Imatges de pÓgina

the conductor of this entertainment has spared no expense in procuring a very elegant band of performers. The satisfaction which I received the first night I went there was greater than my expectations; I went in company of several friends of both sexes, whose virtues I regard, and judgments I esteem. The music, the entertainment, but particularly the singing, diffused that good humour among us, which constitutes the true happiness of society; but I know not how, from praising both the singers, as they deserved, we insensibly fell into a comparison of their respective perfections: one part of the company seemed to favour the old singer, another the new. The ladies, who in such a case, always declare their opinions first, seemed to give it in favour of Mrs. Vincent, because she was a married woman the generality of the gentlemen were of a contrary opinion, and for a contrary reason. We, however, at length agreed to refer the dispute to two gentlemen of the company, who had been for some time in Italy, and were beside, of themselves tolerable performers. Even they, however, seemed of different opinions, and, as well as I remember, this was the substance of what either said on the occasion :

"I own," says he who spoke first, " that Miss Brent, by pleasing the town last season in the Beggar's Opera, has acquired a share of popularity which may alone lead the injudicious; but let us strip her of her theatrical ornaments, and merely as a singer, compare her with her rival Mrs. Vincent: I think it will be allowed me Mrs. Vincent has, rather, the most graceful person of the two; and even that consideration, trifling as it may seem, is of some consequence, when we are considering the perfections of a female singer. In Italy, you know, Sir, scarce a lady dares appear even in a chorus, upon the stage, or as a public performer, without this natural advantage. Upon some of Miss Brent's notes there is also a huskiness, which her rival is entirely

free from; for you must confess, that nothing can be clearer than Mrs. Vincent's voice. Miss Brent, sometimes, drives the feeling theatrical manner into affectation; for though a little of that manner is proper at all times, and is in fact the only thing in which the voice excels an instrument, yet, in plain singing, where acting is not required, it may sometimes be carried to a ridiculous excess. Mrs. Vincent sings with more ease, fetches her inspirations quicker, more unperceived, and with a better grace than your new favourite. Though I must own, that neither the one or the other are, by any means, perfect timists; yet, in this respect, Mrs. Vincent has certainly the advantage, and is seldom guilty of blunders, which the other, through haste, want of skill, or of time, sometimes commits. I have but one thing more to say in favour of Mrs. Vincent, which is, that she would certainly appear to greater advantage were the music she sings more nicely adapted to her voice. Every judicious composer sets his music to the voice of the performer; that which this singer chooses seems, in general, taken by herself at a venture, or composed for her, without a perfect knowledge of her excellences. The lower part of her voice has a much finer body than the upper, which is rather too small, and has somewhat too much of the German-flute tone in it. Though she has great command, yet her transitions are not perfectly graceful; the music therefore adapted to her, and in which she would certainly charm, should be composed of notes not reaching extremely high, and not with difficult transitions. The music composed for Miss Brent, on the contrary, is set with perfect taste, and with a thorough knowledge of her fort. That pretty song of Liberty, in particular, both in delicacy and accompaniment, is far beyond the songs of Mrs. Vincent."

Influenced by this, most of the company were going to declare in favour of Mrs. Vincent, when the other gentle

man gave his opinion as follows: "I allow the justice of almost all that has been advanced, but I am of opinion Miss Brent(1) is far superior. It is true her voice is by no means so clear as Mrs. Vincent's, nor have I ever heard any singer equal that lady in this particular; yet still Miss Brent has much the best voice of the two; for it is at once capable of a greater swell, and has a greater body of tone. These two perfections are alone sufficient to give her the preference; but there is another in which she excels almost every singer, I mean that of her voice's being perfectly in tune. I cannot tell whether it be in reality so; but it would seem, by the exact tunefulness of her voice, that she had not been entirely taught to sing from the harpsichord ; for such as are wholly taught by that instrument, though they may be sufficiently in tune with any instrument, yet by learning only to chime with a chord, which from the nature of this instrument is not quite perfect, they seldom arrive to that tunefulness which reaches the heart; and hence we see natural singers frequently more pleasing than those who are taught. The lady I refer to seems to possess all that native sweetness of voice, at the same time that she has acquired by art the perfect manner of flattening those notes, which upon the voice and every natural instrument, as the trumpet and horn, are naturally too sharp. Her shake, though not perfect (as it is in general too quick) is however much superior to the other's, who is very faulty in this respect. Though she may sometimes feel too much, yet it must be owned that this is preferable to a total vacancy of sensibility, which is the other's case. Let us add to this, that the music we have now heard her sing is preferable to that sung by Mrs. Vincent; and I fancy, upon the whole, we shall find she affords the highest entertainment. I am sensible

(1) [For this lady, afterwards Mrs. Pinto, Goldsmith wrote two songs. See. Vol. IV.]

that both have faults, which neither of us have mentioned; and one among the rest is in the execution of those holding notes of which they both seem so fond. They seem to think that all the art in this respect lies in beginning one of those tedious notes very soft, and then swelling it as loud as posin the middle, then falling off, and so forth. These should never be continued without that softening which is taken from the tone below; which on the voice is capable of becoming every moment more distinct, till it at last falls naturally into the shake, which should not be of very long continuance neither. But I fear I tire the company: I shall only observe, that the public are greatly obliged to both for one of its most innocent and highest amusements.” Just as he had finished we were called away to hear the concluding song, which gave me such pleasure, I could not avoid concluding, that she who sung last always sung best.



In the flowery paths of novel and romance, we are taught to consider love as a blessing that will last for life: it is exalted above its merits; and by teaching the young and unexperienced to expect more from it than it can give, by being disappointed of their expectations, they do not receive from it even those advantages it has to bestow.

Love between the sexes should be regarded as an inlet to friendship, nor should the most beautiful of either hope to continue the passion a month beyond the wedding-day. Marriage strips love of all its finery; and if friendship does

(1) [The persons mentioned in this story were relatives of Goldsmith's uncle Contarine by the female side; though some of the circumstances may be exaggerated.-See Life, ch. ii. ]

not appear to supply its place, there is then an end of matrimonial felicity.

But this love and friendship, by being too violent, often destroy themselves. A wife, by expecting too much of her husband's company, or he, on the other hand, desiring too much tenderness from her, only impair that union of heart which both endeavour to cement. Perhaps they who expect least are often paid with most of the pleasures of a married state; as some accidentally happen to fall upon agreeable parties, but seldom find them so, if appointed long beforehand those bonds which unite the married couple may be tied too closely, which is perhaps a worse inconvenience than if they had not been tied at all.

To illustrate this, let me be permitted to relate a real story that happened near Chester some years ago; which will more clearly display the inconveniences arising from too high a regard on each side, than any remarks of mine upon this occasion.

Thomas and James Chaloner were brothers residing near Chester; they were both possessed of small but independent fortunes, and nearly at the same time intended to improve those fortunes by matrimony. Thomas, the elder, paid his addresses to a young lady of great beauty and family in the neighbourhood, and she received his professions with mutual passion; her father, however, attempted to interrupt the match from mercenary motives, as he was sensible of the inequality of Mr. Thomas Chaloner's fortune to that he intended for his daughter. The young lovers were too much enamoured of each other to attend to the dissuasive voice of avarice upon this occasion; and, contrary to the inclinations of all their friends, were privately married, promising themselves an endless source of felicity in each other's possession.

In the mean time, Mr. James Chaloner also was married;

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