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Title: The Power of Music

Author: Anonymous

Release date: October 11, 2021 [eBook #66519]

Language: English

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


Transcriber’s Notes

Obvious typographical errors have been silently corrected. All other spelling and punctuation remains unchanged.

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

The list of contents was provided by the transcriber.

&c. &c.


The Ox Minuet. Page 97.
Published Dec. 1-1813, by J. Harris, corner of St. Paul’s Church Yd.]







Man and Animals.

Pulisher’s device





[Pg 5]

&c. &c.


The following extraordinary instance of the effects of music, is related by M. Menuret.

“An unmarried lady, about thirty years of age, in consequence of violent grief in her youth, experienced various derangements in the natural functions, and was afterwards attacked by convulsions, which, at first, returned every month, and in the sequel, became more frequent. Medicines of every kind seemed only to aggravate the disorder;[Pg 6] the fits recurred, not only every day, but several times a day, and were marked by an involuntary agitation of the limbs, by their rigidity, gnashing of the teeth without foam, and insensibility, Their duration was unequal: sometimes a quarter of an hour, but more frequently several hours; and concluded by an abundant discharge of tears. No expedient could be devised for her relief during these fits, nor did any remedy appear capable of preventing them, or of diminishing their violence, or their frequency: the most affectionate attention, travelling, diversions, amusements, were equally ineffectual.—Among the means that were tried on this occasion, was, fortunately, a concert, during which the young patient seemed highly delighted, and uncom[Pg 7]monly well: she not only remained free from any convulsive fit while it lasted, but it afterwards returned later than usual. This method was repeated with the same result. The medical men by whom she was attended, availed themselves of the intervals of composure which it produced, to have recourse to other remedies. Long experience demonstrated their inutility; and repeated trials having proved the exclusive efficacy of music, her father, being obliged to return into the country, where he resided, engaged a musician to accompany and live with him. The soft melody of the violin or the piano forte, skilfully adapted to the taste and state of the patient, and often repeated, frequently prevents the convulsive fits, or abates their violence. This treatment,[Pg 8] which has been solely employed for the last three years, has been attended with such success, that all the functions are restored to their natural state; and, for a year, the attacks are rare, and so slight, that the shortness of their duration does not always render it necessary to have recourse to the agreeable specific.”

Monthly Magazine, Vol. xxii. p. 65.


“In the beginning of December, 1801, Elizabeth Sellers, a scholar in the Girls’ Charity School, at Sheffield, aged 13, lost her voice: so that she was unable to express herself on any occasion, otherwise than by a whisper.[Pg 9] She, however, enjoyed very good health, and went through several employments of the school, such as knitting, sewing, spinning, on the high and low wheel, &c. without any indulgence. Read audibly she could not; and her infirmity resisted, without intermission, all medical assistance, till, in the evening of the 20th of March, 1803, she, hearing some of her schoolfellows singing a hymn, in which she wished to join, went up to one Sarah Milner, and whisperingly begged that she would shout down her throat. Milner, at first, was shocked at the proposal, and refused to comply with her request. But, at length, through her repeated solicitations, she consented, and shouted down her throat with all her might; upon which Sellers immediately regain[Pg 10]ed her voice, and, to the astonishment of the whole school, wept and sung, as if she had been almost in a state of derangement, and has continued in possession of her voice ever since.”

Gentleman’s Magazine, 1803, p. 524.


The following anecdote was communicated, some years since, by Mr. James Tatlow, of Wiegate, near Manchester, who had it from those who were witnesses of the fact.

“One Sunday evening, five choristers were walking on the banks of the river Mersey, in Cheshire, after some time, they sat down on the grass, and began to sing an anthem. The field[Pg 11] in which they sat, was terminated, at one extremity, by a wood, out of which, as they were singing, they observed a hare to pass with great swiftness towards the place where they were sitting, and to stop at about twenty yards distance from them. She appeared highly delighted with the music, often turning up the side of her head to listen with more facility.

“As soon as the harmonious sound was over, the hare returned slowly towards the wood; when she had reached nearly the end of the field, they began the same piece again; at which the hare stopped, turned about, and came swiftly back again, to about the same distance as before, where she seemed to listen with rapture and delight, till they had finished the anthem,[Pg 12] when she returned again, by a slow pace, up the field, and entered the wood.—The harmony of the choristers, no doubt, drew the hare from her seat in the wood.”

Eastcott’s Sketches of the Origin and
Effects of Music.


“At Paris, some curious experiments have been lately made on the power of music, over the sensibility of the elephant. A band of music went to play in a gallery, extending round the upper part of the stalls, in which were kept two elephants, distinguished by the names Margaret and Hans. A[Pg 13] perfect silence was procured; some provisions, of which they were very fond, were given them to engage their attention, and the musicians began to play. The music no sooner struck their ears, than they ceased from eating, and turned, in surprise, to observe whence the sounds proceeded. At the sight of the gallery, the orchestra, and the assembled spectators, they discovered considerable alarm, as though they imagined there was some design against their safety. But the music soon overpowered their fears, and all other emotions became completely absorbed in their attention to it. Music, of a bold and wild expression, excited in them turbulent agitations, expressive, either of violent joy, or of rising fury. A soft air, performed on the bassoon, evident[Pg 14]ly soothed them to gentle and tender emotions. A gay and lively air moved them, especially the female, to demonstrations of highly sportive sensibility. Other variations of the music produced corresponding changes in the emotions of the elephants.”

Bingley’s Animal Biography.


Dr. Burney, in his Present State of Music, relates the following story.

“Among the anecdotes,” says he, “relative to the strange effects of music, which were given to me by Lord Marshal, he told me of a Highlander, who always cried, upon hearing a cer[Pg 15]tain slow Scots tune, played upon the bagpipe. General G. whose servant he was, stole into his room one night, when he was fast asleep, and playing the same tune to him very softly, on the German flute, the fellow, without waking, cried like a child.”


“A young Greek lady being brought from her own country, to Paris, some years since, was, soon after her arrival in that city, carried to the opera by some French ladies, supposing, as she had never heard any European music, that she would be in raptures at it; but, contrary to these expectations, she de[Pg 16]clared, that the singing only reminded her of the hideous howlings of the Calmuc Tartars; and, as to the machinery, which it was thought would afford her great amusement, she declared her dislike of many parts of it, and was particularly scandalized, by what she called, the impious and wicked imitation of God’s thunder. Soon after this experiment, she went to Venice, where another trial was made upon her uncorrupted ears, at an Italian opera, in which the famous Gizziello sung; at whose performance she was quite dissolved in pleasure, and was ever after passionately fond of Italian music.”

Dr. Burney’s Present State of Music.

[Pg 17]


About the year 1775, Zamperini, one of the actresses at the opera, returning from Lisbon by sea, was so terrified by a storm, that she fell into a state of stupidity, from which nothing could relieve her. Upon her arrival at Venice, among her family, she received every assistance which medicine could give, but in vain. She ate, drank, slept, and performed all the functions of animal life; but she knew nobody, took no interest in any thing, and seemed to be sunk into the most profound state of unconsciousness. Some persons recommended that a harpsichord should be played in her presence: she was immediately affected; shortly[Pg 18] after, she appeared so far sensible, as to take a part in the music, and even sung some favourite airs which were played to her. This was repeated frequently, during six months, and always with the same symptoms and the same effects. At first sight, any one would have taken her for an idiot: as soon as the harpsichord was touched her countenance changed, and, by degrees, she sang with as much expression and fire as ever; but, in a moment after, she relapsed into her former state of insensibility. Madame Durazzo, the lady of the imperial ambassador at Venice, had the curiosity to see her: she was moved with her situation, took her to her own house, and by care, medicine, and above all, by music, had the satisfaction of seeing her, in two years,[Pg 19] completely restored to her original state of health and rationality: and in 1778, she appeared upon the stage at Venice, with the greatest success.


An officer of state, being shut up in the Bastile, obtained permission to carry with him a lute, on which he was an excellent performer; but he had scarcely made use of it, for three or four days, when the mice, issuing from their holes, and the spiders, suspending themselves from the ceiling by their threads, assembled around him to participate in his melody. His aversion[Pg 20] to these animals, made their visit at first disagreeable, and induced him to lay aside this recreation; but he soon was so accustomed to them, that they became a source of amusement.

Dr. Burney’s History of Music.


Stradella, the celebrated composer, having carried off the mistress of a Venetian musician, and retired with her to Rome, the Venetian hired three desperadoes to assassinate him; but, fortunately for Stradella, they had an ear sensible to harmony. These assassins, while waiting for a favourable opportunity to execute their purpose, entered the church of St. John de Latran,[Pg 21] during the performance of an oratorio, composed by the person whom they intended to destroy; and were so affected by the music, that they abandoned their design, and even waited on the musician, to forewarn him of his danger. With regret we state, that Stradella, however, was not always so fortunate; for other assassins, who had no ear for music, stabbed him some time after, at Genoa: this event took place about the year 1670.


Modern music has had its Timotheus, who could excite or calm, at his pleasure, the most impetuous emotions.—[Pg 22] Henry III. King of France, having given a concert, on occasion of the marriage of the Duke de Joyeuse, Claudin le Jeune, a celebrated musician of that period, executed certain airs, which had such an effect on a young nobleman, then present, that he drew his sword, and challenged every one near him to combat; but Claudin, equally prudent as Timotheus, instantly changed to an air, apparently sub-Phrygian, which appeased the furious youth.


Timotheus was so excellently skilled in music, that, one day, when he play[Pg 23]ed and sung a song, composed in honour of Pallas, in the presence of Alexander the Great, the prince, as one transported with gallantry and the martial humour of the air, started up, and being stirred in every part, called for his armour, and was going to attack his guests; when the musician immediately changed into more sedate and calmer notes, sounding, as it were, a retreat; the impetuous prince was calmed, and sat quiet and still.


“Sultan Amurath, having laid siege to Bagdad, and taken it, ordered thirty[Pg 24] thousand Persians to be put to death, though they had submitted, and laid down their arms. Amongst these unfortunate victims, was a musician. He besought the officer, who had the command to see the Sultan’s orders executed, to spare him but for a moment, and permit him to speak to the Emperor. The officer indulged him, and, being brought before the Sultan, he was suffered to give a specimen of his art. He took up a kind of psaltry, which resembles a lyre, and has six strings on each side, and accompanied it with his voice. He sung the taking of Bagdad, and the triumph of Amurath. The pathetic tones and exulting sounds of the instrument, together with the alternate plaintiveness and boldness of his strains, melted even Amurath; he suffered him to[Pg 25] proceed, till, overpowered with harmony, tears of pity gushed forth, and he revoked his cruel orders. In consideration of the musician’s abilities, he not only ordered those of the prisoners, who remained alive, to be spared, but gave them their liberty.”

Prince Cantimer’s Account of the Transactions
of the Ottomans.


Philip V. King of Spain, being seized with a total dejection of spirits, which made him refuse to be shaved, and rendered him incapable of attending council, or transacting affairs of state, the queen, who had, in vain, tried every common expedient, that was likely to[Pg 26] contribute to his recovery, determined that an experiment should be made of the effects of music, upon the king, her husband, who was extremely sensible to its charms. The celebrated Farinelli being then at Madrid, of whose extraordinary performance, an account had been transmitted from several parts of Europe, but, particularly from Paris, her majesty contrived that there should be a concert in a room adjoining to the king’s apartment, in which this singer performed one of his most captivating songs. Philip appeared, at first, surprised, then moved; and, at the end of the second air, made the virtuoso enter the royal apartment, loading him with compliments and caresses; asked him how he could sufficiently reward such talents; assuring him, that he could re[Pg 27]fuse him nothing. Farinelli, previously instructed, only begged that his majesty would permit his attendants to shave and dress him, and that he would endeavour to appear in council as usual. From this time, the king’s disease gave way to medicine; and the singer had all the honour of the cure, and, by singing to his majesty every evening, his favour increased to such a degree, that he was regarded as first minister.

Burney’s History of Music.


Mrs. Piozzy, in her Observations in a Journey through Italy, relates the following singular anecdote.

[Pg 28]

“An odd thing,” says she, “of which I was this morning a witness, has called my thoughts away to a curious train of reflections upon the animal race, and how far they may be made companionable and intelligent. The famous Bertoni, so well known in London, by his long residence among us, and, from the undisputed merit of his compositions, now inhabits this, his native city; and, being fond of dumb creatures, as we call them, took for his companion, a pigeon; one of the few animals which can live at Venice, where scarcely any quadrupeds can be admitted, or would exist with any degree of comfort to themselves.

“This creature has, however, by keeping his master company, obtained so perfect an ear and taste for music,[Pg 29] that no one, who sees his behaviour, can doubt for a moment of the pleasure he takes in hearing Mr. Bertoni play and sing: for, as soon as he sits down to the instrument, Columbo begins shaking his wings, perches on the piano forte, and expresses the most indubitable motions of delight. If, however, he, or any one else, strikes a note false, or makes any kind of discord upon the keys, the pigeon never fails to show evident tokens of anger and distress; and, if teased too long, grows quite enraged; pecking the offender’s legs and fingers, in such a manner, as to leave no doubt of the sincerity of his resentment.”

Signora Cecilia Guiliani, a scholar of Bertoni’s, who has received some overtures from the London Theatres[Pg 30] lately, will, if ever she arrives there, bear testimony to the truth of an assertion very difficult to believe, and to which I should hardly myself give credit, were I not a witness to it every morning that I choose to call and confirm my own belief. A friend, present, protested he should be afraid to touch the harpsichord before so nice a critic; and, though we all laughed at the assertion, Bertoni declared he never knew the bird’s judgment fail; and that he often kept him out of the room, for fear of affronting or tormenting those who came to take musical instructions.

“With regard to other actions of life, I saw nothing particular in the pigeon, but his tameness and strong attachment to his master: for, though not unwinged, and only clipped a little, he never[Pg 31] seeks to range way from the house, or quit his master’s service, any more than the Dove of Anacreon.

While his better lot bestows
Sweet repast and soft repose;
And, when feast and frolic tire,
Drops asleep upon his lyre.”
Mrs. Piozzy.


Signor Morelli, the celebrated Opera singer, has a dog, who, aided by the well-known comic powers of his master, is productive of much amusement, by his attempts to sing, when called upon in company. On his master’s summons for that purpose, he seats himself on the chair left for him, and,[Pg 32] with great earnestness, tries to follow the tones of his master’s voice; plaintively whining when he hears the high tones, and growling when the low ones are sounded. Signor Morelli pretends to be in raptures, when his singular pupil performs well; and his gentle reproofs, when he proceeds to an unmusical bark, are highly comic and entertaining to the company.


A few years ago, a man who lived at Allerton, near Liverpool, by trade a tailor, but who could occasionally handle his fiddle, as well as his needle, on[Pg 33] his way home, from whence he had been exercising his musical talents, for the entertainment of his country neighbours, in passing through a field, about three o’clock, in the morning, in the month of June, he was attacked by a bull. After several efforts to escape, he attempted to ascend a tree; not, however, succeeding in the attempt, a momentary impulse directed him to pull out his fiddle, and, fortifying himself behind the tree as well as he could, began to play; upon which the enraged animal became totally disarmed of his ferocity, and seemed to listen with great attention. The affrighted tailor, finding his fierce and formidable enemy so much appeased, began to think of making his escape, left off playing, and was moving forward. This, however,[Pg 34] the bull would not suffer, for, no sooner had the tailor ceased his fascinating strain, than the bull’s anger appeared to return with as much rage as before: he, therefore, was glad to have recourse a second time to his fiddle, which instantly operated again, as a magic charm upon the bull, who became as composed and attentive as before. He afterwards made several more attempts to escape, but all in vain; for no sooner did he stop his fiddle, than the bull’s anger returned, so that he was compelled to keep fiddling away, till near six o’clock, (about three hours,) when the family came to fetch home the cows, by which he was relieved and rescued from a tiresome labour and frightful situation. This is, perhaps, the first man upon record, who may be really said to have[Pg 35] fiddled for his life, and, who so truly fulfilled the poet’s idea, that

“Music hath charms to soothe a savage breast.”

It is proper, and farther curious, to observe, that this man lodged at the farm-house where the bull was kept; and that, as he frequently played upon the fiddle, in an evening, to amuse the family, he had observed the bull, (who always attended the cows home to be milked,) constantly endeavoured to get as near as possible to that part of the house where he happened to be playing, and always appeared to listen, with the greatest attention, which, fortunately struck him with the idea of having recourse to his fiddle, and, in all probability, preserved his life.

[Pg 36]


Died lately, aged 85, Mr. William Anthony de Luc. His passion for music was so predominant, in his latter days, that a piano forte was placed by his bedside, on which his daughter played a great part of the day. The evening of his death, seeing her father ready to sink into a slumber, she asked him, “Shall I play any more?”—“Keep playing,” said he, “keep playing!”—He slept, but awoke no more! Mr. W. A. de Luc had explored many volcanic countries, whence he had brought choice specimens of their productions, in which his cabinet was, perhaps, the richest in Europe.

[Pg 37]


The style of driving an ox-team in Devonshire is remarkable, indeed, cannot pass unnoticed by a stranger. The language, though in a great degree peculiar to the country, does not arrest the attention, but the tone, or rather tune, in which it is delivered. It resembles, with great exactness, the chantings, or recitative of the cathedral service. The plowboy chants the counter-tenor, with unabated ardour, through the day; the plowman, throwing in, at intervals, his hoarser notes. It is understood that this chanting march, which may sometimes be heard at a considerable distance, encourages and animates the team, like[Pg 38] the music of a marching army, or the song of the rowers.


A famous musician, and great composer, was taken ill of a fever, which gradually increased, till the 7th day, when he was seized with a violent delirium, almost constantly accompanied by cries, tears, terrors, and a perpetual watchfulness. The third day of his delirium, one of those natural instincts, which makes, as it is said, sick animals seek out for the herbs that are proper for their case, set him upon desiring[Pg 39] earnestly to hear a little concert in his chamber. His physician could hardly be prevailed upon to grant his request. Some cantatas, however, were sung to him. On hearing the first modulations, his countenance became serene, his eyes sparkled with joy, his convulsions absolutely ceased, he shed tears of pleasure, and was then possessed with a sensibility for music, which he never had before, nor after his perfect recovery. He had no fever during the whole concert, but, when it was over, he relapsed into his former condition. The use of a remedy, of which the success had been so unexpected, and yet so fortunate, was continued. The fever and delirium were always suspended during the concerts, and music was become so necessary to the patient,[Pg 40] that, at night, he obliged a female relation, who sometimes sat up with him, to sing, and even to dance, and who, found some difficulty in gratifying him in such a point of complaisance. One night, among others, having none but his nurse to attend him, who could sing nothing better than some wretched country ballads, was obliged to take up with them, and even appeared satisfied, and found some benefit from the same. At length, ten days of music entirely cured him, without any other assistance, than being bled in the foot, which was prescribed for him as necessary. This account was communicated to the Academy, by Monsieur Dodart, who had it well authenticated. He does not pretend that it may serve as an example or rule, in all similar[Pg 41] cases, but observes, it is curious to notice, how musical sounds could have restored the spirits to their natural course, in a man who had so long been habituated to music.

The second instance of the extraordinary effect of music, is related of a dancing-master of Alais, in the province of Languedoc. Being once over fatigued, in Carnival time, by the exercise of his profession, he was seized with a violent fever, and, on the fourth or fifth day, fell into a lethargy, which continued upon him for a considerable time. On recovering out of it, he was seized with a furious and mute delirium, wherein he made continual efforts to jump out of the bed; threatened, with a shaking of the head, and an angry countenance, those that hindered him,[Pg 42] and even all that were present; and he, besides, obstinately refused, though without speaking a word, all the remedies that were presented to him. One of the assistants bethought himself, that music, perhaps, might compose so disordered an imagination. Accordingly, he proposed it to his physician, who did not disapprove the thought, but feared the ridicule that might take place, should the patient happen to die during the performance of such a remedy. A friend of the dancing-master being present, who seemed regardless of the physician’s measures, and who knew how to play on the violin, seeing the patient’s hang up in the chamber, laid hold of it, and played directly to him, the airs that were most familiar to him. He was cried out against, as a greater[Pg 43] madman than the poor sick prisoner in bed, and some were going to make him desist, when the patient immediately jumped up, and appeared agreeably surprised, and specified, by the motion of his head, the pleasure he felt. By degrees, he appeared so much recovered, that those who held his arms, being sensible of the effects the violin had on him, remitted something of their force in keeping him down, and at last yielded to the motions he was desirous to give them, when, in so doing, they found his furious fits quite abated. In short, in a quarter of an hour’s time, the patient fell into a profound sleep, and shortly after was perfectly recovered.

[Pg 44]


“Mozart, the celebrated German musician, was born at Salzburg, in the year 1756. His father was also a musician of some eminence, but not to be compared with the son, of whom we have the following account, in one of the Monthly Miscellanies, taken by Mr. Busby, from some biographical sketches, of two eminent German professors.

“At the age of three years, young Mozart, attending to the lessons which his sister, then seven years old, was receiving at the harpsichord, he became acquainted with harmony, and when she had left the instrument, he would instantly place himself at it, find the thirds, sound them with the liveliest[Pg 45] joy, and employ whole hours at the exercise. His father, urged by such early and striking indications of genius, immediately began to teach him some little airs; and soon perceived that his pupil improved even beyond the hopes he had formed of him. Half an hour was generally sufficient for his acquiring a minuet, or a little song, which, when once learned, he would of himself perform with taste and expression.

“At the age of six years, he made such a progress, as to be able to compose short pieces for the harpsichord, which his father was obliged to commit to paper for him. From that time, nothing made any impression upon him but harmony; and infantine amusements lost all their attractions, unless music had a share in them. He ad[Pg 46]vanced from day to day, not by ordinary and insensible degrees, but with a rapidity, which hourly excited new surprise in his parents—the happy witnesses of his progress.

“His father, returning home one day with a stranger, found little Mozart with a pen in his hand. “What are you writing?” said he.—“A concerto for the harpsichord,” replied the child. “Let us see it,” rejoined the father, “it is a marvellous concerto, without doubt.”—He then took the paper, and saw nothing at first, but a mass of notes mingled with blots of ink, by the mal-address of the young composer, who, unskilled in the management of the pen, had dipped it too freely in the ink; and having blotted and smeared his paper, had endeavoured to make[Pg 47] out his ideas with his fingers; but, on a closer examination, his father was lost in wonder, and his eyes, delighted and flowing with tears, became riveted to the notes.—“See!” exclaimed he, to the stranger, “how just and regular it all is! but it is impossible to play it; it is too difficult.”—“It is a concerto,” said the child, “and must be practised till one can play it. Hear how this part goes.” He then sat down to perform it; but was not able to execute the passages with sufficient fluency, to do justice to his own ideas. Extraordinary as his manual facility was universally allowed to be, for his age, it did not keep pace with the progress of his knowledge and invention. Such an instance of intellectual advancement, in a child only six years of age, is so[Pg 48] far out of the common road of nature, that we can only contemplate the fact with astonishment, and acknowledge, that the possible rapidity of mental maturation is not to be calculated.

“In the year 1762, his father took him and his sister to Munich, where he performed a concerto before the elector, which excited the admiration of the whole court; nor was he less applauded at Vienna, where the emperor called him the little sorcerer.

“His father gave him lessons only on the harpsichord; but he privately taught himself the violin; and his command of the instrument afforded the elder Mozart the utmost surprise, when he one day, at a concert, took a second violin, and acquitted himself with more than passable address. True genius[Pg 49] sees no obstacles. It will not, therefore, excite our wonder, if his constant success, in whatever he attempted, begot an unbounded confidence in his own powers; he had even the laudable hardihood to undertake to qualify himself for the first violin, and did not long remain short of the necessary proficiency.

“He had an ear so correct, that he felt the most minute discordancy; and such a fondness for study, that it was frequently necessary to take him by force from the instrument. This love of application never diminished. He every day passed a considerable time at his harpsichord, and generally practised till a late hour at night. Another characteristical trait of real genius, always full of its object, and lost as it were in itself.

[Pg 50]

“It is lamentable that premature genius too rarely enjoys a long career. The acceleration of nature in the mental powers seems to hurry the progress of the animal economy, and to anticipate the regular close of temporal existence.

“In the year 1791, Mozart, just after he had received the appointment of Maitre-de-Chapelle of the church of St. Peter, and when he was only thirty-five years of age, paid the last tribute, and left the world at once to admire the brilliancy, and lament the shortness of his earthly sojournment.

“Indefatigable, even to his death, he produced, during the last few months of his life, his three great master-pieces, La Flute Enchantée, La Clemence de Titus, and a Requiem, his[Pg 51] last production. La Flutte Enchantée was composed for one of the theatres at Vienna; and no dramatic olio could ever boast of a greater success. Every air struck the audience with a new and sweet surprise; and the tout-ensemble was calculated to afford the deepest and most varied impressions. This piece had, in fact, so great a number of successive representations, that, for a long time, it was unnecessary to consult the opera bill, which only announced a permanent novelty. And the airs selected from it, and repeated throughout the empire, as well in the cottage as in the palace, and which the echoes have resounded in the most distant provinces, favoured the idea, that Mozart had actually the design to enchant all Germany with his Flutte Enchantée.

[Pg 52]

La Clemence de Titus was requested by the states of Bohemia, for the coronation of Leopold. The composer began it in his carriage, during his route to Prague, and finished it in eighteen days.

“Some circumstances attending his last composition, the Requiem, the last effort of his genius, are too interesting to be omitted. A short time before his death, a stranger came to him, with the request, that he would compose, as speedily as possible, a Requiem for a Catholic prince, who, perceiving himself on the verge of the grave, wished, by the execution of such a piece, to sooth his mind, and familiarize it to the idea of his approaching dissolution. Mozart undertook the work; and the stranger deposited with him, as a secu[Pg 53]rity, four hundred ducats, though the sum demanded was only two hundred. The composer immediately began the work, and during its progress, felt his mind unusually raised and agitated. He became, at length, so infatuated with his Requiem, that he employed, not only the day, but some hours of the night, in its composition. One day, while he was conversing with Madame Mozart on the subject, he declared to her, that he could not but be persuaded that it was for himself he was writing this piece. His wife, distressed at her inability to dissipate so melancholy an impression, prevailed on him to give her the score. He afterwards appearing somewhat tranquillized, and more master of himself, she returned the score to him, and he soon relapsed into[Pg 54] his former despondency. On the day of his death, he asked her for the Requiem, which was accordingly brought to his bed. “Was I not right,” said he, “when I declared, that it was for myself I was composing this funeral piece?” And the tears trickled from his eyes. This production, of a man impressed, during its composition, with a presentiment of his approaching death, is unique in its kind, and contains passages which have frequently drawn tears from the performers.

“Only one complaint escaped him during his malady. ‘I must quit life,’ said he, ‘precisely at the moment when I could enjoy it, free from care and inquietude, at the very time, when independent of sordid speculations, and at liberty to follow my own inclina[Pg 55]tions, I should have to write from the impulses of my own heart; and I am torn from my family, just when in a situation to serve it.’ Mozart, at the time of his death, was considerably involved in debt; but Vienna and Prague disputed the honour of providing for his widow and children.”

Encyclopædia Britannica.


Handel’s government of the fingers was somewhat despotic; for, upon Cuzzoni’s (a famous singer of his time) insolently refusing to sing his admirable air, Falsa Imagine, in Otho, he told her, that he always knew she was a very de[Pg 56]vil; but that he should now let her know, in his turn, that he was Belzebub, the prince of the devils; and then, taking her up by the waist, swore, if she did not immediately obey his orders, he would throw her out of the window.


Tartini was a celebrated musician, born at Pirano, in Istria, and being much inclined to the study of music in his early youth, dreamed one night, that he made a compact with the Devil, who promised to be at his service on all occasions: and during this vision, every thing succeeded according to his mind: his wishes were prevented, and his desires always surpassed, by the as[Pg 57]sistance of this new servant. At last, he imagined that he presented the Devil with his violin, in order to discover what kind of a musician he was; when, to his great astonishment, he heard him play a solo, so singularly beautiful, and which he executed with such superior taste and precision, that it surpassed all the music which he had ever heard or conceived in his life. So great was his surprise, and so exquisite was his delight upon this occasion, that it deprived him of the power of breathing. He awoke with the violence of his sensations, and instantly seized his fiddle, in hopes of expressing what he had just heard, but in vain: he, however, then composed a piece of music, which is, perhaps, the best of all his works, and called it, the Devil’s Sonata; but it[Pg 58] was so far inferior to what he had produced in his sleep, that he declared he would have broken his instrument, and abandoned music for ever, if he could have found any other means of subsistence.


When Handel went through Chester, in his way to Ireland, in 1741, he applied to Mr. Baker, the organist, to know whether there were any choirmen in the cathedral who could sing at sight, as he wished to prove some books that had been hastily transcribed, by trying the chorusses, which he intended to perform in Ireland. Mr.[Pg 59] Baker mentioned some of the most likely singers then in Chester; and, among the rest, a printer, of the name of Janson, who had a good bass voice, and was one of the best musicians in the choir. A time was fixed, for the private rehearsal, at the Golden Falcon, where Handel was quartered: but, alas! on trial of the chorusses in the Messiah, “And with his stripes are we healed,” poor Janson, after repeated attempts, failed so egregiously, that Handel let loose his great bear upon him; and, after swearing, in four or five different languages, cried out, in broken English, “You schauntrel! did not you tell me dat you could sing at soite?” ‘Yes, Sir,’ says the printer, ‘and so I can, but not at first sight.’

[Pg 60]


“The following story,” says Dr. Burney, “was frequently told, and believed at Madrid, during the first years of Farinelli’s residence in Spain. This singer, having ordered a superb suit of clothes for a gala at court, when the taylor brought it home, he asked him for his bill. “I have made no bill, Sir,” says the taylor, “nor ever shall make one. Instead of money,” continues he, “I have a favour to beg. I know that what I want is inestimable, and only fit for monarchs; but, since I have had the honour to work for a person, of whom every one speaks with rapture, all the payment I shall ever require, will be a song.” Farinelli[Pg 61] tried in vain, to prevail on the taylor to take his money. At length, after a long debate, giving way to the humble entreaties of the trembling tradesman, and flattered, perhaps, more by the singularity of the adventure, than by all the applause he had hitherto received, he took him into his music room, and sung to him some of his most brilliant airs, taking pleasure in the astonishment of his ravished hearer; and, the more he seemed surprised and affected, the more Farinelli exerted himself, in every species of excellence. When he had done, the taylor, overcome with ecstacy, thanked him in the most rapturous and grateful manner, and prepared to retire. “No,” says Farinelli, “I am a little proud; and, it is, perhaps, from that circumstance,[Pg 62] that I have acquired some small degree of superiority over other singers; I have given way to your weakness, it is but fair, that, in your turn, you should indulge me in mine;” and, taking out his purse, he insisted on his receiving a sum, amounting to nearly double the worth of the suit of clothes.”


Mr. John Abell was one of the Chapel Royal, in the reign of King Charles II. He was celebrated for a fine counter-tenor voice, and for his skill in playing on the lute. The king admired his singing, and was desirous of sending him, with the subdean of[Pg 63] his chapel, Mr. Gostling, to the Carnival of Venice, to show the Italians what good voices were produced in England: but the latter expressing an unwillingness to go, the king desisted from his purpose. Mr. Abell continued in the chapel till the time of the Revolution, when he was discharged in consequence of being a Roman Catholic. He then went abroad, travelled through Holland, and acquired considerable sums of money, by singing in public, at Hamburgh and other places. During this period, he lived in great profusion, and affected the expense of a man of quality, frequently travelling in his own equipage, though, at times, he was so reduced, as to walk through whole provinces with his lute slung at his back. Rambling through Poland, he[Pg 64] arrived at Warsaw; of which the king having notice, sent for him to court. This honour Abell at first declined, on some frivolous excuse; but, dreading the royal displeasure, he made an apology, and attended the king on the following day. Upon his arrival, he was seated in a chair in the middle of a great hall, and immediately drawn up to a considerable height; soon after, the king appeared in an opposite gallery, when a number of wild bears were turned in, and poor Abell was left to his choice, either to sing, or be let down among them. Of these alternatives, it may seem unnecessary to say, that Abell preferred the former; and he afterwards constantly declared that he never sung so well in all his life.

About the latter end of Queen[Pg 65] Anne’s reign, Abell was at Cambridge, with his lute, where he met with but little encouragement. It is uncertain how long he lived after this period, but he appears to have required assistance from his friends for support, though he preserved the tone of his voice to an extreme old age.

Harrison’s Musical Magazine.


George Frederick Handel, unquestionably the greatest master of music the world has ever known, was born at Halle, in Upper Saxony, on the 24th of February, 1684. Scarcely could he speak, before he articulated musical sounds; and his father, a phy[Pg 66]sician, then upwards of sixty, having destined him for the law, grieved at the child’s propensity to music, banished from his house all musical instruments. But the immortal spark of genius, which Heaven had kindled in the infant’s bosom, was not to be extinguished by the caprice of a mistaken parent. The child contrived to get a little clavichord into a garret; where, applying himself after the family retired to rest, he soon found means to produce both melody and harmony.

Before he was seven, the Duke of Weisenfels accidentally discovering his genius, prevailed on the father to cherish his inclination. He was accordingly placed with Zackan, organist of Halle Cathedral; and, for three years, from the age of nine, composed a new church-service every week.

[Pg 67]

In 1698, he went to Berlin; but, losing his father, he thought he could best support his aged mother, by repairing to Hamburgh, where he soon attracted general notice. Yet this wonderful musician was a stripling of fourteen! At this premature age, he composed Almeria, his first opera.

Having quitted Hamburgh, he travelled six years in Italy, where he gave a new display of his wonderful ability, and was pensioned by the Elector of Hanover, afterwards George I.

In 1710, he came to London, where his opera of Rinaldo was admired, like his preceding miracles, and the necessity of his departure became the subject of general regret.

In 1712, he again visited England: but, seduced by the favour and fortune[Pg 68] that overwhelmed him, he forgot to return; and when, on the death of Queen Anne, the Elector was called to the throne, he was afraid to appear at court, till an ingenious stratagem restored him to favour.

Queen Anne’s pension of £200, was now doubted by George I., and the nobility having formed an Academy of Music, under his direction, it flourished ten years, when a quarrel between him and Senesino dissolved the institution, and brought on a contest which ruined his fortune and his health. Restored by the baths of Aix la Chapelle, he determined to chuse sacred subjects for the future exercise of his genius. This resolution produced those noble compositions, his truly divine Oratorios; which were performed at[Pg 69] Covent Garden till his death, in 1759. He was buried in Westminster Abbey with suitable pomp; where his genius has been since commemorated with little less than divine honours.


The father of this celebrated composer, and the still more celebrated Mrs. Cibber, was an upholder and undertaker in King Street, Covent Garden, with whom the doctor, when a young man, resided.

At this time, there was a gentleman, of much celebrity in the musical world, employed at Drury Lane Theatre.—Many may still remember Mr. John[Pg 70] Hebden, who, for almost half a century, stood in a corner of the orchestra, and performed on the bassoon and the bass viol, on which two instruments he was unrivalled. He was also of the band of his late, and a few years of his present, Majesty.

One Sunday morning he called upon Tom Arne, to whom he occasionally gave lessons. He found him in the undertaker’s shop, practising upon the violin, his music desk and book placed upon a coffin.

Hebden, shocked at this want of sensibility in his pupil, observed, that it was impossible for him to practise in such a situation, as, from the solemn thoughts which the coffin naturally excited, he should be impressed with the idea that it contained a corpse.

“So it does!” cried Arne: and sho[Pg 71]ving back the lid, discovered that this was a fact.

Hebden, disgusted at the sight of a dead body so improperly introduced, and, perhaps, equally shocked at the insensibility of his pupil, left the shop with great precipitation, and never could be prevailed on to renew his visits to him, while he remained in that situation.


Jeremiah Clarke was originally bred to music, and had his education in the Chapel Royal, under the celebrated Dr. Blow, who seems to have had a paternal affection for him. Early in life, Clarke was so unfortunate as to[Pg 72] conceive a violent and hopeless passion for a very beautiful and accomplished lady, of a rank far superior to his own; and his sufferings, on this account, became so intolerable to him, that he resolved to put an end to his existence. He was at the house of a friend, in the country, where he took up this fatal resolution, and suddenly set off for London. His friend, observing his dejection, without knowing the cause, furnished him with a horse, and a servant to attend him.

In his way to town, a fit of despair suddenly seized him, he alighted, and, giving his horse to the servant, went into an adjoining field, in the corner of which was a pond, surrounded with trees, which pointed out to his choice two ways of getting rid of life. Hesi[Pg 73]tating for some time, which to take, he at last determined to leave it to chance, and taking a piece of money out of his pocket, tossed it up in the air to decide it. The money, however, falling on its edge in the clay, seemed to forbid both ways of destruction; and it had such an effect upon him, that he declined it for that time, and, regaining his horse, rode to town.

His mind, however, was too much disordered to receive comfort, or take any advantage from the above omen: and, after a few months, worn out in the utmost dejection of spirits, he shot himself, in his own house, in St. Paul’s Church-yard.

The late Mr. John Reading, organist of St. Dunstan’s Church, a scholar of Dr. Blow, and master to the late[Pg 74] Mr. Stanley, the well-known blind organist, who was intimately acquainted with Clarke, happened to be passing by the door as the pistol went off; and, upon entering the house, found his friend and fellow-student in the agonies of death.

This unfortunate man was the original composer of that beautiful air,

“’Tis woman that seduces all mankind.”

and many other, then, popular pieces; among them was Dryden’s celebrated Ode on St. Cecilia’s Day, which was afterwards recomposed by Handel, in 1736.

[Pg 75]


One night, while Handel was in Dublin, Dubourg, having a solo part in a song, and a close to make at his pleasure, he wandered about in different keys a great while, and seemed a little bewildered, and uncertain of his original key; but, at length, coming to the shake which was to terminate this long close, Handel, to the great delight of the audience and augmentation of applause, cried out, loud enough to be heard in the most remote part of the theatre, “You are welcome home, Mr. Dubourg!”

In 1749, Theodora was so very unfortunately abandoned, that he was glad if any professors, who did not[Pg 76] perform, would accept of tickets or orders for admission. Two gentlemen of that description, now living, having applied to Handel, after the disgrace of Theodora, for an order to hear the Messiah, he cried out, “Oh, your sarvant! you are tamnaple tainty! you would not co to Theodora—there was room enough to tance dere when dat was perform.”

Sometimes, however, I have heard him as pleasantly, as philosophically, console his friends, when, previous to the curtain being drawn up, they have lamented that the house was so empty, by saying, “Nevre moind, de moosic vil sound de petter.”

[Pg 77]


The late Mr. Brown, leader of his Majesty’s band, used to tell several stories of Handel’s love of good cheer, liquid and solid, as well as of his impatience: of the former he gave an instance, which was accidentally discovered, at his own house, in Brook Street, where Brown, in the Oratorio Season, among other principal performers, was at dinner. During the repast, Handel often cried out——“O, I have de taught, (thought),” when the company, unwilling that, out of civility to them, the public should be robbed of any thing so valuable as his musical ideas, begged he would retire and write them down; with which request, however,[Pg 78] he so frequently complied, that, at last, one of the most suspicious had the ill-bred curiosity to peep through the key-hole, into the adjoining room, where he perceived that dese taughts were only bestowed on a fresh hamper of Burgundy, which, as was afterwards discovered, he had received in a present from his friend, the late Earl of Radnor, while his company was regaled with more generous and spirited port.

Burney’s Life of Handel.


This fortunate musician, the son of a peasant in the neighbourhood of Florence, was born in 1633. He had[Pg 79] a few instructions in music from a cordelier. His first instrument was the guitar, to which he was always fond of singing. The Chevalier de Guise brought him into France, in 1646, as a present to his sister, Mademoiselle de Guise, who placed him among the assistants of her kitchen, where he was assigned the honourable office of sous marmiton[1].

[1] Under scullion.

In his leisure hours, being naturally fond of music, he used to be scraping on a miserable violin, to the great annoyance of his fellow-servants. However, his disposition for music being discovered, his patroness had him taught the violin by a regular master, under whom he made so rapid a progress,[Pg 80] that he was admitted among the violins of the king’s band; where he distinguished himself so much, that he was employed to compose the music for the court ballads, in which Louis XIV., at this time very young, used to dance. But though Lulli approached the royal presence, early in life, it was by slow degrees, that he arrived at solid preferment. In 1652 he was appointed superintendent or master of the king’s new band of violins, which, if we may judge by the business assigned them afterwards, by Lulli in his operas, was composed of musicians not likely, by their abilities, to continue the miraculous powers ascribed to Orpheus and Amphion.

Lulli married the daughter of Lambert, the celebrated musician and sing[Pg 81]ing master of his time, who lived till the year 1720. Having composed a Te Deum for the king’s recovery, after a dangerous illness, in 1687, during the performance, at the Church of the Feuillans, in the animation of beating time, and difficulty in keeping the band together, by striking his foot, instead of the floor, with his cane, he occasioned a contusion, that, from a bad habit of body, brought on a mortification, which was soon pronounced to be incurable. Every expedient that was tried, in order to stop the progress of the malady, being ineffectual, he was informed of his situation. His confessor refusing to give him absolution, unless he would burn the opera of Achilles and Polixene, which he was composing for the stage; he consented; and this new music was[Pg 82] committed to the flames. A few days after, being a little better, one of the young princes of Vendome went to see him. “Why, Baptiste,” says he, “have you been such a fool as to burn your new opera, to humour a gloomy priest?” ‘Hush, hush!’ says Lulli, ‘I have another copy of it.’ However, a few days after, he was not only obliged to submit to the will of his confessor, but of Death himself, who terminated his existence, March the 22d, 1687, at fifty-four years of age.


This celebrated lady seems to have been the most extraordinary personage[Pg 83] of all the siren troup, instructed by Lulli. She was equally fond of both sexes, fought and loved like a man, and resisted and fell like a woman. Her adventures are of a very romantic kind. Married to a young husband, who was soon obliged to absent himself from her, to enter on an office he had obtained in Provence, she ran away with a fencing-master, of whom she learned the small sword, and became an excellent fencer, which was afterwards a useful qualification to her, on several occasions. The lovers first retreated, from persecution, to Marseilles; but necessity soon obliged them to solicit employment there, at the Opera; and as both had, by nature, good voices, they were received without difficulty. But soon after this, she was[Pg 84] seized with a passion for a young person of her own sex, whom she seduced, but the object of her whimsical affection, being pursued by her friends and taken, was thrown into a convent at Avignon, where Maupin soon followed her; and having presented herself as a novice, obtained admission. Some time after, she set fire to the convent, and, availing herself of the confusion she had occasioned, carried off her favourite. But, being pursued and taken, she was condemned to the flames for contumacy: a sentence, however, which was not executed, as the young Marseillaise was found, and restored to her friends. She then went to Paris, and made her first appearance on the Opera stage in 1695, when she performed the part of Pallas, in Cadmus, with the[Pg 85] greatest success. The applause was so violent, that she was obliged, in her car, to take off her casque to salute and thank the public, which redoubled their marks of approbation. From that time, her success was uninterrupted. Dumeni, the singer, having affronted her, she put on men’s clothes, watched for him in the Place des Victoires, and insisted on his drawing his sword, and fighting her, which he refusing, she caned him, and took from him his watch and snuff-box. Next day, Dumeni having boasted at the Opera-house, that he had defended himself against three men, who attempted to rob him, she related the whole story, and produced his watch and snuff-box, in proof of her having caned him for his cowardice. Thevenard was nearly treated in the[Pg 86] same manner, and had no other way of escaping her chastisement, than by publicly asking her pardon, after hiding himself at the Palais Royal, during three weeks. At a ball, given by Monsieur, the brother of Louis XIV. she again put on man’s clothes, and having behaved impertinently to a lady, three of her friends, supposing her to be a man, called her out. She might easily have avoided the combat, by discovering her sex, but she instantly drew, and killed them all three. Afterwards, returning very coolly to the ball, she told the story to Monsieur, who obtained her pardon. After other adventures, she went to Brussels, and there became the mistress of the Elector of Bavaria. This prince, quitting her for the Countess of Arcos, sent her by the count,[Pg 87] the husband of that lady, a purse of 40,000 livres, with an order to quit Brussels. This extraordinary heroine threw the purse at the count’s head, telling him it was a recompense worthy of such a scoundrel and—— as himself. After this, she returned to the Opera stage, which she quitted in 1705. Being at length seized with a fit of devotion, she recalled her husband, who had remained in Provence, and passed with him the last years of her life, in a very pious manner, dying in 1707, at the age of thirty-four.


That this celebrated composer was a man of humour and pleasantry may be[Pg 88] inferred from the following story, related by Walther, in his account of Nicholas Adam Strunck, violinist to Ernestus Augustus, Elector of Hanover. This person being at Rome, upon his arrival, made it his business to see Corelli: upon their first interview, Strunck gave him to understand that he was a musician. “What is your instrument?” asked Corelli. “I can play,” answered Strunck, “upon the harpsichord, and a little on the violin; and should esteem myself extremely happy, might I hear your performance on this latter instrument, on which, I am informed, you excel,” Corelli very politely condescended to this request of a stranger. He played a solo, Strunck accompanied him on the harpsichord, and afterwards played a foccata, with which[Pg 89] Corelli was so much taken, that he laid down his instrument to admire him. When Strunck had done at the harpsichord, he took up the violin, and began to touch it in a very careless manner; upon which Corelli remarked, that he had a good bow-hand, and wanted nothing but practice to become a master of the instrument. At this instant, Strunck put the violin out of tune; and, applying it to its place, played on it with such dexterity, attempering the dissonances occasioned by the mistuning of the instrument with such amazing skill and dexterity, that Corelli cried out, in broken German, “I am called Arcangelo, a name that, in the language of my country, signifies an Archangel; but let me tell you, that you, Sir, are an arch-devil.”

Sir John Hawkins’s History of Music.

[Pg 90]


Mr. Purcell received his professional education in the school of a choir; it is therefore not very surprising, that the bent of his studies was towards church music. Services he seemed to neglect, and to addict himself to the composition of anthems, a kind of music which, in his time, the church stood greatly in need of.

The anthem, “They that go down to the sea in ships,” was composed by him, on the following extraordinary occasion.

“King Charles II. had given orders for building a yatch, which, as soon as it was finished, he named the Fubbs, in honour of the Duchess of Ports[Pg 91]mouth; who, we may suppose, was, in her person, rather full and plump. Soon after the vessel was launched, the king made a party, to sail in his yatch down the river, and round the Kentish coast: and, to keep up the mirth and good humour of the company, Mr. Gostling, was requested to be of the number. They had got as far as the North Foreland, when a violent storm arose, in which the King and the Duke of York were necessitated, in order to preserve the vessel, to hand the sails, and work like common seamen; by good providence, however, they escaped to land: but the distress they had been in, made such an impression on the mind of Mr. Gostling as could never be effaced. Struck with a just sense of the deliverance, and the horror of[Pg 92] the scene which he had lately viewed, upon his return to London, he selected from the Psalms those passages which declare the wonders and terrors of the deep, and gave them to Mr. Purcell, to compose as an anthem, which he did; adapting it so peculiarly to the compass of Mr. Gostling’s voice, which was a deep bass, that hardly any person but himself was then, or has since, been able to sing it: but the king did not live to hear it performed. This Anthem is taken from the 107th Psalm, the first two verses of the Anthem are the 23d and 24th of the Psalm. “They that go down to the sea in ships, and occupy business in great waters. These men see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep.”

Among the Letters of Tom Brown,[Pg 93] from the Dead to the Living, is one from Dr. Blow, to Mr. Purcell, in which it is humourously observed, that persons of their profession are subject to an equal attraction of the church and the play-house; and are, therefore, in a situation resembling that of Mahomet, which is said to be suspended between heaven and earth. This remark of Brown was truly applicable to Purcell; and it is more than probable, his particular situation gave occasion to it, for he was scarcely known to the world, before he became, in the exercise of his profession, so equally divided between both, the church and the theatre, that neither the church, the tragic, nor the comic Muse, could call him her own.

[Pg 94]


In the extracts from the Duchess of Orlean’s Letters, we find, that Queen Christina, of Sweden, (who was as peculiar in her night dress, as in almost every thing else, and who, instead of a night-cap, made use of an uncouth linen wrapper,) having spent a restless day in bed, ordered a band of Italian musicians, from the opera, to approach near to her curtains, which were close drawn, and strive to amuse her. After some time, the voice of one of the performers striking her with singular pleasure, she suddenly thrust her homely, stern, ill-dressed head from behind the curtains, exclaiming loudly, “Mort Diable! comme il chante bien!” (Death[Pg 95] and the Devil! how well he sings!) The poor Italians, not used to such rough applause, from a figure so hideous, were unable to proceed, from the terror which they felt, and the whole concert was at a stand for several minutes.


St. Austin, who was originally a monk at Rome, and was sent about the year 596, by Gregory I. at the head of forty other monks, to convert the English to Christianity, was the first who introduced chanting in the Divine Service, which is still continued in our[Pg 96] cathedrals. His desire was to induce converts; and he strove, not only by argument, to effect his object, but by every other laudable means he could devise; hence he endeavoured, as much as possible, to render the Divine Service interesting, as well as instructive. This practice of chanting, or singing, made rapid increases. Our Saxon forefathers were so enthusiastically fond of it, that one continued strain was kept up night and day, by a succession of priests; even their penances could be redeemed by the singing of a certain number of Psalms, or by a frequent repetition of the Lord’s Prayer. He was very successful in his endeavours, and, among others, King Ethelbert himself became a convert. St. Austin resided principally at Durovernum, (Canterbury,) and died May 26, 607.

[Pg 97]


Haydn saw with surprise a butcher call upon him one day, who being as sensible to the charms of his works as any other person, said freely to him, “Sir, I know you are both good and obliging, therefore I address myself to you with full confidence;—you excel in all kinds of composition; you are the first of composers: but I am particularly fond of your minuets. I stand in need of one, that is pretty, and quite new, for my daughter’s wedding, which is to take place in a few days, and I cannot address myself better than to the famous Haydn.”—Haydn, always full of kindness, smiled at this new ho[Pg 98]mage, and promised it to him on the following day. The amateur returned at the appointed time, and received with joyful gratitude the precious gift. Shortly after, the sound of instruments struck Haydn’s ear.—He listened, and thought he recollected his new minuet. He went to his window, from whence he saw a superb Ox, with gilded horns, adorned with festoons and garlands, and surrounded by an ambulating orchestra, stopping under his balcony. Haydn was roused from his reverie by the butcher, who made his appearance in his apartment, and again expressed his sentiments of admiration, and concluded his speech, by saying, “Dear Sir, I thought that a butcher could not express his gratitude for so beautiful a minuet better than by offering you the[Pg 99] finest Ox in his possession.”—Haydn refused—the butcher entreated, till at length Haydn, affected at the butcher’s frank generosity, accepted the present, and from that moment the minuet was known throughout Vienna by the name of the Ox Minuet, and has lately been introduced as a musical curiosity in England.


On Monday evening, June 2, 1783, one of the most extraordinary attempts to prove the power of music, that ever yet has been made in this kingdom, was exhibited, in the style, and under the title of a concert, at the Assembly[Pg 100] room, King Street, St. James’s, Westminster.

The idea was that of representing the martial music, din, and horrors of an embattled army, so that the tones of the different instruments should cause the ear to believe a reality of the action, whilst the eye was convinced of the inimitable deception.

The entertainment commenced with a grand overture, composed for two orchestras, and divided into allegro, andante, and presto parts, as a prologue to the battle.

The call to arms followed; and several random cannon and musket shots, interchanged between the two orchestras, were so distinctly imitated in music, that we were led to imagine the actual presence of the bursting pow[Pg 101]der, and the real noise of the whistling ball. These gradually increased, as the armies were supposed to near their distance, until an allegro moderato gave the thunder of the artillery, the regular fire of the platoons, the press from one army on the redoubt of the other, the final attack upon the first line with musketry, and then carrying the redoubt by storm. Here followed a representation of a tempest, attended with thunder and lightning, which afforded a temporary rest to the two orchestran armies.

A recitative, with accompaniments, expressed a council of war, after which the signal was given for the cavalry of the conquering army to attack; then, a most perfect and harmonious imitation of the galloping and trotting of[Pg 102] the horses, the discharge of the carbines and pistols, and the clashing of swords, followed.

Here the supposition of a defeat gave further scope to the inventive faculties of the designer, and proved the executive powers of the band to imitate the total rout of the conquered army, the sound of the retreat, the signal to pursue, with the bustle, noise, and clamour, naturally attending, until the victorious troops beat a halt, in consequence of the brave resistance of that division, which covered the retreat of the vanquished army.

The straggling shots in the pursuit conveyed a most beautiful harmony in the corresponding music from one orchestra to the other; which, with the plaintive tones of the wounded, and[Pg 103] the lamentations of the expiring soldier, so naturally expressed, had a most powerful effect on the auditors.

The whole concluded with a lively and spirited allegory, three times repeated by the victors, in which was introduced a feu de joye, imitating artillery and musketry.

The invention, we understand, is due to Mr. Kloeffler, a professor of music, and musical director to the reigning Prince Bentheim, Steinfurth, &c., and the bands were under the direction of Messrs. Cramer and Solomon.

There were upwards of three hundred persons present, mostly of the first rank, among whom were the foreign ambassadors. The company expressed the highest satisfaction, and retired perfectly delighted with their evening’s entertainment.

[Pg 104]


The medicinal effects attributed to music are so numerous, and some of them so well authenticated, that to reject them totally would be to deny credibility to many respectable historians, philosophers, and physicians. Martinus Capella assures us, that fevers were removed by song, and that Asclepiades cured deafness by the sound of the trumpet. Plutarch says, that Thetales, the Cretan, delivered the Lacedemonians from the pestilence, by the sweetness of his lyre. Many of the Ancients speak of music as a receipt for every kind of malady. M. Buretti, an eminent physician, who made the music of the ancients his particular study,[Pg 105] thinks it not only possible, but even probable, that music, by repeated strokes and vibrations given to the nerves, fibres, and animal spirits, may sometimes alleviate the sufferings of epileptics and lunatics, and even overcome the most violent paroxysms of those disorders.—Buretti is by no means singular in his opinion, for many modern philosophers and physicians, as well as ancient poets and historians, have declared that they had no doubt, but that music has the power, not only of influencing the mind, but of affecting the nervous system, in such a manner, as will, in certain diseases, proceed by slow degrees, from giving temporary relief, to effecting a perfect cure. In the Memoirs of the Academy of Sciences, for 1707, and the following year, are recorded[Pg 106] many accounts of diseases, which, having obstinately resisted all the remedies prescribed by the most able of the faculty, at last submitted to the powerful impression of harmony. M. de Marian, in the Memoirs of the same academy, speaking of the medicinal powers of music, says, that it is from the mechanical involuntary connection between the organs of hearing and the consonances excited in the outward air, joined to the rapid communication of the vibrations of these organs, to the whole nervous system, that we owe the cure of spasmodic disorders, and of fevers, attended with a delirium and convulsions, of which the Memoirs give many examples. Dr. Bianchina, professor of physic at Udina, who has searched numerous ancient authors,[Pg 107] and collected all the passages relative to the medicinal application of music by Asclepiades, says, that it was considered by the Egyptians, Grecians, and Romans, as a remedy both in acute and chronical disorders; and he adds, that he himself had seen it applied, in several cases, with great effect.


Queen of ev’ry moving measure,
Sweetest source of purest pleasure,
Music; why thy pow’rs employ,
Only for the sons of joy?
Only for the smiling guests,
At natal or at nuptial feasts;
[Pg 108]
Rather thy lenient numbers pour
On those whom secret griefs devour;
Bid be still the throbbing hearts
Of those, whom death or absence parts;
And, with some softly whisper’d air,
Oh! smooth the brow of dumb despair.


In the public prints for February, 1807, appeared the following account of an infant musician.

“Miss Randles, who astonishes the world with her wonderful performance on the piano-forte, was born at Wrexham, in Denbeighshire, North Wales, in August, 1799. Her father (an organist, and the celebrated lyrist, mentioned by Miss Seward, in her beauti[Pg 109]ful poem, called Llangollen Vale,) was deprived of his sight by the smallpox, at the age of three years. When Miss Randles was but sixteen months old, she discovered her wonderful talents, by going to the piano-forte, and instinctively playing, “God save the King” and the “Blue Bells of Scotland;” her father was astonished, and endeavoured, by signs, (for she could not yet speak,) to make her repeat the tunes, which she did. He then sung another simple air, “Charley o’er the water,” which her ear caught, and she played it instantly. Mr. Randles then put her left hand upon the corresponding bass note, and, as well as he could make her understand, told her that she should strike that note, while she played the melody with her right hand;[Pg 110] she found this grateful to her ear, and, in a short time, played a great many little tunes; and, at the age of two years, could tell the name of any note on the instrument, when it was struck, though she was in another room. Her father, of course, was very proud of his little Cecilian, and composed several variations to favourite airs, which she no sooner heard than played, with both hands, correctly. She continued to improve daily; and, in June, 1803, had the honour of performing under the patronage of his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, before their Majesties, and all the royal family. His Majesty made her a present of a hundred guineas. She performed at Cumberland Gardens, and there were about five hundred of the first people of rank[Pg 111] and distinction in the kingdom present, who were no less astonished than delighted, at her truly great execution and expression. In 1805, she was taught her notes, and, in a very short time, could play several of Pleyel’s, Desseck’s, and Clementi’s Sonatas in a surprising manner.

“Towards the latter end of 1805, she and her father took a tour through the north of England, and received the greatest encouragement and applause. Fearing that her health might suffer from too much fatigue, Mr. Randles returned home, and, in September last, set off towards Buxton, &c. Since that time, this fascinating infant has performed at most of the principal places in the kingdom; and has passed, with additional honour and fame, the[Pg 112] criticism of Bath, where she has been performing with universal applause, accompanied by her father on the harp, and her uncle, Mr. Parry, who plays duets and trios, on flageolets, which altogether form a truly novel and interesting little band. They are now on their way to the west of England, where they intend giving concerts.

Miss Randles now plays the most scientific compositions, at sight, and sings delightfully. The only motive her father has, in taking her about, is to procure the means to give her the best education. She is to appear once more in the metropolis under illustrious patronage. Her age is now seven years and six months.”

Taunton, February 9, 1807.

[Pg 113]


This very extraordinary child, who now (in June 1779,) daily attracts the notice and attention not only of persons of the first distinction, but of all lovers of natural genius, is the son of Michael and Isabella Crotch: he was born at Norwich, on the 5th of July 1775. His father being an ingenious carpenter, built an organ for his own amusement; and it was owing to this incidental circumstance that the musical talents of his little son William were discovered so early: they might have lain dormant for years, if Mrs. Lullman, who teaches music at Norwich with great reputation, and was intimately acquainted[Pg 114] with his parents, had not played upon this organ, and accompanied it with her voice before the child.

One evening in particular, about the beginning of August 1777, he sat in his mother’s lap while Mrs. Lullman played and sung a considerable time. After that lady was gone, the child cried, and was remarkably fractious: his mother attributed it to a pin, or some inward pain; she undressed him, and endeavoured to find out the cause, but in vain: however, as she was carrying him to bed, she passed near the organ, and he stretched out his little hands towards it: upon which Mrs. Crotch set him down to the keys, and he instantly struck them, seemingly in great ecstasy: he played a few minutes; but imagining it to be only the[Pg 115] humour of an infant, she paid no regard to his manner of touching the instrument, and he was soon put to bed, to all appearance perfectly satisfied.

The next morning, after breakfast, while Mrs. Crotch was gone to market, his father, willing to indulge his own curiosity, put the child to the organ, and was astonished to hear him play great part of the tunes of God save the King, and Let Ambition fire thy Mind. The first Mr. Crotch had attempted several times in the child’s hearing, but was not perfect in it. The last, Mrs. Lullman had performed in his presence. Upon his mother’s return, this surprising event being related to her, she could hardly credit it: but Billy did not keep her long in suspence, and Mrs. Crotch communica[Pg 116]ting the intelligence to their friends, she was advised to let him play according to his own fancy, whenever he expressed a desire for it.

He was now two years and three weeks old, and, from this time, all persons who had any taste for music, and all the performers in Norwich, resorted to the house: he played almost every day, and acquired more tunes; and, in the midst of performing them, would strike out little airs of his own in harmony; for it is remarkable, that he never plays discord, neither will he bear it in others, without expressing disgust.

He performed before full assemblies at different places and at sundry times, at Norwich, till the beginning of November, when he was carried, by his mo[Pg 117]ther, to Cambridge, where he played on all the College and church organs, to the astonishment of the gentlemen of the University.

About the middle of December, he arrived in London, but no public exhibition was made of his performance, till they had been heard by their Majesties, to whom he and his mother were presented, by Lady Hertford, at the Queen’s Palace, on the 7th of February, when he played on the organ in the presence of their Majesties and the Royal Family, who were graciously pleased to express their approbation.

On the 13th of the same month they waited on their Royal Highnesses, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, and performed to their entire satisfaction.[Pg 118] On the 26th he played on the organ of the chapel royal of St. James’s, after morning service was over, their Majesties being present.

From this time he has continued playing every day, between the hours of one and three, in public, at Mrs. Hart’s, milliner, in Piccadilly, opposite Dover Street.

Master William Crotch is now three years and nine months old: is a lively, active child, has a pleasing countenance, rather handsome, having fine blue eyes and flaxen hair. A large organ is placed about the centre of the room, against the wainscot: it is raised upon a stage about two feet from the floor, and a semicircular iron rod is fixed so as to secure him in his seat, and separates him from the company. An[Pg 119] arm chair is placed upon this stage, and in it a common, very small matted chair, which his mother fastens behind with a handkerchief to the other, that he may not fall out, for he is wanton and full of tricks, in the short intervals from playing. A book is placed before him, as if it was a music book, and strangers in a distant part of the room may mistake it for such; but it is no more than a magazine, or some other pamphlet, with an engraved frontispiece: this, he looks at, and amuses himself with the figures in the plate, while he is playing any tune, or striking into his own harmony. In short he laughers, prattles, and looks about at the company, at the same time keeping his little hands employed on the keys, and playing with so much un[Pg 120]concern, that you would be tempted to think he did not know what he was doing.

He appears to be fondest of solemn tunes, and church music, particularly the 104th Psalm. As soon as he has finished a regular tune, or part of a tune, or played some little fancy notes of his own, he stops, and has the pranks of a wanton boy: some of the company then generally give him a cake, an apple, or an orange, to induce him to play again; but it is nine to one, if he plays the tune you desire, unless you touch the pride of his little heart, by telling him he has forget such a tune, or he cannot play it: this seldom fails of producing the effect, and he is sure to play it with additional spirit.

After playing more than an hour,[Pg 121] he desired to be taken down, and to have a piece of chalk. He then entertained himself, and the company, with drawing the outlines of a grotesque head on the floor: his mother said it resembled an old grenadier he had seen in the park that morning. He seems to have strong imitative powers; and, as every trivial incident of such a child ought to be noticed, the following instance of an apt idea, uncommon to his age, is mentioned, as it struck the writer.

A lady gave him a remarkable large orange: after looking at it a moment, with admiration, “Ah! (says he,) this is a double orange.” Some have reported that he is humoursome: it is true, he will not always continue playing on in a regular manner during the[Pg 122] time allotted for company to see him; nor can it be expected, he is not of an age to be reasoned with, and humanity forbids compulsion: it is, in fact, rather surprising that he can be brought to play everyday, without growing tired, and disappointing the company.

We forgot to observe, that if any person plays a tune he never heard, with the right hand on his organ, he will put a bass to it with his left hand. He will also name every note that is struck on an organ, or any other instrument, and always knows if any person plays out of tune.

Literary Miscellany, for June, 1779.


The following account of this wonder[Pg 123]ful woman appeared in one of the periodical papers for March, 1785.

“This young person, equally distinguished by her talents and misfortunes, is the daughter of M. Paradis, secretary to his Imperial Majesty, in the Bohemian department, and god-daughter to the Empress Queen.

“At the age of two years and eight months, she was suddenly deprived of sight, by a paralytic stroke, or palsy in the optic nerves.

“At seven years old, she began to listen with great attention to the music she had heard in the church, which suggested to her parents, the idea of having her taught to play on the piano-forte, and soon after to sing. In three or four years time, she was able to accompany herself on the organ, in the[Pg 124] Stabat Mater of Pergolesi, of which she sung the first soprano, or upper part, in the church of St. Augustin, at Vienna, in the presence of the Empress Queen; who was so touched with her performance and misfortune, that she settled a pension on her for life.

“After learning of several masters at Vienna, she pursued her musical studies under the care of Kozeluch, who has composed many admirable lessons and concertos, on purpose for her use, which she plays with the utmost neatness and expression.

“At the age of thirteen, she was placed under the care of the celebrated empyric, Dr. Mesmer, who undertook to cure every species of disease by Animal Magnetism. He called her disorder a perfect gutta serena, and pretended, af[Pg 125]ter she had been placed in his house, as a boarder, for several months, that she was perfectly cured; yet, refusing to let her parents take her away, or even visit her, after some time; till, by the advice of the Barons Stoerk and Wenzel, Dr. Ingenhous, Professor Barth, the celebrated anatomist, and by the express order of her late Imperial Majesty, she was taken out of his hands by force; when it was found, that she could see no more than when she was first admitted as Mesmer’s patient. However, he had the diabolical malignity to assert, that she could see very well, and only pretended blindness, to preserve the pension granted to her by the Empress Queen; and, since the decease of this princess, the pension of Madame Paradis has been withdrawn,[Pg 126] indiscriminately with all other pensions granted by her Imperial Majesty.

“Last year Madame Paradis quitted Vienna, in order to travel, accompanied by her mother, who treats her with extreme tenderness, and is a very amiable and interesting character. After visiting the principal courts and cities of Germany, where her talents and misfortunes procured her great attention and patronage, she arrived at Paris early last summer, and remained there five or six months; and likewise received every possible mark of approbation and regard in that capital, both for her musical abilities and innocent and engaging disposition.

“When she arrived in England, the beginning of this winter, she brought letters from persons of the first rank to[Pg 127] her Majesty, the Prince of Wales, the Imperial Minister, Count Kaganeck, Lord Stormont, and other powerful patrons, as well as to the principal musical professors in London. Messrs. Cramer, Abel, Solomon, and other eminent German musicians, have interested themselves very much in her welfare; not only as their country-woman bereaved of sight, but as an admirable performer.”

She has been at Windsor, to present her letters to the Queen, and has had the honour of playing there to their Majesties, who were extremely satisfied with her performance; and treated her with that condescension and kindness, which all those who are so happy as to be admitted into the presence of our gracious sovereigns, in moments of[Pg 128] domestic privacy experience, even when less entitled to it, by merit and misfortunes, than Madame Paradis. Her Majesty was not only graciously pleased to promise to patronize and hear her frequently again, in the course of the winter, but to afford her all the protection in her power: as did his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, to whom she has since performed, at a grand concert at Carlton-house, to the entire satisfaction and wonder of all who heard her.

Besides her musical talents, which are indisputable, for neatness, precision, and expression, particularly in the great variety of admirable pieces she executes of her master’s, Kozeluch, Mademoiselle Paradis has been extremely well educated, and is very ingenious[Pg 129] and accomplished: as she is able, almost as quick as if she could write, to express her thoughts on paper, with printing types. She understands geography by means of maps, prepared for her use, in which she can find and point out any province or remarkable city in the world; and is likewise able, by means of tables, formed in the manner of draught boards, to calculate with ease and rapidity any sums, or numbers, in the first five rules of arithmetic. She is likewise said to distinguish many colours and coins by the touch: plays at cards, when prepared for her, by private marks, unknown to the company; and, in her musical studies, her memory and quickness are wonderful; as she learns, in general, the most difficult pieces for keyed in[Pg 130]struments, however full and complicated the parts, by hearing them played only on a violin: and, since her arrival in this kingdom, she has been enabled, in this manner, to learn to perform some of Handel’s most elaborate and difficult organ fugues and movements, in his first book of lessons, as well as his Coronation Anthem, and more popular compositions.


As this celebrated patroness of music has given rise to some of the most beautiful poetic productions in our language, the Legend of the said lady, not being generally known, the following particulars of her life and martyrdom, it is presumed, will prove highly acceptable to our readers.

[Pg 131]

“St. Cecilia, among Christians, is esteemed the patroness of music: for the reasons whereof, we must refer to her history, as delivered by the notaries of the Roman church, and from them transcribed into the Golden Legend, and other books of the like kind. The story says, that she was a Roman lady, born of noble parents, about the year 225; that, notwithstanding she had been converted to Christianity, her parents married her to a young Roman nobleman, named Valerianus, a Pagan, who, going to bed to her on the wedding night, (as the custom is, says the book) was given to understand by his spouse, that she was nightly visited by an angel, and that he must forbear to approach her, otherwise the angel would destroy him. Valerianus, some[Pg 132]what troubled at these words, desired that he might see his rival, the angel; but his spouse told him that was impossible, unless he would be baptised, and become a Christian, which he consented to. After which, returning to his wife, he found her in her closet, at prayer; and by her side, in the shape of a beautiful young man, the angel clothed with brightness. After some conversation with the angel, Valerianus told him, that he had a brother, named Tiburtius, whom he greatly wished to see a partaker of the grace, which he himself had received: the angel told him, that his desire was granted, and that shortly they should be both crowned with martyrdom. Upon this the angel vanished, but soon after showed himself as good as his word. Tiburtius[Pg 133] was converted, and both he and his brother Valerianus were beheaded. Cecilia was offered her life, upon condition, that she would sacrifice to the deities of the Romans, but she refused; upon which, she was thrown into a cauldron of boiling water, and scalded to death: though others say, she was stifled in a dry bath, i. e. an inclosure from whence the air was excluded, having a slow fire underneath it; which kind of death was sometimes inflicted, among the Romans, upon women of quality who were criminals.

“Upon the spot where her house stood, is a church, said to have been built by Pope Urban I. who administered baptism to her husband and his brother; it is the church of St. Cecilia, in Trastevere. Within is a most cu[Pg 134]rious painting of the saint, as also a most stately monument, with a cumbent statue of her, with her face downwards.

“St. Cecilia is usually painted playing either on the organ, or on the harp, singing as Chaucer relates, thus,

“And whiles that the organs made melodie,
To God alone thus in her heart sung she,
O Lorde my soul, and eke my bodie gie
Unwemmed, lest I confounded be[2].”

[2] See the second Nonne’s Tale, in Chaucer; the Golden Legend, printed by Caxton; and the Lives of Saints, by Peter Ribadeneyra, a priest of the Society of Jesus, printed at St. Omers, in 1699.

“Besides this account, there is a tradition of St. Cecilia, that she excelled in music, and that the angel, who was thus enamoured of her, was drawn[Pg 135] down from the celestial mansions, by the charms of her melody: this has been deemed authority sufficient for making her the patroness of music and musicians.

“The lovers of music, residing in this metropolis, had a solemn annual meeting, at Stationers’ Hall, on the 22d day of November, being the anniversary of the martyrdom of St. Cecilia, from the rebuilding of that edifice after the fire of London. These performances, being intended to celebrate the memory of the tutelar saint and patroness of music, had every possible advantage that the times afforded, to recommend them. Not only the most eminent masters in the science contributed their performance, but the gentlemen of the King’s Chapel, and of the choirs of St. Paul’s[Pg 136] and Westminster, lent their assistance, and the festival was announced in the London Gazette.

“For the celebration of this solemnity, Purcell composed his Te Deum and Jubilate; and Dr. Blow also composed a musical entertainment for the same anniversary, the following year.

“The Legend of St. Cecilia has given frequent occasion to painters and sculptors to exercise their genius in representations of her playing on the organ, and sometimes on the harp. Raphael has painted her singing, with a regal in her hands; and Dominichino and Mignard singing and playing on the harp. And, in the vault under the choir of St. Paul’s Cathedral, against one of the middle columns, on the south side, is a fine white marble monument,[Pg 137] for Miss Wren, the daughter of Sir Christopher Wren, wherein the young lady is represented, on a bass relief, the work of Bird, in the character of St. Cecilia, playing on the organ, a boy angel sustaining her book, under which is the following inscription:

“Here lies the body of Mrs. Jane Wren, only daughter of Sir Christopher Wren, Knight, by Dame Jane, his wife, daughter of William Lord Fitz-William, Baron of Lifford, in the Kingdom of Ireland. Ob. 29th Dec. 1702, ætat. 26.”

From Sir John Hawkins.


“This philosopher was a person very different, both in his life and manners,[Pg 138] from other men. If it chanced at any time that he was inflamed with anger, he would take his harp, play upon, and sing to it; saying, as often as he was asked the cause of his so doing, ‘That by this means he found himself reduced to the temper of his former mildness.’”

Treasury of Ancient and Modern Times.


Tyrtœus, the Spartan poet, having first rehearsed his verses, and afterwards made them to be sung with flutes, well tuned together, he so stirred and inflamed the courage of the soldiers thereby, that, whereas, they had before been overcome in divers conflicts, being then transported with the fury of the Muses, they remained conquerors, and[Pg 139] cut in pieces the whole army of the Messinians.


At such time as the tyrant Eugenius raised that perilous war in the East, and that money grew short with the Emperor Theodosius, he determined to raise subsidies, and to gather, from all parts, more than before he had ever done: the citizens of Antioch bore this exaction with so ill a will, that, after they had uttered many outrageous words against the Emperor, they pulled down his statues, and those also of the Empress, his wife. A while after, when the heat of their fury was past, they began to repent themselves of[Pg 140] their folly, and considered into what danger they had cast themselves and their city. Then did they curse their rashness, confess their fault, implore the goodness of God, and that with tears, “That it would please him to calm the Emperor’s heart.” These supplications and prayers were solemnly sung with sorrowful tunes, and lamenting voices. Their bishop, Flavianus, employed himself valiantly, in this needful time, in behalf of the city, made a journey to Theodosius, and did his utmost to appease him: but finding himself rejected, and knowing that the Emperor was devising some grievous punishment; and, on the other side, not having the boldness to speak again, and yet much troubled in his thoughts because of his people, there[Pg 141] came this device into his head. At such time as the Emperor sat at meat, certain young boys were wont to sing musically unto him. Flavianus wrought so, that he obtained of those that had the charge of the boys, that they would suffer them to sing the supplications and prayers of the city of Antioch. Theodosius, listening to that grave music, was so moved with it, and so touched with compassion, that having the cup in his hand, he, with his warm tears, watered the wine that was in it, and forgetting all his conceived displeasure against the Antiochians, freely pardoned them and their city.


The sons of Ludovicus I. then Empe[Pg 142]ror, had conspired against him, and amongst divers of the bishops that were confederate with them, was Theodulphus, Bishop of Orleans, whom the Emperor clapped up in prison in Anjou. In this place, the Emperor kept his Easter, and was present at the procession on Palm Sunday, in imitation and honour of Christ’s entrance into Jerusalem. All the pomp was passing by the place where Theodolphus was under restraint; the Bishop, in sight of that solemnity, had prepared a most elegant hymn in honour of that procession; and, as the Emperor passed by, opening his casement, with a clear and musical voice he sung it, so as to be heard of the multitude that passed by: the Emperor enquired, “What voice that was, and who that sung?” It was[Pg 143] told him, “The captive Bishop of Orleans.” The Emperor diligently attending both the purport of the verses and the sweetness of the voice, was therewith so delighted, that he restored the prisoner forthwith to his liberty.


Among the many anecdotes related of persons whose lives have been preserved by music, is the following.

“A woman, being attacked for several months with the vapours, and confined to her apartment, had resolved to starve herself to death. She was, however, prevailed on, but not without difficulty, to see a representation of the Servo Padrona (a musical piece so call[Pg 144]ed.) At the conclusion of which she found herself almost cured; and, renouncing her melancholy resolution, was entirely restored to health by a few more representations of the same kind.”


There is a celebrated air in Switzerland, called, Rans des Vaches, which had such an extraordinary effect on the Swiss troops in the French service, that they always fell into a deep melancholy when they heard it. Louis XIV. therefore forbade it ever to be played in France, under the pain of a severe penalty.

We are told also of a Scotch air (Lochaber no more) which had a similar effect on the natives of Scotland.

[Pg 145]


There was a musician, formerly in Denmark, that so excelled in the art of music, that he used to boast, that he could, with his performance, set his hearers beside themselves, or make them merry, pensive, or furious, as he pleased. This he performed upon trial at the command of Ericus II. surnamed the Good, King of Denmark.


Madame de la March, a young lady of beauty and virtue, (near to Garet,) upon report of her husband’s inconstancy, fell into such a fury, that, on the sudden, she would throw herself into the fire, or out at the window, or[Pg 146] into a fish-pond, near her house, out of which she had been twice rescued: but was afterwards more diligently watched. The physicians attended her to no purpose, notwithstanding all their endeavours; but a Capuchin passing that way to crave alms, and hearing what had befallen her, advised that some skilful and experienced performer on the lute should be sent for, and continue to play by her, day and night, as occasion might require. This was accordingly done, and, in less than three months, the violent passion forsook her, and she remained, ever after, sound both in body and mind.


When Apollonius was inquisitive of[Pg 147] Canus, a Rhodian musician, “What he could do with his instrument?” He told him, ‘that he could make a melancholy man merry, and him that was merry, much merrier than he was before: a lover more enamoured, and a religious man more devout, and more attentive to the worship of the gods.


In the month of July, 1791, (says an eminent historian,) we were travelling in Upper Canada, with several families of savages, belonging to the nation of the Onontagues. One day, when we had halted in a spacious plain on the bank of the river Genesse, a rattlesnake entered our encampment.—[Pg 148] Among us was a Canadian who could play on the flute, and who, to divert us, advanced against the serpent with his new species of weapon. On the approach of his enemy, the haughty reptile curls himself into a spiral line, flattens his head, inflates his cheeks, contracts his lips, displays his envenomed fangs, and his bloody throat: his double tongue glows like two flames of fire; his eyes are burning coals: his body, swollen with rage, rises and falls like the bellows of a forge: his dilated skin assumes a dull and scaly appearance: and his tail, whence proceeds the death-denouncing sound, vibrates with such rapidity as to resemble a light vapour.

The Canadian now begins to play upon his flute; the serpent starts with[Pg 149] surprise, and draws back his head. In proportion as he is struck with the magic effect, his eyes lose their fierceness, the oscillations of his tail become slower, and the sound which it emits grows weaker, and gradually dies away. Less perpendicular upon their spiral line, the rings of the charmed serpent are, by degrees, expanded, and sink, one after another, upon the ground in concentric circles. The shades of azure, green, white, and gold, recover their brilliancy on his quivering skin; and slightly turning his head, he remains motionless, in the attitude of attention and pleasure.

At this moment, the Canadian advanced a few steps, producing, with his flute, sweet and simple notes. The reptile, inclining his variegated neck,[Pg 150] opens a passage with his head, through the high grass, and begins to creep after the musician; stopping when he stops, and beginning to follow him again as soon as he moves forward. In this manner he was led out of our camp, attended by a great number of spectators, both savages and Europeans, who could scarcely believe their eyes when they witnessed this wonderful effect of harmony. The assembly unanimously decreed, that the serpent which had so highly entertained them, should be permitted to escape.

M. de Chateaubriand.


The dancing snakes are carried in baskets throughout Indostan, and procure a maintenance for a set of people,[Pg 151] who play a few simple notes on the flute: with which these snakes seem much delighted, and keep time by a graceful motion of the head, erecting about half their length from the ground, and following the music with gentle curves, like the undulating lines of a swan’s neck. It is a well attested fact, that when a house is infested with these snakes, and some others of the coluber genus, which destroy poultry and small domestic animals, as also by the larger serpents of the boa tribe, the musicians are sent for; who, by playing on a flageolet, find out their hiding places, and charm them to destruction: for no sooner do the snakes hear the music, than they come softly from their retreat, and are easily taken. It is imagined, that these musical snakes[Pg 152] were known in Palestine, from the Psalmist comparing the “ungodly to the deaf adder, which stoppeth her ears, and refuseth to hear the voice of the charmer, charm he never so wisely.”

When the music ceases, the snakes appear motionless, but, if not immediately covered up in the basket, the spectators are liable to fatal accidents.

M. de Chateaubriand.


After the Restoration, the number of workmen in England being found too few to answer the demand for organs, it was thought expedient to make offers of encouragement for foreigners to come and settle here; these brought[Pg 153] over from Germany Mr. Bernard Schmidt and—— Harris; the former of these, for his excellence in his art, and the following particulars respecting him, deserves to live in the remembrance of all such as are friends to it.

Bernard Schmidt, or, as we pronounce the name, Smith, was a native of Germany, but of what city or province is not known. He brought with him two nephews, the one named Gerrard, the other Bernard; and to distinguish him from these, the elder had the appellation of Father Smith. Immediately upon their arrival, Smith was employed to build an organ for the Royal Chapel, at Whitehall; but, as it was built in great haste, it did not answer the expectations of those who[Pg 154] were judges of his abilities. He had been but a few months here, before Harris arrived from France, bringing with him a son, named Renatas, who had been brought up in the business of organ making under him; they met with but little encouragement, for Dallans and Smith had all the business of the kingdom: but upon the decease of Dallans, in 1672, a competition arose between these two foreigners, which was attended with some remarkable circumstances. The elder Harris was in no degree a match for Smith; but his son, Renatus, was a young man of ingenuity and spirit, and succeeded so well in his endeavours to rival Smith, that, at length, he got the better of him.

The contest between Smith and[Pg 155] the younger Harris was carried on with great spirit; each had his friends and supporters, and the point of preference between them was hardly determined by that exquisite piece of workmanship of Smith, the organ now standing in the Temple Church, of the building thereof, the following is the history, as related by a person who was living at the time, and intimately acquainted with both Smith and Harris.

Upon the decease of Mr. Dallans, and the elder Harris, Mr. Renatus Harris, and Father Smith, became great rivals in their employment, and several trials of skill were betwixt them on several occasions; but the famous contest between these two artists was at the Temple Church, where a new organ was going to be erected, towards[Pg 156] the latter end of King Charles II.’s time. Both made friends for that employment; but, as the Society could not agree about who should be the man, the Master of the Temple, and the Benchers, proposed they both should set up an organ on each side of the church; which, in about half a year, or three quarters of a year, was done accordingly. Dr. Blow and Mr. Purcell, who was then in his prime, showed and played Father Smith’s organ, on appointed days, to a numerous audience; and, till the other was heard, every body believed that Father Smith would certainly carry it.

Mr. Harris brought Mr. Lully, organist to Queen Catharine, a very eminent master, to touch his organ, which brought it into such vogue, that they[Pg 157] thus continued vieing with each other near a twelvemonth.

Then Mr. Harris challenged Father Smith to make additional stops against a set time; these were the Vox Humane, the Cremona, or Violin Stop, the double Courtel, or Bass Flute, and others.

These stops, as being newly invented, gave great delight and satisfaction to a numerous audience, and were so well imitated on both sides, that it was hard to judge the advantage to either. At last it was left to my Lord Chief Justice Jeffries, who was of that house, and he put an end to the controversy, by pitching upon Father Smith’s organ; so Mr. Harris’s organ was taken away without loss of reputation, and Mr. Smith’s remains to this day.

Now began the setting up of or[Pg 158]gans in the chief parishes of the city of London, for the most part Mr. Harris had the advantage of Father Smith, making, I believe, two for his one; among them some are reckoned very eminent; viz. the organ at St. Bride’s, St. Lawrence, near Guildhall, St. Mary Axe, &c.

Notwithstanding this success of Mr. Harris, Smith was considered as an able and ingenious workman, and, in consequence of this character, he was employed to build an organ for the cathedral of St. Paul.

The organs made by him, though in respect of workmanship they are far short of those of Harris, and even of Dalian’s, are justly admired; and, for the fineness of their tone, have never yet been equalled.

[Pg 159]

Harris’s organ was afterwards purchased for the cathedral of Christ Church, at Dublin, and set up there; but, some years back, Mr. Byfield was sent for, from England, to repair it, which he objected to, and prevailed on the Chapter to have a new one, made by himself, he allowing for the old one in exchange. When he had got it, he would have treated with the parishioners of Lynn, in Norfolk, for the sale of it; but they, disdaining the offer of a second-hand instrument, refused to purchase it, and employed Snetzlor to build them a new one, for which they paid him seven hundred pounds. Byfield dying, his widow sold Harris’s organ to the parish of Wolverhampton for five hundred pounds, and there it remains at this day (i. e. 1778.) One of two eminent[Pg 160] masters, then living, were requested by the churchwardens of Wolverhampton to give their opinions of this instrument, who declared it to be the best modern organ he had ever touched.

Sir John Hawkins’s Memoirs.


The famous old ballad, “Cold and raw,” was greatly admired by Queen Mary, consort of King William; and she once affronted Mr. Purcell, by requesting to have it sung to her, he being present. The story is as follows: The Queen, having a mind, one afternoon, to be entertained with music, sent to Mr. Gostling, then one of the Chapel, and afterwards subdean of St. Paul’s; to Mr. Henry Purcell, and Mrs.[Pg 161] Arabella Hunt, who had a very fine voice, and an admirable hand on the lute, with a request to attend her. Mr. Gostling and Mrs. Hunt sung several compositions of Purcell, who accompanied them on the harpsichord. At length the queen, beginning to grow tired, asked Mrs. Hunt, if she could not sing the old Scotch ballad, “Cold and raw?” Mrs. Hunt answered yes, and sung it to her lute. Purcell was all the while sitting at the harpsichord unemployed, and not a little nettled at the queen’s preference of a vulgar ballad to his music; but, seeing her majesty delighted with this tune, he determined that she should hear it upon another occasion, and accordingly, in the next birth-day song, viz. that for the year 1692, he composed an air[Pg 162] to the words, “May her bright example chace vice in troops out of the land,” the bass whereof is the tune to Cold and Raw. It is printed in the Orpheus Britannicus, and is note for note the same with the Scotch tune.


In one of the late battles in Calabria, a bagpiper of the 78th regiment, when the light infantry charged the French, posted himself on their right, and remained in his solitary situation during the whole of the battle, encouraging the men with a famous Highland charging tune; and actually, upon the retreat and complete rout of the French, changed it to another, equally celebrated in Scotland upon the retreat of and[Pg 163] victory over an enemy. His next hand neighbour guarded him so well, that he escaped unhurt. This was the spirit of the “Last Minstrel,” who infused courage among his countrymen, by possessing it in so animated a degree, and in so venerable a character.

Curiosities of Literature.


Sir William Jones, in his curious Dissertation on the musical Modes of the Hindus, relates the following story.

“After food, when the operations of digestion and absorption give so much employment to the vessels, that a temporary state of mental repose must be found, especially in hot climates, essential to health, it seems reasonable to[Pg 164] believe that a few agreeable airs, either heard or played without effort, must have all the good effects of sleep, and none of its disadvantages: putting the soul in tune, as Milton says, for any subsequent exertion; an experiment often made by myself. I have been assured by a credible eye-witness, that two wild antelopes used often to come from their woods to the place where a more savage beast, Sirajuddaulah, entertained himself with concerts, and that they listened to the strains with an appearance of pleasure, till the monster, in whose soul there was no music, shot one of them, to display his archery. A learned native told me, that he had frequently seen the most venomous and malignant snakes leave their holes upon hearing tunes on a[Pg 165] flute, which, as he supposed, gave them peculiar delight. An intelligent Persian declared he had, more than once, been present, when a celebrated lutanist, surnamed Bulbul, (i. e. the nightingale,) was playing to a large company, in a grove near Schiraz, where he distinctly saw the nightingales trying to vie with the musician, sometimes warbling on the trees, sometimes fluttering from branch to branch, as if they wished to approach the instrument, and, at length, dropping on the ground, in a kind of ecstacy, from which they were soon raised, he assured me, by a change of the mode.”


A modern traveller assures us, that[Pg 166] he has repeatedly observed, in the island of Madeira, that the lizards are attracted by the notes of music, and that he has assembled a number of them by the powers of his instrument. He tells us also, that when the negroes catch them, for food, they accompany the chase, by whistling some tune, which has always the effect of drawing great numbers towards them.

Stedman, in his expedition to Surinam, describes certain sibyls among the negroes, who, among several singular practices, can charm or conjure down from the tree certain serpents, who will wreath about the arms, neck, and breast of the pretended sorceress, listening to her voice. The sacred writers speak of the charming of adders and serpents; and nothing, says[Pg 167] he, is more notorious than that the eastern Indians will rid the houses of the most venomous snakes, by charming them with the sound of a flute, which calls them out of their holes.


Marville has given us the following anecdote. He says, “that doubting the truth of those who say it is natural for us to love music, especially the sound of instruments, and that beasts themselves are touched with it, being one day in the country, I enquired into the truth; and, while a man was playing on the trump-marine, made my observations on a cat, a dog, a horse, an ass, a hind, cows, small birds, and a cock and hens, who were[Pg 168] in a yard, under a window on which I was leaning.

“I did not perceive that the cat was the least affected, and I even judged, by her air, that she would have given all the instruments in the world for a mouse, sleeping in the sun all the time. The horse stopped short, from time to time, before the window, raising his head up now and then, as he was feeding on the grass. The dog continued for above an hour seated on his hind legs, looking stedfastly at the player. The ass did not discover the least indication of his being touched, eating his thistles peaceably. The hind lifted up her large wide ears, and seemed very attentive. The cows slept a little, and, after gazing, as though they had been acquainted with[Pg 169] us, went forward. Some little birds, who were in an aviary, and others on the trees and bushes, almost tore their little throats with singing: but the cock, who minded only his hens, and the hens who were solely employed in scraping a neighbouring dunghill, did not show, in any manner, that they took the least pleasure in hearing the trump-marine.”


It is well known, observes a celebrated literary character that, in Venice, the gondoliers know by heart long passages from Ariosto and Tasso, and are wont to sing them in their own melody. But this talent seems at present on the de[Pg 170]cline:—at least, after taking some pains, I could find no more than two persons who delivered to me, in this way, a passage from Tasso.

There are always two concerned, who alternately sing the strophes. We know the melody eventually by Rousseau, to whose songs it is printed; it has properly no melodious movement, and is a sort of a medium between the canto fermo and the canto figurato; it approaches to the former by recitativical declamation, and to the latter by passages and course, by which one syllable is detained and embellished.

I entered a gondola by moonlight; one singer placed himself forwards, and the other aft, and thus proceeded to St. Georgio. One began the song: when he had ended his strophe, the[Pg 171] other took up the lay, and so continued the song alternately. Throughout the whole of it, the same notes invariably returned; but, according to the subject matter of the strophe, they laid a greater or a smaller stress, sometimes on one, and sometimes on another note, and indeed changed the enunciation of the whole strophe, as the object of the poem altered.

On the whole, however, their sounds were hoarse and screaming: they seemed in the manner of all rude, uncivilised men, to make the excellency of their singing in the force of their voice: one seemed desirous of conquering the other by the strength of his lungs, and so far from receiving delight from this scene, (shut up as I was in the box of the gondola) I found myself in a very unpleasant situation.

[Pg 172]

My companion, to whom I communicated this circumstance, being very desirous to keep up the credit of his countrymen, assured me that this singing was very delightful, when heard at a distance. Accordingly we got out, upon the shore, leaving one of the singers in the gondola, while the other went to the distance of some hundred paces. They now began to sing against one another, and I kept walking up and down between them both, so as always to leave him who was to begin his part. I frequently stood still and hearkened to the one and to the other.

Here the scene was properly introduced. The strong declamatory, and, as it were shrieking sound met the ear from far, and called forth the attention: the quickly succeeding transitions, which necessarily required to be[Pg 173] sung in a lower tone, seemed like plaintive strains succeeding the vociferations of emotion or of pain. The other, who listened attentively, immediately began where the former left off, answering him, in milder or more vehement notes, according as the purport of the strophe required. The sleepy canals, the lofty buildings, the splendour of the moon, the deep shadows of the few gondolas, that moved like spirits, hither and thither, increased the striking peculiarity of the scene, and, amidst all these circumstances, it was easy to confess the character of this wonderful harmony.

It suits perfectly well with an idle, solitary mariner, lying at length in his vessel, at rest on one of these canals, waiting for his company, or for a fare,[Pg 174] the tiresomeness of which situation is somewhat alleviated by the songs and poetical stories he has in memory. He often raises his voice as loud as he can, which extends itself to a vast distance over the tranquil mirror, and, as all is still around, he is, as it were, in a solitude, in the midst of a large and populous town. Here is no rattling of carriages, no noise of foot passengers: a silent gondola glides now and then by him, of which the splashing of the oars are scarcely to be heard.

At a distance he hears another, perhaps utterly unknown to him. Melody and verse immediately attach the two strangers; he becomes the responsive echo to the former, and exerts himself to be heard, as he had heard the other. By a tacit convention, they alternate, verse for verse; though the[Pg 175] song should last the whole night through, they entertain themselves without fatigue; the hearers, who are passing between the two, take part in the amusement.

This vocal performance sounds best at a great distance, and is then inexpressibly charming, as it only fulfils its design in the sentiment of remoteness. It is plaintive, but not dismal, in its sound, and, at times, it is scarcely possible to refrain from tears. My companion, who otherwise was not a very delicately organised person, said, quite unexpectedly:—“e singolare come quel canto intenersce, e molto più quando lo cantano meglio.”

I was told that the women of Libo, the long row of islands that divides the Adriatic from the Lagouns, particularly the women of the extreme districts[Pg 176] of Malamocca and Palestrina, sing in like manner the works of Tasso to these and similar tunes.

They have the custom, when their husbands are fishing out at sea, to sit along the shore, in the evenings, and vociferate these songs, and continue to do so with great violence, till each of them can distinguish the responses of her own husband at a distance.

How much more delightful and more appropriate does this song show itself here, than the call of a solitary person, uttered far and wide, till another equally disposed shall hear and answer him! It is the expression of a vehement and hearty longing, which yet is every moment nearer to the happiness of satisfaction.

Curiosities of Literature.


[Pg 177]