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showed excellent taste and judgement. In his extemporary compositions he frequently hazarded bold and uncommon modulations; so that I have seen that most excellent musician Mr. Charles Wesley (his elder brother) tremble for him. Sam however always extricated himself from the difficulties in which he appeared to be involved, in the most masterly manner, being always possessed of that serene confidence which a thorough knowledge inspires, though surrounded by musical professors, who could not deem it arrogance.

"And here I will give a proof of the goodness of his heart, and delicacy of his feelings:-I desired him to compose an easy melody in the minor third, for an experiment on little Crotch, and that he would go with me to hear what that very extraordinary child was capable of. Crotch was not in good humour, and Master Wesley submitted, amongst other things, to play upon a cracked violin, in order to please him; the company, however. having found out who he was, pressed him very much to play upon the organ, which Sam constantly declined. As this was contrary to his usual readiness in obliging any person who had curiosity to hear him, I asked him afterwards what might be the occasion of his refusal; when he told me,' that he thought it would look like wishing to shine at little Crotch's expense."


Every one knows, that any material alteration in the construction of an organ, which varies the position of certain notes, must at first embarrass the player, though a most expert one. I carried Sam, however, to the Temple organ, which hath quarter notes, with the management of which he was as ready as if he

had made use of such an instrument all his life. I need scarcely say how much more difficult it must be to play passages which must be executed, not by the fingers, but the feet. Now the organ at the Savoy hath a complete octave of pedals, with the half-notes; on which part Sam appeared as little a novice as if he had been accustomed to it for years. Nay, he made a very good and regular shake on the pedals, by way of experiment, for he had too much taste and judgment to suppose that it would have a good effect.

"He was able to sing at sight (which commonly requires so much instruction with those even who are of a musical disposition) from the time of first knowing his notes; his voice was by no means strong, and it cannot yet be pronounced how it may turn out; his more favourite songs were those of Handel, composed for a bass voice, as 'Honour and Arms,' &c.

"He hath lately practised much upon the violin, on which he bids fair for being a most capital performer. Happening one day to find him thus employed, I asked him how long he had played that morning; his answer was, 'three or four hours; which Giardini had found necessary.' The delicacy of his ear is likewise very remarkable, of which I shall give an instance or two:-having been at Bach's concert, he was much satisfied both with the compositions and performers; but said, the musical pieces were ill arranged, as four had been played successively which were all in the same key. He was desired to compose a march for one of the regiments of guards; which he did to the approbation of all who ever heard it, and a distinguished officer of the royal navy declared, that it was


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a movement which would probably inspire steady and serene courage, when the enemy was approaching. As I thought the boy would like to hear this march performed, I carried him to the parade at the proper time, when it had the honour of beginning the military concert. The piece being finished, I asked him whether it was executed to his satisfaction? to which he replied, 'by no means;' and I then immediately introduced him to the band (which consisted of very tall and stout musicians), that he might set them right. On this, Sam immediately told them, 'that they had not done justice to his composition.' To which they answered the urchin with both astonishment and contempt, by 'your composition!' Sam, however, replied with great serenity, yes, my composition!' which I confirmed. They then stared, and severally made their excuses, by protesting, that they had copied accurately from the manuscript which had been put into their hands. This he most readily allowed to the hautbois and bassoons, but said it was the French horns who were in fault; who making the same defence, he insisted upon the original score being produced, and showing them their mistake, ordered the march to be played again, which they submitted to with as much deference as they would have shown to Handel. This concert of wind instruments begins on the parade at about five minutes after nine, and ends at five minutes after ten, when the guards proceed to St. James's. I stayed with him till this time; and asked him what he thought of the concluding movement, which he said deserved commendation; but that it was very injudicious to make it the finishing piece, because as it must neces

sarily continue till the clock of the Horse-guards had struck ten, it should have been recollected that the tone of the clock did not correspond with the key-note of the march.

"I shall now attempt to give some account of this most extraordinary boy considered as a composer, and first of his extemporary flights. If left to himself when he played on the organ, there were oftener traces of Handel's style than any other master, and if on the harpsichord, of Scarlatti; at other times, however, his voluntaries were original and singular. After he had seen or heard a few pieces of any composer, he was fully possessed of his peculiarities, which, if at all striking, he could instantly imitate at the word of command, as well as the general flow and turn of the composition. Thus I have heard him frequently play extemporary lessons, which, without prejudice to their musical names, might have been supposed to have been those of Abel, Vento, Schobert, and Bach.

"Having found that the greater part of those who heard him would not believe but that his voluntaries had been practised before, I always endeavoured that some person present (and more particularly so if he was a professor) should give him the subject upon which he was to work, which always afforded the convincing and irrefragable proof, as he then composed upon the idea suggested by others, to which ordeal it is believed few musicians in Europe would submit. The more difficult the subject, (as if it was two or three bars of the beginning of a fugue) the more cheerfully he undertook it, as he always knew he was equal to the attempt, be it never so arduous.

"I can only refer to one printed proof of his abilities as a composer, which is a set of eight lessons for the harpsichord, and which appeared in 1777, about the same time that he became so known to the musical world that his portrait was engraved, which is a very strong resemblance. Some of these lessons have passages which are rather too difficult for common performers, and therefore they are not calculated for a general vogue. His father, the Rev. Mr. Wesley, will permit any one to see the score of his oratorio of Ruth, which he really composed at six years of age, but did not write till he was eight; his quickness in thus giving utterance to his musical ideas is amazingly great; and, notwithstanding the rapidity, he seldom makes a blot or a mistake. Numbers of other compositions, and almost of all kinds, may be likewise examined; particularly an anthem to the following words, which I selected for him, and which had been performed at the Chapel Royal, and St. Paul's: 1. O Lord God of Hosts, how long wilt thou be angry at the prayer of thy people? 2. Turn thee again, O Lord, and we shall be saved! 3. For thou art a great God, and a great King above all gods.' The first part of this anthem composed for a single tenor; the second a duet for two boys; and the third a chorus."

The expectations raised by these wonderful indications of early genius were fully realized. Wesley became the greatest of English organists and the greatest of English composers for his instrument. As an extemporaneous performer he was unrivalled; and his numerous voluntaries and other compositions for the organ place him on a level with the greatest mas

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