The Project Gutenberg eBook of Musical Travels Through England

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Title: Musical Travels Through England

Author: George Veal

Dubious author: Peter Beckford

Alexander Bicknell

John Laurence Bicknell

Thomas Day

Release date: March 21, 2021 [eBook #64895]

Language: English

Credits: deaurider, Les Galloway and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at (This file was produced from images generously made available by The Internet Archive)


Transcriber’s Notes

Obvious typographical errors have been silently corrected, but period spelling remains unchanged. Quotation marks around dialogue was absent in some paragraphs and has been corrected.

The cover was prepared by the transcriber and is placed in the public domain.




Nam, adhuc per domum, aut hortos cecinerat; quos ut parùm celebres, et tantæ voci angustos, spernebat.Non tamen Romæ incipere ausus.

T A C.


Printed for G. KEARSLY, in Fleet-street.

(Price One Shilling.)



GOVERNORS of the HOSPITAL for the Maintenance and Education of exposed and deserted young Children.


While I was extracting the following sheets from my voluminous Journal, and connecting them together as accurately as I was able, in order to present the Public with a Specimen of my laborious investigation of the present state of Music in this my native country, I was somewhat at a loss to whom I could with most propriety inscribe my work. Whether to Doctor Burney, as the original inventor of this species of composition, and the first musical traveller of our nation, to whom I stand so much indebted for the plan, and conduct of my book, and of whom I might truly say in his own words, “thativ he has long been my magnus Apollo:”—or whether I was in duty bound to pay homage to the King of Prussia, as the greatest Dilettante performer of the age; who, I suppose, at this present writing, like another Nero, is playing his new Solfeggi to the dying groans of the obstinate Dantziggers;—or whether I ought not to call forth from his obscurity that venerable Judge, who contented with less ambitious pleasures, cultivates the fine arts by humbler and modester, but not less curious experiments, and amuses the leisure hours of a long vacation in caponizing blackbirds[1]; or whether I should not do well to express my gratitude, and that of the nation, to the honourable Directors of our Opera, for having at last condescended to permit an Englishwoman to be called Signora, and by virtue of that title to share some of the princely incomes which have been hitherto lavished on Italians, and which, I dare say, those worthy Noblemen and Gentlemen would as readily bestow upon EnglishMEN, if they would but consent to be properly qualified. This dilemma, however,v was at an end, as soon as I learnt, that Dr. Burney, and Signor Giardini, had, under your authority, just founded a school for music (in imitation, I suppose, of the Italian Conservatorios) in the Foundling Hospital, where about an hundred of such poor children, as have hitherto been placed out to trades and services, in which they had no opportunity of making a noise in the world, are, in future, to be trained to harmony from their infancy, and constantly employed in the study of music; ’till in process of time they take their regular degrees as Doctors, and Doctoresses of music, and come forth, sufficiently accomplished (as they must be under such masters,) to form the national taste, by the true Italian standard. When I was informed of this event, I hailed the happy omen, the dawn of an Augustan æra; and resolved to offer my tribute of congratulation and applause, and to dedicate this work to a set of gentlemen, who have so distinguished their zeal for the interest and advancement of music. Perhaps it will at first appear a bold undertaking in the guardians of deserted orphans, chiefly supported by parliamentary grants of public money, to declare, that theyvi cannot be maintained by the public for a more useful purpose, than to be taught to sing and play Italian airs. For men of narrow and contrasted minds, who have neither ear, nor voice, nor hand, will still imagine, that it might prove of more national utility, to breed these adopted children of the public, to Husbandry, Navigation, &c. the objects of their original destination; than to convert one of the noblest of our public charities into a nursery for the supply of musical performers at our Theatres, gardens, and hops.—But this is a vulgar prejudice. The improvement of the fine arts ought to be the first object of public attention in an age of luxury, PEACE, and plenty, like the present; when we have rivalled the Italians in music, it will be time enough to think of our navy, and our agriculture. We have already (to our shame be it spoken,) better sailors than fiddlers, and more farmers than contrapuntists. But as I take this circumstance to arise entirely from the different degree of encouragement those occupations have hitherto received; I do not despair of seeing the reverse take place, when gentlemen of your rank deign to stand forward, and correct the errors ofvii the public, by the influence and sanction of your example. Should any obstacles arise to impede the immediate execution of your plan, from some obsolete but unrepealed parliamentary restrictions, doubtless the same legislators who so readily expended the public money in the purchase of Sir William Hamilton’s collection of antique vases, and Etruscan rarities, will not only repeal any former act which may stand in your way; but rejoice in a fresh opportunity of displaying their fine taste and love of the arts, by laying an additional tax upon such of the necessaries of life as are not already overloaded, in order to raise a competent sum for the purchase of the best Cremonas, and other instruments which can be procured on the continent, for the service of your Academia. I have only to add, gentlemen, that if upon a perusal of the following sheets you shall find, as I am persuaded you will, that my travels are also[2] in some measure, a matter of national concern; I hope you will be kind enough to second my intended application to parliaviiiment, that the charges of my future expeditions may be defrayed at the public expence. This, gentlemen, may be done by a very short clause; and as it will enable me to pursue my enquiries with spirit, credit, and success, will lay a lasting obligation upon,


Your very obedient,

and devoted humble Servant,


[1] Vide the last Vol. of the Philosophical Transactions.

[2]—“He was the first who seemed to think my journey was, in some measure, a matter of national concern.”

Tour to Germany, &c.

an assortment of instruments


I was born in the Parish of Gotham, in the county of Nottingham: my father was a sawyer, and my mother had, for many years before her marriage, cried oysters and Newcastle-salmon about the streets of London. Neither of them are said to have been remarkable for their vocal or instrumental talents. My mother’s voice was, indeed, exceedingly shrill and dissonant, as I have been credibly informed by the neighbours; however, I was no sooner born than I gave proofs of2 uncommon musical propensities. I entered the world, singing, instead of crying; at least, my squall was truly melodious, and ravished the ears of the midwife; tho’, I must confess, the envious old hag of a nurse did pretend that my mother and Mrs. Midnight mistook the origin of the wild notes I uttered as soon as I saw the light; and, insisting that they only denoted the wind-cholic, immediately drenched me with a large dose of rhubarb: however, she has candidly confessed, that she easily sang me to sleep whenever I was peevish, and that even by means of such simple melody as Jack Sprat, or hey diddle diddle, the cat and the fiddle. A harsh and menacing recitative would as effectually deter me from a naughty trick, as a good whipping. The sound of a drum, or any other martial music, had such an immediate effect upon my nerves, that I was always obliged to be turned dry before the piece was half over. The famous March in Saul is too powerful for3 me even at this day, tho’ I can stand any other, without being offensive. Indeed, I am so well convinced of the connection between the sound and the sense in all good music, that I will venture to prescribe Handel’s water-piece, and water parted from the sea, as specifics for a strangury. I know that there is great truth in what Shakespear says of the bag-pipe; and I have observed that a jockey always whistles to his horse upon these occasions, which never fails to produce great effects, tho’ the performer want brilliancy of execution ever so much.

One of the first circumstances I myself can recollect in my early years, was the great pleasure I took in hearing a blind boy play tunes on a bladder of air press’d between a bow-stick and its string. The Jew’s-harp next engaged my attention; and afterwards the bag-pipe and bassoon. Indeed I do remember having been told by my Grandmother, that whilst I was yet in coats, I took vast delight in pinching4 the tails of the Parson’s litter of pigs, and would listen to their various notes and tones from the f sharp of the whine of the least of the family, quite down to the b flat of the boar himself. This, with my attention to my coral and bells, and rattle, singing thro’ a comb and brown paper, together with the great expertness I afterwards shew’d in making whistles of reeds, and the recent bark of sycamore twigs, made the oldest people of the parish foretel, that I should one day or other become a great and celebrated Musician.

My taste for the sister art of music, Poetry, was likewise, as I am inform’d, observed very early in my childhood; as I always held my mouth wide open, when the Psalm was sang at our Parish-Church; and soon was able to repeat without book a great part of Sternhold and Hopkins’s excellent version of that great Dilettanti performer on the harp, King David’s pieces.

Having been well inform’d that the infancy, and indeed the riper years of the5 great Mus. D. or musical Doctor (whom I call, par excellence, Dr. Mus) passed in much the same manner, and with similar expectations from all the old ladies of his acquaintance; and having observed with what eclat, and indeed universal approbation of all people of taste, his ingenious account of his ingenious travels has been received, I conceived a design of following so illustrious an example, and travelling through the dominions of England, Scotland and Ireland, with the town of Berwick upon Tweed, to give a true state of the musical improvement and progression in these kingdoms; and hope I may flatter myself, that the Dr. himself will applaud my undertaking, and consider it as a proper supplement to his elaborate work.

Before I set forwards on my travels, I chose to change my name from Collier to Coglioni or Collioni, as more euphonious; and on the first of April, having torn myself from the arms of my weeping wife, and four small children, I put my6 bassoon into a green-bag, and slung it across my shoulders; my large violoncello was laid on my knee as I sat in the waggon, and my clothes, with a bottle of brandy and some biscuits, were pack’d up in the viol-case. As I was neither patronized, nor franked on my tour by any Dilettanti Lord, I must confess the low state of my circumstances, and the poverty in which I had left my family, cast a damp on my spirits; but this was always soon dissipated by an air on the violoncello, and by recollecting the great advantages my travels, to enquire into the state of music in this island, would be to my dear native country, and the fame and glory I should acquire by the publication of my work, perhaps only inferior to that of the great Dr. Mus himself.

Inspir’d by taste, o’er lands and seas HE flew,
Europe he saw, and Europe saw him too.
Thro’ lands of singing, or of dancing slaves,
Love-echoing woods, and lute-resounding waves.
O while along the stream of time, that name
Expanded flies, and gathers all its fame;
Say, shall my little bark attendant sail,
Pursue the triumph and partake the gale?—



Thus occasionally consoling myself, the waggon arrived at the famous and ancient city of Lincoln. My first visit was to a young lady of high musical acquirements. She received me with a most bewitching air, which she sang to her guittar, for she had heard of my fame at Gotham, and was not unapprized of my ambulatory design: her name was originally Fernihough, but she had long dropped the hough at the end of it, as gothic and inharmonious. Thus she saluted me:

“Dear Collioni, Collioni, Collioni;

Dear, dear, dear, Collioni;

Happy, happy, Gotham, Gotham;

Gotham, Gotham, happy Gotham.”

I could only bow and smile in answer to this compliment, (which indeed, tho’ very elegant, I did not conceive was above my merits,) as I had not an extempore sonnet ready made to answer it.


Then taking my hand with a delightful air, she introduced me to Dr. Dilettanti, a most illustrious timeist; he sat musing and beating with his foot, and took hold of, and quitted my hand in the same portion of time, which he measured by the pulsations of his foot.

“Excuse,” said he, “illustrious Collioni, the measured mode of my gestures in saluting you; but I have long accustomed myself to measure out the parts of time on a variety of sounding instruments, and have at length introduced it into all the motions of my body. At my house, sir, you will learn to cut your meat, and move your jaws at dinner in common or triple time, according to the instruments that accompany our meals.——By dealing the cards at quadrille, how easy it is to judge if the party has an ear!——yonder gentleman who comes towards our window, see how he swings his arms in exact time, true as the pendulum of a clock. I can assure9 you, sir, he is great on the violoncello. My dear wife says, the conjugal endearments are doubly improved, if a husband is a good timeist. She approves of triple time; and on this account I formerly had a servant who play’d in our bed-room every Sunday night, ’till we slept. And since I became one of the castrati, I have acquired the habit of making water at intervals in the truest time like a pig; and may say, that I believe for exactness of ear, that I am not exceeded by any modern musician.”

On this, this great man took up a Jew’s harp that lay by him, and with a twing, twang, twong, moving his finger across his lips, and making faces in the most exact time, he fetched out such prurient harmony, as ravished my very soul, and threw sweet Miss Ferni into the most agreeable convulsions.

During our dinner, two of the Doctor’s servants entertained us with many excellent and solemn pieces of music. Indeed,10 I was so solicitous to cut and eat my meat in true time, as I thought my character depended on this circumstance, that I unfortunately cut my lips, so that the blood much terrified me; and sweet Miss Ferni was so earnestly attending to the fiddlers, that on their suddenly changing the time from adagio to sestina, she swallowed the ivory spoon out of a mustard pot; which, as it stuck across her throat, I am sure must have given that excellent young lady exquisite pain, yet did she cough, and even vomit repeatedly in most accurate time, and screamed from fear most harmoniously through the whole gamut, from a to g inclusively, long after the spoon was restored to its place.



Dr. Dilettanti was so kind as to make me a present of a place in the stage coach to Sheffield in my road to York, that I might inquire into the present state of the music of that city and cathedral. Amongst the other passengers, was a gentleman of a grave aspect; who, from his not attending to me at the inn, when I play’d a most inchanting solo on my hautboy, appear’d at first to have no ears, but on further conversation I found him a most agreeable companion. He cry’d up the ingenuity of the Sheffield manufacturers, and told me of a new musical instrument, more complicate, he thought, and louder than an organ. The next day he was so good as to accompany me to hear this new organic instrument. The first thing I could observe was a number of iron pipes, and a water wheel to work12 the large bellows, like that organ of which there is a print in Kempleri Musurgia. When the wheel was in motion, I observed many of the notes higher than in any organ I had ever heard; and was told, that these ingenious people had found the only way to produce these was, by boring gun-barrels: to these a symphony was adduced by files which cut the teeth of large saws, and the mellow tones of two great hammers, which at intervals struck on large pieces of red-hot iron, made a more tremendous and affecting concert, than all the mingled whittles of Cecilia’s organ.

Having paid a shilling to the performers of this stupendous piece of harmony, at which my grave companion seem’d much delighted, and listen’d to my remarks upon it with the greatest avidity and approbation; “Signior Collioni,” says he, “your observations inchant me; the most antient music, as you well explain, was made with hammers beating upon anvils,13 as invented by Tubal Cain, and practised in the shop of his successor, Vulcan, tho’ Saturn is thought to have been the first of the castrati.—But this invention was not compleat, Signior Collioni, it was not compleat, till this excellent treble made by boring guns, and cutting saws was added.—It is now become the true antient, celebrated, long-lost, and long-deplored chromatic, which that Heathen, Plato, who had doubtless ass’s ears, expelled from his artificial commonwealth.”

“Doubtless you are right in your conjectures,” reply’d I, “Mr. Hummings, (for that was my kind companion’s name) it was music like this, which could disenchant the moon, and make trees and stones dance allemands. Would you believe it, Mr. Hummings, I once cured a girl bit with a tarantula myself with this simple bassoon?

Trut, turrut, phub, phub, bush!—This was the air, Mr. Hummings, you14 shall hear it——trut, turrut, phub, phub, bush:—the girl rising from her melancholy attitude, danced till the sweat ran down to the hem of her scarlet petticoat; and after I had presented her with a bit of money, became so lively as to strip herself like King David, and danced like a Heinel. I can assure you, Mr. Hummings, I drove away the evil spirit, and cured her of her tarantulism that night.

“Not unlike this, is a fact recorded by the divine Homer. Ulysses had a large rent made in his thigh by a wild boar,—a terrible animal, Mr. Hummings:—well, and what happen’d?—why, he only sent for the town-waits, and after the first bar or two were play’d, the blood stopp’d; and as the fiddles proceeded, the wound contracted, and by the time they had finished Alley Croaker, Moggy Lauder, and A lovely Lass to a Fryar came, (which are all antient Greek tunes, sir,) the15 wound was quite healed, and the cicatrix as smooth as the back of my hand.”

During this conversation, an unfortunate accident had happened near us. One of the performers on the hammer and iron by a fall had broken his leg. A surgeon was sent for with all dispatch, but Mr. Hummings said I had as well try the effect of the bassoon upon him; and pointing to me, told the people that they need seek no farther, for I was superior to any surgeon. Upon this, untying my green bag, the man cry’d out, he begg’d no instruments might be used. “No, (says I,) none but a musical instrument.” So I began with a gentle blast, and played and sung alternately,—“You’ll ne’er go the sooner to the Stygian Ferry. Let not your noble spirits be cast down, but drink, drink, drink, and be merry.”—“Give me some ale, (cries the wounded man) I like this, Doctor.” Afterward I blew till I nearly had burst my cheeks, and16 then sung, If ’tis joy to wound a lover; but the bone would not knit:—indeed I could not make it knit at all—and I don’t believe, as Mr. Hummings said, that if Dr. Mus himself, and all the musicians of Britain, fiddlers, violoncellos, double violoncellos, trumpets, and trumpet-marinos, together with every Maestro di Capella in Italy had been present, they could have made this bone knit—which, I suppose, was owing to the scorbutic habit of body of the patient; indeed, Mr. Hummings attributed it entirely to this cause; for the blood stopped before I had finished the first song.



Nothing worth remark occur’d in my journey from hence to York; but at my approach to this celebrated city, my heart leapt for joy as soon as I beheld the towers of the cathedral; here, says I, I shall be much caressed and followed, I dare believe, as there are so many of the Dilettanti who reside within the precincts of this antient seat of music and superstition. This letter, says I, is of inestimable value, taking it from my pocket, and reading the direction, “For that incomparable Musician and Antiquarian, Dr. Hiccup;” doubtless he will pay great attention to his friends at Lincoln, who have honoured me with it. The footman shewed me into an elegant parlour, where there was a clock with chimes, so contrived that St. Peter, St. Paul, and the Virgin Mary were seen striking alternately on the bells,18 and by a sweet trio announced every hour of the day. Dr. Hiccup was, it seems, at his devotions, which he always performed in imitation of that great and devout musician, King David. He was a tall, boney figure, with a swarthy complexion, and blear eyes. As I sat down he took no notice of me, but continued dancing with a harp in his hand, without his breeches, and with his night-gown and shirt tucked up above his waist; and as he turned his brown posteriors this way and that, in the gyrations of the dance, all the women and children that were looking in through the window of his parlour, giggled, and made faces, and shewed variety of indecent gesticulations and noises. None of these, however, interrupted the devotions of this great man.

Never were such charming tunes elicited from mortal harp, Cambrian or Eolic! the dance was Devotion itself in human form! After a little refreshment, this illustrious Musician condescended to enter19tain me with several interesting particulars of the manner of his life, which I begg’d leave to copy in my pocket book in his presence.

He rose every morning, when his chime-clock struck eleven, (for, like the famous Chevalier Gluck, he is too great a genius to rise early) and generally gaped all the time his lady was putting on his breeches. For breakfast he always eat rolls and butter, whether in summer or winter; and after his breakfast paid a visit to Cloacina, but assured me he never used old music books on this occasion on any account. He retired to rest about ten, and seldom fail’d once in a month to compliment his lady for undressing him.

He communicated many other particulars to me of less moment, and was so obliging at length to beg I would treat him with an air or two on the bassoon.

I thought this a good opportunity to give him a specimen of my poetic talents, as well as of my musical ones, and per20formed the following song, which I composed at Gotham several years ago.

“Some came in a waggon, and some in a cart;
And many there were that did nothing but f—t:
Oh rare Nottingham town, Nottingham town!
Nottingham town; Oh rare Nottingham town!”

The sweetness of the notes on my bassoon, an instrument whose tone is so like the sound it was to represent, ravished his ears, which he hung quite down on each shoulder, during the whole time of my performance.

I slept this night at Dr. Hiccup’s house, and borrowed a shirt and pair of stockings of him. At breakfast I took an opportunity to tell him of the narrowness of my circumstances; but he was suddenly taken with a rapturous fit of devotion, and pulling up his night-gown to his waist, began to sing, and dance, and caper, and kick, to such a degree, that no one in the room was safe: I ran towards the door to save my shins, and the Doctor rising with both feet in the air like a Harlequin, gave me such a horse-kick on my rump,21 singing at the same time the March in Saul, that I descended into the street down five steps, head foremost, and cracked my bassoon in twenty places.

Six hours I attended at the door, but was told by a servant out of a window, that the Doctor was still performing his dance of devotion; and for aught I know, that great man may dance till doom’s-day, as I never after could get any other answer at his door.

On more mature reflexion, I thought this kind of treatment very hard from a brother musician, and one to whom I was so well recommended; but I consoled myself with considering, that though my bassoon was broken in sundry places, yet I had retained the Doctor’s shirt and stockings; and that it was very likely my great prototype, Dr. Mus himself, had frequently met with the same treatment, tho’ his modesty had inclined him to conceal it.



From this place to Durham I was necessitated to travel on foot; and by playing the Black Joke, Murdoch O’Blaney, and other sentimental tunes to the girls of the villages I pass’d through, procured food and lodging, which my brother of the String had refused me. At Darlington, I waited on the Maestro di Capella, or clerk of the parish, who I may assert had the finest nasality, or nose-intonation, that ever was given to David’s psalms; and the melody of his Amen, was quite astonishing.

So well was my bassoon received at this church, that the ’Squire’s lady invited me to Dinner. “Good Signior Collioni,” says she, “you have charmed, you have enraptured me; pray, has the wind which escapes out at the end of your instrument any smell?”——“smell!” says I, “no,23 madam, not unless I eat onions.” At this all the ladies laughed most extravagantly.

However, the ’Squire after dinner gave me a recommendatory letter to the great Mr. Eccho of Durham, principal performer belonging to that opulent cathedral; and withal told me, that Mr. Eccho had so long apply’d himself to musical notes, that he had utterly forgot all articulate language. That he preached, conversed, prayed, scolded, swore, talk’d bawdy, and blasphemy, all on the fiddle, without uttering a word, or even making a sign with his fingers.

At my introduction to this great man, I began a long complimental speech, which I had been some time studying.——“Most respectable sir, whose soul is a soul of harmony, and whose body is like a base-viol.”——Here he snatch’d up his fiddle with an air of great complacency, and drawing, the bow gently over the strings said, as plain as if he had24 spoke it. “Oh, sir, your most obedient; you compliment me indeed, sir, too much.” I then told him how long a journey I had performed on foot, and that the dusty roads had made me dry. He snatched up his violin, and before he had play’d above a bar or two, in came a footman with a jug of delicate ale. Next I mentioned modestly my having eat nothing all day.——“Trut, trut, bish, bash, bush,” cries the fiddle—“Indeed, sir,” replies I, “I, don’t fast for the sake of devotion”——“ir, er, ar, querr, quorr, quurr”—quoth the fiddle, and in came a surloin of cold beef, and mustard and bread, in the twinkling of a fiddle-stick.

This gentleman, quoth I, is greater than Orpheus or Eurydice, or the Serpent;—no, no, Orpheus could do no such things as these—ale and beef were a note or two above his fiddle!

Soon after came in Mr. Eccho’s wife, with a “what the deuce are you about, bringing beggars into my house?”—Mr.25 Eccho catched up the fiddle, and such a jar did I never hear “arg, erg, urg, gir, gor, gur”—I warrant you madam became as dumb as if she were inchanted.

Indeed, hearing this lady give me the opprobrious name of beggar, I took care to shew the diamond ring on my little finger, which I always wear when I perform in public, which might give her a better opinion of me, tho’ indeed it is only a Bristol stone, and that I pay a silver-smith two pence a week for the use of; and I would have hired a laced waistcoat, but was asked a shilling a week, tho’ I am sure the lace had been twice turn’d; yet, if I had hired it, I dare say Dr. Hiccup would scarcely have kicked me out of his house.



At Carlisle I waited on Lord Diddle-doodle with proper musical credentials: he was sat against a glass practising some solfeggis on the violin, and attending to the gracefulness of his own attitude. “Most illustrious Peer,” says I, (making a bow to the very ground) “your noble ancestors gain’d victory in the hardy fields of war, but you by music civilize and harmonize mankind; with what rapture must they lean from their starry mansions to see and hear your immortal powers of harmony and grace!” I stopp’d, and on looking up, found that his lordship had not attended to a word I had spoken, nor seemed conscious of my being in the room;—but as great geniuses are often absent, I repeated my compliment in a louder voice, and approaching, was27 amazed to find that his lordship was quite deaf, deaf as a post; and yet he executed the most difficult passages in music with the greatest grace and manner, better, I dare say, than if he had heard his own performance.

When his lordship had perceived me, he approached me with the utmost politeness, and made signs for me to sit down, and accompany him upon the bassoon, which I did ’till dinner-time. After dinner, I intreated my lady Diddle-doodle to prevail upon the noble lord to sing, which he did; but I was rather disappointed at finding that his voice was only pack-thread[3]. However, he sung in tune; had a shake, and was far from vulgar. My lady afterwards made ample amends by her own singing. Her voice was a skane of silk, without the least mixture of worsted. She understood all the lights and shades of melody. Her back-ground;28 her mezzotints; and her clare-obscure were charming, and there was such a roundness and dignity in all the tones, that every thing she did became interesting.

[3] “His voice is now but a thread.”

Tour to Italy.

It was in this part of England, I paid a visit to Mr. Quaver, with recommendatory letters from lord Diddle-doodle; I found him to be a gentleman of considerable and original musical genius; his taste was pure, chaste, refined; and his execution, particularly upon the Jew’s harp, was exquisite; he executed with great taste and powers, Nancy Dawson, Lillabullero, and Old Sir Simon the king. After dinner he explained to me his system for the improvement of sound, which was at once sublime and original. “The Author of Nature,” said he, “has with an equal and judicious hand distributed his gifts among his creatures: to one he has given strength; to another, dexterity; to a third, perseverance; in the same manner has he divided the agreeable qualifications; and29 the courtier and the fine gentleman need not blush to receive instruction from the spaniel and the monkey—Now as the philosopher models his life upon an imitation of the virtues of animals, the true connoisseur will do the same”—there he stopp’d, as if afraid to explain himself; but I told him, that there was something so original and masterly in his conceptions that I should never be easy, until he communicated them. Upon which, after a short pause, he seized me by the hand, and grasping it with affection, “since,” said he, “I find in you the true spirit of your science, I will no longer maintain any reserve; know then, that after a profound meditation upon the sublimest mysteries of our profession, I have traced them up to the creation”—“how!” said I, with amaze, “I thought that the greatest Antiquarians had never brought them with any certainty higher than the Deluge.” “I knew,” said he, “I should surprize you; but it is certain that Adam,30 amongst his other qualifications, possessed that of expressing every sound that ever has or can be uttered; hence he could not only sing base and treble, counter-tenor, and soprano to admiration; but also squeak like a pig, croak like a frog, bellow like a bull, whinny like a colt, and bray like an ass.”

“It is true, that the greater part of these faculties was taken from him at the Fall, and have been very sparingly bestowed upon his descendants; from hence arises that degeneracy into which music has fallen in the modern ages of the world: that sublime science, instead of expressing the natural passions, by a judicious imitation of the tones of beasts; instead of roaring out the lion’s rage; bellowing the jealousy of the bull, or chanting the amorous passions of the nightingale, is become a meer unmeaning jargon, without force or energy, and its professors and admirers are dwindled into the most contemptible part of the creation; quavering31 eunuchs, unfeeling prostitutes, insignificant blockheads, wretches without head, or heart, or sentiment, or enthusiasm.”—I was too sensible that there was but too much truth in this gentleman’s observations, though I could not assent to every thing he said against our modern virtuosi, among whom envy itself must acknowledge there are some accomplished characters; and the eighteenth century will always glory in having produced an Elector of Munich, a Tenducci, and a Mus.

“But,” said my friend, “perceiving this to be the lamentable state of things, I have with true and indefatigable industry applied myself to the restoration of the first Adamitical harmony; I have selected the most admirable notes from every animal, and have already acquired a tolerable proficiency in bellowing, braying and grunting: I indeed found that the squall of the peacock was two notes too high for my voice; but in re32turn, if I may say so without vanity, I can inspire every hen and gosling in the yard with tender sentiments. I have, besides this, collected every great natural genius that I have found among the brute creation; I have a young he-ass who has an admirable bass; a young hog, (a castrato) who sings counter-tenor; and a dear little cat, whom, in honour of that illustrious name, so celebrated in the Doctor’s tour, I call Mingotti, who has an excellent treble, and a surprising portamento. But why waste I time in description? you shall see my scholars, and my schola.”

Saying this, he led me to a large building, which resembled a barn, where we were received by the Maestro di Capella, who was an old and deaf huntsman. The first object I beheld was a beautiful she-ass in a Mecklinburgh night-cap, who brayed a solo. Her voice was one of the clearest, sweetest, truest, most powerful and extensive I ever heard. In compass,33 it is from B♭ on the fifth space in the bass, to D in alt, full steady and equal; her shake was good, and her portamento admirably free from the nose, mouth, or throat. We were then entertained by a duet between the Mingotti, and a large raven, in the chromatic, which grew more spirited by my friend’s pulling a bone out of his pocket, which he threw to the performers, and thereby produced a conflicta. I then told my friend that I would willingly hear the castrato, but he told me he was afraid the Caffarelli could not oblige me in that particular, as he had unfortunately taken cold by rolling too long upon an unaired dunghill, and was then actually in a course of sugar-candy. However, he threw a turnip to encourage him to exert himself, and I could judge from what I then heard, that he is likely to become a most masterly performer.

My friend then tied strings to the ears of six young greyhound puppies, which he twitch’d with so much art and judgment34 by means of a pully, that I think the effect was equal to any viol di gamba I ever heard, not excepting that of the Elector of Munich.

My friend then suspended two cats by the tails, which he contrived should alternately bob upon the noses of two sucking pigs, who were tied by the hind-legs to the floor: though I observed these performers were somewhat embarassed in their manner, yet I could not but acknowledge the effect was quite original and truly theatric.

Mr. Quaver then told me that he had formerly introduced some of these performers to sing at a concert, but without success: and he made great complaints of the unpoliteness of the audience, which he said could sit with patience three hours to listen to the unmeaning trills of heroes in hoop-petticoats, and Italian vagabonds in a strange language, while they would not bestow one half hour upon the voice of nature and their brethren. Tho’ I was35 quite ignorant of the facts he alluded too, yet, like Dr. Mus, I was so partial to talents, wherever I found them, that I could not help condoling with my kind host upon the occasion; and after having bemoaned the degeneracy of the times, and wished him success in his truly original undertaking, which I promised him I would take due notice of in my intended work, I set forward on my journey to Bristol.

Had I been rich, I should have agreed with a coachman, who was just then setting out, and offered to carry me and my bassoon, in the basket, for sixteen shillings. But as riches are not always the companions of genius, I rather chose to take my place in a coal-vessel, which was to arrive at that city in three days. Here, as the weather was extremely fine when I sat out, I travelled very agreeably, for the first day, and dined upon bread and cheese, and cold bacon, without making any observations worth commu36nicating to the public, except that I saw a man standing upon the bank, and angling for dace, notwithstanding the earliness of the season.

The second day, as the wind suddenly changed from West to North-East, was foggy, rainy, and so exceedingly cold, that I was obliged, for want of Dr. Mus’s lousy blanket, to slip my legs and thighs into a coal-sack; we stopped about two o’clock at Averley, a little village on the banks of the Severn to dine; and here I cannot but inform the world, that Mr. Bangor, at the sign of the Goat in Boots, is an extremely civil and polite landlord, and has no contemptible taste in music. When I informed him of my design in making this expedition, he very obligingly led me into his hall, which was stuck round with various antique pieces of music, such as Chevy Chace, The Children in the Wood, Three Children sliding on the Ice, The history of St. George, &c. which he kindly permitted me to enrich my collection with. I begged37 hard that he would permit me to prick out the notes of an incomparable whistle as he performed it, which at length with great difficulty he complied with, upon condition however that I should not print it. But I was more than all surprized and charmed with his generosity, in slipping a piece of fried cow’s heel into my pocket, and insisting upon treating me with a dram, before I went into the cold.

As I walked down to the river side, I remarked a boy, who was humming the tune of Yanky Doodle; and as I knew this to be an extremely popular air in some parts of America, I conjectured that this part of England was originally peopled from that continent.



Late the next evening, we arrived at Bristol, a large and populous city, more famous for its commerce, manufactures and such trifles, than for its taste in music. They have but lately had a regular theatre established there to civilize and polish the uncouth manners of the dissenters, who would even have succeeded in the savage opposition they made to this salutary measure, if the bishops had not espoused the cause of the fine arts; I have little doubt, therefore, that they will soon find that “music is so combined with things sacred and important, as well as with our pleasures, that it seems necessary to our existence:” they will then quickly become friends to organs, and next to operas. As I approached the city, I was gratified with seeing the battalions of the principal39 militia, who made a most formidable appearance, and marched in exact time to the marrow-bones and cleavers, which had an admirable effect and were extremely animating. I put up at the Dog’s Head in the Porridge-Pot, and after powdering my wig with some flour, clipping my beard with a pair of scissars, and turning my shirt, I went to wait on Signor Manselli, to whom I had letters of recommendation. When I had knocked at the door, and enquired whether the Signor was within, I was informed that he was, but that I could not see him, as he was then busied in performing his vocalities. This answer, you may be sure, redoubled my curiosity, and I replied, “if a poor, yet I trust, not unknown musician, may be judged worthy of being an unobserved spectator of the Signor’s meditations, I promise not to interrupt his reveries, and perhaps the Signor himself will not be displeased at your introducing to him a Collioni!”


When he learned that I was a musician, he bowed respectfully, and desiring me to pull off my shoes, as he did himself, he led me to the Signor’s apartment. When we came to the door, the servant desired me to pull off my coat, waistcoat, and wig, and creep through a hole, which he shewed me at the bottom of the door, as he assured me the Signor did not suffer even crowned heads to approach him in these moments of enthusiasm, without taking those precautions; “and sir,” said he, “you need not think this an humiliating situation, as I have seen many persons of the first fashion, among whom were several pregnant ladies, submit to the same ceremony.”

I did not hesitate a moment to comply with the customary etiquette, but stripping myself to the shirt, I crept into the room with the same awful silence with which the antient priests approached the Tripod of their God. Having posted myself behind a large screen, I beheld the41 Signor extended on his belly, while two young and beautiful ladies were gently stroaking his back with the palms of their hands. He lay for some minutes pensive and silent, as if waiting for the inspirations of the divinity. At length, on a sudden, “his eyes were fixt, his underlip fell, and drops of effervescence distilled from his whole countenance.” Immediately explosions of the most musical intonation I had ever heard, issued from behind, and enraptured the whole company. After this, he successively coughed, sneezed, hiccuped, eructated, squeaked and whistled in the most harmonious manner that can be conceived. “Thank heaven,” cried the Signor, “my powers of harmony are yet undiminished: I shall still live to bless the world, and polish this brutal nation.” Saying this, he took up his fiddle, and played a most divine solo. I heard him for some time in silent ecstacy, ’till at length incapable of suppressing my emotions any longer, I precipitated myself42 into his arms, crying or rather blubbering out in imitation of the great Cassarelli, Bravo! bravissimo! Manselli, è Collioni che ti lo dice. The Signor seemed somewhat surprized at my abrupt introduction, but at length, recollecting himself, he received me with ineffable politeness. The ladies at my appearance, had shrieked, and left the room, which in the first hurry of our embraces we had not perceived. But presently the Signor, glancing his eye downwards, recollected himself, and said with some warmth and emphasis, “O, fye, Signor Collioni, I took it for granted you were one of US.” I blushed at the imputation, and said, “I hoped this defect would not lessen me in his esteem, as my country was not yet sufficiently civilized to have adopted the custom; and though some of our prime nobility had the spirit and taste to lead the way, yet in the gross conceptions of the English, there was a certain degree of ridicule annexed to it,43 which deterred several men otherwise of the most exquisite politeness from submitting to it.” The Signor was kind enough to admit my excuses, but lamented this as the greatest obstacle to the national advancement in the science of music. However, he averred that several English young noblemen of fortune had to his knowledge undergone the operation in Italy, “and though,” added he, “an ordinary proficient may be exempted from the practice, yet it is indispensibly necessary for one who would fathom all the mysteries of the art, and emulate the illustrious names of Senesino, Farinelli, Tenducci, &c.”

I confess I was much staggered at what he said, more especially as I began to entertain some doubts myself whether the characters of a man and a musician were at all compatible.

I hinted to him, that I had formerly heard, that a certain great Personage, tàm Marti quàm Mercurio, equally il44lustrious for his martial and his musical talents, had adopted the practice; but as the Doctor had not recorded it in his tour to Potzdam, I imagined the report was without foundation.

“Ah!” said he, “depend upon it, tho’ the Doctor has indeed omitted this circumstance in the admirable description he gives of that hero, and Dilettante practising his solfeggi at Potzdam, yet he would never have been either the monarch, or the flutist he is without it. Do you think, added he, that illustrious philosopher could amuse himself so calmly in his closet with fugus and adagios, while ten thousand Polish widows, and orphans, were imprecating curses upon the head of their unfeeling destroyer, unless he had totally disengaged himself from every incumbrance of his sex and species?”

Here the entrance of the young ladies interrupted any further conversation on the subject. The eldest, his niece, who was called45 Gluckinella Inglesina, desired me to sing, which I did in the softest and most unmanly tone I could exert, that I might not again offend. I asked her what her real opinion of my voice was? she answered me with the most perfect affability, that I acquitted myself tolerably well considering; tho’ “she thought me too ambitious of displaying my talent of working parts and subjects, and added that my cantilena was often rude.”

I took an opportunity when I was alone with this young lady, to enquire if the castrati were much in vogue at Bristol, and if that operation could be so safely attempted on elderly gentlemen; this young lady smiled at my simplicity, and assured me that the operation was safe and easy, and not so painful as to acquire any degree of resolution, and that the castrati were the favourites of the ladies, both of the married and unmarried. She advised me by all means to undergo the operation as the Doctor had done in Italy, tho’ his excess of modesty prevented him from46 boasting of it in his excellent treatise. She added, that she could not with safety love me, unless I would submit to this for her sake.

This declaration from a young lady for whom I now perceived I had imbibed the most ardent affection, gave me great uneasiness; that affection however was purely platonic and spiritual, for personal charms she had no more to boast of, that ever I discovered, than Mingotti herself. Besides the disadvantage of a contortion in the ogle, vulgarly called a squint of the eye, and a very long red nose, she had a mouth, which tho’ it opened from ear to ear, discovered to the eye nothing but the sad remains of a set of ebony teeth, which more resembled the ruins of an old cathedral, than the polished ivory which adorns the comic mouth of the celebrated Mrs. Ab-ngt-n. There was yet another circumstance to disgust the sensualist, and deter him from approaching this Syren with an improper familiarity; and that was the great offensiveness of her breath,47 which was so violent, that any person not “determined” like me “to hear, see,” and smell “nothing but music,” might have thought it hardly atoned for by the sweetness of her voice. Yet none of these circumstances damped the ardor of my spiritual attachment, founded, as it was, upon a solid basis, the love of song;—it was embodied harmony, the tuneful soul which I adored. The reader who is unacquainted with the difference between a gross sensual passion, and a sublime, harmonic sympathy, may perhaps be surprized when I tell him, that while I was thus devoted to the divine Gluckinella, I was at the same time personally captivated by the corporeal attractions of a little black-ey’d Gypsy, the wife of a barber in the town, who often shaved me for a tune; yet did not these grosser feelings the least impair or abate my musical platonic love. I might perhaps be excused, were I to conceal the progress and issue of these different amours; but48 they are so intimately blended with the scientific part of my work, and were attended with such important consequences to myself in my professional capacity, that I doubt not the narration will prove of great utility to my brethren. For it was no common temptation that deluded me; tho’ Mrs. Sharpset was abundantly handsome, I could have resisted “the blandishments of beauty,” if a desire of making dangerous experiments upon the power and effects of music upon female passion had not seized my brain. For I had taken notice, that the imagination of this young woman was exceedingly lively and far out-stripped her husband’s, who was a plain dull man with little fire or enthusiasm in his composition. I plainly perceived this in all her gestures and movements, but when I sung some tender sentimental air, her involuntary sighs, blushes, and languid attitude, betrayed too plainly the irritability of her nervs, and that fine susceptibility of soft emotions with which nature has49 endowed the sex. No wonder that in a rude, uncultivated state of nature as I then was, I caught the subtle fire from her contagious eyes. Ah! how often did I sing the sweet passion of Love without once thinking of my dear Gluckinella; how often did she encore my O how pleasing ’tis to please, without the slightest recollection of her absent barber! Madly determined to pursue the fatal experiment, and observe the full effects of my art; I next sung “Haste, let us rove, to the Island of Love”, at which Mrs. Sharpset was greatly agitated and danced about the room. Then I played a rapturous voluntary “produced in the happy moments of effervescence when my reason was less powerful than my feeling;” and at length I proceeded to such excess of temerity, as to tune up Geho Dobbin, Murdoch O’Blaney, and several other inflammatory compositions; and finding my mistress “attentive, and in a disposition to be pleased, I became animated to50 that true pitch of enthusiasm, which from the ardor of the fire within, is communicated to others and sets all around in a blaze, so that the contention between the performer and the hearer was only who should please or who should applaud the most, till at length, not contented with shewing her approbation by coughing, hemming, and blowing the nose” she “expressed rapture in a manner peculiar to herself, and seemed to agonize with pleasure too great for the aching sense!” for at length, overpowered by my quirking and quavering, and transported beyond all the bounds of prudence, Mrs. Sharpset on a sudden leaped into my arms, hung round my neck, and devoured me with eager kisses, such as I never tasted before or since. What man, what unemasculated god could have withstood such potent snares? Ah! my serene Gluckinella had’st thou been there, these tumults had all subsided, the devil had not got intire51 possession of my mind, voice and instrument, nor had I needed the painful operation of the barber’s avenging steel to bring my wandering spirits back to reason:—for soon, and in the midst of our illicit joys, the door of the chamber was forced open, and in rushed Mr. Sharpset.—Discordant oaths and curses, and the look and voice of a Fury making an incantation to awake the dead, bespoke the injured husband, and scared us from the bed. He retired a moment to fetch the instrument of his revenge. Mrs. Sharpset escaped, but in an instant I saw him return whetting his keenest razor; and concluding, that he meant to cut my throat upon the spot, I fell down at his feet and in an agony of fear and penitence, roared out such a Miserere, as was never heard at the Pope’s chapel in Passion-week. Alas! how did I wish for the genius of a Gluck, “to paint my difficult situation occasioned52 by complicated misery, and the tempestuous fury of unbridled passions!” But Allegri himself, had he chanted his own Miserere, could not have moved the shaver’s unrelenting soul, or soothed his injured honour up in arms, and demanding its victim! I tried a softer strain, and sang in melting mood, “Let not rage thy Bosom firing, pity’s softer claim remove,” &c. but it was all one: still strapped he his inexorable razor, humming out a song of Bravura, the subject of which was the castration of the devil by a baker; (which, by the bye, is a very curious story, whose authenticity I must enquire into farther at my leisure.) I immediately augured my approaching destiny from the burden of this song; and the Cornuto presently gave me to understand that my conjecture was well founded. Having been till now in a cold-sweat, and corporal fear of my life, I congratulated myself on this exchange of punishment, as a sort of reprieve, and considering that I had some53 time since resolved, like another Grassetto, to undergo the operation whenever I found myself bold enough for such a voluntary sacrifice; I plucked up courage, and with great composure told the barber, that a guilty conscience was a greater torment to me than any he could devise; but that to expiate the crime I had committed, and appease the anger of heaven, and the honest man whom I had so deeply offended, I would patiently submit to suffer the righteous sentence which his vengeance meditated on the peccant part. The enraged tonsor took me at my word.

The first thing that came into my thoughts after I awoke from the fainting fit, into which the paroxism of pain had thrown me, was to try my voice in its improved state. I accordingly sung A Dawn of Hope my Soul revives, and found my powers wonderfully improved, and my execution delicate, interesting, and full of effects. “Ho, ho,” cries the barber, “I54 am glad to find you are so merry,” and resumed his old tune of the baker and the devil. I told him I thought it unkind in him to insult me, and intreated him to convey me home, which he very readily consented to do, and soon afterwards began to apologize for the effects of his rage, hoping I would consider the nature of the provocation, and not attempt to take the law of him. I answered, that upon condition he would freely pardon his wife, whose fault was venial, as her virtue had fallen a sacrifice to the power of harmony, I would decline any hostile proceedings against him on my own account, with which condition he appeared satisfied, and we parted.—I was brought home on a mule, on which I rode sideways; and as soon as I alighted at Signor Manselli’s I sent for him into my chamber, and accosted him as he approached with the following air, in singing which I exerted all my newly-acquired powers.


Bear, O bear me on a sudden,
Some kind stroke of smiling chance!
From this land of beef and pudding,
To dear Italy or France!
I am sick to the soul,
Politics and sea coal,
So give one the vapours,
Their cursed news-papers,
Their mobbing,
Are horrors to me;
I wish the whole island were sunk in the sea.

During my performance, the Signor appeared perfectly astonished, and at length seizing my hand with rapture, “welcome,” he cried, “O son of harmony! it cannot be longer disguised, you are a brother—you are one of us”—then expatiating on the dignity and importance of the order of castrati, he desired me, if not too much exhausted, to sing again his favourite air, which when I had done56 he cried out with transport;—“nec vox hominem sonat! I can hardly believe it is the same pipe! such a volume of voice, such an open and perfect shake! such light and shade! never was voice less cloudy! such clearness, brilliancy, neatness, expression, embellishment, intonation, firmness, modulation, smoothness and elegance! and then your portamento is as round and tight as a portmanteau, and you take appogiatura, as easily as a body would take a pinch of snuff!”—

I was greatly flattered by these encomiums, but begged he would forbear and suffer me to retire to my chamber, for the sake of necessary refreshment and rest. He immediately complied, and sent up to me Signor Sougelder, an eminent surgeon in the neighbourhood, and an agreeable performer on the English horn; who having applied an excellent dressing to my wound left me to sleep, and “thus ended this busy and important day, in57 which so much was said, and done; that it seemed to contain the events of a much longer period; and I could hardly persuade myself, upon recollecting the several incidents, that they had all happened in about the space of twelve hours.” By the kind and skilful offices of Signor Sougelder, I was soon restored to my health and spirits; and my adorable Signora Gluckinelli in a few days paid me a visit of congratulation, which she repeated every day during my recovery. It was in some of these delightful interviews I discovered how deep a theorist she was, and how learned in the science of sound. Among other discoveries and observations which she communicated to me, and which I treasure up, and mean to preserve for the benefit of future ages, she assured me that it was “practicable with time and patience to give a shake where nature has denied it; that she thought, the shake ruined ninety-nine times out of a hundred by too much58 impatience and precipitation, both in the master and scholar, and that many who can execute passages which require the same motion of the larynx as the shake, have notwithstanding never acquired one”—“There is no accounting for this,” added that illustrious young lady, with a sigh, “but from the neglect of the master to study nature, and avail himself of these passages, which by continuity would become real shakes.”

During my confinement to my chamber, I have had leisure to extract the foregoing observations, anecdotes, and adventures from my journal, and which I present to the world as the first hints of my undertaking. If they tend in any shape to promote the study and practice of music in this country, and by that means lessen our national reproach of being The Savages of Europe, immersed in politics, philosophy, metaphysics, mathematics, and other sour and abstruse speculations, I shall have gained my59 end, and shall congratulate myself on having in some humble degree assisted the generous efforts of the great musical Doctor, and the governors of the Foundling Hospital, to polish and Italianize the genius, taste, and manners of the English nation.

I shall trespass on the reader’s patience but one moment longer, to inform him that as soon as I had perfectly recovered my health, Signor Manselli instituted a grand Fête Cbampêtre to celebrate what he was pleased to call my victory over the flesh and the devil; and to crown the whole, the idol of my soul, the fair Gluckinella, was that day pleased to condescend publicly to avow her platonic harmonic passion for me; and to promise me in the most endearing manner, that if ever she entered into the holy slate of matrimony, I should be her Cecisbeo.



Speedily will be published,

An Enquiry into the Present State



To which will be prefixed,

The Overture to the last Eclipse of the Moon;

And, a Dissertation on the Structure and Use


Celestial Bow, commonly called the Rain-Bow.

By JOEL COLLIER, Organist.

Avia Pieridum perago loca nullius antè Trita solo.


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