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The Scotch peasantry are attached to their bagpipes ; and the superior orders are so delighted with music, that it is said alone to have the power of making them enthusiasts. Previous to the rebellion in 1745, the Highlanders used to assemble at each other's cottages, and listen with delight, of a winter's evening, to those fragments of Gaelic poetry, from which Macpherson composed those poems, now dignified by the name of Ossian. These fragments were, not unfrequently, sung to national airs. Genuine Scotch music owes the peculiarity, by which it is distinguished, to its containing the fourth and the seventh of the modern diatonic scale of music. The same system of intervals is said a to distinguish the music of Japan and China.
If,—as ancient sages ween,-
Can mingle with the mortal throng;
That warbles in our Scottish song b.
The Dervises of the East hold the flute to be the most sacred of instruments ; because the shepherds of the Old Testament sung hymns to it. The Turks and Moors are partial to their cymbals and dulcimers; and the Greeks are still delighted with their lyres and flutes. They are indeed so partial to music", that they seldom hear a nightingale, but they stop to listen to it.
How delightful, too, in former times, was it to hear the violins of the peasantry in France; and not unfrequently to
which he gave them meat and drink, and not unfrequently engaged a minstrel for their diversion. He quotes also an instance of the same kind in the kingdom of Whidah *, in South-Western Africa, where the people in the king's field are entertained with music during all the time of their labour. In many parts of England, and Wales too, farmers employ fiddlers to play in the field, while men are reaping or mowing. a Macculloch.
6 Leyden. e De Guys, vol. iii. 83.
* Mod. Univ. Hist. xvi. 429.
hear them sing anthems in the open air at the doors of their cottages ! The Russian airs resemble Italian ones so much, that when Kotzebue heard an Italian, at any time, sing in the fields, he almost imagined himself transported into Russia. This similitude has been attributed to the airs of both countries having been originally derived from the ancient Greeks.
Even the Americans begin to relish music. In the time of Brissot they were accustomed to sit with their families on benches in the front of their houses, enjoying the placidity of the summer's evenings:-a patriarchal picture now seldom witnessed in that land of worldly impulses. But the backsettler, in the midst of boundless forests, cheers the hours of leisure and of winter frequently with an old violin : and the boatmen, plying from La Prairie to Montreal, amuse themselves and their passengers, across the Saint Laurence, singing, in full chorus, songs in French a ; keeping time with their oars ; and pausing at the end of each stanza ; when the thread of the song is resumed by the steersman.
How far superior are those pictures by Italian masters, which represent peasants, dancing by the light of the moon, to the merry-makings of a Dutch painter, or even Wilkie's Penny-wedding! Claude frequently embellishes the most lovely of his landscapes with similar groups. The vintage in France is a season sacred to the poet and the painter; it was equally so in ancient Greece ; and few of its pictures were more agreeable to the imagination than those, describing the young of both sexes dancing ; while a youth in the midst of them was tuning the fate of Linus. After dancing a short time, the whole circle suddenly stopped, took up the melody, and answered in chorus.
Lucian informs us, that in his time a shepherd was accustomed to place himself in the midst of his companions, who danced round him, while he played upon the flute. At length the shepherd began to dance as well as to play, and then the whole party exhibited the most elegant positions ; and the evening passed as if it were consecrated to Apollo. Maximus Tyrius even ascribes the origin of the drama to the songs and dances of husbandmen, at the close of their harvests : and one of the most beautiful subjects, found at Herculaneum, represents a young villager, leaning on a pitcher near the margin of a fountain. A shepherd, passing with his flock, stops and plays an air on his pipe ; while the villager seems to listen with timid and breathless rapture.
a Palmer's Trav, Amer. p. 210.
But, for the most part, the simple words “my own ” have more charms for mankind, than all the pieces of Mozart or Handel; a gold cup than a statue of Canova ; and men give more honour to a man of rank, than to a poet of the first order. These errors and prejudices will, one day, undulate away.
Strabo relates, that as a musician was employing his talents, in the streets of Lassus, a town chiefly inhabited by fishermen, a crowd collected around him, and seemed to enjoy his music with no little delight. At length the signal being given, that the fish-market was open, all the fishermen left him but one. When the musician saw only one remaining, he began praising his taste, and admiring the pleasure with which he seemed to listen to the piece he had played ; when the rest of his companions had precipitately left him, upon hearing the first bell. “What !” said the fisherman, who was deaf, “ has the bell rung? By Jupiter, I did not hear it !” and off he ran after his brother fishermen.
A taste for melody is almost universal; a taste for harmony is but slowly acquired. Melody delights us in youth; harmony gratifies as in manhood; but age recurs to melody, because it associates the spring of life with its winter.
Haydn always spoke of those solitary hours, he had passed in his garden, and in musical application, as the happiest of his life. Mozart, to his other qualifications, loved Nature in
her most beautiful aspects. Gifted with talents, equalled only by Haydn, and surpassed only by Handel, he lived in a garden, in the suburbs of Vienna ; where he enjoyed every fine evening of summer: attending to his flowers and shrubs ; enjoying the delicious coolness of the air, in the society of his wife and friends ; whom he frequently delighted with playing over to them the pieces of music, he had recently composed.
Bombet a distinguishes the several eminent composers of Germany and Italy, by associating them with painters. Haydn he calls the Tintoret of Music; Pergolese he associates with Raphael; Sacchini with Correggio; Hesse with Rubens; Paesiello with Guido; Piccini with Titian ; and Mozart with Domenichino. Durante has been styled the Leonardo da Vinci, and Handel the Michael Angelo of music.
Pergolesi died in 1738; Metastasio in 1782; Mozart in 1792; Cimarosa in 1801; and Haydn, the creator of symphony, in 1809. Cimarosa composed best, when surrounded by his friends ; Paesiello in bed ; Sacchini in the society of his mistress ; but Haydn in the solitude of his chamber. While listening to the harmonies and melodies of these composers, we seem to realise the sentiments of those Hindoos, who explain their love of music, by asserting, that it recals to mind the music of paradise, which they had heard in a preexistent state.
The musical instruments, now in use in Greece, are the lyre, lute, bagpipe, tamboura, monochord, pipe, pipe of Pan, and cymbals 6. The pipe of Pan is generally the instrument of the peasants. In some of the valleys in Sweden, a pipe, resembling the old English flute, is used : among the Finlanders the harpu, with five strings. Their national melody is the Runa; and no inconsiderable number of Runic songs c are the production of Finnish female peasants. The Lap
a P. 301.
'b Dodwell's Greece, vol. ii. p. 493, 4to.
landers, on the contrary, are such entire strangers to musica, that they have not a single instrument.
There is not a finer collection of objects in the whole circle of visible nature, than a view of the ocean on one side, and of the harvest moon, rising from among purple clouds over the summit of a gigantic range of mountains and rocks, on the other. And yet how much solemnity does this assemblage acquire from the murmuring of the waves, softly laving the beach in autumn, or of the billows, rudely rushing against the rocks in winter. The former of these scenes, too, is magically improved by that interest, which can be lent to it by the flute, the pipe, the flageolet, or the shepherd's reed. As Barrowb was ascending Mount Teneriffe, the impressive scene was heightened by the presence of a storm, during the intervals of which were heard the sounds of the guides and muleteers, singing in full chorus the midnight hymn to the Virgin.
WRITERS OF DESCRIPTIVE ROMANCES.
The concord of sounds is not more grateful to the genuine lover of music, than Nature, exhibited in all its grace of drapery, is to the generality of mankind. So common is this taste,-particularly with that part of the community, who are young, and of good dispositions,—that there is scarcely a writer of romance, who does not attempt to gratify it. Hence our romance writers frequently select, as the theatres of action, the forests of Germany, the vales of Languedoc, the mountains of Switzerland, the plains of Tuscany, or the delightful environs of Rome, Naples, and Palermo. For elegance of taste and sentiment, for the variety and strength, the beauty and force of her descriptions, Mrs. Ratcliffe, -bred in the schools of Dante and Ariosto, and whom the Muses recognise as the sister of Salvator Rosa, -stands
· Clarke, Scandinav. p. 440. • Voy. to Cochin China, p. 43, 4to.