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661. These illustrations make it easy to determine what sort of poetical compositions are fitted for music.
Nlus. 1. As music, in all its tones, ought to be agreeable, it can never be concordant with any compositions in language expressing a disagreeable passion, or describing a disagreeable object, for here the emotions raised by the sense and by the sound are not only dissimilar, but opposite; and such emotions, forced into union, produce always an unpleasant mixture.
Example 1. Music, accordingly, is a very improper companion for sentiments of malice, cruelty, envy, peevishness, or any other dissocial passion; witness, among a thousand, King John's speech in Shakspeare, soliciting Hubert to murder Prince Arthur, which, even in the most cursory view, will appear incompatible with any sort of music.
2. Music is a companion no less improper for the description of any disagreeable object, such as that of Polyphemus, in the 3d Book of the Æneid; or that of Sin, in the 2d Book of Paradise Lost-the horror of the object described, and the pleasure of the music, would be highly discordant.
Illus. 2. With regard to vocal music, there is an additional reason against associating it with disagreeable passions. The external signs of such passions are painful; the looks and gestures to the eye, and the tone of pronunciation to the ear: such tones, therefore, can never be expressed musically, for music must be pleasant, or it is not music.
3. On the other hand, Music associates finely with poems that tend to inspire pleasant emotions : music, for example, in a cheerful tone, is perfectly concordant with every emotion in the same tone; hence 011* taste for airs expressive of mirth and jollity.
4. Sympathetic joy associates finely with cheerful music; and sympathetic pain no less finely with music that is tender and melancholy. All the different emotions of love, namely, tenderness, concern, anxiety, pain of absence, hope, fear, accord delightfully with music; and, accordingly, a person in love, even when unkindly treated, is soothed by music; for the tenderness of love, still prevailing, accords with a melancholy strain.
Example 3. This is finely exemplified by SHAKSPEARE in the 4th Act of Othello, where Desdemona calls for a song expressive of her distress. Wonderful, indeed, is the delicacy of that Poet's taste, which never fails him, not even in the most refined emotions of human nature !
Obs. Melancholy music is suited to slight grief, which requires or admits consolation; but deep grief, which refuses all consolation, mojects, for that reason, even melancholy music.
Tilus. 5. Where the same person is both the actor and the singer, as in an opera, there is a separate reason why Music should not be associated with the sentiments of any disagreeable passion, nor with the description of any disagreeable object: this separate reason is, that such an association is altogether unnatural.
Example 4. The pain which a man feels who is agitated with malice or unjust revenge, disqualifies him for relishing music, or any thing that is pleasing; and, therefore, to represent such a man, contot 'n nature, expressing his sentiments in a song, cannot be agroalade to any audience of taste.
Example 5. Whatever may be the opinion of the public, or of con. temporary critics, this Illustration appositely applies to “ Macheath,' in the " Beggars? Opera”—a character between whom, or rather whose principles, and the endurance of those principles by any audience, there is but one step to the faith of the materiālist—the character is bold and reckless mirth, that with the desperate must be the mask of despair ; and as is the character, so is the horror inspired in every mind of pure and refined sensibility, by Macheath's mixing music, and his companions mingling the dance, with the agitated feelings which all their sophistry can never conquer.
Illus. 6. For å different reason, Music is improper for accompanying pleasant emotions of the more important kind; because these totally engross the mind, and leave no place for music, nor for any sort of amusement.
Example 6. In a perilous enterprise to dethrone a tyrant, music would be impertinent, even where hope prevails, and the prospect of success is great. Alexander, attacking the Indian town, and mounting the wall, had certainly no impulse to exert his prowess in a song.
662. It is true, that not the least regard is paid to these rules either in the French or Italian Opera; and the attachment which we Britons have to operas, may, at first, be considered as an argument against the doctrine I have endeavored to establish. But the general taste for operas, and what are called melo-dramas, is no argument; for in these compositions the passions are so imperfectly expressed, as to leave the mind free for relishing music of any sort indifferently; and it cannot be denied, that the pleasure of an opera is derived chiefly from the music, and scarcely at all from the sentiments a happy concordance raised by the music and by the is extremely rare; and I agree
with Lord Kaimes, that there is no example of it, unless where the emotion raised by the former is agreeable, as well as that raised by the latter.*
* A censure of the same kind is pleasantly applied to the French ballettes hy a celebrated writer : “Si le Prince est joyeux, on prend part à sa joye, et l'on danse : s'il est triste, on veut l'egayer, et l'on danse. Mais il y a bien d'autres sujets de danses : le plus graves actions de la vie se font en dansent. Les prêtres dansent, les soldats dansent, les dieux dansent, les diables dansent, on danse jusques dans les enterremens, et tout danse à propos de tout.”