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serve how much more rapidly it has proceeded, and it may not be wholly uninteresting to inquire into the reasons of its sudden advance.
During the infancy of music, those who cultivated it laboured under a disadvantage which was not felt by the professors of other sciences. They were forming, and not reviving, a science; and while the poet could take as his pattern productions on the verge of perfection, and the painter found among the relics of antiquity speciinens, if not directly of his own art, yet of the sister art of sculpture, which are still considered as models of consummate excelience, the musician had no guide, and however music might have flourished in Greece and Rome, it was to him as if it had never existed. In fact, it seems as if something had been saved from the wreck of taste and science for every one but himself. Fragments of poetry, philosophy, oratory, metaphysics, medicine, and of most arts and sciences, were collected and preserved ; and when their reëdification was begun, materials were not wanting for their foundations ; but music was irrecoverably lost. It was even worse than lost; for although nothing was saved which could be of practical use, yet the hallucinations of speculative musicians remained, and were eagerly embraced by those to whom learning was dear in proportion to the obscurity in which it was involved.
The information which has reached us respecting the music of the ancients is, in fact, so scanty, tbat we know not whetber they had any idea of harmony; and although the better opinion seems to be that they had not, yet the question can never be decided. The works of antiquity on this subject which have come down to us are all theoretical, and if they do not fascinate in the present day, had such charms for our monkish ancestors that they obtained for music a place in the circle of sciences. This, however, assisted its progress but little. It could not, indeed, be otherwise while the theory existed independently of the practice, and there was no art to which the science could be applied.The science which they studied instructed them how to divide the scale with mathematical accuracy; to discourse with a profusion of learned obscurity on the modes and tetrachords of the ancients, and the ratios of every interval, from the diapason to the comma; but it did not advance them one step in harmony, melody, or modulation. There was, as we have said, no practice to which the theory could be applied; and this is strictly true if we ex. cept the monotonous descant used in the church service. It was impossible to form any connexion between the rules of Ptolemy and Boëthius, or the ecclesiastical modes and the modo lascivo of national music; and thus the science and practice of
music were at an immeasurable distance from each other. The theorist looked with contempt on the minstrel, and the minstrel knew not that the theorist existed. While the cloistered pedant was splitting the scale, and chastising his ear to the unnatural barmonies of the ancients, the vagrant minstrel was making his art subservient to his necessities, and gladly exchanging his music for sustenance. Under such circumstances a science could im. prove but slowly. No coalition could be expected between parties so opposite, and none ever was formed. At length the licentious vagrancy of practical musicians was checked by legal restraint, and practical music "sunk lower than ever. Still, how. ever, the theorist went on slowly, disporting himself with canto fermo, and occasionally relaxing into plain descant; but harmony long struggled to get free from the restraints of arithmetic and the ecclesiastical modes.
It is, in fact, to the church that we must look for the first dawn of music in this country ; but even there, before the sixteenth century, we look in vain for any thing which would now be tolerated. And here we cannot help seeing the injury which music sustained from being made a mathematical science before it had become a practical art. The painter expects to be tried by the eye, and conceives of no higher appeal. It is in vain that his picture is strictly within the rules of perspective and proportion, if the eye is displeased ; and when that is satisfied, the deviations from rules are admired rather than blamed, and considered less as the evidences of ignorance than as the characteristic eccentricities of genius. But with music, during its infancy, the case was different. Its professor, before he had become acquainted with the nature of practical music, (for, indeed, there was scarcely any with which to be acquainted,) had learned the divisions of the scale, and knew what he was to consider as barmony. It is true that his ear might sometimes suggest a doubt; but it was soon removed by his monochord, and geometry and arithmetic demonstrated that comparative dissonance was perfect harmony. For this reason, while a succession of naked fourths was common and approved descant, the major third was almost entirely rejected, or only used as a license. Under this disadvantage did music labour. Boru in fetters, and nursed in thraldom, it is not surprising that its infancy was long and weak, and that when at length it acquired some degree of liberty by the introduction of canto figurato and fugue, it should still have retained some of the infirmities of childhood. This, however, did not take place until about the begin. ning of the sixteenth century.
But what contributed infinitely more to set music free was the institution of the opera, about a century afterwards. The composer, instead of being able to cover his want of melody by crowded
harmony and contrivance, was, by being obliged to write for a single voice and a character in action, compelled to attempt someihing like expression. He was, in a great measure, denied his old luxuries of fugue and canon, and obliged to turn bis attention to the refinement of melody and modulation. He had, moreover, two parties to satisfy; the learned, who required science; and the rest of the audience, who looked for character and expression. This amusement becoming popular, composers multiplied, and emulation was excited. Novelly was exacted; and although this was doubtless productive of much bad music, yet new effects were attempted, and the resources of composition were laid open; new successions and combinations were hazarded, condemned by those who afterwards adopted them, and at length universally received.
The Letters of Lord Nelson to Lady Hamilton; with a Sup
plement of Interesting Letters, by distinguished Personages. 2 vols. 8vo. London. 1814.
[From the Quarterly Review.] It is with great regret that we undertake to give our readers some account of these volumes.
The only cloud which has obscured the bright fame of the immortal Nelson was generated in the fatal atmosphere of Naples.His public honour and his private faith have been sullied by, to say no worse of it, a foible, of which these volumes are a fresh, and, we must add, a shameless record.
In what we have to say, we shall not follow the example which ve reprobate, nor contribute to spread the poison which, with a double malignancy, invades the reputation of the dead, and the tranquillity of the living. We should, indeed, not have noticed this publication at all, but that public justice, and the peace and well being of society, require that we should visit such an attempt with the severest punishment that our literary authority can pronounce; and we seel ourselves the more obliged to this just severity, from observing in the preface a pledge that more matter of the same kind is in the same hands, and about to be employed in the same indiscreet and profligate manner.
The faine of Lord Nelson is, as his life and services were, public property; and we absolutely deny the right to which any unworthy possessor of a few of his private notes may pretend, to invade, (by the publication of what never was intended to pass the eye and ear of the most intimate and confidential friendship,) to invade, we say, that public property, and lower the reputation of the hero and bis country.
Lord Nelson's private letters to Lady Hamilton contain absolutely nothing to justify their publication. Of his public transactions, or of his private sentiments of public affairs, they furnish no memorial ;—they are the mere records of the transient clouds of bis temper, of the passing feelings of his heart, of the peevishness which an anxious spirit and a sickly frame produced: and if we are obliged, in truth and candour, though most reluctantly, to say that they are coarse, shallow, and fulsome, miserably deficient in taste, ease, or amiability, let us not be accused of endeavouring, by this fair speaking of the truth, to degrade a name which we love almost to idolatry: our real motives are a true anxiety for his fame, and a desire to extinguish at once these base attempts at turning a penny by the prostitution of so noble a name, and the betraying of so high a confidence.
We knew Lord Nelson, and we saw in him abundant reason to excuse, almost to forget, these little imperfections of his noble nature-but even those who knew him not, or, we should rather
say, even those who only know him by his great achievements and generous spirit, will be prepared, from their own knowledge of human nature, to expect that so much zeal, such an ardent enthusiasın, such a self-devouring anxiety, as prompted him in his career of glory, would not have been unaccompanied by a certain inpatience of feeling, and a certain freedom of expression, which were naturally pardonable, indeed almost admirable, in the man himself, but which it is grievous to every honest heart, and injurious to the human character, to have recorded, chronicled, and exposed.
In the pangs of disappointed hope, in the pain of illness, in the hurry and agitation of great zeal and conscious supremacy of talent, is it very surprising that even the best, and dearest, and earliest friends of Nelson should, when they happened to cross the favourite path of his mind, to interrupt his glorious day-dreams, or, in their love and prudence, to think for him who never thought for himself; is it, we say, surprising, that they should be sometimes lightly treated in his hasty notes to a woman whom, un. fortunately, he adored rather than loved, and who has, by this publication, which appears to have been made, if not by her, at least with her sanction, proved herself but little worthy the confidence of such a man?
It may, perhaps, gratify the personal vanity of Lady Hamilton to publish to the world how Lord Nelson, and Lord Bristol, and twenty others, called her "their own dear, dearest, best beloved, and all accomplished, incomparable Emma:" but really this personal gratification is obtained at a price at which we did not think that the vainest and the most indelicate of her sex could have condescended to buy it. What will our readers think when we tell them, that in these letters, so complimentary to the elegant and delicate Emma, other females of the highest rank and the purest characters in society are designated by appellations so vulgar, so gross, so indecent, that we cannot stain our paper with them, and can only describe them as belonging to the dialect of the most depraved profligates of both sexes; and these horrible passages neither honour of the dead, nor tenderness for the living, nor respect for public decorum, has induced the editor (who, however, can obliterate on occasion) to expunge !
Beside Lord Nelson's letters, there are also published, under pretence of being “ elucidatory of his lordship’s letters to Lady Hamilton," a number of letters to and from other persons Lord Bristol, Mr. Alexander Davison, Sir William Hamilton, Lord St. Vincent, &c. &c. But these various letters are any thing but elucidatory of his lordship’s—they afford nothing like elucidation; they are the mere sweepings of the closet, the refuse of her bureau, which Lady Hamilton iad huddled together, to swell out into two volumes a publication which never should have been made at all; and this is done in the most obvious and undisguised spirit of bookmaking-for, the name of Nelson being the great bait of the trap, his lordship’s letters are placed not consecu. tively, in which case they would have occupied about the first volume, but they are divided, and placed at the beginning of each volume, while the latter part of both is given up to the supplementary matter—this editorial art will be set in its fairest light by stating, that the first volume contains 273 pages, of which only 163 are his lordship’s letters, and the rest is supplement; and of the 264 pages of the second volume 102 are Lord Nelson's, and 162 supplement.
After what we have said it will not be expected that we should make many extracts; but a few that we trust will be found innocent of immorality, or ill manners, we shall give.
There are one or two specimens in these letters of that extraordinary and magnanimous self-confidence which distinguished Lord Nelson.
“ The St. George will stamp an additional ray of glory to England's fame if Nelson survives; and that Almighty Providence, who has hitherto protected me in all dangers, and covered my head in the day of battle, will still, if it be his pleasure, support and assist me."-pp. 32, 33.
“ You ask me, my dear friend, if I am going on more expeditions?