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with morality and religion. The Muses,
The gratification which the sense of hearing receives from the immediate effect of sweet sounds, must, indeed, be allowed to be considerable ; and the human voice, above all instruments of sound, is so calculated to convey delight to the human sense, that perhaps no gratification of mere perception, is at all comparable to that, which is produced on well-formed ears by the notes of Farinelli, a Billington, or a Catalani. The natural melodies of the nightingale are heard with rapture by old and young, civilized and barbarous; yet to shew how the moral feeling insinuates itself with Music, even when the singer is no moral agent, the poets have, with one consent, agreed to attribute passions to the nightingale, to which she doubtless is a stranger; and have supposed that she laments her young, or laments herself; though, probably, in those sounds, which we think plaintive, she only calls her mate, or gives vent to the liveliness of health. Yet the fiction vibrates on
the human heart, and therefore has always succeeded.
Where the moral influence of Music is wholly disregarded, as in the case of those low professors, who degrade it into a trade, or of those unthinking dilettanti who give their whole time to it, as an idle and expensive luxury, nature seems to take revenge on the abuse, by joining with it a proportionable degra. dation of character ; and a profligate fiddler and a fiddling gentleman are very often fit company only for each other. But it is far otherwise with the inventors, or as they may rightly be styled the PoETS of this divine art ; who frequently exemplify in their conduct the moral and religious effects, which they are accustomed so powerfully to communicate by their compositions. Examples might be cited in great numbers; and probably the recollection of most readers will supply some from memory or observation. Suffice it to say that HANDEL
was as deeply religious in his mental ha. bits, as he was devout in his sacred compositions ; nor, except the foible of indulgence at the table, is any stigma left upon his memory.
I am not prepared, with Scriblerus, to credit all that some of the ancients have told, respecting the moral influence of Music; nor do I expect it to quiet a mob, any more than to unite a broken bone. I am even willing to confess, that, under any state of society which we have witnessed, or can readily conceive, the refinement of the Lacedæmonians, in making it penal to add a new string to the lyre, as a species of luxury, or an engine of corruption, appears as much too delicate, as the total neglect of such tendencies is too unfeeling. But that, on minds already well disposed, much effect of a moral, and still more of a religious kind, may be produced by Music, is a proposition which I must ever support, as full of truth and utility.
The very curious fragment of Philodemus, the fourth book of his work on Music, which has been published from a MS. found at Herculaneum *, proves that the Epicureans were great sceptics, with regard to the then generally acknowledged powers of Music. His first chapter, as divided by the modern editor, has for its title the assertion, Music has no powerto inform the mindt.” He seems to be equally an infidel respecting its religious uses, and the tales which history or tradition then recorded of its wonders, as employed by Thales, Terpander, and others. But the Epicureans, like other sceptics, went too far, and doubted, not only what was really problematical, like the tales in question, but also facts, which reason can solve, and observation will always confirm.
* Under the title of “ Herculanensium Voluminum Tomus I," with the learned notes of Carlo Rosipi.
+ " Nullam esse Musicam quæ ad animos informandos sit idonea."