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as Mr. R-- is a man of excellent character, and it is also right that a consul-general, the only respectable English representative in Syria should be supposed to have sufficient influence at home to get so small a favour granted-small, as relates to his situation, but a great favour granted me should G. Moore take this into consideration, and do what he can to be useful to these worthy people. The doctor can tell you more about them, and also how much Mr. Barker merits to be thought well of in this part of the world. I beg you will accompany the request I make G. Moore with my most kind remembrance. If Dr. M. could get a sight of James Moore's son, who was the general's godson, I should like it vastly; but as I have no partiality for his father, I do not wish the doctor to become intimate with him.
Once more adieu, my dear general, and may every good attend you.
H. L. S.
MUSIC FOR THE MILLION.
The general so likes your music that he desires you, of all love, to make no more noise with it.-OTHELLO. How sour sweet music is !
Or all the crotchets of the days we live in, the wildest certainly is the idea of the popular concert, or grand national oratorio, implied in the project of music or singing for the million." Duets, quartettes, quintettes, are all tolerable enough; but who can endure the notion of a millionette?
We never understood, till now, the full force of the expression, “the burden of a song.” It will be a heavy day for us when the millions begin to exercise their vocal powers ; such chanting will not be enchanting, and we should unquestionably put a bar to it, were we of sufficient note to do so. We receive the proposal with the reverse of glee, and had we a stave, we should cordially bestow a sound application of it upon the author, could we but catch him. When measures ought to be taken to prevent the concert of the rabble, it is most provoking to see efforts deliberately made to bring them into unison. It is evident that universal suffrage will be carried, when every man has a voice in the commonwealth, and the next step assuredly will be vote by-ballad! In vain has Shakspeare warned us against
the blunt monster with uncounted heads,
The still discordant wavering multitude, we are on the point of having what is a great deal worse—a quaver. ing multitude; and the originators of this frantic scheme have already established their Norma-l schools.
Henceforward the working-classes will be opera-tives with a vengeance; there will be a terrible propriety in asking them for their "sweet voices.” The value of election promises, however, will be much the same as heretofore, for they have never been estimated at more thana song.
Should this musical movement succeed, we never expect to have a moment's quiet except during a national cold, or an universal influenza. We shall wish with Caligula that the millions had but one throat, and that throat a sore one. Peace, alas, has brought “ piping times” along with her, and we only trust the country will be equal to this new strain upon its powers of endurance, for assuredly we shall not have our music for nothing, like Stephano in the "Tempest,” “This shall prove a brave kingdom to me, where I shall have my music for nothing.” The inhabitants of these isles get nothing for nothing, not even their music; they will infallibly have to pay through the nose for the torments inflicted on them through the ear. It will cost a handsome round sum to manufacture some twenty millions of Pastas and Tamburinis. The speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the financial part of the scheme will be a curiosity.
The humanity of Herr Hullah's project is extremely questionable ; the best song for the poor would surely be a “song of sixpence," and could we only give them the “four-and-twenty blackbirds” into the bargain, it would assist them to a Christmas pie, which is a more substantial, if not a sweeter dish than a Christmas carol. The blackbird, to be sure, is not exactly the bird one would select for a poor man's pie. A plainer bird, who instead of singing the moment the pie is opened would confine himself strictly to his gastronomic functions, would answer the purpose much better, and the blackbird should retain his distinction as a dainty dish to set before a king," who has seldom so keen an appetite as his hard-worked subjects. But our fanatici per la musica act upon the principle that neither kings nor subjects have any sense but the mere animal sense of hearing. No more sympathy have they with the legitimate cravings of the stomach than the jacobin lecturer had with the needy knife-grinder. They forget that our bakers will give more bread for one copper farthing, nay for one of the new half-farthings, than for one million of silver sounds, were they even of Rubini's coinage, or to issue from the mint of Grisi.
We can imagine a musical dietary for John Bull. For breakfast an air of Mozart instead of a slice of bacon, with a cavatina for a cup of coffee, and a bravura in place of the old-fashioned custom of bread and butter. Luncheon might consist of that excellent substitute for a round of beef-a rondo of Beethoven, with the musical glasses to represent tankards of London stout. For dinner, we would serve him up an oratorio whole, as our sensual ancestors used to serve a sheep or an ox; the labours of the pastrycook might be replaced by the art of Pasta, and a bacchanalian song or two fill the office formerly discharged by Bacchus himself. Then, as we should be sorry to send our dear countrymen supperless to bed, how could the day's feasting be better concluded than by a hot opera, or that melodious dish, the “ bones and tongs,” which Bottom was so fond of, and the ingenuous youth of Fleet-market delight in to this day. For the summer season, in place of a hot opera we would recommend a cold serenade, after which our bon-vivant might reckon upon as easy a digestion, and slumbers as “airy light,” as we learn from Milton that our first parents enjoyed in Paradise.
Without disparaging the “Corn-Law Rhymes," we are humbly of opinion that a peck of wheat is fairly worth a bushel of them. Music at dinner is agreeable enough, but music instead of dinner is a wretched entertainment, were it even the music of the spheres, which, by the by, is the least objectionable of any for a reason too obvious to be stated.* Hunger was never harmonious, and never will be to the end of time, although Milton is so pleasant as to recommend a song as an anodyne for the pangs of fasting
And over against eating cares
Lap me in soft Lydian airs. The tones of a famishing people are more likely to be Wolf Tones than those of nightingales. National airs, under such distressing circumstances, are wont to prove squalls; the millions are apt to get up “the Storm,” while their rulers sing “ Cease, rude Boreas,” to little purpose. The chromatic scale is perhaps designed to be a set-off against the sliding scale; but we do not see why we should be at liberty to import the crotchets of the Germans, and prohibited to buy their corn.
The agriculturists are vigilant enough to protect ears of wheat, but in these times the human ear stands in need of protection a great deal more. Imagine a million of Scotchmen singing
The corn rigs are bonny, oh,or the same nice little chorus of English farmers screaming,
The wind that shakes the barley. As there may be too many cooks to a soup, so there may be too many choristers to a choir. Because there is safety in a multitude of counsellors it does not logically follow that there must be melody in a mob of singers. Let who will cry "encore” to a squalling kingdom, we shall never countenance so crying a grievance; nor imitate Orsino in exclaiming, “ that strain again!" although for the “dying fall," we shall pray very devoutly.
Our national reputation was never in danger until now, when our gallant countryinen, who never shook in battle, are to be actually taught to shake in time of profound peace. The transition from brave
* The reason alluded to is beautifully stated by Shakspeare in a familiar passage:
There's not the smallest orb which thou beholdest
to semi-breve may be “most musical,” but it is at the same time “most melancholy.” The cliffs that made Albion so glorious were not treble cliffs, nor can a country filled with bravoes and band-itti expect to continue mistress of the world. The keys of empire will be exchanged for the keys of a piano, and Britannia will be degraded into the Prima Donna of the terrestrial bawl. Those who are instrumental in bringing about this vocal revolution will have much to answer for. Like all revolutionists, too, they are little aware of the lengths to which their rash innovations will assuredly carry them. The million will not long be content without an orchestra to accompany their strains; glees and catches will lead to fiddles and bassoons ; the Sirens will infallibly introduce the Harpies! We shall then be doomed to witness some tremendous popular organ-ization, and our national existence will terminate like an overture, in a crash of music.
Perhaps there is even a still deeper abyss yawning for our unhappy country. The connexion between music and dancing is ancient and indissoluble. In Lydia, we are informed by classic writers, there were certain islands in a certain lake, which, at the sound of music, invariably began to dance! Is there no fear of the British isles adopting these “Lydian measures,” and taking a “Aling" across the floor of the Atlantic, or perhaps into the Chinese seas, to “set” their new partner, the pretty little island of Hong Kong? Heaven only knows how soon, in these capering times, we may find ourselves the vis-a-vis of Miss Madagascar, or leading off with Madame Barbadoes. Ireland will probably dance her own national jig, as she is in the habit of taking her own steps, and rarely approves of our measures. At any rate, we shall both deserve to be numbered with the Silly Isles, and the state will probably reel before the ball is over. Let our rulers ponder this well before it is too late. “C'est le premier pas qui coute!"
All the arguments we have heard for teaching the British empire to sing, appear frivolous in the extreme. It is sometimes contended that, because the bee, which is such a model of industry, hums while engaged in the manufacture of wax and honey, human artificers and tradesmen ought to do likewise! Now admitting this to be a precedent in point, it would only apply to three trades, confectioners, combmakers, and wax-chandlers; but we go further and say, non constat that the bee would not make more honey if it were to make less harmony, a view confirmed by the apparent etymology of the latter word, which is quasi harm-honey. To this we know it may be replied, that melody is derivable from the Latin mel, showing that the humming of the bee was anciently considered favourable to the sweet manufacture. There is, however, a wide difference between humming a tune and singing a song; and besides, the bee never hums tunes at all, so that " singing for the million" cannot be supported by the instance of the hive-ites. Indeed, the drone would be an example more in point, for the drone is much noisier than the working-bee, and the perfect type of a worthless warbler.
Let the millions be taught the virtues of the bee, with all our heart; but we protest against teaching them the single vice that the little insect is guilty of. A humming cup of ale is a good old English institution; but there cannot be conceived a grosser humbug than a humming nation. We promise Mr. Hullah's bees that we shall keep cells for them at St. Luke's, where they shall sing their madrigals without deafening all England.
Another argument is derived from the harmonious propensities of the ancient Greeks; now though it may be wise to do at Rome what Romans do, it by no means follows that we ought to do in England what the Greeks did. The practice of the pagan world is a pretty example to hold up to Christendom. The reasoning is worthy of Martinus Scriblerus, or the classic doctor in “ Peregrine Pickle.” The name of Christendom ought to be changed to Tweedledum, if we decide upon resolving ourselves into a nation of fiddlers and ballad-singers, because every gamin of the streets of Athens was taught to troll a catch before he had learned his catechism, or knew Jupiter from a Hamadryad. Besides, the example of the Athenians is neutralized by that of the stupid Thebans and asinine Arcadians, who were just as inveterate songsters as their neighbours. Pindar was notoriously a Boeotian, and the name of Arcadian was a synonyme for a melodious booby. It ought to be remembered, also, that
Music, heavenly maid, was young,
When first in early Greece she sung. Music is now, if not an old maid, a lady of a certain age, and ought to have more discretion than to caterwawl in the public streets like a cat on a moonlight night. There is a time, says the wise man, for every thing; and, as Horace truly observes,
Dulce est desipere in loco ; but the present is not the time, and England is not the place for the Hullah-baloo speculation. “Merry England” belongs to the history of the past; we might almost say to the days of romance, when Oberon sat on the British throne, with Titania his Queen Consort, and Puck his Prime Minister. It is only for flourishing states to practice appogiaturas ; and the worst time for a country is when it is “ falling into the cinque-pace (sink-apace] faster and faster," as Beatrice says in the play.
But to return to the arguments of our classical scholars, they expatiate upon the stories of Arion, Orpheus, Amphion, Timotheus, and the other fiddlers and pipers of antiquity. Now if our modern musicmasters, the professors of " singing for the million," insist upon running a parallel with the first of these worthies, we are perfectly ready to gratify them, for the first proceeding must be to treat them to a ducking in the British channel, in order to ascertain whether the dolphins of the present day are as musical as the dolphins of ancie Greece. In like manner, when our ears are saluted with the cry of
An Orpheus ! an Orpheus ! we invariably wish the performer the same audience that the original Orpheus had, and nothing would please us more than to set the modern to play for the tigers in a jungle, or for a select party of bears, wolves, panthers, and hyenas, in one of the enclosures of the Zoological Gar