Слике страница

round a gentleman whom I at first imagined to be reading the Gazette, but coming closer, found it to be an heroic poem upon the conquest of Minorca. Never was there a more severe satire than this upon the nation which it had endeavoured to celebrate! Every exaggerated compliment now bore the appearance of the keenest irony. The children of Mars, the thunderbolts of war, the conquest of the world, were now construed as burlesque, and served at intervals to make the company burst into loud fits of laughter. When the whiskered French soldier was compared to a lion, the company immediately conceived the idea of a cat; and while the poet described his countrymen as clad in terrors, they were now universally allowed to want part of the equipage, as they had no spirits.

From hence I travelled to Slaughter's, (1) where one of the company was haranguing the rest, and assuring them that he believed not one syllable of the matter. “ Do you think,” said he, “ that the French are such fools as to let us deprive them of one of their greatest and most useful possessions ? Ridiculous ! I'll hold any one twenty pounds”—“ Done, sir," says one of the company, “ I'll take it up.”—“ I mean, sir,” replied the orator, “ I'll hold twenty pounds that by next post they sing Te Deum, or contradict our Gazette.” To this, the other had nothing to reply, and our orator remained master of the field.

The Smyrna(2) was the last place I visited on this occasion. The company here were prescribing terms of peace to the enemy, whom they looked upon as utterly undone ; they first insisted upon our keeping all North America; they were next for circumscribing the number of the French fleet ; for getting back Minorca ; for insisting on a carte blanche. With them, our victory seemed only gained to

(1) (A coffee-house opposite Northumberland-house in the Strand.] (2) [A coffee-house at Charing Cross. ]


defer the happiness of peace ; they would have every thing settled in such a manner, as that we could annoy our enemies at pleasure, without their having any power to hurt us. In short, with an exaggerated, yet perhaps pardonable triumph, they were for dictating terms of peace, that none but a conquered nation could submit to.

As I perceived now that I spoke to men who could hearken to and understand

reason, I addressed one of them as follows:

“The only use of victory is peace. Proposals for a reconciliation are never made with so good a grace as from a victorious army. It is very possible for a country to be very victorious and very wretched. The victories of Sweden have oppressed that people so much, as to render them quite insignificant in the political scale of Europe ever since. is but prolonging the wished-for peace, to prescribe such terms as is consistent neither with the interest nor the honour of our enemies to accept. It is but rendering us ridiculous, to expect such terms as we can never compel them to.

“ A country at war resembles a flambeaux, the brighter it burns, the sooner it is often wasted. The exercise of war for a short time may be useful to society, which grows putrid by a long stagnation. Vices spring up in a longcontinued peace, from too great an admiration of commerce and too great a contempt for arms; war corrects these abuses, if of but a short continuance. But when prolonged beyond that useful period, it is apt to involve society in every distress. The property of a country, by its continuance, is transferred from the enterprizing ; from men of abilities, to men who have no other qualification than bravery ; every man who is enriched by the trade of war, is only rewarded from the spoils of some unhappy member of society, who could no longer live by the trade of peace. Now; now, then, is the time to offer terms of accommo dation : and as we conquer our enemies in war, so let us


[ocr errors]

excel them in generosity. Let us sheath the sword that has already reeked with too much blood. Let victory be attended by peace;


peace is the only triumph of victory."

ESSAY 111.(1)


A school in the polite arts properly signifies that succession of artists, which has learned the principles of the art from some eminent master, either by hearing his lessons or studying his works, and consequently who imitate his manner either through design or from habit. Musicians seem agreed in making only three principal schools in music: namely, the school of Pergolesi in Italy, of Lulli in France, and of Handel in England; though some are for making Rameau the founder of a new school, different from those of the former, as he is the inventor of beauties peculiarly

his own.

Without all doubt Pergolesi's' music deserves the first rank; though excelling neither in variety of movements, number of parts, nor unexpected flights, yet he is universally allowed to be the musical Raphael of Italy. This great master's principal art consisted in knowing how to excite our passions by sounds, which seem frequently opposite to the passion they would express : by slow solemn sounds he is sometimes known to throw us into all the rage of battle ;

(1) [The Essays, No. III. to XXIII. inclusive, first appeared in The British Magazine,' commenced in January 1760, by Dr. Smollett. Of the twenty-one papers only three were reprinted by Goldsmith, in the collection of 1765.)

(2) [Pergolesi was born at Casano, near Naples, in 1704, and died in 1737, at the age of thirty-three. Horace Walpole is of opinion that Gray, who regarded his vocal compositions as models of perfection, first brought them into England. )

and, even by faster movements, he excites melancholy in every heart that sounds are capable of affecting. This is a talent, which seems born with the artist. We are unable to tell why such sounds affect us: they seem no way

imitative of the passion they would express, but operate upon us by an inexpressible sympathy; the original of which is as inscrutable as the secret springs of life itself. To this excellence he adds another, in which he is superior to every other artist of the profession, the happy transition from one passion to another. No dramatic poet better knows to prepare his incidents than he: the audience are pleased in those intervals of passion, with the delicate, the simple harmony, if I may so express it, in which the parts are all thrown into figures, or often are barely unison. His melodies also, where no passion is expressed, give equal pleasure from this delicate simplicity: and I need only instance that song in the Serva Padrona, which begins Lo conosco à quegl occelli, as one of the finest instances of excellence in the duo.

The Italian artists in general have followed his manner, yet seem fond of embellishing the delicate simplicity of the original. Their style in music seems somewhat to resemble that of Seneca in writing, where there are some beautiful starts of thought; but the whole is filled with studied elegance and unaffecting affectation.

Lulli, (1) in France, first attempted the improvement of their music, which in general resembled that of our old solemn chaunts in churches. It is worthy of remark in general, that the music of every country is solemn in proportion as the inhabitants are merry; or, in other words, the merriest, sprightliest nations are remarked for having the

(1) (This fortunate musician, the son of a peasant, was born in the neighbourhood of Florence in 1633. He was in such favour with Louis XIV., that he could listen to the music of no other composer. He died in 1678, in his fifty-fourth year. See Hogarth's Musical History, ch. iv. p. 69.]

slowest music; and those whose character it is to be melan. choly, are pleased with the most brisk and airy movements. Thus in France, Poland, Ireland, and Switzerland, the national music is slow, melancholy, and solemn; in Italy, England, Spain, and Germany, it is faster, proportionably as the people are grave. Lulli only changed a bad manner, which he found, for a bad one of his own. His drowsy pieces are played still to the most sprightly audience that can be conceived ; and even though Rameau, (1) who is at once a musician and a philosopher, has shewn, both by precept and example, what improvements French music may still admit of, yet his countrymen seem little convinced by his reasonings; and the Pont-neuf taste, as it is called, still prevails in their best performances.

The English school was first planned by Purcell.(2) He attempted to unite the Italian manner, that prevailed in his time, with the ancient Celtic carol and the Scotch ballad, which probably had also its origin in Italy ; for some of the best Scotch ballads,—“The Broom of Cowdenknows," for instance-are still ascribed to David Rizzio.(3) Butbe that as it will, his manner was something peculiar to the English; and he might have continued as head of the English school, had not his merits been entirely eclipsed by Handel. Handel, though originally a German, (+) yet adopted the English

4 manner; he had long laboured to please by Italian composition, but without success; and though his English Orato

(1) [Rameau, styled by his countrymen 'the Newton of Harmony,' was born at Dijon in 1683, and died at Paris in 1767, in his 84th year.)

(2) (Henry Purcell was born in 1658, and died in 1695.]

(3) (It was of course only the music that was ever ascribed to Rizzionot the words :

“O the broom, and the bonny bonny broom,

And the broom of the Cowden knows !
And aye sae sweet as the lassie sang

l' the bought, milking the ewes,” &c. (1) (He was born at Halle, in Saxony, in 1684, and died in 1759.)

« ПретходнаНастави »