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Title: Dr. Arne and Rule, Britannia

Author: William Hayman Cummings

Release date: July 14, 2013 [eBook #43214]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Charlene Taylor, Paul Clark and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at (This
file was produced from images generously made available
by The Internet Archive/American Libraries.)


Transcriber's Note:

Every effort has been made to replicate this text as faithfully as possible. Some changes have been made. They are listed at the end of the text.

Larger versions of the illustrations of the rioting at Covent Garden, Cliefden House and the score of Rule Britannia may be seen by clicking on the images.

Above each of the musical examples there are links to a midi file [Listen] and a MusicXML file [XML].

Dr. Arne, by Dunkarton.



Mus. Doc., F.S.A., Hon. R.A.M.
Author of “The Origin and History of ‘God Save the King.’”

New York: THE H. W. GRAY CO., Sole Agents for U.S.A.



The glorious National Song, “Rule, Britannia,” is familiar to the whole British race; nevertheless very few men and women are acquainted with the history of its birth and parentage.

In the following pages I have endeavoured to chronicle all the facts which are discoverable by diligent research, and to present them in an attractive and entertaining manner.

The life of Dr. Arne, the composer of “Rule, Britannia,” offers to the reader and to the music student an interesting and instructive story, showing that natural ability, even when combined with genius, is not sufficient to ensure a triumphant and successful career. Morality and conscientious rectitude in the affairs of life are essential, and had Arne exercised these, his exceptional gifts might have enabled him to surpass his great contemporary, Handel.

It only remains to be noted that many letters and documents are here printed for the first time, some of them copied from the original autographs in my possession. They illuminate much which has hitherto been obscure and uncertain in the career of a famous composer.

William H. Cummings.


Arne, by Dunkarton Frontispiece
Arne, by Gainsborough 7
Mrs. Cibber 12
Cervetto—“Old Nosey”—By Zoffany 16
Music Hall, Fishamble Street, Dublin 19
Arne, by Bartolozzi 46
Covent Garden Theatre. Rioting during Arne’s “Artaxerxes” 61
Facsimile of Autograph Letter by Arne 69
Arne, by Zoffany 94
View of Cliefden House 111
Facsimile of “Rule, Britannia” 123

[Pg 1]


Much confusion has arisen concerning the family of Arne; this is not surprising, seeing that three generations of the same family were named Thomas, and that all resided in the parish of St. Paul, Covent Garden. On the 14th of February, 1680, the Bishop of London granted a marriage licence to “Thomas Arne, of St. Paul’s, Covent Garden, Bachelor, 27 and upwards, and Mary Thursfield, of St. Martin’s-in-Fields, Spinster, 20, with her father’s consent at St. Peter’s, Cornhill, or elsewhere in Diocese.” A son born to this couple was baptized in St. Paul, Covent Garden, on the 3rd of December, 1682; the church register records “Thomas, son of Thomas Arne by Mary his wife.” In due time, when twenty-five years of age, this second Thomas married Anne Wheeler in the Mercers’ Chapel, Cheapside, April, 1707.[1] Three years later a son was born, who also was named Thomas, and duly baptized in St. Paul, Covent Garden. The ceremony is recorded in the church register on the 28th of May, 1710, “Thomas, son of Thomas Arne by Ann his wife.” This was the future musician and composer; the date of his birth cannot be verified by documentary evidence, but tradition has given the 12th of March, and this has generally been accepted as correct. It is noteworthy that Arne received only one Christian name in baptism, and that in after life he added another,[Pg 2] Augustine. It has been suggested that at some period he was received into the Roman Catholic Church, and then took the additional name; but diligent inquiry at the Sardinian Chapel, Lincoln’s Inn Fields, a place of worship he frequented, has failed to discover any evidence of the alleged ceremony. A letter written by Dr. Burney[2] (Arne’s pupil) to Sir Joseph Banks in July, 1806, described “Old Mrs. Arne, the mother of Dr. Arne and Mrs. Cibber, as a bigotted Roman Catholic.” Surely natural affection would suffice to induce a mother to instruct her children in her own religious faith, and there was no reason why her son should not have been baptized with both names had the parents wished it. It seems quite clear that the adoption of the second name became a necessity to distinguish the composer from his father.

Thomas Arne, m. 1680, Mary Thursfield.
d. 1713.    
Thomas Arne, b. 1682, Anne Wheeler.
m. 1736, d. 1778.    
Thomas Arne, b. 1710, Cecilia Young
m. 1736, d. 1778.   b. 1711, d. 1789.

The last-named was born in his father’s house, King Street, Covent Garden, now No. 34, but in 1710 distinguished by the sign of “The Crown and Cushion.” It was notable as the residence for a time[Pg 3] of the North American chieftains, who created a considerable sensation whilst in London, and were popularly called the Indian Kings. Bancroft’s “United States” describes them: “Five Sachems from the Iroquois sailed with Schayler for England. They appeared amidst the gaze of crowds, dressed in English small-clothes of black, with scarlet ingrain cloth mantles, edged with gold, for their blankets; they were conducted in coaches to an audience with Queen Anne, and giving her belts of wampum they avowed their readiness to take up the hatchet and aid her in the reduction of Canada.” Arne, senior, the father of the composer, carried on the business of an upholsterer, which included that of an undertaker. He paid for his house the considerable rental of £75 per annum, and for a time he filled the responsible office of parish overseer. There is every indication that he was a prosperous tradesman, so well to do that he was able to send his son at a suitable age to Eton College to be educated. Unfortunately the records of that ancient foundation afford no information as to the date of Arne’s admission to the college, nor of the length of his residence there: he was not admitted as a foundation scholar, but as an Oppidan, and as such would live as a boarder in one of the masters’ houses.

Many errors have been printed respecting the status and career of Arne’s father. Probably they all originated from the statements made in a letter of Addison’s which appeared in the Tatler in 1710; a certain Mr. Arne is there described as an Upholder of Covent Garden, a rabid politician, neglectful of home and family, and in consequence a bankrupt. It is[Pg 4] certain that the man thus described was the composer’s grandfather, who died in the Marshalsea debtors’ prison and was buried in the graveyard of St. Paul, Covent Garden, as is recorded in the church register, “24 December, 1713, Thomas Arne from the Marchelsea.” Commentators on Addison’s letter evolved a story that Arne’s father died in prison under very cruel conditions; but investigation shows that the Arne who was murdered in the Fleet prison was Edward Arne, probably an uncle of the composer. The House of Commons Reports published in 1729 states that “it appeared to the Committee that in the year 1725, one Mr. Arne an Upholder was carried into a stable which stood where the Strong Room on the Master’s side now is, and was there confined (being a place of cold restraint) till he died, and that he was in a good state of health before he was confined to that room.” The Prison Committee further inquired into the case, and presented a detailed statement as follows: “Mr. Arne, mentioned in the said former reports, whilst he was in the Tap-House of the said Fleet prison, during the wardership of John Huggins, Esq., and behaving himself quietly, was suddenly seized by James Barnes (agent for Huggins,) and without any reason given, was forced into the Strong Room, or Dungeon on the Master’s side; which dungeon being then but lately built, and so damp that the drops hung upon the walls, was very nauseous and unwholesome. In this place was the unfortunate man locked up, and never once permitted to go out; But by an accident on a Sunday, the door being opened, he ran into the parlour adjoining to the Chappell, during the Time of Divine Service; he had no covering upon his[Pg 5] Body, but the Feathers of a Bed (which Bed was thrown to him by a Prisoner,) into which he crept, to defend himself from the Cold, and the Feathers stuck and were clotted upon him, by his own Excrements, and the dirt which covered his skin. He was immediately seized and carried back into the said dungeon, where thro’ cold and the Restraint, and, for want of food, he lost his senses, languished and perished. Notwithstanding the miserable condition of this man, and the applications were made to Mr. Huggins, the said Huggins had no compassion on him, but caused the door to be closed upon him.”[3]

The unhappy victim of tyrannic cruelty was buried in the precincts of St. Paul, Covent Garden, as is recorded in the church register, “23 of October, 1725, Edward Arne, from the Fleet Prison.”

The most reliable account of Arne’s early years is to be found in Dr. Burney’s “History of Music.” Burney, when a youth, was sent to Chester to be educated in the Free School. In 1744 he was introduced to Mr. Arne, who was passing through the City on his journey from Ireland to London, “and this most popular of English vocal composers since the days of Purcell was so pleased with the talents of this nearly self-instructed performer, as to make an offer to Mr. Burney, senior, upon such conditions as are usual to such sort of patronage, to complete the[Pg 6] education of this lively and aspiring young man; and to bring him forth to the world as his favourite and most promising pupil. To the proposal Mr. Burney, senior, was induced to consent; and at the age of seventeen, the eager young candidate for fame rapturously set off, in company with Dr. Arne, for the metropolis.”[4] Arne was a man of pleasure, and seems to have done little to further the serious studies of his articled pupil; Burney’s daughter said that the master constantly employed the pupil in copying music. It is therefore not surprising that the latter eagerly embraced an opportunity of emancipation from drudgery (which was afforded through the recommendation of Kirkman, the harpsichord maker), and accepted the appointment of performer and teacher to the fashionable Fulk Greville. The apprenticeship articles, however, presented a difficulty, and Greville called on Arne to inquire on what terms he would cancel the bond. “Arne at first would listen to no proposition, protesting that a youth of such promise was beyond all equivalent; But no sooner was a round sum mentioned, than Arne, who, in common with all the dupes of extravagance, was evermore needy, could not disguise from himself that he was dolorously out of cash; and the dazzling glare of three hundred pounds could not but play most temptingly in his sight. The articles, therefore, were cancelled.”

Arne, by Gainsborough.

We now return to the early days of Arne. Burney writes, “Arne had a good school education, having been sent to Eton by his father, who intended him for the law. But I have been assured by several of his[Pg 7] school-fellows, that his love for music operated upon him too powerfully, even while he was at Eton, for his own peace, or that of his companions; for with a miserable, cracked common-flute he used to torment them night and day when not obliged to attend the school.” Burney’s description of the flute must be regarded as somewhat exaggerated if we may judge from the instrument depicted in the portrait of Arne painted by Gainsborough, and here reproduced. Burney’s narrative continues, “He told me himself that when he left Eton, such was his passion for Music, that he used to avail himself of the privilege of a servant, by borrowing a livery and going into the upper gallery of the Opera, which was then appropriated to domestics.” Arne’s father, having decided that the young man should be brought up to the profession of the law, articled him to an attorney for three years, but this compulsory legal study did not prevent him secretly and assiduously practising on a spinet, which he had smuggled into his bedroom; using a silk handkerchief, he contrived to muffle the sounds of the instrument, and could indulge in play when the other members of the household were asleep. This he did with fear and trembling, well-knowing that if discovered by his father, both he and the musical instrument ran the risk of violent expulsion through the window. He further managed to acquire some proficiency on the violin, and soon contrived to get some lessons from the accomplished and eminent violinist, Michael Festing. His natural talent enabled him to make rapid progress, and shortly after the expiry of his articles, an incident occurred which happily determined[Pg 8] his future career. His father, one day calling at a gentleman’s house in the neighbourhood upon business, found that he was engaged, but sending in his name, Arne’s father was invited upstairs, where there was a large company and a concert in progress, and, to his astonishment, his son in the very act of leading as first fiddle. This convincing proof that his son was more successful with music than law, caused him to relent, and he offered no further opposition to his adopting the former as a means of livelihood. Arne was now able to pursue his musical studies without restraint, and he soon bewitched all the family by his enthusiasm and ability. He discovered that his sister, Susanna, possessed a beautiful and sympathetic voice, which by his instruction rapidly developed. Festing still continued to give him lessons on the violin, and calling in King Street one day for this purpose, he found Arne diligently practising with his music supported on the lid of a coffin. Horrified with the sight, he declared he could not play under such circumstances, as he would be constantly imagining there might be a corpse in the coffin beneath. “So there is,” said Arne, and gave proof by removing the lid.

In 1732, Arne’s father dabbled in music as a business speculation; induced to do so, perhaps, by the remarkable talent of his children. He and others, without permission, and without consulting Handel, announced performances of that composer’s works at the theatre in the Haymarket. An advertisement of May the 10th reads: “At the theatre in the Haymarket on Thursday the 12th inst. Acis and Galatea, a pastoral drama set by Mr. Handel will be performed, with all the choruses, songs, machines and other[Pg 9] decorations: being the first time it ever was performed in a theatrical way. The part of Acis by Mr. Mountier, being the first time of his appearing in character on any stage. Galatea by Miss Arne. Pit and boxes at five shillings. Subscriptions are only taken in by Mr. Arne at the Crown and Cushion, King Street, Covent Garden.”

For some reason the performance did not take place on the 12th, but on the 17th. Dr. Burney says that the adventurers, or partners, in the speculation included Arne and his son, and the performers, Miss Arne and Miss Cecilia Young, afterward young Arne’s wife. Arne now resolved to essay his powers in composition, by setting to music the libretto of Rosamond, written by Addison. The music of the chief character he designed for his sister, and the part of the Page for his young brother Michael. The work when completed was presented to the public at the theatre in Lincoln’s Inn Fields on the 7th of March, 1733. In addition to his sister and brother, the performers were Mrs. Barbier; Leveridge, the veteran bass, Mr. Corfe, Mrs. Jones and Miss Chambers. The first performance proved a great success and was followed by ten others; the last was announced for the benefit of “Mr. Arne, junior,” evidently to distinguish the composer from the father. Thus encouraged Arne now determined to try his hand on a humorous composition, and selected for the purpose Fielding’s Burletta “Tom Thumb”; this had been played as a comedy, with great success, in 1731, under the title “The Tragedy of Tragedies!” In its new musical dress the composer called it “The Opera of Operas,” and it was submitted to the judgment of[Pg 10] the public at the new theatre in the Haymarket on the 31st of May, 1733. The principal character, Tom Thumb, was personated by the composer’s brother Michael. The verdict of the audience was highly favourable; the piece attained great popularity, and a very long run. The Princess Amelia and the Duke of Cumberland attended the second performance; the Prince of Wales, the sixth, and the younger Princesses the eighth. Arne’s next composition was an experiment in another branch of stage work; a Masque with Harlequinade entitled, “Dido and Æneas.” He was now regularly employed at Drury Lane Theatre as composer. His sister, Susannah Maria, had acquired considerable fame both as singer and actress, and in April, 1734, she married Theophilus Cibber, who became notorious as an evil-doer. He was the son of Colley Cibber, and for about three years husband and wife lived together; they had two children, who died in infancy. The profligate husband had a friend, a Mr. Sloper, who with ample means frequently relieved Cibber of pecuniary embarrassments, but in 1738 the latter absconded to France, and his wife placed herself under the protection of Mr. Sloper, who resided at Burnham in Buckinghamshire. On returning to England, Cibber brought an action for adultery, laying the damages at £5,000; the verdict in his favour gave him £10. He then brought a fresh action, claiming £10,000 for the loss of his wife’s professional services, and obtained a verdict for £500. It appeared that Cibber[5] had forcibly broken into his wife’s residence,[Pg 11] abstracted her jewellery, and carried her off to the Bull’s Head tavern, Clare Market, where he had locked her in an apartment from which she was rescued by her brother, Thomas Arne.

In 1736, Arne, in the twenty-sixth year of his age, married Cecilia Young, the charming singer who had appeared with his sister at the performances in the new theatre in the Haymarket, in 1732. She was the daughter of Charles Young, a performer of good repute and organist of All Hallows’ Church, Barking. Of three accomplished sisters she was the most gifted; her natural soprano voice had been well trained by Geminiani, and was of unusual compass and flexibility, ranging up to E in alt. She was also greatly admired on account of the accuracy and perfection with which she executed trills and shakes. Dr. Burney said, “her style of singing was infinitely superior to that of any other English woman of her time.”

Charles Young refused to sanction his daughter’s marriage with Arne on account of the latter’s religious principles. It is said he never forgave her.[6] In the year of his marriage, Arne wrote the incidental music for “Zara,” a tragedy produced at Drury Lane Theatre, in which his sister Mrs. Cibber first gave proof of her extraordinary ability as a tragic actress as well as singer. She captivated everyone by her native sweetness of voice and powers of expression; “It was difficult to say which of the two received the greater applause, the actress for her interesting person, pathetic voice and manner, or the musician (the composer Arne) for his natural[Pg 12] and pleasing strains, particularly the March which was encored every night.” Mrs. Cibber’s fame became pronounced. Handel thought so highly of her that he engaged her to sing the contralto part in “The Messiah” at its first performance, in Dublin. How well she merited his selection was proved at the conclusion of the Air “He was despised”; her singing was so natural and touching that the Dean of St. Patrick’s, Dr. Delaney, arose from his seat and audibly exclaimed, “Woman, for this thy sins be forgiven thee!”

Mrs. Cibber was not only a great artist, but also a very accomplished and amiable woman, as is proved by her correspondence with David Garrick. When she died, in 1766, Garrick declared that “tragedy expired with her.”

She was buried in the North Cloister of Westminster Abbey.

Mrs. Cibber.

The only other composition of Arne’s which can be traced to the year of his marriage, 1736, is a Serenata, the words by Thomas Phillips, written to commemorate the marriage of the Prince of Wales with the beautiful Princess Augusta of Saxe Gotha, which took place in April. The Serenata was performed at Drury Lane Theatre. Arne’s connection with the theatre provided him with a splendid opening for his talent as composer. Dr. John Dalton, a Prebendary of Worcester Cathedral and Rector of St. Mary-at-hill, London, prepared a stage version of Milton’s “Comus.” He interpolated verses taken from other works of the poet, and added some songs of his own, all requiring music; and, as the sequel proved, no composer could have carried out the task more efficiently than Arne, who entered upon his[Pg 13] welcome labours with real enthusiasm, and easily earned the reputation of being the best English composer of the day. His music combined graceful melody and expressive accent, needing no extraneous ornamentation to enhance its beauty. The songs “Now Phœbus sinketh in the West,” “By dimpled brook,” “How gentle was my Damon’s Airs,” and “Sweet Echo,” are amongst the gems. The various characters were well represented on the stage. Comus by Mr. Quin; the Lady, Mrs. Cibber; the Brothers, Mr. Milward and Mr. Cibber; First Spirit, Mr. Mills; Second Spirit, Mr. Hill; Euphrosyne, Mrs. Clive; Sabrina, Mrs. Arne; Attendant Spirit, Mr. Beard. The Masque is preceded by a sprightly Overture scored for strings, two flutes, two oboes, two trumpets, and bassoons. The instruments are never employed simultaneously, an orchestral feature peculiar to Arne. The song “Sweet Echo” was sung “behind the scenes” by Mrs. Arne, with an echo played on the flute, and proved very effective. Either from want of time, or some other cause, Arne did not compose chorus music, but adapted several pieces from Handel; the manuscript of these adaptations is in the British Museum. Produced at Drury Lane Theatre in 1738 under the composer’s direction, the piece had a long run and was frequently revived. A notable occasion was the performance at Drury Lane on the 5th of April, 1750, when it was given for the benefit of the grand-daughter of Milton, Mrs. Elizabeth Foster, who was living in extreme old age and poverty; for this notable event Dr. Johnson wrote a prologue which was spoken by Garrick. It is satisfactory to know that the substantial sum of one hundred and thirty pounds[Pg 14] was handed over to the aged lady as a result of the united efforts of the artists who gave their services.

The popularity of “Comus” induced Arne to publish a score of the music in 1740. The title-page of the volume reads: “The Music in the Masque of Comus. Written by Milton. As it was Perform’d at the Theatre-Royal in Drury-Lane. Composed by Thomas Augustine Arne. Opera Prima. London. Printed by William Smith, at the musick shop in Middle Row, near Holborn Bars, and sold by the Author.” The copies were signed by the composer; we may therefore presume that the publication was his own venture, which may account for his calling it Opera Prima. It certainly was not the first work of his, either composed or printed. He afterwards sold the plates, and the score was published with a new title-page bearing the imprint “London. Printed for and sold by J. Simpson in Sweetings Alley Royal Exchange.” “Comus” became so popular that the songs were sung all over the Kingdom, and gave rise to numerous convivial and musical associations which were convened under the title Comus’s Court.

In 1739, a number of eminent musicians residing in London united in establishing a charitable society for the relief of indigent musicians and their families. The first steps were taken by Festing, Handel, Green, Weideman, and nine others; it was then called “The Society of Musicians,” and since has become by Charter “The Royal Society of Musicians.” Among the first to join the Association and to sign the “Declaration of Trust” were Thomas Arne and Handel. The former, after some years, neglected to pay his subscription, and ceased to be a member; but the latter retained his membership to the end[Pg 15] of his life, and by his Will bequeathed one thousand pounds to its funds.

1740 was a very busy and prosperous year for Arne. His composition of the “Masque of Alfred” for the Prince of Wales will be found fully discussed in connection with “Rule, Britannia”; the other Masque, which was performed at the same celebration, was “The Judgment of Paris,” written by William Congreve. This author died in 1728, and it is not known who arranged the book as set by Arne; it contained much more music than “Alfred,” and, with the exception of “Rule, Britannia,” of greater importance. The Overture, composed on the conventional pattern of the day, beginning with a Largo, followed by a spirited fugue, concludes with a Minuet Andante and a Giga con spirito; the only instruments employed are strings and oboes. The Recitative, “O ravishing delight,” sung by Mr. Beard in the character of Paris, it would be difficult to surpass. Accompanied by the string quartett, it is full of variety and charm, and leads into an Allegro, with bravura passages well written for the voice. If revived to-day by a good tenor singer it would prove a great success. There is a remarkable Air for Venus, “Gentle Swain,” which was sung by Mrs. Arne. In the printed score the composer appends the note, “This Air is composed for a Violoncello solo, and a double Bass to play with the Harpsichord.”[7] The violoncello had quite recently been introduced into England by Cervetto (Giacobbe Bassevi), who joined the Drury Lane Theatre orchestra in 1738; by his skill he soon[Pg 16] made the instrument popular. Both Arne and Handel wrote special obbligato parts for him. His personality and manners were very marked, and he became a pet of the gods in the gallery of the theatre, who, when he appeared in the orchestra, would call out “play up, Nosey.” He became manager of Drury Lane Theatre, and died on the 14th of January, 1783, over one hundred years of age, leaving his son a fortune of £20,000. He signed the admission book of the “Society of Musicians” on the 14th of April, 1742. An amusing story is told of an encounter Cervetto had with Garrick; the latter had been absent from Drury Lane Theatre for two years, and on his return he prepared an address to speak previous to the play. When the applause which greeted him had subsided, the house became silent in expectation of the speech. At this crucial moment, Cervetto anticipated the first word by a tremendous yawn, which caused the audience to burst into convulsive laughter, and several minutes elapsed before quiet was restored. When the curtain dropped, Garrick rushed to the music-room and seized Cervetto by the shoulders, calling him a scoundrel, and a base-viol, and demanded what he meant by his conduct. The poor man could only reply that “when he had a great rapture” he always did “yawn that way.”

Cervetto, by Zoffany.

The Air “Gentle swain,” sung by Mrs. Arne, in which Cervetto accompanied, is very melodious vocally and instrumentally: it was followed by a Trio for three soprano voices, sung by Mrs. Arne, Mrs. Clive, and Miss Edwards, representing Venus, Pallas, and Juno. The music is admirable, in spite of the words, which cannot be described as poetry.[Pg 17] After an invitation from each of the three divinities:

Hither turn thee gentle swain,
Hither turn to me again:
She will deceive thee,
I’ll never leave thee—

Paris, represented by Mr. Beard, replied:

Apart let me view then each heav’nly fair,
For three at a time no mortal can bear;
And since a gay robe an ill shape may disguise,
When each is undrest
I’ll judge of the best,
For ’tis not a face that must carry the prize.

We have no record how they managed the stage business at Clieveden, but it must have presented some difficulty. A Recitative for Pallas is remarkable for the vigour of the instrumental accompaniment, and the Air “The glorious voice it was” is very spiritedly supported by strings, oboes, trumpets and drums. A fine Recitative, “Stay, lovely youth,” sung by Mrs. Arne is also worthy of mention. At the close of the year 1740, on the 20th of December, Shakespeare’s “As you like it” was played at Drury Lane Theatre, the first time for forty years. Great interest was excited by the revival, more especially on account of the fact that Arne had prepared new music for the songs. These included “When daisies pied,” sung by Kitty Clive, “Under the greenwood tree” and “Blow, thou winter wind,” sung by Mr. Thomas Lowe. They all captivated the public taste, who found Shakespeare’s poetry admirably framed in Arne’s melodies. The immediate popularity of the music attracted the attention of several unscrupulous publishers of the day. To protect himself against[Pg 18] their nefarious depredations, Arne obtained a Royal license, dated 29th of January, 1741. “George, the Second, by the Grace of God, King of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, etc. To all to whom these Presents shall come, Greeting. Whereas Thomas Augustine Arne, of Craven Buildings, near Drury Lane, in our County of Middlesex, Gent. Hath humbly represented unto US, That he hath with great Study, Labour and Expence, composed several works, consisting of Vocal and Instrumental Musick, in order to be printed and published; and hath Therefore humbly besought US to grant him Our Royal Privilege and License, for the sole printing and publishing thereof, for the term of Fourteen Years. We being willing to give all due Encouragement to works of this Nature, are graciously pleased to condescend to his Request: and We do therefore, by these Presents, so far as may be agreeable to the Statute in that behalf made and provided, grant unto the said Thomas Augustine Arne, his Executors, Administrators and Assigns, Our License for the sole Printing and Publishing the said Works, for the Term of Fourteen Years, to be computed from the Date hereof; strictly forbidding all our Subjects within our Kingdom and Dominions, to Reprint or Abridge the same, either in the like, or any other Volume or Volumes whatsoever; or import, buy, vend, utter, or distribute any Copies thereof reprinted beyond the Seas, during the aforesaid Term of Fourteen years, without the Consent or Approbation of the said Thomas Augustine Arne, his Heirs, Executors, and Assigns, as they will answer the contrary at their Peril. Whereof[Pg 19] the Commissioners and other Officers of our Customs, the Master, Wardens and Company of Stationers, are to take Notice, that due Obedience may be rendered to our Pleasure herein declared. Given at our Court St. James’s, the Twenty-Ninth Day of January, 1740-1, in the Fourteenth Year of Our Reign. By His Majesty’s Command.

Hollis Newcastle.

The Great Room, Fishamble Street, Dublin.

In 1741, Arne and his wife made their first united visit to Ireland; from Faulkner’s Dublin Journal of June 29-July 3, we learn that: “Last Wednesday (June 30th) the ingenious Mr. Arne, brother to Mrs. Cibber, and Composer of the Musick of Comus, together with his Wife, (the celebrated Singer,) arrived here from London.” This notice is interesting as evidence that “Comus” had already been performed in Dublin; Mrs. Cibber and James Quin, the original exponents of the Lady, and Comus, were two of the actors engaged in the Dublin production; we may therefore reasonably suppose that they had introduced some of Arne’s music. Mrs. Cibber had also won a high place in the estimation of the public by her exquisite singing in the first performance of the “Messiah” Oratorio when conducted by Handel on the 13th of April preceding. No time was lost by Arne and his wife in making a venture for public favour. Faulkner’s Journal, July 13-17, exhibited the following advertisement: “At the particular Desire of several Persons of Quality, for the Benefit of Mrs. Arne, at the Great Room in Fishamble-street, on Wednesday, the 21st Inst., will be performed a grand Entertainment of Musick, to[Pg 20] be divided into three Interludes; wherein several favourite Songs and Duetto will be performed by Mrs. Arne and Mrs. Cibber. In the first Interlude (after an Overture of Mr. Handel’s) a Scene from Mr. Arne’s Opera of Rosamund, by Mrs. Arne; O beauteous Queen, from Mr. Handel’s Oratorio Esther, by Mrs. Cibber; Non chiamarmi, from an Opera of Signor Hasse’s by Mrs. Arne; and O fairest of ten thousand Fair, a Duetto, from Mr. Handel’s Oratorio of Saul, by Mrs. Arne and Mrs. Cibber. In the second Interlude (after an Overture of Mr. Arne’s) Lascia cadermi in Volto, a Song of Farinelli’s Singing, by Mrs. Arne; Chi scherza colle Rose, from Mr. Handel’s Opera of Hymen, by Mrs. Cibber; Vo solcando, a song of Signor Vinci’s by Mrs. Arne; and Vado e vido, a Duetto of Mr. Handel’s in Faramond by Mrs. Arne and Mrs. Cibber. In the third Interlude (after an Overture of Mr. Arne’s), O peace, thou fairest Child of Heaven, from Mr. Arne’s Masque of Alfred, by Mrs. Arne; Un Guardo Solo from Mr. Handel’s Opera of Hymen, by Mrs. Cibber; (by particular Desire) Sweet Bird, from Mr. Handel’s Allegro, by Mrs. Arne; and Per le Porte del Tormento, a favourite Duetto of Mr. Handel’s in Sosarmes, by Mrs. Arne and Mrs. Cibber.—Mrs. Arne, being a Stranger in this Kingdom, humbly hopes the Nobility and Gentry will excuse her personal Application, and to prevent Their being detained at the Doors of the Hall, while Tickets are delivered them, that they will send for their Tickets to Mrs. Cibber’s House in Aungier-street, where Places may be taken.—And, to prevent mistakes, they are desired to send their Servants to Keep Places before[Pg 21] five o’clock, To begin exactly at 7 o’clock. N.B. This Performance (intended for the Theatre) is at the Request of several Gentlemen and Ladies altered to the Great Room above mentioned.”

It will be noticed that the programme contains eight pieces composed by Handel, and only four by Arne. Handel was residing in Dublin, and it is quite likely that he extended his friendly patronage to Mrs. Arne and attended the concert. In any case Handel’s music was undoubtedly an attraction for the fashionable world of Dublin; and it is satisfactory to read that the concert was so great a success that “At the particular Desire of several Persons of Quality” a repeat was granted on the following Wednesday, the 28th of July. Very soon after the latter performance, the Dublin musical season came to an end and the many artists who had been making hay in that city transferred their personalities to England. “The celebrated Mr. Handel” left Dublin on the 13th of August, and on Monday, the 23rd of the same month, was followed by Mrs. Cibber, Mr. Arne and David Garrick. Mrs. Arne remained in Dublin; probably her husband only went to London to make preparations for an extended campaign in Dublin. In a month’s time he returned, and resided with his wife at a house “over against the Ram in Aungier-street” near the Theatre. We obtain intelligence of their doings from an advertisement in Faulkner’s Journal of September 25-28,—“The Charitable and Musical Society” announced the commencement of the season by a concert to be given on the 8th of October. Special attention is directed to the fact that “they have provided a fine Organ, and have engaged the celebrated[Pg 22] Mrs. Arne to sing”; the day after the performance the Journal reported, “Last Night the Charitable and Musical Society opened their first Concert to a very numerous and polite Assembly of Ladies and Gentlemen, when Mrs. Arne (tho’ extremely ill of a Cold) sang with universal applause.” She speedily recovered and with her husband gave a concert in the following December. The Journal of November 27-30 contained the following announcement: “We hear that on Friday next [Dec. 3] being particularly desir’d, at the Great Room in Fishamble Street, Mrs. Arne will sing the Song Sweet Bird, accompanied on the Violin by Mr. Arne. And that he intends between the Acts of his Serenatas, Operas, and other Musical Performances, to intermix Comic Interludes (after the Italian Manner), amongst which will be perform’d Tom Thumb, the Original Burlesque Opera compos’d by him, the Dragon of Wantley, Miss Lucy in Town, etc. Intended to give Relief to that grave Attention, necessary to be kept up in Serious Performances. Which he intends shall begin in January next.” We learn from this the evident intention of Arne to make a lengthened stay in the city which had received him and his wife with so much favour. It is likewise interesting to note that hitherto he had acted as harpsichord accompanist, and now proposed exhibiting his excellent skill as a solo violinist. The obbligato to the song “Sweet Bird,” from Handel’s “Allegro,” was composed for a flute, by no means an easy task for a violin player at that time. The “Charitable Musical Society,” evidently satisfied with Mrs. Arne’s performance, on the 17th of December engaged her for[Pg 23] another concert given “for the Benefit and Enlargement of Prisoners confined for Debt, in the several Marshalseas in this City.” An advertisement announced “On Tuesday next, being the 14th of December, at 12 o’clock at Noon will be the Rehearsal of Acis and Galatea, with the celebrated Coronation Anthem called Zadok the Priest, composed by Mr. Handel. Mr. Dubourg will perform a new Solo. The Performance will be on Friday the 17th, at 6 in the Evening. The Gentlemen of the Choir of each Cathedral will assist,[8] with Mrs. Arne, Mrs. Storer, Mr. Colgan, and others. Tickets to be had at half a Guinea each, from Mr. Neal, at the said Musick Hall. A Rehearsal Ticket will be delivered with the Ticket for the Performance, as it was for the Messiah.” “There are great Numbers of Tickets already disposed of for the Musical Entertainment of Acis and Galatea; and it is not doubted but the Ladies of this Kingdom who so eminently distinguish themselves for their great Virtue and Charity, will, upon this Occasion, exert themselves by promoting[Pg 24] this Charity, many of them, of great Quality and Distinction, having come to a Resolution not to wear any Hoops next Friday, as it will be a Means of admitting more People into the Hall than usual.”

In this month, December 11-14, the Journal made an announcement of considerable importance: “Mr. Swan being desirous to entertain the Town in the best manner possible, has contracted with Mr. Arne, for Mrs. Arne, Mrs. Baildon, Mrs. Sybilla, and other singers belonging to him, to perform in the Masque of Comus, written by Milton, and set to Musick by Mr. Arne. The Choruses will be properly performed, and Mr. Arne will accompany the Performance, which will be exhibited on Monday next, being the 10th inst. Jan. N.B. The Orchestra will be doubled, and there will be a Row at the Pit enclosed for the Musick.” The same Journal of the 4-8th January, 1743, gave more details: “By His Majesty’s Company of Comedians, at the Theatre Royal in Aungier-street, on Monday next, being the 10th inst. Jan. will be performed a Dramatick Masque called Comus, written by Milton. The Musick, vocal and instrumental, composed by Mr. Arne. The Part of Comus, by Mr. Swan; a pastoral Nymph, and the Part of Sabrina, by Mrs. Arne; the principal Bacchanal, by Mrs. Baildon, from London; the Lady’s Song (Sweet Echo) by Mrs. Arne, accompany’d by Mr. Neal, from England, who performed it originally; the second pastoral Nymph by Mrs. Sybilla, a Scholar of Mr. Arne’s; the Part of Euphrosyne to be performed by Miss Davis. With all the Choruses performed in Parts, as originally in England, and never done here before. The original Prologue to[Pg 25] be spoke by Mr. Swan, and the Epilogue by Mrs. Furnival. A Row of the Pit will be taken into the Orchestra, there being an extraordinary Band of Musick provided on this occasion. The whole conducted by Mr. Arne, who accompanies the Performance on the Harpsichord. With new Habits, Scenes, Machines, Risings, Sinkings, Flyings, and other Decorations. It is hoped it will not be taken ill, that none can be admitted behind the Scenes. N.B. This Performance being exhibited at a much greater Expense than any Theatrical Entertainment in this Kingdom, we are obliged to lay the Pit and Boxes together at 5s. 5d. Lattaces, 5s. 5d. Gallery, 2s. 8d. halfp.” The foregoing advertisement is brim full of interesting matter; we see that Mr. Arne was a tower of strength; that Mr. Neal was the solo flautist at the first performance of “Comus,” in Drury Lane Theatre; the choruses, performed in parts, were taken from Handel, as in London; also that Mr. Arne conducted and accompanied, according to the fashion of the day, at the harpsichord. The artistic venture of Mr. Swan met with due reward; “Comus” was successfully repeated on the 13th, 20th, and 24th of January, and again on the 8th of February for the benefit of Mr. Swan; finally, on the 21st of April, Mr. Neal took a benefit at the Smock Alley Theatre on the 1st of February, when he exhibited his versatility; the Journal announced [Pg 26]“Between the Acts, Mr. Neale will perform a Solo and Concerte on the Hautboy, with a Piece on the German Flute. Mr. Charles and his Second will perform a Concerto on the French Horn, and Mr. Storer will sing a favourite Song. Master Neale, a child of ten Years old, will perform a Concerto on the Violin, and Elin a Roon, with all its Variations.” This advertisement is of importance, showing that Arne had excellent orchestral players. Mr. Charles[9] was a very skilful performer; possibly he had been one of the Drury Lane orchestra. On the following 10th of February, Mrs. Arne had a benefit at the Theatre Royal, Aungier Street, when the programme consisted of “A Grand Serenata, call’d Love and Glory; composed by Mr. Arne, in Honour of the Nuptials of His Royal Highness Frederick Prince of Wales, with the Princess Augusta. After the Serenata, a new Farce call’d Miss Lucy in Town,[10] with all the songs composed by Mr. Arne, and performed at the Theatre-Royal in Drury Lane.”

A concert was given at the Music Hall in Fishamble Street, on the 4th of May, for the benefit of the Charitable Infirmary, when Handel’s “Alexander’s Feast” was performed. Mr. Arne conducted and Mrs. Arne sang; “the Gentlemen of the Choirs of both Cathedrals and several other voices” assisted. On Saturday, the 7th, three days afterwards, Mr. Arne had a benefit at the Theatre Royal in Aungier Street, when the bill consisted of [Pg 27]“an Opera called Rosamond, Written by the celebrated Mr. Addison, and set to Musick by Mr. Arne: King Henry, Mr. Baildon; Sir Trusty, Mr. Layfield; Page, Master Pilkington; being the first Time of his Appearance on any Stage; Rosamond, Mrs. Sybilla; Grideline, Miss Davis; and the part of Queen Eleanor to be performed by Mrs. Arne, After which will be performed the original comic burlesque Opera called Tom Thumb. The Part of Tom Thumb by Master Pilkington; King, Mr. Baildon; Lord Grizzel, Mr. Layfield; Queen Dollallolla, Miss Davis; Princess, Huncamunca, Mrs. Sybilla; all the other characters, as Noodle, Doodle, Foodle, Giantess, Conjurer, etc., by a select Company of burlesque Opera Singers. To prevent Mistakes, Ladies are desired to take their Places in Time, and on the Day of Performance to send their Servants to keep Places before five o’clock.”

The above programme was announced for repetition on the 27th of May, for the benefit of Mr. Baildon and Mrs. Sybilla, but Mrs. Arne was attacked by one of her frequent illnesses, which on this occasion proved so serious, that her physician forbade her attempting to perform “at the Hazard of her Life.” In June she had so far recovered that the deferred benefit was announced for the 11th of June, “being positively the last time of Mr. Arne’s exhibiting any Performance this Season.”

Faulkner’s Journal, Oct. 22-25, announced that “Mr. Dubourg[11] and Mr. Arne are to have six Oratorios of Mr. Handel’s performed this Season by Subscription, in which Mr. Lowe, Mrs. Arne, Mr. Colgan, and Mrs. Storer will perform the vocal Parts”; on the following Nov. 29-Dec. 3, an elaborate advertisement[Pg 28] detailed Mr. Arne’s plans:—“Mr. Arne proposes to exhibit, at the Theatre-royal in Aungier-street, Four Performances in the manner of the Oratorios in London, viz.: Two Performances of the Distresses and Conquest of King Alfred, composed by Command of His Royal Highness Frederick Prince of Wales, and performed at his Palace at Cliefden, but never yet exhibited in Publick, and two Performances of a New Oratorio called The Death of Abel: Both composed by Mr. Arne. Subscription Three Guineas, Every Subscriber to have three Tickets on each Night of Performance. No Person (not subscribing) will be admitted into Pit, Boxes, or Lattices, under half-a-Guinea a single Ticket. The first Performance to begin as soon as one hundred Subscribers shall be obtained, of which fifty have already subscribed. Subscriptions are taken in by Mr. Arne, at his House in Aungier-street, near the Theatre. Mr. Arne has a few Books of the Works he has published, which he will dispose of at the following Prices, viz.: The complete Score of the Overture, Songs and Duettos in the Masque of Comus, 7s. The Songs in As you like it, and Twelfth Night, with the favourite Duetto in the Rival Queens, and other select Airs, 4s. 4d. And the Songs in the Beggar of Bethnel Green, with several new favourite Ballads annexed, 6s. 6d. Likewise, a curious Harpsichord from London, made by Kirkman, Tabell’s Foreman, which he will sell very reasonably.” A writer in the Dublin Journal at this time (November, 1743), said, “Mr. and Mrs. Arne are beyond comparison, in their way the most extraordinary Persons this Kingdom has seen. The Aungier Street Stage has now the very best Company[Pg 29] of Players that ever was in this Kingdom, they are now better than any Company in London, and the Prices (except on very extraordinary Occasions) are at the lowest Rate.”

The Duke and Duchess of Devonshire commanded a performance of “The Beggar’s Opera” on December the 8th, at the Theatre Royal in Aungier Street, when Arne presided at the harpsichord, and also at seven representations which followed. At a benefit given for Mr. Lowe on the 17th, “Comus” was performed, with Mrs. Arne in the parts of the Pastoral Nymph and Sabrina, singing also, as usual, the Lady’s song, “Sweet Echo.” She again appeared with Mr. Arne at a benefit concert given for Signor Barbatielli, who had broken his leg. The advertisement announced, “Mr. Dubourg, is so kind as to perform, and will conduct the whole, assisted by Mr. Arne and Mr. Pasqualino, the Vocal Parts by Mrs. Arne, Mrs. Storer, Mr. Lowe, and Mr. Colgan. Tickets to be had at Mr. Barbatielli’s Lodgings in George’s Lane, opposite to Fade-street, and at the Musick hall, at 5s. 5d.—N.B. It is hoped that the Gentlemen and Ladies will be so good as to excuse Mr. Barbatielli’s personal Attendance, he lying under the Misfortune of a broken Leg. Ladies are requested to order their Coaches down Fishamble-street, for the more easy going in, as at Mr. Handell’s.”

Arne’s “Comus” was again performed on the 22nd of December. In 1744, on the 2nd of January, at the Theatre Royal after “Amphitryon,” with singing and dancing between the acts, the farce “Miss Lucy in Town” with Arne’s music was performed. Special attention was directed to Mr. Lowe’s[Pg 30] singing of “the Part of Cantileno” [a Burlesque upon the Italian Singers]. On the 12th of January Mrs. Arne made her first appearance in Lampe’s burlesque Opera “The Dragon of Wantley.” The advertisement runs, “The Part of Moor-Hall to be performed by Mr. Lowe. The Part of Margery to be performed by Mrs. Arne, being her first Appearance in any comic Character; and the Part of Mauxalinda to be performed by Madam Chateauneuf; Gubbins by Mr. Worsdale; the Dragon by Mr. Layfield.” Mr. Arne presided at the harpsichord.

We have become familiar with Arne’s skill as composer, violinist, conductor, and harpsichord player; we now find an interesting notice of his first essay, and probably his last, as an actor. The Journal of Jan. 24-28 announced, “By the real and absolute Command of their Graces the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, for the benefit of Mrs. Arne, at the Theatre-royal in Aungier-street, on Saturday, the 28th Instant, will be performed the Second Part of Henry IV. With the Humours of Sir John Falstaff. The Part of Henry Prince of Wales by Mr. Arne, being his First attempt of that Kind.” The Shakespeare play was followed by some vocal music by Mrs. Arne and Mr. Lowe, and the whole concluded with Lampe’s “Dragon of Wantley.”

We now come to an important event, the performance of the Oratorio, “The Death of Abel,” which was first produced in Dublin, and not in London, as is generally stated. The following curious advertisement appeared in the Journal, Feb. 11-14, 1744: “By subscription. At the Theatre-royal in Smock Alley, on Saturday next, being the 18th of this Inst. Feb.[Pg 31] will be performed A new Oratorio, called The Death of Abel. Set to music by Mr. Arne. The Principal Characters to be performed by Mr. Lowe, Mrs. Arne, and Mademoiselle Chateauneuf. The stage will be disposed in the same manner as at Mr. Handel’s Oratorios in London. As but 12 more subscribers can be admitted, such gentlemen and ladies as intend to honour Mr. Arne by subscribing, are greatly desired immediately to send their names to his house in Aungier-street. where tickets are ready to deliver to the subscribers. N.B. Attendance will be given at the Theatre on each Day of Performance, when Subscribers, on sending their Subscription Tickets, will have three delivered on each of the four Nights of Performance. Pit, Boxes, and Lattices, Half a Guinea. First Gallery, 2s. 8d. halfp. Upper Gallery, 2s. 2d. Ladies are requested to sit in the Pit, as well as Boxes, as is the Custom at the Operas and Oratorios in London, for which purpose the Pit seats will be made thoroughly clean. To begin exactly half an Hour after Six. The Printer made a mistake in the last bills; but the Subscribers may depend that (according to Mr. Arne’s proposal) no Person (except Subscribers) will be admitted into Pit, Boxes, or Lattices under Half a Guinea. Mr. Arne begs Leave to acquaint the Public, that he has been credibly inform’d by several worthy Families that the Gentlewomen who keep the Saturday Nights Assembly, or some one concern’d with, or commission’d by them, have made it their business to complain of his performing[Pg 32] the Subscription Oratorios on that Night, alledging that it was done on purpose to prejudice them. Now, so far was that from being thought of, much less intended, that the Gentlemen Proprietors of the Theatre, as well as Mr. Arne, endeavoured their utmost to fix another Night, but could not, for the following Reasons; The Mondays and Thursdays are taken up with Benefits for six Weeks. On Tuesdays are Vicars-street Consort, and the Bear on College green, which take up all the best Hands. On Wednesday are the Phil Harmonic Society, and Crow-street, where they are likewise engaged. And on Friday is Fishamble Consort, where they are obliged to perform.” “The Death of Abel” was repeated on the 25th of February. This early oratorio of Arne’s was never published, and no manuscript copy of it is known to exist. One song, however, became very popular, and was in great request—“The Hymn of Eve”:

How cheerful along the gay mead,
The daisy and cowslip appear,
The Flocks as they carelessly feed,
Rejoice in the Spring of the year.
The Myrtles that shade the gay bow’rs,
The Herbage that springs from the Sod;
Trees, plants, cooling fruits, and sweet flow’rs
All rise to the praise of my God.

The music, very simple and melodious, but without striking evidence of genius, has been frequently reprinted, and arranged in various forms.

A comedy, “The Rehearsal,” with Arne’s music, was played on the 1st of March, at the Theatre in Aungier Street, for the benefit of Mr. Basdin; the singing parts were performed by Mr. Lowe and Mr. Worsdale. The Journal, Feb. 28-March 3, 1744, contained the advertisement announcing the first[Pg 33] public performance of “Alfred,” and the “Judgment of Paris,” which took place on the 10th of March; and on the 29th of the same month “Comus” was again performed, for the last time in the season, Mrs. Arne, as a matter of course, representing Sabrina and the Pastoral Nymph, and singing the song “Sweet Echo.” Lowe was the Bacchanal and Attendant Spirit; and Miss Davis, Euphrosyne. This performance was given at the Theatre in Aungier Street, and shortly afterwards “Rosamond” was revived at the Theatre Royal in Smock Alley. It must have been well received, as there were five performances, on the 2nd, 5th, 9th, 10th, and 19th of April. Mrs. Arne represented Queen Eleanor; Lowe, King Henry; Layfield, Sir Trusty; Miss Davis, Grideline; Madame Chateauneuf, Rosamond. On the 2nd “The Merchant of Venice” was also performed “with the songs proper to the Character,” sung by Mr. Lowe. Faulkner’s Journal, 7-10 April, contained a Song, “The Scene a Bower,” addressed to Mrs. Arne, which may be taken as evidence of her popularity. There are nine verses, commencing:

From yonder Bow’r, where blowing sweets
Perfume the vernal Air,
I hear the music of a voice
Peculiar to the tuneful Fair.

On the 26th of April a performance was given of the tragedy “Theodosius, or the Force of Love.” This play, written by Lee, was printed in 1680 with five songs and two choruses composed by Henry Purcell. The libretto was revised for the Dublin performance. The announcement ran, “At the particular Desire of[Pg 34] several Persons of Quality, for the Benefit of Mr. Barry, at the Theatre-royal in Smock-alley on Thursday the 26th Inst. will be acted a Tragedy called Theodosius or the Force of Love. The Part of Varanes to be performed by Mr. Barry, being the first Time of his appearing in that Character. Tickets to be had at Mr. Barry’s in Skinner-Row.—As the original Songs, and Chorus’s of the Play were never performed in this Kingdom, for want of Musick and Performances equal to such an Undertaking; Mr. Arne has been prevailed upon to set the same to new Musick.” Purcell’s music was published in 1680; copies of it are now very rare. It consisted of five songs and two choruses. Arne’s music was never printed, and only one manuscript score of it is known.[12] An examination of that copy shows that Arne wrote music for nine pieces—four airs and five choruses, very short movements. The words are not those set by Purcell, excepting one air and one chorus. The solos are written for soprano and contralto voices; the orchestration for strings, two oboes, and two horns.

The last appearance of Mr. and Mrs. Arne in Dublin, during the year 1744, was at the Great Room in Fishamble Street on Wednesday, the 30th of May, when “The Judgment of Paris” and “Alfred” were performed for their joint benefits. Particulars respecting this event will be found on page 124. The season being ended, Arne and his wife returned to England, by way of Parkgate and Chester. During their stay in the last named city the youth Charles Burney was introduced to Arne, and having exhibited his skill as a[Pg 35] performer on the harpsichord became an articled pupil of the popular composer, with whom he journeyed to London. Upon his arrival in the Metropolis, Arne resumed his connection with Drury Lane Theatre as composer, and obtained an engagement there for his wife as “Serious Singer.” The year 1745 was a prosperous one for both Arne and his wife—they were in constant employ at the Theatre and in concerts.

On the 20th of March, Mrs. Arne had a benefit at Drury Lane Theatre, when “Alfred” was performed for the first time in London. The details of this interesting and memorable occasion will be given in connection with “Rule, Britannia.”

On the death of Gordon, the leader of the orchestra at Drury Lane, Arne accepted the appointment which was virtually that of conductor. This was a welcome addition to his importance and income.

A letter written by Mrs. Cibber to Garrick, dated the 1st of May, 1745, gives interesting evidence of the amicable relations between Arne and Garrick at that time: “I am very glad to hear you are better, and if you dare venture out, shall be glad of your company at dinner. As you are an invalid, pray send me word what you can eat, and at what hour you will dine. I shall send Tom [Arne] to meet you, and am Sir David, Your most faithful friend and servant, to command till death.”

On Saturday, the 28th of September, 1745, occurred a memorable scene in the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. The Daily Advertiser published on the Monday following describes it thus: “On Saturday night last, the audience of the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, were agreeably surprised by the Gentlemen belonging[Pg 36] to that House performing the Anthem of God save our noble King. The universal Applause it met with, being encored with repeated Huzzas, sufficiently denoted in how just an Abhorrence they hold the arbitrary Schemes of our insidious Enemies, and detest the despotick Attempts of Papal power.” The Anthem was repeated nightly till nearly the end of November, and the managers of Covent Garden Theatre followed suit. The arrangement of the Anthem for Drury Lane was made by Arne, who had for principal singers Mrs. Cibber, Mr. Beard, and Mr. Reinhold. Mrs. Cibber being a contralto, the music had to be sung in a low key. Arne’s autograph manuscript written for the occasion is in the British Museum: it will be interesting to see the melody of “God save the King” as then sung:

[Listen] [XML]

Arne’s pupil Burney made the arrangement of “God save the King” for Covent Garden Theatre; the enthusiasm excited at that theatre fully equalled that of Drury Lane. Benjamin Victor, in a letter he wrote to Garrick on the 10th of October, 1745, said [Pg 37]“the stage, at both houses, is the most pious, as well as the most loyal place in the three kingdoms. Twenty men appear at the end of every play; and one, stepping forward from the rest, with uplifted hands and eyes, begins singing, to an old anthem tune, the following words—God save the King.”

In this year, 1745, Arne was appointed composer to Vauxhall Gardens, for which fashionable place of amusement he wrote a considerable number of songs, ballads, and a dialogue “Colin and Phœbe,” which was sung every evening throughout the season by Mrs. Arne and Mr. Lowe. Engagements of a similar character at Marylebone Gardens and Ranelagh gave great scope for his talents, and must have kept him fully occupied.

In 1746, on the 17th of January, a farce, “Miss in her Teens,” written by Garrick, with music by Arne, was produced at Covent Garden Theatre. On the 31st of January Shakespeare’s “Tempest” was revived at Drury Lane Theatre. The General Advertiser announced the performances, “Drury Lane. Never Acted there before. By His Majesty’s Company of Comedians. At the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, this Day will be presented a Play call’d The Tempest, as written by Shakespeare: with the original Decorations, particularly the Grand Masque, new set to music by Mr. Arne. The Part of Ariel (with the proper songs) by Mrs. Clive.” This was the birthday of the beautiful melody, “Where the bee sucks,” a song whose freshness and charm never tire, and a tuneful combination of poetry and music destined to endure so long as the concord of sweet sounds has the power of touching human hearts.

Another interesting letter from Mrs. Cibber to Garrick, dated 8th of April, 1746, contains several[Pg 38] references to her brother:—“My brother is to thank you for my playing for him.... Tom Arne sends his service: he is forced to put his pit and boxes together, which I reckon will be no advantage to him, ladies’ hoops taking up more room than the difference of price.”

In 1748, Mrs. Arne left Drury Lane Theatre, and went to Dublin with her sister, Mrs. Lampe, a singer of repute and wife of the composer of “The Dragon of Wantley.” Previous reference has been made to Mrs. Arne’s frequent attacks of illness; one of these prevented her undertaking work in the early part of the Dublin season; and it was not before the 11th of November that she was able to sing in public. On that day she took part in Handel’s “Esther,” “being recovered from her late illness.” She next sang the part of Galatea in Handel’s “Acis” on the 18th, and at a repetition performance on the 25th. Faulkner’s Journal of Nov. 19-22, reported that “Mrs. Arne (tho’ but just recovered out of a violent Fever) gave entire satisfaction.” In the following December (on the 16th) she sang in Handel’s “Solomon”; and on the 7th of February, 1749, had a benefit concert at the Fishamble Street Music Hall, when she took the part of Galatea in Handel’s “Acis,” and she with her sister, Mrs. Lampe, “introduced several favourite Songs and Duets.”

Arne had a son, born in 1740 or 1741 (Dr. Burney says, he was a “natural son”), who inherited some of his father’s gifts for music. These were encouraged and developed, and we find, amongst Arne’s compositions, songs composed for the youth,[Pg 39] who was introduced to the public by his father at Marylebone Gardens. Two excellent printed examples are “Ianthe and Iphis, sung by Master Arne, at Marybon Gardens”—and “An thou wert mine own Thing, sung by Master Arne at Marybon Gardens.” The youth became well known as a composer and performer in London and Dublin. One of his songs, popular to-day, “The lass with a delicate air,” is sometimes ascribed in error to his father.

In 1752 Arne composed music for “Harlequin Sorcerer,” an old pantomime in which Rich had many years before made a great success. The performance took place at Covent Garden Theatre on the 11th of February, and there was an overwhelming demand for seats; the doors were therefore opened at three o’clock in the afternoon. The performers included Mrs. Arne, Mrs. Lampe, Mr. Lowe, Mr. Legge, and a Chorus. The music was published by Walsh, who appears to have had a business contract with the composer. The following letter, by Arne, addressed to William Shenstone, the poet, throws light on the subject: “Nov. ye 30, 1754. Sir—By the hands of Mr. Dodsley, I receiv’d your very obliging letter, and wou’d for my own Pleasure comply with your Request; but Mr. Dodsley’s interest in this Particular interferes with mine; for if he prints my Music in his Publication, I shall lose the sale of it to Mr. Walsh [the King’s Music-Printer] who gives me 20 guineas for every Collection I compose—consisting of eight or nine Songs, and who wou’d not give a shilling for any Thing that another had first publish’d. Of this I acquainted Mr. Dodsley, who did not seem inclin’d to make any Gratuity for[Pg 40] the Loss. Any Song, Cantata, or Dramatic Piece from so delicate a Pen, whereby I should not considerably lose to promote another’s Gain, wou’d be the most welcome present I cou’d receive, stamp an additional Reputation on my Music, and highly oblige. Sr. your most obedt. servt. Thos. Augne. Arne, Charles Street, Covent Garden.”

That Arne’s music had obtained repute in Edinburgh, is shown by an advertisement in the Caledonian Mercury of the 6th of March, 1752: “New Musick. Now in the press and will be ready by the beginning of April next, and delivered to subscribers. All the Songs, Duettos, and Trios in the Masque of Comus composed by Thomas Augustine Arne, as adapted to the Harpsichord and Voice, and all the Songs, Duettos and Trios in the Burlesque Opera, called the Dragon of Wantley composed by the great John Frederick Lampe, likewise adapted to the Harpsichord and Voice. The above words may occasionally be accompanied with Violin or German Flute and Violoncello. This manner of reducting them to avoid the Perplexity of the different parts in a score which confound young practitioners was finished by Mr. Lampe in his lifetime,[13] and the proofs of the Plates have been revised and corrected by Mr. Arne.”

In May, 1754, Arne went to Edinburgh, possibly on business in connection with the publications announced in the above advertisement. Be that as it may, the Caledonian Mercury of the 23rd of May contained the following notice:—[Pg 41]“For the benefit of Mr. Arne. At the Assembly Hall on Monday, 27th May, A Concert of Vocal and Instrumental Musick. The Vocal part to be performed by Miss Rodburn, and the Instrumental by Mr. Pasquali, Mr. Arne and others. To begin Precisely at 6. Tickets, 2/6. To be had at Mr. Arne’s Lodgings, at Mr. Johnston’s, Wigmaker, head of Chalmer’s Close, and at the Old and John’s Coffee houses.”

In the autumn of 1755, Arne and his wife again visited Dublin. They were accompanied by a number of capable vocalists, Miss Young, Mrs. Arne’s sister, her six-year-old niece Miss Polly Young,[14] and Miss Charlotte Brent; they resided together in Fishamble Street, at the Passage Door next the Golden Scales. Arne advertised in Faulkner’s Journal, Oct. 4-7: “To the Public. Mr. Arne, who is arrived in this Kingdom, with several Vocal Performers, having agreed with Managers of the Theatre Royal, Proposes, by Subscription, to entertain the Town Ten Nights, with Three Operas in the English Language, (viz.): A new Opera call’d Eliza, An Opera call’d Alfred, and, an Opera call’d the Fairies. The Subscription is, this Day, opened at the Office of the Theatre in Smock Alley, where Attendance will be given every Day from Twelve to Three. Ten Box Tickets for the ten Performances will be delivered to each Subscriber for two Guineas.—The first Performance will be in the Beginning of November. N.B. The Orchestra will be considerably enlarged, an Additional Number of the best Instrumental Performers engag’d, and Mr. Arne will accompany the Operas on the Harpsichord.”[Pg 42]

This advertisement was repeated several times, with the additional information that there would be “A fine Organ put up” and that “Places for the Boxes for the said Nights of Performance, to be taken at the Office of the Theatre from 12 to 3, or of Mr. Neil, at his House in Abbey-street.” In consequence of the illness of Mrs. Arne, the Journal of 8-11 Nov. stated:—“The Opera of Eliza is obliged to be deferred to the 27th, on Account of the Indisposition of a principal Performer.” The opera was again postponed to the 29th, when it was given “By Command of his Excellency the Marquis of Hartington,” and the “whole House was illuminated with Wax Lights.” Printed books of the opera were “published and sold by Mr. Hoey, at the Mercury in Skinner-Row, and at the Theatre, at a British Sixpence each.” The Journal gave a report of the performance: “On Saturday last, at the Theatre-Royal in Smock-Alley, was perform’d Mr. Arne’s new Opera call’d Eliza: The noble and splendid Appearance, and the great and just Applause throughout the whole Performance, were strong Indications of the good Taste reigning in this Kingdom, and a generous, though proper Compliment to that great Master of his Science, Mr. Arne,—Mrs. Arne, whose Excellence is well known, had the Misfortune of a violent Hoarseness, and rose from her Bed in a Fever to perform; Mr. Sadler and Miss Brent, were greatly approv’d; but Miss Polly Young, a Child of six Years of Age, pleased and astonished the whole Company, having a sweet melodious voice, accenting her Words with great Propriety, and Singing perfectly in Time and[Pg 43] Tune. The Poem is, by all judges of good Writing, thought excellent; the Orchestra was full, and perform’d without a Fault; but the Judgement, Taste, Expression, and Variety of the Music would be injur’d in an Attempt to commend it.” The performance was repeated on Thursday the 4th, and Saturday the 20th of December. Arne’s opera “Rosamond” was played on the 31st, with Mrs. Arne as Queen Eleanor; Miss Brent, Rosamond; Grideline, Miss Young; Page, Miss Polly Young; King Henry, Mr. Sadler. Mr. Arne conducted. The opera was repeated with the same cast on the 9th of January, 1756; and on the 21st and 26th of the same month “Comus” was performed under the composer’s conductorship by Mrs. Arne, Miss Brent, Miss Spencer, Mr. Sadler and Mr. Corry. Faulkner’s Journal, 20-24 Jan., 1756, contained an “Ode to Apollo,” without author’s name. The following verses, if written by one of the public, show that Arne and his wife were held in the highest estimation by music-lovers:

Hark! hark! what notes enchant my Ears,
Sweet as the musick of the Spheres?
’Tis ARNE—the Gods’ Vicegerent comes,
Now vanish Rackets, Routs, and Drums;
And with him come the Muses Hand in Hand,
To see fulfilled Apollo’s great command.
See Taste with Joy its Head uprears,
Rais’d by Arne’s heav’nly Airs;
Skill’d with equal Pow’r t’inspire
Irene’s youth with martial Fire,
And lull to Rest, with Soul-delighting Sounds,
The Pains of Grief, and heal Love’s bleeding Wounds.
[Pg 44]
Not he that charm’d the Thracians’ Plains,
E’er tun’d his Lyre to softer strains;
Nor does the warbling Bird of Night
More than his sweet-song’d Spouse delight.
O say! what Price or Gifts can both engage
Here to remain, to save a sinking age?

In the following February (24-28) the Journal announced: “The Play called the Tempest, or the Inchanted Island (with all the original Musick) is now in Rehearsal at the Theatre Royal, and will be performed next Week. The Part of Ariel by Miss Brent, being her first Appearance in that Character, Neptune by Mr. Sadler, Amphitrite by Miss Spencer, and Mr. Arne will accompany the Musick on the Harpischord.” Mrs. Arne, Miss Brent and Miss Spencer sang at a concert given on the 17th March, in aid of the Meath Hospital, and three days later, the 20th, were engaged in a performance of “Comus” for the benefit of Mr. Arne; the “Masque of Comus” was followed by “a Farce (never acted before) called, The Pincushion: Being a Manuscript of the celebrated Mr. Gay’s, Author of the Beggar’s Opera. The Songs adapted to favourite Ballad Airs of Mr. Arne’s. The Characters by Mr. Sadler, Mrs. Pye, Miss E. Young, and Miss Brent.” The Journal informed the public “that the Masque of Comus will be performed in a most elegant Manner on Mr. Arne’s Benefit night next Saturday, that two Rows of the Pit will be taken in to inlarge the Orchestra, and Mr. Arne will accompany the musical Part. We are further assured that the new pastoral ballad Farce called The Pincushion, which will likewise[Pg 45] then be performed, is a real Manuscript of that celebrated Poet Mr. Gay, Author of the Beggar’s Opera, and that Songs are adapted by Mr. Arne. several of which are New.”

A benefit for Mrs. Knowles, on the 2nd of April, was given for which Arne composed music. The advertisement announced: “Act the 2nd. A Duetto between Mr. Sadler and Mr. Butler, accompanied with French Horns, etc., called The Death of the Stag. The Music composed by Mr. Arne!” At the end of the play “by particular desire” Miss Brent sang, “Where the bee sucks.” The duet with French horns was doubtless composed to exhibit the skill of “Mr. Charles and his Second.” On the 5th of May, Miss Spencer had a benefit at the Theatre, when she introduced “A new Ballad call’d Kitty, or the Female Phaeton; the words by Prior, set by Mr. Arne.” This song became a favourite at Ranelagh Gardens. Mrs. Arne contemplated giving a benefit concert and ball in May; the programme was to include music from Arne’s “Alfred,” but after several advertisements and postponements, it was announced that “Mrs. Arne is obliged to acquaint the Public that Mr. Arne (by Desire) intending one capital Performance of Alfred before his Departure from this Kingdom, she will make no other Benefit on her own Account, and those Tickets which are disposed of among her Friends will be then taken, on paying the additional Price.” Subsequent advertisement announced: “By Special Command of their Excellencies the Lords Justices.—For the Benefit of Mr. and Mrs. Arne. At the Great Music-hall in Fishamble-street, on[Pg 46] Tuesday, the 25th of this Inst., May, will be performed, in the Manner of an Oratorio, Alfred the Great, composed by Mr. Arne, at the special command of His late Royal Highness, Frederic, Prince of Wales, and originally performed in his Palace at Cliefdon. Mr. Arne will accompany the Performance on the Harpsichord, and Mr. Walsh will perform a Concerto on the Organ. The Vocal Parts to be performed by Mrs. Arne, Mr. Sadler, Miss Brent, Miss Spencer, Miss Young and Miss Polly Young. Ticket, a British Crown. All outstanding Tickets, for the Opera of Eliza and the Tickets delivered by Mrs. Arne, will be taken. After the Performance (by Desire) will be a Ball, conducted in the most elegant Manner, on Account of which the Performance will begin at Seven. Tickets to be had only of Mr. Arne, at the Passage Door next the Golden Scales, in Fishamble-street.”

Arne, by Bartolozzi.

After this performance in 1756, Arne appears to have left Dublin, and probably never revisited that city. Mrs. Arne remained in Dublin with her niece, Miss Polly Young, who had a benefit at the Smock Alley Theatre on the 8th of July, and was assisted by Miss Young and Miss Brent. The Youngs sang also at a benefit concert given for Miss Polly Young, at Marborough Green, on the 7th of September. It seems pretty clear that Arne deserted his wife at this time, and that the fact soon became known to many in Dublin. An “Assembly” was announced for her benefit early in December, but was postponed from time to time; finally, the Journal, March 5-8, 1767, announced: [Pg 47]“Mrs. Arne, having opened the Music-Hall in Fishamble-Street for her Benefit on Saturday the 12th of Feb., under great Disadvantages, is advised by her Friends (who had Notice of that Night, and are sensible of her Losses) to fix on Thursday, the 10th of March, for her Benefit and Miss Young’s, when the Ladies and Gentlemen who will honour them with their Company, may depend they shall on no Account be disappointed.—N.B. The Tickets given out for the different Nights she has advertised will be taken, and others had of Mrs. Arne, at her Lodgings in Aungier-street and at the Music-Hall. Price 5s. 6d.” Later in the year (April 24th) Mrs. Arne and Miss Young gave a concert. Allusion has already been made to Mrs. Arne’s frequent attacks of indisposition, and it is reasonable to think that her husband’s conduct would have a grave effect on her health and spirits. She seems to have relinquished public performance for a time and retired into private life. A very interesting glimpse of her is to be found in “The Autobiography and Correspondence of Mary Granville, Mrs. Delany.” Writing to her sister, Mrs. Dewes, from Mount Panther, County Down, on the 8th of August, 1758, she said: “On Saturday we dined at Mr. Bayly’s; Miss Bayly had gone on a party of pleasure. I was surprised there at meeting Mrs. Arne (Miss Young that was); they have her in the house to teach Miss Bayly to sing; she was recommended to Mr. Bayly by Mrs. Berkeley as an object of compassion. She looks, indeed, much humbled, and I hope is as deserving as they think her to be; great allowances are to be made for the temptations those poor people fall under. She has been severely used by a bad[Pg 48] husband, and suffered to starve, if she had not met with charitable people. She behaves herself very well, and though her voice has lost its bloom as well as her face, she sings well, and was well taught by Geminiani and Handel, and had she not been idle would have been a charming singer. Mr. Bayly plays on the violin, his curate on the German flute; Mrs. Arne and Miss Bayly sing, and a girl of nine years old[15] accompanies them on the harpsichord most surprisingly; she is a niece of Mrs. Arne’s; the race of the Youngs are born songsters and musicians. It is very agreeable to have such an entertainment in our power to go to whenever we please.” Poor Mrs. Arne! humbled, half-starved, deserted by her husband, losing her good looks, and the bloom of her voice, sings well, and if she had not been idle would have been a charming singer! Mrs. Delany, a gifted and kind-hearted woman, was evidently ignorant of the fact that the lady she criticised was forty-seven years of age, and had been constantly before the public, as a vocalist, for twenty-six years.

In the following January, 1759, Mrs. Arne and Miss Young were residing together in Dublin, at Mrs. Rowe’s, in Drogheda Street. A Grand concert of Vocal and Instrumental Musick, followed by a Ball, was given for Mrs. Arne’s Benefit at the Fishamble Street Music Hall on the 6th of March, when both appeared and sang; another benefit performance for Mrs. Arne was given on the 17th of April, when “Much ado about Nothing” was performed. Miss Young, Mrs. Storer and[Pg 49] Mr. Wilder were the vocalists. A benefit concert and ball, for Mrs. Arne, was given on the 10th of December; she had then removed to “Mrs. Lee’s, in William-street.” It is significant that she did not sing on this occasion, nor is there any evidence of her appearing again before the Dublin public; a Grand Ball was announced for the Benefit of Mrs. Arne and Miss Young at the Fishamble Street Music Hall on the 25th of November, when it was stated: “Before the Minuets Miss Young will sing some capital Songs, accompanied by herself on the Harpsichord.”

Mr. Arne had been fully engaged in the various gardens and theatres in London. At Covent Garden “Cymbeline” was produced, with songs by him. His pupil, Miss Brent, had appeared at Drury Lane Theatre, in his opera “Eliza,” on March the 3rd, 1758, and at Covent Garden on the 10th of October, 1759, as Polly, in the “Beggar’s Opera.” On the 6th of July, 1759, the University of Oxford conferred upon Arne the degree of “Doctor in Music.”[16] It is said that he composed an Ode which he submitted to the authorities; but no copy of it is known to exist.

In 1760, on the 28th of November, Dr. Arne’s musical entertainment “Thomas and Sally,” written by Bickerstaff, was produced at Covent Garden Theatre. Miss Brent made a great success both as singer and actress; the other vocalists included Mr. Beard, Mrs. Vernon, and Mr. Mattocks. The piece obtained immediate and lasting popularity.[Pg 50] The music was published with the following title: “Thomas and Sally, or the Sailor’s Return, a Dramatic Pastoral, with the Overture in score, songs, dialogues, duettos and dance tunes, as performed at the Theatre Royal in Covent Garden by Mr. Beard and Miss Brent, Mr. Mattocks, Mrs. Vernon, and chorus. The music compos’d by Doctr. Arne. London Printed for J. Walsh, in Catherine Street, in the Strand. Enter’d at Stationers’ Hall.”

In 1761, on the 27th of February, at Drury Lane Theatre, Arne brought out his oratorio “Judith,” one of his most important compositions. The Public Advertiser of the above date, announced: “At the Theatre Royal in Drury-Lane, This Day, will be performed a new Sacred Oratorio call’d JUDITH. The Music composed by Dr. Arne, with a Concerto on the Organ. Pit and Boxes will be laid together at Half a Guinea. First Gallery 5s. Upper Gallery 3s. 6d. Tickets for the Pit and Boxes may be had of Mr. Varney, at the Stage-Door of the Theatre. To begin at half an hour after Six o’clock.” The following day a brief notice appeared in the same journal, which said: “Last Night the new sacred Oratorio call’d Judith, was performed at the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane, to a most polite Audience, who gave it the greatest Approbation and Applause ever known, on the Occasion.” Evidence of the success of the oratorio is the repetition of it on the 4th and 6th of March. It was also again performed in Lenten season of 1762 at the theatre. In 1764, on February 29th, it was performed at the Chapel of the Lock Hospital, Grosvenor Place, Pimlico, on behalf of the funds of the charity. A more notable[Pg 51] repetition took place at Covent Garden Theatre on the 26th of February 1773, when for the first time ladies formed a part of the chorus; before this time the treble chorus was confined to boys’ voices. This happy innovation of Dr. Arne’s was well received; the Public Advertiser said: “The Oratorio of Judith, composed by Dr. Arne, which was performed at the Theatre Royal in Covent Garden, yesterday evening, was received with uncommon Applause. The principal singers acquitted themselves to the utmost Satisfaction of the Audience. Mr. Barthelemon was greatly admired in his Solo on the Violin, and too much cannot be said of Signor Spandau’s Concerto on the French Horn, as it surpassed any Performance on that Instrument hitherto heard in this Country. The striking Appearance of the Band and Chorus, which were much more numerous than they usually have been, received a most pleasing Addition from the Female Singers, then first introduced.” It is somewhat remarkable that the Pianoforte was first used in public as an accompaniment for the voice when a song from “Judith” was sung at Covent Garden Theatre by Miss Brickler on the 16th of May, 1767. The playbill announced that after the first Act of the “Beggar’s Opera,” “Miss Brickler will sing a favourite song from Judith, accompanied by Mr. Dibdin, on a new instrument called Piano Forte.” The published score of the music of “Judith” has for title, “Judith an Oratorio as it is Perform’d at the Theatre-Royal in Drury Lane, Compos’d by Dr. Arne, London. Printed for J. Walsh in Catherine Street in the Strand.” This volume unfortunately does not contain a single chorus. The Overture is scored for Strings, Hautboys, Bassoon[Pg 52] and Horns. It opens with a spirited Allegro, followed by a short Andante movement for strings only; the other instruments resume in the final Allegro Moderato. A solo, “Wake, my harp,” which was sung by Mrs. Cornelys, is accompanied by strings, violins pizzicato, harp and harpsichord in a very effective manner. In an air, “Haste to the gardens of delight,” sung by Mr. Tenducci, two flutes are added to the orchestration; and in another air, “With heroes and sages,” also sung by Tenducci, we find the bassoons have parts independent of the basses, a somewhat novel departure at the period when Arne wrote. An air, “No more the Heathen shall blaspheme,” sung by Mr. Fawcett, has the novel accompaniment of two violoncellos and bass; no other instruments until the last four bars of symphony, when the violins are introduced. Fortunately the composer’s autograph score exists in the British Museum, and in that we find much of interest. It exemplifies in some degree the well-known haste and carelessness of the composer; there are sundry memoranda, such as “take care of the Instrumental parts where I have mistaken the lines,” “Bassoons in semibriefs,” &c. The choruses are in this case his own; there was no borrowing from Handel. The first, “Father of mercies,” is short—only thirty-seven bars. The next, “When Israel wept,” is also short and good. “Hear, angels, hear” extends to one hundred and twenty-six bars; “Hail, immortal Bacchus,” eighty-five bars; “Prepare the genial bower,” eighty-seven bars; and the next, a very fine chorus, “Who can Jehovah’s wrath abide,” one hundred and eight bars; “Breathe the pipe,” sixty-two[Pg 53] bars; and the last chorus, “Here, sons of Jacob,” written in five vocal parts for soprano, alto, tenor and bass, sixty-four bars. Dr. Arne was remarkable for his deficient memory respecting things trifling in themselves, yet sometimes of considerable consequence as connected with other matters. If he made an appointment to meet a friend, whether for the purpose of business or amusement, he would probably mistake the day; if he wrote an order for the theatre, it was equally probable that the play would be misnamed, or that the frank would bear a wrong date. On one occasion, when he had prepared an elaborate Ode, he had it rehearsed, and announced the day for its public performance. The great room at the Crown and Anchor[17] was crowded with company impatiently waiting for their expected gratification. Arne arrived at the tavern-door in a fiacre, leaped out with the score under his arm, and left the parts behind him. When the doctor discovered his neglect, he was in the condition of a madman. Persons were dispatched in all directions in search of the coach, but it could not be found; and the band and company were subjected to the mortification of being dismissed—the first without performing, and the latter without hearing, a note of the prepared Ode. Could this have been the Ode which, it is said, he composed as an exercise for his degree? Arne, by his connection with the theatres, had constant opportunities for cultivating the[Pg 54] acquaintance of Italian singers, and of keeping up his knowledge of the Italian language; he was evidently influenced in his later compositions by this familiarity. The simplicity of his melodies became disfigured by excessive ornamentation, and was the subject of adverse criticism. The scurrilous poet, Churchill, in 1761, published the “Rosciad,” a satire on actors, in which he violently attacked Arne:

Let Tommy Arne, with usual pomp of style,
Whose chief, whose only merit’s to compile,
Who, meanly pilfering here and there a bit,
Deals music out, as Murphy deals out wit;
Publish proposals, laws for taste prescribe,
And chaunt the praise of an Italian tribe;
Let him reverse Kind Nature’s first decrees,
And teach e’en Brent a method not to please:
But never shall a truly British age
Bear a vile race of eunuchs on the stage:
The boasted work’s called national in vain,
If one Italian voice pollute the strain.
Where tyrants rule, and slaves with joy obey,
Let slavish minstrels pour th’ enervate lay;
To Britons far more noble pleasures spring
In native note, while Beard and Vincent sing.

Arne’s Italian proclivities induced him to translate Metastasio’s drama “Artaserse,” and to transform it into an Opera on the accepted Italian mode, without dialogue. This he did successfully; the recitatives, however, are long and dreary, and the poetry is by no means of a high order. For instance, a very favourite air reads:

Water parted from the sea,
May increase the river’s tide;
To the bubbling fount may flee
Or thro’ fertile valleys glide:
[Pg 55] Yet in search of lost repose,
Doom’d, like me, forlorn to roam,
Still it murmurs as it flows,
Till it reach its native home.

The music of “Artaxerxes” has much charm, and presents excellent harmonization in the accompaniments, which are scored for strings, flutes, oboes, clarinets, bassoons, horns, trumpets, and drums. In two of the pieces the violetta is employed; there are also two violas obbligato, but as was usual with Arne there is no instance of a general ensemble of the instruments employed. In the Air “O too lovely,” sung by Tenducci, the violins and basses are marked “Sordini e Pizzicati.” The vocal music is quite overladen with ornament, and the compass required for the several voice parts is generally excessive. The opera was produced at Covent Garden Theatre on the 2nd of February, 1762; the principal performers were Miss Brent, Mr. Beard, Mrs. Vernon, Miss Thomas, Mr. Mattocks, and Tenducci and Pesetti, both of whom came under the lash of Churchill’s satire. The part of Mandane was composed to show off the compass and flexibility of the voices of the composer’s celebrated pupil, Miss Brent, who therefore was the first exponent of the martial song, “The soldier tired of war’s alarms,” which for many succeeding years was the prescribed test for every new soprano who courted public favour on the stage or in the concert room. This bravura air with its trumpet obbligato still remains a favourite with competent vocalists and discriminating audiences. Arne sold the copyright of his music for sixty guineas, and it was published with the following[Pg 56] title: “Artaxerxes An English Opera As it is performed at the Theatre Royal in Covent Garden Set to Music by Dr. Arne. London. Printed for John Johnson at the Harp and Crown opposite Bow Church Cheapside.” Another edition of the full score was published from Johnson’s plates, “by Authority,” by Mr. William Warrell, No. 35 Tavistock Street, Covent Garden. Price 12s. It is again worthy of note that Arne did not publish the music of the recitatives in “Artaxerxes,” nor of the concluding chorus, “Live to us, to Empire live.” Arne’s libretto was published by Tonson in 1763, with a preface written by the composer. A short extract follows: “Metastasio, in his Dialect, seems to affect Simplicity; and from his great Experience in writing for music, has given the following Plan for the Poetry of an Opera, viz., That the Fable, or Recitative, to which fixed Musical Sounds are adapted, should be simple Dialect; hard and dissonant Epithets (though ever so forcible in other Respects) being destructive to Music, and, when sung, for the chief Part, unintelligible. That the similes be confin’d to the Songs; and that the Words, which are to express them, be as smooth and sonorous as possible lest the Composer be cramp’d in his Fancy, and the Singers rendered incapable of shewing their Skill, which chiefly consists in openly displaying the Tones of their Voices or running executive Passages.

[Pg 57]

“The Translator of this Opera has no Merit, but from his Endeavour to follow the Author in all these Particulars. He therefore submits this first Attempt of the Kind to the Favour and Indulgence of the Publick, not doubting that (if they consider the Difficulty of writing under such Restrictions, the Necessity of sometimes departing from the Author, on Account of the different Idioms of our Language; and of leaving out many Beauties in the Narrative Part of the Drama, for the sake of Brevity;) they will rather peruse it with an Eye of Favour than Severity.”

“Artaxerxes” was played twelve nights at Covent Garden Theatre during the season 1762-63, and twelve nights in the succeeding season, 1763-64. Seven nights in 1764-65, and nine nights, 1768-69. In this latter season, Drury Lane Theatre performed it for four nights with Mrs. Arne as Mandane. In 1791, the rival theatres competed; Covent Garden with the part of Mandane by Mrs. Billington as a star, and Drury Lane with Madame Mara in that character. On the 23rd of September, 1813, it was reproduced at Covent Garden, for the début of Miss Stephens, afterwards Countess of Essex. The famous tenor, Braham, after a temporary absence from the theatre stage, generally selected “Artaxerxes” for his reappearance. “Artaxerxes” was performed at the Theatre Royal, Edinburgh, in 1769, with Mr. Rose as Artaxerxes; Mr. Phillips, Artabanes; Arbaces, Mr. Tenducci; Rimines, Mrs. Woodman; Semira, Miss Brown; and Mandane by Madame Tenducci.[18] The curious part of the performance was “the addition of three favourite Scots Airs, the words by Mr. R. Fergusson.” The first of these was “By Heav’n’s displeasure,” to the[Pg 58] tune “Braes of Balansene”; the second “What doubts oppress,” to the tune “Roslin Castle”; the third, “O where shall I wander,” to the tune “Lochaber no more.” The first and last of these interpolations were sung by Signor Tenducci.

On the 8th of December, 1762, “Love in a village,” by Bickerstaff, with music by Dr. Arne, and Beard in the principal character, was brought out at Covent Garden Theatre. Arne was at the time not on friendly terms with Garrick, the manager of Drury Lane, to whom he addressed the following letter:

Sir—The occasion of my troubling you with this arises from a wicked report made by some busy Argus, who having an hundred eyes, and but one of them honest, had ninety-nine too many. Mrs. Cibber not a little amazed me, when she told me I was charged by you with hissing Master Norris,[19] or, at least, with holding my head down, in an odd position, whenever he was hissed.—Sir, I cannot remember whether my head was up or down, or inclining to one side or the other, but take upon me positively to swear, that I never was so mean a rascal as to hiss the greatest enemy I ever had in the world, much less a young lad who never offended me; who, I then thought, as I now think, deserved the[Pg 59] kindest treatment imaginable; being surprised, as well as shocked, to hear and see the best singer in your company (except Mr. Vernon), though with some material defects, treated in so base and undeserving a manner. I was so far from inclining to any such unbecoming behaviour that I was the only advocate he had, and kept all quiet about me, except a young boy of an officer, who said he did not care for the lad’s understanding music, that he squalled, and he would hiss him. I would not have gone to the performance, for fear of some scandal from these observing Pickthanks, had I not a friendship for Mr. Stevens, the lawyer, and an intention to serve the lad; and was so unhappy, when I came home, that I could not eat my supper on his account. Whoever told you that I showed any signs of disapprobation is a busy lying scoundrel, which I am ready to assert to his face, and answer the consequence. Yet, though neither I, nor my small abilities in my profession, nor those of any person belonging to me, or in my interest, have ever received the smile of your favour, but, on the contrary, have been greatly overlooked and discouraged upon my account, I have never failed in my respect to you, and still continue (in spite of ill-treatment) an admirer of your extraordinary talents, and, Sir,

“Your real humble servant,
Thomas Augustine Arne.

“Nov. 10th, 1762.”

Garrick lost no time in replying. On the same day he wrote to Dr. Arne: “Sir,—There are many mistakes in your letter; and first I did not charge you[Pg 60] with hissing Master Norris; but when Mrs. Cibber spoke to me about that affair, I told her the truth, that you was charged with being in the company of hissers, and though you might not hiss, the persons averred that you were pleased, and laughed at the malcontents about you. I thought this affair of so little consequence, and so little willing am I to hear Pickthanks, as you politely call them, that I never spoke to the person who accused you. Mr. Lacy did, and will inform you of the whole. When you know and see the person in question, you may deliver your own messages, for I have too much to do to trouble myself about these matters. Your assertion, that neither you nor your abilities, &c., have had a smile of favour from me, has no foundation; for everybody who knows me, knows that I have always given you your due, as a man of genius, but at the same time I had no great reason to applaud your behaviour to me. I never ill-treated a man of genius in my life, and I was so far from returning ill-will towards you, that I agreed, contrary to my judgment, and against all rules of reason and policy, that you should make new prices at our theatre for your Oratorio. Therefore you will be much at a loss to particularise the ill-treatment you mentioned; nor know I of any transactions between us, but your indulging us with an engagement with Mr. Fawcett, when you entered into articles with the other house for Miss Brent.

“I am, Sir,
“Your obedient servant,
D. Garrick.”

Riot at Covent Garden Theatre, During the Performance of “Artaxerxes.”

[Pg 61]

In 1759, Arne and Garrick had some negotiations in reference to Miss Brent. Arne was very anxious that Garrick should engage her, but terms could not be arranged. Garrick readily acquiesced in her superior merit alleged by Arne, but he “told the Doctor that all his geese were swans.” “Tommy,” said he, in his usual familiar way, “you should consider that Music is at best but Pickle to my Roast Beef.”—“By ... Davy,” replied the Doctor, “your Beef shall be well pickled before I have done.” Accordingly he went to Covent Garden Theatre, and concluded an engagement with the manager for Miss Brent, whose success as Polly in the “Beggar’s Opera” was so tremendous that Drury Lane Theatre was nearly deserted on the nights on which she performed. Arne, of course, transferred his services to Covent Garden, and “Comus” with his music was played on the 8th of October, 1762, with the celebrated Anne Catley in the part of the Pastoral Nymph. In 1763, on the 24th of February, “Artaxerxes” was again brought forward at Covent Garden, and it was advertised that “nothing under full price would be taken.” This was observed by Fitzpatrick, the leader of the rioters who had compelled Garrick, at Drury Lane Theatre, to submit to the demand that the public should be admitted, as heretofore, to the theatre at half-price after the third act. Accordingly the same malcontents attended the performance of “Artaxerxes” at Covent Garden, and noisily endeavoured to browbeat the manager, Mr. Beard. He, however, refused to return to the half-price custom, on the ground of the enormous expenses incurred in the splendid manner in which pieces were got up at Covent Garden; he was reminded[Pg 62] that Garrick had submitted after a vain resistance, and he was called on to say whether he would comply with the demand or no; the answer must be “Yes” or “No.” Beard boldly from the stage said, “No.” “The benches, chandeliers, etc., were immediately demolished, and as much injury done as took four or five days to repair.” Fitzpatrick and two others were summoned to appear before Lord Mansfield, with the result that the rioting ceased; but the actors on the stage were nightly disturbed by cat-calls and other noises, so that at last Beard was obliged to give way, and resume the long-established custom of half-price.

In 1764, on December 12th, the oratorio “Judith” was repeated, and a new opera with Arne’s music, “The Guardian Outwitted,” was produced at Covent Garden Theatre. The libretto was also the work of Arne. The music of this opera has disappeared, probably in the fire which consumed the theatre in 1808. His “Arcadian Nuptials”—a Masque introduced into “Perseus and Andromeda”—was also played, with Mr. Beard and Miss Hallam in the principal parts. In 1765, on the 30th of October, Mr. William Mawhood, an intimate friend of Arne’s, proposed him as a member of the Madrigal Society, founded in 1741, a worthy assembly of musicians and amateurs who met regularly to practise the best examples of old English and Italian madrigals. The books of the Society, which still exist, show that Arne paid six shillings and sixpence subscription, and that his son, Michael, was elected a member shortly after. In this year Arne composed an Italian opera,[Pg 63] “Olimpiade,” to a libretto by Metastasio, with a special part for the male soprano Manzuoli. This was performed at the King’s Theatre, in the Haymarket, twice only; we may therefore conclude it was not a success. Arne composed a considerable amount of music for male voices, unaccompanied, chiefly Glees and Catches. He obtained three prizes for pieces he sent in competition to the Noblemen and Gentlemen’s Catch Club (founded in 1761). His Glee, “Come, shepherds, we’ll follow the hearse,” was for many years sung after the announcement of the death of a member. The proceedings of the Society were frequently of a highly convivial nature, and it is to be feared that Arne found them greatly to his liking; in one instance he outraged good taste and becoming reverence by composing a burlesque on a most solemn religious rite, to the words “Poculum elevatum.”

He deserves credit for his endeavours to popularise vocal concerted music in the theatre and at garden entertainments; he took care not to present his musical programmes without due rehearsal. A letter of his, without date, probably written about 1766, is evidence of this. “Dr. Arne’s compliments to W. Smith desiring him not to fail meeting the other gentlemen concern’d in the new Catches and Glees, at the Dr.’s house, on Thursday evening next, exactly at 7; having reason to hope for some continuance of them; if perform’d with a requisite spirit and humour; besides another material employment for him on the Anvil. (Jan. ye 2d.) West Street, near Litchfield street, Soho. Pray don’t forget to bring the part.” It may be[Pg 64] necessary to explain that the Mr. W. Smith to whom the above reminder was sent was not only a singer, but also the engraver of many of Arne’s publications, and therefore familiar with the use of the anvil; evidently the composer had music waiting publication.

On the 4th of February, 1767, we learn from a note in a private diary kept by Mr. Mawhood that he “call’d on Dr. Arne and Mic. Arne, and was at the Madrigal”; probably the Arnes accompanied him. On the 4th of April Mr. Mawhood attended “Mrs. Arne’s and Mr. Pemberton’s Benefit: took 3 Pit tickets at 3s. each”; on the 9th of May he “was at Dr. Arne’s and heard ye Catches performd”; on the 29th of December “Performd Dr. Arne’s mass at Church.”

On the 12th of May, 1767, Arne conducted a concert of Catches and Glees at Ranelagh House, described in the Gentleman’s Magazine as the first of the kind. In the following year, 1768, a second vocal concert was given by Arne at Drury Lane Theatre; for the occasion a book of the words was published, with explanatory notes, probably the earliest example of an annotated programme book. The title is, “The words of the favourite Catches and Glees which, with the elegant and humorous music, composed by the most eminent masters of the last and present age, will be performed at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, on Tuesday, the twenty-first of this instant June, by a considerable number of the best vocal and instrumental performers. The Choral and Instrumental parts are added, to give the Catches and Glees their proper effect, being composed, for that purpose, by Dr. Arne. This[Pg 65] performance (the second of the kind ever publicly exhibited in this or any Kingdom) is introduced at the desire of many persons of quality, lovers and encouragers of good harmony and inoffensive humour. London, printed in the year MDCCLXVIII.” There is a preface to the book explaining what is a Catch and what a Glee. Arne wrote, “these kinds of entertainment (in the time of Mr. Henry Purcell) were so much in fashion, that in most polite families, after dinner and supper, it was a custom to lay the choicest collections of Catches and Glees on the table, and thought a deficiency of education in those, who could not readily perform a part.” The concert commenced with a New Grand Overture by Dr. Arne, and was succeeded by a Catch of his composition, “The family quarrel,” which “gained a golden prize-medal in the year 1764.” Next came a Glee composed by Mr. Norris, an “Elegiac on the death of his late Royal Highness the Duke of Cumberland.” The words of this are:

O’er William’s tomb, with love and grief opprest,
Britannia mourns her hero, now at rest;
Not tears alone; but praises too she gives,
Due to the guardian of our laws and lives;
Nor shall that laurel ever fade with years
Whose leaves are water’d with a nation’s tears.

Those who are acquainted with Braham’s popular song, “The death of Nelson,” will recognize the unacknowledged annexation of the above lines by Mr. S. J. Arnold, who is credited with the authorship of the words.

The next item in the programme is a Catch by Mr. Henry Purcell, “The Soldier and his friend”;[Pg 66] then a Catch by Mr. Giardini, “Beviamo tutti tre.” The words are printed in Italian and English. A Glee by Mr. Baildon, “Prithee friend, fill t’other pipe,” ends “The first Interlude.” The second part opens with a Catch by Mr. Henry Purcell, “Jack, thou’rt a toper,” to which Arne has appended a note, “The words of this last Catch are said to be written by Mr. Henry Purcell, wherein, it is obvious, that he meant no elegance, with regard to the poetry; but made it entirely subservient to his extream pretty design, in the music.” The catch originally was a number in the Tragedy “Bonduca,” for which Purcell composed the music: it was first published in Delicæ Musicæ, in 1696. Arne was probably correct in ascribing the words to Purcell. The next piece in the book is called a Glee, but should have been described as a Madrigal—“The Nightingale,” by Weelkes. Arne remarked that “The mastership and genius of this production may serve as a specimen of the state of music at that time, 1608.” A Glee by Mr. Baildon, “When gay Bacchus fills my breast,” which “gained a golden prize-medal in 1766,” is followed by a Glee by Arne, “On Chlœ sleeping,” “the favourite song in Artaxerxes beginning, ‘Water parted from the sea’; at the Earl of Eg——t’s particular desire, taken by the doctor for the subject of this Glee, and set for different voices, the words being now written to the measure of the music.” The “Interlude” concluded with Dean Aldrich’s Catch, “Hark, the bonny Christ-Church bells.” The third part commenced with a Catch by Arne, “The street intrigue,” the words of which are neither elegant nor decent. A[Pg 67] note informs us, “This last Catch was written and composed in the year 1763, soon after the invitation of the Catch-Club, and not put in for a prize-medal; but with humility, presented to the members.” Next we find a Glee by Arne, “The love rapture”; then his Catch, “Which is the properest day to drink?” “This gained a golden prize-medal in the year 1765,” and is a clever composition, still occasionally performed. The last piece in the book is a Glee and Grand Chorus by Arne, “Punch, the medium of life.”

In 1769 Arne composed an Ode for the Shakespeare Jubilee at Stratford-on-Avon; the words of the Ode were written by Garrick, who paid the composer sixty guineas for the music, which was published with the following title: “An Ode upon dedicating a building to Shakespeare, which was erected by the subscription of the Noblemen and Gentlemen in the neighbourhood of Stratford upon Avon, the music composed by Dr. Arne. London, Printed and Sold by John Johnston, at No. 11, York Street, Covent Garden.” There are nine pieces of music; one Air became popular, “Thou soft flowing Avon,” which was sung by Miss Weller; the other singers were Mrs. Barthelemon, Mr. Vernon, Mr. Champness, Mrs. Baddeley, and Master Brown. A semi-chorus in the work is entitled “A strict Fuge for 4 voices. Chapel Time.” This was evidently sung unaccompanied, and although short must have made a good effect.[20][Pg 68] At the same Jubilee festival, Arne’s oratorio “Judith” was performed at the Church. In 1770, Garrick determined on reviving Dryden’s “King Arthur” at Drury Lane Theatre, and engaged Arne to superintend the musical part of the performance, who seems to have suffered at the time from an overdose of self-importance, and addressed the following letter to:

David Garrick, Esq. Sir,—A due attention to your Commission having gone hand in hand with what fancy and judgment I may be thought to possess in my profession, I thought it necessary to lay before you a true state of the merits and demerits of the Musical Performance, you are about to exhibit in King Arthur. To attain a certain rectitude, in judging of this matter, I have not only, with the utmost care and candor, inspected the Score of Purcell’s composition; but attended two rehearsals of it; the result of which, is, as follows:

“The long Scene of the Sacrifice, in the 1st Act, necessary to be deliver’d in, as being written for Music, may have a solemn and noble effect, provided that the last Air and Chorus—‘I call you all to Woden-hall’—be perform’d as I have new compos’d it; the introductory Air to be sung by Champness, which being highly spirited, will carry off with an eclat, an, (otherwise) dull, tedious, antiquated suite of Chorus: Besides which, that Song, as set by Purcell, is intirely out of Mrs. Baddeley’s compass, very indifferent, and no way proper for a woman, where a troop of warriors are assembled, to bribe their idols for a success in battle.

[Pg 69]

“The following Song and Chorus, ‘Come, if you dare, our Trumpets sound,’ is in Purcell tolerable; but so very short of that Intrepity and Spirited defiance pointed at by Dryden’s words and sentiments, that, I think, you have only to hear what I have compos’d on the occasion, to make you immediately reject the other. The Air ‘Let not a Moon-born Elf mislead you,’ is, after the two first bars of Purcell, very bad, and out of Mr. Champnes’ compass of voice.—Hear mine. All the other Solo Songs of Purcell are infamously bad; so very bad, that they are privately the objects of sneer and ridicule to the musicians, but, I have not meddled with any, that are not to come from the mouths of your principal Performers. I wish you wou’d only give me leave to Doctor this performance, I would certainly make it pleasing to the Public, which otherwise, may prove an obstruction to the success of the Revival. It is not now my intention to new set many things, mention’d in our original plan; but to put it in the power of your principal performers to make a proper figure, by opening and adorning the most entertaining points of view, wherein they are to appear; consequently, the expence will be much short of the Sume propos’d; all self-interest subsiding to the earnest desire I shall ever entertain, of proving my sincerity, when I stile myself Sir Your devoted humble servt.

ThoS. AugNE. Arne.

Manuscript of last page of letter

Happily Garrick did not accede to Arne’s requests, and much of Purcell’s music was left in the Masque. Arne composed a new Overture in which he introduced an imitation on the flute of the call of the “Cuckow.” The whole of the first Act, including the famous “Come, if you dare,” was left with Purcell’s music[Pg 70] untouched. In the second Act there were several changes; a new recitative, both words and music, “Alas, the horrors of this bloody field,” was sung by Mrs. Baddeley. This, and a new air, “O peace descend,” were composed by Arne; “the music ill match’d” that of Purcell. Before the chorus, “Come follow me,” Arne introduced a solo “on the subject of Purcell’s chorus, in which he took care to write a goodly number of runs to show off Mrs. Baddeley’s execution.” A new song by Arne, “How blest are the shepherds,” was substituted for Purcell’s solo and chorus, and Mrs. Baddeley was provided with a recitative, “We must work, we must haste,” followed by an air, “To virtue with rapture,” and also “Thus I infuse these sov’reign dews.” Mrs. Wrighten had new music composed for her, a recitative, “Oh sight,” and an air, “’Tis sweet the blushing morn to view.” It may be noted that the words of these pieces were written by Garrick. The third Act, with Purcell’s masterly “Frost Scene,” was left intact. In the fourth Act Purcell’s lovely duet, “Two daughters of this aged stream,” also the solo and chorus, “How happy the lover,” were retained. The music of the fifth Act included Purcell’s “Fairest Isle all Isles excelling.” The final air and chorus, “Saint George the Patron of our Isle,” had new music by Arne.

There are some entries in the “Mawhood”[21] diary[Pg 71] referring to Dr. Arne in 1770: “13 June, Calld. on Dr. Arne who will compose some music for Mr. Pemberton’s Diurge.” “23d. Calld. on Dr. Arne had a small practtice of the Service, for Mr. Pemberton.” “28{th}. Was at Church, performd Dr. Arne and Webb’s Burial for my poor friend Francs. Pemberton.”

A manuscript copy of the Dirge is to be found in the British Museum. It was presented in the year 1849 by Vincent Novello to the Musical Antiquarian Society. His father, Giuseppe Novello, in 1770 resided in Oxford Road, and probably worshipped in the Sardinian Chapel, where Vincent, born in 1781, became a chorister boy; this may account for his possession of the manuscript of the Dirge. It is in the handwriting of a copyist, not an autograph, and has many errors. It is not complete; at the commencement there should have been ten bars of instrumental introduction, which are only indicated in the manuscript by rests. The pencil marks of figured bass are in the handwriting of Vincent Novello; there are also pencilled names of solo singers—Swiney, Fitz, Lanza, Guichd, Novello. The music is admirable, and opens with a chorus for treble, alto, two tenors, and bass, to the words “Libera me, Domine, de morte æterna.” The pathos of this quintet, admirably expressive of the text, cannot be praised too highly. The words “Tremens factus sum ego” are set as a solo for a bass voice, in the style of many cathedral anthems of the period. The manuscript, evidently intended for the organist, gives the necessary organ-bass part; this solo, in the key of A minor, leads into a short chorus in C major to the words “Quando Cœli morendi sunt.” A solo[Pg 72] for a tenor voice to the words “Dies illa, Dies iræ,” exhibits Arne’s skill in writing vocal music, and is a very touching and effective piece of work; it is followed without a break by a chorus, “Dies Magna”; the next movement is a soprano solo, “Requiem æternam,” in E major, a charming melody, with Italian fiorituri. A short chorus, “Requiescat in pace,” concludes a composition which is a very fine example of Arne’s genius, quite worthy of publication and performance. The British Museum possesses another manuscript of the composer to Latin words, “O salutaris hostia,” which looks like an exercise in fugue writing, not intended for Church performance. It may have been sent to the “Catch Club” in competition for a prize.

It has already been stated that Arne deserted his wife in 1756; what their relations were in the succeeding years can only be surmised. She was regarded by her contemporaries as a good and injured woman, and her husband was notoriously a profligate. Some few years ago a number of autograph manuscript documents came into the possession of the present writer, which throw a light on the unhappy condition of things as they existed in 1770. On the 22nd of November in that year, Mrs. Arne’s Attorney sent the following letter to Dr. Arne:

Sir,—I am employed to institute a Suit in the Commons on the Complaint of your wife against you.

[Pg 73]

“The small pittance you gave her for Maintenance falls greatly Short of Supplying her with Common Necessaries, and not only so but this Small allowance which is but £40 a year is now £10 in arrear. You must be sensible Mrs. Arne could not Subsist without Running you in Debt, those Debts must be paid very soon by you. Mrs. Arne has a right and expects to be maintained by you Suitable to your Circumstances. I must request an explicit and immediate answer; Or I shall take the necessary Steps to procure Mrs. Arne that justice which she has an Undoubted Right to.”

This called forth the following reply from Dr. Arne. It will be noted that Arne did not address the Attorney, but wrote direct to his wife:

A.D. 1770.

Mrs. Arne,—After the affectionate note I sent you yesterday, with 5 Guineas, which was from the first money I reciev’d, how great was my surprize, when I reciev’d in return a threatening letter from one Rennett an Attorney, on your account!

“Cou’d I possibly have suppos’d that after my being so long in no way of earning a Guinea, which (till this Job of Mr. Colman’s) was ever since the end of last March, and being involv’d in debts on that account that you—my Wife, shou’d be the only person who sought to distress me? If other people had been as inhuman, what must have become of a Man, who is a laborious Slave to support his necessary Dependants; insomuch that he does not enjoy three days’ ease and pleasure the whole year round?

“As peace and quiet are all the enjoyments which a man of my age can hope for, if he is in his senses, which, in spite of base and wicked minded people, I thank God I have not yet lost, I shall not fly in a passion at your very ungenerous treatment; but with the temper of a Philosopher explain to you the[Pg 74] consequences of your following the ill advice, which may have been given you, and I know from whom.

“When Mr. Tyers refus’d to engage Polly Young, unless you cou’d produce a Bond sign’d by me, whereby we were both impower’d to live and act seperately, did not I directly on your express solicitation, enter into such Bond, impowering you to recieve her whole income? Did I ever desire a shilling of all she got before and after or wish otherwise than that it had been ten times as much for your sake?

“Well, after this, you having married your Niece to Mr. Bartelmon, which threw you out of a good income, having besides impoverish’d yourself, by lending your Money in large Sums to an extravagant, unprincipled Whore, and to others, who only meant to defraud you of that and other valuables, you applied to me by Mr. Forest, to pay you an annual allowance for your support: I, who was ever desirous and ready to do all within my power, ent’red immediately into an Agreement to pay you £40 a year, though I had no certain income of my own to do it with, and through years of distress, for want of something weekly coming in, made up my payments to you, in one week, fortnight, or month, whenever I cou’d scrape your money together, till lately, meeting with no employment for a considerable time,—encumber’d with an expensive house at Chelsea, which I have prudently quitted, and being robb’d by an abandon’d infamous Whore and Thief of a Servant, my Necessities oblig’d me to be behindhand in my payments; yet you very well know that whenever I had two, three, or five Guineas, I never fail’d to give[Pg 75] them to you, in part of payment, and that but a trifle now remains due.

“Is this a Man to recieve the treatment you now give me? Fie, fie, Mrs. Arne! don’t drive me to resentment, when I am willing to act conformable to the laws of religion, peace and love; if you do, by Heaven you’ll have terribly the worst of it; for I can prove that having no regular income, whenever I recieve any money, it is always consum’d in debts, and that I am actualy not in a capacity to allow you £20 a year.

“If, on the contrary, you chuse to continue in love and friendship, send a line immediately to Mr. Rennett, that the affair is amicably accommodated, and though I may be never so distress’d, I will cheerfuly pay your allowance, and remain,

Your affectte Husband,
ThoS. AugNE. Arne. (Seal.)

“Saturday Morng.
“One o’clock

Evidently Mrs. Arne left the matter in the Attorney’s hands; accordingly he wrote a reply as follows:—[Pg 76]“Mrs. Arne is Extremely sorry to hear of any Distresses of Dr. Arne’s and wishes ’twas in her power to Avoid calling on him, for a subsistence. Her loss of Doctor Arne’s affections has been a misfortune she has labour’d under too many years and that without doing him ye least injury but on the Contrary behaved with that affection and Justice that will give her Satisfaction in her last Moments. She hopes Doctor Arne has not so little humanity as to add to her Misery by refusing her a Necessary Subsistance if not Equal to Dr. Arne’s wife yet Sufficient to provide her with Common Necessaries which ’tis impossible for her to do for less than a Guinea a week. If that is paid into Mr. Rennett’s hands Weekly who will have the Receipts ready Mrs. Arne must Content herself with wearing out an Unhappy Life depriv’d of that Comfort which She had a right to expect from her Husband. Doctor Arne threatens to proceed to Extremities with his wife she is sorry to hear it But must be Contented with her fate and rely upon the justice of her case.”

No further correspondence is available, nor is there any record of proceedings at common law; it is therefore reasonable to suppose that an arrangement was concluded. (See page 108.)

In 1772, on the 26th of February, the oratorio “Judith” was performed at Covent Garden Theatre, with women in the chorus, for the first time, as has already been narrated. Shortly afterwards Arne had a performance at the Theatre in the Haymarket; the bill of announcement said, “By desire, for one night only, under the Direction of Dr. Arne. At the Theatre Royal in the Hay-Market, this present Monday, March 16, 1772, will be performed the celebrated Catches and Glees. With a Concerto on the Violin by Mr. Fisher. After which (by permission) will be performed a New Burletta, called ’Squire Badger. Altered and planned for Music, from a favourite Piece. Written by Henry Fielding Esq.; the Music entirely New Composed by Dr. Arne[Pg 77] & With a New Irish and Scotch Medley Overture. Fairlove by Mr. Phillips, Sir Thomas Loveland by Mr. Fox, ’Squire Badger by Mr. Smith, Landlord by Mr. Hamilton, Clarinda by Mrs. Jewell, Pert by Mrs. Thompson. Boxes 5s. Pit 3s. First Gallery 2s. Upper Gallery 1s. To begin exactly at Six o’clock. Books of both Performances may be had together at the Theatre at 1s. 6d.”

In 1775 Arne wrote the following letter to Garrick: “Aug. 21st, 1775. Dr. Arne presents his best compliments to Mr. Garrick, heartily returning thanks for his permission to several of his company to perform in the intended new comedy at the Opera-House, for the Doctor’s advantage. He is unluckily, and indeed ungenteelly cut out of, at least, a clear £100, by Mrs. Greville’s accepting and promising to perform the principal comic character, and, after keeping it near three weeks when it was too late to substitute another, returning the part with frivolous excuses. The Doctor knows not whether he is rightly informed; but he has heard that Mr. Garrick discharged Mr. Dibdin. If (as he has likewise been told, Mr. Garrick has engaged Mr. Arne[22] in the other’s place, the Doctor can better reconcile his being neglected; otherwise should have thought himself at least as capable of the business as any other person, and that his name and credit in the profession would have brought no disgrace on his friendly employer. Cannot help regretting likewise that, though he has ever maintained the most cordial respect and regard to Mr. Garrick for many signal[Pg 78] good qualities, as well as for his being incontestably the first genius of this age in all that he professes,) any young person’s belonging to him, though ever so conspicuous for his abilities, is sufficient cause for his rejection. These unkind prejudices the Doctor can no otherwise account for, than as arising from an irresistible apathy, to which (though painfully) he submits; but will never (notwithstanding) deviate a tittle from that respect, with which he has ever been Mr. Garrick’s most obedient servant.”

To this letter Garrick replied: “Drury Lane Theatre, Aug. 24, 1775. Dear Sir,—I am very sorry that Mrs. Greville (to whom I gave free leave to assist you) should behave so ill to you, and more so, that your loss will be so great by her ill-behaviour. The managers of Drury-lane have no intention to employ a constant composer, but to engage with different gentlemen, as business may arise in the theatre. How can you imagine that I have an irresistible apathy to you? I suppose you mean antipathy, my dear Doctor, by the general turn of your letter. Be assured, as my nature is very little inclined to apathy, so it is as far from conceiving an antipathy to you or any genius in this or any other country. You ask me why I will not make use of your pupils?—Shall I tell you fairly? because I have not the opinion of them which you have. I tried Mrs. Bradford, Miss Weller, and I have now Mr. Fawcet: the two first (as I in a most friendly manner foretold) did no credit to you or myself by appearing in a piece which you obstinately insisted on bringing out, though you knew it would be the means of making a coolness[Pg 79] between us. In short, dear sir, your heart and your genius seem more inclined to the theatre of Covent-Garden than that of Drury-Lane; and when I consider the additional music to ‘King Arthur,’ and the music to ‘Elfrida,’ I trust that I am justified in my opinion. Whether I am mistaken or not, I have not the least antipathy, I give you my honour I have not, to Doctor Arne; but on the contrary, if I had a work of consequence, I should wish to employ him, notwithstanding that our theatrical connections have not yet been serviceable to either of us. I am, dear Sir, your very sincere well wisher, and humble Servant. David Garrick.

To this conciliatory epistle Dr. Arne replied in the following month: “Sept. 3rd 1775. Dear Sir.—I received the favour of your reply to my letter, which I could not doubt of, you never being deficient in politeness. You are certainly in the right to suppose that, if I wrote the word apathy, I meant antipathy. Did I make the blunder or is it a joke, like Mrs. Cibber’s asking you how you could possibly spell King with a Q? I must beg your permission to assure you that you are greatly mistaken in two points. First, when you imagine that I have the least partiality either in favour of the other theatre or its patentees: next in saying that the music in ‘Elfrida’ is much superior to the music I composed for you in ‘King Arthur.’ The principal songs, which for air and mastership I have never excelled, have not been performed. They were written for the late Mrs. Arne,[23] and[Pg 80] fashioned to her sweet voice, and glaring abilities. Mr. Arne expected, from the music and her performances of it, that they would be productive of the highest pleasure, that a judicious audience ever received from either of our endeavours, and several eminent masters thought as he did: but when those coups de maître came out of the mouths of persons who could neither sing in time nor tune, nor turn out one jeu de la voix in them, the result was much the same as if an approved author had written a fine part for ——. I was near hurting your delicacy, in nominating a gentleman, with whose acquaintance I am honoured, and this part, through an unfortunate event, should be acted by Jemmy Raftor, or Dagger Marr. Champness’s songs, the chorus in the first scene of Mr. Vernon’s ‘Come, if you dare,’ and several other things that employed my utmost efforts, were laid aside, in favour of Purcell’s music, which (though excellent in its kind) was Cathedral, and not to the taste of a modern theatrical audience. But never was my surprise greater than when I perceived that a drama so fertile of invention and elegant in poetry, which brought so much to Harry Gifford, and lately in Dublin should (though strongly performed at a vast expense at Drury-lane) fail in making that impression on the public, which the managers had an undoubted right to expect. You frankly say that you have not engaged any of my pupils, because you have not the same opinion of them that I have. Be pleased to remember that I did not recommend Miss Weller as an accomplished singer; but as a young girl, with a good person, who would be useful in musical pieces; but whose talents[Pg 81] in speaking and acting, might, with your friendly encouragement, in a little time bring so pretty a figure to be a shining object. Had you seen her play Mrs. Cadwallader in Foote’s farce at Covent Garden, your candour would induce you to think with that company, who all declared that no young actress ever did better. When I offered you this girl, you wanted an accomplished singer. When I recommended Miss Jameson as such, I was to whistle an angel from Heaven, or you were full; though you brought out a raw nothing last year, and have taken Mrs. Jewell and a Jewess[24] this season. I hope you will, as you have kindly done, excuse this frankness in me, and give me leave to add that I will positively bet a hundred pounds upon Miss Jameson, against any singer you can name in either theatre—I might safely a hundred to one. I wish you would ponder on the contents—not now, because your cast is rather overloaded—but hereafter, when it may not be so. And now, Sir, to the last matter I shall at present trouble you with. Bickerstaff added songs to the Oracle, and brought it out by the title of ‘Daphne and Amintor,’ at Drury Lane, which succeeded very well. I remember a piece of Mr. Lloyd’s, called the ‘Capricious Lovers,’ when performed in Clive’s time. Every body liked the Burletta, but none were pleased with the music—which has induced me to reset it. Now, Sir, if you think it will (with the addition of my new music) fill up a vacancy, till the town fills, the vocal, instrumental, and speaking parts, are ready drawn out: the[Pg 82] title may, and should be altered to ‘The Country Girl at Court,’ being the original one, viz.: ‘La Contadina in Cort,’ and (for a sixth night) I will attend the getting up of the musical part, and deliver up the composition to your use. If you don’t want it, make no ceremony in saying so; for it will be of use to me, with my catches and glees. Have I been studying the longitude? Perhaps so; but if I have tired you, it is more than you could do by me, were you to fill a ream of paper.

“This requires no other answer, than just whether you can, with advantage to your undertaking, make use of my new composition or not. I am, Sir, with due respects, ever your friend and humble servant,

Thomas Augustine Arne.”

There is another letter from Arne to Garrick, without date; it reads as follows:

Dear Sir,—Mr. Johnston informing me of your desire to receive my demand for the composition of the music in ‘The Little Gipsy,’ I beg leave to expatiate a little thereon. I think a musician, with regard to theatrical employment, under an unfortunate predicament, if comparatively considered with the author of any little piece, for the following reason. They should both have learning, invention, and a perfect knowledge of effects; but an author of a petite pièce can instantaneously write down his thoughts as they arise, whereas, the poor musician, when he has conceived an air, in every respect suitable to the sense, and emphatically expressed in every part, has done but half his business; for he has all the instrumental accompaniments to study and write[Pg 83] down; insomuch as, that in a composition of ten, twelve, or more different parts, when he has written a whole side of music paper, he has the mortification to have composed but one line; all, except the voice part, being requisite to that one line. And yet an author of a farce will frequently make upwards of £100 by his sixth night, besides £50 by the sale of his copy to the printer; while the poor devil of a crotchet monger is thought well paid with £50 for six times the study and labour. This last observation, though strictly just, is not, in me, productive of a single complaint or grumble; but convictive that I have taken infinite pains to be master of a scurvy profession. As to my bill, it amounts, at my constant and reasonable rule of charging, but to £45 13 6: If you should think I have employed extraordinary time and care to make the composition proper and perfect in its kind, you will not overpay me with £50. But do as you please; I shall be satisfied, and am, with true respects, Dear Sir, your most obedient servant,

Thomas Augustine Arne.”

This letter is endorsed by Garrick, “Dr. Arne, about bill for ‘May Day.’ I gave him the £50 desired.”

“May Day, or the Little Gipsy,” a musical farce in one act, by David Garrick, was produced at Drury Lane Theatre on the 28th of August, 1775.

There is much to be learned from the correspondence which passed between Arne and Garrick; the following letter, undated, is full of interest:

Dear Sir,—I was never so conceited of any abilities, as non cedere majoribus; but then I[Pg 84] ever was above servility, and could not pay a compliment to the opinion of Socrates or Seneca, at the expense of my reason. Humanum est errare, therefore the main study of every wise man is to arrive at rectitude, which cannot possibly be accomplished by giving an implicit concession to our first determinations. But shall Arne, a musician, have the hardiesse to dispute with Garrick, in his own way?—Yes, if Garrick, not giving himself time to debate on the natural effects arising from their causes, peremptorily gives his ego dixi to what does not (to Arne) appear natural. But where Garrick is pleased to exercise his judgment, as in his own parts, by a fair trial of his opinion pro and con? No, Arne would as soon dispute with Sir Isaac Newton (if living) on his doctrine of colours, sed ad propositum.

“When Miss Weller rehearsed part of Polly’s character in the green-room, I knew it would be in vain to attempt a justification of her manner, at that juncture, and therefore reserved my sentiments for this occasion. I shall only particularize the soliloquy, ‘Now I’m a wretch indeed,’ which, in all the Polly’s I ever saw, had no effect on the audience, except when Mrs. Cibber played the character, who spoke and acted in the same manner as Miss Weller does; and Mr. Barry had the same idea of it. In you this position is glaringly illustrated. Now, in regard to Polly’s situation, it is this. She has been soliciting her husband’s life with her parents, which, instead of moving their obdurate hearts, has had no other effect, than her father’s leaving her mother with a determination[Pg 85] to prepare matters at the Old Bailey for his death. Polly, overhearing this, comes on in an agony of grief, says, ‘Now I’m a wretch indeed!’—thinks she sees him already in the cast—that she hears vollies of sighs from the windows in Holborn—then abruptly breaks out—‘I see him at the tree—the whole circle are in tears—even butchers weep.’ Can it be natural that the sight of a beloved husband at the gallows should excite fainter emotions in a doting wife, than arise in butchers exercised in offices of cruelty? Would not an apple-woman, who should see so fine a youth, merely in the cast, naturally clap her hands together, through depth of concern, and exclaim ‘Ah, poor soul! God bless him and take him to his mercy!’—perhaps shed tears? Certainly; then Polly’s emotion on figuring him at the fatal tree, where the whole circle, through mere humanity, are in tears, can be nothing short of distraction, and any action, short of the force she gave it, must appear trifling, faint, and unfeeling. You are far from having seen the best of her in that character, which appears in her scenes of love, fondness, fears, and strokes of tenderness with Mackheath. But I was not willing to give you too much trouble, and besides, I plainly saw that you could not divest yourself of prepossession; else, how was it possible that a fine voice both for speaking and singing; action open, easy, and graceful; an unexceptionable person and figure, with a countenance free from the least distortion, could be productive of such faint approbation? You have often said you regarded me—but, as in the case of Miss Brent, were I to produce an angel, her being[Pg 86] ushered by me would create coolness and indifference. This observation, which I could more forcibly illustrate, I plainly see has put you out of humour. Give me leave to say, so it has me, who am not without my feeling on so mortifying an occasion. You are possessed both of fortune and merit; the one considerable, the other supreme. I pay you no particular respect, on account of the former; but the highest imaginable on account of the latter. Providence, by placing you in this beneficial situation, meant you as the sun and rain, to cheer and water plants of genius. Your own talents, and the just encouragement they have met with, demand, as a debt, those beneficent offices from you. The pay given to three nothings would be a suitable reward to a rising, promising genius, whose industry and advancement could never fail of repaying you ten fold in return. Having faithfully kept my promise to take no material step, without first acquainting you with my design, and therefore given you a fair offer of Miss Weller, I will trouble you with no more letters, or applications on her account; so shall only add, that if you are inclined to encourage and cherish her, as you have done by many others, with much lesser talents and requisites, I am desirous, and immediately ready to give you the preference; but if otherwise, as I have only my small merit and hard labour to subsist on, let it never be a matter of the least difference between us, that I have acted like a man of honour, and you——overlooked a jewel. I am, Sir, as I ever was, your sincere friend, and most obedient servant,

ThoS. AugNE. Arne.”

[Pg 87]

No reply to the above can be found. The following letter from Arne to Garrick must have been written soon after the above: “Sept. 3rd. Dear Sir,—Having just received a letter from the ingenious author of the two operas, and ‘Pennyworth of Wit,’ under your kind inspection, wherein he begs concealment of his name, till the fate of one or other of his pieces is determined.”

Arne enclosed a copy of his unnamed friend’s letter, which need not be produced here. He then finished his own as follows: “Now give me leave to wish you would consult your assured friend in the musical productions of your theatre, which (waving your own consequence, undeniably the first with the public) might produce the best second dish at the feast. Though half a ghost myself, I have more honour than the whole ghost in ‘Hamlet.’ He was forbid to tell the secrets of his prison house——I tell them not, through principle; but this I may say, in confidence, you actually want strength for the exhibition of musical performances—and why should you?—Mr. Garrick, though I wish him immortal, to the grief of the discerning world, is not so—sickness, pain, mortality may intervene. Let it not be said, that so great a master of his art is deaf or blind to rising merit. I tell you bona fide, that the young woman and young girl [Miss Weller’s sister] whom I recommended, are real objects of your notice, as handsome women, complete figures, and promising actresses, abstracted from their utility as singers. Pray be so obliging as to let me hear from you as soon as you come to town, and be assured that if my skill or connexions[Pg 88] are of any value, they shall be exerted to the utmost, in testimony of the respect with which I am, Dear Sir, your faithful friend, and humble servant,

ThoS AugNE. Arne.”

There is yet another letter from Arne to Garrick, and a characteristic reply, both undated, but which probably were written in 1775:

“Nov. 17. Sir,—As you have causelessly dropped the friend, I have sense enough to write at a becoming distance. You will undoubtedly hear, by the freshest advice, the tête-à-tête alteration between your brother and me. How could it happen otherwise, when the first salutation I received was ‘Dr. Arne, we have considered of the farce, and protest against it’; which nearly led me into a mistake; for how could I suppose he meant the farce you had first promised to do, and after the last rehearsal concluded on? But on his warm repititions, I found that I should have protested against the farce that has been so long acting ex-parte managers, and tragedy on the composer’s part. I answered, ‘I am not surprised, it tallies exactly with the treatment I have all along received,’ (meaning not only on account of the farce, but the discharge of two young women,[25] handsome, perfect figures, and possessed of better talents than most on either stage have set out with:) I scorn to retract my words, and think Mr. G. Garrick[26] will equally scorn to aggravate them. The young women brought three very good[Pg 89] houses for the opening of a season, and met with more public applause than I have ever heard; and though inexperience, mixed with sensibility, might intimidate Miss Weller so as sometimes to exceed the exact sound, it was so little that the audience were not susceptible of it. If you had no intention to retain them, one night’s performance had surely been sufficient for their condemnation; but they had not then been supplanted by my son’s application;—permit me to give you joy of the acquisition. As to singing in tune, by my salvation! not above three in both theatres can do it, though several have had nearly twenty years’ experience. I did not, as has been done to you more than once, impose my young pupils on you as finished singers; why then should they be discharged for what you knew before their appearance, especially after three warm receptions? Your public declaration this morning appeared as meant to complete the many shocks which I and mine have received—it was ineffectual: I shall think myself happy to be mistaken. If you are willing to show a friendship which I shall deem an honour to receive, it will not be sufficient that you perform the piece; I shall have the presumption to hope that you will further its success; though I fear that the cold breath of the manager, like a wintry blast, has chilled the hearts of his dependents; it is a distemper as catching as the itch. There has been but one decent rehearsal which was in your presence; though, even then, two principals were absent; nor can I expect any better, till the manager will either graciously appear, or at least send his general mandate: and, but for the respect[Pg 90] due to the author, I had long since withdrawn the prettiest music, in the light style, that I ever wrote; but I will not, uncompelled, incur the resentment of a gentleman, a man of fortune and a scholar, respected by the first personages of the University of Oxford, by assuring him, from your promise, that his piece will be performed with all possible expedition; then, that it is in rehearsal, and now, by writing him word that you ‘protest against it’? I once had a sparring of this kind with Mr. Rich; he generously acknowledged that he had not treated me kindly, and misunderstanding was the cement of our friendship ever after. May this candid explanation prove equally successful! It shall not be my fault if it does not, being ever desirous of proving myself, your real humble servant,

ThoS. AugNE. Arne.”

Garrick’s reply is very short and sharp:

Dear Sir.—I have read your play and rode your horse, and do not approve of either. They both want particular spirit which alone can give pleasure to the reader and the rider. When the one wants wits, and the other the spur, they both jog on very heavily. I must keep the horse, but I have returned you the play. I pretend to some little knowledge of the last; but as I am no jockey, they cannot say that the knowing one is taken in. I am, Sir, your most obedient servant. D. G.”

Endorsed “Designed for Dr. Arne, who sold me a horse, a very dull one; and sent me a comic opera, ditto.”[Pg 91]

In 1776, early in the year, Miss Abrams, referred to in a letter from Dr. Arne to Garrick, made her first appearance on the Drury Lane stage in Garrick and Arne’s “May-day, or the Little Gipsy.” She possessed a sweet voice and good taste, which had been excellently cultivated under Arne’s tuition. At the last rehearsal of the piece, which took place on the morning of the day of performance, Garrick suddenly conceived that a dance of rustics would improve the play, and told Dr. Arne of his idea, adding, “I suppose it would be impossible for you to compose a tune for it in time?” The Doctor, smiling and rubbing his elbow, according to his usual practice, replied, “We’ll see what can be done,” and calling for pen, ink, and music paper, sat down at the prompter’s table, and in less than five minutes produced one of the prettiest dancing tunes ever heard, which, when played by the band, astonished and delighted Garrick so much that, forgetting his age, he ran up to the Doctor, and embracing, took him by the hands and danced with him round the stage with much grace and animation, to the admiration of all who witnessed it.

In 1776, Arne was engaged to compose music for the Rev. William Mason’s drama, “Caractacus.” The original libretto was written in 1759; but considerably revised, altered, and adapted for stage purposes in 1776 by the author, and this amended version, with Arne’s incidental music, was produced at Covent Garden Theatre on the 6th of December. That it was a complete success is evident; the New Morning Post, or General Advertiser, on the day following the performance, congratulated the town[Pg 92] “on the acquisition of so fine an entertainment as ‘Caractacus’ where poetry and music unite their fascinating powers.” Dr. Samuel Arnold, the composer, who was attached to Covent Garden Theatre when “Caractacus” was produced, spoke in the highest terms of Arne’s music. Unfortunately every vestige of this has disappeared; according to the testimony of Dr. Arnold and of Dr. Thomas Busby, “One of the latest and finest of Dr. Arne’s theatrical compositions, was an Opera called ‘Caractacus,’ founded on a piece of that name written by Mason. Every portion of the music, as the late Dr. Arnold, who had seen it, informed the compilor of this work, evinced a vigour and warmth of imagination worthy of the flower of early manhood. At Dr. Arne’s decease, this production came into the possession of his son, Mr. Michael Arne, who unfortunately sold the manuscript to one Harrison, a bookseller in Paternoster-row, who becoming a bankrupt before the piece was published, it was publicly sold together with his other effects, to whom it is not now known, and never has been heard of since.” Six years after Dr. Arne’s death, in 1784, The Universal Magazine announced that Mr. Michael Arne was intending to publish his father’s “Death of Abel, Caractacus, and a Set of Concertos for the Harpsichord or Pianoforte with the Choruses in Judith.” Michael Arne died in 1786, without having accomplished his desire; in 1793 the Concertos appeared, having been edited by Mr. Groombridge, and from the interesting preface to the volume we learn that this was the only piece which had been published. Quite recently[Pg 93] an anonymous publication of music for Mason’s “Caractacus” has been attributed to Dr. Arne, but the composition is so faulty and puerile that, even if other evidence were wanting, it would be impossible to suppose it the work of an experienced and accomplished musician like Arne. The book in question has a water-mark in the paper, 1794, which was sixteen years after Dr. Arne’s death. The author’s preface to the publication was evidently written by some one alive at that date; it is therefore not necessary to waste more space in discussing it.

Dr. Arne had a very high opinion of his own talent as a poet, and some of his theatrical pieces are said to have suffered comparative failure in consequence of the poor quality of the words. But there was one piece of his, never performed nor ever published, which, while exhibiting his skill as a composer of music, shows also that he was at times wholly wanting in good taste and discretion. There are two copies of the libretto in existence, printed by Arne for publication, but never issued: the title-page is: “Whittington’s Feast, a new Parody on Alexander’s Feast written by a College Wag. The Overture, Songs, &c., with all the grand chorusses, new composed by Thomas Augustine Arne. Doctor of Music.

Risum teneatis amici?
O what is Music to the ear that’s deaf;
Or a goose pye to him that has no taste?

London: Printed for the Author.”

In the preface, Arne says: “The fairest apologies I can offer in excuse for this Parody on Alexander’s Feast, which, by its ludicrous turn, may be thought[Pg 94] an attempt to depreciate one of the noblest poems in the English, or perhaps any other language, are, First, that the impossibility, in any degree, to lessen the value of so perfect an ode was a capital motive. The second was an irresistible propensity (which perhaps I may have mistaken for genius) to the comic muse.” The preface ends with an intimation that the author hopes the “oddity of the attempt, with the intense application bestowed on the music, and the great expence at which it is performed, will compensate for any defects in the parody, and invite a good-humoured audience to support it.” “April the 10th, 1776. From my Garret, in Cat and Harp Alley.”—“The Scribbler.”

The libretto is printed in double columns, the left giving Dryden’s text, the right the College Wag’s parody. It may suffice to say that there are seventeen pages of vulgarity and sometimes indecency. The music, which extends to two hundred and fifty pages in the manuscript score, is superior to the poetry. There is no Overture; the various songs and choruses are palpably meant to be in imitation of Handel, but like the words they fail to detract from the value of the originals they vainly burlesque. There is evidence that Arne intended to have a public performance of “Whittington’s Feast”; but circumstances, probably indifferent health, prevented it.

Arne, by Zoffany.

In October, 1777, Arne and his wife met and became again a united and affectionate pair. This happy reconciliation was brought about by the intervention of their grand-niece, Cecilia Maria Barthelemon. A memorandum written by her, still[Pg 95] preserved by one of her descendants, is worth quoting verbatim: “In former days the Doctor [Arne] had taken great pleasure in hearing my mother[27] sing the songs for Mandane in his Opera of Artaxerxes, and latterly she used to visit him for the purpose of receiving her Aunt’s seperate maintenance money, and the last time she called for this purpose, she took her little daughter with her, then about ten years old. The Doctor who was always kind to the child, had her seated on his knee all the time: and when her mother was about to leave, she ventured to say, that she began to be tired of calling for this purpose, and thought it would be far better for him to be reconciled to his good wife, who had always been so irreproachable herself. He, however, answered her in a manner so violent and angry, that the child who both loved and revered her great-aunt, burst into tears and cried aloud; and her mother at once rose to take leave, observing also that she would never take the trouble to call upon him again. A few days after, however, she received a letter from the Doctor, apologizing for his conduct, adding that the tears of the dear child had affected him more than could a host of men, and that if his dear old wife would be reconciled, he would be happy to see her and her niece and nephew Barthelemon, and the dear child also, to dine with him on the following Sunday. The good Mrs. Arne shed tears of joy, gave her ready consent, and lovingly embraced her little grand niece.” The narrative continues: “The Doctor and his wife lived happily together (alas)[Pg 96] only for six months after this long wished for reconciliation (after a separation of thirty years)—often expressing the wish that it had taken place years, instead of only months before.”

We learn from an entry made by Mawhood in his diary, dated the 6th of December, 1777, that he saw Dr. Arne, “who has conformed and is now very ill; he has made his will betwixt Mrs. Arne and Michael.” Another entry in the diary, dated the 10th, stated: “Mr. Paxton called, says Dr. Arne is now on the recovery.” The improvement in his health, however, proved only temporary, and on the 5th of the following March, 1778, the diarist wrote, “Dr. Arne died this evening at eight o’clock.”

The grand-niece previously quoted says: “Dr. Arne died a sincere penitent, and a firm Catholic. His confessor buried him according to the ceremony of his Church. A cross was put on his coffin, and he was interred in the burial ground of St. Paul’s, Covent Garden, on the right hand side going in.” There are two contemporary printed accounts of the last moments of the distinguished composer; one from his intimate friend, the popular tenor singer, Vernon, who, at that time engaged in the neighbouring Drury Lane Theatre, was in the habit of visiting Arne daily at his residence in Bow Street. The morning after Arne’s decease he told the company assembled in the music-room at the theatre that he “was talking on the subject of music with the Doctor, who suffered much from exhaustion, when, in attempting to illustrate what he had advanced, he in a very feeble and tremulous voice sung part of an air, during which he became[Pg 97] progressively more faint, until he breathed his last, making as our immortal Shakespeare expresses it, a swan-like end fading in music.”

The other account says Arne “died of a spasm on his lungs, retaining his faculties to the last moment of his existence. He had originally been instructed in the principles of the Romish Church: these however he had for many years wholly neglected, as inconsistent with a life of ease and gallantry, in which he indulged to the fullest extent of his purse and constitution. In his last stage, the dormant seeds of early maxims and prejudices, as is usually the case, revived in his bosom, too strong to be checked, or perhaps discriminated by sound reason. The complicated train of doubts, hopes, and fears, operated so forcibly on the Doctor’s feelings at this awful period, that a priest was sent for, by whom he was awed into a state of most submissive repentance. In thus renewing the duties of a Christian, those of his professional line were not forgotten; for about an hour before his death he sung an harmonious Halleluja, a flight of fancy, calculated as it were to usher him into the other world.” These narratives, though not precisely similar in detail, leave no doubt in the mind of the reader that Arne died repentant, doubtless the happier for having been reconciled to his wife. [Pg 98]“Notwithstanding the number and excellence of his publications, Dr. Arne left little or no property behind him; a circumstance which will not appear extraordinary to those who consider his real character and life. He was naturally fond of vicious pleasure, to which he sacrificed every other consideration.” The Will he made is at Somerset House, and recites as follows:—“In the Name of God Amen—I Thomas Augustine Arne of Bow Street Covent Garden in the County of Middlesex doctor in Music being of sound mind memory and understanding hereby make and pronounce this to be my last Will and Testament revoking all former Wills made or pretended to be made whatever Whereas I am possessed of a small Personal Estate consisting of goods Chattels and Effects most of them now standing lying or being in the House I rent of Mrs. Woodeville in Bow Street aforesaid and particularized in the Schedule hereto annexed I leave give and bequeath them in manner and form following First to my beloved wife Cecilia and only son Michael I give and bequeath the sad remains of my once excellent Organ mangled trod to pieces and ruined by and through the Villainy of wicked Servants that they may dispose of the same to the best advantage and share the profits equally between them Secondly I give and bequeath to the said Cecilia and Michael all my Worldly Goods Chattels Estate Personal whatever and wherever to be found (except as hereafter excepted) Books musical and for reading Plate and every other thing now situate standing or lying in my house in Bow Street aforesaid or in any other place to be found As to all books Musical or Literary and all Manuscripts in either branch written or composed by me or other Persons My Will is that such as may by performance at any time or in any place produce any profit or Benefit to the said Cecilia and Michael The expenses attending such Performances being first paid and[Pg 99] defrayed equally between them The Profits or Benefits arising from the Sale or Public Performance thereof shall be equally divided between them share and share alike And the said Property being liable to an exception before limited I shall make it here viz. That the share and proportion of the said Michael is only circumscribed or limited in this particular viz. that when by sale of the Goods or part of them or by Public Performance or Performances of any of my Works, have received to his share the sum of seventy Pounds that he shall pay or cause to be paid to his Daughter Jemima the sum of ten Guineas as a present from me to his said Daughter for her Love and Kindness to me It is therefore my last will that all my works in particular Shall be and remain in the Possession of my said wife Cecilia subject to their being called forth used and employed for the mutual benefit profit and emolument of my said son as well as my wife, for Security of which to the said Cecilia she has and shall have by virtue hereof (before the delivery of any work) an unquestionable right to be satisfied As to the Probability of Success in the undertaking and an equal right to elect a Trustee or Treasurer to sit in the Treasurers Office on all and every Night whereon any of my works are performed And after all the charges attending such performance or performances shall be duly deducted to take and receive for and to the use of the said Cecilia one clear half or Moiety of the Monies or Profits arising therefrom and then take the Score and Parts of such Work or Works and reconvey it or them in Safety to the said Cecilia[Pg 100] And this same just method of Proceeding shall duly be observed for the said Cecilia’s equal Security in Case that either of the said dramatic Productions shall by their mutual consent be disposed of for their mutual Profits or Advantage to either of the Patent Theatres And in case that the said Cecilia shall depart this Life before the Death of the said Michael in such case the whole Personal Estate and Property above mentioned shall devolve or come down in right to the said Michael as sole Successor by this my last Will and Testament And lastly I hereby nominate and appoint the said Cecilia and Michael my joint and sole Executors of this my last will and Testament hereby impowering them to sue for and recover all debts and Demands whatever due to me on any account whatever whether in Law or Equity As Witness my hand and Seal this sixth of December in the seventeenth year of the Reign of Our Sovereign Lord George the third and in the year of our Lord One thousand seven hundred and seventy-seven.

ThoS. AugNE. Arne.

Sealed and delivered being first duly stamp’d in the presence of Stephen Paxton Maria Barthelemon.[28]

On the 6th of March, 1778, the Morning Chronicle had a short paragraph: “yesterday, died Dr. Arne, at his house in Bow-Street, whose musical talents were an honour to himself and this country.”[Pg 101]

Arne was interred in the burial ground on the north side of St. Paul’s Church, Covent Garden, on the 15th of March, and the fact was noted in the Parish Register, he being described simply as “Thomas Arne.” No memorial of him was erected, but his son suggested a scheme for placing a monument in Westminster Abbey. This, like most of Michael Arne’s projects, ended in talk; indeed, he only survived his father eight years, and died in South Lambeth on the 14th of January, 1786, leaving a widow, his second wife, in destitute circumstances. His career had been a varied one. His aunt, Mrs. Cibber, taught him as a child how to act on the stage, and he appeared as the Page in Otway’s tragedy “The Orphan.” His father gave him singing lessons, and procured him engagements at the Marylebone Gardens in 1751. He became a skilled harpsichord player, and made a good reputation as a composer of songs and ballads. His music to Garrick’s romance, “Cymon,” produced at Drury Lane in 1767, was very popular. He married one of his father’s pupils, Elizabeth Wright, in 1766, who became a successful stage-vocalist; she died in 1774-5. He inherited much of his father’s talent, but, infatuated with the determination to discover the mystery of the philosopher’s stone, he built a laboratory at Chelsea, and ruined himself. Removing to Ireland, he resumed his profession of music, and revived his fortune; but the old mania returned, and he retired to Clontarf to make experiments which he believed would enable him to manufacture gold, with the result that he again beggared himself, and was arrested and confined in a sponging-house in Dublin.[Pg 102] From this, by the exertions of friends, he was released. He returned to London, and again took up work as a teacher and composer, but with only moderate success.

Dr. Arne, as we have seen, died on the 5th of March, and on the 28th of the succeeding month (April) a performance was given at the Theatre Royal in the Haymarket for the benefit of Mrs. Arne, which was attended by the old family friend Mr. Mawhood, and duly recorded in his diary. The programme included Dr. Arne’s Elegy Glee, “Come, shepherds, we’ll follow the hearse,” specially instrumented for the occasion by Dr. Samuel Arnold.

Previous to the reconciliation with her husband, Mrs. Arne had resided with Barthelemon and his wife; after Dr. Arne’s death she again went to live with them at their house in Vauxhall. Here she enjoyed a few years of peaceful happiness, loving and beloved. An extract from a letter addressed to Mrs. Barthelemon in 1788 by a near relative will be read with interest: “We rest in hope Mrs. Arne continues on the mending hand, she has been a good woman, and has long attended to the future rest of her soul, which becomes the most important of all charges, though many of us decline it to a late moment. Mrs. Scott desires to be kindly remembered to Mr. Barthelemon, Mrs. Lampe, Miss Lampe, and dear Mrs. Arne, Yours affectionately, John Scott.”[29]

[Pg 103]

“At the advanced age of seventy-nine Mrs. Arne continued to observe the hours of prayer, and the usual fast-days of her Church, with a rigour suitable to the austerity of primitive times, although that Church’s discipline excused such habits of severe self-denial in its members at her time of life. Her manners, her habits, and her person at that great age, were not only inoffensive and untroublesome, but edifying, affecting, and affection-moving to those around her.”

“When she was ill and supposed to be dying, notwithstanding their different Communions they [the Barthelemon family] read the Psalms and Lessons together in Mrs. Arne’s bedroom, where, at her bed’s head, was a Crucifix, at the foot of which was a little vase full of holy water.” “One day, she was supposed to be dead, and the Doctor, whose name was Carson, being present assured Mrs. Barthelemon that she was gone. She, however, could not resign herself to that belief, although he said he wished he could be as certain of going to heaven as he was that she was already there. Mrs. Barthelemon, however, tried to delay his departure, and accompanied him to the house door, when she implored him to look at her aunt once more, and to this he impatiently consented, and almost angrily applied a flame to her mouth and nose to show that breathing had ceased, when he suddenly called out for the strongest cordial at hand, the result of which was the revival of the supposed deceased, who soon exclaimed—‘Oh! my dears, you have called me back from the glories described in the Te Deum.’” This restoration took place nine months before she eventually expired, on the 6th of October, 1789. Her mortal remains were placed in the[Pg 104] vaults of the church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields. Ten years later her loved niece, Mrs. Barthelemon, was buried in the same vault, “the two coffins being linked together by a chain.”

The following interesting letter addressed to Mr. and Mrs. Barthelemon, written by Dr. Burney on the 21st of October, 1789, throws a flood of light on the life and character of Mrs. Arne:

Dear Sir and Madam.—Having been in Norfolk a considerable time, the melancholy news of my old and worthy friend did not arrive at my knowledge till a few days ago, otherwise we should certainly have been more early in communicating our condolence. Except yourselves, whose anxious care and benevolence have been so uninterruptedly manifested for such a series of years, no one of the friends or acquaintances of the good Mrs. Arne could wish to be of some use to her more heartily than I have constantly done, ever since I first saw her at Chester, on her way from Ireland, in the Autumn of 1744; and it has of late years been a matter of real affliction to me that it has not been in my power to give more proofs of my zeal. I never had forgotten the good soul’s kindness to me during my residence with Dr. Arne; when, it is not too much to say, I profited more in my studies by the advantage of accompanying her in her vocal exercises than by any instructions which the Doctor had leisure to give me. She was indeed, not only desirous of my professional improvement, but had a parental attention to my morals and conduct. As long as I remained under the same roof, I tried everything in my power, and not unsuccessfully, to[Pg 105] contribute to domestic harmony, so necessary to the welfare of the whole family, as well as the comfort of individuals; and I did flatter myself, if I had continued longer with them, the union would have been of longer duration.

“The Doctor, rest his soul! with all his genius and abilities, was too volage at every period of his life, to merit the title of a good family man; and soon after I quitted him, I heard with grief that our late dear worthy friend was no longer under the same roof. During a residence of nine years in Norfolk, I lost sight of her, but never forgot the goodness of her heart, or the talents and professional merits of her younger years. There was a time when her voice, shake and manner of singing, were superior to those of any female performer in the country.

“I always respected that benevolence of heart which inclined you both to afford the poor soul an asylum after age and infirmity had deprived her of those talents, and however inconvenient it may have sometimes been, I am certain you will always think of it with the pleasure which reflecting upon good actions constantly affords to minds capable of performing them.

“It gave me great satisfaction to hear that our well disposed and virtuous friend had the comfort of religion in her last moments. She was always attentive to the duties of a sincere and worthy member of her church; a disposition to be honoured and had in reverence among Christians of every denomination. Mrs. Burney sincerely joins in condolence and best compliments, and I beg you will believe[Pg 106] me to be with unfeigned regard, dear Sir and Madam,

“Your affectionate friend and faithful Servant,

Chas. Burney.

“(P.S.) I cannot help regarding the loss of Mrs. Arne with a kind of filial sorrow; she was the last survivor among those to whom I attached the idea of a parent. I lost my poor mother about 12 years ago, at the great age of 86. This letter must not be sealed before I have added my compliments and good wishes for the health of Miss Cecilia, sincerely hoping she will continue a constant source of comfort to you to your lives’ end!”

The following is a chronological list of music composed by Dr. Arne.

Arne composed many pieces for the “Nobleman’s Catch Club”; thirty-seven of these are printed in “Warren’s Collection” and in “Vocal Harmony.” Fifteen are English and Italian Catches, fourteen are Glees, and eight are Canons. There are published[Pg 108] numerous songs, concertos, sonatas for harpsichord, and for violins and harpsichord. These are not dated in the foregoing list. In his orchestral compositions Arne employed piccolo, flutes, clarinets, bassoons, horns, trumpets and drums in addition to the usual strings, violins, violas, violetta, violoncelli, double-basses and harp. He used the device of pizzicato and of sordino; he also occasionally labelled imitative passages, for example, “The Owl,” in “Where the bee sucks.” He used the abbreviation for ; possibly he introduced it.

Arne was the acknowledged author of the libretti of many stage-pieces and wrote the poetry of numerous songs. His known libretti included “Don Saverio,” 1750; “Artaxerxes,” 1762; “The Guardian Outwitted,” 1764; “The Rose,” 1772; “The Cooper,” 1772; “The Contest of Beauty and Virtue,” 1773; a “Pasticcio,” 1773; “Phœbe at Court,” 1776; and “Whittington’s Feast,” 1776.


[31] Dr. Arne presents his love to Mrs. Arne, desiring to be inform’d of her health, which he sincerely hopes she enjoys. He cou’d not possibly call upon her in the hurry of this new Piece; but will take a speedy opportunity. Begs the favour of her signing the inclos’d receipt for the money he has paid, which he thinks was sixteen Guineas, and five more, sent herewith, make one and twenty.

Reciev’d Nov. ye 21st, of Dr. Arne, the sume of twenty-one Guineas, in part of the money due to me, at the rate of forty pounds a year, agreed to be paid for my board, lodging and maintenance.

Dr. Arne’ Accot. of Arrears due to Mrs. Arne from the Allowance made to her of 16s. 8d. p. week, which from April 16th, 1771, to Novr. 26th following is Eight Months and two Days and which amounts to

  26 18 10½
Recd. at Sundry times 16 16  0
Remaining due 10  2 10½
   5  5  0
   4 17 10½

Cliefden in 1740.

[Pg 109]
[Pg 110]
[Pg 111]


His Royal Highness Frederick Prince of Wales, son of King George the Second, was opposed to his father not only in politics, but also in his tastes and amusements. The King had no liking for, or appreciation of, British men and things; the Prince, on the contrary, assiduously cultivated a knowledge of the English laws and constitution, and strove to assimilate his tastes and feelings to those of the people he expected one day to rule and govern. He zealously promoted such measures as he thought desirable for the public welfare, and patronized men of eminence connected with arts, science, and literature. His beautiful residence, Cliefden,[32] on the banks of the Thames, was the recognized resort of the most distinguished men of letters and art. The under-secretary of the Prince was David Mallet, to whom he paid a stipend of[Pg 112] two hundred pounds per annum; Thomson the poet was also one of his protégés. A change of government deprived Thomson of a lucrative appointment, and being introduced to the Prince of Wales the latter gaily interrogated him about the state of his affairs; the poet replied, “they were in a more poetical posture than formerly,” whereupon the Prince granted him a pension of one hundred pounds a year.

In 1740 the Prince of Wales resolved to celebrate in a special manner two important events—the Accession of the House of Hanover to the throne of England, and the anniversary of the birth of his little daughter, the Princess Augusta, born on the 31st of July, 1737. For the occasion the services of Mallet and Thomson were called into requisition. John Rich, the successful actor-manager, was also commissioned to prepare various stage performances. Rich had become popular from his connection with Gay’s “Beggar’s Opera,” which he had the good fortune to produce at the theatre in Lincoln’s Inn Fields[Pg 113] in 1728, and thereby netted four thousand pounds. The author received six hundred and ninety-three pounds three shillings and sixpence. This remarkable success called forth the witty saying that “the ‘Beggar’s Opera’ made Gay rich, and Rich gay.” Rich was the founder of Covent Garden Theatre, in 1731, and was doubtless on excellent terms with the aristocratic patrons of the stage, including the Prince of Wales. On the 5th of September, 1740, he piloted the Prince through the mazes of Bartholomew Fair, Smithfield. A witness of the scene has described it thus: “The multitude behind was impelled violently forwards, a broad blaze of red light, issuing from a score of flambeaux, streamed into the air; several voices were loudly shouting ‘Room there for Prince George! make way for the Prince!’ Presently the pressure became much greater, the voices louder, the light stronger, and as the train came onward it might be seen that it consisted of a party of yeomen of the guard clearing the way; then several more of them bearing flambeaux and flanking the procession, while in the midst of all appeared a tall, fair and handsome young man, having something of a plump, foreign visage, seemingly about four-and-thirty years of age, dressed in a ruby-coloured frock coat, very richly guarded with gold lace, and having his long flowing hair curiously curled over his forehead and at the sides, and finished with a very large bag and courtly queue behind. The air of dignity with which he walked, the blue ribbon and star and garter with which he was decorated, the small three-cornered silk hat which he wore, whilst all[Pg 114] around him were uncovered, the numerous suite, as well of gentlemen as of guards, which marshalled him along, the obsequious attention of a short, stout person, who by his flourishing manner seemed to be a player,—all these particulars indicated that the amiable Frederick Prince of Wales was visiting Bartholomew Fair by torchlight, and that Manager Rich was introducing his royal guest to all the entertainments of the place.”

Great preparations were made at Cliefden, and on the 1st of August, the Prince of Wales received his guests. An interesting account of the proceedings was printed in the London Daily Post and General Advertiser of Saturday, the 2nd, in the following words: “Last night was performed at the gardens of Cliefden, (in commemoration of the Accession of his late Majesty King George, and in Honour of the Birth of the Princess Augusta; their Royal Highnesses the Prince and Princess of Wales, with all their Court being present,) a new Masque of Two Acts, taken from the various Fortunes of Alfred the Great by Mr. Thomson; and performed by Mr. Quin, Mr. Milward, Mrs. Horton, and others from both Theatres;—also a Masque of Music, call’d ‘The Judgement of Paris’ writ by Mr. Dryden;[33] and concluded with several Scenes out of Mr. Rich’s Pantomime Entertainment, perform’d by himself, and others of his appointing particularly the Skeleton Scene in Merlin’s Cave, and the Dwarf Scene in Orpheus and Euridice. Also the famous Le Barbarini (newly arriv’d with[Pg 115] Mr. Rich from Paris,) performed several Dances, and so much to the satisfaction of their Royal Highnesses, that his Royal Highness was pleas’d to make her a very handsome Present, and the work was conducted with the utmost Magnificence and Decorum.” The Fête was repeated on the following evening, but unfortunately a violent rain-storm interrupted the proceedings, and the Masque of Alfred had to be performed in the house. The Daily Post, of August the 5th, reported that “the whole was exhibited upon a Theatre in the Garden, composed of Vegetables and decorated with Festoons of Flowers, at the End of which was erected a Pavilion for Their Royal Highnesses the Prince of Wales, Prince George, and Princess Augusta.”

It is remarkable that the newspaper report makes no mention of Thomas Arne, who composed the music for both Masques, whose work alone has rescued from oblivion the memory of the proceedings. One of the songs in “Alfred” was “Rule, Britannia.” The Masque is forgotten; poet and composer, and they who first heard its thrilling burst from chorus and orchestra are mouldering in their tombs; the halls through which the strain resounded have long since perished; but the enthusiasm then awakened still vibrates in the British heart to the sound of the words,

Rule, Britannia, Britannia rule the waves.

Thomas Arne resided at Cliefden before and during the Fête; his wife, who was one of the principal vocalists in both Masques, many years afterwards told her grand-niece, Cecilia Maria Barthelemon, that she witnessed a curious scene on[Pg 116] one of the lawns: “Two men were mowing, when the hinder man severely cut the calf of the leg of the other, and the Prince of Wales immediately dipped a cambric handkerchief in some Arquebusade[34] and himself wrapped it round the man’s leg, which needed no other cure.”

Very shortly after the performance, on the 19th of August, Millar, the bookseller and publisher, issued the libretto of “Alfred”: the title of the book reads: “Alfred, a Masque Represented before Their Royal Highnesses the Prince and Princess of Wales, At Clifden, (sic) on the First of August, 1740. London Printed for A. Millar, over against St. Clement’s Church in the Strand MDCCXL.” A perusal of the publication shows that Mr. Milward represented King Alfred; Mrs. Horton, the King’s wife, Eltruda; Mr. Quin, a Hermit; Mr. Mills, the Earl of Devon; Mr. Salway, Corin, a Shepherd; Mrs. Clive, Emma, the Shepherd’s wife. Two other characters, a Bard and a Spirit, have no names attached, but we know that the part of the Spirit was sung by Mrs. Arne. The Masque consists almost entirely of speaking parts; the first introduction of music is a song for Emma, the Shepherd’s wife, who has a delightful little ditty to the words:

O peace! the fairest child of heaven,
To whom the sylvan reign was given,
The vale, the fountain and the grove,
With every softer scene of love.
Return, sweet peace, and cheer the weeping swain;
Return with ease and pleasure in thy train.

[Pg 117]

This charming song was doubtless well sung by Kitty Clive, who, a few years later, was the first to warble Arne’s exquisite melody, “Where the bee sucks.”

The third scene opens with a stage direction—“Solemn music is heard at a distance. It comes nearer in full symphony: after which a single trumpet sounds a high and awakening air. Then the following stanzas are sung by two aerial spirits unseen:

“Hear, Alfred, father of the state
Thy genius heaven’s high will declare!
What proves the hero truly great,
Is never, never to despair:
Thy hope awake, thy heart expand
With all its vigour, all its fires.
Arise! and save a sinking land—
Thy country calls, and heaven inspires.”

If Arne composed music for the above, it was never published.

The next air is sung by Eltruda, the Queen, represented by Mrs. Horton. It was sung off the stage, and according to Arne’s score was accompanied by harpsichord and flute, the latter instrument echoing the voice-part. The libretto has two verses, but only the following was performed:

Sweet valley, say, where, pensive lying,
For me, our children, England, sighing,
The best of mortals leans his head.
Ye fountains, dimpled by my sorrow,
Ye brooks that my complainings borrow,
O lead me to his lonely bed:
Or if my lover,
Deep woods, you cover,
Ah, whisper where your shadows o’er him spread!

[Pg 118]

In the third scene, second Act, after a dialogue between Alfred, Eltruda and the Hermit, the latter summons the “Genius of England.” Then the stage direction is “Music grand and awful. The Genius descending sings the following song”:

From these eternal regions bright,
Where suns, that never set in night,
Diffuse the golden day:
Where spring unfading pours around,
O’er all the dew-impearled ground,
Her thousand colors gay:
O whether on the fountain’s flowery side,
Whence living waters glide,
Or in the fragrant grove
Whose shade embosoms peace and love,
New pleasures all your hours employ,
And rapture every sense with every joy!
Great heirs of empire! yet unborn,
Who shall this island late adorn;
A monarch’s drooping thought to chear,
Appear! Appear! Appear!

Possibly this song may have been omitted at the performance. Music for it cannot be found. The spirits of Edward the Third, Philipa his Queen, and their son the Black Prince, arise together; afterwards Queen Elizabeth, succeeded by William the Third—all are described by the Hermit. The next scene opens with a “Symphony of Martial music.” The last scene affords an opportunity for Emma, the Shepherd’s wife, represented by Kitty Clive, to sing a bright and sprightly melody,[Pg 119] accompanied by the string orchestra in gavotte time to the following words:

If those, who live in Shepherd’s bower,
Press not the rich and stately bed:
The new-mown hay and breathing flower
A softer couch beneath them spread.
If those, who sit at Shepherd’s board,
Soothe not their taste by wanton art:
They take what Nature’s gifts afford,
And take it with a chearful heart.
If those, who drain the Shepherd’s bowl,
No high and sparkling wines can boast,
With wholesome cups they chear the soul,
And crown them with the village toast.
If those who join in Shepherd’s sport,
Gay-dancing on the daizy’d ground.
Have not the splendor of a court;
Yet Love adorns the merry round.

A short dialogue between Alfred and Eltruda follows, and then the Hermit speaks, “Behold, my Lord, our venerable Bard,

“Aged and blind, him whom the Muses favour.
You ere you go, in our lov’d country’s praise,
That noblest theme, hear what his rapture breathes.”

This is immediately succeeded by


When Britain first at heaven’s command,
Arose from out the azure main:
This was the charter of the land,
And guardian Angels sung this strain:
“Rule, Britannia, rule the waves:
[Pg 120] Britons never will be slaves.”
The nations, not so blest as thee,
Must in their turns, to tyrants fall:
While thou shalt flourish great and free,
The dread and envy of them all.
“Rule,” etc.
Still more majestic shalt thou rise,
More dreadful, from each foreign stroke:
As the loud blast that tears the skies,
Serves but to root thy native oak.
“Rule,” etc.
Thee haughty tyrants ne’er shall tame:
All their attempts to bend thee down,
Will but arouse thy generous flame;
But work their woe, and thy renown.
“Rule,” etc.
To thee belongs the rural reign;
Thy cities shall with commerce shine;
All thine shall be the subject main,
And every shore it circles thine.
“Rule,” etc.
The Muses, still with freedom found,
Shall to thy happy coast repair:
Blest isle! with matchless beauty crown’d,
And manly hearts to guard the fair.
“Rule, Britannia, rule the waves,
Britons never will be slaves.”

Each of the foregoing verses was sung as a solo with the choral refrain “Rule, Britannia.” The venerable bard was represented by Mr. Thomas Lowe,[35] a favourite singer who was engaged at Cliefden, and sang the tenor solos on that occasion in the “Judgement of Paris.” We know from the report in the Daily Post that there were “other performers from both[Pg 121] theatres,”[36] doubtless a good and efficient chorus. The Ode would have made a splendid climax to the Masque,[37] but the libretto shows that the Hermit followed with a speech which is worthy of reproduction; the last four lines are particularly deserving of attention:

Alfred, go forth! lead on the radiant years,
To thee reveal’d in vision.——Lo! they rise!
Lo! patriots, heroes, sages, crowd to birth:
And bards to sing them in immortal verse!
I see thy commerce, Britain, grasp the world:
All nations serve thee; every foreign flood,
Subjected, pays its tribute to the Thames.
Thither the golden South obedient pours
His sunny treasures: thither the soft East
Her spices, delicacies, gentle gifts;
And thither his rough trade the stormy North.
See, where beyond the vast Atlantic surge,
By boldest keels untouch’d, a dreadful space!
Shores, yet unfound, arise! in youthful prime,
With towering forests, mighty rivers crown’d!
These stoop to Britain’s thunder. This new world,
Shook to the centre, trembles at her name:
And there, her sons with aim exalted, sow
The seeds of rising empire, arts, and arms.
Britons proceed, the subject Deep command,
Awe with your navies every hostile land.
In vain their threats; their armies all in vain:
They rule the balanc’d world, who rule the main.

[Pg 122]

Although the libretto of “Alfred” was published a few days after the performance at Cliefden, the music remained in manuscript; possibly Arne did not consider the number of pieces, only five, sufficient to warrant the expense of publication; it is certain however that the “Rule, Britannia” Ode caught the public ear, and became celebrated. When therefore the “Judgement of Paris” Masque was published, about 1741, the opportunity was taken of printing the score of “Rule, Britannia.” The volume consists of sixty-one pages, and the title-page reads: “The music in the Judgement of Paris, consisting of All the Songs, Duettos and Trio, with the Overture in Score, as perform’d by Mr. Beard, Mr. Lowe, Mrs. Arne, Mrs. Clive, Miss Edwards and others at the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane. To which (by particular Desire of Several Encouragers of the Work) are added the Celebrated Ode, in Honour of Great-Britain call’d Rule, Britannia, and Sawney and Jenney, a favourite Dialogue, in the Scotch Stile. The whole compos’d by Thomas Augustine Arne. Opera Sesta. London. Printed for Henry Waylett, at the Black Lyon in Exeter Change in the Strand, and sold by him, and at all the music shops in London and Westminster, where may be had five other volumes of the Author’s Works.”

It was not before 1751 that the other music of “Alfred” was published. The title-page reads: “The Masque of Alfred compos’d by Mr. Arne. London. Printed for I. Walsh in Catherine Street in the Strand.” The volume consists of eighty-three pages; but the “celebrated Ode” is conspicuous by its[Pg 123] absence. No doubt Waylett, the publisher of the “Judgement of Paris,” was unwilling to permit its insertion without some adequate recompense. In what way the matter was adjusted we do not know; but an arrangement was made, and a second edition of “Alfred” issued which included the “Celebrated Ode.” The plates used were those from which the music was printed in the “Judgement of Paris”; this is evident from the double-paging visible on the pages of “Alfred”: 62-84, 63-85, 64-86. The first set of numbers belong to the “Judgement of Paris,” and the second set to “Alfred.”

[Listen] [XML]

The Score of The celebrated Ode in Honour of Great Britain call'd Rule Britannia.

The first published score of “Rule, Britannia” enables us to note that both words and music have undergone considerable changes, some of them undoubtedly improvements and others the reverse. The elimination of the short ritornelles, or symphonies, which Arne wrote between the several lines of the verses, brings the subject-matter closer together and makes it more adaptable for a national song. On the other hand, the alteration of the melody in the last bar of the solo cannot be commended, neither can the change of melody and harmony at the end of the first bar of the chorus. As originally composed it was very strong, virile, and characteristic of Arne. It would, however, be injudicious now to attempt to restore the original; custom and the popular ear have stereotyped the prevailing version. It is noteworthy that Chappell’s “Popular Music of the Olden Time,” and also the reprint of that work, give the erroneous version without comment. The Gentleman’s Magazine of 1755, with the exception of some typographical errors, faithfully[Pg 124] follows the composer. It would be interesting to ascertain who first tampered with the Ode. William Horsley published an edition about 1840, which is correct. The words have also been badly treated. The original says “guardian angels sung this strain,” and the command “Rule, Britannia, rule the waves” has been changed to an assertion that “Britannia rules the waves.” This error may without difficulty be avoided in future.

After the performance of “Alfred” at Cliefden, we can trace no public representation of any of the music before the 21st July, 1742, when Mrs. Arne sang the air, “O Peace, thou fairest child of Heaven,” at a concert in Dublin.

The work was advertised for performance in Dublin in 1743, but was not actually produced until the following year. On the 28th of February and 3rd of March an advertisement appeared in Faulkner’s Journal—“The Third Night of the Subscription, at the Theatre-royal in Smock Alley, on Saturday next, being the 10th of this Inst., March, will be performed the Judgement of Paris, written by Mr. Congreve and set to music by Mr. Arne, with all the Chorusses as performed at the Theatre Royal in Drury-Lane; after which will be performed a new Serenata, called Alfred, composed by Mr. Arne, at the special Command of his Royal Highness, Frederick Prince of Wales, and never performed but at his Palace at Cliefden, which concludes with a favourite Ode in Honour of Great Britain, beginning, When Britain first at Heav’n’s command. N.B. Attendance will be given at the Theatre on each Day of Performance.” In May and June, 1744, for the benefit of the[Pg 125] composer and his wife, two performances were given of “Alfred” and the “Judgement of Paris.” The Dublin Journal announced by advertisement as follows: “Being particularly desired. For the benefit of Mr. and Mrs. Arne. At Mr. Neale’s great Room in Fishamble street, on Wednesday the 30th of this Inst. May 1, will be performed the Judgement of Paris, written by Mr. Congreve, and now set to music by Mr. Arne, after which will be performed a Serenata, call’d Alfred, composed by Mr. Arne at the special Command of his Royal Highness Frederick Prince of Wales, and performed at his Palace at Cliefden, on the Birthday of the young Princess Augusta. To conclude with the celebrated Ode in Honour of Great Britain, beginning (When Britain first at Heaven’s Command). The principal Parts to be sung by Mr. Lowe, Mr. Cologan, and Mrs. Arne, being the last Time but one that Mr. Arne, Mrs. Arne or Mr. Lowe will perform in Publick this Season. Mr. Arne will accompany the Performance on the Violin, Mr. Welch on the Organ, and Signior Pasqualino on the Violoncello. N.B. This Performance will be done to great Advantage, on account of the Organ, and the assistance of Mr. Cologan, and several Gentlemen in the Chorusses, who could not perform at the Theatre. Ticket a British Crown. To begin precisely at half an Hour after 6 o’Clock. Vivat Rex. Tickets to be had at Mr. Arne’s in Aungier street.” The repeat performance took place on the 6th of June. It may be noted that Mr. Cologan (James Colgan) was a vicar-choral of St. Patrick’s Cathedral; probably the several gentlemen in the chorus were also attached to St. Patrick’s or Christ Church[Pg 126] Cathedrals, and thus precluded from assisting in performances on the theatre stage. Mr. Welch was Mr. George Walsh, the organist of St. Ann’s Church, Dublin. The next performance of “Alfred” took place in London. The General Advertiser of 20th March, 1745, printed the following: “for the benefit of Mrs. Arne, an Historical Musical Drama, call’d Alfred the Great, King of England. The Musick was composed by Command of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, and never performed in England, but at His Royal Highness’s Palace at Cliefden. The music by Mr. Arne. To conclude with a celebrated Ode in Honour of Great Britain, in imitation of those formerly sung at the Banquets of Kings and Heroes: Boxes, 6s.; Pit, 4s.; First Gallery, 2s. 6d.; and Upper Gallery, 1s. 6d. Mr. Arne humbly hopes the Town will not be offended at the small advance of the Price, this Performance being exhibited at an Extra Expence, with regard to the Number of Hands, Chorus Singers, building the stage, and erecting an Organ; besides all other incidents as usual. The Ladies are desir’d to send their Servants[38] by Four[Pg 127] o’clock. The above day is fix’d on to avoid interfering with Mr. Handel.”[39]

For this performance the libretto had been considerably altered, re-written in fact, and Arne had composed the additional music required; the title-page of the revised book reads: “Alfred, an Opera. Alter’d from the Play, written by Mr. Thomson and Mr. Mallet, in Honour of the Birth-Day of Her Royal Highness, The Young Princess Augusta. The Musick was composed by Mr. Arne, and perform’d with the Play at Cliffden in Buckinghamshire at the Special Command of His Royal Highness, Frederic, Prince of Wales. London. Printed for A. Millar at Buchanan’s Head, Opposite Catherine Street in the Strand. M.DCC.XLX.”

The dramatis personæ were all singers, Mr. Lowe, the tenor, represented Alfred, King of England; Master Connel, Prince Edward, son of Alfred; Mr. Baildon, Earl of Devon; Mr. Baker, Corin, a shepherd; Mrs. Arne, Eltruda, Queen of England; Miss Young, the First Spirit; Miss Sybilla, the Second Spirit; Miss Young, a Shepherdess, wife of Corin.

The first libretto (1740) of “Alfred” was certainly written by Thomson. It contained many fine lines which are not to be found in the 1745 book. Two[Pg 128] examples will suffice. The Hermit, addressing Alfred, says:

A vision to my phantasy appear’d—
I liv’d thro’ future ages; felt the virtue,
The great the glorious passions that will fire
Distant posterity: when guardian laws
Are by the patriot, in the glowing senate,
Won from corruption; when th’ impatient arm
Of liberty, invincible, shall scourge
The tyrants of mankind,—and when the Deep,
Through all her swelling waves, shall proudly joy
Beneath the boundless empire of thy sons.

Alfred the King speaks:

In thoughtless, gay prosperity, when all
Attends our wish; when nought is seen around us
But kneeling flattery, and obedient fortune;
Then are blind mortals apt, within themselves
To fix their stay, forgetful of the giver,
But when thus humbled, Alfred, as thou art,
When to their feeble natural powers reduc’d,
’Tis then they feel this universal truth—
That heaven is all—and man is nothing.

The 1745 book doubtless owed its rearrangement and some of its lyrics to Mallet; it provides twenty sets of words which require music, but if these were set by Arne, eight can no longer be traced. In 1754 a new version of the libretto was published with the title: “Alfred the Great, an Oratorio, As it was Represented at the Theatre-Royal in Drury-Lane. The Musick was composed by Mr. Arne. London: Printed for A. Miller, in the Strand. MDCCLIV.” The advertisement, or preface, to the book reads: “This Oratorio is altered from Alfred,[Pg 129] a Masque, represented before their Royal Highnesses the Prince and Princess of Wales, at Clifeden, August 1, 1740; being the Birth-Day of the Princess Augusta, written by the late Mr. Thomson and Mr. Mallet, and afterwards new written by Mr. Mallet, and acted at the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane,[40] in 1751.” Thomson died in 1748; Mallet had therefore a free hand, a liberty of which he availed himself very fully; lines were altered, new ones introduced, and several verses added for songs and for chorus. The music for all the songs and solo music is contained in the volume published by Arne, but the music for the choruses is not given; probably it no longer exists. Amongst the additions made by Mallet is a Pastoral Invocation, or song, commencing:

Nymphs and shepherds, come away,

and he makes the second Act end with a Grand Chorus:

How sleep the Brave, who sink to Rest,
By all their Country’s Wishes blest!
When Spring, with dewy Fingers cold,
Returns to deck their hallow’d Mould,
She then shall dress a sweeter Sod
Than Fancy’s Feet have ever trod.
There Honour comes, a Pilgrim grey,
To bless the Turf that wraps their clay;
And Freedom shall a while repair,
To dwell a weeping Hermit there.
By Hands unseen the Knell is rung;
By Fairy Forms their Dirge is sung.

[Pg 130]

These exquisite lines were written by William Collins in 1746; but when Mallet annexed and printed them, without acknowledgment, the unfortunate author was in a lunatic asylum, and therefore quite incapable of protecting himself. When Mallet produced his version of “Alfred” for Garrick in 1751, he endeavoured to make folk believe that he wrote the words of the Ode, “Rule, Britannia.” They had been printed in Edinburgh in a popular song-book, “The Charmer,” with Thomson’s initials, J. T., and by the friends of the poet were generally known to be his. Mallet’s literary honesty or dishonesty is now generally appreciated, but it must not be forgotten that for years he posed as the author of the ballad “William and Margaret,” and unflinchingly accepted all the encomiums passed upon him in connection with it. In 1880 William Chappell called attention to a folio black-letter sheet in the British Museum, which, with the exception of the first two lines, was identical with Mallet’s print. The date of the publication of the Museum copy was 1711, Mallet’s 1724, and the ballad is believed to have been popular when quoted by Fletcher in the “Knight of the Burning Pestle,” in 1611.

The celebrity of “Rule, Britannia” appears to have been immediate and general. Hanoverians and Jacobites adopted it as a popular ditty; the latter party produced several parodies, amongst them the chorus:

Rule, Britannia, Britannia rise and fight,
Restore your injured Monarch’s right.

[Pg 131]

The following words in a collection of songs called “The True Royalist” are directed to be sung to the tune, “When Britain first, at heav’n’s command”:

Britannia, rouse at heav’n’s command!
And crown thy native Prince again;
Then Peace shall bless thy happy land,
And Plenty pour in from the main:
Then shalt thou be—Britannia, thou shalt be
From home and foreign tyrants free.
Behold great Charles! thy godlike son,
With majesty and sweetness crown’d;
His worth th’ admiring world doth own,
And fame’s loud trump proclaims the sound.
Thy captain him, Britannia, him declare,
Of kings and heroes he’s the heir.
The second hope young Hero claims,
Th’ extended empire of the main;
His breast with fire and courage flames,
With Nature’s bounds to fix thy reign.
He (Neptune-like), Britannia will defy
All but the thunder of the sky.
The happiest states must yield to thee,
When free from dire corruption’s thrall,
Of land and sea, thou’lt Emp’ror be.
Britannia, unite! Britannia must prevail,
Her powerful hand must guide the scale.
Then Britons, rouse! with trumpets’ sound
Proclaim this solemn, happy day!
Let mirth, with cheerful music crown’d,
Drive sullen thoughts and cares away!
Come, Britons, sing! Britannia, draw thy sword,
And use it for thy rightful lord.

[Pg 132]

Another example will suffice:

When our great Prince, with his choice band
Arriv’d from o’er the azure main,
Heav’n smil’d with pleasure on the land,
And guardian angels sing this strain:
Go, brave hero; brave hero, boldly go,
And wrest thy sceptre from thy foe.

A striking proof of the general popularity of the music of the Ode is the quotation made from it by Handel in 1745-6, when he composed the “Occasional Oratorio” to commemorate the suppression of the Rebellion. The words “war shall cease, welcome peace” are set to music, evidently intentionally taken from the song of the day, “Rule, Britannia”:

[Listen] [XML]

We may note here that the music of the beautiful recitative, “Ah me, what fears oppress my throbbing heart?” followed by the air, “Guardian angels now descend,” first printed in the 1754 “Alfred” libretto, is modelled on Handel’s recitative, “O worse than death,” and air, “Angels ever bright and fair,” composed in 1749 and performed in March, 1750.

No doubt “Rule, Britannia” was heard in Germany very soon after its first performance at Cliefden. A copy of the Ode in vocal score, with harpsichord accompaniment, was published in Hanover with the brief-title “Rule Britannia Frey Uebersetzt, Hanover, Gedruckt bey J. L. Lamminger Hofbuchdrucker.”[Pg 133] The German words, freely translated from the English, are as follow:

Britannia, aus des Meeres Schoos,
stieg auf des Schöpfers Wink hervor.
Dir zog hochahndend dein Genius das Loos,
und jubelnd sang ein Engelchor:
Herrsch’ Britannia! der weite Ocean
sey deinem Scepter untherthan.

There are five more verses which need not be reproduced. The publication is undated, and gives no name of poet or composer. Subsequently the same publisher issued a more complete edition with the original English words and a German translation. The title-page is “Rule, Britannia am Höchsterfreulichen Geburtsfeste Ihro Majestat der Königinn Charlotte den 18. Januar 1799 auf dem Grossen Königlichen Schlosstheater vom Herrn Schauspiel-Director Ignaz Walter nach der von I. G. F. Brauer versuchten Uebersetzung gesungen.”

Beethoven showed his appreciation of the Air of “Rule, Britannia” by using it not only for a pianoforte piece with variations in 1804, but also by incorporating it in the Battle Symphony, “Wellingtons Sieg, oder Schlacht bei Vittoria,” which was performed at a concert in Vienna, in 1813, given for the benefit of the soldiers wounded at Hanau, and again in 1814 during the Vienna Congress, conducted by the composer.

Wagner declared that the first eight notes of “Rule, Britannia” embodied the whole character of the British people, and as a tribute to the English nation he set himself the task of composing an Overture with Arne’s music as the motif. The[Pg 134] history of this interesting composition of Wagner’s has never been accurately stated. The preliminary sketch of the music was made by Wagner in 1836, and is still preserved at Bayreuth. The composition was completed and performed in March, 1837, at Königsberg, and was again played at Riga, on each occasion under the direction of Wagner. He sent the score to the Philharmonic Society in London; but its receipt was not acknowledged. Therefore, when in 1839 he made his first visit to London, he wrote to the secretary of the Society with the result recorded in the Philharmonic Society’s minute-book, under date “April 19, 1840. Present, Mr. Neate, in the Chair, Messrs. Potter, F. Cramer, Dance, Anderson, Calkin. Letter from Wagner. Resolved that the score of the Overture be returned, with an apology for having kept it so long, and explaining that written upon a theme which is here very commonplace, precludes the performance of it at the Philharmonic Concerts.” Wagner resided in London at the “King’s Arms” boarding-house, Great Compton Street, Soho, only eight days, and then went to Paris. Presumably his removal was not known to the Philharmonic secretary, who sent the letter and score to Wagner’s London address; the proprietor of the hotel then forwarded it to Paris, but without defraying the carriage. Wagner in his autobiography wrote: “One morning, when we had been anxiously consulting as to the possibility of raising our first quarter’s rent, a carrier appeared with a parcel addressed to me from London. I thought it was an intervention of Providence, and broke open the seal. At the same moment a receipt-[Pg 135]book was thrust into my face for signature, in which I at once saw that I had to pay seven francs for carriage. I recognised, moreover, that the parcel contained my overture, ‘Rule, Britannia,’ returned to me from the London Philharmonic Society. In my fury I told the bearer that I would not take in the parcel, whereupon he remonstrated in the liveliest fashion, as I had already opened it. It was no use; I did not possess seven francs, and told him he should have presented the bill for the carriage before I had opened the parcel. So I made him return the only copy of my overture to Messrs. Lafitte & Galliard’s firm, to do what they liked with it, and I never cared to inquire what became of that manuscript.” Its recovery is a mystery; the conductor of the band of the Leicester Opera House, Mr. E. W. Thomas, a few years since disposed of his belongings, including a pile of manuscript music which was purchased by Mr. Cyrus Gamble, who, in May, 1904, looking through the collection, discovered the long-lost Wagner autograph, signed and dated “Richard Wagner 15 March 1837 Königsberg in Prussia.” Arne’s orchestral score is limited to strings, two oboes, two trumpets, one bassoon, and kettle-drums; Wagner’s score requires strings, two piccolos, two flutes, two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, serpent, double-bassoon, four horns, four trumpets, three trombones, ophicleide, side-drum, triangle, grosse caisse, cymbals and kettle-drums.

Passing notice is all that is necessary of the gross want of reverence and good taste exhibited by the Rev. Rowland Hill, of Surrey Chapel, who wrote a[Pg 136] hymn for the music of “Rule, Britannia,” which was sung on the 4th of December, 1803, by a crowded congregation of Volunteers, and printed in a collection of hymns sung at Surrey Chapel.

At the Coronation of William IV., the Sailor King, at Westminster Abbey, September 8th, 1831, an anthem, “O Lord, grant the King a long life,” was sung, having been composed by Thomas Attwood. The introductory symphony and the concluding chorus have quotations from the melody of “Rule, Britannia,” introduced in a very ingenious and admirable manner.

Sir Alexander Mackenzie has also made masterly use of the tune in his brilliant “Britannia” Overture.


[1] The register does not specify the day of the month.

[2] The autograph in my possession.—W. H. C.

[3] On the Report of this Committee, John Huggins, the Warden of the Fleet was tried for murder, but acquitted. James Barnes, his agent, by whom this outrage was committed, fled, and was never tried. However, Lord Chief Justice Raymond was of opinion, that had he been on his trial, and the fact proved against him, he would undoubtedly have been found guilty of murder.

[4] Mrs. Arne rode on a pillion, behind Burney, on horse-back, from Chester to London.

[5] In October, 1758, Cibber was crossing the sea to fulfil an engagement with Sheridan in Dublin, when the vessel was shipwrecked, and he with nearly all the passengers drowned.

[6] Mrs. Arne soon became a convert to the Roman Church.

[7] These are published by Novello & Co., Ltd.

[8] The Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, in 1742, consisted of six Vicars Choral, Messrs. John Warrall, Charles Taylor, William Jones, John Eusebius Smith, John Mason and Mr. John Church; there were also six Stipendiaries, Messrs. John Phipps, James Baily, William Lamb, Joseph Ward, Timothy Carter, John Hill; with six chorister boys. The Choir of St. Patrick’s Cathedral at the same date included nine Vicars Choral, Messrs. James Baily, William Tavernor, Robert Hall, Robert Woffington, William Lambe, John Eusebius Smith, Joseph Ward, John Hill, James Colgan. There were also six chorister boys, five of these being the same in both Cathedrals. The organist of both Cathedrals was Ralph Rosengrave.

[9] “Twelve Duettos for Two French Horns, or Two German Flutes, composed by Mr. Charles.” A rare publication.

[10] Written by Fielding, produced in 1742.

[11] Dubourg a fine violinist and pupil of Geminiani, was noted for his brilliant technique; on one occasion he indulged in a Cadenza of such length and diffuseness, that at its close Handel, who was conducting, called out “Welcome home, Mr. Dubourg.”

[12] In the King’s Library, Buckingham Palace.

[13] Lampe died at Edinburgh in 1751. His wife was sister to Mrs. Arne.

[14] Miss Polly Young was the daughter of Charles Young, Mrs. Arne’s brother.

[15] Polly Young.

[16] He had been studying the science of music under the learned Dr. Pepusch.

[17] The Crown and Anchor, in the Strand, was a favourite resort for concert-givers. In my youthful days the “Abbey Glee Club” and other Musical Societies met there.—W. H. C.

[18] The name of Madame Tenducci was not publicly announced.

[19] Master Norris had been a chorister in Salisbury Cathedral; he was born in 1741, and seems to have continued singing soprano up to 1762. His voice must have been in a transition state. He sang at the Gloucester Festival of 1766 as a tenor. He became organist of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford; a Mus. Bac., and a singer of good repute.

[20] The audience was much incommoded by the wet; incessant September rain poured through the roof, and converted the floor into a swamp. Eventually the four hundred people who were present, wet through, took refuge on the benches and orchestra.

[21] Mr. William Mawhood, born in 1723, died in 1797, was a merchant, residing in West Smithfield, and an accomplished musical amateur. An account of him will be found in the Musical Times of January, 1910, written by Mr. Barclay Squire.

[22] Michael Arne, his son.

[23] Mrs. Michael Arne, the popular vocalist, Elizabeth Wright.

[24] Miss Abrams.

[25] Miss Weller and her sister.

[26] David Garrick’s brother.

[27] Mary Barthelemon, née Young.

[28] Proved. 16 March, 1778, by Cecilia Arne, widow, relict of the deceased, one of the executors with power reserved, 21 March, 1778, by Michael Arne, son of the deceased, the other executor named in the will.

[29] nephew by marriage of Mrs. Arne.

[30] The date of production is uncertain.

[31] The autograph in my possession.—W. H. C.

[32] Cliefden House, originally erected for George Villiers, second Duke of Buckingham, was built of red brick with stone dressings, having at each end a square wing connected with the main building by a colonnade, and fronted by a magnificent terrace four hundred and forty feet long. The Duke expended large sums on the house and grounds; for the latter, consisting of about one hundred and thirty-six acres, he procured, regardless of cost, the choicest specimens of trees, shrubs and flowers, native and foreign, and so enhanced the natural beauties of the site that it was reputed to surpass all other estates in England. At the death of the Duke, Cliefden was purchased by Lord George Hamilton, afterwards Earl of Orkney; he died without male issue, and the property and title passed to his daughter. She leased the estate to the Prince of Wales, who regularly resided there until his death in 1751. The splendid mansion was destroyed by fire on the 20th of May, 1795, owing to the carelessness of a maidservant, who, whilst reading in bed, was startled by the curtains bursting into flame. With the exception of the wings, the building was entirely burnt, together with valuable furniture, tapestry and paintings. Sir George Warrender bought the estate and rebuilt the house in 1830. At his death it was sold to the Duke of Sutherland, and on the 15th of March, 1849, fire again destroyed the building, which was afterwards rebuilt from designs by Barry.

[33] A mistake; the “Judgement of Paris” was written by Congreve.

[34] Arquebusade water was a concoction of spirits and herbs commonly applied to gunshot wounds.

[35] Dr. Burney observes, “Lowe had the finest tenor voice I ever heard in my life.”

[36] “This day was rehears’d at Drury-Lane Theatre a Masque entitled ‘Alfred,’ in order to be represented before the Prince and Princess, at Cliefden House on the first of August.”—(Gent. Mag., July 28th, 1740.)

[37] When “Alfred” was performed at Drury Lane Theatre, in 1751, the part for the Hermit was deleted and the drama concluded with the Ode, which was cut down to four verses. The solos were sung alternately by Alfred and Eltruda (Mr. Beard and Signora Frasi).

[38] Commentary on the practice of securing seats at Drury Lane Theatre is to be found in the “Private correspondence” addressed to David Garrick: “Sir.—The many proofs you have given the town of your desire to oblige them, encourage me to propose to you a scheme no less advantageous than useful to the public, especially the polite part of it. The alterations lately made in your theatre for the convenience of the spectators, naturally suggested to me an inconvenience arising from the servants who are sent to keep places. I have, with concern, seen a lady finely dressed forced to sit down by a servant whose clothes and feet have been very dirty, and behaviour extremely offensive; it has happened, to my knowledge, that some servants, in order to follow their own pleasures, have hired common porters of the street to keep their places, whose company better suited a prison than a place of polite entertainment.”

Signed T. B. Nov. 25, 1762.

[39] Handel gave a performance of his Oratorio “Joseph” at the King’s Theatre, Haymarket, on the 21st of March, 1745.

[40] The singers in 1751 were Mrs. Arne, Signora Galli’ Signora Frasi, Miss Young, Mr. Beard, Mr. Baker, Signor Guadagni.

[Pg 137]




s. d.
Twenty Songs  1  6
Gentle Swain  2  0
Guardian Angels  1  6
O ravishing delight  1  6
When icicles  1  6


Blow, blow thou wintry wind (Unison Song)  0  1½
Come away, death (S.A.T.B.)  0  2
Rule, Britannia (S.A.T.B.)  0  1½
Do. (T.T.B.B.)  0  1
Do. (Solo with ad lib. Chorus)  0  1½
Where the bee sucks (S.A.T.B.)  0  1½
Do. (S.S.T.B.)  0  3
Do. (Two-part)  0  1½
Which is the properest day to sing (S.A.T.B.)  0  2
Do. (S.S.A.)  0  1½
If o’er the cruel tyrant, lovefolio  0  9
The Curfew (Round for four voices)  0  1½
Under the greenwood tree (Unison Song)  0  1½


Trio—Sonata in E minor  3  0


By the rushy-fringed bank—Air from “Comus”  1  0
March, “Judith”  1  0
Largo—Overture to “Artaxerxes”  1  0



Transcriber's notes:

The following is a list of changes made to the original. The first line is the original line, the second the corrected one.

at a British Sixpence each. The Journal gave a
at a British Sixpence each." The Journal gave a

which otherwise, may have an obstruction to the
which otherwise, may prove an obstruction to the

to the words Quando Cœli morendi sunt." A solo
to the words "Quando Cœli morendi sunt." A solo

spoke in th highest terms of Arne's music.
spoke in the highest terms of Arne's music.

Risum tencatis amici?
Risum teneatis amici?

1771 The Fairy Princess.
1771 The Fairy Prince.

Herrsch "Britannia! der weite Ocean
Herrsch' Britannia! der weite Ocean

Charlotte den 18. Januar 1799 auf dem Grosser
Charlotte den 18. Januar 1799 auf dem Grossen