of the "Prodigiosus 

13T# Thesbites," as he is called in the Acta /Sanctorum, 

S^Prophet ' 1S> ushered in by four solemn but not violent 

Elijah. trumpet-blasts — a mode of appeal to the imagi- 



nation of the audience which afterward frequently, but not 
invariably, accompanies the appearance of Elijah. 

The northern kingdom of Israel under Ahab, in the lux- 
ury of its magnificent cities of Jezreel and Samaria, had 
forgotten the God who had led the wandering tribes like 
sheep through the deserts of Sinai. Jezebel, the Sidonian 
queen, had not only persecuted the prophets of the true 
God, but had superseded the Jewish worship of holiness 
and purity with the seductive idolatry of power and pas- 
sion. On every high hill flamed the pagan sacrifices, and 
wild, licentious orgies had penetrated even into the sanc- 
tuary of Israel, and taken the place of Jehovah's pure and 
elevating ritual. The harvest of sin seemed ripe, the time 
was near at hand, the hearts of the seven thousand who 
had not bowed the knee to Baal cried aloud from the dens 
and caves of the earth, and the God of righteousness at 
last arose to confound the rebellious nation with famine 
and drought. Alone, the man of the desert, clothed ?.n a 
rough sheepskin, and wearing a leathern girdle about his 
loins, with the suddenness of an apparition confronted the 
idolatrous Ahab, and pronounced the curse of drought upon 
the streams and valleys of the land. 

The opening prelude indicates the gradual awakening 
138. of the nation to the sense of a new calamitv. 

Famine and " 

Dearth. Less and less water, the wells fast drying up, the 
routine of life gradually affected, the cattle fainting on the 
highways, the people vainly seeking for relief, the impa- 
tient and irritable chafing of the sufferers at the conse- 
quences of a curse as yet but half realized ; such is the 
purport of the first subject. The second begins with a 
crescendo of semiquavers, indicating very powerfully the 
approach of a more intense anguish. Still the first phrase 
of impatience is woven into this new subject as an under- 


current, and the movement is then carried on with increas- 
ing vehemence until impatience rising to fury, fury sinks 
at last into the wild impotence of despair, which culmi- 
nates in the desperate cry of " Help, Lord !" wrung from 
the whole body of the apostate people. 

After the first three passionate shouts the solid business 
of the first chorus begins, with a chromatic phrase of 
mournful and tender beauty taken up gently and distinct- 
ly by each part — "The harvest is over, the summer days 
are gone, no power cometh to help !" The sorrow goes 
on rocking itself into a calm and almost pensive mood, 
when suddenly a change of emotion occurs with the words, 
" Will then the Lord be no more God in Zion ?" It is one 
of those abrupt and magical inspirations which Mendels- 
sohn often employs to bind together the different sections 
of his choruses; anon the old plaintive phrase is woven in 
with a newly-developed meaning; the heavy grief is rapid- 
ly yielding to a stern and bitter feeling in the contempla- 
tion of certain special incidents of the drought, such as 
" the suckling's tongue cleaving to the roof of his mouth" 
and " the children crying for bread." 

Another chorus full of heavy affliction follows, but its 
tone is more chastened, and it is not until all irritation has 
died away, and the hearts of the people have been brought 
low by the divine judgments, that Obadiah, the king's 
servant, in the character of a minor prophet, comes forth 
to speak of a God who is slow to anger and of great kind- 
ness, and repenteth him of the evil. With the immortal 
tenor song, " If with all your hearts ye truly seek me," the 
hearer now enjoys a short respite from the dreary and 
hopeless anguish of the afflicted people. 

But the rest is of short duration, for no sooner have the 
last echoes of the tenor solo died away than the chorus 
breaks out again into wild lamentations, mingled this time 


with a consciousness of sin as well as of suffering, and with 
that sense of sin comes terror. This last emotion is almost 
immediately suspended by a chorale of calm and severe 
beauty worthy of Sebastien Bach, as a vision of God's holi- 
ness dawns upon the sensual and idolatrous heart. The 
mourners seem to forget their sorrow for a while and be- 
come rapt in the contemplation, not so much of a jealous 
God who visits the sins of the fathers upon the children, 
as of one " whose mercies fall upon thousands." In this 
wider and more consolatory view of the divine nature we 
are again lifted above the harrowing scene of a great 
national calamity, and soon afterward we find ourselves 
transported with Elijah to a solitary place by the brook 
Cherith, to await in the hollow of the torrent's bed the 
further unfolding of the divine purposes. 

It is here, beyond the cries of a distracted nation — be- 
139. yond the reach of Ahab and the wrath of Jezebel, 
The Desert, tfi&t Elijah listens in a dream to a double chorus 
of angels. These choral quartets are managed with six 
trebles and two basses, and any thing more truly ethereal 
than the effect produced can hardly be conceived. " He 
shall give his angels charge over thee." The waves of 
high, clear melody break upon the stillness of the desert, 
and float joyously through the air. The veil of heaven it- 
self seems rent, and in the clear blue sky the faces and 
forms of the angels are ranged in calm and beautiful ranks, 
as in the pictures of Fra Angelico, smitten with the eternal 
brightness and filled with divine harmony, as when " the 
morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God 
shouted for joy." 

No wonder that the prophet who had listened to such 
music, and received the promise of divine protection "in 
all his ways," returned with more than mortal strength to 


minister among men. Armed with angelic might, nothing 
was now impossible to him. The passionate appeal of the 
widow woman of Sarepta is answered by the calm words 
" Give me thy son," and as the blood begins to course 
again through the veins of the dead child, and the breath 
in faint rushes comes and goes, the infinite love of God 
seems to break upon the poor woman's soul for the first 
time, and the chorus, " Blessed are the men who fear Him," 
at once suggests the meaning of Elijah's miracle, and con- 
firms in the mother's heart a new emotion of adoration 
and trust. 

Once more the trumpets peal forth as Elijah reappears, 
140. after three years, in the presence of the kino;. 

The Sacrifice on _ J ,,/.,-, , * 

Mount carmei. and announces the close oi the drought. A 
short choral burst interrupts his recitative — it is the clam- 
oring of the fickle people, now rebellious, now penitent, 
then again ready to rend in pieces the prophet of the Lord 
as they shout aloud the words of the angry king : " Thou 
art he that troubleth Israel." But the solemn conclusion 
of all doubt is at hand, and both the multitude and the 
priests of Baal become strangely docile beneath the at- 
tractive power of a great impending catastrophe. Every 
word of Elijah is now caught up as readily by the chorus 
as were but lately the words of Ahab. The crowds sweep 
on at the bidding of the prophet, who, from this time forth 
throughout the scene on Carmei, never for one moment 
loses his ascendency over them. They catch from his lips 
the inspiration of their brief chorus— " And then we shall 
see whose God is the Lord," as he gathers them together, 
and summons the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal 
to meet him upon the mountain promontory. 

At the command of Elijah the first heathen chorus 
breaks forth. It is of a severe and formal character, very 


simple in construction, consisting of a hard, short melody, 
repeated again and again, with a kind of dogged abrupt- 
ness. Indeed, the second phrase is sufficiently bare and an- 
cient in form to remind one forcibly of the Macbeth music, 
commonly, though falsely, attributed to Matthew Locke. 

The second Baal chorus begins with great earnestness. 
It is full of misgivings, and at last loses every vestige of 
ritualistic stiffness in the wild cries of " Baal, hear us !" 
followed by death-like pauses, in which the whole assem- 
bly waits for the reply of Baal. " Call him louder !" shouts 
the prophet of Jehovah, as he stands apart and views with 
derision the scene of idolatrous fanaticism. 

The trumpets peal forth derisively, as though to herald 
in the answer of Baal, and his prophets spend themselves 
in frantic efforts to awaken their sleeping god, but in vain. 
Then, maddened by the exulting sarcasm of Elijah, they 
pour forth their last w T ild chorus, leaping upon the altar 
and cutting themselves with knives, fainting at times from 
sheer exhaustion and loss of blood ; then starting up with- 
shrieks of frenzy and despair, they fall back upon the 
ground, and their plaint relapses into a protracted mono- 
tone of pain, succeeded by an awful stillness. 

Wounded and bleeding around their unconsumed sacri- 
fice crouch the false prophets. The shadows begin to 
darken in the mountain hollows, and the sun dips slowly 
in the western sea. 

In the deepening twilight the voice of Elijah is heard, 
and the strong, calm prayer of the true prophet ascends to 
God. The meditative quartet, "Cast thy burden upon the 
Lord," follows. It is exactly what is needed to prepare the 
mind for the violence and tumult of the next terrible scene. 

Once more Elijah speaks, but no longer in prayer. He 
has transcended all ordinary forms of communion, and his 
mind seems rapt in the contemplation of a spirit- world out 


cf ail proportion to ours ; he is conversing with none oth- 
er than the flaming ministers of heaven ; and at the words, 
"Let them now descend," the fire falls from the skies with 
the hurtling crash of thunder, and the immense chorus of 
the people, thrilled with mingled ecstasy and terror, closes 
in round the blazing altar of victorious Jehovah. 

The pent-up excitement of a long day finds a splendid 
and appropriate utterance in the passionate adoration of 
the crowd, and they fall upon their faces with one mighty 
and prolonged cry of " God the Lord is our God : we will 
have none other God but him." In another moment the 
religious emotion has passed into a murderous frenzy, and 
the prophets of Baal are hewn down like corn beneath a 
pelting hail-storm. The carnage is over and the vengeance 
done ere night descends upon the tumultuous throng and 
the smoking altar of the true God. 

With a really splendid temerity characteristic of him, 
141. Mendelssohn dares after this climax to return 

The Storm on . 

Mount carmei to the subiect with a bass solo, descriptive of 

—" Thanks be . J . , 

to God." Elijahs prophetic majesty upon that memora- 

ble day, and a quiet alto song, full of solemn pathos, pro- 
nouncing woe upon all those who forsake God. It is here 
that, were it not for the exquisite beauty of what we may 
call this didactic episode, the action of the first part might 
be in danger of dragging a little. But the composer is 
still master of the situation. He knew that the mind would 
be exhausted by the prolonged vigil and sustained excite- 
ment of the scene upon Mount Carmei, and the needful re- 
pose is provided. 

The way in which a second great climax is rendered ef- 
fective so soon after the first is worthy of some attention. 

After the two didactic pieces alluded to above, which 
are intended to recreate the emotions, the action becomes 


exceedingly rapid. Two short recitatives, then the brief 
cry for rain, followed by the thrilling dialogue between the 
prophet who prays on Carmel and the youth who watches 
the sky for the first filmy shadow of a rain-cloud. " There 
is nothing !" and the music is suspended on a long note of 
intense anticipation. "Hearest thou no sound?" and a 
growing agitation in the accompaniment makes us feel the 
distant stirring of the wind. Then the little cloud appears 
like a man's hand, and in a moment, as the prophet rises 
abruptly from his knees, with the rapidity of an Eastern 
tempest, the deluge of rain is upon us, drenching the parch- 
ed valleys of Carmel, and dashing into the empty pools. 
We are but one step from the grand conclusion of the first 
part ; but that conclusion is not to be in the storm, as we 
should have expected. No temptation can hurry Mendels- 
sohn from his artistic purpose ; not a point is to be lost, 
not a touch of perfection omitted. A brief shout of mad 
delight rises from the people ; in the pauses of the tem- 
pest, the dominant voice of the mighty Tishbite is once 
more heard, uttering the phrase, "Thanks be to God!" 
which is in another moment reiterated by the whole mul- 
titude; and the last and greatest chorus of the first part 
then commences, and thunders on with uninterrupted splen- 
dor to its magnificent close. 


The second part of the Elijah is in some respects finer 
142 than the first. It contains at least as many inl- 
and thKies- mortal fragments, while the great danger of mo- 
smh. notony is avoided by a variety of new and start- 

ling incidents, woven into an elaborate whole, which, if it 
does not exceed the first part in beauty of arrangement, 
has evidently made greater demands upon the composer, 
and astonishes the listener by its sustained power and com- 


die Messiah is composed in three parts ; but we may 
fairly say that although Mendelssohn found it possible to 
produce a second part in many respects more powerful 
than the first, the unique splendor of that second part ren- 
dered the very notion of a third simply out of the ques- 

Resuming the subject, we find that the action is not 
143 immediately recommenced. It would indeed be 
rad"Benot nar <l if we could not put up with some moral 
Afraid." comment upon the events which have just oc- 
curred, especially when the moral is conveyed by one of 
the most thrilling soprano songs ever written. The clear 
freshness of the key of five sharps breaks upon us with an 
impetuous rush of words, " I, I am he that comforteth ; be 
not afraid; I am thy God." The highest pitch of exulta- 
tion is reached when the voice sweeps up from C to the 
high A, to descend through a splendid sequence and rest 
upon the lower A in the words, " I the Lord will strength- 
en thee." In the course of the song, all the most brilliant 
soprano effects which are calculated to express the confi- 
dence of a burning impetuosity seem to have been well- 
nigh exhausted. The same phrase from C to A has appa- 
rently brought things to a climax toward the end ; but in 
the next line a completely new and still more startling ef- 
fect is attained by sweeping up from B to A natural (in- 
stead of the normal A sharp of the key), and descending 
through a long G to the close of the song in B. 

But we have not yet done with the exulting sentiment 
started by the soprano, for we are now close upon what 
has been not unjustly considered the greatest of Mendels- 
sohn's choruses. After a silence of about half a bar, the 
mighty " Be not afraid," with the whole power of the cho- 
rus, orchestra, and organ, bursts with a crash upon the 



audience, already filled with the emotion of triumph in its 
more simple song-form. Now it is not one shrill angel 
only, but, as it were, all the battalions of heaven, with 
joyous shouting and glad thunder marching onward, and 
chiming as they go the glorious deliverance which God 
has prepared for his people. 

The languishing of thousands is then described in a 
minor phrase of contrast taken up by each part in succes- 
sion, while the accompaniment expresses the fainting of 
those who rise, and fall, and gasp for breath ; and the old 
scene of the wide land smitten with drought and inexora- 
ble suffering of thirst-stricken people comes back to us like 
a dim memory in the midst of this glorious atmosphere of 
redemptive joy, when, with a suddenness and imperious 
decision that nothing can check, the dream is arrested, and 
vanishes forever before the recurrence of the first colossal 
subject, which now proceeds for some time with a steady 
swing and a kind of white heat at once resistless and sub- 
lime. The rapid march of the chorus now so fastens the 
listener that he almost pants for an enlarged scene, or rath- 
er longs to take in the sound with more senses than one. 
There are no pages more utterly satisfactory, even to the 
ordinary hearer, than the closing pages of "Be not afraid." 
The satisfaction is shared by the orchestra ; every instru- 
ment has to play what it can play so well; the first violin 
parts, especially, make the heart of a violinist leap to look 
at them. Who does not remember the richness of the ac- 
companiments in that striking passage toward the close, 
w r here the musical phrase rises on a series of melodic steps, 
supported by the richest harmonic suspensions, from B, B 
to A, from D, D to C, from C, C to B, until the long D is 
reached in the word " afraid," and the violins in serried 
ranks, with all the power of the most grinding stretto, scale 
to upper E once, with a shrill scream that pierces high 


through the orchestral tempest, and then draw down to 
the long-expected D which ends the phrase? This con- 
summate passage is repeated in extenso, without pause or 
interlude, and brings us to the two last shouts of "Be not 
afraid," accompanied by the significant silences which ush- 
er in the close of the chorus ; and then, in the simplest and 
broadest form, come the eight bars of thundering chorale, 
" Thy help is near, be not afraid, saith the Lord." The 
chorus is well weighted. Those bars rendering their three 
massive clauses are felt to be sufficient balance without 
any extra page of musical peroration. Any thing more 
simple can hardly be imagined, but nothing more compli- 
cated would produce so complete and majestic an effect. 
Mendelssohn is not less great because he knows when to 
be simple. 

The enthusiasm of the people for the worship of the true 
144 God and his prophet proves short-lived enough, and 
Jezebel. ft new fig Ure j s 110w brought before us in connection 
with the popular disaffection. A few words of scathing 
rebuke addressed to Ahab, in some of those matchless reci- 
tatives which knit together so many portions of the orato- 
rio as with links of pure gold, a lofty proclamation of the 
outraged sovereignty of God, and a sharp condemnation 
of Baal worship, are sufficient to bring out the Sidonian 
queen with powerful dramatic effect. The type at once 
of heathen pride, beauty, and insolence, this great pagan 
figure, in the midst of her haughty and indomitable will, 
towers high above the wretched vacillation of King Ahab 
on the one hand, and the miserable irresolution of the pop- 
ulace on the other. In all Israel she was the only worthy 
rival of Elijah, for she alone seems to have thoroughly 
known her own mind. Not for one moment did she con- 
fuse the points at issue. It was human passion and human 


power pitted against the righteousness of Jehovah ; it was 
the licentious orgies of Ashtoreth and the splendid rites of 
the Sidonian Baal against the worship of holiness and the 
severe purity of the Jewish ritual. But in the moment of 
her supreme rage Jezebel did not forget her cunning, and 
she sums up her case before the people in the most effect- 
ive possible manner, when in her remarkable recitative she 
exclaims, " Doth Ahab govern the kingdom of Israel while 
Elijah's power is greater than the king's?" For popular 
purposes it was not so much Jehovah against Baal as Elijah 
against Ahab; and the populace now side with the queen 
as readily as they had before sided with Ahab and Elijah. 
Shouts of" He shall perish !" rend the air, and in the pauses 
the voice of Jezebel is heard lashing the multitude into sav- 
agery with her scorpion tongue. The popular wrath set- 
tles at length into the powerful but somewhat unattractive 
chorus of " Woe to him !" rounded off with a brief orches- 
tral close, in the course of which the last forte is toned 
down into pianissimo, and the much-needed rest comes in 
the shape of a beautiful and tender recitative and melody, 
in which Obadiah bids the prophet hide himself in the wil- 
derness, assuring him, in a phrase of singular purity and 
elevation, that the Lord shall go with him, " and will never 
fail him nor forsake him." And yet Elijah was destined 
shortly afterward to feel himself most forsaken. 

Sheltered only by the scanty boughs of a solitary bush 
145 in the wilderness, alone amid the inhospitable 
Sk j en and roc ks of Southern Palestine, we can scarcely pic- 
comforted. ^ ure j. Q 0lirse i ves a figure more utterly forlorn. 
Faint and weary, his steadfast spirit for once sinks within 
him. A great reaction, physical as well as mental, now 
sets in. Flesh and blood can stand only a certain amount 
of pressure, and Elijah's power of endurance had been fair- 


ly overwrought. The long watch upon the mountain, the 
intense emotion of that silent prayer for rain in which the 
prophet seemed to bear in his heart to God the sins and 
the sorrows of a whole nation — the stupendous answer to 
his petition, followed by the almost immediate apostasy of 
those to whom it was granted — the wrath of Jezebel, and 
the rapid flight for life — all this seems to have broken down 
for a moment even the noble courage and endurance of 
Elijah. The first and the last feeble plaint now escapes 
him : " It is enough, O Lord, now take away my life." 
We are filled with reverent sympathy at the sight of the 
prophet's utter dejection. Never, surely, was there any 
thing conceived in the language of sound more pathetic 
than the melody to which these words are set. We follow 
every graduated expression of the almost monotonous emo- 
tion until we perceive how largely due to mere physical 
causes is this apparent spiritual lapse. Elijah prays for the 
sleep of death, but the recreative sleep of the body is all 
that he really needs ; and presently, in spite of himself, 
overcome with intense weariness and exhaustion, while his 
lips have hardly ceased to falter out the words, " It is 
enough !" he falls asleep under the juniper-tree. 

It is a sight for angels to look upon, and with the silence 
of the wilderness and the sore need of the prophet, the ce- 
lestial ministry recommences. 

Not less exquisite, though more brief, and, if possible, 
more perfect than the angelic chorus in the first part ("He 
shall give his angels"), is the soprano trio, "Lift thine eyes 
unto the hills." Happy prophet ! to pass from the arid 
wilderness to such a dream of heaven, and to exchange 
suddenly the valley of the shadow of death for the bright 
morning hills, " Whence cometh thy help." No other vocal 
trio with which we are acquainted equals this one in per- 
fection of form and in the silver-toned ripple of its un- 
broken harmony. 


It was doubtless hard to follow such an inspiration ; and 
with supreme skill, ere the prophet awakes, we are gently 
let down to earth by a chorus only a little less heavenly 
than the matchless trio itself. " He, watching over Israel," 
moves along with a certain quiet weaving of sweet rhythm 
and sound which indicates marvelously the steady and tire- 
less vigil of the heavenly Father over his frail children dur- 
ing the hours of their helplessness. 

Very softly at last comes the voice, mingling with, but 
as yet hardly dissipating, the prophet's slumber, "Arise, 
Elijah!" and very touching is the answer, "I have spent 
my strength for naught ; O that I might now die !" 

The heavenly music was reserved for his dreams; but, 
true to nature, with his first waking moments the melody 
reproduces the feeling of profound dejection in which he 
fell asleep, praying that his life might be taken away. List- 
less, without hope or fear, the disheartened prophet, in pass- 
ive obedience to the divine commands, starts upon his 
long lonely journey of forty days unto Horeb, the Mount 
of God ; and some of the thoughts which in that pilgrim- 
age may have sustained and cheered him are embodied in 
the contralto song, " O rest in the Lord," and the quiet 
chorus, "He that shall endure unto the end." 

The hearer is frequently so entranced by the full rich- 
ness of the melody that he may have failed to notice the 
art-concealing art of one of the loveliest of all sacred songs. 
The delicate and minute changes in a perfectly unlabored 
and simple accompaniment — the fragments of tender coun- 
ter-melody which, without being obtrusive, prevent the 
least monotony — the gentle continuity, so expressive of 
sustained and chastened devotion, which requires less than 
one whole bar of rest from the time the voice begins to the 
time it leaves off — the perfectly original and characteristic 
coda where, in the last two utterances of the phrase, "0 


rest in the Lord," the voice ascends unexpectedly to G in- 
stead of descending to C, and where the accompaniment 
contains a thrilling surprise in the slurred G to C in oc- 
taves above the line; and finally the long " wait" drawn 
out through a semibreve of time, with an aspiration of un- 
bounded confidence, presently to be resolved into a deep 
and happy repose of patience — all this, and much more, 
will come back to the memory of those wIig have once 
studied this matchless song. 

We pass over the grave and somewhat severe chorus, 
146 " He that shall endure to the end," simply remark- 
on M h <?unt ke m S tna ^ ^ tn ^ s point the interest of the oratorio 
Horeb. seems to be intentionally diminished, so that we 
are tempted to think the action is again beginning to drag, 
at the very moment we are about to be restored to the so- 
ciety of the leading character, and to assist at one of the 
most stupendous effects of dramatic music that has ever yet 
been realized. 

A soft prolonged chord forms a prelude to the reappear- 
ance of Elijah among the rocky and cavernous clefts of 
Mount Horeb. The night is falling around him — his mood 
is changed, his deep depression has vanished. He is now 
filled with a passionate desire, not to die, but to feel the 
presence of his God and be assured of His protection. In 
such an aspiring and expectant state of mind he hears the 
voice of a strong angel — no murmur as of the night wind, 
but distinct, loud, and decisive: "Arise now !"— - then a 
trembling in the accompaniment, and a kind of agitation 
immediately suppressed into a whisper full of awa, with the 
words, "Thy face must be veiled," prepares us for the dread 
announcement in a single bar of unaccompanied recitative 
— "For He draweth nigh !" With a burst like that of a 
sudden earthquake, the chorus," Behold God the Lord pass- 


ed by," comes upon us ; but the forte is almost instantly 
suppressed, like fire that tries to escape. As when we 
watch the almost silent working of some monstrous engine 
whose force is nevertheless sufficient to crush the strongest 
fabric to atoms, we feel the presence of a power in all that 
immense repression — something latent in the noiseless mo- 
tion of the wheel which makes the inexorabk swiftness of 
its revolutions all the more imposing, so the same kind of 
emotional effect is produced by Mendelssohn's use ofpp's 
in such words as " A mighty wind rent the mountains !" 
Great and glorious gusts of sound burst forth almost di- 
rectly afterward, and the crescendo increases with the throes 
of the earthquake until shock after shock subsides with a 
diminuendo, leaving us each time breathless with the an- 
ticipation of what is about to follow. 

-What follows is so unexpected in the elevation of its har- 
monic temperature, that we have known persons in a state 
of rapt excitement, upon hearing this chorus for the first 
time, break out into a cold sweat at the words, smitten like 
tongues of fire from the rocks, " But the Lord was not in 
the tempest !" 

The mere excitement of watching for the recurrence of 
this thrilling major phrase makes each stormy interval full 
of new interest. Every time it recurs on a different note — 
" But the Lord was not in the earthquake" — " But the Lord 
was not in the fire" — which last major, before it brings the 
series to a close, is carried on with a reiteration so urgent 
and absorbing as to impress the mind with the thought of 
a soul seized with a divine frenzy to see God, and in almost 
a terror of anguish at finding the wind, and the earthquake, 
and the fire pass without any definite discovery of the Di- 
vine Presence. So near the absolute beatific vision, and yet 
no vision ! The earthquake, and the tempest, and the blaze 
of the lightning, and yet no voice, for " The Lord was not 
in the fire !" 


As the last wild and nearly distracted cry dies away 
there comes very softly one of those magic changes in 
which the whole of the emotional atmosphere shifts — the 
cry of the spirit is going to be answered with a gentleness 
and a power above all that it could ask or think. The 
key changes from one to four sharps, and the words, "Aft- 
er the fire there came a still, small voice," then follow, with 
a peace and majesty of the most ineffable sweetness, "And 
in that still, small voice onward came the Lord." The mel- 
ody flows on in the clear and silver key of E major: it 
passes like the sweeping by of a soft and balmy wind, 
never rising, never falling, but gentle, and strong, and 
pulseless, coming we know not whence, and passing with 
the " tides of music's golden sea" into eternity. And as 
the last delicate strains of the accompaniment die away, 
we are left still looking up to heaven with senses enrap- 
tured and purified like those who have stood beside the 
gates of pearl and seen the King "in his beauty." 

The recitative and chorus following, " Above him stood 
the Seraphim," and " Holy, holy," develop the memory of 
this blessed vision, while the outburst of earthly praise at 
the close prepares us for the more commonplace scenery 
of this lower world, where we are allowed to rest a while 
before the final scene of the sacred drama. 

Once more, and for the last time, Elijah sets out upon 
N 147 his solitary way, but now he is sustained by an 
ken^rp^uto" unfaltering trust. No more suffering, no more 
Heaven. persecution, no more faintness or weariness ; he 
is filled through and through with a sense of the divine 
presence, and bears the light of God's splendor upon his 
countenance. The quiet arioso andante, " For the moun- 
tains shall depart," is thrown in skillfully, to recreate the 
mind after the extreme tension to which it has so lately 


been held, and to prepare it for a second climax of equal 
greatness and solemnity. 

Nothing can be finer than what we may call the trans- 
figuration of Elijah before his departure. 

When we come upon him for the last time, he is more 
imposing than ever — more terrible than when he first met 
Ahab in the way, more majestic than when he stood upon 
Carmel alone before the altar of the true God. 

We are permitted to see him thus only for a few mo- 
ments in the chorus, "Then did Elijah the prophet break 
forth like a fire." Not in vain had he been upon the Holy 
Mount and seen the Lord pass by; not in vain had the 
earthquake rent the rocks at his feet and the sky been 
changed into a sheet of living flame ; the tempest and the 
flame seem in a manner to have passed into his being ; and 
the whole man was growing almost elemental as he was 
about to enter into the presence of his God. Those who 
met with him were stricken with awe at his appearance, 
and marked how " his words appeared like burning torch- 
es ;" then remembered they how he had " heard the judg- 
ments of the future and seen the vengeance of God in 

The action from this point becomes almost intolerably 
rapid ; indeed, it is wonderful how the mind has been ena- 
bled to bear another climax in so short a time. 

But it was doubtless impossible to put off the last scene 
any longer. We feel that the beloved but terrible prophet 
is already breathing the atmosphere of another world, and 
has well-nigh done with this earth. 

Abruptly, in a moment, the phrase, "And when the Lord 
would take him away to heaven," is heard; first from a 
solitary bass voice, then from a rushing and impetuous 
chorus, as of a multitude who see the heavens opened be- 
fore them, and answer with a frantic shout of mingled ter- 


ror and adoration. A brief pause, and the chariot and 
horses of fire are there, and black clouds hurled about by 
a whirlwind, and flashes of intolerable radiance and mighty 
thunderings — and Elijah has passed. 

" He went up by a whirlwind into heaven." 

All through this rending of sky, and cloud, and terror of 
blinding flame, the tension on the mind, produced by the 
accompaniment of incessant triplets in semiquavers, sup- 
ported by a magnificent pedal bass of chords and octaves, 
is so great that we lose all account of the time taken by 
the whirlwind. It is, however, very considerable, as a 
glance at the score will show us, and accordingly produces 
an adequate and massive impression, suitable to the au- 
gust and miraculous nature of the event. The last long 
"Whirl — wind" on a minim is but one more instance of 
Mendelssohn's inexhaustible command of effects at the 
moment when he seems to have strained our powers of 
endurance to the utmost, and exhausted every combination 
of sound. 

Few composers w r ould have attempted to produce, at no 
148. great distance from each other, in one and the 

A perfect . 

Close. same part, two such crises as the scene on Horeb 
and the Fiery Ascension ; but surely none but the very 
finest genius would have resisted the temptation of closing 
the oratorio with this last scene. But Mendelssohn has 
had the courage to despise mere sensation for the sake of 
perfection, and has thus here, as elsewhere, asserted his 
claim to join hands with Handel, Mozart, and Beethoven. 

Steadily through the glare of light which at once trans- 
ports and dazzles us does this great oratorio "orb into the 
perfect star we saw not when we moved therein." The bad 
art of leaving; off with a shock finds no favor with so com- 


plete an artist as Mendelssohn, and his greatness is never 
more felt than in the incomparable richness of the music 
from the time when all scenic effect is over, and all dra- 
matic action has ceased. 

At the close of some refulgent summer day, when the sun 
has set, darkness does not immediately take possession of 
the earth; the sky still pulses with pale light, and long 
crimson streaks incarnadine the west. Then, as we watch, 
the colors change and nicker, thin spikes of almost impal- 
pable radiance shoot upward through the after-glow, and 
with celestial alchemy turn many a gray cloud into gold. 
The rising mists are caught and melted capriciously into 
violet and ruby flame; and as the eye, still dazzled with 
the sun, traverses the deserted heavens, the prospect is no 
doubt more peaceful than when the fiery globe was there 
— more peaceful, for the cold twilight grows apace, and the 
eye is gradually cooled as it gazes upon the fading fires, 
until at last the subtle essences of the night have toned all 
down into a calm monotint of gray and passionless repose. 

The conclusion of the Elijah is like the splendor and the 
peace of such a sunset. The day-star is indeed gone, but 
all things are still impregnated with his glory, and not un- 
til every gradation of color has been traversed are we suf- 
fered to rest from our contemplations, and drink deep, as it 
were, from the cool cisterns of the silent night. 

From the time of Elijah's departure we notice a prepon- 
derance of clear refreshing majors, which make us feel aware 
that we are coming to the end of our journey — just as the 
odor of brine from the ocean tells the traveler that he is 
approaching the sea-shore. The great tenor song, " Then 
shall the righteous shine," which falls as out of high heav- 
en, like the clarion shout of an angel, is in the major; so 
is the chorus, " But the Lord ;" so is the delicious quartet, 
" O come every one that thirsteth, come to the waters;" 


and so also is the final chorus, "And then shall your light 
break forth as the light of the morning !" 

The one recitative which occurs gives a curious theolog- 
ical twist to the close by working in an allusion to Elijah's 
second advent as the forerunner of Messiah ; indeed, we 
may call the quartet, "O come every one," strictly Messi- 
anic. It is as if Mendelssohn felt the incompleteness of 
the grandest revelation in the Old Testament apart from 
the New, and wished to give his hearers at least a hint of 
the Christian dispensation, a subject which he would, no 
doubt, have developed had he lived to complete his unfin- 
ished oratorio of Christus. Some people complain of the 
last chorus as dull and needlessly protracted. But the 
more we study the Elijah, the more we perceive that this 
chorus is necessary, and in its place at the end. It is quite 
regular, and even somewhat mechanical, and it leaves the 
mind in an atmosphere at once severe and tranquil. That 
is a very high level of conception for the closing treatment 
of so majestic a subject, and it would be difficult to improve 
upon it without fatally destroying the musical morality as 
well as the artistic beauty of the work. 

The Elijah destroyed Mendelssohn. It was produced for 
the first time at the Birmingham Festival in 1846, when 
Mendelssohn himself conducted, and there can be little 
doubt that the excitement and incessant toil incident upon 
so great an undertaking largely helped to shatter a frame 
already enfeebled by excessive mental exertion. 

On the 4th of November, 1847, Felix Mendelssohn Bar- 
tholdy died at Leipsic, before he had completed his thirty- 
uinth year. 


®l)irb Sock. 


Sljirb Book. 



I have never been able to class violins with other instru- 
149 ments. They seem to possess a quality and char- 
introduction. acter f their own. Indeed, it is difficult to con- 
template a fine old violin without something like awe ; to 
think of the scenes it has passed through long before we 
were born, and the triumphs it will win long after we are 
dead ; to think of the numbers who have played on it, and 
loved it as a kind of second soul of their own ; of all who 
have been thrilled by its sensitive vibrations; the great 
works of genius which have found in it a willing inter- 
preter; the brilliant festivals it has celebrated; the soli- 
tary hours it has beguiled ; the pure and exalted emotions 
it has been kindling for perhaps two hundred years ; and 
then to reflect upon its comparative indestructibility ! Or- 
gans are broken up, their pipes are redistributed, and their 
identity destroyed; horns are battered and broken, and get 
out of date ; flutes have undergone all kinds of modifica- 
tions; clarionets are things of yesterday; harps warp and 
rot ; piano-fortes are essentially short-lived ; but the sturdy 
violin outlasts them all. If it gets cracked, you can glue it 



up; if it gets bruised, you can patch it almost without in- 
jury ; you can take it to pieces from time to time, strength- 
en and put it together again, and even if it gets smashed 
it can often be repaired without losing its individuality, 
and not unfrequently comes home from the workshop bet- 
ter than ever, and prepared to take a new lease of life for 
at least ninety-nine years. 

These and similar thoughts forced themselves upon me 
as I found myself some time ago in the quaint old work- 
shop of one of the most gifted violin-makers of the age. It 
might have been the house of Stradiuarius at Cremona in 
1720. Violins lay around us in every possible stage of com- 
position and decomposition — new violins made with loving 
care by the keen workman who would never hear them in 
their maturity ; old violins that had somehow got wrong, 
and which had to be kept like watches until they went 
right; violins suffering from the "wolf;" others bruised 
and dilapidated ; sick violins, with their bellies* off; oth- 
ers, equally indisposed, waiting to have their backs put on ; 
a vast number without any heads, several waiting for ribs, 
and piles and piles of what we may call violin-bones, con- 
sisting of various pieces of hundreds of instruments of all 
ages, waiting to be made up at the discretion of the ar- 
tificer into violins of no particular age. The dim light 
came in through one window upon those relics of the past. 
The sun seemed to have subdued himself for the occasion. 
A stronger glare, I felt, would have affronted the dusky 
browns and sober tints of that old-fashioned workshop. 

Rome was not built in a day, nor was the violin the in- 

150. vention of any one man or a^e. Like the piano, 
Ongiu of J ° l ' 

the violin, its elements maybe said to have come together 

from the four quarters of the globe. They appear to have 
* Technical term for the front of the instrument. 


been combined in every possible proportion, until endless 
experiments and the most grotesque forms resulted at 
length in the singularly perfect and exquisitely simple in- 
strument known as the Cremona violin, which no time 
seems likely to impair, and no art seems able to improve. 
As we look with a certain interest at the earliest daubs of 
a great painter, or compare the wooden huts of a barbarous 
age with the stately edifices of our own, so we may be al- 
lowed to recall for a moment those rough early forms which 
have contributed their several elements to the violin. 

If I were writing a treatise in the German style, I should 
be prepared to show how, at some remote period before the 
dawn of history, the great European races migrated from 
India, passing through Bactria, Persia, Arabia, and Arme- 
nia, and, crossing the Hellespont, overflowed Roumelia, 
Wallachia, Croatia, Styria, and Bohemia, then, stretching 
away to the Danube and the Rhine, proceeded to people 
all Gaul under the name of Celt, from whence, as w T e all 
know, they crossed over to Britain ; and then, after prov- 
ing that the Chrotta Britanna was an instrument common 
to both Gaul and Britain, I should show, by a comparison 
between the instruments now in use in India and those 
played on by the ancient Europeans, that the Indo-Celtic 
race must certainly have transported the first rough model 
westward from the East. But perhaps it would be more 
true, if not quite so learned, to say that the principle of a 
string stretched on wood and set in vibration by horsehair 
or some kind of fibre has been known time out of mind by 
almost every nation in the world; and as we are now con- 
cerned only with the modern violin, I must beg leave to 
make short work with the savants, and confine the read- 
er's attention to what I may call its three roots, e. g. : 

The JRebek, or lute-shaped instrument, with one or three 
strings; the Cvoutli, or long box-shaped instrument, with 


six or more strings (in both these the strings are supported 
by bridges and played with bows, as in the violin) ; and, 
lastly, the JRotta, or kind of guitar, without a bridge or 
bow, and played by the fingers. 

In a MS. of the ninth century we have a drawing of 
the rebek, although it was probably known as early as the 
sixth. The crouth is somewhat later; we have no repre- 
sentation of it earlier than the eleventh century. It was 
an improved form of the rebek, but it does not appear to 
have superseded it for many centuries. The last player on 
the crouth was a Welshman, whose name was, of course, 
Morgan — John Morgan. He lived in the Isle of Anglesea, 
and died about 1720. The rebek was by far the ruder in- 
strument of the two, and became extinct at a somewhat 
earlier date. It was the instrument of the people, and wa r 
rasped at every fair and tournament. It found little favo 
with either monks or nobles, who are usually represented 
playing on the more aristocratic crouth. It stood in some- 
what the same relation to the latter as the accordion does 
to the concertina. The rotta may be thought of simply 
as a form of guitar. But it must be remembered that all 
these three instruments were constantly undergoing mod- 
ifications in size and shape ; that some rebeks had but one 
string, some crouths three or six, some rottas as many as 

And now, if the reader wishes to know how the violin 
arose out of this medley, adopting various items in the 
composition of each of the above instruments, and adding 
a something of its own which bound these scattered hints 
of substance, and shape, and sound into a higher unity, we 
advise him to take a good look at Figs. 1, 2, and 3, and then 
accompany us through the following brief analysis. 

In the rebek (Fig. l,p. 318) we get the rounded form 
pierced with two slits to let the sound out, which we also 


find in the upper part of the front of a violin. We have a 
bridge, a tail-piece, and screws, with doubtless a sound-post 
inside to resist the thrust of the bridge upon the front or 
belly. We also note that a box for the screws and the 
shape of the head come from the rebek, and not from the 

From the crouth (Fig. 2) we get the important detail of 
the back and the belly joined by sides. This principle of 
two vibrating surfaces joined by what we call ribs or sides 
was an immense step forward, as will be presently seen. 
The shape of the tail-piece was nearly the same as in our 

From the rotta, or, speaking more generally, from the 
guitar tribe, came the suggestion of the two curves inward 
in the sides, and the semicircular curve of lower part to 
correspond with the top. From the guitar tribe we also 
get the elongated neck made separate from the body of 
the instrument, and ultimately the six frets on the finger- 
board, now happily abolished, which for a hundred and fifty 
years marred the perfection of the violin. 

We have now an instrument of the viol tribe something 
like this (Fig. 3), which we may place roughly in the twelfth 
century. Although to the inexperienced it may look some- 
thing like a violin, the most that can be said of it is that 
it contains only those elements of the violin which that in- 
strument has borrowed from the rebek, crouth, and rotta, 
and still lacks the characteristics which constitute the 
violin proper, and raise it above the whole race of the old 

About the end of the fourteenth century, at the dawn of 
scientific music, viols were made in great profusion : the 
number of strings does not appear to have been fixed, and 
ranged from three to six or more. About this time it was 
noticed that human voices might be divided into four class- 

1. Rebek. 2. Crouth. 

3. Transition Instrument. 4. Violin, Bow. and Bridge. 


es — soprano, contralto, tenor, and bass — and in the light of 
this discovery we soon find viols divided into the quartet, 
e. g., violette, alto, tenor, and bass. We shall probably 
never know all the curious shapes and sizes of viols which 
were made between the twelfth and sixteenth centuries. 
Large quantities have perished, others have been used up 
for violins. The lute-makers were constantly trying ex- 
periments. We find instruments which it is difficult to 
class at all, others that early went out of fashion, while the 
most recognized forms were hardly fixed, and were contin- 
ually being modified, altered, or added to. As music grew, 
so did the rage for viols, and it is owing partly to the 
quantities made and partly to the caprice of the makers, 
partly to the waste and ruin of time, that it becomes diffi- 
cult to trace in detail the steps from the rough viol to the 
violin, until we suddenly find this latter, about the middle 
of the sixteenth century, occupying a modest position in 
the midst of that host of viols which it was destined to 
supersede forever. But the violin with four strings, and 
tuned as at present, continued for a few years in obscurity. 
In a concise Italian catalogue (printed in 1601) of viols 
then in use, it is not once mentioned; and in 1607, when 
two were certainly used in Monteverde's opera of Orfeo, 
played at Mantua, they are alluded to as " two little French 
violins," which seems to indicate that the French makers 
first discovered this modification of the viol. In 1620, Mi 
chael Praetorius, in the Theatrum Tnstrumentorum, publish- 
ed at Wolfenbiittel, gives us an undoubted picture of an 
instrument which is none other than the violin. And now, 
if the reader will glance from Fig. 3 to 4, he will at once 
see how the mongrel of the twelfth century was transform- 
ed through a course of successive developments into the 
violin of the sixteenth. The flat guitar-front is changed 
for the raised belly, the smooth curves of the sides are bro- 


ken into four corners* — a form which was found better to 
resist the strain of the bridge, and also allows a freer action 
of the bow. The slits in the shape of £ ^'s take the place 
of the C ")'s; the handle, instead of being flat and wide, is 
narrow and rounded ; the finger-board is raised, and reach- 
es over the curve of the belly, instead of being in the same 
plane with the flat guitar front ; and the guitar frets are 
abolished. Soon after we meet with the tenor viol and 
double bass, all built on the same model ; and the constel- 
lation of "The Violin," suddenly detaching itself from the 
confused nebulae of the violas, shines out brightly in the 
musical firmament. 

The violin has four strings tuned in the treble clef; the 
first is E between the lines, the second A between the. lines, 
the third D under the lines, and the fourth string G under 
the lines. The natural compass is from G under the lines 
to B above the lines ; but by shifting the hand up the fin- 
ger-board — a practice unknown to the viol-player — the 
compass may be almost indefinitely increased. The first 
three strings are made of thin gut, the fourth of gut cov- 
ered with silver wire. The bow is strung with horsehair, 
powdered with rosin, which readily bites the strings and 
keeps them in vibration. 

Whether the violin model came from France or Italy, it 
151# is indebted to Italy, and to Italy alone, for its 

Magmi,°and a the r ^ se an ^ progress. If it was a French seed, it 
Amatis. early floated away from its native land to take 

root and flourish in Italian soil. There were great lute 
schools at Brescia as early as 1450, and viols were fabrica- 

* Since writing the above I have seen a drawing of a capital in the Ab- 
bey S. George de Boscherville, near Rouen, containing a viol with sides 
broken into four corners. 1006 is the date. I believe this to be a singu- 
lar curiosity. 


ted in large quantities somewhat later at Venice, Bologna, 
and Mantua. But it was in the workshop of Gaspaeo di 
Salo that the first Italian violin was probably made. Like 
almost all the great violin-makers, he lived to an advanced 
age, and died, after fifty good years of work, in the town 
of Brescia. A violin of his is extant dated 1566, and an- 
other dated 1613. He found at least one great pupil in 
Jean Paul Magini (1590-1640) — not to be confounded with 
Santo Magini, a celebrated double-bass maker in the seven- 
teenth century. The Magini violins closely resemble those 
of Gasparo di Salo. The sides are narrow, the arch of the 
belly is high, and extends almost up to the sides ; the in- 
strument is strongly built ; the varnish, of a yellowish light 
brown, is very pure and of an excellent quality. The tone 
is like that of a powerful violin muffled. It is, however, 
much more sonorous than the older viols. 

Passing by such inferior makers as Antonino Mariani, 
Juvietta Budiana and Matteo Bente, both of Brescia, we 
come to the illustrious founder of the Cremona School, 
Andeeus Amati. When and where he was born, and who 
were his masters, we can not say with certainty. What is 
certain is that he worked in the first half of the sixteenth 
century, and set up a manufactory of his own at Cremona 
— some say, after having studied in the old Brescia school 
of Magini. A large number of his finest violins disappear- 
ed from Versailles after the 5th and 6th of October, 1790. 
These instruments had been the property of Charles IX., 
who seems to have been a great fiddler. 

Like all the cabinet instruments of the day, spinets, 
lutes, theorbos, mandores, and guitars, the violins of An- 
drew Amati are not loud — a loud violin would have killed 
the other instruments, and grated on ears only accustomed 
to the feeble twanging of old viols, and faint tinkle of the 
ancestors of the harpsichord and piano-forte. The Andrew 


v|22 VIOLINS. 

Amatis are usually a little smaller than the Maginis, much 
raised toward the centre, finely worked throughout, and 
thickly varnished light brown ; the sound is soft and clear. 

His two sons, Jerome and Antonius Amati, inherited 
their father's workshop and genius in 1580. They seem to 
have worked together, and those instruments which were 
the results of their united efforts are the finest. They are 
highly vaulted in front, deeply scooped out on either side 
of the vaults, the w r ood is chosen with great care, the 
workmanship is exquisitely smooth, they have not much 
power, the first and second strings are sweet and delicate, 
the third a little dull, and the fourth disproportionately 
weak. About 1635 Antonius died. Jerome married, and, 
although some of his instruments are equal in workman- 
ship to the earlier ones made conjointly with his brother, 
those made after the death of Antonius are, as a rule, in- 

Nicolas, son of Jerome, born 1596, was the greatest of 
the Amatis. The superior grace and elegance of his forms 
at once strike the practiced eye. The curves are less ab- 
rupt and more carefully studied, the proportions more 
subtle and harmonious, the varnish is plentiful, soft, and 
glossy. A few extant violins, w r hich have been worked 
out with a truly astonishing labor of love, are of indescrib- 
able beauty and finish. M. Allard, the eminent French vi- 
olinist, possesses one of them. Another perfect gem, bear- 
ing date 1668, bolonged to Count Cozio. With great 
sweetness and evenness of tone they unite a certain clear, 
unmuflled brilliancy prophetic of the last achievements o*" 
the art. 

The second Jerome, the last of this great family, is in no 
wise remarkable except for the mediocrity of the instru- 
ments which he has labeled with the great name of Amati. 
To the school of Nicolas Amati belongs the illustrious Jo- 


seph Guarnerius, whose genius and originality might well 
entitle him to a separate biographical notice ; but the 
Amatis and all their associates pale before the one great 
name which is forever associated with Cremona, Antonius 
Stradiuarius. We have now traversed just one hundred 
years from Gasparo di Salo to Stradiuarius. One after an- 
other, quality after quality had been discovered. Gasparo 
and Magini determined the main outline and build, and 
produced a new tone essentially superior to that of the old 
viols, though still somewhat dull and muffled. The Ama- 
tis and J. Guarnerius brought the workmanship near to 
perfection, improved the proportions, and produced a clear, 
soft tone of silvery sweetness. It remained for one master 
mind at this propitious crisis to step in and unite to the 
softness and brilliancy of his predecessors a powerful depth 
and body of sound entirely his own. 

The rise of music in Italy and the perfection of the great. 
152# violin schools closely followed the rise and per- 
stradiuarms. f ec ^j on of Italian painting. It was at the begin- 
ning of the sixteenth century that all the elements of the 
art which had existed apart from each other began to 
come together: the study of anatomy and chiaroscuro 
from Florence and Padua, richness of color from Venice, 
reverence for ideal beauty from Umbria. It was toward 
the end of the seventeenth century that one great maker 
gathered up in himself the perfections of all his predeces- 
sors, and bequeathed to modern ears, in tonal splendor, de- 
lights analogous to those which the noblest painters have 
left us in form and colors. Like the rapid perfection of 
Greek sculpture under Pericles, or the sudden blossoming 
of Italian art under Pope Julius II., so, at the close of one 
short century, broke into perfect bloom the flower of the 
Cremonese school. Antonius Stradiuarius stands crown* 


eel the monarch of his art, the Phidias or the Raphael of 
the violin. 

This remarkable man was born in 1644. There could 
be but one master for Stradiuarius — the great Nicolas 
Amati. The highest genius is often the most impressiona- 
ble in its early stages, and we should never be surprised 
to find it engaged for a time simply in reflecting with ut- 
ter devotion and the most perfect fidelity the highest 
known types. The early pictures of Raphael are scarcely 
distinguished from the later productions of Perugino ; 
Beethoven's first strains remind us forcibly of Mozart ; 
and the first violins made by Stradiuarius, from 1667 to 
1670, are not only exact copies of Amati, but are actually 
labeled with his name. Little is known about the great 
pupil, but that little exhibits to us a man who never had 
but one ambition — who without haste, but also without 
rest, labored for the perfection of the violin. He took his 
time to watch, to listen, to test, and to ponder, waiting 
frequently years for his results, and accounting failure oft- 
entimes as precious as success. To him the world was 
nothing but one vast workshop. On the western slopes 
of the Swiss mountains there were fair forests of maple 
and willow. It may be doubted whether he ever saw 
them, but they grew good wood for violins. The sun of 
Lombardy beat fiercely down on the white marble dust of 
the Italian roads, and made Cremona in the dog-days little 
better than an oven ; but the heat was good to dry the 
wood for violins. The fruit of the vine was refreshing, 
but the most precious ingredient was, after all, the spirit 
which mixed the varnish for the wood of violins. Sheep, 
oxen, and horses were, no doubt, valuable for food and la- 
bor, but the best parts of them were the intestines, which 
made strings for violins ; the mane or tail, which provided 
hair for the bow ; and the gelatinous hoof, which yielded 


erood o-lue for the manufacture of violins. After his first 
essays, in which he may be supposed to have completely 
mastered the forms of the old makers, and sounded their 
shortcomings, Stradiuarius appears to have passed almost 
twenty years in profound absorption and study. He was 
trying to solve those problems in sound which previous 
makers had only suggested. Why were some violins 
sweet and others harsh, or some clear while others were 
muffled ? What were the peculiar forms and proportions 
which made Nicolas Amati superior to his predecessors ? 
Was it possible, by deviating from these forms, to gain an 
increase of power without a loss of sweetness? Some such 
speculations as these no doubt occupied Antonius from 
1670 to 1690. They were his years of meditation, theory, 
and experiment. We have few violins of this period, but 
these few bear his own name, and still bear a strong re- 
semblance to the Amatis. It seems almost as if, in what 
he gave to the world, he had been unwilling to depart 
from the finest model he knew until he had discovered a 
finer. After all, it is only the second-rate minds that are 
forever explaining their methods, and bringing the para- 
phernalia of the workshop before the public; the first-class 
men have a passion for the perfect work, and can afford to 
suppress many beautiful failures which seem to them mere- 
ly steps in the ladder of progress. 

No doubt, then, the sudden change we notice in 1690 
was not the result of a momentary inspiration so much as 
the embodiment of twenty years of thought and experi- 

Stradiuarius had discovered a better model, and his work 
henceforth ceases to be a close copy of his masters. His 
violins are now somewhat wider, the arch of the belly is 
less abrupt, the thicknesses of the wood are fixed accord- 
ing to more rigorous experiments, the varnish has a tinge 


of red in it, yet the maker has not readied his climax. 
The violins up to this period, from 1690 to 1700, are called 
Stradiuarius Amati. The great artist has now reached his 
fiftieth year — his hand and eye had at length attained su- 
preme skill and freedom. The violins from 1720 to 1725 
have all the grace and boldness of a Greek frieze drawn by 
a master's hand. The curves are perfectly graceful — the 
arch of the belly, not too flat or too much raised, is the 
true natural curve of beauty. On each side the undulating 
lines, as from the bosom of a wave, flow down and seem to 
eddy up into the four corners, where they are caught and 
refined away into those little angles with that exquisite 
finish which rejoices the heart of a connoisseur. When 
the instrument is held sideways against the light, the curve 
of the back, without being exactly similar, is seen to form 
a sweep in delicious harmony with the upper arch. The 
details have lost all the old cut-and-dried stiffness; the two 
-C^* 's are carved with a symmetry and elegance of pat- 
tern which later makers have copied closely, but have not 
ventured to modify. The Stradiuarius is throughout a 
thing of beauty, and, it may be added, almost a joy forev- 
er. When opened for repairs, the interior is no less per- 
fect. The little blocks, and ribs, and slips of wood to 
strengthen the sides, all are without a scratch or shadow 
of roughness; the weight and size of each are carefully ad- 
justed to the proportion of the whole; and as great poets 
are said to spend days over a line, so Stradiuarius may 
well have spent as long over the size, position, and finish 
of many a tiny block ; and as the great architects of the 
thirteenth century lavished exquisite work on little details 
of their cathedrals, in lofty pinnacles and hidden nooks, so 
did this great maker finish as carefully interior angles and 
surfaces that were, perhaps, never to be seen but once in a 
hundred years, if so often, and then only by the eye of 
some skillful artificer. 


It is in this way that many plausible forgeries are de- 
tected. Early in the present century the French makers 
began to copy the Stradiuarius violins so closely that to 
the eye there seemed little difference between the origi- 
nals and the copies; but when the forgeries were taken to 
pieces to improve their dull tone, or to be cleaned and 
mended, the dead men's bones, in the shape of rough blocks, 
lumps of glue, and rugged work of all kinds, were disclosed, 
and it became quite clear that these miserable whited sep- 
ulchres had never imprisoned the soul of a Cremona. And 
thus the labor of love, which might have seemed in vain 
to the master's contemporaries, has had its reward at last, 
and lives forever to testify to the cunning hand and the 
devoted heart. And by a singular accident, which the old 
makers could not have foreseen, all their violins have been 
opened, and the faithfulness of their work made manifest, 
for the bar which runs down the middle of the inside of 
the arch, to support the strain of the bridge, has had to be 
replaced in each case by a stronger bar, as the pitch has 
risen through successive years, and the tension of the 
strings increased in proportion. 

Stradiuarius made, besides violins, tenors, violoncellos, 
and basses, a great quantity of lutes, guitars, and viols, 
which are still celebrated. His tenors are few in number, 
but very fine, and his basses have all the characteristic 
qualities of the violins. In a few instruments belonging 
to his fine period (l 700-1 725) we notice a departure from 
his most perfect forms — some are elongated, and others 
bulge like the older models — and both are proportionately 
inferior in quality. 

From 1725 to 1730 the violins are still fine, but fewer in 
number, and of more doubtful authenticity. Some are be- 
gun by him and finished by pupils ; others, made under his 
direction, merely bear his name. About 1730 the master's 


name begins to disappear; yet after this date there are 
several violins known to be by his hand : the execution is 
uncertain, the designs are drawn with less vigor, and a 
want of finish generally attests the dim eye and feeble 
hand of old age. 

In 1 736, Stradiuarius, being then ninety-two years old, 
took up his keen chisel and completed with his own hand 
his last violin. The old man had been waiting for death 
ever since 1729, the year in which he had his tomb made 
ready; he died in 1737.* His last years were employed in 
forming such pupils as Bergonzi and Peter Guarnerius. He 
was quite aware that his creative period was long past, 
and although he no longer labeled his instruments, in his 
last years he made an incredible number of sketches and 
models for violins, which were afterward finished by his 
numerous pupils, and sold as genuine products. 

Lute-maker Antonius was probably little moved by the 
political convulsions of his age. In 1702 Cremona was tak- 
en during the War of Succession by the French Marshal 
Villeroy, recovered by Prince Eugenius, and taken again 
by the French. After that time for many years Italy con- 
tinued in a state of profound and fatal tranquillity. But 
peace no doubt suited the absorbed workman better than 
any patriotic war. 

If, before we take leave of the personal history of this 
great man, we are to try and see him as he appeared in 
his green old age to the inhabitants of Cremona, we must 
transport ourselves to the house No. 1239, in the Piazza 
S. Domenico, at Cremona, and imagine that (now) carpet 
warehouse changed into an old workshop like that de- 

* "In pulling down the church of San Domenico, at Cremona, the 
tomb of Antonio Stradivari, the great violin-maker, has been discovered. 
His remains have been transported to the cemetery, where a monument 
will be erected to him." — Musical Standard. 


scribed at the commencement of this chapter. There lived 
and died Antonius Stradiuarius, known to all men, respect- 
ed as one of the oldest inhabitants, and envied by not a 
few as the most celebrated lute-maker in Italy. We can 
not join hands with him through any living person who 
has seen him, but we can almost. Bergonzi, grandson of 
the great Carlo Bergonzi, who died only a few years ago 
at the age of eighty, used to point out the house of his 
grandfather's contemporary. And old Polledro, late chap- 
el-master at Turin, describes Antonius as an intimate friend 
of his master, and we shall get no nearer to Antonius than 
the description he has left of him. He was high and thin, 
and looked like one worn with much thought and inces- 
sant industry. In summer he wore a white cotton night- 
cap, and in winter a white one made of some woolen ma- 
terial. He was never seen without his apron of white 
leather, and every day was to him exactly like every other 
day. His mind was always riveted upon his one pursuit, 
and he seemed neither to know nor to desire the least 
change of occupation. His violins sold for four golden 
livres apiece, and were considered the best in Italy ; and 
as he never spent any thing except uj)on the necessaries of 
life and his own trade, he saved a good deal of money, and 
the simple-minded Cremonese used to make jokes about 
his thriftiness, and not, perhaps, without a little touch of 
envy, until the favorite proverb applied to a prosperous 
fellow-citizen used to be " As rich as Stradiuarius /"* 

And now it may be thought that enough has been said 
153. concerning violins and their makers, but, in truth, 

Violin- & . 

making, we have only come to the threshold of the subject, 

* Figure 4 is copied from a very perfect and powerful instrument in 
the writer's possession, bearing a label with the master's seal: "Antonius 
Stradiuarius Cremonensis faciebat anno 1712." 


and the mysteries of the manufacture remain to be ex- 
pounded. This it would be exceedingly difficult to do 
without the aid of a great many diagrams, and, indeed, 
without presupposing the reader to have acquired some 
practical knowledge of the art. I must here confine my- 
self to a few leading points. 

It has been sometimes said that the merit of a violin is 
not so much in the make as (i.) in the age, and (n.) the 
quality of vibration produced in the wood by incessant 
use. It may be answered, first, that no doubt age improves 
violins, but age will never make a good violin out of a bad 
one ; witness the host of violins that were made in the 
time of Stradiuarius by makers whose names are either 
known as greatly inferior to his, or forgotten altogether. 
Again, that using a violin keeps it in good condition is no 
doubt true ; but that much using a bad one will make it 
good is not certainly the case ; for how many bad fiddles 
are there that have been scraped assiduously for ages, and 
are still as bad as can be ? 

Thus it would appear that the secret of excellence lies 
neither in age nor use, but must be sought elsewhere. 

The excellence of a violin depends, roughly speaking, 
upon two ranges of qualities: 1. The thickness, density, 
and collocation of the various woods. 2. On the nature 
and direction of the curves. 

1. The front of a violin is of soft deal, the back and sides 
are of maple. Now it is well known that a piece of wood, 
like a string in tension, can be set in vibration, and will 
then yield a certain musical note — the pitch of that note 
will depend upon the length, thickness, and density of the 
wood — and that note will be generated by a certain num- 
ber of sound-waves or vibrations. Now, when the back 
or front of a violin is covered with fine sand, and struck, 
or otherwise caused to vibrate, the sand will arrange itself 

SI0L1N- MAKING. 331 

in certain lines, corresponding to the waves of sound which 
generate the note belonging to the back or front, as the 
case may be. M. Savarfc maintains that after testing a 
great many of Stracliuarius's violins in this way, he found 
that all the finest gave the same note, but that in no case 
was the note of the front the same as the note of the back. 
Further experiment showed that in the finest violins there 
was a whole note between the back and the front, and that 
any departure from this rule was accompanied with injury 
to the tone. There is probably a general kind of truth at 
the bottom of these remarks, although suspicion has been 
thrown on the worth and extent of M. Savart's experi- 
ments by some of our experienced makers ; however, the 
following facts, stated necessarily with considerable rough- 
ness, may be relied upon : 

For the front of the violin you must choose a very light, 
soft, and porous wood — there is nothing better in this way 
than common deal. When dry, if you cut a section and 
look at it through the microscope, you will see it to be full 
of little hollow cells, once filled with the sap ; the more of 
such cells there are, the more quickly will the wood vi- 
brate to sound. Of such wood, then, we make the table 
of harmony, or sound-board, or belly of our violin. But in 
proportion to the quickness will be the thinness and eva- 
nescence of the sound, and if the back vibrated as quickly 
as the front, the sound would be very poor. Accordingly, 
we take maple wood for the back. It is a harder wood, 
containing less sap, and, consequently, fewer hollow cells 
when dry. It therefore vibrates more slowly than deal: 
the effect of this is to detain the waves of sound radiating 
from the deal, and to mix them with slower vibrations of 
the back in the hollow of the instrument. The ribs or 
sides of the violin, which are also made of maple, serve to 
connect the quickly vibrating belly with the slowly vibrat- 


ing back, and hold them until both throb together with full 
pulsation and body of sound. But we must not omit to 
mention a little bit of stick called the sound-post, which is 
stuck upright inside the violin, just under the bridge, and 
helps the front to support the strain put upon it by the 
strings. This insignificant little post, connecting as it does 
the inside roof of the belly directly with the back, is so im- 
portant in helping to communicate and mix the vibrations, 
that the French have called it the " soul of the violin ;" 
indeed, by moving it only a hair's breadth a sensible dif- 
ference in the quality of the tone is produced, and a whole 
morning may sometimes be wasted in putting it up and 
shifting it about from one side to the other. The best pos- 
sible advice to all amateurs is, when your sound-post is up, 
leave it alone ; but if it is evidently in the wrong place, 
don't attempt to alter it yourself, but have it set right by 
some first-rate violin doctor. 

But we have not quite done with the vibratory qualities 
of the wood. Great skill must be exercised in the choice 
of woods. You might cut up a dozen maple-trees without 
finding a piece of wood so smooth and regular in grain, 
and of such even density as some of the Stradiuarius backs; 
and then, although deal is more porous than maple, yet all 
deal has not the same porousness, nor is all maple equally 
close-grained. Consequently, two pieces of deal of equal 
dimensions will not give the same note. 

How did Stradiuarius find out the notes of his wood ? 
how did he measure its vibration? was he aware of the in- 
terval between the notes of his fronts and his backs ? How 
much he knew we shall perhaps never be able to ascertain. 
His experiments in sound have not been handed down to 
us, any more than his way of mixing that crystal varnish 
into which you can look as into the warm shadows of sun- 
lit water. The best authorities believe that he did not 


know the reason of what he did — did not determine at all 
scientifically the various densities of his woods, or inten- 
tionally place a whole tone between the back and the bel- 
ly ; and for this reason, that had he once discovered these 
laws, neither he nor his pupils would have deviated from 
them, and we know that he did so deviate ; for out of the 
immense number of his instruments only the finest of his 
finest period obey the test of these natural laws of acous- 

I am told that after years of familiarity with violins and 
their woods, the hand gets to tell the different densities of 
wood by the feel, just as blind people can tell certain col- 
ors ; and it is possible that Stradiuarius, in his choice of 
woods and their tonal relations, was guided by a certain 
instinct insensibly founded upon the immense range of his 
experience. I am assured by an eminent maker that he 
can tell by the feel the kind of wood which is likely to form 
the right front to get on well with a certain back, and vice 

But we must not forget to say a word about the curves. 
We have seen that the general shape of the violin has been 
fixed, after years of varied experiment. It is not shaped so 
for convenience (although its last most perfect shape hap- 
pens to be also the most convenient), but because its final 
shape is acoustically proved to be the best. The most 
important curves are the longitudinal and latitudinal lines 
of the belly and the back. At first viols were made flat, 
like guitars, then in all sorts of fanciful curves ; the older 
ones are thick and bulgy, like pumpkins. The curve grad- 
ually subsided, until we get the exquisite wavy lines of 
Stradiuarius — that curve so graceful, because it is the 
curve of nature. Set a string in vibration, and you will 
get the curve in the rise of a Stradiuarius back. And I 
am told that it is one of tip most modern discoveries that 


this curve itself — as it were distilled from a vibration — is 
the only one which is found perfectly to conduct the vi- 
bratory waves of sound. If Stradiuarius had known this, 
would he ever have departed from it ? As a fact, we have 
some of his instruments whose curves are as far removed 
from nature as those of Amati or Magini. We are bound 
almost to infer that he did not know for a certainty, but? 
got at last to know the kind of curves which, in conjunc- 
tion with other qualities, went to produce the finest tone. 

But the sides or ribs also call for special notice. The 
height of these determines, of course, the air-bearing ca- 
pacity of the instrument. It is found by experiment that 
all the best violins contain about the same amount of air, 
and that a certain fixed relation between their air-bearing 
capacity and the thickness of the wood is always adhered 
to, and any departure from this rule is found to injure the 
intensity of the sound. If there is too much air, the deep 
tones are dull and feeble, the high notes thin and screamy ; 
if too little air, the deep tones are harsh, and the first string 
loses its brilliancy. 

Again, if the sounding-board or belly is too thin, the 
sonority will be poor and weak ; if too thick, the vibrations 
will be slow and stiff, or, as violin-players say, the instru- 
ment will not " speak." Arch the belly too much, or make 
it too flat, in either case the equilibrium of the mass of air 
will be disturbed, and the sound will be muffled and nasal. 

The shape and proportions of the two ^ ^'s can not 
safely be departed from ; no more can the model and the 
various incisions of the bridge. Immense numbers of holes, 
of all shapes and sizes, were tried, and also every possible 
description of bridge, before Stradiuarius fixed the pattern, 
which no good violin-maker has since ventured to alter or 
modify in the least degree. 

The Stradiuarius varnish, which has a warm reddish 


tinge in it, preserves the wood from damp, and prevents it 
from rotting; it lies upon the wood like a thin sheet of the 
most transparent agate. The inside of the violin is not 
varnished; the hard outer coat of varnish serves to drive 
the sound inward, where it mixes and vibrates before es- 
caping through from the two jj ^'s. 

We have now done with our historical and technical de- 
154 scription of the violin, and perhaps we have said 
Conclusion. en0U gh ^ sn0 w why it is, and must ever remain, 
the most fascinating of instruments, not only to the hearer 
and the player, but even to the collector. There seems to 
be a strangely sensitive, almost human element about it, 
which exists in no other instrument, and which goes far to 
explain the enormous prices paid for some of the fine vio- 
lins ; 300, and even 400 guineas are not unfrequently paid 
down cheerfully for a single one. No doubt there is often 
some " fancy" in the price. You meet with a violin that 
suits you, and it is simply worth any thing that you can 
afford to pay. Different instruments, equally fine in their 
way, have separate qualities and peculiar characters ; and 
the violin, which in some hands will prove unmanageable, 
will yield up to others all its hidden and mysterious sweet- 
ness. No instrument is so capricious or so absorbing. If 
one string chances to be a little too thick, the others will 
rebel; it will take to some particular bridge, and reject 
others; it will have. its bridge in one place, and only one; 
it feels every change in the weather, like a barometer, and 
has to be rubbed, and coaxed, and warmed into good hu- 
mor like a child. Sometimes after being caressed, and, 
above all, played into splendid condition, the sensitive way 
in which it responds to each tiny variation of the touch 
will entrance and astonish the player himself. Thus it will 
often happen as if the player found quite as much power 


as he brought ; and if at times he dictates to the violin, the 
violin, at others, seems to subdue him, and carry him away 
with its own sweetness, until he forgets his own mind, and 
follows the lead and suggestion of his marvelous compan 

We have no room left for hints to amateur violinists, but 
we may as well close with two practical remarks : 

Firstly. Do not take up the violin unless you mean to 
work hard at it. Any other instrument may be more safe- 
ly trifled with. 

Secondly. It is almost hopeless to attempt to learn the 
violin after the age of ten. 



Before the Piano-forte came the Harpsichord, and be- 
^ . J 55 -, , fore the Harpsichord came the Spinet, and before 

Origin of the . * . , 

Piano-forte, the Spinet came the virginal, and before the Vir- 
ginal came the Clavichord and Monochord, before these the 
Clavicytherium, before that the Citole, before that the Dul- 
cimer and Psaltery, and before them all the Egyptian, Gre- 
cian, and Roman harps, and lyres innumerable. 

Some of the harps of antiquity were struck with a quill 
or " plectrum" — we know very little about them except 
that some were round and some angular, some with three 
corners, some with more, some had ten strings, some thir- 
teen; and modifications of these varieties formed the staple 
of stringed instruments in the Middle Ages. The Middle 
Ages, then, had harps of all kinds, and out of the harp grew 
the psaltery, the dulcimer, and citole. The Psaltery* was 
a box with metal strings stretched over it ; it was plucked 
with a quill. The Dulcimerf was also a box with strings 
stretched over it, but it was struck with two crooked sticks. 
The Citole, or " little chest," was another box with strings 
stretched over it, but it was played with the fingers. And 
now, if we roll all these into one, we shall get the first glim- 
mering notion or embryo of a piano. A piano involves 
three fundamental ideas : Percussion (hammer), Vibration 

* Psaltery, from " psaltendo," singing, 
t Dulcimer, " dulce melos," sweet sound. 


on sonorous box (sounding-board), and Finger-touch through 
mechanical action (key-board). From the dulcimer, some- 
times called hacbret, or hack-board (alas ! how many young 
ladies go back to the Dark Ages, and turn their pianos into 
hack-boards !) — from the dulcimer we get percussion with 
a hammer, and from all three we get the sonorous box, or 
sounding-board; but no one had yet thought of that crown- 
ing glory — that now, at length, so perfect and subtle a min- 
ister of touch, the key-board. As early as the eleventh cen- 
tury the key-board was applied to the organ, and some 
time afterward an unknown Italian (perhaps Guido of Arez- 
zo) adapted it to stringed instruments, and hence arose the 
Clavicytherium, or Keyed Lyre. For many reasons the 
Clavicytherium was not extensively popular, and for cen- 
turies after we read that at the feasts there was " Cy tolyng 
and eke harping, y e fydle dovcemere, y e psaltery and voices 
sweet as bell." But little mention is made of the Clavicy- 
therium, the " dark horse" which was, after all, to be the 
winner. The fact is, in those days people seem sometimes 
to have progressed backward : e. g., the Clavicytherium 
was fitted with catgut strings and plucked 'with quills, called 
jacks ; and so, incredible as it may seem, the instrument, 
in gaining a key-board, actually lost its metal strings and 
the percussion touch ! The construction of the Clavicy- 
therium was coarse and simple to a fault. I have no doubt 
that, like our first harmoniums, it was always getting out 
of order — keys sticking, catgut snapping, etc., and was al- 
together much less manageable and portable than hack- 
boards and citoles. 

The Clavichord* (1500) was a real advance; it was in 

most respects like the Clavicytherium, with the restoration 

of metal strings and the addition of that sine qua non of 

all delicate effects of harmony — the damper. The damper, 

* " Clavi," a key ; " chorda," a string. 


as every one knows, is a piece of cloth which descends 
upon the strings after they have been struck, to check the 
vibration and prevent the sounds running into one another. 

The Clavicymbal differed only from the Clavichord in 
shape ; it bore the same relation to the Clavichord that a 
small square piano does to an upright semi-grand. 

With the Clavichord and Clavicymbal we enter civilized 
regions ; instead of having to fall back upon unknown dul- 
cimer players, copied from old manuscripts, and ladies out 
of stained windows with citoles on their laps, we have the 
solemn figure of old Sebastien Bach, with his neat periwig 
and silk stockings, thrumming those wonderfully melodi- 
ous jigs and sarabands on his favorite instrument, the clavi- 
chord. " I find it," he says, " capable of expressing the 
most refined thoughts. I do not believe it possible to pro- 
duce from any harpsichord or piano-forte (i. e., a piano- 
forte of the Bach period) such a variety in the gradations 
of tones as upon this instrument, which, I allow, is poor in 
quality and small in scale, but extremely flexible." In 
1772 Dr. Burney visited C. P. E. Bach, and heard him play. 
"M.Bach," he writes, "was so obliging as to sit down to 
his Silberman clavichord, on which he played three or four 
of his choicest compositions. In the pathetic and slow 
movements, whenever he had a long note, he absolutely 
contrived to produce from his instrument a cry of sorrow 
or complaint, such as can only be effected on the clavi- 
chord, and perhaps by himself." 

The Virginal and Spinet were still nearer approaches to 
156 ^ the piano-forte ; they were an improved and 
The Virginal. more expensive kind of clavichord ; they were 
much in vogue toward the end of the sixteenth century, 
and were found chiefly in the Elizabethan boudoirs of the 
fine ladies of that stirring and romantic epoch. Here, for 


instance, is a description of Mary Queen of Scots' virginal. 
" It was made of oak, inlaid with cedar, and richly orna« 
mented with gold ; the cover and sides were beautifully 
painted with figures of birds, flowers, and leaves, and the 
colors are still bright. On the lid is a grand procession 
of warriors, whom a bevy of fair dames are propitiating by 
presents of wine and fruit." 

Some think virginal refers to Elizabeth, who liked to be 
called the virgin queen. Dr. Johnson says it was a com- 
pliment to young ladies in general, who all liked to strum 
on the virginal. But another writer, with better judg- 
ment, reminds us how, in the pleasant twilights of con- 
vents and old halls, it served to lead sweet voices singing 
hymns to the Virgin. The very sound of the word " vir« 
ginaV reminds one of St. Cecilia sitting, as Raffael has 
painted her, in a general atmosphere of music, with angels 
listening; or else the light should fall through stained 
glass upon old impaneled wainscots of dark oak, or upon 
purple velvet cushions and rich tapestry. And there, in 
some retired nook of an ancient palace, at sunset, " my love 
doth sit," saith Spenser, 

"Playing alone, careless, on her heavenlie virginals." 

Or here is another picture drawn from life; it is to be 
found in the "Memoirs of Sir James Melvil," 1683, embas- 
sador from Mary Queen of Scots to Queen Elizabeth : 
"After dinner my Lord of Hundsen drew me up to a quiet 
gallery, that I might hear some musick (but he said that 
he durst not avow it), where I might hear the Queen 
(Elizabeth) play upon the virginals. After I had hearken- 
ed a while, I took up the tapestry that hung before the door 
of the chamber, and, seeing her back was toward the door, 
I entered within the chamber and stood a pretty space, 
hearing her play excellently well; but she left oifimmedi- 


ately she turned about and saw me. She appeared to be 
surprised to see me, and came forward, seeming to strike 
me with her hand, alleging she used not to play before 
men, but when she was solitary, to shun melancholy. She 
asked how I came there. I answered, as I was walking 
with my Lord Hundsen, as we passed by the chamber door 
I heard such a melody as ravished me, whereby I was 
drawn in ere I knew how — excusing my fault of homeli- 
ness as being brought up at the court of France, where 
such freedom is allowed. Then she sat down low upon a 
cushion, and I upon my knees by her. She inquired wheth- 
er my queen or she played best. In that I found myself 
obliged to give her the praise." 

Again he writes : " She (Elizabeth) asked me if she 
(Mary Queen of Scots) played well. I said, c Reasonably, 
for a queen.' " This reminds us of Handel's reply to his 
royal patron, who asked him how he liked his playing on 
the violoncello. "Vy, sir, your highness plays like a 
prince !" 

Shakspeare was fully alive to the sentimental side of the 
u heavenlie virginal," as the following sonnet proves : 

"How oft when thou, my music, music playst 
Upon that blessed wood whose motion sounds 
With thy sweet fingers, when thou gently swayst 

The wiry concord that mine ear confounds, 
Do I envy those jacks that nimbly leap 

To kiss the tender inward of thy hand, 
While my poor lips that should that harvest reap 

At the wood's boldness by thee blushing stand? 
To be so tickled, they would change their state 

And situation with those dancing chips, 
O'er whom thy fingers walk with gentle gait, 
Making dead wood more bless'd than living lips! 
Since saucy jacks so happy are in this, 
Give them thy fingers — me thy lips to kiss!" 


About the year 1700 the Virginal went out of fashion. 

15L and its place was finally taken up by the im~ 
The Spmet. p rovec j clavichord, called Spi?iet* and, later on. 
harpsichord. In 1760, a first-class harpsichord by Rticker, 
the most celebrated maker, cost one hundred guineas. A 
grand harpsichord looked precisely like a grand piano, 
only it was provided with two key-boards, one above the 
other, the top one being to the bottom one very much 
what the swell key-board of the organ is to the main key- 
board. To every note there were four strings, three in 
unison, the fourth tuned an octave higher, and there were 
stops capable of shutting off or coupling any of these to 
gether. The quality of the sound depended upon the ma 
terial of which the jack was made — whether, that is, the 
string was struck with cloth, quill, metal, or buff leather; 
the quantity did not depend, as in the piano, upon the fin- 
ger touch, but upon the number of strings coupled togeth- 
er by the stops. It now at last occurred to admirers of 
the harp and violin that all refinement of musical expres- 
sion depended upon touch, and that whereas you could 
only pluck a string by machinery in one way, you might 
hit it in a hundred different ways. 

The long-abandoned notion of striking the strings with 
i5s. a hammer was at length revived, and by the ad- 

The Piano- . . . , - 

forte. dition of this third and last element, the harpsi- 

chord emerged into the Piano-forte. The idea occurred 
to three men at the same time, about the beginning of 
the eighteenth century — Cristofali, an Italian; Marius, a 
Frenchman ; and Schroter, a German ; the palm probably 
rests with the Italian, although so clumsy were the first 
attempts that little success attended them, and good harp- 
sichords on the wrong principle were still preferred to bad 
* From "spina," a thorn — hence "quill." 


pianos on the right one; but the key-note of the new in- 
strument had been struck in more senses than one — the 
object of centuries was, in fact, accomplished — the age of 
the quill, pig's bristle, thorn, ivory tongue, etc., was rapidly 
drawing: to its close. A small hammer was made to strike 
the string and awake a clear, precise, and delicate tone un- 
heard before, and the " scratch with a sound at the end of 
it" was about to be consigned, after a long reign, to an 
eternal oblivion. 

We can not wonder at the old harpsichord and clavi- 
chord lovers, even the greatest of them, not taking kindly 
at first to the piano-forte ; the keys required a greater del- 
icacy of treatment, it became necessary for musicians and 
amateurs to change their style of playing, and this alone 
was enough to hand over the new instrument to the rising 
generation. Silberman showed two of his piano-fortes to 
Sebastien Bach, who praised them as ingenious pieces of 
mechanism, but complained of their feebleness of tone. Sil- 
berman, nothing disconcerted, retired into his workshop, 
and, after some years of study, during which no expense 
was spared, he at last produced an instrument which even 
Bach, wedded as he was to the clavichord, pronounced to 
be "without fault." From that moment a rapid demand 
for Silberman's pianos rose throughout Germany; they 
could not be made fast enough. 

Frederick the Great,who indulged in a variety of the most 
159. improbable pursuits, had several of them about his 

Sebastien * r . 7 _ _ . 

Bach. palace ; and having the finest pianos, he was natu- 
rally anxious to hear the finest player in the world upon 
them. But Sebastien Bach, like other great "spirits of the 
vasty deep," would not always come when called for. At 
last, one night in the year 1747, as the king took up his 
flute to perform a concerto at a private concert in the pal- 


ace, a messenger came in with a list of the guests already 
arrived. With his flute in his hand, the king ran over the 
names, and, turning suddenly to the musicians, in a most 
excited manner said, " Gentlemen, old Bach is come !" The 
great man had indeed alighted, after his long journey, at 
his son's house ; but, by express orders from the king, he 
was hurried to the palace. The concert was suspended ; 
no doubt the courtiers, in little groups, began eagerly dis- 
cussing the new event ; and the king's enthusiasm speedily 
spread through the assembly. Presently the door opens, 
and " old Bach," in his dusty traveling coat, his eyes some- 
what dazzled with the sudden glare of light, steps into the 
midst of this lordly company of powdered wigs and doub- 
lets, and diamonded tiaras and sword-hilts. His majesty, 
after a warm and unceremonious greeting, besought the 
great contrapuntist to improvise to the company ; and 
Bach passed the remainder of the evening going from room 
to room, followed by troops of admiring court ladies and 
musicians, and trying "forte-pianos made by Silberman." 

But the man who, more than any other, made the piano 
160. and piano-forte music popular in England and all 

Mozart and ^ ■»« • /~n • t 

ciementi. over the Continent was Muzio dementi, born at 
Rome, 1752. At eighteen he composed his Op. II., which 
forms the basis of all modern piano -forte sonatas, and 
which, Sebastien Bach observed, only the devil and Cie- 
menti could play. Ciementi was educated in England, by 
the kindness of Mr. Beckford, and soon rivaled Bach as a 
popular teacher. In 1780 he went to Paris, and was per- 
fectly astounded at his reception. He was dubbed the 
greatest player of the age, Mozart perhaps excepted, and 
soon afterward left for Vienna, where he became acquaint- 
ed with Mozart, the reigning star, Father Haydn, and old 
Salieri, who was decidedly going off, and hated the new 


music, new pianos, and every thing new. What right, for- 
sooth, had these young upstarts to write music which the 
old men could not play ? And such music too ! Mozart 
was a charlatan, Beethoven an impostor, and even Schu- 
bert, the dear little choir-boy, who might have carried on 
the glorious old Italian traditions, was becoming tainted, 
and writing music like Mozart ! Poor Salieri ! if he could 
only have heard the seventh Schubert Symphony and the 
B minor Sonata, what would have become of him ? 

One evening Mozart and Clementi met in the drawing- 
room of the Emperor Joseph II. ; the Emperor and Em- 
press of Russia were the only others present. The royal 
trio were longing for a little music ; but how could one 
great master take precedence of the other? At last, Cle- 
menti, the elder of the two, consented to begin, which he 
did with a long improvization, winding up with a sonata. 
" Allons," says the emperor, turning to Mozart, " d'rauf 
los !" (now fire away !), and Mozart, after a short prelude, 
played one of his own sonatas. The royal audience ap- 
pear to have been delighted, and probably thought the one 
about as good as the other ; but Mozart observed of Cle- 
menti, " He is a good player, and that is all ; he has great 
facility with his right hand, but not an atom of taste or 
feeling !" 

The pianos used by Mozart and Clementi were the last 
improved pianos of Stein, the successor of Silberman, with 
an extended compass of five octaves ; yet, in comparison 
with the commonest pianos now in use, these were but 
miserable machines. The genius, however, was even then 
alive who was destined to sweep away every imperfection 
in the working of the piano, and place it once and forever 
on its present proud pedestal. 



Sebastian Erard was born at Strasburg, April 5 th, 1752. 
161 His extraordinary mechanical genius early at- 

wood'co5a?d tracted the attention of all the scientific me- 
pieyei. chanics in France ; every problem was brought 

to him and generally solved by him as speedily as incom- 
prehensible sums in arithmetic used to be by the Calculat- 
ing Boy. His manners were refined, and the force of his 
amiable and versatile character gained him admission into 
the highest circles. He lived in the homes of the French 
nobility, and amused them by the uninterrupted flow of 
brand-new inventions and extraordinary mechanical con- 
trivances. Nothing was too hard for him to accomplish, 
and nothing so good but what he could find means to im- 
prove upon it. In IV 96 he made his first horizontal grand 
pianos, and Dussek played on one with great eclat in Paris 
in 1808. But the touch was still heavy and somewhat 
slow. It was not until 1823 that Erard produced an in- 
strument susceptible of the finest gradations in touch ; and 
thus, after laying down all the new principles which have 
since made his name so illustrious, he breathed his last at 
his country house, " La Muette," near Passey, on the 5th 
of August, 1831, at the age of seventy-nine. 

The greatest manufacturing firms in Europe are those 
of Erard, Broad wood, Collard, and Pleyel. Touch and tone 
are the two great tests of a piano's excellence ; speaking 
roughly, Erard will bear the palm for touch and Broad- 
wood for tone. Collard's flat semi-grands and upright tri- 
chords may be especially recommended as brilliant and 
good for wear and tear. It would be hazardous to pro- 
nounce in favor of any one of these great firms, as almost 
every player has his own opinion, and so far we have mere- 
ly given ours. There are about two hundred well-known 
piano-forte makers, and each one has his own peculiar key- 
board action, most of them being very slight modifications 


of those used by the four great firms. The strings of a 
Grand pull between eleven and twelve tons, or about twen- 
ty-five thousand pounds. There are forty-eight different 
materials used in constructing a piano, laying no less than 
sixteen different countries under contribution, and employ- 
ing forty-two different hands. The finest piano may be 
obtained for about one hundred and twenty guineas. In 
the Great Exhibition of 1851, Erard's grand was valued at 
one thousand, Broadwood's at one thousand two hundred, 
and Collard's at five hundred guineas ; but the extra 
money was to pay for the gorgeous cases. About twenty 
thousand pianos are annually fabricated. 

The following simple rules are more commonly known 
than observed. Keep your piano out of damp rooms ; 
never place it too near the fire or the window, or between 
them, or in a draught, but place it at least a foot from the 
wall, or in the middle of the room. Do not load the top 
of it with books; and if it is a cottage, don't turn the bot- 
tom — as I have known some people do — into a cupboard 
for wine and dessert. Keep the keys carefully dusted, and 
always shut down the lid when you have done playing. 



The long, winding staircase seems to have no end. 
162. Two hundred steps are already below us. The 

Towers and ■ - _ _ 

Belfries. higher we go, the more broken and rugged are 
the stairs. Suddenly it grows very dark, and, clutching 
the rope more firmly, we struggle upward. Light dawns 
again through a narrow Gothic slit in the tower; let us 
pause and look out for a moment. The glare is blinding, 
but from the deep, cool recess a wondrous spectacle un- 
folds itself. We are almost on a level with the roof of a 
noble cathedral. We have come close upon a fearful 
dragon. He seems to spring straight out of the wall. 
We have often seen his lean, gaunt form from below — he 
passed almost unnoticed with a hundred brother gurgoyles 
— but now we are so close to him our feelings are differ- 
ent ; we seem like intruders in his lawful domains. His 
face is horribly grotesque and earnest. His proportions, 
which seemed so diminutive in the distance, are really co- 
lossal — but here every thing is colossal. This huge scroll, 
this clump of stone cannon-balls, are, in fact, the little 
vine tendrils and grapes that looked so frail and delicately 
carven from below. Among the petals of yonder mighty 
rose a couple of pigeons are busy building their nests ; 
seeds of grasses and wild flowers have been blown up, and 
here and there a tiny garden has been laid out by the ca- 
pricious winds on certain wide stone hemlock leaves ; the 


fringe of yonder cornice is a waste of lilies. As we try to 
realize detail after detail, the heart is almost pained by the 
excessive beauty of all this petrified bloom, stretching away 
over flying buttresses, and breaking out upon column and 
architrave, and the eye at last turns away weary with 
wonder. A few more steps up the dark tower, and we 
are in a large dim space, illuminated only by the feeblest 
glimmer. Around and overhead rise huge timbers, inclin- 
ing toward each other at every possible angle, and hewn, 
centuries ago, from the neighboring forests, which have 
long since disappeared. They support the roof of the 
building. Just glancing through a trap-door at our feet, 
we sesm to look some miles down into another world. A 
few foreshortened, but moving specks, we are told are peo- 
ple on the floor of the cathedral, and a bunch of tiny tubes, 
about the size of a Pan-pipe, really belong to an organ of 
immense size and power. 

At this moment a noise like a powerful engine in motion 
recalls our attention to the tower. The great clock is 
about to strike, and begins to prepare by winding itself up 
five minutes before the hour. Groping among the wilder- 
ness of cross-beams and timbers, we reach another stair- 
case, which leads to a vast square but lofty fabric, filled 
with the same mighty scaffolding. Are not these most 
dull and dreary solitudes? The dust of ages lies every 
where around us, and the place which now receives the 
print of our feet has, perhaps, not been touched for five 
hundred years. And yet these ancient towers, and the 
inner heights and recesses of these old roofs and belfries, 
soon acquire a strong hold over the few who care to ex- 
plore them. Lonely and deserted as they may appear, 
there are hardly five minutes either of the day or night 
up there that do not see strange sights or hear strange 

350 BELLS. 

As the eye gets accustomed to the twilight, we may 
watch the large bats flit by. Every now and then a poor 
lost bird darts about, screaming wildly, like a soul in Pur- 
gatory that can not find its way out. Then w T e may come 
upon an ancient rat, who seems as much at home there as 
if he had taken a lease of the roof for ninety-nine years. 
We have been assured by the carillonneur at Louvain that 
both rats and mice are not uncommon at such considerable 

Overhead hang the huge bells, several of which are de- 
voted to the clock ; others are rung by hand from below ; 
while somewhere near, besides the clock machinery, there 
will be a room fitted up, like a vast musical box, containing 
a barrel, which acts upon thirty or forty bells up in the 
tower, and plays tunes every hour of the day and night. 

You can not pass many minutes in such a place without 
the clicking of machinery and the chiming of some bell — 
even the quarters are divided by two or three notes, or 
half-quarter bells. Double the number are rung for the 
quarter, four times as many for the half hour, while at the 
hour a storm of music breaks from such towers as Mechlin 
and Antwerp, and continues for three or four minutes to 
float for miles over the surrounding country. 

The bells, with their elaborate and complicated striking 
apparatus, are the life of these old towers — a life that goes 
on from century to century, undisturbed by many a con- 
vulsion in the streets below. These patriarchs, in their 
tower, hold constant converse w T ith man, but they are not 
of him ; they call him to his duties, they vibrate to his 
woes and joys, his perils and victories, but they are at once 
sympathetic and passionless ; chiming at his will, but hang- 
ing far above him ; ringing out the old generation, and 
ringing in the new, with a mechanical, almost oppressive 
regularity, and an iron constancy which often makes them 


and their gray towers the most revered and ancient things 
in a large city. 

The great clock strikes : it is the only music, except the 
thunder, that can fill the air. Indeed, there is something 
almost elemental in the sound of these colossal and many- 
centuried bells. As the wind howls at night through their 
belfries, the great beams seem to groan with delight ; the 
heavy wheels, which sway the bells, begin to move and 
creak; and the enormous clappers swing slowly, as though 
longing to respond before the time. 

At Tournay there is a famous old belfry. It dates from 
the twelfth century, and is said to be built on a Roman 
base. It now possesses forty bells. It commands the town 
and the country round, and from its summit is obtained 2, 
near view of the largest and finest cathedral in Belgium, 
with its five magnificent towers. Four brothers guard the 
summit of the belfry at Tournay, and relieve each other 
day and night, at intervals often hours. All through the 
night a light is seen burning in the topmost gallery ; and 
when a fire breaks out, the tocsin, or big bell, is tolled up 
aloft by the watchman. He is never allowed to sleep — 
indeed, as he informed us, showing us his scanty accommo- 
dation, it would be difficult to sleep up there. On stormy 
nights, a whirlwind seems to select that watchman and his 
tower for its most violent attacks ; the darkness is often so 
great that nothing of the town below can be seen. The 
tower rocks to and fro, and startled birds dash themselves 
upon the shaking light, like sea-birds upon a light-house 

Such seasons are not without real danger; more than 
once the lightning has melted and twisted the iron hasps 
about the tower, and within the memory of man the ma- 
sonry itself has been struck. During the long peals of thun- 
der that come rolling;- with the black rain-clouds over the 

352 BELLS. 

level plains of Belgium the belfry begins to vibrate like a 
huge musical instrument, as it is ; the bells peal out, and 
seem to claim affinity with the deep bass of the thunder, 
while the shrill wind shrieks a demoniac treble to the wild 
and stormy music. 

All through the still summer night the belfry lamp burns 
like a star. It is the only point of yellow light that can be 
seen up so high, and when the moon is bright it looks al- 
most red in the silvery atmosphere. Then it is that the 
music of the bells floats farthest over the plains, and the 
postilion hears the sound as he hurries along the high road 
from Brussels or Lille, and, smacking his whip loudly, he 
shouts to his weary steed as he sees the light of the old 
tower of Tournay come in sight. 

Bells are heard best when they are rung upon a slope or 
in a valley, especially a water valley. The traveler may 
well wonder at the distinctness with which he can hear the 
monastery bells on the Lake of Lugano, or the church bells 
over some of the long reaches of the Rhine. Next to val- 
leys, plains carry the sound farthest. Fortunately, many 
of the finest bell-towers in existence are so situated. It is 
well known how freely the sound of the bells travels over 
Salisbury Plain. Why is there no proper peal, and why 
are the bells not attended to there ? The same music steals 
far and wide over the Lombard Plain from Milan Cathe- 
dral ; over the Campagna from St. Peter's at Rome ; over 
the flats of Alsatia to the Yosges Mountains and the Black 
Forest from the Strasbourg spire ; and, lastly, over the 
plain of Belgium from the towers of Tournay, Ghent, Brus- 
sels, Louvain, and Antwerp. The belfry at Bruges lies in 
a hollow, and can only be seen and heard along the line of 
its own valley. 

To take one's stand at the summit of Strasbourg Cathe- 
dral at the ringing of the sunset bell, just at the close of 


some effulgent summer's day, is to witness one of the finest 
sights in the world. The moment is one of brief but in- 
effable splendor, when, between the mountains and the 
plain, just as the sun is setting, the mists rise suddenly in 
strange sweeps and spirals, and are smitten through with 
the golden fire which, melting down through a thousand 
tints, passes, with the rapidity of a dream, into the cold 
purples of the night. 

Pass for a moment, in imagination, from such a scene to 
the summit of Antwerp Cathedral at sunrise. Delicately 
tall, and not dissimilar in character, the Antwerp spire ex- 
ceeds in height its sister of Strasbourg, which is commonly 
supposed to be the highest in the world. The Antwerp 
spire is 403 feet high from the foot of the tower. Stras- 
bourg measures 468 feet from the level of the sea, but less 
than 403 feet from the level of the plain. 

By the clear morning light, the panorama from the stee- 
ple of Notre Dame at Antwerp can hardly be surpassed. 
One hundred and twenty-six steeples may be counted, far 
and near. Facing northward, the Scheldt winds away un- 
til it loses itself in a white line, which is none other than 
the North Sea. By the aid of a telescope ships can be dis- 
tinguished out on the horizon, and the captains declare 
they can see the lofty spire at one hundred and fifty miles 
distant. Middleburg at seventy-five, and Flessing at six- 
ty-five miles, are also visible from the steeple. Looking 
toward Holland, we can distinguish Breda and Walladuc, 
each about fifty-four miles off. 

Turning southward, we can not help being struck by the 
fact that almost all the great Belgian towers are within 
sight of each other. The two lordly and massive towers 
of St. Gudule's Church at Brussels, the noble fragment at 
Mechlin, that has stood for centuries awaiting its compan- 
ion, besides many others, with carillons of less importance, 

354 BELLS, 

can be seen from Antwerp. So these mighty spires, gray 
and changeless in the high air, seem to hold converse to- 
gether over the heads of puny mortals, and their language 
is rolled from tower to tower by the music of the bells. 

u Non sunt loquellae neque sermones audiantur voces 
eorum." (" There is neither speech nor language, but their 
voices are heard among them.") 

Such is the inscription we copied from one bell in the 
tower at Antwerp, signed " F. Hemony, Amstelodamia 
(Amsterdam), 1658." 

Bells have been sadly neglected by antiquaries. There 
163. are t°° few churches or cathedrals in England 
Beii-huntmg. concernm g w hose bells any thing definite is 
known, and the current rumors about their size, weight, 
and date are seldom accurate. In Belgium even, where far 
more attention is paid to the subject, it is difficult to find 
in the archives of the towns and public libraries any ac- 
count of the bells. The great folios at Louvain, Antwerp, 
and Mechlin, containing what is generally supposed to be 
an exhaustive transcript of all the monumental and fune- 
real inscriptions in Belgium, will often bestow but a couple 
of dates and one inscription upon a richly-decorated and 
inscribed carillon of thirty or forty bells. The reason of 
this is not far to seek. The fact is, it is no easy matter to 
get at the bells when they are once hung, and many an 
antiquarian, who will haunt tombs and pore over illegible 
brasses with commendable patience, will decline to risk his 
neck in the most interesting of belfries. The pursuit, too, 
is often a disappointing one. Perhaps it is possible to get 
half way round a bell, and then be prevented by a thick 
beam, or the bell's own wheel, from seeing the other half, 
which, by a perverse chance, generally contains the date 
and name of the founder. Perhaps the oldest bell is quite 


inaccessible, or, after half an hour's climbing amid the ut- 
most dust and difficulty, we reach a perfectly blank or 
commonplace bell. To any one who intends to prosecute 
his studies in belfries, we should recommend the practice 
of patience, an acquaintance with the Gothic type, and a 
preliminary course of appropriate gymnastics. These last 
might consist in trying to get through apertures too small 
to admit the human body, hanging from the ceiling of a 
dark room by one hand while trying to read an illegible 
inscription by the light of a lucifer match held in the oth- 
er, attempting to stand on a large wheel while in gentle 
rotation without losing your equilibrium, and employing 
the bell-ropes as a means of ascent and descent without 
ringing the bells. It may be worth while to mention that, 
as it is often possible to pass the arm round a bell and fed 
the dates and letters which it may be impossible either to 
see or in any way illuminate, a little practice with raised 
inscriptions will soon enable the bell-hunter to read as the 
blind read — with his fingers. 

The antiquary will note with satisfaction the incontest- 
104. able antiquity of bells. We read in Exodus xxviii., 

Antiquity .. „ . . , _ 

of Bells. 34, a description of the high-priest s dress at the 
celebration of the high sacrifices. He was to wear " a gold- 
en bell and a pomegranate upon the hem of his robe round 
about ;" and to show that no mere ornament is intended, 
in the next verse (35) we read, " It shall be upon Aaron to 
minister, and his sound shall be heard when he goeth in 
unto the holy place before the Lord, and when he cometh 
out." This ancient use of bells in the old Hebrew services 
irresistibly reminds us of the beE which is introduced into 
the Roman ritual at the celebration of the mass. 

It is unnecessary here to trace the history of bells before 
the Christian era. It is certain that they were early used 


in the Christian Church for devotional purposes. The first 
large bells for this purpose were probably cast in Italy : 
they were soon afterward introduced into this island. 

Ingulphus, who died in the year 870, mentions a chime 
of six bells given by the Abbot Turketulus to the Abbey 
of Croyland ; and he adds, with much satisfaction, as the 
sound of those famous old bells came back upon him, with 
memories perchance of goodly reflections at the abbey, 
and noble fasts on fish, and long abstinence tempered with 
dried raisins from Italy and the British oyster — " Xon 
erat tunc tanta consonantia campanarum in tota Anglia." 
("There wasn't such a peal of bells in all England.")* 

We believe there is no bell extant of so early a date as 
800. Bad bells have a habit of cracking, and the best will 
be worn out by the clapper in time, and have to be recast. 
There are, how T ever, some wondrous bells in different parts 
of the world, which deserve to be mentioned even in so 
informal a treatise as the present. Father Le Comte, the 
Jesuit missionary, speaks of seven enormous bells at Pe- 
kin, each of which was said to w^eigh nine tons. They 
proved too heavy for the Chinese tower, and one day they 
rang it into ruins. Indeed, a Chinese tower never looks as 
if it could bear a good storm of wind, much less the strain 
and heavy rhythmic vibration of a peal of bells. 

The largest bell in the w r orld is the great bell at Moscow 
— if it has not been broken up. It was cast in 1653 by 
order of the Empress Sophia, and has never been raised — 
not because it is too heavy, but because it is cracked. All 
was going on well at the foundery, w T hen a fire broke out 
in Moscow — streams of water were dashed in upon the 
houses and factories, and a little stream found its way into 
the bell-metal at the very moment when it was rushing in 
a state of fusion into the colossal bell-mould, and to, to the 

* Serious doubts have been cast on the authenticity of this <3.XTiment. 


disappointment of the Russian people and all posterity, 
the big bell came out cracked. It may be as well to men- 
tion that a gentleman lately returned from Moscow throws 
discredit upon this generally accepted statement, and main- 
tains that the bell was originally hung, and that the crack 
was caused by its subsequent fall. It is said to weigh no 
less than 198 tons. The second Moscow bell is probably 
the largest in the world in actual use, and is reported to 
weigh 128 tons. The following extract from Chambers's 
" Encyclopaedia," a work of unusual accuracy, will illus- 
trate the great difficulty of arriving at any thing like facts 
and figures : " The largest bell in the world is the great 
bell or monarch of Moscow, about 21 feet high, and weigh- 
ing 193 tons (sic). It was cast in 1734, but fell down dur- 
ing a fire in 1737, was injured and remained sunk in the 
earth till 1837, when it was raised, and now forms the dome 
of a chapel made by excavating the space below it. An- 
other Moscow bell, cast in 1819, weighs 80 tons (sic)." Our 
first account of the great Moscow bell is derived from M. 
Severin van Aerschodt, the celebrated bell-founder at Lou- 

There are not many English bells worth noticing. In 
1845 a bell of 10 J tons was hung in York Minster. The 
great Tom at Lincoln weighs h\ tons. His namesake at 
Oxford 7 tons. 

We have to allude by-and-by to the bells at St. Paul's 
Cathedral and at Westminster, but for the present we re- 
turn to Belgium, the " classic land of bells," as it has been 
well called by the Chevalier Van Elewyck. 

About 1620, while the Amatis in Italy were feeling their 

165. way to the manufacture of the finest violins, the 

Use of Bells. f am i]y f y an <jen Qheyns, i n Belgium, were 

bringing to perfection the science of bell-founding. The 

358 BELLS. 

last Van den Gheyn who made bells flourished only a few 
years later than Stradiuarius, and died toward the begin- 
ning of this century. The incessant civil wars in which 
Belgium for centuries had been en^asred — at one time the 
mere battle-field of rival cities, at another the sturdy de* 
fender of patriotic rights against France, Germany, and, 
lastly, against her old mistress, Spain — gave to the bells 
of Belgium a strange and deep significance. The first ne- 
cessity in a fortified town like Ghent or Bruges was a tow- 
er to see the enemy from, and a bell to ring together the 
citizens. Hence the tower and bells in some cathedrals 
are half civil property. The tower was usually built first, 
although the spire was seldom finished until centuries aft- 
erward. A bell was put up as soon as possible, which be- 
longed to the town, not to the cathedral chapter. Thus 
the Curfew, the Carolus, and the St. Mary bells in the Ant- 
werp tower belong to the town, while the rest are the prop- 
erty of the cathedral chapter. 

It is with no ordinary emotion that the lover of bells 
ascends these ancient towers, not knowing what he shall 
find there. He may be suddenly brought into contact 
with some relic of the past which will revive the historical 
life of a people or a period in a way in which hardly any 
thing else could. He hears the very sound they heard. 
The inscriptions on the bell, in their solemn earnestness or 
their fresh foreboding, are often like drops of blood still 
warm from the veins of the past. None but those who 
have experienced it can understand the thrill of joy, as of 
treasure-trove, which strikes through the seeker upon catch- 
ing sight of the peculiar elongated kind of bell which pro- 
claims an antiquity of perhaps four hundred years. How 
eagerly he climbs up to it ! how r tenderly he removes the 
green bloom over the heavy rust which has settled in be- 
tween the narrow Gothic letters ! how he rubs away at 


their raised surfaces, in order to induce them to yield up 
their precious secret ! How the first thing he always looks 
for is a bell without a D or 500 in it — e. ^.,mcccxx. — and 
how often he is disappointed by deciphering mcccccxx., 
where mdxx. might have been written, and put an end at 
once to his hopes of a thirteenth or fourteenth century bell. 
Then the first bell he will seek on reaching a famous tower 
will be the " bourdon," or big bell, which has probably 
proved too large for the enemy to carry away, or which, 
by some lucky chance, has escaped the sacrilegious melting 
down, and been left to the town, perhaps at the interces- 
sion of its fairest women or its most noble citizens. Ascend- 
ing into the open belfry, his eye will rest with something 
like awe upon the very moderate-sized bell hanging high 
up in the dusk by itself — the oldest in the tower, which, 
from its awkward position and small value, has escaped the 
spoliation and rapine of centuries. 

We can hardly w r onder at the reverence with which the 
inhabitants of Mechlin, Ghent, and Antwerp regard their 
ancient bells, and the intelligent enthusiasm with w r hich 
they speak of them. Certain bells which we shall have to 
mention are renowned not only throughout Belgium, but 
throughout the civilized world. Most people have heard 
of the Carolus Bell at Antwerp, and there is not a respect- 
able citizen in any town of Belgium who would not be 
proud to tell you its date and history. 

Will the reader now have patience to go back a century 
166. or two, and assist at the founding of some of 

Bell-founding . 

in Belgium, these bells ? It is no light matter, but a sub- 
ject of thought, and toil, and wakeful nights, and often 
ruinous expense. Let us enter the town of Mechlin in the 
year 1638. We may well linger by the clear and rapid 
River Senne. The old wooden bridge, which has since 

360 BELLS. 

been replaced by a stone one, unites two banks full of the 
most picturesque elements. To this day the elaborately- 
carved facades of the old houses close on the water are of 
an incomparable richness of design. The peculiar ascent 
of steps leading up to the angle of the roof, in a style of 
architecture which the Flemish borrowed from the Span- 
iards, is still every where to be met with. Several houses 
bear dates from 1605 and upward, and are still in habita- 
ble repair. The river line is gracefully broken by trees 
and gardens, which doubtless in the earlier times were 
still more numerous within the precincts of the rough city 
wall, and afforded fruits, vegetables, and scanty pasturage 
in time of siege. The noblest of square florid Gothic tow- 
ers, the tower of the Cathedral church dedicated to St. 
Rumboldt, and finished up to three hundred and forty- 
eight feet, guides us to what is now called the Grande 
Place, where stands still, just as it stood then, the "Halles," 
with a turret of 1340, and the Hotel de Ville of the fif- 
teenth century. 

But our business is with an obscure hut-like building: in 
the neighborhood of the Cathedral : it is the workshop and 
furnaces adjoining the abode of Peter Yan den Gheyn, the 
most renowned bell-founder of the seventeenth century, 
born in 1605. In company with his associate, Deklerk, ar- 
rangements are being made for the founding of a big bell. 
Let us suppose it to be the celebrated " Salvator," for the 
Cathedral tower hard by. 

Before the cast was made there was no doubt great con- 
troversy between the mighty smiths, Deklerk and Yan den 
Gheyn ; plans had to be drawn out on parchment, meas- 
urements and calculations made, little proportions weigh- 
ed by a fine instinct, and the defects and merits of ever so 
many bells canvassed. The ordinary measurements which 
now hold good for a large bell are, roughly, one fifteenth 


of the diameter in thickness, and twelve times the thick- 
ness in height. 

We may now repair to the outhouses, divided into two 
principal compartments. The first is occupied by the fur- 
naces, in whose centre is the vast caldron for the fusion of 
the metal ; and the second is a kind of shallow well, where 
the bell would have to be modeled in clay. Let us watch 
the men at their work. The object to be first attained is 
a hollow mould of the exact size and shape of the intended 
bell, into which the liquid metal will then be poured through 
a tube from the adjacent furnace, and this mould is con- 
structed in the following simple but ingenious manner: 
Suppose the bell is to be six feet high, a brick column of 
about that height is built something in the shape of a bell, 
round which clay has to be moulded until the shape pro- 
duced is exactly the shape of the outside of a bell. Upon 
the smooth surface of this solid bell-shaped mass can now 
be laid figures, decorations, and inscriptions in wax. A 
large quantity of the most delicately prepared clay is then 
produced ; the model is slightly washed with some kind of 
oil to prevent the fine clay from sticking to it, and three 
or four coats of the fine clay in an almost liquid state are 
daubed carefully all over the model ; next, a coating of 
common clay is added to strengthen the mould to the 
thickness of some inches ; and thus the model stands with 
its great bell-shaped cover closely fitting over it. 

A fire is now lighted underneath. The brick-work in the 
interior is heated through, then the clay, then the wax or- 
naments and oils, which steam out in vapor through two 
holes at the top, leaving their impressions on the inside of 
the cover. When every thing is baked thoroughly hard, 
the cover is raised bodily into the air by a rope, and held 
suspended some feet exactly above the model. In the in- 
terior of the cover thus raised will of course be found the 


362 BELLS. 

exact impression in hollow of the outside of the bell. The 
model of clay and masonry is then broken up, and its place 
is taken by another perfectly smooth model, only smaller 
and exactly the size of the inside of the bell. On this the 
great cover now descends, and is stopped in time to leave 
a hollow space between the new model and itself. This is 
effected simply by the bottom rim of the new model form- 
ing a base, at the proper distance upon which the rim of 
the clay cover may rest in its descent. The hollow space 
between the clay cover and the second clay mould is now 
the exact shape of the required bell, and only waits to be 
filled with metal. 

So far all has been comparatively easy ; but the critical 
moment has now arrived. The furnaces have long been 
smoking ; the brick-work containing the caldron is almost 
glowing with red heat ; a vast draught-passage underneath 
the floor keeps the fire rapid ; from time to time it leaps 
up with a hundred angry tongues, or, rising higher, sweeps 
in one sheet of flame over the furnace-imbedded caldron. 
Then the cunning artificer brings forth his heaps of choice 
metal — large cakes of red coruscated copper from Dron- 
theim, called " Rosette," owing to a certain rare pink bloom 
that seems to lie all over it, like the purple on a plum ; 
then a quantity of tin, so highly refined that it shines and 
glistens like pure silver: these are thrown into the caldron, 
and melted down together. Kings and nobles have stood 
beside these famous caldrons, and looked with reverence on 
the making of these old bells ; nay, they have brought gold 
and silver, and pronouncing the holy name of some saint or 
apostle which the bell was hereafter to bear, they have 
flung in precious metals, rings, bracelets, and even bullion. 
But for a moment or two before the pipe which is to con- 
vey the metal to the mould is opened, the smith stands and 
stirs the molten mass to see if all is melted. Then he casts 


in certain proportions of zinc and other metals which be- 
long to the secrets of the trade; he knows how much de- 
pends upon these little refinements, which he has acquired 
by experience, and which perhaps he could not impart even 
if he would — so true is it that in every art that which con- 
stitutes success is a matter of instinct, and not of rule, or 
even science. He knows, too, that almost every thing de- 
pends upon the moment chosen for flooding the mould. 
Standing in the intense heat, and calling loudly for a still 
more raging fire, he stirs the metal once more. At a given 
signal the pipe is opened, and with a long smothered rush 
the molten fluid fills the mould to the brim. Nothing now 
remains but to let the metal cool, and then to break up the 
clay and brick-work, and extract the bell, which is then fin- 
ished, for better for worse. 

A good bell, when struck, yields one note, so that any 
person with an ear for music can say what it is. This note 
is called the consonant, and when it is distinctly heard the 
bell is said to be " true." Any bell of moderate size (little 
bells are too small to be experimented upon) may be tested 
in the following manner. Tap the bell just on the curve 
of the top, and it will yield a note one octave above the 
consonant. Tap the bell about one quarter's distance from 
the top, and it should yield a note which is the quint, or 
fifth of the octave. Tap it two quarters and a half lower, 
and it will yield a tierce, or third of the octave. Tap it 
strongly above the rim, where the clapper strikes, and the 
quint, the tierce, and the octave will now sound simultane- 
ously, yielding the consonant or key-note of the bell. 

If the tierce is too sharp, the bell's note (i.e., the con- 
sonant) wavers between a tone and a halftone above it ; if 
the tierce is flat, the note wavers between a tone and a half 
tone below it; in either case the bell is said to be "false." 
A sharp tierce can be flattened by filing away the inside 

364 BELLS. 

of the bell just where the tierce is struck; but if the bell, 
when cast, is found to have a flat tierce, there is no rem- 
edy. The consonant or key-note of a bell can be slightly 
sharpened by cutting away the inner rim of the bell, or 
flattened by filing it a little higher up inside, just above 
the rim. 

The greatest makers do not appear to be exempt from 
167. failure. In proportion to the size is the diffi- 

Belgium Bell- * r 

founders. culty of casting a true bell, and one that will 
not crack ; and the admirers of the great Westminster bell, 
which is cracked, may console themselves with the reflec- 
tion that many a bell, by the finest Belgium makers, has 
cracked before our Big Ben. The Salvator bell at Mechlin, 
renowned as was its maker, Peter Van den Gheyn, cracked 
in 1G96 — i. e., only fifty-eight years after it was made. It 
was recast by De Haze of Antwerp, and lasted till a few 
years ago. On the summit of Mechlin tower Ave fell in with 
the man who helped to break up the old Salvator, and al- 
though he admitted that it has now issued from Severin 
van Aerschodt's establishment, cast for the third time, as 
fine as ever, he shook his head gravely when he spoke of 
the grand old bell which had hung and rung so well for two 
hundred years. When a bell has been recast, the fact will 
usually be found recorded on it by some such inscription 
as that on the " St. Maria" bell at Cologne Cathedral : 
" Fusa anno mccccxviii. — refusa per Ionnem Bourlet anno 
mdclxxxxiii." The name of Bourlet is still to be found in 
the neighborhood of Cologne. 

The names that most frequently occur in Belgium are 
those of the Van den Gheyns, Dumery, and Heraony. We 
have come across many others of whom we can learn noth- 
ing. " Claude & Joseph Plumere nous ont faict," and un- 
derneath, regardless of grammar, " me dissonam refundit, 


1664." "Claes Noorden Johan Albert de Grave me fece- 
runt Amstelodamia, 1714." 

The above were copied in the belfry of St. Peter's at 
Louvain. The name of Bartholomeus Goethale, 1680, is 
found in St. Stephen's belfry at Ghent, and that of one An- 
drew Steiliert, 1563, at Mechlin. Other obscure names oc- 
cur here and there in the numberless belfries of this land 
of bells, but the carillon of Bruges (which, by the way, is 
a fac-simile of the Antwerp carillon, and consists of forty 
bells and one large Bourdon, or Cloche de Trnwi^Ae), bears 
the name of Dumery. Sixteen bells at Sottighen, several 
at Ghent, and many other places, bear the same name. 
Perhaps, however, the most prolific of all the founders was 
Petrus Hemony. He was a good musician, and only took 
to bell-founding late in life. His small bells are exceed- 
ingly fine, but his larger bells are seldom true. It is to be 
regretted that the same charge may be brought against 
several of Dumery's bells in the celebrated carillon at 

"Petrus Hemony me fecit," 1658 to '68, is the motto 
most familiar to the bell-seeker in Belgium. The magnifi- 
cent Mechlin chimes, and most of the Antwerp bells, are 
by him. 

Besides the forty bells which form the carillon at Ant- 
werp, there are five ancient bells of special interest in that 
tower. These five are rung from the same loft at an ele- 
vation of 274 feet. 

The oldest is called " Horrida ;" it is the ancient tocsin, 
and dates from 1316. It is a queer, long-shaped bell, and, 
out of consideration for its age and infirmities, has of late 
been left unruno;. 

Next comes the " Curfew," which hangs somewhat apart, 
and is rung every day at five, twelve, and eight o'clock. 

The third is the " St. Maria" bell, which is said to weigh 

300 BELLS. 

4 v tons ; it rang for the first time when Carl the Bold en- 
tered Antwerp in 1407, and is still in excellent condition. 

The fourth is " St. Antoine." 

And last, but greatest and best -beloved of all, is the 
"Carolus." It was given by Charles V. (Charles Quint), 
takes sixteen men to swing it, and is said to weigh 7£ 
tons. It is actually composed of copper, silver, and gold, 
and is estimated at £20,000. The clapper, from always 
striking in the same place, has much worn the two sides, 
although now it is rung only about twice a year. The 
Antwerpians are fonder of this than of all the other bells; 
yet it must be confessed, notwithstanding the incompara- 
ble richness of its tone, it is not a true bell. I had con- 
siderable difficulty, during the greater part of a day spent 
in the Antwerp belfry, in gaining access to this monarch 
among bells, for it is guarded with some jealousy by the 
good Anversois. 

After some trouble I got into the loft below it, where 
the rope hangs with its sixteen ends for the ringers ; but 
I seemed as far as ever from the bell. It appears that the 
loft where the Carolus and its four companions hang is sel- 
dom visited, and then only by special order. At length 1 
found a man who, for a consideration, procured the keys, 
and led the way to the closed door. 

In another moment I stood beside the Carolus. It was 
not without emotion that I walked all round it, and then, 
climbing np on the huge segment of the wheel that swings 
it, endeavored in vain to read either the inscription or the 
date, so thickly lay the green rust of ages about the long, 
thin letters. Creeping underneath its brazen dome, I found 
myself close to the enormous clapper, and was seized with 
an irrepressible desire to hear the sound of the mighty 

But, alas! where were the sixteen men? It mi^ht take 


that number to move the bell ; but it immediately struck 
me that much less was required to swing the clapper as it 
hung. Seizing it with all my might, I found with joy that 
it began to move, and I swung it backward and forward 
until it began to near the sides. At last, with a bang like 
that of the most appalling but melodious thunder, the clap- 
per struck one side and rushed back; once, and twice, and 
thrice the blow was repeated. Deaf to the entreaties of 
my guide, who was outside the bell, and did not care to 
come in at the risk of being stunned by the vibration, not 
to say smashed by the clapper, I felt it was a chance that 
comes but once in a lifetime, and so I rang the Carolus un- 
til I was out of breath, and emerged at last quite deaf, but 

The decorations worked in bas-relief around some of the 
168 old bells are extremely beautiful, while the in- 
to scnptions. scr jptions are often highly suggestive, and even 
touching. These decorations are usually confined to the 
top and bottom rims of the bell, and are in low relief, so as 
to impede the vibration as little as possible. At Mechlin, 
on a bell bearing date " 1697, Antwerp," there is an amaz- 
ingly vigorous hunt through a forest with dogs and all 
kinds of wild animals. It is carried right round the bell, 
and has all the grace and freedom of a spirited sketch. 
On one of Hemony's bells, dated 1674, and bearing the in- 
scription " Laudate Domim omnes Gentes," we noticed a 
long procession of cherub boys dancing and ringing flat 
hand-bells, such as are now rung before the Host in street 

On some of the older bells the Latin Grammar has not 
always been properly attended to, and P. Van den Gheyn 
has a curious affectation of printing his inscriptions in type 
of all sizes, so that one word will often contain letters 

368 BELLS. 

from three or four different alphabets. The old inscrip- 
tions are frequently illegible, from the extreme narrowness 
of the Gothic type, and the absence of any space between 
the words. One of the Ghent bells bears an inscription 
which, in one form or other, is frequently found in the Low 
Countries : 

" Mynem naem is Roelant ; 
Als ick clippe dan ist brandt, 
Als ick luyde dan is storm im Vlamderland. " 

(Anglice — "My name is Roelant ; 

When I toll, then it is for a fire ; 

When I chime, then there is stormy weather in Flanders.") 

The famous Strasbourg tower, although, unlike the Bel- 
gian towers, it possesses no carillon and but nine bells in 
all, is remarkably rich in inscriptions, and has been richer. 
Its bells are interesting enough to warrant a short digres- 

The first, or "Holy Ghost" bell, dated "1375, 3 nonas 

Augusti," weighs about eight tons, and bears the beautiful 

motto — 

" O Rex Gloriae Christse veni cum Pace." 

It is only rung when two fires are seen in the town at 

The second bell, recast 1774, is named "the Recall," or 
the Storm-bell. In past times, when the plain of Alsatia 
was covered with forests and marsh land, this bell was in- 
tended to warn the traveler of the approaching storm-cloud 
as it was seen driving from the Yosges Mountains toward 
the plain. It was also rung at night to guide him to the 
gates of the city. It is fitted with two hammers, and is 
constantly used. 

The third, the " Thor," or Gate-bell, is rung at the shut- 
ting and opening of the city gates. It was cast in 1618, 
and originally bore the following quaint inscription : 


"Dieses Thor Glocke das erst mal schallt 

Als man 1G18 sahlt 

Dass Mgte jahr reguet man 
i Nach doctor Luther Jubal jahr 
1 Das Bos hinaus das Gut hinein 

Zu lauten soil igr arbeit seyn." 

Did Mr. Tennyson, I wonder, read this inscription before 
he took up the burden of the old bell's song, and wrote, 

" King out the old, ring in the new, 

* * * * 

Ring out the false, ring in the true ?" 
In 1641 the Thor bell cracked and was recast. It broke 
fifty years afterward, and was recast again in 1651. 

The "Mittags," or twelve-o'clock bell, is rung at midday 
and at midnight. The old bell was removed at the time 
of the French Revolution, and bore the inscription 
"Vox ego sum vitce 
Yoco vos — orate — venite!" 

The hanging of most of the Strasbourg bells almost out- 
side the delicate net-work of the tower is highly to be 
commended. They can be well heard and seen. The same 
remark applies to Antwerp, and it is to be regretted that 
in such towers as Mechlin and St. Peter's at Lou vain many 
of the bells are so smothered up as to sound almost muf- 
fled. Almost all the bells which are open to public inspec- 
tion, and which can be reached, bear white chalk inscrip- 
tions to the effect that our illustrious countryman, Jones 
of London, has thought it worth while to visit the bells on 
such and such a day ; that his Christian name is Tom or 
Harry, and his age is, etc., etc. However, on the stone 
walls inside the Strasbourg tower there are some more in- 
teresting records. I copied the following : I. M. H. S., 
1587; Klopstock, 1777; Goethe, 1780; Lavater, 1776; 
Montalembert, 1834; and Voltaire, the Vb was struck 


370 BELLS. 

:i\v:iy from the wall by lightning in 1821, but has been 
carefully replaced in stucco. 

In Mechlin tower I noticed the initials J. R., in the deep 
sill of the staircase- window; underneath is a slight design 
of a rose window, apparently sketched with the point of a 

Close inside the clock-tower of Antwerp Cathedral, and 
sheltered by the skeleton clock dial, although exposed to 
the weather, is scratched the name Darden, 1670. It is 
strange, but true, that what we condemn in tourists is re- 
garded by us with interest when the tourist happens to be 
eminent, or even when he happens to have been dead for 
two or three hundred years. 

For the sake of contrast, it may now be worth while to 
169 look into one or two English belfries before 1 

WestSsto? close tllis paper. I will select St, Paul's, West- 
Abbey, minster Abbey, and the Clock Tower. 

The bells of St. Paul's Cathedral are four in number; 
three belong to the clock, and hang in the southwest tow- 
er ; one small one hangs alone in the northwest tower, and 
is rung for service. The largest bell weighs over five tons, 
and is commonly supposed to have been recast from the 
metal of " Great Tom" of Westminster. The truth seems 
to be as follows. " Great Tom" was no doubt at one time 
conveyed from Westminster to St. Paul's, but, having 
cracked, it became necessary either to recast it or to pro- 
cure a new one. The bell-metal was considered so bad 
that, by the advice of Richard Phelps, the bell-founder, a 
new one was made for £627. He allowed 9-J/7. a pound for 
the old bell, but did not work up any of this metal for the 
present bell. This is quite certain, as I have the best au- 
thority for saying that the old bell was not removed until 
the new bell was delivered at the Cathedral. The inscrip- 


tion is perfectly legible, and, as copied on a particularly 
bright morning by me, runs thus : 

" Richard Phelps made me, 1716." 

A common fleur-de-lis pattern runs round the top, varied 
only by the arms of the Dean and Chapter, while the bot- 
tom is decorated by a few straight lines.* There is abso- 
lutely nothing to be said about the other bells except that 
R. Phelps made them, and they are all more or less out of 
tune in themselves and with each other — a fact which that 
truly musical people whose metropolis they adorn will 
probably be prepared to deny with a vehemence equally 
patriotic and superfluous. 

On ascending the Westminster Abbey tower with note- 
book and candle, after being told that the bells were all 
rather modern, I was agreeably surprised to find at least 
one or two interesting specimens. There are in all seven 
bells. Each is rung by a rope and wheel, and has a clap- 
per inside ; and, in addition to this, each is acted upon by 
an external hammer, worked by the striking apparatus of 
the clock. They are, as a rule, in quite as good condition 
as the Belgian bells of an equal age. The largest bears 
this inscription : 

"Remember John Whitmell, Isabel his wife, and William Rus, who 
first gave this bell, 1430. 

" New cast in July, lf>99, and in April, 1 738. Richard Phelps, T. Les- 
ter, fecit." 

The oldest bell, somewhat smaller, dates from 1583. The 
next oldest is the second largest bell, date 1598. It bears 
an inscription — "Timpanis patrem laudate sonantibus al- 
tum. Gabriel Goodman, Decanus, 1598." Gabriel Good- 
man was dean 1561 to 1601. A smaller bell bears the in- 
scription — 

* This bell has a very fine tone, and is rung at the hour. 

372 BELLS. 

" Thomas Lester, London, made me, 
And with the rest I will agree, 
Seventeen hundred and forty-three." 

Another small bell by T. Lester bears the same date, while 
the smallest of all, hung at an almost inaccessible height, 
is by Richard Lester, in 1738. One bell bears no date. It 
is inscribed "+ Christe : audi : nos." The Rev. Mr. Ella- 
combe, of Clyst St. George, a well-known writer on Bells, 
has been good enough to send me an extract from JYbtes 
mid Queries by Mr. Thomas Walesby, giving a more accu- 
rate and detailed account of the Westminster bells than I 
obtained on my first visit to the tower. 

The Westminster bells fail to inspire us w T ith much in- 
terest. They are products of manufacture, not works of 
art. Unlike almost all the Belgian bells, they are one -f- 
excepted without symbols or ornamentation of any kind. 
There has been no labor of love thrown away upon them 
— not a spray or a branch relieves the monotony of the 
metal surface. Not even a monogram, or a crown, or an 
ecclesiastical coat of arms is bestowed upon any of them. 
The Latin, like a great deal of bell Latin, is very bad ; the 
spelling is equally indifferent. The type is poor, and de- 
void of fancy ; and the wax in which the letters were orig- 
inally moulded has been so carelessly laid on, that the tops 
of T's are often twisted down upon the letter, and the dots 
of the full stops have got displaced. It is interesting to 
notice that all the dates, even the earliest, 1583, are in the 
Arabic, and not, as we should naturally expect, in the Ro- 
man numerals. 

By an easy transition, we may pass from the gray majes- 
170 tic towers of the old Abbey to the big, square-sided 

Big Ben. p^i] ar w jth the tall night-cap, commonly known as 

the Westminster Clock Tower. 

BIO BEN. 373 

This top-heavy edifice contains some of the latest speci- 
mens of English bell-founding in the nineteenth century, 
and I must do it the justice to say that it is better inside 
than out. On a close inspection the massiveness of the 
structure is imposing, and it is really surprising that such 
a huge amount of stone-work should be so wanting in ex- 
ternal dignity. The walls are of a uniform thickness of 
between five and six feet, and are little likely ever to be 
shaken down, like the Pekin Tower, by the vibration of the 
bells. There is a wide passage all round the top of the 
tower between the white enameled glass clock-face and its 
illuminating apparatus. The proportions of the four disks 
are truly colossal, measuring each over 10 feet in circum- 
ference. Each is illuminated by a blazing wall of light be- 
hind it, composed of five horizontal gas tubes, Avith many 
jets, of an average length of 17 feet apiece. Thus the four 
clock disks, that can be seen so well from all parts of Lon- 
don at night, owe their light-house radiance to a furnace 
composed of no less than 340 feet of gas pipes. Outside, 
the mighty minute-hand swings visibly round, traveling at 
the pace of a foot a minute. The machinery of the clock, 
to which a large room is devoted, being on a colossal scale, 
looks extremely simple. It bears the inscription, " This 
clock was made in the year of our Lord 1854, by Frederick 
Dent, from the designs of Edmund Becket Denison, Q. C." 
Telegraph wires from Greenwich are introduced into the 
interior of the works in order to regulate the time. We 
may select a quarter to twelve o'clock to enter the im- 
mense belfry, containing the five bells. The iron frame- 
work in which they are swung is at once neat and massive, 
and contrasts with the rough and ponderous timbers of the 
older belfries very much as a modern iron-clad might con- 
trast with an ancient man-of-war. We feel in the presence 
of these modern structures that we have gained much and 

374 BELLS. 

lost something. The mechanical element preponderates 
over the human, and in the presence of these cast-iron col- 
umns, symmetrical girders, and neat bolts, we experience 
a sense of power, but without the particular dignity which 
belongs to the heavy and cumbrous rafters of the more an- 
cient towers. The very same feeling is inspired by the 
massive modern iron-work in the belfry of Cologne Cathe- 

Big Ben hangs in the middle, and the four quarter-bells 
at the four corners. The original big bell was cast by War- 
ner, of Clerkenwell, who is also the founder of the four 
quarter-bells. This bell, having cracked, was replaced by 
Ben, from the foundery of George Mears. It bears the fol- 
lowing inscription : 

" This bell, weighing 13 tons 10 cwt. 3 qrs. 15 lbs., was cast by George 
Mears, at Whitechapel, for the clock of the Houses of Parliament, under 
the direction of Edmund Becket Denison, Q. C, in the 21 t year of the 
reign of Queen Victoria, and in the year of our Lord MDCCCLVIII." 

The decorations round the top are of the hard Gothic type 
of the Houses of Parliament. On one side of the bell is 
the ordinary raised heraldic grating, and on the other are 
the arms of England. The letters are of the worst possi- 
ble kind of that narrow Gothic type which makes the de- 
spair of the antiquarian. In a couple of hundred years, 
when the rust and mould, which have already begun to ac- 
cumulate in our wretched English atmosphere, has clotted 
the letters together and confused the tops, we may safely 
predict that this inscription will be entirely illegible. 

The largest of the four quarter-bells, cast in 1856 by 
Warner, weighs 3 tons 17 cwt. 2 qrs. ; the second weighs 
1 ton 13 cwt. 2 qrs.; the third, 1 ton 5 cwt. 1 qr. ; the 
fourth, 1 ton 1 cwt. 

After seeking for some quaint text, or solemn dedica- 
tion, which should convey to posterity some idea of the 

BIG BEX. 375 

founder's reverence for his work or taste for his art, I dis- 
covered the following noble and original inscription: "John 
Warner and Sons, Crescent Foundery, 1857 ;" then follows 
her Britannic majesty's arms, and, underneath, the strik- 
ing word "Patent." I could not help thinking of the Bel- 
gian bells, on which the founder — half poet, half artist — 
has printed the fair forms that seemed forever rising in his 
free and fertile imagination. How often do we feel, as we 
note the graceful tracery, and the infinitely varied groups, 
just sufficiently unstudied to be full of feeling, that the 
artist has been tracing memories of netted branches, be- 
loved faces, or nature's own hieroglyphics written upon 
flowers and sea-shells! There is one bell in a dark corner 
of a Louvain belfry, nearly plain, only against the side of 
it a forest leaf has, as it were, been blown and changed to 
iron, with every web-like vein perfect — but, of course, a 
forest leaf is a poor thing compared to a " Patent." 

Neither in the Abbey, nor St. Paul's, nor the Clock Tow- 
er do we find the bells have any higher vocation than that 
of beating the tom-tom. They do not call the citizens "to 
work and pray." They remind them of no One above the 
toiling and moiling crowd ; of no changeless and eternal 
sympathy with man, his joys and his sorrows. They give 
no warning note of fire, of pestilence, of battle, or any oth- 
er peril. There are no Peals of Triumph, no Storm-bells, 
no Salvators — merely Old Toms and Big Bens. 

Big Ben is cracked, and his tone grows sensibly worse 
every year — I might almost say every month. Yet, con- 
sidering he is 8-J- inches thick, we can hardly be surprised 
that the crack does not go right through him (1871). It is 
said that the designer of the bell insisted upon the metals 
being mixed on scientific principles and in certain propor- 
tions ; and it is rumored that, had the advice of the founder 
been followed, and the metals mixed as only a practical 

376 BELLS. 

founder knows how, the bell would not have cracked. On 
this subject I can not pretend to have even an opinion. 
Big Ben is not a true bell. He suffers from a flat third. 
His unhappy brother Patent, who is, nevertheless, so far in 
his right mind as to be still uncracked (we allude to the 
next largest bell, which hangs at one of the corners), is no 
more true than his magnified relative. If I am not very 
much mistaken, he is afflicted with a sharp third. To 
crown all, I fear it must be confessed (but on this subject 
I would willingly bow to the decision of Sir Sterndale Ben- 
nett or Sir Michael Costa) that none of the bells are in 
tune with each other. The intended intervals are indeed 
suggested, but it can scarcely be maintained by any musi- 
cian that the dissonant clangor which is heard a quarter 
before each hour is any thing more than a vague approach 
to the intended harmonic sequence. 

The excited citizens of Mechlin or Antwerp would have 
had these bells down after their first tuneless attempt to 
play the quarter ; but the strength of old England lies 
more in patents than tuning-forks — so we must still cry, 
" Vive le mauvais quart-d'heure !" 

I have before mentioned that one bell in the neighboring: 
tower of the Abbey, on which is inscribed " John Lester 
made me," etc., possesses a laudable desire "with the rest" 
to "agree." We may regret that its aspiration rose no 
higher; and, still more, that, modest as it is, it was not 
destined to be realized. But if both the Clock Tower and 
the Abbey Tower are thus discordant in themselves and 
with each other, it must be admitted that they agree ex- 
cellently well in disagreeing;. 

I do not wish to be hard upon English bells, and I con- 
fess that I have seen more of foreigri than of English ones, 
although since writing the above I have inspected a great 
many English towers, among them Peterborough, York, 

BIG BEX. 377 

Lichfield, and Durham ; yet such specimens as I have seen 
have not inspired me with much enthusiasm, and it is with 
a feeling of relief that I turn even from such celebrated 
belfries as St. Paul's and Westminster Abbey to the old 
cathedrals of Belgium, with their musical chimes and their 
splendid carillons. 



The foot sinks into black dust at least an inch thick. 
171 A startled owl sweeps out of the old belfry win- 
Our Beifnes. ( j ow . ^ Q s ] m tters are broken, and let in some 
light, and plenty of wind and rain in winter. The cement 
inside the steeple has rotted away, and the soft stone is 
crumbling unheeded. Some day the noble old tower w 7 ill 
be proclaimed unsafe, and if no funds are forthcoming, 
twenty feet will be taken off it, and the peal of bells w 7 ill 
have to come down. It requires no prophet to foretell 
this ; one glance is sufficient. Every thing is already rot- 
ting and rusting. The inscriptions on the six or eight great 
bells are almost illegible ; the beams w T hich support them 
have lost their rivets' heads, and are all loose, probably 
unsafe ; the unpainted wheels are cracked, and every time 
the bells ring the friction about the pivots from the dust 
and dirt which has accumulated and worked into them is 
very great. 

We may well ask Builders, Architects, Deans and Chap- 
ters in general, in these days of church restoration, how 
they can account for such a state of things in so many 
otherwise w T ell-restored churches? Why are mighty dust- 
heaps and vagrant owls almost invariably to be found 
in the belfry? Alas ! because the belfry is the one spot in 
the church which is hardly ever visited. When a rope 
breaks, or a wheel gets out of order, some one climbs up 


and mends it. When an antiquarian wishes to see some 
famous peal, or copy the legend upon some bell, he gets 
permission to ascend the tower — perhaps this may happen 
once in a year. Yet the bells are often the most interest- 
ing things about the church. They have their histories, 
and the few words inscribed upon them are not unfre- 
quently very quaint and suggestive. But who is to stum- 
ble up the old decayed stairs, or plunge into the dust and 
filth of centuries, at the risk of breaking his neck? Only 
a few enthusiasts, who are powerless to help the poor bells 
in their corrosion, and the poor towers in their rottenness. 
The notion that there is nothing to do up in the belfry 
after the bells are hung but to let them swing and every 
thing else rot, seems to be a very prevalent one. This 
natural process is at all events going on in many cathedral 
towers in England at this moment. Thousands are spent 
annually upon the outward decorations ; every Gothic de- 
tail is carefully replaced, every mullion repaired ; the inte- 
rior is rehabilitated by the best architects ; all is scrupu- 
lously clean about the nave and chancel, and side aisles 
and sacristy, and not even an organ-pipe is allowed to get 
out of tune ; but there is, nevertheless, a skeleton in the 
house — we need not descend into the vaults to find it — our 
skeleton is in the belfry. His bones are the rotten tim- 
bers, his dust is the indescribable accumulations of ages — 
the vaults are clean in comparison with the belfry. Open 
yonder little door at the corner of the nave, and begin the 
dark ascent ; before you have gone far you will sigh for 
the trim staircase that leads down to the vaults. Enter 
the windy, dirty, rotten room where the poor old bells that 
can not die are allowed to mildew and crack for want of a 
little attention, until they ring the tower down in the an- 
gry resonance of their revenge. You will think of the 
well-kept monuments in the quiet vaults below, where the 


dead lie decently covered in, and where the carefully-swept 
floor (a trifle damp, maybe) reveals many a well-worn, but 

still legible epitaph or funereal symbol. 

if the care of belfries and tower walls were a mere affair 
iT2. of sentiment, there mio:ht be room for regret, but 

Waste and _ ,. *«.,,., 

Rum. hardly matter ior protest. .But, indeed, thousands 
of pounds might be annually saved if the any thing but 
silent ruin going on inside our church towers all over the 
land were occasionally arrested by a few pounds' worth of 
timely cement, or a new beam or rivet, just enough to 
check the tremendously increased friction caused by loose 
bell machinery. Every antiquarian has had to mourn the 
loss of church towers that have literally been rung to 
pieces by the bells. Let me here protest against the sense- 
less practice of trying to tighten the loose bell-works by 
ramming beams, bricks, and wedges between the loose 
works and the wall of the tower — many a belfry has been 
cracked by the cruel thrust of such extemporized repairs. 
This is perhaps the commonest and most disastrous trick 
which ignorant carpenters are in the habit of playing in 
church towers. The great Bell of Time will no doubt ring 
down every tower in the land sooner or later, but at pres- 
ent, instead of arresting his action, Ave assist him as much 
as possible by pretending not to see the ravages he is mak- 
ing, or by helping with our own brutal and clumsy wedges. 

The other day I ascended the tower of one of the most 
beautifully-restored cathedrals in England. It was by no 
means as badly kept as many; I therefore select it as a 
good average specimen to describe. 

The tower and spire are of red sandstone, massive, but 
soft, and therefore specially dependent upon good cement 
and protection from the weather. The shutters were, as 
usual, old and rotting; large gaps admitted the rain and 


wind, whose action was abundantly manifest upon the 
flakes of soft stone which lined the interior of the spire: in 
places the old cement had completely fallen out, but the 
spire may still stand for another hundred years or more, 
after which it will have to be taken down or replaced at 
enormous cost. The bell machinery, like every machin- 
ery intended for mere peals (not carillons), was of course 
of the roughest kind — the old primitive wheel, and nothing 
more. This simple, and, at the same time, cumbrous ap- 
paratus never can work smoothly on a large scale, and 
more complicated works, which would save half the fric- 
tion, might easily be devised ; but then who cares what 
the works up in the belfry are like? The tower may in- 
deed come down by-and-by, but it will last our time, and 
the piety of posterity will doubtless build another. 

There are ten bells in L Cathedral, of which I am 

speaking, the largest weighing If tons. These bells are in 
pretty constant use. On examining the wheels, I found 
them all to be more or less rough, rotten, and split. Each 
wheel, of course, swung between two stout beams. There 
was a rest for the axle of the wheel provided upon the sur- 
face of each of them, while a piece of wood kept fast by a 
movable rivet was fitted over the indentation in which the 
axle-tree worked, so as to prevent the wheel from rising 
and jolting in the beams when swung. I had the curiosity 
to go round and examine each socket. In every case the 
rivet was out, lying on the beam, or on the floor, or lost ; 
consequently, whenever the peal is rung, the jolting and 
creaking alone must, in the long run, greatly injure the 
tower. Indeed, I feel convinced that, in nine cases out of 
ten, it is not the sound of the bells so much as the unneces- 
sary friction of the neglected bell machinery, with its fatal 
wedges, which ruins our towers and shakes down our 
church spires. 


But, it may fairly be asked, What ought to be done? 

173 I profess no deep architectural knowledge, but a 
Remedies. f ew "kvious improvements will, no doubt, have 
already suggested themselves to the reader's mind. First* 
let architects remember that the towers are not only good 
for bells, but also for lovers of scenery ; and let them re- 
pair the staircases. This might be done at little cost by 
casing the worn-out tower steps with good elm -boards, 
which I am told, on good authority, would last as long as 
any surface of stone, and would certainly be more easily 
as well as more cheaply repaired. Unless the staircase is 
decent, safe, and clean, the neighboring panorama of hill 
and dale, land and water, will be lost to all but a few ad- 
venturous climbers. Then, the better the ascent, the more 
chance there is of the belfry being visited and cared for. 
And, lastly, if the stairs are mended, perhaps the walls of 
the staircase — in other words, the fabric of the tower itself 
— might claim a little more frequent attention. But here 
are the bells: why should they be eaten up with corro- 
sion, and covered with filth and mildew ? The Belgian 
bell-founders take a pride in sending out their bells smooth 
and clean. The English bell-founders send them out some- 
times with bits of rough metal sticking to them from the 
mould, and full of pits and flaws. Well they know that 
none will care for the bells, or notice their condition, until 
they finally crack or tumble down. Why turn them out 
clean when they are never to be clean again ? 

But the bells should have their official, like the clock. 
He should be called the Bell-stoker. He should rub his 
bells at least once a week, so as to keep them clean and 
prevent corrosion, and then the inscriptions would be pre- 
served, and the surface of the bells being protected from 
disintegration, the sound would be improved, and the bells 
would be less liable to crack. The stoker should keep ev- 

RE ME LIES. 383 

ery rivet in its place ; the wheels and beams should all be 
varnished or painted regularly. I have visited many bel- 
fries at home and abroad, but never have I seen a bit of 
paint or varnish in one yet. The shutters should be kept 
from swinging, with their flanges sloping downward, so as 
to keep the wet from driving in, while allowing the sound 
to float freely out and down upon the town. But a far 
more radical change is required in the machinery of the 
bells. In these days of advanced mechanical appliances, it 
is strange to reflect that exactly the same machinery is 
now used to swing bells as was used in China thousands 
of years ago. A wheel with a rope round it — that and 
nothing more. The bell-works might occupy much less 
room, and the friction, by some of the simplest mechanical 
appliances, might be reduced to almost nothing. An eye 
for the belfry is a thing to be cultivated. The belfry 
should look like a fine engine-room in a first-class factory. 
It should be a pleasure, as well as an instructive lesson, to 
go into it. When all was in motion, every thing should 
be so neatly fitted and thoroughly oiled that we should 
hear no sound save only the melodious booming of the 
bells themselves. At present, when the bells are rung, the 
belfry appears to go into several violent convulsions, cor- 
responding too often to the efforts of the poor ringers be- 
low. At last the wheel is induced to move enough for the 
clapper to hit the bell an indefinite kind of bang — an ardu- 
ous operation, which may or may not be repeated in some 
kind of rhythm, according as the ringer may or may not 
succeed in hitting it off with the eccentric machinery up 
aloft. I do not wish to disparage the skill of our bell- 
ringing clubs, though when their bells are out of tune and 
their machinery bad, their labor is, to a great extent, 
wasted. Change-ringing — " triple majors" or " firing" — is, 
as the Church Times (which ought to know) remarks, about 


the extent which the art has reached anions us. "Hark! 
the merry Christ Church bells," and such like, may also on 
some occasions be heard, and little more. 

Bells were not made for towers, but towers for bells. 

174 Towers were originally nothing but low lanterns; 
a/country but wnen bells came into common use the lantern 
again. was no i s t e d up } and grew into a spire supported 
by the bell-room or tower. One would have thought that 
this fact alone, that so many noble structures owe their ex- 
istence to bells, might have invested bells with a superior 
dignity, and given them an honorable place in the affec- 
tion of a church-and-chapel-going nation like our own. 
But probably the only influence which will ever be search- 
ing and powerful enough to get the wrongs of our bells 
and belfries righted is the influence of a more diffused mu- 
sical taste. No one in England really associates the bells 
in our towers with musical progressions and musical nota- 
tion. The roughest possible attempt at an octave is 
thought sufficient, and the most discordant sequences are 
considered sweet and lovely. The English people do not 
seem to be aware that a bell is, or ought to be, a musical 
note ; that consequently a peal of bells is, under any cir- 
cumstances, a kind of musical instrument, and under some 
circumstances a very fine kind. With all the musical 
agencies, and the concerts, and the money, and the enthu- 
siasm which are annually devoted to music in England, we 
have yet much to learn — so much that at times the pros- 
pect seems hopeless. What shall we say to a nation that 
tolerates with scarcely a protest German bands in every 
possible state of decay? — bands made out of a sort of 
Ginx's Babies with bugles, horrid clarionets, and battered 
brass tubes blown by asthmatic refugees. We are not al- 
luding to some really good German bands which conde- 


scend to the use of music-desks and the kettle-drum ; but 
to those fiendish nomads who congregate together in our 
streets without any other principle of cohesion except what 
may be found in a dogged conviction that although each 
one is incapable of playing alone, yet all together may 
have the power of creating such a brazen pandemonium 
that sooner or later men must pay them to leave off. 
What shall we say to a people who will hear without re- 
morse their favorite tunes on the barrel-organs of the pe- 
riod ? Legislation has indeed been directed against every 
form of street music because it is noisy, but never because 
it is unmusical. In Italy the government stops street or- 
gans which are out of tune. In England no distinction 
whatever is drawn between street noise and street music. 
As long as multitudes are content to have piano -fortes 
without having them in tune, as long as clergy and con- 
gregations are content to put up with the most squeaky 
form of the harmonium, as long as organists can be found 
to play upon organs as much out of tune as those portable 
barrels of madness and distraction carried about our great 
country by the wandering minstrels of Italy, as long as 
tunes are allowed to be performed for Punch and Judy 
upon the discordant pipe of Pan, while negro melodists 
thrum the parchment and scratch the violin with more 
than demoniac energy, so long it is unreasonable to ex- 
pect people to care for the tonal properties of their bells. 

Great bells in London are generally considered insuffer- 
able nuisances. One church with daily service materially 
injures house property in the adjoining streets. But if, in- 
stead of one or two bells cracked or false, or, at any rate, 
representing no true melodic progression, there were a doz- 
en musically tuned and musically played, the public ear 
would soon appreciate the sound as an agreeable strain of 
aerial music, instead of being driven mad with the hoarse, 



gong-like roar of some incurably sick bell. I question 
whether there is a musically true chime of bells in the 
whole of England, and if it exists, I doubt whether any one 
knows or cares for its musical superiority. Many chimes 
are respectable, with the exception of one or two bells, 
which, being flat or sharp, completely destroy every change 
that is rung upon them, yet it never occurs to any body 
to have the offenders down, and either made right or re- 
cast. The Romsey Abbey bells, for instance, an octave 
peal of eight, are respectably in tune with the exception of 
the seventh, which is too sharp, but which has hung there 
and been rung there ever since 1791 without (as far as we 
are aware) creating any unpleasant sensation in the neigh- 
borhood. Similar charges might be brought against most 
of our cathedral and metropolitan chimes. This being the 
case, it can hardly be wondered at if our clock-chimes are 
found equally out of tune. I have before expressed my 
conviction that Big Ben, with his four quarter-bells, and 
the Westminster Abbey chimes, wxmld not be tolerated for 
twenty-four hours by any town in Belgium. As bells in- 
dividually they may be good, bad, or indifferent, but as 
musical notes combined for musical purposes they are sim- 
ply abominable. Yet the British citizen knows it not; nay, 
he prides himself upon the colossal Ben though cracked, 
he plumes himself upon the romantic chimes in the gray 
towers of the old Abbey, whereof the explanation is that 
the bells are to him as Time and Noise. But they are 
something worse than mere noise ; they are rank discords 
and corrupters of the public ear. To hear a dozen or so 
of quarters struck out of tune every day must have a dis- 
astrous effect upon musical taste. It makes people indif- 
ferent to tune, w T hich is the first essential of music. I have 
heard the street-boys whistling Big Ben's quarters deliber- 
ately out of tune. The government would no doubt smile 


at the notion that it ought to prohibit such chimes and 
all such public discords as public offenses against taste. 
Can there be any more lamentable proof of the truth of 
the much-contested sentence, " The English are not a mu- 
sical people," than the fact that of all the lords and com- 
mons, the elite of the land, who sit at Westminster not a 
stone's throw from Big Ben, perhaps not half a dozen are 
aware that Big Ben and his four attendant quarter-bells 
are hideously out of tune ? 

Willingly do I escape from the din and discord of Eng- 
175. lish belfries to Belgium, loving and beloved of 

The Bells _ „ ° ' ° 

of Belgium, bells. 

The wind that sweeps over her campagnas and fertile 
levels is full of broken but melodious whispers. 

In Belgium, day and night are set to music — music on a 
scale more colossal than that of the largest orchestra ever 
yet heard — music more penetrating than the loudest trum- 
pet or organ blast ; for, however large the chorus and or- 
chestra, it would scarcely be possible, in the east end of 
London, to hear a concert at Westminster, yet, on still 
nights, with a gentle wind blowing, we have often at that 
distance distinctly heard Big Ben. Well, in Belgium every 
seven minutes there is bell-music, not only for the whole 
town, but for the country miles round. Those carillons, 
playing the same cheerful air every hour throughout the 
year, at last acquire a strange fascination over one who lives 
within sight and hearing of some such gray old church as 
St. Rombaud at Mechlin. The listener has heard them at 
moments when, elated with hope, he was looking forward 
to the almost immediate realization of some long-desired 
joy, and the melody of the bells has filled him with exul- 
tation. He has heard the same strain rung out in seasons 
of depression, and his heart has leaped up at the sound so 


filled with memories. The bells may have again smitten 
upon his ear at the moment when some tragic news has 
reached him ; or out in the fields, steeped in yellow sun- 
shine, above the hum of insect life, the same tune has come 
to him between the pauses of the summer wind; or deep 
in his dreams through sleep, without awakening him, the 
bells have somehow mingled their old rhythm with his dor- 
mant fancies, until at last their sound becomes so charged 
with the incidents and emotions of his life that they are 
almost as much a part of him as his memory. When he 
comes to leave a town where he has dwelt for some time, 
he feels as if he had lost a whole side of life ; he misses the 
sound of the friendly bells, which always had the power, 
by force of association, to call up some emotion congenial 
to the moment — the sympathetic bells which seemed al- 
ways equally ready to weep or to rejoice with him — the 
unobtrusive bells so familiar as never to be a disturbance 
— the gentle bells that could, as it were, ring aside to them- 
selves when not wanted, and yet never failed to minister 
to the listening spirit whenever it stood in need of their 
companionship or sympathy. 

There is no greater mistake than to suppose that bell 
176 music every seven minutes is an unpleasant dis- 
BeiiMusic. turbance or interruption; its very frequency en- 
ables it to become completely assimilated to our e very-day 
life. Are we not surrounded by natural changes and ef- 
fects quite as marked in their way as bell music, and yet 
which have no tendency to unsettle, distract, or weary us ? 
How loud at times does the wind blow ; how suddenly on 
a dark day will the sun burst into our room ; how shrill is 
the voice of our canary, which at last we hardly heed at 
all; how often does a rumbling vehicle pass along in the 
streets — and yet we cease neither reading nor writing for 
any of these ! 


The bells musically arranged never irritate or annoy one 
in Belgium. Instead of time floating by in blank and mel- 
ancholy silence, or being marked by harsh and brazen clash- 
es, time floats on there upon the pulses of sweet and solemn 
music. To return from a town like Mechlin to chimeless 
and gong-like England is like coming from a festival to a 

M. Victor Hugo staid at Mechlin in 1837, and the nov- 
elty of the almost incessant carillon chimes in the neigh- 
boring town of St.Kombaud appears, not unnaturally, to 
have driven sleep from his eyelids ; yet he was not irri- 
tated or angry so much as fascinated, and at last the cre- 
ative instinct awoke in the poet, and, rising from his bed, 
he inscribed by moonlight the following charming lines 
with a diamond-ring upon the window-pane : 

" J'aime le carillon dans tes cites antiques, 
O vieux pays, gardien de tes moeurs domestiques, 
Noble Flandre, oil le Nord se rechauffe engourdi 
Au soleil de Castille et s'accouple au Midi ! 
Le carillon, c'est l'heure inattendue et folle 
Que l'ceil croit voir, vetue en danseuse espagnole 
Apparaitre soudain par le trou vif et clair 
Que ferait, en s'ouvrant, une porte de l'air. 
Elle vient, secouant sur les toits lethargiques 
Son tablier d'argent, plein de notes magiques, 
Reveillant sans pitie les dormeurs ennuyeux, 
Sautant a petits pas comme un oiseau joyeux, 
Vibrant, ainsi qu'un dard qui tremble dans la cible ; 
Par un frele escalier de cristal invisible, 
Effaree et dansante, elle descend des cieux ; 
Et l'esprit, ce veilleur, fait d'oreilles et d'yeux, 
Tandis quelle va, vient, monte et descend encore, 
Entend de marche en marche errer son pied sonore !" 

177 To Belgium belongs the honor of having first 

The Cannon. un( j ers tood and felt bells as musical notes, and 


devised that aerial and colossal musical instrument known 
as the carillon. 

" Carillon" is derived from the Italian word quadriglio or 
quadrille. A dreary kind of dance music, of which many 
specimens still survive, seems under this name to have come 
from Italy, and been widely popular throughout Europe in 
the sixteenth century. People hummed the quadriglio in 
the streets, and as town bells, whether in the cathedral or 
in the town belfry, were regarded as popular institutions, 
it is not to be wondered at that the quadriglio was the first 
kind of musical tune ever arranged for a peal of bells, and 
that these peals of time-playing bells became widely famous 
under the name of Carillons. 

The rise of bell music in Belgium was sudden and rapid. 
In the sixteenth century the use of several bells in connec- 
tion with town clocks was common enough. Even little 
tunes were played at the quarters and half hours. The ad- 
dition of a second octave was clearly only a matter of time. 
In the seventeenth century carillons were found in all the 
principal towns of Belgium, and between the seventeenth 
and eighteenth centuries all the finest carillons now in use, 
including those of Malines, Antwerp, Bruges, Ghent, and 
Louvain, were set up. There seems to have been no limit 
to the number of bells, except the space and strength of 
the belfry. Antwerp Cathedral has sixty-five bells; St. 
Rombaud, Mechlin, forty-four bells ; Bruges, forty bells and 
one bourdon, or heavy bass bell ; Ghent, thirty-nine ; Tour- 
nay, forty ; Ste. Gertrude, at Louvain, forty. 

The great passion and genius for bells which called these 
noble carillons into existence can no longer be said to be 
at its height. The Van Aerschodts, descendants of the 
great bell-founding family of the Van den Ghcyns, proba- 
bly make as good bells as their forefathers, or better ones; 
and certainly the younger brother, Severin van Aerschodt, 


retains much of the artistic feeling and genuine pride in his 
bells so distinctive of the old founders. M. Severin is a 
good sculptor, and works easily and with real enthusiasm 
both in marble and in bronze. All bell machinery can be 
infinitely better made now than ever ; but, notwithstanding 
the love of the Belgians for their chimes and carillons, and 
%he many modern improvements that have been recently 
made, we can not help feeling that the great bell period 
ended in 1785 with the death of the greatest organist and 
carillonneur Belgium has ever produced, Matthias van den 

No one who has not taken the trouble to examine the 
machinery used for ringing these enormous suites of bells, 
many of which weigh singly several tons, can well appre- 
ciate all that is implied in the words " Carillons aux clave- 
cins et aux tambours," or, in plain English, musical chimes 
played by a barrel and played from a key-board. 

Up in every well-stored belfry in Belgium there is a 
small room devoted to a large revolving barrel, exactly 
similar in principle to that of a musical box ; it is fitted all 
over with little spikes, each of which, in its turn, lifts a 
tongue, the extremity of which pulls a wire, which raises a 
hammer, which, lastly, falls upon a bell and strikes the re- 
quired note of a tune. We have only to imagine a barrel- 
organ of the period, in which the revolving barrel, instead 
of opening a succession of tubes, pulls a succession of wires 
communicating with bell-hammers, and we have roughly 
the conception of the tambour-carillon. 

But up in that windy quarter there is another far more 
important chamber, the room of the clavecin, or key-board. 
We found, even in Belgium, that these rooms, once the 
constant resort of choice musical spirits, and a great cen- 
tre of interest to the whole town, were now but seldom 
visited. Some of the clavecins, like that in Tournay bel- 


fry, for instance, we regret to say, are shockingly out of 
repair; we could not ascertain that there was any one in 
the town capable of playing it, or that it had been played 
upon recently at all. Imagine, instead of spikes on a re- 
volving barrel being set to lift wire-pulling tongues, the 
hand of man performing this operation by simply striking 
the wire-pulling key, or tongue, and we have the rough 
conception of the carillon-clavecin, or bells played from a 
key-board. The usual apparatus of the carillon-clavecin in 
Belgium, we are bound to say, is extremely rough. It pre- 
sents the simple spectacle of a number of jutting handles, 
of about the size and look of small rolling-pins, each of 
which communicates most obviously and directly with a 
wire which pulls the bell-smiting hammer overhead. The 
performer has this rough key-board arranged before him 
in semitones, and can play upon it just as a piano or organ 
is played upon, only that, instead of striking the keys, or 
pegs, w r ith his finger, he has to administer a sharp blow to 
each with his gloved fist. 

How with such a machine intricate pieces of music, and 

178 even organ voluntaries, were played, as we know 

Cariiionneurs. t ^ were? - g a m y Stei y to USi The best living 

carillonneurs sometimes attempt a rough outline of some 
Italian overture, or a tune with variations, which is, after 
all, played more accurately by the barrel ; but the great 
masterpieces of Matthias van den Gheyn, which have late- 
ly been unearthed from their long repose, are declared to 
be quite beyond the skill of any player now living. The 
inference we must draw is sad and obvious. The age of 
carillons is past, the art of playing them is rapidly becom- 
ing a lost art, and the love and the popular passion that 
once was lavished upon them has died out, and left but a 
pale flame in the breasts of the worthy citizens, who are 


still proud of their traditions, but vastly prefer the me- 
chanical performance of the tambour to the skill of any 
carillonneur now living. 

The supply of high-class carillon neurs ceased with the 
demand; but why did the demand cease? The only ex- 
planation which occurs to us is this : the carillonneur was 
once the popular music-maker of the people at a time when 
good music was scarce, just as the preacher was once the 
popular instructor of the people when good books were 
scarce. Now the people can get music, and good music, 
in a hundred other forms. It is the bands, and pianos, and 
the immense multiplication of cheap editions of music, and 
the generally increased facilities of making music, which 
have combined to kill the carillonneurs and depose caril- 
lons from their once lordly position of popular favor to the 
subordinate office of playing tunes to the clock. 

When Peter van den Gheyn, the bell-founder, put up his 
modest octave of bells in 1562 at Louvain, his carillon was 
doubtless thought a miracle of tune-playing. But at that 
time German music did not exist. Palestrina, then just 
emerging from obscurity, was hardly understood outside 
Italy. Monteverde and Lulli were not yet born. But 
when Matthias van den Gheyn, the carillonneur, died, Han- 
del and Bach had already passed away, Haydn was still liv- 
ing, Mozart was at his zenith, Beethoven was fifteen years 
old, and every form of modern music was created, and al- 
ready widely spread throughout Europe. These facts seem 
to us to explain the decreasing attention paid to carillon 
music in Belgium. The public ear has now become glut- 
ted with every possible form of music. People have also 
become fastidious about tune and harmony, and many fine 
carillons which satisfied our forefathers are now voted well 
enough for clock chimes, but not for serious musical per- 



There is no reason whatever why the taste for carillon 
music should not be revived. Bells can be cast in perfect 
tunc, and the exquisite English machinery for playing 
them ought to tempt our bell-founders to emulate their 
Belgian brothers in the fine-toned qualities of their bells. 

Let us now try and form some conception of what has 
179. actually been realized by skilled players on the 

Matthias van .,111 -. i f n 1 

den Gneyn. carillon key-board by glancing at some of the 
carillon music still extant, and assisting in imagination at 
one of those famous carillon seances which were once look- 
ed forward to by the Belgians as our Handel festivals are 
now looked forward to by the lovers of music in England. 

In the middle of the last century there was probably no 
town in Belgium more frequented than the ancient and 
honorable collegiate town of Louvain. Its university has 
always had a splendid reputation, and at this day can 
boast of some of the most learned men in Europe. Its 
town hall, a miracle of the thirteenth-century Gothic, is 
one of the most remarkable buildings of that age. The 
oak carving in its churches, especially that of Ste. Ger- 
trude, is of unsurpassed richness, and attests the enormous 
wealth formerly lavished by the Louvainiers upon their 
churches. The library is the best kept and most interest- 
ing in Belgium, and the set of bells in St. Peter's Church, 
if not the finest, can at least boast of having for many 
years been presided over by the greatest carillonneur and 
one of the most truly illustrious composers of the eight- 
eenth century, Matthias van den Gheyn. 

On the 1st of July, 1745, the town of Louvain was astir 
at an early hour: the worthy citizens might be seen chat- 
ting eagerly at their shop doors, and the crowd of visitors 
who had been pouring into the town the day before were 
gathering in busy groups in the great square of Louvain, 


which is bounded on one side by the town hall, and on the 
other by the church of St. Peter's. Among the crowd 
might be observed not only many of the most eminent mu- 
sicians in Belgium, but nobles, connoisseurs, and musical 
amateurs, who had assembled from all parts of the country 
to hear the great competition for the important post of 
carillonneur to the town of Louvain. 

All the principal organists of the place were to com- 
pete : and among them a young man aged twenty-four, 
the organist of St. Peter's, who was descended from the 
great family of bell-founders in Belgium, and whose name 
was already well known throughout the country, Matthias 
van den Gheyn. 

The nobility, the clergy, the magistrates, the burgomas- 
ters — in short, the powers civil and ecclesiastical, had as- 
sembled in force to give weight to the proceedings. As 
the hour approached, not only the great square, but all the 
streets leading to it, became densely thronged, and no 
doubt the demand for windows at Louvain, over against 
St. Peter's tower, was as great as the demand for balconies 
in the city of London on Lord Mayor's day. 

Each competitor was to play at sight the airs which 
w T ere to be given to him at the time, and the same pieces 
were to be given to each in turn. To prevent all possible 
collusion between the jury and the players, no preludes 
whatever were to be permitted before the performance of 
the pieces, nor were the judges to know who was playing 
at any given moment. Lots were to be cast in the strict- 
est secrecy, and the players were to take their seats as the 
lots fell upon them. The names of the trial pieces have 
been preserved, and the curiosity of posterity may derive 
some satisfaction from the perusal of the following list, 
highly characteristic of the musical taste of that epoch 
(1745) in Belgium : " La Folic d'Hispanie," " La Bergerie," 
"Caprice," and one "Andante" 


M. Loret got through his task very creditably. Next to 
him came M. Leblancq, who completely broke down in "La 
Bergerie," being unable to read the music. M. Van Dries- 
sche came third, and gave general satisfaction. M. De 
Laet was fourth, but he too found the difficulties of " La 
Bergerie" insuperable, and gave it up in despair. Lastly 
came Matthias van den Gheyn ; but, before he had got 
through his task, the judges and the great assembly be- 
sides had probably made up their minds; there was no 
comparison between them and his predecessors. Loret 
and Van Driessche, both eminent professors, were indeed 
placed second, and the rest were not worth placing, but 
beyond all shadow of a doubt the last competitor was the 
only man worthy to make carillon music for the town and 
neighborhood of Louvain, and accordingly Van den Gheyn 
was duly installed in the honorable post of carillonneur, 
which he held conjointly w T ith that of organist at the 
church of St. Peter's. His duties consisted in playing the 
bells every Sunday for the people, also on all the regular 
festivals of the Church, on the municipal feast-days, besides 
a variety of special occasions — in short, whenever the town 
thought fit. He was bound to have his bells in tune, and 
forbidden to allow any one to take his place as deputy on 
the great occasions. His salary was small, but there were 
extra fees awarded him upon great occasions, and, on the 
whole, he doubtless found his post tolerably lucrative, with- 
out being by any means a sinecure. 

It is a comfort to think that this great genius was not 
180. destined always to spend himself upon the 

Van den Gheyn's . . . 

Music. trivially popular airs of the period, such as 

appear to have been chosen for his ordeal. 

The indefatigable efforts of the Chevalier Van Elewyck 
have resulted in the discovery and restoration to the world 


of more than fifty compositions belonging to this great 
master, who has indeed had a narrow escape of being lost 
to posterity. We quite agree with MM. Lemmens and 
Fetis that some of the " Morceaux Fugues" (now for the 
first time published, by Schott et Cie., Brussels, and Regent 
Street, London) are quite equal, as far as they go, to similar 
compositions by Handel and Bach ; at the same time, they 
have a striking individuality, and almost wild tenderness 
and poetry peculiarly their own. As there is no reason 
why these splendid compositions should any longer be for- 
gotten, we shall make no apology for alluding to some of 
their prominent characteristics. And, in the first place, let 
us say that they are wonderful examples of what may be 
inspired by bells, and of the kind of music w T hich is alone 
capable of making an effect upon the carillon. 

The "Morceaux Fugues," though quite elaborate enough 
for the piano and organ, were actually played by Van den 
Gheyn upon the bells. They are bell-like in the extreme, 
full of the most plaintive melody, and marked by peculiar 
effects, which nothing but bells can render adequately. If 
ever we are to have effective carillon music, these composi- 
tions and their general laws must be closely studied. The 
difficulty of arranging and harmonizing tunes for bells 
seems to baffle all attempts hitherto made in England. 
The resonance of the bell renders so much impracticable 
that upon piano or organ is highly effective. The sounds 
run into each other, and horrid discords result, unless the 
harmonies are skillfully adapted to the peculiarities of bell 

In this adaptation, Van den Gheyn, as we might suppose, 
is a master, but such a master as it is quite impossible for 
any one to conceive who has not closely studied his caril- 
lon music. One great secret of bell-playing, overlooked in 
the setting of all our barrels, is to avoid ever striking even 

398 CAKILLONti. 

the two notes of a simple third quite simultaneously. Let 
any one take two small bells, or even two wine-glasses 
tuned to a third. Let him strike them exactly at the same 
time, and he will hardly get the sound of a third at all ; he 
will only get a confused medley of vibrations ; but let him 
strike one ever so little before or after the other, and the 
ear will instantly receive so definite an impression of a 
third, that, however the sounds may mix afterward, the 
musical sense will rest satisfied. We are not now con- 
cerned with the reasons of this ; it is simply a fact ; and, 
of course, the same rule holds good in a still greater de- 
gree with reference to sixths and chords of three or more 
notes, when struck upon bells. The simultaneous striking, 
and hence confusion of vibrations, can not, of course, be al- 
ways avoided, but, whenever it can be, we shall find that it 
is avoided by Van den Gheyn. It is true that he is not al- 
ways at the pains of writing his thirds with a quaver and 
a crotchet, to indicate the non-simultaneity of the stroke, 
but we are more and more convinced that, whenever it was 
possible, his bells w T ere struck, often with great rapidity, 
no doubt, but one after the other. Indeed, any one who 
has sat and played, as the writer of this article has done, 
upon Van den Gheyn's own carillon in St. Peter's belfry, 
will see how next to impossible it would be with the rough 
and heavy machinery there provided to strike three notes 
simultaneously in a passage of considerable length, such as 
the brilliant passage, for instance, in sixths, with a pedal 
bass, which occurs at the close of the first Morceau Fugue. 
Again, the use of one long pedal note running through 
three or four bars in harmony with a running treble may 
have been suggested originally by bells. It is a well-known 
favorite effect of S.Bach, in his great pedal fugues, and has 
been transferred to orchestral and chamber music by Men- 
delssohn — conspicuously in one of his violoncello sonatas; 


but it is the peculiar property of the carillonneur, and has 
been used over and over again by Yan den Gheyn with 
thrilling interest. 

In the second Morceau Fugue we see how magnificently 
deep bells may be made to take the place of pedal pipes. 
In this massive and solemn movement, a subject of remark- 
able breadth and power, a truly colossal subject, suitable 
to its colossal instrument, is given out and carried through 
with bass pedal bells, and a running accompaniment in the 
treble. The use of smaller shrill bells, to pick out what we 
may call little definite sound-specks, is a pleasant relief to 
the ear toward the close, and prevents our experiencing 
the slightest effect of monotonous din throughout this won- 
derfully sustained and majestic piece. The way in which 
the final cadenza is led up to is masterly. That cadenza 
is, in fact, a bravura passage of great rapidity, the treble 
part of which it might tax a respectable violinist to get 
through creditably, and how it was ever played upon a 
Belgian clavecin passes our comprehension. 

The whole of this second Morceau is so fresh and so pro- 
phetic in its anticipation of modern musical effects that 
it might have been written by Mendelssohn ; indeed, in 
many places it forcibly reminds us of passages in his organ 

But we must not be tempted any longer to discourse 
181. upon what baffles all description : let us turn 

Van den Gheyn l L 7 

Redivivus. ' for a moment from the music to the man, and 
see him as he lived and moved a hundred years ago before 
the eyes of the worthy Louvainiers. Old men at Louvain 
remember well the descriptions of him still current in the 
days of their youth. It is Sunday afternoon ; the great 
square of Louvain is full of gay loungers. The citizens, 
who have hardly had time to speak to each other during 


the week, now meet and discuss the latest news from 
France, the market prices, the state of trade. There are 
plenty of young students there from the university, and as 
they promenade up and down the Grande Place, we may 
well believe that they are not wholly insensible to the 
charms of the wealthy burghers' daughters, who then (as 
now throughout Belgium) considered Sunday as their es- 
pecial /ete da}'. We can not do better than enter the Place 
and mingle in the crowd. Presently there is a sudden 
movement in the little knot of stragglers just where the 
Rue de Bruxelles leads into the Grande Place. People 
turn round to look, and the crowd makes way as an elder- 
ly-looking man, wearing a three-cornered hat, and carrying 
a heavy stick with a large wooden knob at the top, comes 
smiling toward us. On all sides he is greeted with friend- 
ly and respectful recognition, and presently he stops to chat 
with one of the town council, and, taking a pinch of snuff, 
inquires if any important persons have newly arrived in 

The appearance of Matthias van den Gheyn, for that is 
our elderly gentleman, is altogether distinguished. He 
wears a warm and glossy black coat of the period, his vo- 
luminous white cravat is fastidiously clean, his waistcoat 
and knee-breeches are of the finest black silk, and his shoes 
are set off with handsome gold buckles. His deportment 
is that of a man of the world accustomed to good society ; 
and there is a certain good-natured, but self-reliant aplomb 
about him, which seems to indicate that he is quite aware 
of his own importance, and expects as a matter of course 
the consideration which he receives. 

After chatting for twenty minutes or so, during which 
time his quick eye has discovered most of the strangers in 
the crowd who may have come to Louvain to hear him 
play, he turns into the church of St. Peter, and. having 


doffed his holiday costume and dressed himself in light flan- 
nels, ascends the winding staircase, and is soon seated at 
his clavecin. His performances, almost always improvisa- 
tions on those Sunday afternoons, are said to have been 
quite unique. Fantasias, airs fugues in four parts, were 
tossed about on the bells, and streamed out in truly wild 
and magic music over the town. The sound was audible 
far out in the fields around Louvain, and people at Everley 
might stand still to listen as the music rose and fell be- 
tween the pauses of the wind. 

The performance usually lasted about half an hour, aft- 
er which time Van den Gheyn would resume his best suit, 
three-cornered hat, and massive walking-stick, and come 
down to mingle freely in the throng, and receive the hearty 
congratulations and compliments of his friends and ad- 

Matthias van den Gheyn married young, and had a nu- 
merous family. His wife was a sensible woman, and did 
a thriving business in the cloth trade. Madame Van den 
Gheyn had many customers, and her husband had many 
pupils, and thus this worthy couple supported themselves 
and their children in comfort and prosperity, deserving 
and receiving the respect and friendship of the good Lou- 

Matthias van den Gheyn was born in 1721 ; at the age 
of twenty-four (the same year that he was appointed car- 
illonneur of Louvain) he married Marie Catherine Lintz, a 
Louvain girl aged twenty-one, by whom he had seventeen 
children. He died at the age of sixty-four in 1785. 

The present famous Belgian bell-founders, Andre Louis 
van Aerschodt and Severin van Aerschodt, are the sons of 
Anne Maximiliane, the granddaughter of the great caril- 
lonneur, Matthias van den Gheyn. These gentlemen cast 
all the best bells that are made in Belgium. 


And now, in conclusion, let us speak a good word for 

The English bell-founders, it is true, do not at present 

183. seem to have the riff lit feeling about bells, or 
English Bell ° . 3 ' 

Works. any great sense of the importance of tune; but 

the English bell mechanism is beyond comparison the first 

in the world. We should order our bells in Belgium, and 

get them fitted with clavecin and carillon machinery in 


The new carillon machinery invented by Gillet and Bland, 
of Croydon, and applied to a set of Belgian bells at Boston, 
Lincolnshire, occupies about a third of the room used by 
the Belgian works, avoiding the immense strain upon the 
barrel, and the immense resistance offered by the clavecin 
keys to the performer under the old system. In the old 
system the little spikes on the revolving barrel had to lift 
tongues communicating by wires directly with the heavy 
hammers, which had thus to be raised and let fall on the 
outside of the bell. In the new system the spikes have 
nothing to do with lifting the hammers. The hammers 
are always kept lifted or set by a system of machinery de- 
vised specially for this heavy work. All the little spikes 
have to do is to lift tongues communicating with wires 
wdiich have no longer the heavy task of raising the ham- 
mers, but merely of letting them slide off on to the bells. 

The force required for this is comparatively slight ; and 
if we substitute for the barrel with spikes a key-board 
played by human fingers, thus making the fingers through 
pressure on the keys perform the task of the barrel-spike 
in letting off the hammer, any lady acquainted with the 
nature of a piano-forte or organ key-board will be found 
equal to the task of playing on the carillon. This was 
a result probably never contemplated by the old carillon- 


neurs, who used to strip and go in for a sort of pugilistic 
encounter with a vast row of obdurate pegs in front of 
them. The pegs have vanished, and in their place we have 
a small and temj^ting row of keys, which occupies about 
the same space, and is almost as easy to play upon as a 
small organ key-board. 

The Croydon carillon machine which we have lately ex- 
amined plays hymn-tunes on eight bells. The largest of 
these bells weighs 31 cwt., and the others are in proportion. 
Yet the machine (which stands under a glass case) is only 
3 feet long, 2 feet wide, and 3 feet 9 inches in height. The 
musical barrel, made of hazelwood (there is no key-board), 
is 10 inches in diameter and 14 inches long; the spikes on 
the barrel for letting off the heavy hammers are only -jL of 
an inch square. When we compare the delicacy of this 
machinery, which looks like the magnified works of a mu- 
sical box, with the prodigious effects it is calculated to 
produce, one can not help feeling convinced that the time 
is at hand when every tuneful peal in the kingdom will be 
fitted with this beautiful apparatus. 

Meanwhile we can not help repeating in more detail a 
suggestion made at the commencement of this article, and 
which occurs to us whenever we enter a dilapidated belfry 
full of creaking wheels and rotten timbers. Before we 
think of key-boards and barrels, let us supply some simple 
machinery for the common ringing of the bells. Great 
Peter at York has never yet been rung, and the friction 
caused by any attempt to ring him is very great. This 
is, no doubt, due to a defect in the hanging. We hear 
about towers being rung down by the vibrations of the 
bells, but it would be truer to say that they are rocked 
down by the friction of coarse and unscientific machinery. 
If all the bellowing of the Prussian guns failed to make 
any material impression upon the fragile stone filigree work 


of the Strasbourg tower, it is not likely that the sound of 
bells has much to do with the ruin of brick-work and ma- 

In connection with the swinging of a heavy bell, there 
always must be considerable strain upon the tower. But 
the friction might be indefinitely diminished if the bell ma- 
chinery worked smoothly, and the labor, often at present 
Herculean, of the poor bell-ringer might be reduced to al- 
most zero were that machinery a little more scientific. 
When it is once understood that an improved system of 
ringing the bells would save deans and chapters all over 
the country enormous sums of money by suspending the 
wear and tear which now goes on in so many of our cathe- 
dral towers, we can not help thinking that little opposition 
will be raised by those who have to pay for the damages. 
Bell-ringers are doubtless a most obstinate set of men ; but 
if they were paid the same for working machinery which 
produced twice as much effect with less than half the labor, 
they too would soon give in to a better system. That un- 
grateful and barbarous rope and w T heel, whose action upon 
the bell is now so uncertain, would probably disappear, 
and give place to something like a handle, a piston, el- 
even a key-board and a set of wheels and pulleys. There 
is no reason whatever why, with a better ringing mechan- 
ism, one man might not ring half a dozen bells, instead of, 
as at present, half a dozen men being often set to ring a 
single big bell. I make these suggestions w T ith the more 
confidence because they have been favorably entertained 
by the heads of one of the most eminent firms of horology 
in England. I am glad to say that, in accordance with my 
suggestions, these gentlemen have promised to give their 
attention to the development of a better mechanism for 
the ringing of bells. They write as follows : " Although 
bells have never been rung by machinery, we believe it 


would be possible to accomplish this, although it might be 

A little ordinary thought and common sense, not to speak 
183. of a little mechanical science, would work wonders 

Reform . . 

needed, in our belfries. There is hardly a cathedral tower 
in England where the hanging of one or more bells, or the 
oscillation of the tower, is not justly complained of. As a 
rule, the reason is not far to seek. In both York and Dur- 
ham, for instance, the bells are hung too high up. In York 
there are twelve bells besides Great Peter, which hangs in 
a separate tower. They are all crowded together on one 
floor, instead of being distributed properly in an upper and 
a lower floor. 

In Durham the two lower side towers, and not the high 
centre one, ought to have been fitted for the bells. When 
a bell is hard to ring, it is almost always not on account 
of its weight, but on account of its "hanging." The wood- 
work and hasps at the top of the bell should be kept as 
high as possible. In nine cases out of ten, when a bell 
works heavily, the wood-work and iron hasps will be found 
crowded down low, and reaching over the curve of the top 
of the bell. Large bells should have, if possible a separate 
tower. Large bells, for the sake of the tower, should be 
hung as low as possible ; the little bells can be hung even 
up in the steeple ; but when there are a number of bells, 
they ought always to be hung, according to their weights, 
in two or more layers. 

All this has been known and practiced in Belgium for 
two hundred years and more ; why do not our bell-hangers 
visit the Antwerp or Mechlin tow T ers? one glance would 
often be sufficient. When we extol English bell works we 
do not allude to the way in which English bells are hung, 
but rather to English carillon, and clavecin, and clock 


works. Let us hope that the time is coming when our 
bell -hangers will get some good mathematician to tell 
them a few of the ordinary laws of mechanics. Until then, 
deans and chapters may sigh and seek in vain to make 
their bells work and keep their towers from rocking tc 

ifourtl) Sock. 



Jonrtlj Book. 



The English are not a musical people, and the English 
184. are not an artistic people. But the English are 

Englaudnot . . . 

Musical. more artistic than musical; that is to say, they 
have produced better artists than musicians. A country 
is not musical or artistic when you can get its people to 
look at pictures or listen to music, but when its people are 
themselves composers and artists. It can not be affirmed 
that Englishmen are, or ever were, either one or the other. 
Let us explain. 

Painting is older, and has had a longer time to develop, 
than music. There have been great English painters, who 
have painted in the Dutch, Italian, and Spanish styles; 
there has even been a really original school of English 
portrait and landscape painters; and these later years have 
witnessed some very remarkable and original developments 
of the art in England; but the spirit of it is not in the peo- 
ple, for all that. The art of our common workmen is ste- 
reotyped, not spontaneous. When our architects cease to 
copy, they become dull. Our houses are all under an Act 
of Uniformity. 



Music in England has always been an exotic, and when- 
ever the exotic seed has escaped and grown wild on English 
soil, the result has not been a stable and continuous Growth. 

/ CD 

The Reformation music was all French and Italian ; the 
Restoration music (1650), half French and half German. 
No one will deny that Tallis, Farrant, Byrd, in Church 
music — Morley, Ward, Wilbye, in the madrigal, made a 
most original use of their materials ; but the materials 
were foreign, for all that. At the Restoration, Pelham 
Humphreys, called by Pepys " an absolute monsieur," is as 
really French as Sir Sterndale Bennett is really German. 
Purcell, the Mozart of his time, was largely French, al- 
though, he seemed to strike great tap-roots into the older 
Elizabethan period, just as Mendelssohn struck them deep 
into S. Bach. But all these men have one thing in common 
— they were composers in England, they were not English 
composers. They did not write for the people, the people 
did not care for their music. The music of the people was 
ballads — the music of the people is still ballads. Our 
national music vibrates between " When other lips" and 
" Champagne Charley." 

These ballads of all kinds are not exotic : they repre- 
sent the national music of the English people. The people 
understand music to be a pleasant noise and a jingling 
rhythm; hence their passion for loudness, and for the most 
vulgar and pronounced melody. That music should be to 
language what language is to thought, a kind of subtle ex- 
pression and counterpart of it ; that it should range over 
the wordless region of the emotions, and become in turn 
the lord and minister of feeling, sometimes calling up im- 
ages of beauty and power, at others giving an inexpressi- 
ble relief to the heart by clothing its aspirations with a 
certain harmonious form — of all this the English people 
know nothing. And. as English music is jingle and noise, 


so the musician is the noisemaker for the people, and noth- 
ing more. Even among the upper classes, except in some 
few cases, it has been too much the fashion to regard the 
musician as a kind of servile appendage to polite society : 
and no doubt this treatment has reacted disastrously upon 
musicians in England, so that many of them are or become 
what society assumes them to be — uncultivated men in 
any true sense of the word. And this will be so until mu- 
sic is felt here, as it is in Germany, to be a kind of neces- 
sity — to be a thing without which the heart pines and the 
emotions wither — a need, as of light, and air, and fire. 

Things are improving, no doubt. When genius, both 
creative and executive, has been recognized over and over 
again as devoted to music, even a British public has had 
thoughts of patting the gods on the back. There is a 
growing tendency to give illustrious musicians the same 
position which has been granted in almost every age and 
country to illustrious poets and painters. Let us hope that 
refined musicians, even though not of the highest genius, 
may ere long meet with a like honorable reception. Why 
has this not been the case hitherto ? I reply, because En- 
gland is not a musical country. The first step is to awa- 
ken in her, or force upon her, the appreciation of music as 
an art. That is the stage we are now at. The second 
stage is to create a national school of composers — this is 
what we hope to arrive at. 

The contrast between indigenous art and exotic art is 
always marked. When the people love spontaneously, 
there is enthusiasm and reverence for the artist and his 
work. Where or when in this country will ever be seen 
a multitude like the crowd which followed Cimabue's pic- 
ture of the Madonna through the streets of Florence, or 
the mournful procession that accompanied Mendelssohn to 
his grave? 


When art has to be grafted on to a nation, it is received 
fastidiously at first — the old tree likes not the taste of the 
new sap. When the graft succeeds, and the tree brings 
forth good fruit, the people pluck it and eat it admiringly, 
but ages sometimes elapse before it becomes a staff of life 
to them. But let art be indigenous, as in Greece of old, 
in modern Italy, in Germany, even in France, and every 
mechanic will carve and sculpt, every boor will sing and 
listen to real music, every shopman will have an intuitive 
taste and arrange his wares to the best possible advantage. 
In India the commonest workman will set colors for the 
loom in such a manner as to ravish the eye of the most 
cultivated European artist. In the German refreshment 
rooms of the great Paris Exhibition there were rough bands 
working steadily through the symphonies of Mozart and 
Haydn, while the public were never found so intent on 
sauer kraut and sausages as not to applaud vociferously at 
the end, and sometimes even encore an adagio. Fancy the 
frequenters of Cremorne encoring a symphony by Mozart! 

However, the people have their music, and it is of no 
185. use to deny it : and the marks of patronage be- 

EnglishLib- v ii j ax. 

eraiity. stowed upon ballad-mongers, one-eyed harpers, 

asthmatic flutes, grinders and bands from " Vaterland," are 
sufficient to inspire the sanguine observer with hopes for 
the future. 

When a man can not feed himself, the next best thing is 
to get a friend to do it for him. It can not be denied that 
the English of all classes have shown great liberality in 
importing and paying for all kinds of foreign music as well 
as in cherishing such scanty germs as there happen to be 
around them. A musician of any kind is less likely to 
starve in England than in any other country, from the or- 
gan-grinder who lounges with his lazy imperturbable smile 


before the area railings, as who should say, " If I don't get 
a copper here I shall round the corner, and no matter," to 
the sublime maestro (Beethoven) who, abandoned in the 
hour of sickness and poverty by his own countrymen, re- 
ceived upon his death-bed an honorarium of £100 from the 
London Philharmonic Society. 

English managers were the first who introduced the scale 
of exorbitant salaries now paid to opera singers and a few 
of the best instrumentalists. We believe the system be- 
gan with Malibran ; but Paganini was so well aware of our 
extravagant foible that he doubled the prices of admission 
whenever he played at the Opera-house. It is the old 
story — humming-birds at the North Pole and ice in the 
tropics will be found equally expensive. 

We have now said the worst that can be said about mu- 
sic in England ; all the rest shall be in mitigation of the 
above criticism. " May it please your highness," says Grif- 
fith, in Henry VIII., " to hear me speak his good now." 


It is certainly true that if we do not sow the seed we 
18G. provide an admirable soil. Let the English people 

Seed and r . . . ° r r 

Soil. once receive an impression, and it will be held with 
a surprising tenacity. When the now young and fair Ma- 
dame or Mademoiselle Prima Donna of the period, at the 
age of one hundred — beautiful forever, but perfectly in- 
audible — shall advance to the foot-lights to take her fare- 
well benefit, those of us who are still alive will flock to see 
her, and strew her path with flowers as fadeless as herself. 

Among the most hopeful signs of the times we may 
enumerate the success of Mr. Hullah's system, the recent 
introduction of the Tonic Sol-fa method, and the immense 
increase of musical societies throughout the country. 

Fifty-five years ago the old Philharmonic was without a 


rival. Every year some new chef cVoeuvre was produced, 
and the English public was taught to expect at each con- 
cert two long symphonies, besides classical concertos, re- 
lieved only by a song or two as a kind of musical salts to 
prevent downright collapse. This discipline was thought 
by some to be too severe; but a little knot of connoisseurs 
maintained that in the symphonies of Haydn and Mozart 
were to be found the most precious treasures of music, and 
people hitherto only accustomed to instrumental music as 
an accompaniment to vocal, began to listen with a grow- 
ing interest to purely orchestral performances. Haydn 
and Mozart soon became popular, but Beethoven was long 
a stumbling-block, and, although held in great veneration, 
and at all times most liberally treated by the Philharmonic 
Society, yet even that advanced body took some time to 
unravel the mysteries of the great C minor, and for years 
after Beethoven's death his greatest orchestral works were, 
to a large majority of English ears, as sounding brass and 
tinkling cymbal. 

It is impossible to overrate the influence of the old Phil- 
harmonic upon musical taste in England ; but it did not 
long stand alone. A gold mine may be opened by a soli- 
tary band of diggers, but the road leading to it soon be- 
comes crowded; a thousand other breaches are speedily 
made. We have seen during the last few years the swarms 
of daily papers which have sprung up round the Times; 
the same remark applies to the crop of quarterlies around 
the Edinburg / the cheap magazines round the Cornhill ; 
exhibitions round that of 1851 ; and, we may add, orches- 
tral societies round the old Philharmonic. 

We may fairly date the present wave of musical prog- 
i8T. ress in this country from the advent of Mendels- 

Meiidelssohn . . . 

in England, sohn. It is now more than thirtv years since he 


appeared at the Philharmonic, and, both as conductor and 
pianist, literally carried all before him. He brought with 
him that reverence for art, and that high sense of the art- 
ist's calling, without which art is likely to degenerate into 
a mere pastime, and the artist himself into a charlatan. 
The young composer read our native bands some useful 
lessons. Himself the chevalier of music — sanspeuret sans 
reproche — sensitive indeed to criticism, but still more alive 
to the honor of art, he could not brook the slightest insult 
or slur put upon music. Gifted with a rare breadth and 
sweetness of disposition, his ire began to be dreaded as 
much as he himself was admired and beloved. 

At a time when Schubert was known here only by a few 
songs, Mendelssohn brought over the magnificent sympho- 
ny in C (lately performed at the Crystal Palace), together 
with his own Buy Bias overture in MS. The parts of Schu- 
bert's symphony were distributed to the band. Mendels- 
sohn was ready at his desk — the baton rose — the romantic 
opening was taken — but after the first few lines, signs of 
levity caught the master's eye. He closed the score ; the 
gentlemen of the band evidently considered the music rub- 
bish, and, amid some tittering, collected the parts, which 
were again deposited in the portfolio. 

"Now for your overture, Mendelssohn !" was the cry. 

"Pardon me !" replied the indignant composer ; and, tak- 
ing up his hat, he walked out of the room. 

Buy Bias went back to Germany, but the lesson was not 
soon forgotten. 

After living among us just long enough to complete and 
produce his masterpiece, the Elijah, at Birmingham, he 
died (1847), leaving behind him an illustrious school of dis- 
ciples, of whom Sir Sterndale Bennett may be named chief, 
and to that new school, as well as to the old-established 
Philharmonic Society, may be traced the rapid increase of 


orchestral societies and orchestral concerts in England. In 
looking back through the last fifteen years, the difficulty is 
to choose one's examples. 

The growing popularity of the orchestra is a sure sign 
iss. of the popular progress in music. Ballad sin<>- 

Growmg Taste . i r r . . . . . 

for good Music, ing and solo playing, in dealing with distinct 
ideas and accentuated melodies, and by infusing into the 
subject a kind of personal interest in the performance, de- 
pend upon many quite unmusical adjuncts for their suc- 
cess ; but orchestral playing, in dealing chiefly with har- 
mony, brings us directly into the abstract region of musical 
ideas. The applause which follows " Coming through the 
Rye" is just as often given to a pretty face or a graceful 
figure as to the music itself; and when people encore Bot- 
tesini,Wieniawski, or Rubinstein, it is often only to have 
another stare at the big fiddle, the romantic locks, or the 
dramatic sang-froid of these incomparable artists; but the 
man who applauds a symphony applauds no words or in- 
dividuals — he is come into the region of abstract emotion, 
and if he does not understand its sovereign language, he 
will hear about as much as a color-blind man will see by 
looking into a prism. It is a hopeful sign when the people 
listen to good German bands in the streets. A taste for 
penny ices proves that the common people have a glimmer- 
ing of the strawberry creams which Mr. Gunter prepares 
for sixpence; and the frequent consumption of ginger-pop 
and calves'-head broth indicates a confirmed, though it may 
be hopeless, passion for Champagne and turtle-soup. No 
one will say that the old Philharmonic in any sense sup- 
plied music for the people, but the people heard of it, and 
clamored for it, and, in obedience to the spirit of the age 
the man arose who was able to give them as near an ap- 
proach to the loftier departments of music as the masses 
could appreciate. 


The immortal Mons. Jullien, who certainly wielded a 
189 most magical w r hite baton, and was generall}' 

Mons. Juihen. lin <j ers tood to wear the largest white waistcoat 
ever seen, attracted immense, enthusiastic, and truly popu- 
lar crowds to his truly popular concerts. Knowing little 
about the science of music, and glad, says rumor, to avail 
himself of more learned scribes in arranging his own match- 
less polkas and quadrilles, he had the singular merit of find- 
ing himself on all occasions inspired with the most appro- 
priate emotions. From the instant he appeared before a 
grateful public to the moment when, exhausted by more 
than human efforts, he sank into his golden fauteuil, Mons. 
Jullien was a sight ! The very drops upon his Parian brow 
were so many tributary gems of enthusiasm to the cause 
of art. Not that Mons. Jullien ever lost his personality, or 
forgot himself in that great cause. The wave of his silken 
pocket-handkerchief, with the glittering diamond rings, 
seemed to say, " There, there, my public ! the fire of genius 
consumes me — but I am yours !" 

But, without farther pleasantry, it must be acknowl- 
edged that the irresistible Jullien took the English public 
by storm, and having w T on, he made an admirable use of his 
victory. Besides his band in London, detachments trav- 
eled all over the country, and spread far and wide currents 
of the great central fire that blazed in the metropolis. 

Those grand triumphs at the Surrey Gardens, when 
the Jullien orchestra, overlooking the artificial lake, rang 
through the summer evenings, and sent its echoes reverber- 
ating through the mimic fortress of Gibraltar, or the magic 
caves presently to be lit up by forty thousand additional 
lamps ! Happy hours ! many of us, since grown to years 
of discretion, may remember them in the days of our early 
youth ! No summer evenings in the open air seem now so 
full of ecstasy ; no fireworks explode with such regal and 



unprecedented splendor ; must it be confessed ? no music 
can come again with such a weird charm as that which 
filled the child's ear and ravished the child's heart with a 
new and ineffable tremor of delight. But it was the music, 
not the scenery, not the fireworks alone. It was hardly a 
display of fireworks, assisted by Mons. Jullien's band — it 
was Mons. Jullien's band accompanied by fireworks ! It 
would be wrong, however, to imply that these concerts 
were supported merely by big drums and skyrockets. 

I do not think Mons. Jullien ever got due credit for the 
large mass of good classical music he was in the habit of 
introducing. Besides the finest German overtures were 
heard movements from Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven's 
symphonies admirably executed ; of course without the re- 
pose and intellect of a classical conductor, but without of- 
fensive sensationalism, and with perfect accuracy. 

Upon the shoulders of the late Mr. Mellon descended 
loo. the mantle of Mons. Jullien. If Mellon's concerts 

His Follow- 
ers, lacked the romance and unapproachable fire that 

went out with the brilliant Frenchman, they retained all 

that could be retained of his system, and gave it additions 

which his perseverance had made possible, but which he 

had probably never contemplated. There was also the 

same care in providing the first soloists. 

Bottesini, whose melodies floated in the open air over 
the Surrey Gardens, and filled the w T orld with a new won- 
der and delight, was again heard under the dome of Cov- 
ent Garden. 

M. Sivori — the favorite pupil of Paganini, who seems to 
have inherited all the flowing sweetness of the great ma- 
gician without a spark of his demoniac fury — appeared, 
and filled those who remembered the master w T ith a strange 
feeling, as though at length, 


" Above all pain, yet pitying all distress," 
the master's soul still flung to earth faint fragments from 
the choirs that chime 

"After the chiming of the eternal spheres." 

Mons. Levy on the cornet, and Mods. Wieniawski on the 
violin, are the only other real instrumental sensations that 
have been produced at these concerts. 

At any time instrumental genius is rare, and of the num- 
bers who are first-rate, only a few feel equal to stilling the 
noisy, half-trained audiences usually found at promenade 
concerts. When we have mentioned Chopin, Liszt, Thal- 
berg, Mendelssohn, Madame Schumann, Madame Goddard, 
Rubinstein, and Halle, on the piano ; De Beriot, Paganini, 
Ernst,Vieuxtemps, Wieniawski, and Joachim, on the violin ; 
Linley and Piatti on the violoncello ; Dragonetti and Bot- 
tesini on the contra-basso ; Konig and Levy on the cornet, 
the roll of solo instrumentalists during the last fifty years 
may very nearly be closed. And of the above men, some, 
like Chopin, Halle, and Joachim, never cared to face, strict- 
ly speaking, popular audiences ; but those who did were 
usually secured by the popular orchestras of Jullien and 
Mellon, and by the givers of those intolerable bores called 
monster concerts, which begin early in the afternoon and 
never seem to eDd. 


The immeDse advaDce of the popular mmd is remarka- 
191. bly illustrated by the change in the ordinary or- 


Progress, chestral programme. We have now Mozart nights, 
and Beethoven nights, and Mendelssohn nights. Not bits 
of symphonies, but entire works are now listened to, and 
movements of them are encored by audiences at Covent 
Garden. We have heard the Scotch symphony and the 


"Power of Sound" received with discrimination and ap- 
plause. A certain critical spirit is creeping into these 
audiences, owing to the large infusion of really musical 
people who are on the lookout for good programmes, and 
invariably support them. 

The old and new Philharmonics, the London Musical So- 
ciety, the performances under Mr. Hullah at St. Martin's 
Hall, the Sacred Harmonic under Sir W. M. Costa, the Bir- 
mingham Festival and the Cathedral Festivals, Jullien, 
Mellon, Arditi, Riviere, Mr. Barnby's Oratorio Concerts, 
Mr. Henry Leslie's wonderful choir, and last — and greatest 
of all — the Crystal Palace band, have no doubt supplied a 
want, but they have also created one. They have taught 
thousands to care about good music. They have taught 
those who did care to be more critical. The time is gone 
by when the Philharmonic had it all its own way, or when 
only the wealthy could hear fine music, or when the pub- 
lic generally was thankful for small mercies. The ears of 
the public have grown sharp. When musical amateurs 
now go to hear a symphony, they know what they go for, 
and they know, too, whether they get it. They hear the 
Italian Symphony by the Crystal Palace band on Satur- 
day afternoon, and not long afterward at the Philharmonic, 
and there is no possibility of evading a comparison. The 
members of the Crystal Palace band, from playing every 
day all the year round together under the same admirable 
conductor, have achieved an excellence hitherto unknown 
in England. 

The office of conductor is no sinecure. The position of 
192> the four or five conductors before the public in 
Conductors. England is accurately gauged, and the merits of 
each aspirant to new fame are eagerly discussed. 

Mr. Manns, of the Crystal Palace band, is the finest clas- 


sical conductor in England. The refinements gone into by 
the band in playing Beethoven's symphonies are only to 
be compared to the rendering of Beethoven's sonatas by 
M. Charles Halle. The wind is simply matchless, and blows 
as one man ; the wind accompaniment in the Italian sym- 
phony to the slow movement commonly called "The March 
of the Pilgrims," has all the evenness and dead accuracy 
of the key-board. But it is more than a key-board — it is 
a key-board with a soul — it sounds like an. inspired organ. 
Where Mr. Manns appears to us to be absolutely impecca- 
ble is in his rendering of Schubert, and the great orches- 
tral overtures of Weber and Mendelssohn. Not that any 
one in England could produce Schumann's works as he 
does, but the name of Robert Schumann opens up a field 
of absorbing inquiry which we must not allow ourselves 
at present to enter upon. 

The late Mr. Mellon", without the fire of genius, brought 
great vigor of talent, perseverance, and ingenuity to bear 
upon his band. The French brilliancy of Jullien was re- 
placed in Mellon by a careful calculation of effect. In 
comparing his band with that of the Crystal Palace, w T e 
must always remember that he was less favorably situated 
in three particulars. His band was larger and less choice- 
ly selected, it rehearsed less frequently, and was bound to 
cater for rough, mixed audiences. His work was thus less 
noble, but more popular. To adapt the words of the late 
Dr.Whewell, in speaking of the poets Longfellow and Ten- 
nyson, "He was appreciated by thousands whose tastes 
rendered them inaccessible to the harmonies of the greater 

The continuation of Mellon's concerts under Signor Ar- 
diti and M. Jullien {fils) were not equally successful. 
The theatre was never half full, and the performances in- 

422 - ]JL ' s7 ' ' IX EN® LA MD- 

The same concerts under Signor Bottesini must be spo- 
ken of in very different terms. The classical music was 
not so well done, but the ensemble was admirable ; and the 
presence of a master, though a somewhat careless one, was 
felt throughout. Signor Bottesini's opera-conducting de- 
lighted even a Paris audience. His classical taste is also 
excellent ; the simplest accompaniment played by him, and 
the simplest selection arranged by him, display the same 
tact and genius ; nor is it wonderful to find him pass from 
the skilled soloist to the conductor's desk, and wield the 
baton with a grace and power worthy of the first contra- 
basso in the world. 

A strange new figure startled the public out of all com- 
posure and gravity during the season of 1868, and a para- 
graph to record so popular and exceptional a talent will 
not here be out of place. Every night, in the middle of 
the concert, a slim and dandified young man, with a pro- 
fuse black beard and mustache, would step jauntily on to 
the platform vacated by Signor Bottesini. His appear- 
ance was the signal for frantic applause, to which, fiddle 
and bow in hand, he bowed good-humoredly ; then, turn- 
ing sharp round, he would seem to catch the eye of every 
one in the band, and raising his violin bow, would plunge 
into one of those rapturous dance tunes which, once heard, 
could never be forgotten. Now shaking his bow at the 
distant drummer, egging on the wind, picking up the bass- 
es, turning fiercely on the other stringed instruments ; then 
stamping, turning a pirouette, and dashing his bow down 
on his own fiddle-strings, the clear twanging of the Strauss 
violin would be heard for some moments above all the 
rest. Presently the orchestra sways as one man into the 
measure, which flows capriciously — now tearing along, 
then suddenly languishing, at the will of the magical and 
electric violin. Johann Strauss danced, pit and boxes 


danced, the very lights winked in time ; every body and 
every thing seemed turned into a waltz or a galop by 
yonder inexorable "pied piper," until some abrupt clang 
brought all to a close, and the little man was left bowing 
and smiling, and capering backward, to an audience beside 
themselves with delight. Nothing of the kind has been 
seen in England before, and all that can be said is that of 
its kind it is simply inimitable. 

It is a transition as sudden as any to be found in the 
Strauss dances to pass from Herr Stkauss to Sir William 
Sterndale Bennett. 

The Cambridge musical professor's conducting possesses 
great charm for all admirers of real classical music — it is 
full of refinement and quiet power. It is much to be re- 
gretted that he no longer holds any post as conductor, 
having resigned the Philharmonic baton. This illustrious 
musician has been long popular in Germany, as the letters 
of Schumann and Mendelssohn alike testify, and the Eng- 
lish people can not any longer be accused of blindness to 
his distinguished merits. 

Mr.W. G. Cusins at the Philharmonic has won great fa- 
vor with that critical audience. The care which he be- 
stows on rehearsals, the careful, though sometimes quaint 
selection of his programmes, the noble soloists and the 
new chef cVceavres which he has produced, have made the 
last few seasons among the most brilliant of many brilliant 

We have reserved the name of Sir Michael Costa until 
193 now, that we might speak of him in connection 
The opera. ^^ t k e p era an( j oratorio. About the prog- 
ress or decadence of the opera we can here say but little. 
We regard it, musically, philosophically, and ethically, as 
an almost unmixed evil. Its Yery constitution seems to 


us false, and in Germany, cither tacitly or avowedly, it lias 
always been felt to be so. 

Mozart no doubt wrote operas, but the influence of Italy 
was then dominant in music, and determined its form even 
in Germany. The Climenza cli Tito in its feebleness is a 
better illustration of this than Don Juan in its great might. 
Schubert in Alfonso and Estrella broke down, hopelessly 
hampered by stage requirements. Spohr's Jessonda was 
never successful, and he abandoned opera writing. Weber 
singularly combined the lyric and dramatic elements, and 
succeeded in making his operas of Oberon and Der Freis- 
chntz almost philosophical without being dull. Mendels- 
sohn has left us no opera because he was dissatisfied with 
every libretto offered him. We can hardly regret this, as 
he has selected instead the truer forms of oratorio, cantata, 
and occasional music, of which take as supreme examples 
the Elijah, Walpurgis JVacht, Antigone, and Midsummer 
JSTighfs Dream. Wagner, in despair, has been driven, in 
Tannhduser and Lohengrin, into wild theories of opera, 
devoid, as it seems to us, both of Italian naivete and sound 
German philosophy. We desire to speak with the great- 
est respect of Herr Wagner's genius, and also of his opin- 
ions, while not agreeing with much of his theory as far as 
we understand it. Schumann, avoiding all scenic effect, 
found in Paradise and the Peri a form as charming and 
appropriate as it is true to the first principles of art. 

Beethoven wrote the best opera in the world simply to 
prove that he could do every thing, but the form was even 
then a concession to w T hat w r as least commendable in Ger- 
man taste ; and the overture was written four times over, 
w T ith the colossal irony of one w T ho, although he would not 
stoop to win, yet knew how to compel the admiration of 
the world. 

The truth is simple. The opera is a mixture of two 


things which ought always to be kept distinct — the sphere 
of musical emotion and the sphere of dramatic action. It 
is not true, under any circumstances, that people sing songs 
with a knife through them. The war between the stage 
and music is internecine. We have only to glance at a 
first-rate libretto, e. </., that of Gounod's Faust, to see that 
the play is miserably spoiled for the music. We have only 
to think of any stock opera to see that the music is ham- 
pered and impeded in its development by the play. Con- 
troversy upon this subject will, of course, rage fiercely. 
Meanwhile irreversible principles of art must be noted. 

Music expresses the emotions which attend certain char- 
acters and situations, but not the characters and situations 
themselves, and the two schools of opera have arisen out 
of this distinction. The Italian school wrongly assumes 
that music can express situations, and thus gives prom- 
inence to the situations. The German school, when opera 
has been forced upon it, has striven with the fallacy in- 
volved in its constitution by maintaining that the situa- 
tion must be reduced and made subordinate to the emo- 
tion which accompanies it, and which it is the business of 
music to express. Thus the tendency of many German 
operas is to make the scene as ideal as possible. The more 
unreal the scene, the more philosophical, because the con- 
tradiction to common sense is less shocking in what is pro- 
fessedly unreal than in what professes to represent real 
things, but does so in an unnatural manner. Weber was 
impelled by a true instinct to select an unreal raise en scene 
in connection with which he was able to express real emo- 
tions. Oberon and Der Freischutz are examples of this. 

In every drama there is a progressive history of emotion. 
This, and not the outward event, is what music is fitted to 
express, and this truth has been seized by Germany, al- 
though in a spirit of compromise. In the Italian school the 


music is too often nothing but a series of situations strung 
together by flimsy orchestration and conventional recita- 

In the German and Franco-German schools of Weber, 
Meyerbeer, and Gounod, the orchestra is busy throughout 
developing the history of the emotions. The recitatives 
are as important as the arias, and the orchestral interludes 
as important as the recitatives. Wagner, in his anxiety to 
reduce the importance of situations and exalt that of emo- 
tions, bereaves us of almost all rounded melody in the Lo- 
hengrin. Weber, in Oberon, works out his choruses like 
classical movements, almost independently of situations. 
Meyerbeer greatly reduces the importance of his arias in 
the PropltUe ; and Gounod, in Faust, runs such a power of 
orchestration through the whole opera, that not even the 
passionate scene in the garden can reduce the instruments 
which enhance the intensity of its emotional elements to a 
secondary importance. 

In spite of all drawbacks, it is not difficult to see why 
the opera does, and probably will for some time, retain its 
popularity. The public in all ages are children, and are 
led like children. Let one person clap, and others are sure 
to follow. Let a clown but laugh, and the whole house 
will giggle. A long drama is a little dull without music; 
much music is a little dull without scenery. Mix the two, 
in however unreasoning a manner, and the dull or intel- 
lectual element in each is kept out of sight, and will be 
swallowed unsuspiciously. It is the old story of the pow- 
der in the jam. 

I sav nothing against music bein^ associated with situa- 
tions, as in the Midsummer NigJiVs Dream, or as in an ora- 
torio. It is only when music is made part of the situation 
that it is misapplied. Let the event be in all cases left to 
the imagination ; but if it be expressed, then the more im- 


aginative and suggestive the expression, the less the vio- 
lence done to common sense. The cantata and the orato- 
rio are the forms which, with some modification, will prob- 
ably prevail over the opera. When Mr. Santley appears 
in Exeter Hall as Elijah, in a tail-coat and white kid gloves, 
no one is offended, and every one is impressed, because he 
does not pretend to reproduce the situation, but merely to 
paint in words and music its appropriate emotion, leaving 
the rest to be supplied by the imagination of the audience. 
But let Mr. Santley put on a camel's-hair shirt, and appear 
in the otherwise wild and scanty raiment of the Hebrew 
prophet — let him sing inside a pasteboard cave, or declaim 
from the summit of a wooden Carmel, and our reverence is 
gone — our very emotions at the sublime music are checked 
by the farcical unreality of the whole thing. 

Herr Rubinstein once entertained, perhaps still enter- 
tains, the idea of putting the whole of Genesis on the stage 
with sacred music, and thought that England's reverence 
for the Bible would pave the way for the production of 
sacred opera in this country ; he was much disappointed 
on being told that it was precisely Englishmen's traditional 
sense of reverence for the Bible stories which would not 
suffer them to witness its scenes brought before the foot- 
lights. This is perfectly true. But why is it so ? Because, 
the more strongly we feel the importance of a story, the 
less can we bear to see it presented in a perfectly irrational 
manner, such as opera presentation must always be. 

Sir Michael Costa is the most popular conductor in Eng- 
land. Without putting forward, as far as we know, any 
definite theories on the subject of romantic and classical 
music, he has accepted facts, and done the best that could 
be done for the opera and the concert-room. To Signor 
Arditi's knowledge of stage effect, he unites a breadth of 
conception, a wide sympathy, and a powerful physique, 


which enable him to undertake, and to carry through, ora- 
torios on a scale'hitherto unknown. 

The dramatic gifts and sensational effects which are al- 
most out of place in Exeter Hall, are all needed in coping 
with the extended space, and the multitudinous band and 
chorus of the Handel orchestra or the Albert Hall perform- 
ances. Sir Michael Costa is felt to be the only man equal 
to such a task. On these occasions the fewer solos the bet- 
ter. The Israel in Egypt is the only kind of thing which 
is of the slightest use under the central transept. Even 
Mendelssohn's choruses are thrown away. ~No one heeds 
the intricate arabesque w T ork of the violins and subtle coun- 
terpoint of the wind. The crowded scores of modern com- 
posers were never intended for, and should never be pro- 
duced before, giant audiences. But still less should great 
singers tear themselves to pieces simply in contending with 
space. Mr. Sims Reeves at the Crystal Palace is no bet- 
ter than a penny trumpet in Westminster Abbey. The 
acoustic properties of the Albert Hall are very much su- 
perior to those of the Crystal Palace transept, although 
some rearrangement of the orchestra and redistribution of 
the chorus is manifestly needed before either can be heard 
to real advantage. 

We might be expected here to notice the various socie- 
ties of sacred music, but the subject is too wide, embracing 
ecclesiastical music generally, and we can not now enter 
upon it. We may, how T ever, observe in passing the popu- 
lar progress made in this department. The people of Lon- 
don in 1868 listened to shilling oratorios for the first time 
at the Agricultural Hall in the East, and St. George's Hall 
in the West End of London. And who can not bear joy- 
ful witness to the change that has passed over the choirs 
of churches and chapels during the last twenty years? 

Music is thus approaching in England to what it has ever 


been in Germany — a running commentary upon all life, the 
solace of a nation's cares, the companion of its revelry, the 
minister of its pleasure, and the inspired aid to its devotion. 


If we now enter for a moment the music-halls of the 

194 metropolis, we shall notice that the happy change 
anSSo 8 * s extending downward. The members of our 
Melodies. ca thedral choirs do not disdain to produce before 
these once despised, and, it must be confessed, sometimes 
equivocal audiences, the part-songs of Mendelssohn and the 
ballads of Schubert. 

In the better-class establishments whole evenings pass 
without any thing occurring on the stage to offend the deli- 
cacy of a lady ; while, if we go lower, we shall find the 
penny gaffs and public-house concerts coarse it may be, 
but, on the whole, moral, and contrasting most favorably 
with any thing of the kind in France.* It must be under- 
stood that I am alluding merely to the musical portion of 
these entertainments. Of late years the general increase 
of ballets and vulgar clap-trap comic songs has not tended 
to elevate the tone of our music-halls. 

There is one other branch of strictly popular music which 
seems to be considered beneath the attention of serious 
critics ; but nothing popular should be held beneath the 
attention of thoughtful people — we allude to the Negro 
Melodists now best represented by the Christy Minstrels. 
About twenty years ago, a band of enthusiasts, some black 
by nature, others by art, invaded our shores, bringing with 
them what certainly were nigger bones and banjos, and 
what professed to be negro melodies. The sensation which 
they produced was legitimate, and their success was well 

* See two admirable essays on "Art and Popular Amusement, " in 
"Views and Opinions," by that ingenious writer, Matthew Browne. 


deserved. The first melodies were no doubt curious and 
original; they were the offspring of the naturally musical 
organization of the negro as it came in contact with the 
forms of European melody. The negro mind, at work upon 
civilized music, produces the same kind of thing as the ne- 
gro mind at work upon Christian theology. The product 
is not to be despised. The negro's religion is singularly 
childlike, plaintive, and emotional. It is also singularly 
distinct and characteristic. Both his religion and his mu- 
sic arise partly from his impulsive nature and partly from 
his servile condition. The negro is more really musical 
than the Englishman. If he has a nation emerging into 
civilization, his music is national. Until very lately, as his 
people are one in color, so were they one in calamity, and 
singing often merrily with the tears wet upon his ebony 
cheek, no record of his joy or sorrow passed unaccompani- 
ed by a cry of melody or a wail of plaintive and harmonious 
melancholy. If we could divest ourselves of prejudice, the 
songs that float down the Ohio River are one in feeling and 
character with the songs of the Hebrew captives by the 
waters of Babylon. We find in them the same tale of be- 
reavement and separation, the same irreparable sorrow, 
the same simple faith and childlike adoration, the same 
wild tenderness and passionate sweetness, like music in the 
night. As might have been supposed, the parody of all 
this, gone through at St. James's Hall, does not convey 
much of the spirit of genuine negro melody, and the man- 
ufacture of national music carried on briskly by sham nig- 
gers in England is as much like the original article as a 
penny woodcut is like a line engraving. Still, such as it 
is, the entertainment is popular, and yet bears some impress 
of its peculiar and romantic origin. The scent of the roses 
may be said to hang round it still. We cherish no malig- 
nant feeling toward those amiable gentlemen at St. James's 


Hall, whose ingenious fancy has painted them so much 
blacker than they really are, and who not unfrequently be- 
tray their lily-white nationality through a thin though su- 
dorific disguise ; we admit both their popularity and their 
skill ; but we are bound to say that we miss, even in such 
pretty tunes as " Beautiful Star," the distinctive charm 
and orignal pathos which characterized " Mary Blane" and 
"Lucy Neal." 

I can not close without alluding to a very different class 
of music. 

As opera is the most irrational and unintellectual form 
195- of music, so that class of cabinet music called 

String . ' 

Quartets, string quartets is the most intellectual. The true 
musician enters, as it were, the domestic sanctuary of mu- 
sic when he sits down to listen to, or to take part in a 
string quartet. The time has gone by when men like Lord 
Chesterfield could speak of a fiddler with contempt. Few 
men would now inquire with the languid fop what fun 
there could be in four fellows sitting opposite each other 
for hours and scraping catgut ; most people understand 
that in this same process the cultivated musician finds the 
most precious opportunities for quiet mental analysis and 
subtle emotional meditation. 

The greatest masters wrote their choicest thoughts in 
this form — it is one so easily commanded and so satisfy- 
ing. The three varieties of the same instrument — violin, 
viola, and violoncello — all possessing common properties 
of sound, but each with its own peculiar quality, embrace 
an almost unlimited compass, and an equally wide sphere 
of musical expression. 

The quartet is a musical microcosm, and is to the sym- 
phony what a vignette in water-colors is to a large oil 

432 *H ' SIC JX J ' :XG LAXD. 

painting. The great quartet writers are certainly Haydn, 
Mozart, and Beethoven. Haydn is the true model. He 
attempts nothing which four violins can not do; the parts 
are exquisitely distributed, scrupulous justice is done to 
each instrument, and the form is perfect. Mozart's quar- 
tet is equally perfect as such, but much bolder and more 
spontaneous. Beethoven carried quartet writing, as he did 
every other branch of music, into hitherto untrodden re- 
gions, but, with the sure instinct of the most balanced of 
all geniuses, never into inappropriate ones. Fascinating 
as are the quartets of Spohr and Mendelssohn, as quartets 
I am bound to place them below the above great models. 
Spohr seldom distributes his parts fairly ; it is usually first 
violin with string accompaniment. Mendelssohn frequent- 
ly forgets the limits of the legitimate quartet; orchestral 
effects are constantly being attempted, and we pine at in- 
tervals for a note on the horn, while the kettle-drum is oc- 
casionally suggested. Schubert can wander on forever 
with four instruments, or any thing else — mellifluous, light- 
hearted, melancholy, fanciful by turns. When he gets half 
way through there is no reason why he should not leave 
off, and when he gets to the end there is no reason why 
he should not go on. But in this process form and unity 
are often both lost. 

The characteristics of Schumann require separate atten- 
tion. Under the general heading of cabinet music would 
be comprised the addition of the piano-forte in trios, quar- 
tets, and quintets, as also the addition of a horn, a flute, or 
a clarionet in sestets and octets. Variety is always pleas- 
ant, but none of these combinations equal the string quar- 
tet in beauty of form, or real power and balance of expres- 
sion. The piano in a trio will eke out a good deal, but it 
usually results in the strings accompanying the piano, or 
the piano accompanying the strings. Mendelssohn's two 


trios are small orchestral whirlwinds, and quite unique, but 
the trio form might be seriously demurred to as inappro- 

On the other hand, one feels the piano-forte in a quartet, 
or even a quintet, as a kind of interloper — a sort of wasp 
in a bee-hive — a sort of cuckoo in a hedge-sparrow's nest. 
One would rather see the natural bird there ; one would 
rather have the second violin in its place. Again, in oc- 
tets and sestets, splendid as are some of these composi- 
tions, we feel the orchestral form is the one aimed at, and 
consequently the poverty of the adopted one is constantly 
making itself felt. Space compels us to speak most gen- 
erally and without even necessary qualification on these 
points, and we pass on to the quartet playing that has of 
late years come before the public. 

Mysterious quartets in back rooms and retired country 
houses becoming more and more frequent, the experiment 
of public performances was at last made ; but they were 
to be for the few. The Musical Union, under Mr. Ella's 
direction, was one of the first societies which provided this 
luxury every season. It soon met with a formidable rival 
in the quartet concerts at Willis's Rooms, under Messrs. 
Sainton, Hill, Piatti, and Cooper. But the man and the 
hour were still to come. The concerts were too select and 
too expensive. Mr. Chappell flew to the rescue with a 
chosen band of heroes, foremost among whom must always 
stand M. Joachim. 

M. Joachim is the greatest living violinist ; no man is so 
nearly to the execution of music what Beethoven was to 
its composition. There is something massive, complete, 
and unerring about M. Joachim that lifts him out of the 
list of great living players, and places him on a pedestal 
apart. Other men have their specialties ; he has none. 
Others rise above or fall below themselves; he is always 



himself, neither less nor more. He wields the sceptre of 
his bow with the easy royalty of one born to reign; he 
plays Beethoven's concerto with the rapt, infallible power 
of a seer delivering his oracle, and he takes his seat at a 
quartet very much like Apollo entering his chariot to drive 
the horses of the sun. 

The second violin of the usual Monday Popular quartet 
is Herr Ries, masterly and unobtrusive. The tenor was 
until lately Mr. Blagrove, who, an admirable first violin and 
a great orchestral leader, knows how to shine any where ; 
the absence of so eminent an English artist from these 
truly national concerts is a public misfortune. Signor Pi- 
atti, the one violoncello player whom the public like best 
to hear, completes the finest cast ever heard in England. 
Of course the description of the Monday Popular players 
must vary from year to year. 

Other players of various merits constantly appear. Lot- 
to, Strauss, Wieniawski, and last, but certainly not least, 
Madame Norman Neruda, are among the best substitutes 
which have been provided for M. Joachim. Why Mr. Car- 
rodus is so seldom heard we are at a loss to conjecture. 

Mr. Charles Halle is usually seated at the piano, and as 
long as he is there the presence of a master is felt and ac- 
knowledged by all. Madame Schumann and Madame God- 
dard are also frequently heard at these concerts. 

For one shilling any one can get a seat at these con- 
certs where he can hear perfectly, and enjoy the classical 
music played in the finest style. 

Mr. Henry Holmes's quartets at St. George's Hall deserve 
honorable mention. They afford one more proof of the in- 
creasing popularity of such high-class music. Mr. Holmes 
is a violinist who does honor to our country, and whose 
reputation is increasing every year. He has for some 
years been a favorite abroad. 


The crowded and attentive audience which assembles 
every Monday night throughout the season at St. James's 
Hall is the latest and most decisive proof of the progress 
of music in England. When an audience numbering some 
thousands is so easily and frequently found, it matters little 
where it comes from. No doubt many connoisseurs are 
there, but many others also attend who have cultivated, 
and are cultivating, a general taste for certain higher forms 
of music, hitherto almost unknown in England. 


No survey of music in England, however cursory, should 
1%. fail to give some account of so pronounced a 

The Music- , ° , __ . ' XT 

ai Amateur, character as the Musical Amateur, lie may be 
a depressing subject for contemplation, but he is the best 
possible index to the musical tastes of a people. Given 
the musical amateurs of a country, and the music they 
like, and it is easy to say where the nation is in the scale 
of musical progress. We place Italy and France below 
Germany when we see that the ordinary Italian is satisfied 
with melody and a little noise, the ordinary Frenchman 
with less melody and more noise, while the German insists 
upon melody, harmony, and thematic treatment combined. 
Who are the English amateurs? What do they like? 
How do they play and sing? In the following pages these 
questions will receive some definite answers, and these an- 
swers may furnish us with a new clew to the state of mu- 
sic in England. 


The first obvious description of musical amateurs is 

i97 People who play the Piano-forte. In twen- 

pi C a°y P the W p£ tv years Mr. Broad wood has sold 45,863 pianos; 

;mo - Mr. Collard, 32,000. About 20,000 are annually 

issued from the manufactories of Great Britain, while about 


10,000 foreign pianos are annually imported. From these 
figures, I believe, it would not be difficult to show that 
about 400,000 pianos are at present in use in the British 
Islands, and that about one million persons at least an- 
swer to the description of People who play the Piano- 

All these are not amateurs, but most of them are, and 
the exceptions exist chiefly for their benefit. 

Most young ladies play the piano as an accomplishment. 
A girl's education is as much based on the piano-forte as 
a boy's is on the Latin Grammar, and too often with simi- 
lar results. A girl without musical tastes objects to Mo- 
zart, as a boy without a classical turn hates Caesar. Mean- 
while it is pleaded that the education of the sexes must be 
carried on ; that some routine must be adopted ; that what 
need not be pursued as an end is nevertheless good as a 
means; that the Latin Grammar strengthens a boy's mem- 
ory, and teaches him to study the meaning of words ; that 
the piano makes a girl sit upright and pay attention to 
details; and against the school-room view of music as 
training for mind and body we have nothing to say. But 
the other prevalent view of music as a necessary accom- 
plishment is more open to objection. 

In Germany no girl is ashamed to say she can not play 
or sing, but in England such an ill-bred admission would 
be instantly checked by mamma. The consequence is, 
that young ladies, whose honest ambition would naturally 
begin and end with Cramer's exercises in the school-room, 
are encouraged to trundle through Beethoven's sonatas in 
the drawing-room, and perhaps pass their lives under the 
impression that they are able to play the "Lieder ohne 

By all means let every girl begin by learning the piano. 
Such a chance of gaining a sympathetic companion for life 


should never be thrown away. Even to the unmusical girl 
it is valuable as a training, but to the musical girl its value 
is beyond price. As a woman's life is often a life of feel- 
ing rather than of action, and if society, while it limits her 
sphere of action, frequently calls upon her to repress her 
feelings, w 3 should not deny her the high, the recreative, 
the healthy outlet for emotion which music supplies. Joy 
flows naturally into ringing harmonies, while music has 
the subtle power to soften melancholy by presenting it 
with its fine emotional counterpart. A good play on the 
piano has not unfrequently taken the place of a good cry 
up stairs, and a cloud of ill temper has often been dispersed 
by a timely practice. One of Schubert's friends used to 
say that, although often very cross before sitting down to 
his piano, a long scramble-duet through a symphony, or 
through one of his own delicious and erratic piano-forte 
duets, always restored him to good humor. 

But if a person is not musical, piano -forte instruction 
after a certain point is only waste of time. It may be 
said, " Suppose there is latent talent ?" To this we reply 
that, as a general rule, musical talent develops early or not 
at all. It sometimes, though very seldom, happens that a 
musical organization exists with a naturally imperfect ear. 
In this case it may be worth while to cultivate the ear. 
But when the ear is bad, and there is no natural taste for 
music, we may conclude that the soil is sterile, and will 
not repay cultivation. 

If a boy has no taste for classics, when he goes to the 
University his tutor tells him to study something else for 
his degree. Why should not a girl try drawing, or paint- 
ing, or literary composition? Why should the money be 
spent on her music when she has perhaps shown some oth- 
er gift ? Many a girl with real literary or artistic taste 
has achieved excellence in nothing because her energies 


have been concentrated upon the piano, which she will 
never be able to play, or upon songs which are just as 
well left unsung. But such performances are otherwise in- 
convenient. Why am I expected to ask a young lady to 
play, although I know she can not play, is nervous, dislikes 
playing before people, and so forth ? How many are there 
w T ho would fain be spared the humiliation of exposing their 
w^eak points ! The piano is a source of trouble to them 
and to their friends. If they cry over their music lesson, 
their friends groan over the result, and it is difficult to say 
which is the worst off, the professor who has to teach, the 
pupil who has to learn, or the people who have to listen. 
But the cause of music suffers most of all. We have no 
hesitation in saying that the rubbish-heaps that accumu- 
late every year under the title of piano-forte music, and 
which do more than any thing to vulgarize musical taste 
in England, owe their existence to the unmusical people 
who are expected to play the piano. If such are to play 
at all, then indeed it is better that they should play any 
thing rather than Beethoven and Mendelssohn ; but why 
should they play at all ? 

The piano is a noble instrument, less scientifically per- 
fect than the violin and less extensive than the organ ; it 
has more resource than the first, and infinitely more deli- 
cacy than the second. With the aid of a piano we can 
realize for ourselves and for others the most complicated 
orchestral scores, as well as the simplest vocal melody : in- 
tricate harmonies lie beneath our ten fingers, and can be 
struck out as rapidly as the mind conceives them. There 
is not a single great work in oratorio, in opera, in quartet, 
in concerto, or in song, which can not be readily arranged 
for two or four hands, and be rendered, if not always with 
the real instrumental or vocal impressiveness, at least with 
unerring polyphonal accuracy. And, lastly, there has been 


written expressly for the piano a mass of music which, for 
sublimity, pathos, variety, and gradation, is equal to any 
thing hi the whole realm of musical conception, while in 
extent it probably surpasses the music written for all oth- 
er instruments put together. 

And now, what are some of the uses to which we apply 
this noble instrument, this long-suffering piano ? When 
the gentlemen in the dining-room hear that familiar sound 
up stairs, they know it is time to have tea in the drawing- 
room. Let us enter the drawing-room after dinner. The 
daughter of our hostess is rattling away at the keys, and 
quite ready for a chat at the same time ; if conversation 
comes her way, she can leave the bass out, or invent one, 
as it is only the " Senate Pathetique." She has long passed 
the conscientious stage, when an indifferent or careless per- 
formance caused her the least anxiety. She plays her fan- 
tasia now as lightly as she rings the bell, not for its own 
sake, but because it is time for the gentlemen to come up, 
or for the ladies to begin a little small-talk, or for some- 
body to make love. When she gets up another sits down, 
and continues to provide that indispensable stimulant to 
conversation called " a little music." 

It must be admitted that to be a good player is no dis- 
tinction in English society. It has its reward, no doubt, 
in the quiet happiness of long hours — hours of loving ap- 
plication ; hours of absorption ; hours lived in a world of 
subtle and delicate emotion, such as musical dreamers alone 
realize ; and, above all, real musicians have the luxury of 
meeting occasionally those who can listen to and under- 
stand them. They give, but they also receive. Good play- 
ers and good listeners are equally happy in each other's 
society. How seldom they meet in England ! how few, 
even fine amateur pianists, have any thing like a musical 
circle ! It is very seldom that a neighborhood can muster 


the materials for a Mozart or a Beethoven trio, not to say 
quartet ; and seldom that an amateur has the opportunity 
of playing a concerto of Mendelssohn's with string accom- 
paniments, or any other accompaniment than that of noisy 
children or general conversation. But no. Late years have 
witnessed some remarkable combinations, which, however 
indifferent, are often respectfully listened to. 

The harmonium and concertina force themselves upon 
198. our attention. There are certain perfect forms 

Concerted Cham- l 

ber Music. and perfect players of both these instruments ; 

but we deal not now with the master workmen, the Re- 
gondis, the Blagroves, the Tamplins, and the Engels. The 
same instrument which in the hands of these men is a thins: 
of beauty and delight, is capable of tempting the musical 
amateur into wild and tuneless excesses ! We will put it 
to any impartial person, Was there ever found in the house 
of an amateur a concertina or harmonium in tune with the 
piano ? Was there ever an amateur who could be deterred 
from playing these instruments together, however discord- 
ant the result? When there is a chance of having a duet, 
people seem to lose all sense of tune. If the concerti- 
na is only about a half semitone flat, the lady thinks she 
can manage. A little nerve is required to face the first 
few bars, but before " II Balen" is over not a scruple re- 
mains, and the increasing consternation of the audience is 
only equaled by the growing complacency of the perform- 

The same indifference to tune may be observed in the 
amateur flute and cornet. Each player has his method of 
treating the piano, which, as he tells you, is only the ac- 
companiment, and must follow him. If the piano is more 
than a semitone flat or sharp, the flute inquires whether it 
can not be tuned to his instrument. The piano replies that 


the tuner has just been, and asks whether the Ante can not 
alter his pitch. This ends in the flute trying to unscrew 
himself a little. Then he sounds a C with the piano — 
thinks it is a little better, unscrews a little more, and asks 
the piano whether that will do. The piano does not know. 
Can not flute get a bit flatter? ISTot a bit. The heat of 
the room will make it all right, and then they begin. 

The cornet is not much better, with this exception, that 
the cornet is generally ready to play alone, any where; 
for there is this peculiarity about him — he is never tired 
of playing, as some people are of hearing, the same tunes 
over and over again, and, after playing them next door for 
six months every day, if you ask him to your house, he will 
play them after dinner in your conservatory, with the same 
touching expression, and crack exactly in the same place. 
There is a composure about the flute and the cornet, an un- 
ruffled temperament, a philosophical calm, and an absolute 
satisfaction in their respective efforts, which other musi- 
cians may envy, but can not hope to rival. Other musi- 
cians feel annoyed at not accomplishing what they at- 
tempt ; the cornet and the flute tell you at once they at- 
tempt what can not be done. 

The organist is disturbed if his organ begins to cipher, 
the violinist if his string breaks, the pianist if the pedal 
squeaks; but if the flute is out of tune, or plays octaves by 
mistake, our friend is easily satisfied after unscrewing and 
screwing up again ; and the cornet, however prone to crack, 
feels quite happy after putting in a new crook, and fidget- 
ing a little with the pistons. 

The amateur violin is seldom heard in mixed society. If 
good, as he usually is, he is fastidious about accompanyists, 
still more sensitive about conversation, and won't play. If 
bad, nobody cares to ask him. However, most of us have 
come across a fine violin amateur, and enjoyed his playing 

T 2 


as much as, perhaps more than, that of many professional 
artists. It is difficult to speak of the bad violin player 
without being thought censorious; but we all know the 
shriek of a slate pencil on a slate, and how bad and wanton 
little boys use it to torment governesses. Better that than 
the scratch of a greasy bow on a bad fiddle ; and better, 
too, the boy than the man, for the boy knows he is bad 
and can be stopped, but the absorbed violinist knows not, 
neither can he be told, neither can he be stopped. 

It is difficult to explain the ascendency which the violin 
gains over the minds of its votaries for good or for evil. 
It can boast of two distinct types of admirers, between 
which, as between two poles, all the others may be said to 
vibrate. There is the man with one bad fiddle who plays 
much and miserably, and there is the man who can not 
play a note, but has collected a room full of splendid vio- 
lins, most of which remain unstrung. But we must not 
dwell on this tempting subject. We proceed to notice the 
lowest form of the solo instrumentalist. 

It is the amateur who plays by ear. Ladies will often 
gratify you by playing a little of Chopin " by ear" — that 
means, as much as they can recollect of the tune with any 
kind of bass. It would be well for all young musicians to 
remember that it is never safe to attempt Chopin, Mendels- 
sohn, and, above all, Schumann, by heart, without a most 
careful previous study of the notes, and the regular process 
of committing a piece to memory : even when once learned 
the notes should be occasionally used to refresh the mem- 
ory and insure accuracy. 

The difficulty of expressing or reproducing in notes a 
given musical idea is greater than at first sight appears. 
A piece of music is heard, it rings in your ears, you try to 
learn it, or you sit down and try to play it. If you have 
little musical culture, merely natural taste and a good ear, 


you will soon satisfy yourself, and you will say, "That is 
exactly the tune I heard." Probably it is only an imperfect 
suggestion of what you have heard. There is sure to exist 
a gap between it and the original piece. When the sub- 
ject happens to be good music, even small deviations are 
fatal to the composer's thought, and a slight change will 
suffice to vulgarize a theme, just as in poetry a word trans- 
posed may destroy the power of a fine line. Who does not 
see that a note transposed, or left out, or altered, is as fatal 
to a phrase as the following rearrangement, lately made in 
our hearing, of one of Mrs. Browning's lines is to the beau- 
ty of that line. The verse stands — 

" O supreme love ! chief misery, 
The sharp regalia are for thee." 

As improved in quotation — 

"O love supreme! chief misery, 
The sharp regalia are for thee. " 

Of course, there can be no harm in a general way of singing 
and playing by ear to amuse one's self; but how trouble- 
some it is on some occasions to hear people sing and play 
for your entertainment their so-called reproductions of the 
opera or classical music, most musicians know very well. 
But it is not easy to convince them of this; and the poor 
critic has generally to retire sad and wounded; in short, 
he is voted a rude, ill natured, or eccentric kind of person, 
and is hummed and strummed out of court. 


Let us now turn to the second great class of musical 
amateurs, The People who Sing. 

It is thought almost as rude to interrupt a lady when she 
199. is speaking as to talk aloud when she sings. Ac- 

The People L b . . . 

whoSing. cordingly, the advantages of being able to sing in 


society are obvious. The lady can at any moment fasten 
the attention of the room on herself. If a girl has a voice, 
the piano is too soon suppressed in favor of it, and the only 
chance of her becoming: a musician is thrown away. It is 
true she usually accompanies herself; that is, she dabbles 
about on the keys, and strikes a chord at the end of her 
song, always cutting out the closing bars as not of the 
" voice voicy," but the room listens, and the room applauds. 
The maiden is happy ; and mamma thinks she requires no 
more sin^inoj-lessons. 

Every one likes to understand and talk a little about 
music, and a very slender knowledge will enable an un- 
musical person to occupy a very creditable position in 
most musical parties. The following hints may prove use- 
ful. Perhaps a chorus is got up. If you are asked to sing 
bass, first make sure that all the parts are doubled. Then 
stand behind the piano with the others. You need not 
sing if you don't like, but you won't do much harm if you 
sing. If you sing loud the other bass will think he is 
wrong ; if you sing low, he will think that you are read- 
ing the music ; if you don't sing at all, he will only think 
you have lost your place ; and as the chances are he has 
never found his own, he will take no notice. The piece is 
almost sure to be "The Bearded Barley," and you can say 
at the end, "All Mendelssohn's part songs are so good." 
Perhaps some one will say " The Bearded Barley is not 
Mendelssohn's." Then you can answer, "Of course not!" 
Very likely, however, the piece may be Mendelssohn's. 
Then it is sure to be " O Hills and Vales of Pleasure," and 
at the end you can say, " Do you know another part song 
called ' The Bearded Barley ?' " Then some one is sure to 
say "Yes, but I like Mendelssohn best;" and then you oan 
answer appreciatively, " Oh, yes, of course !" When a so* 
prano duet is sung, the name of it is sure to be, "I would 


that my Love," by Mendelssohn. When a contralto sings 
alone, the song is usually " In questa tomba," by Beetho- 
ven. When a soprano sings, it is more difficult to speak 
with certainty. However, you can always, if you are at a 
loss, ask, " Which do you like best, the ballads of Virginia 
Gabriel or Claribel ?" Then, if the singer says " Virginia 
Gabriel," it is quite open to you to say " Claribel," or vice 
versa. If a tenor sings, you will not be far wrong in sup- 
posing the song to be " Spirito Gentil." If, however, it is 
neither that nor " Martha," nor " Ah ! che la morte," you 
may justly compliment him upon his original and exten- 
sive repertory. You must speak of Beethoven as " sub- 
lime, but occasionally obscure ;" of Spohr as " scientific, 
but too sickly and chromatic ;" of Mendelssohn as " fasci- 
nating;" of Schumann as "a man of some genius;" and 
you may say of Gounod that " he is very charming, but 
that you doubt whether he will last ;" and it will always 
be safe, except in the presence of really good musicians, 
to sniff at Wagner and the music of the future. 

And now, if we seem to have conveyed a somewhat harsh 
estimate of drawing-room music and drawing-room criti- 
cism under the form of mock counsel to the reader, let us 
ask whether the blots of amateur music may not be point- 
ed out as effectually in this way as in any other? Is it 
not true that a person following the above advice will be 
able to conceal his ignorance of music in almost any " at 
home" in England? And why? Simply because so few 
English people know the difference between the good and 
the bad in music, or rightly estimate its value. So many 
regard it as the most frivolous of pastimes, as a tea-bell, as 
a cloak for scandal, to drown or to promote conversation, 
to attract to self, or to outbid a rival. There is nothing 
wrong in being without ear and in caring nothing for mu- 
sic ; it is a misfortune, but it is no fault. If a man has no 


taste for conchology, he is not ashamed to say so. In Ger- 
many people never pretend to play ; in Italy they never 
pretend to sing; and if they know nothing about it, they 
can afford to be silent. Why should not some of us do 
likewise ? 

We have dwelt on a somewhat gloomy side of drawing- 
room music because few people seem to realize its serious 
defects, and, until this is done, improvement is impossible. 
But light dawns as we think of the noble amateur singers 
and fine professional performers which it is more and more 
our privilege to hear in private society. Power makes its 
own terms, and professional singers and players, beginning 
to assume a position and dignity which they ought never 
to have lost, refuse any longer to promote conversation, or 
to be turned on like machines. Let amateurs who can fol- 
low their example. If it were considered hors de rlgle for 
people to sing and play in company unless they happened 
to have both talent and cultivation, and equally objection- 
able in others to interrupt those who had, or fancied they 
had, the necessary qualifications, bad playing and bad taste 
in music would soon go out of fashion. 


We pass on to a more encouraging phase of amateur 
200. music. We find ourselves in a quiet, cheerful room 

The Quar- . . . 

tet Party, at the back oi a good house ; it is morning ; there 
are only four people present ; they are all intent upon play- 
ing ; they can all play, and there is no one present to mo- 
lest with praise or blame. Two violins, viola, and violon- 
cello, and the quartet is complete. The first violin is a 
gifted amateur, the second violin is a thoughtful gentle- 
man, perhaps an art critic, not a brilliant player, but steady, 
find never tired. Viola is a rather testy, but thoroughly 
good-natured professional, who never can quite get over 


the fact of somebody else playing first fiddle, and occa- 
sionally has to be called to order for putting in little bits 
which belong to some one of the other instruments. Vio- 


loncello is a good amateur, or perhaps a semi-professional, 
who plays a little of every instrument under the sun. 
However, these men can really make music. Let us begin 
with a light Haydn quartet — No. 63. 

It begins with seven-bars rest for the first violin, and 
seems to glide off the bows — facile, easy, rippling along- 
like a summer rivulet. Every one knows it, every one 
likes it : the smart allegro moderato, the cantabile adagio, 
just long enough, the rousing minuet and trio, and the 
smart vivace staccato, which invariably runs all the fiddlers 
off their legs, and ends with " Bravo, first fiddle !" and a 
good laugh at violoncello and tenor, who have too often 
been dancing through the movement with the light and 
airy gait of elephants. But now all four have whetted 
their swords — rosined their bows, we mean — and feel eager 
for more serious work. Beethoven is put up on the desks. 
Let us choose the first of the set in F. What an opening 
movement ! Good, broad music, nothing labored or ob- 
scure, but inspiration every where flowing from a full fount. 
It is phrased like a symphony, and yet all is fairly within 
the compass of the four instruments. The slow movement 
— than which nothing more tender and lofty was ever in- 
vented — tries the first violin ; and our professional tenor, 
who is much dissatisfied with Primo Violino's reading of 
the closing bars, kindly fiddles them over in the right way, 
to the disgust of first fiddle. But in the trio that pre- 
sumptuous fiddle is fairly beaten. He is a good player, 
but a scramble is all he can make of it. He masters, how- 
ever, the not difficult bravura passage at the end of the 
closing movement, and comes in for a compliment from his 
friend and mentor the cantankerous tenor. Then there is 


a general motion in favor of Mozart. It must be one of 
those six perfect works dedicated to " Papa Haydn." Aft- 
er this, as a complete contrast, we select a solo quartet of 
Spoh r, not very hard, although so showy; and then, every 
one having got into full swing, we may be able to rattle 
through Mendelssohn's canzonet before the lunch-bell rings. 
Four hours of it in the morning might seem enough; but 
that is nothing to the quartet player. After lunch those 
four men will begin again, and work away till dusk. Then 
they will go out for a turn in the park or by the sea be- 
fore dinner, and will very likely set to again after dinner, 
and play from nine till twelve o'clock. In musical coun- 
try houses it is not uncommon to have a quartet party 
staying in the house, and then woe to the unmusical ! The 
best quartet work is no doubt done in the morning; but 
the quartet is irrepressible ; it may break out at all times, 
and any where — suddenly on the lawn, in summer ; in the 
dining-room, after dinner ; in very hot weather, in some 
sonorous housekeeper's room ; even in the pantry, all over 
the drawing-room, in the library, on the balcony, or up 
stairs in any of the bedrooms. 

But we must not linger. Converse with these excep- 
201. tionably fine amateurs spoils us for the kind of 

The Scratch J ... 

Quartet. performance which it is now our painful duty to 
describe, and which we may call the Scratch Quartet. 
Our friend Harmonics, who is rather a good player, has in- 
vited three worse than himself. They come with their 
wives, and a musical friend is perhaps asked in to listen. 
The ladies are not to talk, and the friend is not to talk ; 
the} T are to listen. Harmonics leads off with a Haydn. 
Our heavy friend, with greasy bow and inferior violin, 
stumbles after him, tenor scrapes placidly — flat, of course, 
but not unhappy, for he has a bad ear. The neighboring 


organist, rather glad of a little violoncello practice, grins 
at the noise, but goes on. It seems a point of honor with 
these men not to stop. They are all wrong, and they know 
it. But first fiddle pretends he has never got out, second 
fiddle declares he was beating time (which he certainly 
was, with his foot loud enough to be heard all over the 
room), and therefore couldn't be wrong (which does not 
follow). Tenor smiles, and has no opinion. 'Cello thought 
they would get right somehow if they pulled on through 
the breakers into the smooth water, commonly known as 
"the place where the subject begins again." After each 
double bar there is a regular discussion, in which each per- 
former defends himself, and brings counter-charges, and 
then the Adagio begins. Second violin now has a chance ; 
the theme has come his way at last. He plays them's for- 
tissimo; — he rasps the accompaniment, so that Harmonics 
can not hear himself; but, of course, if No. 2 will hack and 
hew, he must play out. The violoncello will not be out- 
done — even the tenor is roused at last — and all seem to rush 
headlong upon the music with screams of discordant sound, 
until, apparently maddened by their own scraping, they 
finish in a sort of wild scrunch, which they call " coming 
in all right in the end." The ladies exclaim, "How beau- 
tiful !" Musical friend says it's delightful, and, remember- 
ing another engagement, is off in a hurry, and then these 
infatuated men begin again. At last outraged nature her- 
self protests. Even Harmonics is exhausted. No. 2 thinks 
they have done enough. Tenor is simply sleepy and pen- 
sive. Violoncello can hardly lift what he calls " his strad" 
It is late — a glass of wine and a sandwich — a couple of 
cabs. The reader heaves a sigh of relief. They are gone, 
and may they ne'er come back again ! 

Out of Quartet Societies, good, bad, and indifferent, comes 


202. the Okciiestral Musical Society, or, as it is 

Orchestral ' 

Societies, sometimes called, the Symphony Society. The 
theory of these societies seems to be, that a good many 
who can not play by themselves can play very well all to- 
gether. The amateurs of the band usually supply a few 
violins, violoncellos, a flute, perhaps two, let us hope but 
one cornet, and any number of volunteers for the drums. 
The rest are professionals, who supply a leader on the vio- 
lin, brass, clarionet, oboe, as required, and an excellent pro- 
fessional gentleman, who conducts with a baton. How 
ever the public performances are got through is a wonder, 
for the rehearsals can not be said to be got through at all. 

Impelled by the noblest aspirations, nothing will daunt 
our devoted band ; not Beethoven's C minor, not Mendels- 
sohn's Italian Symphony, not Weber's overtures. Haydn's 
symphonies, which they might play, are soon voted slow ; 
Handel's music is out of date ; even Mozart is too easy a 
triumph. A few Italian overtures they could perhaps man- 
age, but then they are classical players, and can not stoop 
to that sort of thing. 

" Seven o'clock punctually, if you please, gentlemen, for 
the next rehearsal !" says Mr. Amadeus le Baton, at the 
end of the practice; and at seven punctually Amadeus en- 
ters a perfectly empty room. There are about twenty or 
thirty music-desks waiting. The conductor's desk stands 
facing him. Presently in comes a man with a violin case. 
Then another, dragging a double bass. In about a quarter 
of an hour the leader and one first fiddle have arrived, but 
as first fiddle is above playing second, nothing can be done. 
Le Baton pulls out his watch, and upbraids those who have 
not arrived to those who have. Perhaps by a quarter to 
eight they are ready to begin ; but to begin what ? Tun- 
ing, of course. Some people admire the tuning of the Han- 
del Orchestra ; others have been known to appreciate the 


tuning at Exeter Hall more than the performance. But for 
a dreadful orgie in sound — the very memory of which is cal- 
culated to make you start in your dreams for months after- 
Avard, under the impression that all the cats and dogs which 
have ever been drowned in the Thames have come to life 
again, and are howling round your pillow — for a row com- 
pared with which the noise of a menagerie about feeding- 
time is positively agreeable — commend me to the tuning 
of an amateur orchestra. But we have more to hear than 
that. In the midst of it all, some violin will play the Car- 
naval de Venise, the flute will practice his bits, the violon- 
cello tries to do fiddle passages up high on his finger-board, 
the cornet has the effrontery to add to the confusion by 
playing a waltz, some one behind him is imitating the howl 
of a dog or the squeak of a rat on the reed of his clarionet. 
Kettle-drums is pretending to tune by alternately thump- 
ing the parchment and screwing at the side with a key. 
Triangle, when pulled up, solemnly declares he is practi- 
cing his part in Q flat ! 

At last they do seem to be off, every one playing as if 
his were the only instrument in the world, for piano is the 
last word the amateur learns. Still the conductor does 
not complain until Drums (who has two hundred bars rest 
and then two little notes very soft) comes down half a bar 
too soon with an absolutely deafening roll. The flute is 
thrown completely out ; the cornet seems much excited by 
that noble " rataplan," and keeps on his note a bar too long. 
The violin bows are literally at sixes and sevens, like the 
pendulums in a watchmaker's window. Amadeus may 
stamp, Amadeus may shout, Amadeus may beat his poor 
little baton to bits against the desk, no one heeds him, or 
ever thinks of looking at him ; the band took some time 
to get ready, but now they are off for better for worse, and 
who can stop them ? Even if half the band stops, the other 


half will go on. Poor Amadeus le Baton ! what can he 
do? It is obvious that he can do nothing, and after shout- 
ing himself hoarse, and gesticulating wildly, he gives it up, 
claps both hands to his ears, and gazes despondingly at the 
" score" before him. 

The Vocal Association" or Singing-Class, in its various 

203. forms, is a more popular and generally a more 
ciations. successful affair. All over the country such so- 
cieties are now being established, very often on Mr. Hul- 
lah's, sometimes also on the Tonic-Sol-Fa system, both of 
which enable a very moderate professor to teach the gen- 
eral principles of part-singing to large numbers with com- 
parative ease. As a part of parochial machinery the sing- 
ing-class is most valuable. Since young people w r ill have 
amusement, what more delightful pursuit could be found 
for them than music ? And since they persist in taking a 
peculiar delight in each other's society, where could they 
better meet than at the music-class in the school-room or 
town hall, when their minds are to some extent occupied, 
discipline maintained, and a healthy and exhilarating rec- 
reation provided for them ? 

The parochial aspect of singing societies has hardly been 
sufficiently recognized. Literary institutes, popular lec- 
tures, elocution, French, arithmetic, or drawing classes, will 
all grow naturally out of the musical fount. But of this 
we can not speak here more particularly. 

We have discussed instrumental and vocal societies sep- 
arately, but perhaps amateurs succeed best w T hen the two 
are combined. A piano, harmonium, or both, will very well 
eke out a small but by no means inefficient string band. 
The organist will conduct, choruses will be got up at sepa- 
rate rehearsals, the prima donna of the neighborhood will 
consent to learn the principal solos, and an oratorio will 


be forthcoming about Christmas time. That oratorio is in- 
variably "Judas Maccabseus;" and, indeed, it is but anoth- 
er proof of the simple and sublime genius of Handel that 
he should be welcomed at Exeter Hall, and not out of place 
iii a village school-room. 

But we have already chatted too long about Amateur 
Music in England. As we look back upon the foregoing 
pages, truth forbids us to tone down some painful and un- 
palatable admissions; but while it can not be said that we 
have omitted to point out blots in the existing state of 
things, we may be accused of gliding too lightly over 
much that is really hopeful and striking in English music- 
al taste. 

We seem, as a people, to be musically many-sided, unbal- 
anced, and, above all, unschooled by the inexorable laws 
and conditions of true art. We deal in heights and depths 
— we abound in inconsistencies which admit of no recon- 
ciliation. We pay our shilling and rush to hear the "Mes- 
siah" at the Agricultural Palace, then we go home and sing 
Glover. We sit for two hours in St. James's Hall to hear 
Beethoven's or Spohr's quartets, and the next day we buy 
"God bless the Prince of Wales." 

All this is simple fact. But it is fair to add that while, 
for want of high national models, English musical taste falls 
below that of France or Italy, it rises higher than either 
in its honest enthusiasm for the great German masters. 

It may be that we are on the eve of a creative period in 
the history of English music. This confusion of ideas may 
be nothing but the coming together of what will by-and- 
by develop into our national school. This eclectic taste, 
which at times looks much like chaos, may also be the fer- 
ment out of w T hich a new and beautiful life is ready to be 

As an original artist will be caught and absorbed by one 

4 5 4 M l SIC IN ENGLAND. 

influence after another, being possessed by his art long be» 
fore he learns to possess himself — as he will at times ap- 
pear to be swayed to and fro by various distinct impulses, 
without being able to bring them into harmonious relation- 
ship — as we may watch him year by year melting down 
one style after another in the crucible of his genius, until 
he has gained fine gold, and stamped it with his own im- 
age, even so we seem to see England now calling in the 
musical currencies of the world, which she may before long 
reissue with the hall-mark of her originality and genius. 


The last sign of our musical times which we feel dis- 
204. posed here to dwell upon may be summed up 

coraemufe.'and * n tne onrinous words " Street Music." There 
Hurdy-gurdy. are man y problems in connection with nation- 
al music which have never been solved. It would be diffi- 
cult to find any country without some kind of popular 
music; but why have some nations called in the aid of sci- 
ence, and developed national schools of music, like France, 
Italy, Germany, while others, like Russia, Spain, and, above 
all, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, have never got beyond 
rude national ballads? Again, how strange it is to find 
the old popular forms running side by side with the new 
scientific forms of modern music without losing their dis- 
tinctive features ! 

Mr. Ap-Thomas tells us that the Welsh harper to this 
day preserves his ancient customs. "Xow, as of old, he 
may be seen, as soon as the sun rises, in the large oak 
chair (which, as a fixture, stands at the entrance of every 
neat and tidy Welsh inn), welcoming, harp in hand, the 
weary traveler, or solacing the hours of friends never tired 
of listening to his national- strains. Many of these harp- 
ists are blind and very old." 


The primitive nature of the bagpipes would seem to 
need no comment ; but, curiously enough, although the 
bagpipes play many of the old national tunes, they are not 
the old national instrument of Scotland, nor were the oldest 
tunes composed for the bagpipes, as is usually supposed. 
Up to the sixteenth century the harp was the national in- 
strument of both Ireland and Scotland, and the national 
melodies of both countries were not dissimilar. The Irish 
and Scotch melodies, reduced to their simplest expressions, 
abound in thirds, fifths, and octaves. They were composed 
for the harp, which was strung with wire, and very reso- 
nant. To avoid discord, it became necessary that every 
note should form a concord with the last, and hence the 
peculiar and forever pleasing character of Scotch and Irish 

The abominable characteristics of the bagpipes are not 
really Scotch, but French. How the bagpipes superseded 
the harp in Scotland has always been considered a mys- 
tery. We believe it may be traced to French influence, 
and distinctly to the period of Mary Queen of Scots. At 
all events, about that time, toward the close of the six- 
teenth century, the harp went out of fashion, and the bag- 
pipe came in. Is it unlikely that in the foreign train of 
Mary Stuart there may have been players of the national 
cornemuse, or French bagpipes, who managed to set a fash- 
ion which, for some reason or other, took root and has last- 
ed ever since? The attempt to graft on Scotland foreign 
customs, instead of adopting Scotch ones, is entirely con- 
sistent with what we know of the Queen of Scots' policy. 

But the cornemuse of southern France is perhaps the 
most striking instance of the way in which primitive na- 
tional music may continue wholly uninfluenced by modern 
culture. The cornemuse has struck the key-note of all 
really national French music, and cornemuse forms of mei* 


ody are not only to be found in the modern popular French 
ballads, but abound in the operas of Auber and Gounod; 
yet the corncinuse itself remains unchanged, nor are its 
melodies ever varied in the direction of modern music. 
Madame Sand, in one of her amusing digressions, gives an 
account of a conversation she had with a cornernuse play- 
er at a French fair. He did not make his tunes — they 
were all made by the wood-cutters in the great forest: if 
a man wished to excel, he must go into the woods and 
catch the melodies from these wild men. The tunes were 
handed down from generation to generation, and might be 
endlessly varied ; but there was no development, no change 
in their structure, nor had there been, as far as she could 
ascertain, for centuries. 

Now, speaking generally, the state of music in Scotland, 
Ireland, Wales, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, and Spain 
is not wholly unintelligible. Scotland, Ireland, and Wales 
have no schools, but they have national ballads : music 
there is a wild germ, that, for some reason or other, has re- 
mained undeveloped by civilization. The same thing may 
be said of Spain and Russia. In France a regular school 
of music has appropriated the rude popular elements (as a 
point du depart), which nevertheless remain alongside of 
the music-school in all their primitive simplicity. In Italy 
the same phenomenon has occurred, only the connection 
between the Abruzzi mountaineer, with his pipe stuck into 
an inflated goatskin, and the Italian opera, is less obvious 
than that between the cornemuse player and modern 
French song. 

In Germany, however, where music has attained its high- 
est and most truly national development, the rude element 
will soon have readied the vanishing point; hardly an old 
melody of mountain or vale but what has received a new 
netting: our idea of a Volkslied is something in two or 


three parts by Mendelssohn, or, at all events, a charming 
air with a graceful accompaniment. Even the wild airs of 
Poland have been remodeled by Chopin. The " yodelling" 
of the peasants is generally heard in combination with de- 
licious harmonies unknown to their forefathers, and the 
Swiss " hurdy-gurdy" is probably the last remnant of bar- 
barism to be found in the direction of Germany. 


But what shall be said of England ? We can imagine 
205. the nations passing before us, each represented 

The Organ- . r ° ' . l 

grinder. by its popular form of street music. Germany 
comes with a band of singers, followed by a band of men 
playing on all kinds of musical instruments. France comes 
fresh from the woods with her cornemuse. Italy issues 
from the mountains with that tuneful and fascinating goat- 
skin and pipe, so finely rendered by M. Gounod in Mirella. 
Spain comes with a bandoline ; Scotland with the bag- 
pipes ; Ireland and Wales with harps of well-known na- 
tional form and proportion. Even Russia sings a good 
bass tune, and blows a horn well, and England brings up 
the rear with — a policeman requesting an organ-grinder 
to move on ! 

Indeed, that man plays all the favorite tunes. It is true 
he is not English, but he represents the popular tastes in 
music. Does he play national melodies? Not many — 
chiefly the melodies of other countries, or what will pass 
for them with the million ; but he does grind certain Eng- 
lish ballads too, claptrap sort of jingles — not especially na- 
tional, or especially any thing; he can not be said to play 
them ; no fancy, or originality, or taste is displayed, except 
by the monkey who sits on his shoulder ; the performance 
from first to last is a grind. In the streets of other coun- 
tries you seldom meet with foreign musicians — at least 



not in France, Germany, and Italy ; but who will deny 
that the staple of street music in England is organ-grind- 
ing ? And the grinder is a foreigner, who only grinds a 
few English tunes under protest. In fact, " He's a Pal o' 
mine" and " Jolly Dogs" are used as gold leaf to gild pills 
like " Casta Diva" and the " Carnaval de Venise." 

But as the organ-grinder is a great fact, and perhaps, in a 
survey of street music in England, the most prominent fact, 
he deserves a few moments' calm consideration. There are 
big organs drawn by a donkey, and little organs carried 
by boys ; nondescript boxes with a cradle at the top and 
two babies, drawn by a woman ; uprights on a stick with 
a little handle, turned by a crazy old man ; chests open in 
front and shut at the back, or shut in the front and open 
at the back. There are flute organs, with a wonderful sys- 
tem of wooden pipes, visible through glass ; great magni- 
fied accordions, played somehow with a handle — horrid 
things, which grind only the Old Hundredth and a chant 
on metal pipes. There are tinkling cupboards, which re- 
mind one of Dickens's piano-forte with the works taken 
out, so irregular and uncertain is the effect of the handle 
upon the tune. There are illustrated organs, with Chinese 
mandarins performing conjuring tricks in a row, or Nebu- 
chadnezzar's band ; and there are organs with a monkey, 
triangle, bones, tambourine, or whistle obligato. Every 
man has probably had moments in his life when he has not 
been sane upon the question of barrel organs. He has per- 
haps been placed in difficult circumstances. Let us say 
he occupies a corner house. On one side, at the bottom 
of the street, commences the " Chickaleary Bloke ;" on the 
other side, at the bottom of another street, is faintly heard 
"Polly Perkins:" both are working steadily up to a point 
— that point is his corner house — let us say your own cor- 
ner house. You are in your study writing poetry ; nearer 


and nearer draw the minstrels, regardless of each other, 
and probably out of each other's hearing, but both heard 
by you in your favorable position. As they near the point 
the discord becomes wild and terrible ; you rush into the 
back study, but the tom-tom man is in the yard ; you rush 
out of the front door to look for a policeman — there is 
none ; you use any Italian words you can recollect ; at the 
same time, pointing to your head, you explain that your 
father lies dangerously ill up stairs, and that several ladies 
are dying in the neighborhood ; you implore the Italian to 
move on, and the scene ends in No. 1 slowly grinding down 
the street which No. 2 came up, and number 2 grinding up 
the street which No. 1 has just come down. At such mo- 
ments we are apt to speak recklessly on the great subject 
of barrel organs, and we sometimes — idle employment ! — 
write letters to the newspapers, which are pardonably one- 
sided. The fact is, the organ question, like all other great 
questions, has two sides to it, although we seldom hear but 

Let not those who write abusive letters to the newspa- 
pers, and bring in bills to abolish street music, think they 
will be able to loosen the firm hold which the barrel-or- 
ganist has over the British public. Tour cook is his friend, 
your housemaid is his admirer ; the policeman and the bak- 
er's young man look on him in the light of a formidable 

But, for once, let us speak a good word for him. We 
know all that can be said against him, let us now plead 
his cause a little. His sphere is large; he conquers more 
worlds than one ; his popularity is not only wide, but va- 
ried : he enters many clean and spacious squares, and little 
chubby faces, well-born and rosy, look out from high-railed 
nursery windows, and as they look out he looks up, and 
baby is danced at the bars and stops crying directly, and 


Tommy forgets his quarrel with Johnny, and runs to the 
window too, and tears are wiped and harmony is restored 
in many and many a nursery, and nurse herself finds the 
penny and smiles, and " organ-man" pockets the penny and 
smiles, and plays five more tunes in for the money, and lifts 
his hat, and waves " ta-ta !" in Italian, and walks off to 
"fresh fields and pastures new" — and isn't it worth the 
penny ? 

And where does he wander to now — that happy, easy- 
tempered son of the South ? Ah ! he has no proud looks ; 
and, though he has just played to members of the aristoc- 
racy, he is willing to turn as merrily for the lowest of the 

I meet him in the dingy alleys of the great city — -I meet 
him in the regions of garbage and filth, where the atmos- 
phere inhaled seems to be an impartial mixture of smoke 
and decomposition, and where the diet of the people seems 
to consist of fried herrings and potato parings : there is our 
organ-man — and there, at least, we may bless him — grind- 
ing away to the miserable, sunken, and degraded denizens 
of Pigmire Lane or Fish Alley. Let him stay always there 
— let him grind ever thus. I confess it does my heart 
good to see those slatternly women come to their doors, 
and stand and listen, and the heavy, frowning, coal -be- 
smeared men lean out of the windows with their pipes, 
and, forgetting hunger and grinding poverty, hushing also 
the loud oath and blasphemy for a little season, smile with 
the pleasure of the sweet sounds. Through that little 
black window with the cracked panes you can see the lame 
shoemaker look up for a moment, and, as he resumes the 
long-drawn-out stitches with both hands, it is with coun- 
tenance relaxed, and almost pleasurable energy. The pale- 
faced tailor looks out from the top story (yes ; like a beam 
of sunshine the music has struck through him) ; he forgets 

BANDS. 461 

the rent, and the work, and the wages, and the wretched- 
ness of life. It is the end of the day ; it is lawful to rest 
for a moment and listen, and they do listen — the men and 
women clustering in groups on their door-steps, and leaning 
from the windows above, and the children — oh ! the chil- 
dren ! I look down the alley, and suddenly it is flooded 
with the light of the low sun ; it smites the murky atmos- 
phere into purple shades, and broad, warm, yellow light 
upon the pathway, and glitters like gold leaf upon the win- 
dow-panes ; and the children — the children are dancing all 
down the alley, dancing in long vistas far down into the 
sunny mist, two and two, three and three, but all dancing, 
and dancing in time ; and their faces — many poor pale faces, 
and some rosy ones too — their faces are so happy, and the 
whole alley is hushed, save only for the music and the 
dancing of the children. 

I bless that organ-man — a very Orpheus in hell ! I bless 
his music. I stand in that foul street where the blessed 
sun shines, and where the music is playing ; I give the man 
a penny to prolong the happiness of those poor people, of 
those hungry, pale, and ragged children, and, as I retire, I 
am saluted as a public benefactor ; and was ever pleasure 
bought so cheap and so pure ? 


Toward evening we find the organ-grinder fairlv ex- 
206. pelled from some quarters of the town — from the bet- 
Bands. ter s t ree ts and the more respectable squares. What 
we may have striven in vain to accomplish, what there was 
no policeman at hand to do, has been triumphantly effect- 
ed by the second great fact of street music — The Geeman 
Band. The full-blown brass band, with drums, plays fine 
music, and is patronized in high places. The men wear 
uniforms, and are from six to twelve in number. The head 


man leads on the clarionet, arranges the music, and is gen- 
erally a capital theoretical and practical musician. Every 
man carries his own stand of music, and, by an arrange- 
ment of strings and weights, can set it up and play through 
any moderate hurricane. The hardiness of these men is 
astonishing. They stand in cutting draughts at the cor- 
ners of the streets ; they will play through any ordinary 
shower. The cornet executes variations in the snow, the 
drum keeps himself warm in frosty weather by a close ap- 
plication to business, the flute chirps and twitters w r ith the 
thermometer at zero, when other people can not even w T his- 
tle. The men with the great brass tubes and serpents 
pour forth volumes of breath on tropical nights, when oth- 
er people can hardly breathe; the triangle man has the 
lightest time of it, but then he is expected to walk about 
and sue for coppers ; indeed, that appears to be his real 
business — the triangle is only his pastime. 

As we sit with our windows open in the summer even- 
ings, we can hear them playing at the corner of the street. 
Now it is Masaniello, dashed off with great fire, and gen- 
erally taken too fast ; then a selection from Faust, or the 
last new opera chopped up, sometimes very cleverly, for 
street use. On these occasions the principal instruments 
play the " arias," and one often regrets that men who play 
so well have not had more opportunities of hearing the 
songs which they are the means of making so widely pop- 
ular. The airs are constantly taken at a pace or in a style 
which proves that the player has never heard them on the 
stage, nor has the faintest notion of what they mean. 

Although forced to play chiefly Italian and French over- 
tures, opera selections, fire-work quadrilles, cataract waltzes, 
etc., to catch the public, the German feeling will creep out, 
and is not unkindly received. Homcepathic doses of Haydn, 
Mozart, or Beethoven are administered in the shape of a 


slow movement, allegretto, or minuet and trio out of some 
symphony, and these, inserted, sandwich -like, between a 
" Slap Bang" polka and " Fra Diavolo," go down very well. 
But as we contemplate the model German band, the scene 
changes, and we find ourselves, as in some bad dream, list- 
ening to a hideous parody. Four poor fellows have got 
together, the sport of a cruel destiny; none of their instru- 
ments are in tune ; the public will not hear them nor pay 
them ; their own ears have become vitiated ; they have 
learned to regard any brass instruments blown together 
anyhow as a German band. Of course, they do not long 
hang together; some of them get happily drafted into big- 
ger bands, others pair off, and we thus have that form of 
street music which may be called the Br ass Band dissolved. 
This may mean one of two things : it may mean either the 
Brass icithout the Band, or the Band without the Brass. 

The Brass icithout the Band means generally a cornet 
^ J* 07 - . , and a serpent, who undertake to perform " Su- 

The Brass with- x 7 r 

out the Band, ono il Tromba Trepido ;" sometimes the ser- 
pent does "II Balen," or at least any part of it which hap- 
pens to be within the compass of his instrument. On these 
occasions the cornet flourishes about wildly, and appears 
to be carrying on a kind of guerrilla warfare with his 
panting antagonist, which ends in the successful demoli- 
tion of the latter, who finally wheezes and puffs himself to 
death, while the cornet screams a paean of victory. At 
other times the cornet leads off with " Ah ! che la morte," 
while the serpent, coming to life again, gasps in an explo- 
sive manner. Before long it usually happens that the ser- 
pent, jealous of the cornet's supremacy, absorbs himself 
into a band again, and the cornet, if he does not go and dd 
likewise, wanders away to enter into a fruitless competition 
with the "organ-man" in Fish Alley, or tries to get a preca 


rious living off "The Blue Bells of Scotland" in front of a 
third-rate public house in a deserted quarter of the city. 

If the Brass without the Band can fall to a lower depth 
still, it is when he seats himself on the top of a van full of 
tipsy Foresters, and, after sharing their potations during 
the daytime, "joins in" frantically with the chorus of luna- 
tics as they drive home through the streets of the city, 
making night hideous with bellow and blare. We may 
here take leave of the Brass without the Band. 

The second part of the Brass Band dissolved is the Band 
208. without the Brass* which generally means a 

The Band with- . & J 

out the Brass, flute or a clarionet solus. Unlike the " brass," 
the "wood" never walk a road together. As they are both 
solo instruments, the rivalry would be too bitter; and, find- 
ing a lonely life intolerable, they soon join themselves to, 
or go to make up, what may be called the third great fact 
of street music — the String Band. 

The highest form of the string band is too seldom seen. 
209 - It consists of from six to twelve performers — two 

The String . r 

Band. violins, tenor, violoncello or double bass, flute, clar- 
ionet, or the above doubled, or in such other various pro- 
portions as time and circumstances may allow of. We 
have met with them at sea-side places in fine weather, and 
occasionally in the more retired parts of the city in the 
afternoon. But as stringed instruments in any perfection 
are delicate things, the expense of keeping them together 
in any number and efficiency is great; and the German 
bands, both louder and hardier in organization, drive them 
out of the field. For some reason, these large string bands 
are generally English; they play excellent music, but are 
not so popular or so well paid as their German rivals. 
Another form of the string band, however, is the most 


popular and the best paid of any street music ; but, from 
its very delicacy and excellence, its sphere of operation is 
restricted as to time and place, and few itinerant musicians 
seem to combine the necessary qualifications for success. 
Visitors to Brighton have all noticed the great rival to the 
excellent German band on the beach in the shape of four 
Italian musicians. The leader, Signor Beneventano, is a 
fine violin-player out of doors, although the writer discov- 
ered that in a room he is somewhat coarse in tone and ex- 
ecution, which in great measure accounts for his success in 
the open air. He is accompanied by a harp, a second vio- 
lin, and a flute. Each man is capital in his department, 
and each man knows his place. This little band of accom- 
plished players forms the centre for a group of attentive 
listeners, who are regaled with charming versions of the 
modern opera, the primo violino occasionally playing solos 
with excellent pathos and effect. We have seen shillings, 
half crowns, and even gold put into the cap, in return for 
which regular printed programmes are distributed. But 
at the first spot of rain or gust of wind — in the middle of 
a passage or "scena," however touching — Signor Beneven- 
tano signals to stop, packs up fiddle and bow, a cloth is 
hastily flung over the harp, the flute is unscrewed, the mu- 
sic folded up, all made " taut," and the artists retire. The 
brass band thinks them poor creatures. 

But if we seldom hear either what we may call the 
210 Orchestral String Band or the Italian Miniature 
Banddis D - g Hand, the String Band dissolved is, alas! always 
solved. with U s. It is a harp and a fiddle. The harpist 
is generally a man with an ear for time, but not for tune ; 
the fiddler has an ear for tune, but none for time. The 
fiddler can afford to be in tune, because he has only four 
strings; but the harpist, who has forty, very naturally can 



not. We have heard people wonder how the harpists can 
keep their strings from breaking — they don't. Others ask 
how it is possible in the open air to have so many strings in 
any sort of tune — they never are. The picked Italian band 
is fairly in tune, and that is a wonder. But though in the 
String Band dissolved there is much to regret, there is 
nothing to wonder at, except it be how such people ever 
get a living. The sangfroid of the harpist is great — one 
accompaniment does for all times and tunes; or, if he has 
different accompaniments, he never fits them on to their 
right tunes ; and if for a couple of bars he blunders into 
the right measure, he does not notice it before he gets 
wrong again. A cat might walk over the wires with quite 
as much, probably a very similar, effect. But he is outdone 
by the determination of the violinist, who is superior to all 
accompaniment, and treats the harpist like a lackey. He 
does not tell him when he is going to begin, how long he is 
going on, or when he means to stop ; indeed, he is generally 
much the better man of the two, and might play a respect- 
able fourth-rate second violin at a third-class theatre if 
he practiced hard, and did not show such overweening 
confidence in his variations on the " Carnaval de Venise." 
Where will that man end ? Cross the street, and we can 
show you. Yonder comes an old blind man with a know- 
ing dog who is constantly persuading him that it is neces- 
sary to move on whenever he is playing or begins to play a 
tune. He has thus got into the habit of walking. He is 
weak and old with drink before his time, and does not play 
much now except on the open strings. Sometimes it is his 
wife who leads him ; now he is blind she keeps the drink 
from him, and prolongs his life a little. One day she will 
sell his old fiddle ; they will go into the workhouse togeth- 
er, and the String Band will be completely dissolved. 



We must here notice a large class of nondescript street 
211. musicians — chiefly self-made men. We may call 

Miscellane- . , 

ous Artists, these the fourth great fact in street music, and 
treat them under the head of Miscellaneous Artists. 
Many of them are men of strong original powers, subjected 
to the most eccentric development. We remember one 
strange man who bore the appearance of a North American 
Indian armed to the teeth. He was hung round, saddled, 
propped up, sat upon, wedged in, and stuck all over gener- 
ally with some two dozen or more instruments, and boasted 
that he could play most of them simultaneously. A drum, 
worked with a wire by one foot, rattled above his head ; his 
mouth moved round a semicircle, blowing into such things 
as Pan-pipes, flutes, clarionets, horns, and other tubes con- 
veniently slung to his neck like an ox's cradle ; one hand 
moved an accordion tied to his thigh, while a triangle jin- 
gled from his w r rist ; the other hand played the bones, while 
the elbow clapped a tambourine fixed to his side ; on the 
inside of his knees were cymbals, which he kept knocking 
together. There was now only one foot and ankle left, 
and on that ankle he had bells, which rang with every mo- 
tion. We describe from memory, and doubt whether we 
have detailed half the instruments. If Julius Csesar had 
ever met that man, he would have felt quite ashamed of 
himself for not being able to do more than three things at 
a time. 

Then we have, at the sea-side, the Bohemian dwarfs on 
little three-legged stools, with tiny bandolines, strumming 
away almost inaudibly, but apparently quite content, and 
remunerated out of pity. 

Then there is the piano on wheels, which goes about till 
one day it gets rained on unmercifully and bursts. And 


the harmoDium on wheels, which in a very little time does 
nothing but " cipher," and has to retire into private life. 
There is the street Picco, who plays cleverly on the penny 
whistle, and the street Bonnay, who plays with hammers 
on a wooden instrument ; another plays with hammers on 
bits of metal, another on bits of glass, another on regular 
musical glasses, another on bells, and another on strings ; 
but the most original of this class is a man who produces 
singularly beautiful effects by using two balls of India-rub- 
ber to set in vibration a perfectly tuned system of musical 
glasses. The India-rubber is used to rub the edge of the 
glass as children rub dessert-bowls with wet fingers, and 
the sound elicited is the same. This man plays pathetic 
tunes with great taste and extraordinary execution. He 
has lately substituted a series of glass tubes. 

Having got thus far in my meditations, it occurred to me 
that it was time to pass from instrumental to vocal music; 
but the transition seemed abrupt : there must be a connect- 
ing link. I think I have discovered that missing link in the 
person of the " tom-tom" man. He is both vocal and in- 
strumental. Many persons who have not studied the ques- 
tion may suppose that he only beats the tom-tom ; but this 
is an error. On very hot days, if you go close up to him, 
you will perceive that he sings what are doubtless the na- 
tional melodies of his native land. As far as we can make 
out, they are as simple as they are plaintive, and consist 
mainly in the constant repetition of 

" Yow, vow, aie ! y agger, vow, yow." 

Here, then, we may be said to have a link between instru- 
mental and vocal street music. 



Vocal street music divides itself naturally into ballad 
217. and chorus, or solo and part songs. The street 

Vocal Street _. ,. _ . . . .. _ 

Music. ballads emanate from the music-halls and penny 

gaffs. And, of all the encouraging facts in connection with 
popular music in England, this — our fifth fact — of Ballad 
Music is the least. This is the form in which whatever 
there is national in English music is uttered, and what ut- 
terances we have here ! Every now and then, it is true, a 
really graceful ballad, such as, "When other lips," "Jea- 
nette and Jeannot," gets into general vogue ; but, as a rule, 
the really popular songs are those that minister to the low- 
est rollicking tastes, such as " Champagne Charley," or to 
the vulgar commonplaces of life, such as the " Postman's 
Knock," or to the feeblest sentimental fancies, such as 
"Sea Shells." About most of them there is a low affecta- 
tion and a sense of unreality that pierces, and the people 
that troll them about the streets never sing them with 
earnestness or humor, like the Germans or the Italians, 
just because music is not to our lower orders a deep need, 
a means of expressing the pent-up and often oppressive 
emotions of the heart, but merely a noisy appendage to 
low pastimes. Even the less objectionable ballads which 
concern the most touching affections of our nature are full 
of vamped-up and artificial sentiment. What, for instance, 
can be more feeble in sentiment and false in taste than "Let 
me kiss him for his mother?" And yet, trash like this, 
which would be scouted in any other form by every na- 
tional school-boy, is considered finely pathetic by the lower 
orders when it comes to them in the disguise of a ballad, 
for music to them is an artificial thing, having artificial 
and unreal standards of propriety, and too often unconnect- 
ed with their real interests and genuine emotions. And 


the consequence is, that our street ballads last but from 
year to year, almost from month to month ; they are con- 
stantly being replaced, not by songs that enrich the na- 
tional stock, but by songs whose chief object seems to be 
to extinguish their predecessors, and when they have ac- 
complished this., die themselves, like bees after discharging 
their sting. Who ever hears " Slap bang" now ? Even 
" Old dog Tray," a really pathetic thing, seems dead at 
last, while the echoes of " Not for Joseph" seem finally to 
have died away. 

There is a certain feeble prettiness about the Virginia 
Gabriel and Claribel school of ballads, but it is the " Baby 
asleep," " Papa, come to tea" style of thing, so eloquently 
condemned in the painting of the period, at the Royal In- 
stitution, by Mr. Ruskin; and when the ballad is not strict- 
ly social, spooney, or domestic, can we imagine any twad- 
dle feebler than what is put forward to do duty for thought 
and feeling? In one ballad, for instance, the following in- 
genious conundrum is propounded : "What will to-morrow 
be?" The answer is, "Who can tell?" Of course nobody 
can, and this insult to our intelligence is repeated through 
several verses, to music nearly as exasperating. From the 
mud-heaps of ballads lying around us we may no doubt 
pick out some gold nuggets; but the finest ballads are 
sure to be the least popular. All honor to Madame Sain- 
ton Dolby, Mr. Santley, and a few others, for keeping some 
really good ballads before the public. Let us only trust 
that Mr. Sullivan, the brightest hope of the young English 
school, will keep before him the high ballad ideal of his 
Shakspeare songs, and those lyrics which Mr. Tennyson 
has written for him, and not be tempted into the "Ever of 
thee" style by the tears of sopranos or the solemn warnings 
of publishers. 


But if we have for a moment escaped from the streets, 
213. we are reminded by the shrill voice of a woman 
w-s^Mafeald outside that it is with these, and not with the 
Female. drawing-room, that we are now concerned. The 
poor creature, meanly clad, is singing " We may be happy 
yet," or "My pretty Jane." The crying baby has at last 
fallen asleep, but the song is almost more piteous. But 
we have only to go down one of the back streets, until we 
come to a third-class public house, and we reach at once 
the lowest depths to which the English ballad can descend. 
Two coarse and grimy ruffians, with greasy slips of thin 
paper, printed all over and adorned with villainous wood- 
cuts, are tramping stoutly down the reeking alley, and 
chanting forth to admiring groups of the unwashed some 
account of the latest murder in rhyme, or the interesting 
contest between Champion Tommy and the Charcoal Pet. 
Let us draw a veil over their proceedings as w^e pass with 
a sigh of relief to the sixth fact of street music, which con- 
sists of Chorus and Part Song in various forms. 

The blind singers, who, with the assistance of a concerti- 
214. na, ply through the Avhole of London, are known 

Blind Sing- ' r J ° ' 

ers. to every one. They render their psalm tunes, 

soundly harmonized, in a hard canto fermo style, which 
has its legitimate attractions, and with that peculiar con- 
centration and directness of purpose which characterizes 
blind people, and which has a pathos of its own. We fan- 
cy that regular bands of accomplished part-singers are less 
common now than they were a few years ago. They may 
have been driven out of the field by the negro melodists, 
and have no doubt found a more congenial sphere in the 
various music-halls which have been lately opened in great 
numbers all over the country. We must, however, notice 
the Praeger family, who are unique in their excellent part- 


singing and improvisations : we hear that it is not an un- 
common thing for them, at the close of the Brighton or 
Folkestone season, to deposit several hundred pounds in 
the bank previous to their departure for the Continent. 
Out of the season the young ladies receive an excellent 
general education in one of the first French schools, and 
every year the return of the family is anxiously awaited 
by many thousands of discriminating admirers. 

But there is a foreign band of singers — foreign only in 
215. appearance — that never leaves our shores — the 

Negro Mel- * L 

odists. Negro Melodists. The conquering nigger land- 
ed some years ago, and, after capturing this small island, 
caught many of the aborigines, blacked them over, and 
sent them off to proclaim the glories of Niggerdom through- 
out the length and breadth of this benighted land. The 
princes of the art sit in royal council at St. James's Hall, 
and it is an affecting thing to see the poor white men, who 
resort to their levees in crowds, welcomed by them as men 
and brethren. It is the fashion to smile at the " Christy 
Minstrels," and, indeed, uninterrupted gravity would be 
somewhat out of place in their assemblies, but we must not 
forget that they furnish one of the most remarkable and 
original elements of our street music. From St. James's 
Hall, and not from " Old Virginny," come constant supplies 
of new melodies. The original melodies, such as " Lady 
Neale," " Uncle Ned," some of which were no doubt genu- 
ine American negro productions, are almost forgotten, but 
from that new source of negro pathos and humor numbers 
of songs and choruses continue to flow, some of them good 
imitations, and many of them retaining the characteristic 
form of the negro melody, viz., nigger solus, niggers tutti, 
interludes and brilliant finale by Bones, accompanied by 
the whole band. The real negro is passionately attached 


to music — his sorrows and joys are both accompanied by 
the banjo — and slave-life, in which the present generation 
of negroes has been born and bred, is full of touching epi- 
sodes and dramatic incidents. The English public were 
subdued by the power and beauty of these as depicted, or, 
as some say, overdrawn, in Mrs. Stowe's book, and it is not 
too much to presume that the lasting popularity and deep 
appreciation of negro fun and pathos in England is mainly 
due to the genius of "Uncle Tom's Cabin." 

The gentlemen who nightly blacken their faces in order 
to portray to a sympathetic audience the life and manners 
of a hitherto oppressed race have certainly a fair claim 
upon our indulgent interest. There is something pathetic 
even about these worthy Englishmen themselves, and it is 
not without emotion that we gaze at the portraits of the 
most successful " Bones 1 ' of the age outside St. James's 
Hall, representing above the mighty W. P. Collins, black 
as to his face, and otherwise equipped for action, while un- 
derneath, the same face, only washed, looks appealingly at 
us, and seems to say, " You see the black all comes off. I 
am not so bad-looking either. You can hardly see me at 
night. But remember P. Collins is white, and, although 
his initial is P., he was not christened Pompey." 

The street niggers are often excessively clever, but are 
forced to pander in a variety of ways to the popular taste. 
For the sak® of an undiscerning public, English fun is mixed 
up with negro humor. Punch conducts with a baton and a 
desk before him ; light and flippant remarks are addressed 
to the crowd in good broad English ; capers are cut in sea- 
son and out of season, to the dismay of cab horses and om- 
nibus drivers ; and even practical jokes are played off on 
any who come too near " bones" or " tambourine." But a 
state of chronic fun is not without its penalties : the chorus 
over and the crowd dispersed, no faces look so downcast 


and woe-begone as the faces of the minstrels. They walk 
silently two and two, or follow each other, a string of 
lonely, dispirited men, down a back street into a public 
house. Not even there is rest. Tw r o go in and imme- 
diately recommence, and banjo consumes a solitary pint 
outside, while fiddle and bones strike up within to earn 



We close our survey of music in England with mingled 
feelings of hope and discouragement. The influence of 
music is every day becoming more widespread ; but is it 
an influence which soothes, relieves, recreates, and elevates 
the people ? We believe it is so in part ; but, before the 
musical art accomplishes this its high mission among us, it 
must become a real, not an artificial expression of the emo- 
tions as they work in English hearts and English homes. 
We must not be content with foreign models, grand as 
some of them are — with German music composed in En- 
gland, or even with little bits of ballad-music, unlike that 
of any other country, and therefore supposed to be English, 
but we must aim at forming a real national school, with a 
tone and temper as expressive of, and as appropriate to 
England, as French music is to France, Italian to Italy, 
and German to Germany. And we must do this, first, by 
keeping alive and active that love for the art which really 
does exist ; secondly, by believing in ourselves ; and, last- 
ly, by encouraging native talent wherever it can be found ; 
not destroying its independence by any false system of 
protection or puffery, but allowing it the freest develop- 
ment under the salutary conditions of just criticism and 
liberal recognition. 

When we have a national school of music, and not before, 
we shall have high popular standards, and the music of the 
people will then be as real an instrument of civilization in 
its way, and as happily under the control of public opinion, 



as the Press, the Parliament, or any other of our great na- 
tional institutions. 


The Author desires to acknowledge in the fullest possi- 
ble manner his obligations to those writers whose books he 
has made most use of. The following should be especially 
mentioned : 

The History of Modern Music. A Course of Lectures delivered 
at the Royal Institution of Great Britain by John Hullah. Parker, 
Son, & Bourne, London. 1862. 

A Course *of Lectures on the Transition Period of Musical His- 
tory, delivered at the Royal Institution of Great Britain by John 
Hullah. Longman, Green, Longman, London. 1865. 

F. J. Fetis, " Biographie Universelle dea Musiciens. Firmin Di- 
dot Freres, Paris. 1862. 

The Life of Handel. By Victor Schcelcher. Triibner & Co., 
London. 1857. 

Gluck. F. Fleischer, Leipsic. 

Biographie des Musiciens. Felix Clement. Hachette et Cie., 
Paris. 1868. 

Haydn and Mozart. Translated from the French of L. H. C. 
Bombet. Second edition. John Murray, London. 1818. 

" Biographie Universelle." F. J. F6tis, Paris. 1862. 

Franz Schubert. H. Kreissle von Hellborn,Wien. W.R.Allen, 
London. 1865. 

Life of Chopin. Liszt. New York. 1863. 

Lucrezia Floriani. George Sand. Bruxelles. 1846. 

Mozart's Letters. Translated from the collection of Ludwig 
Nohl. Longmans, Green & Co., London. 1865. 

Beethoven's Letters. Translated from the collection of Ludwig 
Nohl. Longmans, Green & Co., London. 1866. 


The Author is also much indebted to Professor Tonnes- 
sin, who placed the Louvain University Library at his dis- 
posal ; to the Chevalier van Elewyck, who kindly allowed 
him to examine many of Van den Gheyn's unpublished 
MSS. ; and to M. Severin van Aerschodt, the eminent Bel- 
gian bell-founder, who permitted him to inspect every part 
of his manufactory, and offered the most valuable and co- 
pious information upon the manufacture of bells. 

To Mr. George Grove and to Mr. Felix Moscheles I am 
also indebted for the use which they have allowed me to 
make of the composers' MS. music and signatures in their 

16 Welbeck Street, London, 1871. 





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