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displaying all their portfolios of drawings; but by the general rational tone of their discourse, and by the very pretty landscapes and figures of their designing which ornamented the drawing-room. After dinner had passed off, and coffee had made its appearance, a pause ensued in our conversation, when Mrs. Rivers asked me if I was fond of music? On my replying in the affirmative, the two young ladies rose, and with great alacrity proposed playing to me. And while Caroline was arranging the music and piano-forte, and Laura tuning the harp, I could not forbear reflecting how often the pleasure awakened by the preparation for music had been damped by the cold indifference of the performers; by the reluctance with which they consented, and by the illhumour frequently displayed. But nothing of this kind now allayed my enjoyment, and after listening to some very pretty English and Italian songs, chastely and beautifully executed, Mrs. Rivers said, "Come, let us have some sacred music.” The young ladies complied; and, to a common observer, it might seem as readily as they had done before; but it might be fancy, or, if I did not see less of alacrity, I certainly did see a very great willingness to finish the performance.
When they had retired to rest, their mother and I continued chatting. She spoke of the piety and amiability of her girls, and with the parent's tears springing to her eyes, she gave many instances of their self-denial, their charity, and self-control. From this subject we wandered to education, and she asked me how I liked their music and singing? I answered, as in truth I might, that seldom had I heard such rich execution, tempered with such judg. ment and expression. “I am heartily glad to hear it,” rejoined Mrs. R.;“ for their music, first and last,
has cost me a thousand pounds,* and they have practised six hours every day for many years; but I do wish they would sing a hymn at our family devotions: the servants like it, and would gladly join, if they would lead, but my daughters do not seem to like it, though I tell them they have no idea how much it increases the feelings of devotion.” The day after this conversation was Sunday, and we went to their parish church. Like many country churches, it possessed no organ, but the girls of the Sunday-school, and a few young men and women, had been instructed by the parish clerk; and viler squalling, miscalled singing, did I never hear. But judge of my astonishment, when I saw that though my young friends held, like most of the congregation, a hymn-book in their hands, yet there was certainly no singing on their part; no, not even did I see a movement of the lip. At dinner, Mrs. R. deeply lamented the torture which every one's ear must be subject to while hearing the singing in their church. “But,” added she, “ the parish is poor, and cannot afford to pay a good instructor.” I then could not forbear mentioning that the instruction of the youth of the congregation by the young ladies might effect some reformation.
To my great astonishment they both replied, that they did not think it of such importance ; that it did not signify, and that it would be a great deal of trouble. I assured them that once or twice a-week would fully answer the end designed; and I could not forbear saying, that no part of the worship of God could be of small importance. Mrs. Rivers seconded my opinion, but they remained firm, and here the subject dropped. And when I got into the retirement
* Four thousand four hundred and forty-four dollars.
of my chamber that night, I puzzled myself for some time to find out the great objection to singing in church themselves, or teaching others to sing. And when I reflected on the express injunction of the Apostle, and on the great help that harmony is, as Mrs. R. observed, to the devotion of many, I wondered why two ladies on whose music so much expense and pains had been bestowed, should think scorn to dedicate some part of their time and talents to the Almighty, (who gave them their voice and execution,) in praising him themselves, or in teaching others to praise him. Why is it that a church is the only place in which nobody with a good voice may sing, though every body with a bad one may do their utmost to annoy and distract the congregation? and what is there in sacred music instantly to damp all ardour in the performers; and why do those who could execute it with fervour, neglect to do it, and then pay those to perform it on whose lips the sacred words become mockery and profanation?
When man was created, his person beautified, and his mind endowed, and placed in the midst of a material creation, whose yet hidden properties he was to discover and improve into sources of most exquisite delights, and instruments of exercise to his own yet unknown faculties, those personal beauties, those mental endowments, and those material properties, had all one purpose and one end-the service of God, and the happiness of man: for both were then but one, and could not be disunited. When these ends parted, and man chose himself a happiness independent of his Maker; he took to his own share these splendid gifts, these treasured materials of delight, these stores of intellect—another's workmanship: and regardless altogether of the purpose of their creation, devoted them to his own plea
sure, honour, or advantage, or what in his corruption, he considered such. God let it be. He let his beautiful orld become a prison-house of crime, and his splendid gifts the instruments of sin. With those powers that he had created for his glory and service, he let his creatures make themselves a happiness to which he was no party; till in the revel of possession, they believed that they could do without
Time went on—the beginning was forgotten: man no more remembers how he obtained these powers, and for what purpose he originally had them. He finds himself in possession ; calls them his, and sets about to do with them what he pleases; holds himself responsible to no one for their use, and thinks it a great matter of boast if he does no harm with them. And now, when God has returned to claim his own, and in the hearts of many has reunited those long separated ends of existence, and taught us again that we must live for him, and find happiness in him, and devote ourselves to his service; stupified by habit, and misled by custom, false in our tastes, and perverted in our feelings; we are slow to give back to him the embezzled property. Some, in the confusion of their judgment, and the honesty of their purpose, throw away these splendid gifts ; charge on their powers the folly they have wrought with them; and conceive it their duty to lay talents, intellect and feeling, all aside, as parts of that vanity they are called on to forego. Others, more rational in the work of excision, and not quite so honest, take a shelter in the plea of “innocency:" and finding that to maintain this plea costs them trouble enough, they will not venture on the deeper question of “ utility.” And so with all our religion, God's service-yes, and our own happiness, too-reVOL. II.
main defrauded of those gifts and powers that were solely destined to promote them.
Music is one of these. It must have been the gift of God. Man did not communicate to the extended wire its vibrations : man did not give to the surrounding air its undulatory motion; man did not organize the ear to such exact responsiveness, or the brain to such acute sensibility of what the ear conveys. Man could not have made music, had God not intended it. The power was his, and the gift was his : man has possession, and thinks it is his own. It administers to his pleasures; it buys him the applause of men; it feeds his unhallowed passions, drives away thought, and helps to make him happy, in forgetfulness of what he is, and is to be. For these purposes, the worldly parent, if she finds this talent in her child, takes possession of it, expends upon it, as above described, no small portion of another talent committed to her keeping, and occupies with it a fourth, or a sixth, or an eighth part of her children's early years—perhaps the only years that ever will be theirs—and her heart never misgives her that she has perverted the gift, or defrauded the giver of this talent. The Christian mother follows her example, though not with the same motive. The talent is now divested of all unhallowed purposes and dangerous effects. It is acquired without vanity, and used without ostentation. Instead of leading the young performer into company, to exhibit herself for admiration, it now contributes to make the excitement of mixed society unnecessary, by supplying her with innocent amusement at home. Never let the Listener be supposed to say a word against the use that is made, in such families, of this delightful talent; the evening recreation of a wellspent day-the home festival of domestic cheerful