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dignified as it was only by the gifts of the Holy Ghost. Thert traces it, as far as history will permit, through the darker agés. And while, with a candour that does him credit, he scorns to defend the then corrupted state of the order, he feem's very sena fibly to feel the obloquy in which the religion itself has been in volved through the degeneracy of its ministers. Yet even in this gloomy period the priesthood appears more enlightened than any other class, and to exert all its powers in protecting the weak, and restoring a kind of savage, morality; nor is it to be forgotten that the first attempts at a reformation were the intrepid efforts of a priest.
This leads our author to an inquiry into the present state of the church and its ministers. Here, while no allowance for human weakness is required further than what the severity of scepticism would admit, it is boldly contended that the too com: mon suggestions against the clergy are unfounded, illiberal, and unjuft ; that the severity with which the few culprits it has to lament are juftly treated, is a proof of a purity of morals in the body at large. The necessity of religion, and of an order of men set apart from the common concerns of life, is next ably insisted on. This naturally leads to a review of the manner in which the clergy are supported; and our author pathetically laments the peculiar hardship under which those of the principality labour from the number of impropriations, and the poverty of its preferments.
Our author then proceeds to give an account of the charity for the benefit of which his sermon was intended; and we sincerely with our limits would permit us to offer, in his own words, the many forceable arguments, and the delicate addresses to the feelings, with which this part abounds. We can, however, only conclude with referring our reader to the work, and with sincerely wishing it may be attended with all the success the intention of the preacher, and the importance of the object, entitle it to.
Art. V. Letters upon the Poetry and Music of the Italian Opera:
Addressed to a Friend. By the late Mr. Jonn Brown, Painter. Small 8vo. 35. 6d. Bell, Edinburgh; Elliott, London, 1789.
TT appears Mr. Brown was not Icís endowed with a juft taste
for painting than its fifter arts poetry, and more especially music. The science of the Italian opera was very familiar to him; and though he was a great admirer of it, he was not insensible of the absurdities of modern refinement, in making taste
subservient Tubfervient to the difficulty of execution. After Thewing the advantages, that forceable expressions of the different paflions might derive from the aid of music, the author apologises for recitative, inasmuch as it prevents the perpetual transition from poetry to prose, from music to plain speaking, which disgraces our English comic opera ; " that the music of the recitative, though for convenience confined to bars, is not subjected to precise musical measure, but regulated by the natural prosody of the language. In a note subjoined to this passage our author illustrates the subject by produeing several Italian words, which he shews have, in these musical compositions, a degree of time allotted to them equal to the quantities they hold in.common speech : thus amo, consisting of a long and short syllable, has for its first syllable a crotchet, for its second a quaver, as amo,
docile and Aebile, making an exact Latin dactyle, have a limi, lar allotment of time in music, as docile, Aebile. While our
C author discanted thus in praise of the application of the Italian language to musical recitative, he might have recollected thas the same may be done in any language thar ever yet was spoken, or that can be spoken, that the fame has ever been attended to in English burlettas, except where a deviation from it may serye to heighten any ludicrous event or expression, as in the address of Minerva to Paris in the burlettà of the Golden Pippin ; .
" I'll make your fortune in the mi-litá-ry.' Here the lengthening out the last word by a false quantity, adds much to the drollery of addressing such a speech to a powdered beau. While we are ready to allow the disadvantages our language labours under from its too great abundance of consonants, we think the last observation shews this does not render it unfit for musical recitative; it is allowed by all that its force in heroic poetry is much increased; and we shall produce an instance to Thew it is capable, when rightly managed, even in the fonnet, of much softness, without any violation of its true profody. It is not a little remarkable, that in the music of the old ballad of Grammachree Molly, scarce a syllable should be accented different from its proper pronunciation. Let us take the following line:
• Such fondness, once for me was shewn.'.. If the reader either read or fing this line, he will be sensible of the force of our remark; let him transpose a single fyllable, and . the truth of it will be more striking :
. Such fondness for me once was shewn.?. :. ENG. REV. VOL. XV. MARCH 1790. :
By this apparently trilling alteration, for instead of me becomes a dong syllable in reading, and has a crotchet instead of a quaver affigned it in the music; nor is the effect lefs striking, even to an ordinary ear, in the latter than in the former. Having taken the liberty of throwing in this little vindication of our own language, we shall proceed with the work before us. The author next marks, with equal justice and taste, the various powers of recitative, the manner in which it is, under different circum. ftances, connected with the air, and the advantages it frequently derives from the orchestra. The different species of airs are next considered, and their divisions marked with much clearness and propriety. We could have wished the examples produced had been translated into verse instead of prose, by which their effect would have been increased, and the whole assumed a more inviting and uniform air. The fymphony is described with much perspicuity, and its varieties and occasional omissions traced. · The species of air are divided into cantabile, di portamento da mezzo caratere, parlante, di bravura or di agilita. These are all well described, and illustrated with suitable examples as well as remarks, for which we must refer the reader to the work itself. We shall offer the concluding observations as a specimen of the work, and as containing many useful hints to most performers: and composers:
• From what has been said of the aria di portamento, the cantabile, the mezzo caratere, and the different subdivisions of the aria parlante, I hope I have, in some degree, made it plain to your lordihip that there is no affection of the human breaft, from the flightest and most gentle stirring of sentiment to the most frantic degrees of passion, which fome one of these classes is not aptly suited to express. "If this be true, other classes muft be either bad or fuperfluous. This, in fact, is the case of the aria di agilità, or aria di bravura, as it is fometimes called; in treating of which, it will be almost sufficient to repeat to your lordship the description I gave of it in the general enub meration of the different classes; it is an air composed chiefly, indeed too often merely, to indulge the finger in the display of certain powers in the execution, particularly extraordinary agility of compass of voice. In such a composition, the means are evidently confounded with the end of the art; dexterity (if I may be allowed the expression) and artifice, instead of serving as the instruments, being made the ob ject of the work; such are the airs which, with us, we fo frequently observe sung to ears erect, and gaping mouths, whilft 'the heart, in honest apathy, is carrying on its mere animal function; and of this kind, indeed, are all the attempts, in the different arts, to fubfti. tute what is difficult or novel for what is beautiful and natural. Where there has ever been a genuine faste for any of the arts, this aptness to admire what is new and difficult is one of the first symptoms of the decline of that taste; such is at present the case in Italy with
refpect respect to all the arts; but the admiration bestowed in Britain on diffis culty and novelty, in preference to beauty and fimplicity, is the effects not of the decline, but of the total want of taste, and proceeds from the same principles with the admiration of tumbling and ropea dancing, which the multitude may gaze on with astonishment long before they are susceptible of the charms of graceful and elegant pantomime, these feats of agility having exactly the same relation to fine dancing that the abovementioned airs have to expressive music: they are therefore, I conceive, incompatible with the nature of a feo rious drama; but in the burletta or comic opera, in which much greater liberties may be taken, I think I have sometimes heard them introduced with success« In a comedy a pretty frolicksome coquette may be supposed to cut an elegant caper, at once. to show her legs and to display her skill in dancing; nay, such a stroke might be characteriftic, and therefore proper : so a gay fashionable lady might, with a kind of graceful levity, express, by an air of this kind, some of her pretty capricious humours, equally unintelligible with the mufic itself, the merit of both consisting merely in the prettinefs of the man. her; for this kind of music, though incapable of any expression excepting that perhaps of gaiety in general, may yet have all the beauty which can be given to it by a fine voice running, with ease and velocity, through an arrangement of notes, not in itself unpleasing, just as the humour of the lady, though perhaps rather unmeaning, máy be accompanied with many graces of countenance, figure, voice, and motion.
• Now the union of all this with the music produces often, without any violation of propriety, a very happy effect on the stage ; but your lord ship will observe with what absurd impropriety thefe airs often make a part of our concerts, where all this elegant flirtation of face and figure is forbidden, and where these fanciful and exuberant sallies are gravely pronounced by a lady standing at the harpsicord with downcalt, or at beft unmeaning eyes, and without the smallest apparent tendency to motion.'
Every reader of taste will admit the justice of these remarks, and regret that the Italian airs are so often brought into obloquy by such improper application in fmall parties at private houses.
We have next a concluding chapter, containing much ingenuity of expression and reasoning on the power of music to pro. duce ideas of grandeur, swiftness, and other subjects not immediately connected with sound, as well as what our author calls imitative music; where the orchestra gives some idea of the scene and surrounding objects, even where the words of an air must be sung in a very different manner. Here too we recommend the musical reader to peruse a passage we can neither do justice to, nor abbreviate, nor will our limits allow us to transcribe it.
Though our author is ready to admit himself an unequal judge how far enthusiasm may have warped his judgment, and on that account does not wish to undervalue the good sense of those who have no taste for his favourite compositions ; yet he M 2
, every where points out with freedom the blameable excesses to
which some otherwise beautiful movements are frequently cara ried. On the whole, we cannot but recommend this little pere formance 'as replete with candour, taste, and sound judgment.
Art. VI. Archæologia; or, Miscellaneous Tracts relating to Anti
quity. Published by the Society of Antiquaries of London. VOL.VIII. . 4to. Il, Is. White. London, 1787.
. [Continued. ] XXV. Account of an ancient Inscription in North-America. By
· "the Rev. Michael Lort, D.D. V. P. A.S. THIS account thews the wonderful influence of imagina.
1 tion in the human mind. In Taunton river, Narraganset bay, New England, are upon a large rock feven or eight lines, seven or eight feet in length, and about a foot in breadth, confisting of seeming characters and some figures. These M. Gebelin of the Academy of Sciences at Paris, considered as Punick, and produced them gravely as proofs, of a Carthaginian visit to America. A Dr. Stiles of Connecticut, equally confidering them as Punick, and torturing them into the support of another system in favour of triumphant rebellion, makes them the work of the Phænician fugitives of Canaan, who fled to America, we suppose, from the arms of Joshua, the son of • Nun, the robber.' And Colone Vallancey, considering them in a different light, and imagining them to be Tartarean, esteems them the act of the first and Tartar inhabitants of America. On such a wild fea of hypothesis are we tossed in this essay,, no one of the hypothesis-mongers pretending all the time to read them, though they have them by copies under their eye. Dr. Lort presumes not to offer any hypothesis. When I first saw (it in M. Gebelin's book,' he says, I own I could conceive of
it as nothing more than the rude scrawls of some of the Indian
tribes, commemorating their engagements, their marches, or ( their hunting parties.' And if the different copies and ac
counts of it,' he adds at the close, which I have been able to ? collect, shall enable any person to throw any new light on so
obscure a subject; I shall think the attention I have paid to 'it, amply recompensed.' * XXVI. Obfervations on the American Inscription. By Colonel
Charles Valluncey, F.A.S." This effay is to support that opinion of the colonel's, which we have mentioned from Dr. Lort before. From this it appears that some letters passed betwixt the colonel and the late M. Gebelin, on the subject; and that the latter at length o acknowledged his doubts, in short, tacitly gave up the point.' And we now beg leave to give our opinion upon the whole.