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Delightful and animating scene for Adam's contemplation, the ceaseless and natural music amid which he moved! What a pure substantial bliss was his, till sin marred the prevailing concord by its sorrowful plaints and distressing lamentations! The eyes of God joyed as he surveyed the happy whole formed by his own hands, and the highest termed it GOOD-Good for man, fashioned like his Maker, endowed with a kindred spirit for mutual intercourse, and invested with an authority inferior only to his own. What a ravishing melody must that have been, when the whole chorus of Creation broke from myriads and myriads of archangels and seraphim, with their silver trumpets ! music celestial ! Luther of old wrote, “ Music is one of the fairest and most glorious gifts of God, to which Satan is a bitter enemy; for it removes from the heart the weight of 'sorrow and the fascination of evil thoughts. Music is a kind and gentle discipline, it refines the passions and improves the understanding. Those who love music are honest and gentle in their tempers. I always loved music, and would not, for a great matter, be. without the little skill I possess in this art.”
“Oh! surely melody from Heaven was sent.” From the previous remarks we draw the conclusion, music is as old as the creation ; that is, the period whence its antiquity is to be dated. As man multiplied and filled the earth, how natural to conceive his imitative powers called into action to produce sounds, vying with and rivalling those natural notes, yielded by the living beauties of Nature, by birds, insects, &c.! Relying on this opinion, we are enabled to invest man with intuitive genius, with abilities eager in their play to change and improve his condition, now stained by his fall; with an imagination vivid, and reflective faculties never or seldom dormant. Most early after man's banishment from Paradise were these glorious agents of genius called into action, for in Genesis, chap. 4, verse 21, we find Jubal, the son of Lamech, mentioned as the inventor of the harp and the organ. From all the accounts and histories with which man is acquainted, the harp is the first instrument mentioned, most simple in its original construction, and most natural in its effect; the earliest ages had no other music save the harp for some time, and they had a partiality for that music only. The heathen divinities, Apollo, the Muses, &c., are, from the remotest periods to the present time, represented with the harp. However, novelties were introduced, and the trumpet or pipe (various kinds consequently producing varied sounds) was used. Simple and rude were the musical instruments in favour with nations at their commencement, for, as an instance, the Greeks for a lengthened period favoured only the harp. It is recorded that in the 3rd year of the 48th Olympiad, the Amphictyones, who were presidents of the Pythian games, introduced flutes, but they were soon after laid aside as unsuited to the merry and jocund airs of festivals : we morcover find, that the trumpet was the only martial music of the Greeks, as, in the noise and confusion of a battle, softer instruments could not be heard. Certain it is the Greeks cultivated music,
for they had musical contentions, in which he who sang best the praises of Apollo obtained the prize; and again, they refused the poet Hesiod admission to their games because he was unable to play upon the harp. What statements more conclusive or convincing than these are requisite ? The candid reply is “none." It seems to be essential, and it really is, that a nation should possess a love and fondness for music, inasmuch as it is expressive of the advancement of science and general refinement. Music has the property of giving additional charms to the beauties of poetry, and additional force to the language of passion and feeling; hence, we find, even at the present day, that no one tribe, either of the Old or New World, whether Tartar rude and rambling, or wild Hottentot ; whether one of the Black Leg Indians, or a squalid native of the South Sea Isles, but all, all, in their singularly romantic festivals and ceremonies, have some kind of music whose discordant and rough sounds act most powerfully upon them; they dance the more vivaciously and delightedly, animation beams on their countenances, joy sparkles from their radiant and glancing eyes, expressive sentiment heightens their features, and the whole soul and spirit appear melted in their enthusiastic ardour and warm temperament. The power of music upon the mind is astonishing; there is something so bewitching, yet calm and consolatory, in music, that all our best writers have cultivated a taste for it. Shakspeare, Dryden, Milton, Davenant, Ben Jonson, Beaumont and Fletcher, are instances. In the time of James I. masques became the favourites with the court, and laid the foundation of a regular musical drama in England. Shakspeare's glees, “ Under the greenwood tree”—“ It was a lover and his lass,” &c., clearly show how passionate was his attachment for music, which in many of his plays he has most happily and effectively introduced. The enchanted abode of Prospero,
" The isle full of noises, Sounds, and sweet airs, that give delight, and hurt not, breathes seraphic melody, and adds strongly to my assertion. Milton was the author of " Comus,” the “chef-d'œuvre” of Dr. Arne, à celebrated composer, —
“ Music all powerful o'er the human mind,
Can still each mental storm-each tumult calm,
And e'en fierce anger's furious rage disarm.
She stirs to battle, or she lulls to peace;
And bids the jarring world's harsh clangour cease.”—H. K. WHITE. It is not a matter of surprise, that man should be acted upon so powerfully by music; for its pleasing effects pussess a divine agency, that operates upon the soul, the divinest part of man. Hooker, in the 5th book of his “ Ecclesiastical Polity,” speaks to the same effect.
* The Tempest. Act 3. Scene 2.
being derived immediately from Heaven, and man's soul being that deathless thing reserved for immortality, it is but natural to suppose, the omologous nature of each becomes (as is frequently the case) blended. The feelings and sentiments are called into action from their somnolency -the heart warmed or depressed, according to circumstances, and the whole frame of man dissolved in the air and melody-the coldness of our nature is thawed and rarefied, emitting its fervour and genial spirit around -our silence breaks into accents of ejaculatory praise and admiration, and our souls glow with ecstatic bliss, experiencing a foretaste of that heavenly music, shared and indulged in by the spotless beings of an enduring and a better land. Music is the language of the passions, and by it the best sympathies are made known. I will give a sketch from the pen of one of our modern writers *. “During breakfast, a blind harper's melancholy notes stole upon the ear, as he was playing in the hall. It is impossible for the inind to resist the pleasing melancholy that came over it, in spite of the want of apparent cause.
We were told, that two ladies who were of the livelier order of fair spirits, had burst into tears a day or two before--they knew not why-upon looking at the scenery from the window, and hearing the same notes of music. Mountain lands, after all, however wild, are the habitations of purer spirits than dwell in plains. Freedom and poetry come from the hills. It is true, Imagination holds empire there over Reason, but this is counterbalanced by the stronger impressions of a religion, that comes from the heart. In many instances, music aspires for pre-eminence over poetry, and in gaining it destroys both; but there are examples where music has been most instrumental in fostering and giving birth to poetry. What says the witty and humorous Jean Paul of himself, or rather of his production, entitled the Dream of a Madman?'. I could write such things at any time; the mood for it, when I am in health, lies in my own power. I seat myself at the harpsichord, and fantasying for awhile on it in the wildest way, I deliver myself over to the feeling of the moment, and then write my imaginings.' The Rev. Charles Wolfe has left an imperishable song, adapted to the popular Irish air, “ Gramachree.” He was asked, whether he had any real incident in view, or had witnessed any immediate occurrence which might have prompted it? His reply was, “ he had not, but that he had sung the air over and over, till he burst into a flood of tears, in which mood he composed the words t."
Such is the astonishing influence of music upon man's mind, that it not only rouses and excites the stronger and bolder passions not only engenders true and lively sympathy—not only elevates man's better nature from the dross of the earth-not only draws the tear of regret, or affectionate memory, from its tiny fount--but it moreover has the
* Taken from an article, called “ A Visit to Snowdon," signed-S. S., and inserted in the London Journal, January 1841.
+ Extracted from the Remains of the late Rev. Charles Wolfe, B.A., of Trinity College, Dublin, curate of Donoughmore, &c.
blessing, the happy means of bestowing a calmness. round the bed of death, and of attending the ransomed soul to the confines of eternity, where expectant angel-bands, with golden harps wreathed round with ever-blooming flowers, are making melody, and singing the “ Lamb's Song.” The passion of De Luc, the Natural Philosopher, for music, was so predominant in his latter days, that a piano was placed by his bedside, on which his daughter played great part of the day. The evening of his death, seeing her father ready to sink into a slumber, she asked him, “Shall I play any more?” “Keep playing,” said he, “keep playing.” He slept, but awoke no more. What a beautiful subject is this both for poet and painter !
It was in former ages a general opinion, and even now it is accredited by many, that soft, wave-like sounds of music are heard in the air at the departure of the soul from clay. Savouring of superstition as it does, yet is it one of those dear fancies, generated by the heart, having a close connection with holier things; it may be the result of an enthusiasm, urged on by a glowing imagination; nevertheless it is a spell, that has cheered many a weeping mourner by the couch of death.
by the couch of death. Something of this sentiment, perhaps, suggested itself to the mind of Pope, when penning the “ Dying Christian to his Soul”.
“ Hark! they whisper ; angels say,
Sister spirit come away.” and again,
my ears With sounds seraphic ring." But although music has such strong and potent charms—such powers over man,-yet there are hearts in the world, so callous and cold, as to close every inlet against its enrapturing melody; there are breasts so unfeeling, that they resemble a rock ; bosoms as void of sympathy as the howling storm. Ask the poor Savoyard, who toils through the crowded thoroughfares or vacant courts of London, if this is not true. Your own experience will convince you it is. Many are the well-fed Pharisees, who would subscribe pounds for their cathedral music; which, much to the disgrace of England's hierarchy, is almost always carelessly and irreverently per-formed; yet would never bestow a thought, much more a coin, upon the ill-clad, though not defective minstrel, whose soul is poured out in accents of joy, as his eye rests on the splendid abode of Wealth; and he feasts his heart with “ the hope of a rich reward.” At the last great day, such shall condemn them ; for we are certified by one, who errs not, that unless we possess charity, all else shall fail us; and consequently deep and dark will be the impress of guilt upon many a brow, made clear by the perfect light.
GEORGE R. TWINN. December 8th, 1843.
STANZAS FOR MUSIC.
BY JOHN HOWDEN, B, A., TRANSLATOR OF
I THINK of thee when morning's light breaks on the eastern sky,