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Handel, Arne, and others, to the melliAuous and enchanting
verses of Milton and Shakespear. The music composed for:
Macbeth, and many of the songs interspersed in the plays of the
latter, sufficiently indicate that affinity of genius which only
could reduce to rules of art, and adapt to musical expreffion the

Native wood-notes wild
of the most harmonious writer that ever exifted.

There is a wide difference, however, between setting a few
detached airs, and composing a whole drama. And if our mo-
dern opera-writers and composers, had but attended to-thofe
circumitances, which musical and poetical harmony have in
common with each other, it is presumed they might have fuc-
ceeded more happily than they have hitherto done. Nothing:
could possibly be more inconsistent with their design of improving.
this species of compofition, than the scheme of adopting blank
verse, with its prosaic periods of a mile, for the recitative of their
operas. The merit and success of Artaxerxes, however, seems
to have confirmed fucceeding composers in this error: for such
it is. We hardly know any piece worse written for mua
fic than this favorite performance. The language of the recia
tative is most execrably rough and hobbling : nay, if we remember -
right, we met with the horrid .contraction o' thhardly to be
tolerated in the vilest prose, twice inserted in one line... The
moft favorite air in the piece, begins also with the following
ungraceful repetition of the same syllable.

In infancy our hopes and fears, &c.
A writer for mufic should be extremely careful to avoid all
fuch instances of cacophony; laying it down as an invariable:
rule, that what cannot be gracefully read can never be melo:
diously fung. But the truth is, as above hinted, that our poets
are in general as little capable of reading with grace and pro:
priety as our composers. We know, some of the most harmo:
nious yersifiers now living, who are such intolerable readers, that.
it is impossible for a judicious ear to bear their repetition, even
of their own verses. So rare, indeed, is the exercise of a talent
for eloquence among us, that if a man deliver but a few con-
nected sentences, with tolerable Auency in public, he is looked
upon as a prodigy, and dignified with the name of an Orator.
Nor is this to be wondered at, if we reflect how much the art
of pronunciation, and graceful delivery in general, is neglected
in our schools and colleges. It is still leis to be wondered at, that
vocal music should be at so low an ebb, where even the natural
gift of speech is so little cultivated; or, that a people thould not
have learned the art of finging, who have not yet been properly
taught to speak


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Having been thus diffuse in our observations on operas in general, we shall detain our Readers the less by what we have to offer concerning Almena in particular. Had the music been published, indeed, we should have endeavoured to illustrate the foregoing remarks by some comparative extracts; although this might have been thought foreign, perhaps, to our province as literary Reviewerş. At present we can only take upon us to review the performance of the Writer. And this, considered as a piece intended for music, is almost as defective in point of language, as the plot and conduct of it is absurd, when viewed in the light of a dramatic composition.

We shall not trouble the Reader with the story or business of the piece, as the former is but indifferently chofen, and the latter very triling, and as indifferently transacted. It is on the whole, indeed, one of the most unequal performances we remember to have seen; the poetic merit of same few airs being equal to that of most in our language; while the composition in several others, is altogether contemptible. There appears also as much difference in the propriety with which they are in. troduced; the purport of many of them being entirely foreign to the buliness of the scene, and totally unconnected with the dialogue; while others again are more remarkably applicable ánd pertinent than is usual in works of this kind. The first song in the piece is of the former kind, and very improperly introduced, being neither adapted to the fituation of the character, nor giving any kind of information whatever to the audience s the fame may be said of several others. One would hardly think the Writer of the first, fifth, fixth, and ninth airs in the second act, could be guilty of such unmeaning, flimsy stanzas as we meet with, particularly near the end of the performance. We tall quote two or three from different parts of the piece, and leave our Readers to judge for themselves of the strange inequadity of this production.

The three following are bold, nervous, and significant. Air 1. A& II. A Soliloquy by Mirza, the Hero of the poem,

who is defeated, taken prisoner, and confined in a dungeon, where a lamp hangs glimmering above his head:

Uncimely setting at the dawn,
My fun of glory thus withdrawn,
No friendly beam fupplies its ray;
Save what this glow-worm light around
Sheds, dimly featter'd o'er the ground,

In absence of excluded day. Air 9: Act II. A moral rçfection by Abudah, a resolutę and prudent General, with which the act ends.


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Poiz'd in Heaven's eternal scale,
Virtue muft o'er Vice prevail ;
Tho' right to pow'r a while may bend,

Justice will triumph in the end.
A& III. The imprecation of Aspatia, a captive Queen,

enraged against the Tyrant and Usurper.
o Tyrant! horrible, accurs'd!

May, in vengeance from on high,

The swiftest lightnings fly,

On thy devoted head to burft!
The following are poetical and sentimental.
Air 5. A&. II. Afpatia's reply to the Tyrant's solicitations

of love.
Till thou see'At the timid fawn
With the rampant lion play;
Wolves and tygers crop the lawn,
Led by sportive lambs aftray;
Till the falcon wooes the dove,
And the vulture quits his prey;
From a tyrant's hated love,

Shall I turn with scorn away.
Air 6. A& II. The reflection of a lighted Princess, plotting

the destruction of her rival.
Though soft as down the female breatt,

When sway'd by love alone,
By jealousy if once possess'd,

The heart is turn'd to stone.
Air 1. Act III. A mother's complaint for the lofs of her

With doubts and fears for her I love,

My heart is still distress'd;
Ami&ted as the plaintive dove,

When plunder'd of her nest;.
When fad and moaning all the day,

She pines in solitude away. To these may be added, the second and fifth airs in the first act, and the ninth air in the third act: in all which the sentiments are characteristical and pertinent, and the versification chaste and correct. The following are of a different ffamp. Air 6. A&t. I. Soliloquy of a Princess in love,

Sure I feel the dart of love
Deep within my bosom move :
Paslion may perplex the heart,
Reason then thould heal the smart.



But if Reason quits the rein,
Love ufurping wide domain;
Mirza foon fhall freedom find,

If he proves to Zara kind. It is not uncommon to hear of a Lady's bolom being pierced by Cupid's dart; of his darts being transfixed deeply or lodged there: but for her to feel it move about there, is very extraordinary. On the whole, there is a strange jumble of metaphors in this air, which render the sense vague and obfcure, while the versification is mean and puerile. · The like.censure may be pafled on the following: Air 2: Aa III. Sung by Almena fupposed to be blind.

Where is Pity's melting eye,
Bearning like the widow'd dove,
As she heaves the tender figh,

Pining in the shady grove ? How a melting eye should beam like a widow'd dove, or what the Author means by it, we cannot devise : this fimile of the dove, however, is brought in very unluckily here, as it immediately succeeds that of the dove plundered of her nest in Aspatia's song above-quoted. Air 2. A& II. An invitation from Zara, a virgin Princess, to

a captive Prince.
Would you taste of freedom's charms,
Zara courts thee to her arms :
Distress like thine should pity move,
And Pity's ray may kindle love.
For my heart adopts thy woes,
Melting, thrilling as it glows:
Leave thy cell, and follow me.;

Love and Zara set thee free. That Pity should have a melting eye, as in the preceding air, is not at all amiss : but that Pity should be supposed to dart rays to kindle love, is as much as to compare it to the sun, a dull comparison truly! and yet we cannot light our pipes by his rays, without the interposition of a burning-glass.' As to the melting, thrilling, glowing heart-adopting woes, we can form no conception of the matter. Duet in the last Act. On the joyful meeting of Almena

and Afpatia.
Both. As flows the cool and purling rill,

In silver mazes down the hill ;
Alm. It chears the myrtle and the vine,

That in each other's foliage twine,

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Asp, So streams from the maternal heart,

What tender nature can impart :
Both. Thus happy in my arms to fold,

And to my heart Almena hold,

And to my heart Afpatia hold.
If the Reader can discover the propriety or beauty of this simile,
he hath more critical fagacity than we can prétend to. The
Hero is faluted in his triumphal entry by the following chorus
of Priests :

Hail! Victor, hail! with choral lay
We celebrate this glorious day.
Persia again fhall nobly fine,

Freedom is ours, and glory thine.
If Persia's shining had not been mentioned, would not this cho-
ral lay be a good deal in the ftyle of a Chriftmals carol?

God rest you, merry Gentlemen,

Let nothing you dismay, &c.
The following air is the last in the piece, and is sung by the
Hero of the Drama :

Fortune with a wanton joy,
Does her feeting power employ :
But firm enthron'd will Virtue reign,
Tho' giddy Fortune shifts the scene.
Nobly have we fought the foe;
Glory does its wreathes bestow :
Now che victory is won,

Freedom fall our labours crown.
We have heard frequently of wagers, and of battles being loy
and won, and of victories being gained; but, as a victory can-
not well be lost, unless people can be faid to lose what they do
not poffefs, so it cannot with much propriety be said to be won.
The fentiment in the laft line about Freedom, comes with very
little propriety also from the mouth of an Eastern Despot, the
abfolute master of the lives and properties of his subjects. The
air might as well have ended thus; and it would have been as
good sense, and much better rhime:

Now the crown of Persia's won,

And our opera is done. As to the Recitative, it is written in a kind of prosaic blank verse, and therefore not in fo Aowing a style as, for the reasons above given, is requisite for music. It is otherwise, for the most part, correct and nervous, except where the Writer hath too much affected metaphor and allegory. Thus Almena desires Abudah not



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