Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

get rid of them at his will. For this purpose, he begged the keeper to give him a cat, which he put in a cage, and let loose at the very instant when the little hairy people were most entranced by the Orphean skill he displayed.

We have the following curious anecdote on this subject by Marville. He says, that doubting the truth of those who say it is natural for us to love music, especially the sound of instruments, and that beasts themselves are touched with it, being one day in the country, I inquired into the truth; and while a man was playing on the trump marine, made my observations on a cat, a dog, a horse, an ass, a hind, cows, small birds, and a cock and a hen, who were in the yard, under a window on which I was leaning. I did not perceive that the cat was the least affected, and I even judged by her air, that she would have given all the instruments in the world for a mouse, sleeping in the sun all the time; the horse stopped short from time to time before the window, raising up his head now and then, as he was feeding on the grass ; the dog conti. nued for above an hour seated on his hind legs, looking stedfastly at the player; the ass, eating his thistles, did not discover the least indication of his being moved; the hind lifted up her large wide ears, and seemed very attentive; the cows stopped a little, and after gazing as though they had been acquainted with U6, went forward ; some little birds who were in an aviary, and others on the trees and bushes, almost split their little throats with singing; but the cock, who

minded only his hens, and the hens who were solely occupied in scraping a neighbouring dung-hill, did not shew in any manner that they took the least pleasure in hearing the trump marine.

The charming of snakes and other venomous reptiles by the power of music, among the Indians, is notorious to all travellers. These anecdotes, which may startle some, seem to be fully confirmed by Sir William Jones, in his curious Dissertation on the Musical Modes of the Hindoos.

“ After food,” says he, “when the operation of digestion and absorption give so much employment to the vessels, that a temporary state of mental repose, especially in hot climates, must be found essential to health, it seems reasonable to believe that a few

agreeable airs, either heard or played without effort, must have all the good effects of sleep, and none of its disadvantages; putting, as Milton says, the soul in tune, for any subsequent exertion; an experiment often successfully made by myself. I have been assured by a credible witness, that two wild antelopes used often to come from their woods to the place where a more savage beast, Serajuddaulah, entertained himself with concerts, and that they listened to the strains with the appearance of pleasure, till the monster, in whose soul there was no music, shot one of them to display his archery. A learned native told me he had frequently seen the most venomous and learned snakes leave their holes upon hearing tunes on a flute, which, as he supposed, gave them peculiar delight.”

Mr. Gibbon, in the last volume of his History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, observes, that experience has proved that the mechanical operation of sounds, by quickening the circulation of the blood and spirits, will act on the human machine more forcibly than the eloquence of reason and honour. Of this remark, the following anecdote, from a late Tour in England and Scotland, is a remarkable illustra

tion:

“Beyond all memory or tradition, the favourite instrument of the Scotch musicians has been the bagpipe, introduced into Scotland at a very early period, by the Norwegians.

“ The large bag-pipe is the instrument of the Highlanders for war, for marriage, for funeral processions, and other great occasions. They have also a smaller kind, on which dancing tunes are played. A certain species of this wind music, called Pibrochs, rouses the native Highlanders in the same way that the sound of the trumpet does the war-horse; and even produces effects little less marvellous than those recorded of the ancient music. At the battle of Quebec, while the British troops were retreating in great confusion, the general complained to a field-officer of Frazer's regiment, of the bad behaviour of his corps. “Sir, answered he, with some warmth, you did very Wrong in forbidding the pipes to play this morning nothing encourages Highlanders so much in a day of action ; nay, even now they would be of use.''Let them blow like the devil,' replied the general,

if it will bring back the men.' The pipes were ordered to play a favourite martial air. The Highlanders, the moment they heard the music, returned and formed with alacrity in the rear.

In the late war in India, Sir Eyre Coote, after the battle of Porto Nuova, being aware of the strong attachment of the Highlanders to their ancient music, expressed his approbation of their behaviour on that day, by giving them fifty pounds to buy a pair of bagpipes.”

Jackson, of Exeter, in reply to the question of Dryden, “ What passion cannot music rise or quell ?” sarcastically returns, “What passion can music rise or quell?” Would not a savage, who had never listened to a musical instrument, feel certain emotions at listening to one for the first time? But civilized man is, no doubt, particularly affected by association of ideas, all pieces of natural music evidently prove.

The Rans des Vaches (the cow-song), mentioned by Rousseau, in his Musical Dictionary, though without any thing striking in the composition, has such a powerful influence over the Swiss, and impresses them with so violent a desire to return to their own country, that it was forbidden to be played in the Swiss regiments, in the French service, under pain of death. There is also a Scotch tune, which has the same effect on some of our North Britons. In one of our battles in Calabria, a bagpiper, of the seventy-eighth Highland regiment, when the light infantry charged the French, posted himself on their right, and remained in his solitary situation during the whole of the battle, encouraging

as

the men with a famous Highland charging tune; and actually upon the retreat and complete rout of the French, changed it to another, equally celebrated in Scotland, upon the retreat of, and victory over, an enemy. His next hand neighbour guarded him so well that he escaped unhurt. This was the spirit of the - last minstrel,” who infused courage among his countrymen, by possessing it in so animated a degree, and in so venerable a character. To conclude

לל

The man that hath no music in himself,
Nor is moved by coucord of sweet sounds,
Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils;
The motives of his spirit are black as night,
And his affections dark as Erebus :
Let po such man be trusted.

SHAKSPEARE.

Music, of all arts, gives the most universal pleasure, and pleases longest and oftenest. Infants are charmed with the melody of sounds; old age is animated by enlivening notes. Arcadian shepherds drew pleasures from their reeds; the solitude of Achilles was cheered by his lyre; the English peasant rejoices in his pipe and tabor; and the mellow sounds of the flute delight and solace many an idle hour.

We have already alluded to its influence on animals of the brute creation:

For do but note a wild and wanton herd,
Or race of youthful and unhandled colts,
Fetching mad bounds, bellowing and neighing loud,
(Which is the hot condition of their blood);
If they perchance but hear a trumpet_sound,

« ForrigeFortsæt »