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drest; and the late silly humor of listening to tunes made upon three notes only, is a mere wbim of the moment, as it was to dote upon old ballads about twenty or thirty years ago; it will die away in a twelvemonth, — for simplicity cannot please without elegance; nor does it really please a British ear, even when exquisitely sweet and delicate. .
We buy Blair's works, but would rather study Warburton's ; we talk of tender Venetian airs, but our hearts acknowledge Handel. Meantime 't is unjust to say that German musick is not expressive'; when the Italians say so, they mean it is not amorous; but other affections inhabit other souls ; and surely the last-named immortal composer has no rival in the power of expressing and exciting sublime devotion and rapturous sentiment. See his grand chorus, Unto us a Son is born, &c. Pleyel's Quartettos too, which have all somewhat of a drum and fife in them, express what Germans ever have been excelled in, — regularity, order, discipline, arms, in a word, war. When such MUSICK is playing, it reminds one of Rowe's verses which say so very truly, that
" The sound of arms shall wake our martial ardor,
And cure the amorous sickness of a soul
Scared at the noble noise and thunder of the war." What then do those critics look for, who lament that German MUSICK is not expressive ? They look for plaintive sounds meant to raise tender emotions in the breast; and this is the peculiar province of MELODY, — which, like Anacreon's lyre, vibrates to amorous touches only, and resounds with nothing but love. Of this sovereign power,
“To take the 'prisoned soul, and lap it in Elysium,"
Italy has long remained in full possession : the Syrens' coast is still the residence of melting softness and of sweet seduction. The MUSICK of a nation naturally represents that nation's favorite energies, pervading every thought and every action ; while even the devotion of that warm soil is tenderness, not sublimity; - and either the natives impress their gentle souls with the contemplation of a Saviour newly laid, in innocence and infant sweetness, upon the spotless bosom of more than female beauty, or else rack their soft hearts with the afflicting passions; and with eyes fixed upon a bleeding crucifix, weep their Redeemer's human sufferings, as though he were never to re-assume divinity. Meantime the piety of Lutherans soars a sublimer flight; and when they set before the eyes of their glowing imagination Messiah ever blessed, they kindle into rapture, and break out with pious transport,
“ Hallelujah ! for the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth,” &c. They think of Him that sitteth high above the heavens, begotten before all worlds !
“Effulgence of the Father! Son beloved!” With such impressions, such energies, such inspiration, Milton wrote poetry, and Handel composed MUSICK.
MISTAKE, ERROR, MISCONCEPTION.
Whoever thinks these words strictly synonymous will find himself in ån ERROR ; while he who says he wandered out of his way between London and Bath, from mere MISCONCEPTION, makes a comical mistAKE, — for he only committed an ERROR in neglecting to punish those who turned him out of the right road for a joke. These are the niceties of language that books never teach, and conversation alone can establish. Let foreigners however settle it in their minds, that the word first used in this catalogue of false apprehension, is used when one man or one thing is taken for another; the second applies much wider, and we say it of all who deviate from the right path, whether that deviation is or is not caused by a mere MISTAKE; the latter seems less an act of the will than either of the other two; 't is more a perversion of the head than anything else, and its resistance against conviction carries with it somewhat laughable. A nobleman, for instance, employing his architect to show him the elevation of a honse he intended to build, the artist produced a drawing made with Indian ink. This is no bad form of a house, says my lord, but I don't like the color, — my house shall be white. By all means, replied the builder, this is a white house. No, this is black and white, methinks — evidently so, indeed, — and striped about somehow in a way that does not please me.* O dear ! no such thing, my lord, — the house will be white enough. That I don't know, Sir; if you contradict my senses now, you may do the same then ; but my house shall not be patched about with black as this paper is, — it shall be all clean Portland stone. Doubtless, my lord ; what you see here is perfectly white, I assure you. You are an impudent fellow (answers the proprietor), and endeavor to impose upon me, because I am not conversant in these matters, by persuading me that I do not know black from white; but I do know an honest man from a rogue, — so get about your business directly, no such shall be my architect.
This was MISCONCEPTION. When the faux Martin Guerre came to France from India, and took possession of the house, lands, wife, &c. of a man whom he strongly resembled, and who, by four or five years' absence from his family, was so forgotten by them that neither brother nor sister found out the imposture
- their caresses and obedience, their rents and profits, were all intended to the person of another man, and were only paid to him by a fatal but innocent MISTAKE. But when the jury condemned a man wholly unconcerned in the business to suffer for a crime one of themselves had committed, nor ever found out that good evidence was wanting to prove his guilt, till the real perpetrator of the murder owned it himself in private to the judge they acted with too little caution and delicacy, and have been always justly censured for the ERROR. The facts are all acknowledged ones.
* This recalls the reply of a distinguished lawyer (now a peer) to the late Mr. Justice Gaselee, who remarked that Canning was not so tall as the bronze statue of him near Westminster Hall : “ No, nor so green either."
NARRATION, ACCOUNT, RECITAL.
In order to give a good account of the fact (say we), 't is necessary to hear a clear RECITAL of the circumstances, but if we mean to make a pleasing NARRATION, those circumstances should not be dwelt on too minutely, but rather one selected from the rest, to set in a full light. Whoever means to please in conversation, seeing no person more attended to than he who tells an agreeable story, concludes too hastily that his own fame will be firmly established by a like means; and so gives his time up to the collection and RECITAL of anecdotes. Here, however, is our adventurer likely enough to fail; for either his fact is too notorious, and he sees his audience turn even involuntarily away from a tale told them yesterday perhaps by a more pleasing narrator ; or it is too obscure, and incapable of interesting his hearers. Were we to investigate the reason why narratives please better in a mixed company, than sentiment; we might discover that he who draws from his own mind to entertain his circle will soon be tempted to dogmatize, and assume the air, with the powers, of a teacher; while the man, who is ever ready to tell one somewhat unknown before, adds an idea to the listener's stock, without forcing on us that of our own inferiority. He is in possession of a fact more than we are, that's all ; and he communicates that fact for our amusement.
NATION, COUNTRY, KINGDOM,
Are all of them collective terms well understood, and at first sight only synonymous. A moment's reflection shews us many COUNTRIES which are not kingdoms, and some KINGDOMS which include not the whole NATION to which they apparently belong. The first of these words is used in some universities for the distinction of the scholars, and professors of colleges. The faculty of Paris consists of four, and when the procureur of that which is called the French NATION speaks in public, his style is Honoranda Gallorum Natio. I hope they have changed their phrase now, when all KINGDOMS, COUNTRIES, NATIONS, and LANGUAGES unite in abhorrence of their late disgraceful conduct towards the good house of Bourbon, so named from Archibald Borbonius in the year 1127, whose impress was a globe, and round it this anagram of the earl's name, Orbi bonus. The times how changed in this fatal year to Frenchmen, 1793!
Strokes of national character, national humor, however, still exist : with regard to the latter, we see their bons mots still untranslatable beyond those of other kingdoms; and our authors plunder French comedies in vain ; the humor loses and evaporates : witness Farquhar's endeavor to force into his Inconstant, the gay reply made by Le prince de Guemenè, when Louis Quatorze's queen, a grave Spaniard, seriously proposed putting the famous Ninon de l'Enclos among les filles repenties. — “ Madam," answered the courtier, “ elle n'est ni fille, ni repentie.”* This was NATIONAL pleasantry, and will not translate for that reason. No more will that proof of John Bull's NATIONAL character, told of a fellow, who, when King Charles the First of England lay before Rochelle, was employed by that Prince as a diver, to carry papers, &c., which having done most dexterously, the goodnatured sovereign bid him name his own reward. — “Something to drink your majesty's health, that's all,” quoth the man. “ Blockhead !” exclaimed the Duke of Buckingham, who stood in presence and was provoked at his stupidity for asking nothing better, “why didst not drink when thou wert under water ? ” — “ Why, so I did, master!” replied the man ; " but the water was salt, you know, so it made me the more a-dry."
NOW, AT PRESENT, THIS INSTANT.
While metaphysicians expand their subtleties into imperceptibility upon this fatal monosyllable, one would hope that conversation might go on without dispute concerning what lies away like the witches in Macbeth, who, while we contend about the nature of their existence, make themselves air, into which they vanish. So, alas ! does now; the present moment passing away even before the word is written that explains it. We may tell foreigners, however, that 't is usual in our language, when calling in
* When an English lady appeared in a tableau vivant as a Magdalen, it was observed that she looked like a Magdalen who had not repented.