« AnteriorContinua »
as if the whole effect of the composition depended upon his individual instrument being heard. The consequence is, that the audience cannot always hear the singers. But, until this orchestra can be taught, that it is their business to accompany, and not overpower the voices, Mozart's operas will never be properly performed in England. Ours is not a musical nation; but we are ansious that in this, as in all the fine arts, our taste should be formed by hearing the best models perfectly executed.
Haydn and Mozart have established a school of music which unites melody with scientific harmony ; avoiding, on the one hand, the dry and laboured productions of the old contrapuntists, and manufacturers of fugues and canons; and, on the other, the modern compositions and compilations of mere melodies, with meagre or inartificial accompaniments. The basis of this school is science; its ornament, its enchanting attraction arises from the variety of new and beautiful melodies on which that science is employed; but whenever the pupils of this school attempt to substitute novelty and trick, or mere execution and sleight of hand for melody and science, they betray their own want of genius, by departing from the course pointed out by Haydn and Mozart.
Handel is not to be confounded with this or any other school; he stands alone; he has been aptly called a giant in music;' and his weapons could only be wielded by himself. His early departure from his own country, and his encouragement in England, soon gave a direction to his mighty powers, which produced a series of compositions, unimitated and inimitable, and forming a class by themselves. He has long guided our national taste in music; and it is no small proof of his excellence, that we still return with increased pleasure either to his simple pathetic melodies, or to his scientific harmonies, after the finest compositions of his successors. Haydn was present at the Commemoration of Handel in Westminster Abbey, in 1791; and heard his principal works performed by more than six hundred singers and four hundred instruments; and, during the performance of his sublime oratorio of the Messiah, he said, thoughtfully, . This man is the master of us all! Mozart placed him above all other composers; he knew his principal works by heart; and used to say, “ Handel knows best of us all what is capable of producing a great effect; when he chooses, he strikes like the thunderbolt !
The length to which this Article has extended will not allow us to consider the Letters on the Genius of Metastasio, and on the present State of Music in Italy. We have principally confined ourselves to the biographical part of the work, because the history of man appears to us more interesting than that of music; and because it is generally tiresome to hear described the music which it is delightful to hear performed: this has, in some measure, prevented our giving a more full and perfect view of the various matter which it contains. In conclusion, the lives of Haydn and Mozart are interspersed with so many entertaining anecdotes, so many valuable remarks on the merits and peculiarities of composers and singers, both ancient and modern, that we feel obliged to the translator for having made us acquainted with them; and fully agree with the observation in his preface, that the work contains more musical information, in a popular form, than is to be met with in any other of a size equally moderate.'
Art. IV. The History of Brazil. By Robert Southey. Vol. ii.
4to. pp. 718. THE former volume of Mr. Southey's History conducted us to
the revolution of 1640, when the Portugueze shook off the yoke of Spain, and called, by popular acclamation, the Duke of Braganza to the throne. The Brazilians cordially partook in the joy of the mother-country. The Spanish garrison of Bahia was surprized and disarmed; but, with equal generosity and wisdom, suffered to depart for the colonies of their own sovereign. Joam IV. was proclaimed, and a vessel dispatched to the Dutch at Recife with intelligence of an event which was so likely to terminate the hostility between the two nations. In the meantime the new ca. binet of Lisbon was engaged in very anxious negociations with that of the Hague on the subject of Brazil and India, in both which regions some of their most important colonies were now occupied by the arms of Holland.
The Portugueze, on their side, pleaded that they had been only engaged in war with Holland compulsorily, and in consequence of an usurpation, from which they had now freed themselves; that their connexion with Spain being for ever dissolved, the conquests which the Dutch had made from them during that connextion ought, in equity, to be rendered back.' But, however generous such a policy might have been, and however consistent with true political wisdom in the Dutch to make very large concessions in favour of a new ally, and one who had followed their example in emancipating itself from the Castilian tyranny; it was plain that the Portugueze had no claim on their justice for acquisitions made in fair and open war, during which, whether willingly or not, the whole strength of Portugal had been brought to act against them. The expedient which was adopted was by no means an unfair one. A truce for ten years was agreed
on between the two nations in Brazil and India, on the foundation of an uti possidetis,' and reserving the discussion of their respective claims to a negociation for a general peace, which was to be entered upon eight or nine months after this agreement. In the meantime, as in Europe they had no grounds of disagreement, the United States undertook to dispatch immediate succours to Lisbon of men, arms, and money.
By these terms, which were as favourable as the Portugueze, in their present condition, had any right to expect, the new king was spared the mortification of being obliged to commence his reign by alienating any of the ancient possessions of his crown; while a ten years' lease of their conquests was, to the Dutch, a privilege little short of a grant of them in perpetuity. Possessed, for that time, of the richest and most compact district of Brazil, it would have been in their power, (had they employed to the best advantage the means in their hands,) by conciliating the Portugueze planters; by supporting and encouraging the Jews and new Christians; by giving full scope to the labours of Protestant missionaries among the Indians, many of whom had already shewn a disposition to improve themselves extremely encouraging,) and by favouring by all possible means those swarms of German and English colonists
, which the poverty of the first of these nations, and the religious differences of the latter might have been expected amply to furnish, to render it absolutely impossible that their present territory in Brazil should ever return under its former master. Nor would it have been difficult, as may be thought, to induce the Portugueze, at length, not only to cede, with a good grace, what they could have no hope of recovering, but to surrender also the northern provinces of Maranham and Para; for which, on the side of Paraguay and the Plata, very ample indemnities might have been obtained by the united force of the two nations, at the expense of their common enemy.
These advantageous hopes, to which Maurice of Nassau was well qualified to give reality, were defeated by the bad conduct of the Dutch West India Company. Their first and leading error was a misconception of the Portugueze character, and an opinion that it was utterly impossible that they could have the means or the courage to maintain the independence which they had asserted against the overwhelming weight of the Spanish monarchy. This is not the only instance in which the national spirit and strength of Portugal has been thus under-rated; and so strongly was the suspicion now felt in Holland, that some wiseacres were convinced that the whole revolution was nothing more than a political juggle, and that the King of Spain had pretended to lose Portugal for the sake of cozening the Dutch out of the conquests which they had made at her expense. But the doctrine being held that Portugal must eventually return under the yoke of Spain, it became a matter of prudence with the West India Company to prevent the colonies from following the fortune of the mother-country. To this end no means appeared so certain as getting possession themselves of as many as they could conquer; and for this conduct, so ulterly at variance with the spirit of the truce just made, its terms afforded them something like a pretext. In consideration of the distance of the Indies, a year was allowed to them for notifying the treaty to their commanders there, with a proviso that, if the intelligence arrived sooner, the cessation of arms should take place immediately. While, therefore, the Portugueze, on the first news of the arrangement, honourably withdrew from Pernambuco some of their irregular troops, who were carrying on a predatory and most harassing warfare in the very heart of the Dutch territory, the governors of Holland wilfully delayed the official notification, while they sent private directions to Nassau to make the best of his time in seizing all the strong places which he had the means of attacking. These infamous orders were executed, with the additional infamy of sending out the expeditions under flags of truce. An unprepared and unsuspicious antagonist could offer no effectual resistance; and, within the year, the troops of Nassau were in possession of Seregipe, Maranham, and the African settlements of St. Thomas and Loanda. From this villainy, (for it deserves no softer vame, the consequences followed which it merited, and which might have been expected. The forces of the Dutch, already barely sufficient for the great extent of territory in which they had to maintain themselves, became still weaker by being dispersed. Their soldiers and seamen, as if sensible of the bad cause in which they were engaged, seem to have conducted themselves with less zeal and spirit than they did before. The Portugueze governor of Bahia, conceiving himself at full liberty to follow the treacherous example which they had given him, watched eagerly for any opportunity which might occur to injure them; and the truce at length began, one party having done a great wrong, and the other being determined to avenge it, by fomenting discord, and by whatever else of private mischief might be practised without open hostility,
In the meantime the Dutch were guilty of no less grievous errors in the administration of the provinces under their power. It is a singular fact in the history of most free governments, that their citizens are, of all others, least disposed to amalgamate with the inbabitants of those countries which they subdue, or to pay any proper respect to their institutions and prejudices. The iron does not mingle with the clay: he who values himself on the freedom
which he enjoys is apt to become tyrannical in his conduct to other men; and as subjection to a free state is, therefore, of all foreign subjections likely to be the most odious, such states should never aim at conquests which they are so ill qualified to maintain. And, in this particular instance, it is probable that the difference of manners tended greatly to make the Brazilian Portugueze and their new masters mutually odious to each other. The lovers of butter, cheese, salt beef, and strong beer despised, as feeble and effeminate, men who dined on a salted olive, or a litle mandioc fried in oil and washed down with water: and these last would be equally cordial in their contempt and dislike of the gluttonous meals of the Hollander, whom they stigmatized as a mere vulgar seaman, low-born, and occupied in the sordid occupations of commerce or piracy. Religion was a still more serious ground of difference, and this was made worse by the wretched folly of the governing nation, whose clergy were scandalized at the too open indulgence afforded by Maurice to the Roman Catholic superstition, and were always endeavouring to restrict the toleration which had been promised, within as narrow bounds as possible. Even where this was not the case, it was difficult to make the soldiers and seamen treat those rites with decency which they bad been so carefully taught to abhor and ridicule. A saint was now and then thrown from his pedestal, a procession treated with disrespect, a company quartered in a church ; and all these things were treasured up in the recollection of those concerned, till the day of vengeance should arrive. Even the institutions which were designed to have a healing tendency had by no means the effect expected. In the courts of justice there was a mixture of Dutch and Portugueze judges; but the Dutch conferred in their own language, and treated the Portugueze with so much neglect, that the latter (who were the minority) seldom or never assembled. There is, indeed, good reason to believe that the Hollanders not only conceived themselves to be, but were very superior to their associates in knowledge and cultivated talent: and if that superiority had not sometimes broken out, it would have been strange indeed. In fact, the magistrates were too numerous; and as the Dutch were the majority, the concurrence of the Portugueze being unnecessary to a decision, would, naturally, be seldom called for. Two judges, one from each nation, must have respected, and would have soon improved each other; and, as the appointment of both would have been with the Dutch, they need not have feared any undue neglect of their interests.
But besides these grounds of dissension, which were likely to subsist between two races so different in habits and opinions as were now brought together, there were many positive obstacles