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lo another; with the squeaking of chanting choristers disguised, as are all the rest, in white surplices ; some corner-caps and silly copes, imitating the fashion and mar ner of antichrist, the pope, that man of sin, and child of per dition, with his other rabble of miscreants and shavelings."

CHAPTER XXI.

Sedentary Amusements.Music, concluded.

“When lo! a harlot form soft s'iding by,
With mincing step--small voice, and languid eye,
Foreign her air-her robe's discordant pride,
By singing peers upheld on either side;
She tripp'd and laugh'd--100 pretty much to stand-
Cast on the prostrate nine a scornful look--
Then thus in quaint recitativo spoke:
'O Cara! Cara! silence all that train;
Joy to great Chaos! let division reigu:
But soon, ah! soon rebellion will commence,
If music meanly borrows aid from sense.'"

The Drunciad.

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About the end of the reign of James I. a music lectura. or professorship, was founded in the University of Oxford , but that monarch afforded little other encouragement to the art. No royal concerts are on record, and secular music within the precincts of the court, seems to have been confined to the masks performed for the amusement of his majesty, in which songs and symphonies were occasionally introduced. Anthems, masks, madrigals, songs, and catches comprised at this time the whole of our music for the church, the stage, and the chamber; and the instruinental productions were chiefly composed for lutes and viols. These being now entirely laid aside, we could scarcely do them justice, even had they been replete with genius ana learning, which is by no means the case, their general character being that of an artless insipidity. The musical wr. ters and composers of the seventeenth century who acquired

* Neal's History of the Puritans, p. 290 and 480

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the greatest fame were, Orlando Gibbons, Pelho... Huniphrey, and Henry Purcell, who far excelled all their competitors. “ The purists,” says Burney, whese speaking of Gibbons, “ on account of the confusion arising from all the parts singing different words at the same time, pronounce the style in which his full anthems are composed to be vicious; yet the admirers of fugue, ingenious contrivance, and rich, simple, and pleasing harmony, must regard them as exquisite productions, alla Palestrina, a style in which Tallis and Bird acquired so much renown.” Of Purcell we shall presently speak more fully.

Instrumental music was little cultivated in this reign. The words concerto and sonata do not appear to have been then known even in Italy, nor did they come into common use till late in the seventeenth century. Madrigals, which were then almost the only secular compositions in parts, were supplanted by a passion for fantasias of three, four, five, and six parts, wholly composed for viols and other instruments, without the assistance of singers. Thus vocal music not only lost her independency, but was almost totally driven out of society; as the ancient Britons, calling in the Saxons to support them, were themselves subdued by their own auxiliaries. Notwithstanding their title of fantasias, the style of these pieces would now appear very dry and fanciless, not to say contemptible. All the instrumental music, indeed, of this period, with the single exception of the fugues of Frescobaldi, and the compositions for the organ, is dry, difficult, unaccented, and insipid.*

Of the masks which were in fashion at the court of Charles I., the excellence consisted rather in the quaintness of the device, the magnificence of the scenery, and the splendid constructions of the theatre, than in the music. Ben Jonson wasted his talent upon these trifling interludes, while Inigo Jones was condemned to exercise his luxuriant architectural taste upon no better materials than pasteboard and canvass. To this fashion, however, we owe those beautiful compositions, the Faithful Shepherdess of Fletcher, and he Comus of Milton, of which latter Henry Lawes, the friend of the author, composed the inusic.

Prior to the year 1600 we had few other compositions

* Burgh's Anecdotes of Music, ii. lò.

than masses and madrigals, the two principal divisions of sacred and secular music ; but from that time dramatic musio became the chief object of attention, preparing a revolution. as to melody and expression even in sacred productions. Melodies now began to be preferred to pieces of many parts; in which canons, fugues, and full harmony had chiefly employed the master's study, and the hearer's attention Our hasty retrospect has hitherto furnished nothing so important to the progress of the art as the invention of recitative, or dramatic melody, which belongs to this era. No musical dramas similar to those afterward known by the names of Opera and Oratorio had existed in Italy before the begin ning of the seventeenth century; and although the stilo recitativo, first menti ined by Ben Jonson in 1617, was occasionally introduced upon the English stage in masks, plays, and cantatas, no regular drama wholly set to music was attempted, until in 1658 Sir William Davenant produced the first opera ever performed in this country. Other entertainments of the same sort were exhibited with a profuse decoration of scenery and dresses, rendered still more attractive by the best singers and dancers that could be procured. Of these musical dramas the language was always English, until the latter end of the seventeenth century, when Italian singing began to be encouraged, and vocal as well as instrumental performers from that country were introduced upon our boards. The first English musical drama performed wholly after the Italian manner in recitative for the dialogue and narrative, and measured melody for the airs, was Arsinoe, Queen of Cyprus, brought out at Drury-lane in 1705. Such is the charm of novelty, that although this miserable performance deserved neither the name of a drama by its poetry, nor of an opera by its music, it proved successful. Th: first opera performed wholly in Italian, and by Italian singers, was Almaide, produced in 1710.

In all things, and particularly in music, the taste of Charles II. was that of a Frenchman. He had French operas; a band of twenty-four violins in imitation of that at Paris; and French masters to instruct some of them in London, while others were sent to Paris for tuition ; where, hówever, it must be confessed, that musical science, as web as every other liberal art, was then better understood than

in England. Banister, the leader of his band, was the first musician who established lucrative concerts in London. Perceiving the eagerness of the public for these performances, the principal masters fitted up a concert-room in Yorkbuildings, where the best compositions and ķerformers, under the title of The Music Meeting, continued for upwards of half a century to receive the patronage of the most distin guished audiences. It was in this reign chat Henry Pur. cell, rising rapidly to distinction, became the darling and the delight of the nation, so far surpassing, buth in vocal and instrumental music, whatever our country had previously produced or imported, that all his competitors seem to have been instantly consigned to contempt aim oblivion. Nor was any other vocal music listened tr wuh pleasure until nearly thirty years after his death, when ne began to suffer the eclipse to which he had condemned his predecessors, and his compositions gave way to the favourite opera songs of Handel.

The fame of this last-mentioned musician having preceded his arrival in 1710, Aaron Hill, then in the direction of the Haymarket theatre, instantly applied to him to compose the opera of Rinaldo, the admirable music of which he entirely produced within a fortnight. Other works rapidly followed, but the public taste for musical dramas in Italian was now upon the wane, and the opera entertainments being founo unprofitable were entirely suspended from 1717 to 1720 when a fund of 50,0001. for supporting and carrying them on was subscribed by the first personages in the kingdom, formed into a society named “The Royal Academy of Music,” by whom Handel was commissioned to engage operatic performers. At the close of the first season it appeared that the united efforts of the greatest composers and completest band of singers ever collected in this country, although patronised by the king and all the principas nobility, had not indemnified the directors for the expenses of the undertaking. Thus we find, that from the first establishment of the regular Italian opera in this country it has proved a ruinous speculation to the managers.

In the year 1723 the celebrated Francesr; Cuzzoni appeared as a first-rate singer, and two years afterward her distinguished rival Faustina Bordoni, both f whom intro duced changes in the style of operatic singing by running divisions with neatness and velocity, as well as by sustain ing, diminishing, or increasing the tones in a manner pre viously unpractised. So signally did these two performers engage the attention of the public, that parties were formed by their respective abettors almost as violent and inveterate as any that had been produced by theological or political differences; yet so distinct were their styles of singing, so different their talents, that the praise of one was no disparagement of the other.

Oratorios were common in Italy during the seventeenth century, but in England they were never publicly attempted till the year 1732, when Handel, stimulated by the rivalship of other alventurers, exhibited his oratorios of Esther, and of Acis and Galatea ; the last of which he had composed twelve years before for the Duke of Chandos's chapel at Canons. But this great composer had not only to struggle against professional opposition. The nobility and gentry, offended at the advanced price for admission to the oratorios on opera nights, opened a subscription for the performance of Italian operas at Lincoln's-Inn-fields, inviting the celebrated Porpora to compose and conduct it, and engaging among other distinguished performers the matchless Farinelli. The first effect which the surprising talents of this most celebrated singer produced upon an English audience were ecstasy, rapture, enchantment. The first note he sang was taken with such delicacy, swelled by minute degrees to such an amazing volume, and afterward diminished in the same manner to a mere point, that it was applauded for full five minutes. After this he set off with such brilliancy and rapidity of execution, that it was difficult for the violins of those days to keep pace with him. In short, in comparison with all other singers he was as superior as the famous horse Childers to all other racers. But it was not in speed alone that he excelled, for he united every perfection of every celebrated singer, and his voice was equally unrivalled in strength, sweetness, and compass, in the expression of tenderness, grace, and rapidity.* It is well known that this extraordinary singer and amiable man resided for nearly twenty years at the court of Madrid, where his favour increased to such a degree that he was

*

* Burgh's Anecdotes, vol. iii. p. 89.

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