Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

BLACKWOOD'S EDINBURGH MAGAZINE.

No. LXXVIII.

JULY, 1823.

VOL. XIV.

LONDON ODDITIES AND OUTLINES,
“Quicquid agunt homines."

No. I.
London has now gone through her cause of some of our public phenome-
intellectual year ; for, after the first of na. Why Sir Robert Wilson is as
July, no man writes, reads, or thinks. much forgotten as if he had never ra-
The booksellers stray through dusty ved; why no man alive asks whether
and deserted shops; authorship, weary he is, at this sultry hour, hiding his
and wasted, coils itself in its secret glory and his honours in a cabaret at
haunts, till winter shall revive it to Corunna, or cooling his ambition in a
plumpness and activity again. Actors Portuguese jail ;-why common halls
play Clari, Adelgitha, and such other are vocal no more with radical non-
symptoms of theatrical exhaustion ; sense and grammarless language ;-
legislators hurry to the country to can- why Huntand Lord Ellenborough have
vass the wives of the men of corpora- equally disappeared from the streets,
tions, and shoot partridges ; parlia- and Holland House incubates young
ment expires in the languid impeach- reviewers no more ;-why the Duke of
ment of an Irish judge, and the bur. Devonshire suddenly saves his lamp-
lesque puzzling of an Orange examin- light, and throws Piccadilly into a
ation ; Canning speaks no more; the darkness emblematic of his own ora-
Chancellor of the Exchequer brings tory ;-why Michael Angelo Taylor
out his budget ; and Brougham talks vapours no longer against chancellors,
-the effect is irresistible ; and St chimney-sweepers, and id genus omne,
Stephens is emptied of all who have ears bag-bearing and black-vestured, &c.
to hear. Bond-Street has symptoms of Of all these wonders, the true solu.
agricultural produce aspiring between tion is sudden sunshine.
its stones; Lord Petersham abjures Montesquieu was in the right, after
his black silk shirt, and wears a white all. Men are made by the climate.
neckcloth-sign that the season is Their minds are, like their bodies,
over when men of fashion were to be earth and water; and laws and go-
made envious. Barristers quarrel with vernment have no more actual influ-
each other in empty courts; and allence on them, than on the copiousness
Cheapside is transmitting its tepid ele- of cabbage-leaves, or the toughness of
gance to steam-packets under weigh turnips.
for the mouth of the Thames.

Vhy is the German a worshipper When a rise of ten degrees in the of eternal dissertations on Hebrew thermometer can work such changes, roots, and a propagator of the muddiwho shall wonder that the first topic est philosophy on the dingiest paper ? of English conversation is the “ wea- Why is he, par excellence, a dreaming ther ?"

politician and a mystic theologue ? If, in some of the future revolu- Simply because he sees nature through tions of climate, England should pos- a fog, and deepens that fog with the sess a settled sky, and men should be eternal fume of his own tabacco. Why accustomed to expect a summer, pos- is the Spaniard the most consummate terity will be at a loss to conceive the of idlers, the most devoted of lovers, VOL. XIV.

A

1

and the most extravagant of poets? state of such utter dilution, that scarceSimply because he is the most sun- ly a speech has been uttered since the burnt of men. Why is the Frenchman beginning of the year, loud or deep all over caprice, feeble and violent, gay enough to remind us of the existence and gloomy,—this month a worship- of the legislature. All public meetings per of the Bourbon, and the next, si seemed to have been soaked away. A Diis placeat, un brave de la republique ? few rash attempts made in York, in a Because he breathes a milder fitful'sky, vain reliance on waterproof cloaks, and is more frequently washed from umbrellas, and popular irritation, were - head to foot by the free bounty of the visited with immediate and vindictive heavens, and dried by the same cheap torrents; and, from the utter silence and summary exsiccation, than any which has since filled that region of man between the Poles. Why do an wrongs and oratory, it is concluded Englishman's doors and windows shut that the chief speakers, several of whom close, while beyond his shores there is had long found it difficult to keep their not a door or window in Europe that heads above water, had fairly gone is not freely entered and battered down. In Parliament, Mr Canning's by shower and storm? Why is he a exposé of the Bourbons, and Mr Plunman of broad-cloth and bent brows, a kett's exposé of himself, were expressly lover of firesides and a puddler in des- put off till those months when there perate finance, --of sullen aspect and might be a hope of fine weather. On sturdy politics ? Because it rains every the stage nothing had appeared, but a month in the year. His house is a play by Miss Mitford, an extremely ship, he must therefore spend his life watery production, and an eastern mein caulking and nailing. He has an lodrame, of which by much the finest instinctive horror of a chink; he navi- scenery represented the bottom of the gates among the nations; and he has

sea. In poetry we had but one publithus become the most plodding, hu- cation, and that one was upon the demid, prosperous, and unhappy, of ani- luge. Thus we were in a state of unimals.

versal humectation at home,-abroad, Half of this year has been rain. We war paused on the Pyrenees, and carare more fortunate in our power of re ried a barometer instead of a sword. sisting submersion than our forefa In Africa, the invasion of the Manthers; in Noah's time, it rainel but dingoes was washed back by an inune forty days. Such is the benefit of cus dation, and Cape Coust Castle preserved tom. As it is, however, the effect of for new crimes and calentures. Alongthe this determined irrigation was formi. Zaura, supplications for sunshine were dably obvious. I disdain to allude to put up to Mahomet, through ten dethe extinction of fields and farm-yards, grees of sand and lions; and, for the and the utter absorption of all that first time in the life of the colony, the once made the physiognomy of spring. settlers in Hottentots' Holland were The nobler operations of the mind, wet from Heaven. ministerial and opposition, were in a

English Songs." The English have been charged by music of their own, infinitely purer, foreigners with having no native mu more original, and more touching, sic. This charge partakes of the spirit than all the canzonets and cavatinas, of all foreign accusations, and is part from the Alps to Vesuvius. ly prejudice, and partly ignorance, let But even among ourselves there the impeachment be laid by whom it have been many shrewd doubts and may. With the chief portion it is bitter aspersions on the musical fertirank ignorance; for under the name lity of the centre of the island. That of England they have included the fat and flourishing district, which has empire, and are still, in ninety-nine supplied the realm with sovereigns and instances out of a hundred, to be told merchants, and has borne away the that Ireland and Scotland have had a palm in beeves and battles, from time

• The Loyal and National Songs of England, for one, two, or three Voices. Selected from original MSS. and early printed copies in the library of William Kitchener, M. D. London, Hurst and Robinson, 1823.

immemorial, has undoubtedly had oc- an apotheosis for having gathered a cupations more stirring and engrossing volume of those fine records. His than those of the whole host of min- work comprehends fifty-six of the strelsy, northern or western. A great, most celebrated old land songs. Anbusy-governing, opulent, prosperous, other volume will present a selection public-speaking, turtle-feeding, trade of the finest in honour of our sea gloloving country, cropped with parlia- ries, and both will form a collection ment men, bishops, and philosophers; of singular value and interest, whether a huge mart for all the nations of thé as specimens of English music, or meearth, a spot to which the Virginian, morials of the predominant feeling of as he sets his tobacco, and the Kam our forefathers in their days of victory schatkan, as he skins bis ermine, cast and patriotism. their eyes with a fellow-fondness for The volume, a showy folio, is prethe due return ;-England has had faced by an introduction treating of other things to do with its sleek and the general design of the work. The pursy opulence, or with its turbulent doctor hereindulges in the triumphant and per vous industry, or with its tone of successful authorship." The haughty and supreme ambition, than first number of the Loyal And NAthe idlers of Italy. She has paid for TIONAL Songs of England will be their music; she has had the whole a sufficient answer to those who have continentquick-eared and open-mouth- heedlessly said, the English have no ed for her pay. In the spirit of poli- national songs, and prove the proud tical economy she has found it cheap- fact in direct contradiction, that no er to import, than to raise the commo. nation in the world has half so many dity, and she has imported it accor- loyal, nor half so many national songs. dingly. If she have not hitherto shown What country can boast more beautia Catalani propagated on the banks of ful national songs than God save the the Thames, or a Farinelli of indispu- King, Toarms, Rule Britannia, Hearts table Yorkshire, it is because she has of Oak, and a hundred others which not thought it worth her while; or if are presented to the public in this she be content to take Rossini's music work?” Then follows a list of names at second-hand, or leave Germany the beloved by glee clubs and the men of honour of the only Mozart, it is be- cathedrals, but eclipsed in our degenecause she has been too busy and too rate day by foreign balladmongers." much pleased with settling the affairs The list is nearly thirty long, and of the earth, to think about the manu- boasts of Locke, Purcell, Bird, Carey, facture of composers. Yet England has Leveridge, Croft, Green, coming down had great composers, (for the true esti- through the Arnes, &c. to Calcott.mate is genius, not volume,) though Even among the modern composers a she neither forced the soil for them, vast number of works, popular in their nor extinguished her other products to day, have been flung into unmerited fill the world with sonatas-yes, GREAT oblivion, as the occasion passed away. COMPOSERS. Some of these men are This is the natural course of things. known but by a few melodies, but Victory supersedes victory, and with melodies of the heart, things pe- the old success perishes the old song. rennis ævi ; substantial additions to Party is trampled under the heel of the national treasure of delights; bold, party; the Tory once shrunk before natural, and characteristic appeals to the Whig, and the Muses were furithe natural impulses of the English ously solicited to sing his discomfiture; character, or deep and most touching the Whig changed his principles, grew responses to the pathos of a people, contemptible, and lost the favour at that in all their busy life have as deep once of the nation, and of Parnassus. a tenderness as ever sang to the moon Honest men eschewed the name, and light in the most sentimental casino in good poets scorned to give an eleemosight of St Marks. The majority of synary stanza to its manes. Toryism their songs are, as they should be, in rose for the honour of common sense, the spirit of a brave, free, and conquere and the good of the country; and if it ing nation—the first on land and sea, has hitherto been tardy in cementing with its heart eminently engaged in its constitutional supremacy by its all the achievements, and chances of harmonic captivations, yet, as all the those whom it sends to struggle round songs in honour of English honour, the world. Doctor Kitchener deserves loyalty, and glory, are palpably but

Toryism set to music, it is still at the form accessible to our modern perforhead of affairs in Helicon, without mers, who would have been formidably costing itself an additional stave. Our repelled by its six-line staves, and its musicians have not been idle. The merciless variety of cleffs. This comcomplete published works of the Eng- position is "merely a ground or volunlish composers fill two hundred and fifty tary for the organ, of the four notes, folio volumes ; and we venture to pre C, G, F, E, with twenty-six different "dict, that the doctor's sale, serus in basses !” and, as the editor pledges cælum, will be the choicest compila- himself,“ is no more like them now tion of black-letter melody that has sung, than a frog is like an ox. The been committed to the eloquence and editor's contemptuous conviction is, the hainmer of a Christie, or an Evans," that there is no other than mere since Queen Elizabeth played upon hearsay evidence or vague conjecture, the virginals.

as to the composer or the time of this This collection is attended with anthem, nor any proof that the words. all imaginable advantages for all kinds or the music of God save the King, as of professors and performers. Regu- now sung, had been either seen or lar scores for the scientific; simple heard previously to October 1745, basses for the novice ; in brief, all when it was published in the Gentlethe cunning of counterpoint display- man's Magazine. In the table of coned in all its charms. The introduc- tents prefixed to that month's magation discusses a question which had zine, it is styled, 'God save our Lord lately excited infinite curiosity among the King, a new song.'”—This is powthe cognoscenti, and been the unbappy erful authority, but it has not altogeparent of a thick quarto the true his- ther cured the world of scepticism; tory of God save the King. The quarto and no subject can be worthier of the had decided that Doctor John Bull was summer consideration of my Lord the composer. No man will deny that Aberdeen and the Antiquarian Societhe song, if it ever had a composer at ty. In addition to this preface, curious all, ought to have had one bearing this little notices of the principal songs are name. But see “how a plain tale puts given, and the work, in general, is a down” a happy theory. In all the vo- capital specimen of musical publicalumes left by the doctor, and they are tion. many and mighty, there is not a bar The names of the songs are a treaof the great symbol of loyalty. sure of loyalty in themselves, the

“It is recorded in page 205 of Ward's sound of a trumpet to the ear of all Lives of the Gresham Professors, that lovers of the Catch-club and the conone of Doctor John Bull's books con- stitution. The praises, healths, and tained a composition of his, which he prosperities of monarchy, take, as they entitled God save the Kinge.' The ought, the first place; and we have, editor has the volume in his posses, including “God save the King” twice sion, and in it there is indubitably a over, a whole succession of kingly meGod save the King, pressed into juxta- lodies, in all the forms of song, glee, position with a Fantarin, Felix af- catch, and chorus. We have thus, fertorium, a Levez vous Cæur, and a "Long live the King, composed by Philis heft myn hert Gestoolen ; but Handel, in 1745,” for the Gentlemen this associate of love and piety, Latin, Volunteers of the City of London. French, and Dutch, is no more like The words are true, honest, straightthe true, than the Doctor to Hercules. forward allegiance, and such as might In the present publication, the work bring discomfiture to the heart of any of Bull is not only made visible, but Whig, even in our day of rebellious brought, by the industry of Mr Ed- politics and romantic poetry. Ex. Gr. ward Jones, the King's bard, into a

“ Stand round, my brave boys,
With heart and with voice,

And all in full chorus agree;
We'll fight for our King,
And as loyally sing,

And let all the world know we'll be free.

“ 'The rebels shall fly,
As with shouts we draw nigh,

And Echo shall Victory ring;
Then safe from alarms,
We'll rest on our arms,

And chorus it, ' Long live the King !"" This is poetry to the purpose,-no Long live Great George,” (Dr rambling about groves and doves, lips Boyce, 1730.) and sips; no raving about sobs and sun « God preserve his Majesty," (Dr flowers, and “victory's moon;" but Blow, 1699.). proper words in proper places, and It is painful to pass over the poetry adapted to the capacity of volunteers. which gave force to those fine meloThe whole corporation of the Pierides dies. But Here's a health to our King could not have done it better.

has an irresistible claim on our comThis is followed by a long and wor- memoration, from its having been a thy list of

favourite of Swift, a name “ unmusi“ Great George is King,” (1745.). cal to Volscian ears." The poetry is

“ Here's a health to our King," first-rate in its style. (1700.)

“ Here's a health to the King,
And a lasting peace;
May the factious (the Whigs) be hanged,
And Discord cease!

“ Come, let us drink it while we've breath,
For there's no drinking after death ;
And he that will this health deny,
Down among the dead men let him lie.

Down, down, down, down! (ad libitum.) Yet it has competitors, and Dr Blow's renowned catch may rely on immortality, if such can be gained by pithiness of conclusion.

“ God preserve his Majesty,
And for ever send him victory,
And confound all his enemies !
-TAKE OFF YOUR HOCK, SIR!

- Amen!”

No. 11., written in 1700, has all the merits of the Augustan era. It is true, terse, triumphant, and Toryish.

“ Here's a health to the King, who has said from his throne,
That his heart is true English, as well as our own.
“ And the Church, fixed by law, is resolved to maintain
Through the courze of his life, and the course of his reign.
“ Thus we need not to fear any danger to come,

While our arms rule abroad, and our King reigns at home.”
But Harrington's Round distances all the rest. The sentiment is as old as
the days of Alfred, and the phraseology was probably copied from the Runic.
It is the true sublime.

A Toast for the Enemies of Ol England.

“ Cobweb breeches, hedgehog saddles,
Jolting horses, stony roads,
And tedious marches, (in æternum.")

« ForrigeFortsæt »