« AnteriorContinua »
to erect in his room a foreigner (Handel), who has not yet formed any school.(1) The gentleman, when he comes to communicate his thoughts upon the different schools of painting, may as well place Rubens at the head of the English painters, because he left some monuments of his art in England.(2) He says that Handel, though originally a German (as most certainly he was, and continued so to his
known in England before his time: for this he deserves our applause; but the present prevailing taste in music is very different from what he left it, and who was the improver since his time we shall see by and by.-O. G.
(1) Handel may be said as justly as any man, not Pergolesi excepted, to have founded a new school of music. When he first came into England, his music was entirely Italian : he composed for the Opera; and though, even then, his pieces were liked, yet did they not meet with universal approbation. In those he has too servilely imitated the modern vitiated Italian taste, by placing what foreigners call the point d'orgue too closely and injudiciously. But in his oratorios he is perfectly an original genius. In these, by steering between the manners of Italy and England, he has struck out new harmonies, and formed a species of music different from all others. He has left some excellent and eminent scholars, particularly Worgan and Smith, who compose nearly in his manner; a manner as different from Purcell's as from that of modern Italy. Consequently, Handel may be placed at the head of the English school.-O. G.
(2) The Objector will not have Handel's school to be called an English school, because he was a German. Handel, in a great measure, found in England those essential differences which characterize his music: we have already shown that he had them not upon his arrival. Had Rubens come over to England but moderately skilled in his art; had he learned here all his excellency in colouring and correctness of designing; had he left several scholars, excellent in his manner behind him; I should not scruple to call the school erected by him, the English school of painting. It is not the country in which a man is born, but his peculiar style either in painting or in music, that constitutes him of this or that school. Thus Champagne, who painted in the manner of the French school, is always placed among the painters of that school, though he was born in Flanders, and should consequently, by the Objector's rule, be placed among the Flemish painters. Kneller is placed in the German school, and Ostade in the Dutch, though both born in the same city. Primatis, who may be truly said to have founded the Roman school, was born in Bologna; though, if his country was to determine his school, he should have been placed in the Lombard. There might several other instances be produced; but these, it is hoped, will be sufficient to prove that Handel, though a German, may be placed at the head of the English school.-O. G.
Yes, to be
last breath), yet adopted the English manner.(1) sure, just as much as Rubens the painter did. respondent, in the course of his discoveries, tells us, besides, that some of the best Scotch ballads (The Broom of Cowdenknows,' for instance) are still ascribed to David Rizzio.(2) This Rizzio must have been a most original genius, or have possessed extraordinary imitative powers, to have come, so advanced in life as he did, from Italy, and strike so far out of the common road of his own country's music.
A mere fiddler,(3) a shallow coxcomb, a giddy, insolent,
(1) Handel was originally a German ; but, by a long continuance in England, he might have been looked upon as naturalized to the country. I don't pretend to be a fine writer: however, if the gentleman dislikes the expression (although he must be convinced it is a common one), I wish it were mended.-O. G.
(2) I said they were ascribed to David Rizzio. That they are, the Objector need only look into Mr. Oswald's Collection of Scotch Tunes,' and he will there find not only The Broom of Cowdenknows,' but also 'The Black Eagle,' and several other of the best Scotch tunes ascribed to him. Though this might be a sufficient answer, yet I must be permitted to go farther, to tell the Objector the opinion of our best modern musicians in this particular. It is the opinion of the melodious Geminiani, that we have in the dominions of Great Britain no original music, except the Irish; the Scotch and English being originally borrowed from the Italians. And that his opinion in this respect is just (for I would not be swayed merely by authorities), it is very reasonable to suppose; first, from the conformity between the Scotch and ancient Italian music. They, who compare the old French Vaudevilles, brought from Italy by Rinuccini, with those pieces ascribed to David Rizzio, who was pretty nearly cotemporary with him, will find a strong resemblance, notwithstanding the opposite characters of the two nations which have preserved those pieces. When I would have them compared, I mean I would have their bases compared, by which the similitude may be most exactly seen. Secondly, it is reasonable, from the ancient music of the Scotch, which is still preserved in the Highlands, and which bears no resemblance at all to the music of the Low-country. The Highland tunes are sung to Irish words, and flow entirely in the Irish manOn the other hand, the Lowland music is always sung to English words.-O. G.
(3) David Rizzio was neither a mere fiddler, nor a shallow coxcomb, nor a worthless fellow, nor a stranger in Scotland. He had, indeed, been brought over from Piedmont, to be put at the head of a band of music, by King James V., one of the most elegant princes of his time, an exquisite
worthless fellow, to compose such pieces as nothing but genuine sensibility of mind, and an exquisite feeling of those passions which animate only the finest souls, could dictate; and in a manner, too, so extravagantly distant from that, to which he had all his life been accustomed! It is impossible. He might, indeed, have had presumption enough to add some flourishes to a few favourite airs, like a cobler of old plays, when he takes it upon him to mend Shakspeare. So far he might go; but farther it is impossible for any one to believe, that has but just ear enough to distinguish between the Italian and Scotch music, and is disposed to consider the subject with the least degree of attention. S. R.-March 18, 1760.
A REVERIE AT THE BOAR'S HEAD TAVERN, EASTCHEAP. (1)
The improvements we make in mental acquirements only render us each day more sensible of the defects of our con
judge of music, as well as of poetry, architecture, and all the fine arts. Rizzio, at the time of his death, had been above twenty years in Scotland: he was secretary to the queen, and at the same time an agent from the pope; so that he could not be so obscure as he has been represented.-O. G.
(1) [This is one of the essays reprinted by Goldsmith, in 1765. In the original sheet it opened as follows:-" There are few books I have ever read, when young, with greater pleasure than Cicero's treatise on Old Age. He places the infirmities, naturally consequent on our decline, in so pleasing a light, that my youth was persuaded to wish for a state where every passion subsides, and every mental excellence is refined. I am at last declined into the vale of years; but Cicero is no longer pleasing: no declamations can give pliancy to the rigid sinew, or increase the languid circulation. The improvements I make in wisdom, only render me each day more sensible to the defects of my constitution: nor am I so wholly devoted to mental enjoyments, but I could wish to have my body come in for a share of the entertainment. With this in view, therefore, let me recur to the amusements of youth; endeavour to forget age and wisdom, and, as far as
stitution; with this in view, therefore, let us often recur to the amusements of youth; endeavour to forget age and wisdom, and as far as innocence goes, be as much a boy as the best of them.
Let idle declaimers mourn over the degeneracy of the age; but, in my opinion, every age is the same. This I am sure of, that man in fretful being, every season is a poor with no other means to escape the calamities of the times but by endeavouring to forget them; for if he attempts to resist, he is certainly undone. If I feel poverty and pain, I am not so hardy as to quarrel with the executioner, even while under correction: I find myself no way disposed to make fine speeches, while I am making wry faces. In a word, let me drink when the fit is on, to make me insensible; and drink when it is over, for joy that I feel pain no longer.
The character of old Falstaff, even with all his faults, gives me more consolation than the most studied efforts of wisdom. I here behold an agreeable old fellow, forgetting age, and showing me the way to be young at sixty-five. Sure I am well able to be as merry, though not so comical as he. Is it not in my power to have, though not so much wit, at least as much vivacity? Age, care, wisdom, reflection, begone! I give you to the winds. Let's have t'other bottle: here's to the memory of Shakspeare, Falstaff, and all the merry men of Eastcheap!
Such were the reflections that naturally arose while I sat at the Boar's Head tavern, still kept at Eastcheap.(1) Here, innocence goes, be as much a boy as the best of them. I won't sit preaching when under a fit of the gout, and, like the philosopher, denying pain to be an evil. I am not so hardy," &c. &c.]
(1) [“ The earliest notice of this place occurs in the testament of William Warden, who, in the reign of Richard II gave 'all that his tenement, called the Boar's Head, Eastcheap,' to a college of priests or chaplains, founded by Sir William Walworth, Lord Mayor, in the adjoining church of St. Michael, Crooked-lane. Whether at that time it was a tavern or a cook's residence,
by a pleasant fire, in the very room where old Sir John Falstaff cracked his jokes, in the very chair which was sometimes honoured by prince Henry, and sometimes polluted by his immoral merry companions, I sat and ruminated on the follies of youth; wished to be young again, but was resolved to make the best of life while it lasted, and now and then compared past and present times together. I considered myself as the only living representative of the old knight, and transported my imagination back to the times when the prince and he gave life to the revel, and made even debauchery not disgusting. The room also conspired to throw my reflections back into antiquity: the oak floor, the Gothic windows, and the ponderous chimney-piece, had long withstood the tooth of time. The watchman had gone twelve; my companions had all stolen off; and none now remained with me but the landlord. From him I could have wished to know the history of a tavern, that had such a long succession of customers. I could not help thinking that an account of this kind would be a pleasing contrast of the manners of dif
ferent ages; but my landlord could give me no information.
He continued to doze and sot, and tell a tedious story, as most other landlords usually do; and, though he said nothing, yet was never silent: one good joke followed another good joke; and the best joke of all was generally begun towards the end of a bottle. I found at last, however, his wine and his conversation operate by degrees: he insensibly began to alter his appearance; his cravat seemed
does not appear; but very early in the next reign, if any confidence can be reposed in the locality of Shakspeare's scenes, it became the resort of old Jack Falstaff and Prince Hal; but subsequently it was converted into a residence for the priests, to whose college it had been devised. Goldsmith, forgetting the destruction of the former building in the Great Fire, speaks of the tavern existing in his time, as the identical place which Falstaff frequented."Brayley's Londiniana. ii. 58.]