1740

 

 

Jan 5

 

Signior Caristini continuing indispos’d, there will be no

Opera this Evening at the Haymarket, as was advertis’d.[1]

 

 

 

Jan 6

[James Harris in Salisbury to Charles Jennens, 6 January 1740]

 

            I have this post transmitted to Lord Shaftesbury under two covers the Allegro & Penseroso of Milton, with a desire that they may be sent immediately to you. I have assigned the several singers to each song, a liberty which I hope Mr Handel will excuse. I beg you would tell him, twas only done by way of amusement to my self, as I was transcribing, & that I desire him to alter & invert in that respect just in what manner he thinks proper[.] There has been little done on my part but only endeavouring to make the omissions in the properest places I could, & of such things, as were least fitted to music, & would least interrupt the sense.— Additions or alterations of my own there are not above 3 or 4 in the whole peice, & those of never more than a word or two at a time.

[…]

            I have only two things to beg—one is, that you your self would alter what you please[.]—Another is, that you would as far as you can prevent any of Handels minor poets by any retrenchments, transpositions, and above all by any presumptious additions to marr Milton. For in this case ’tis Milton only suffers […][2]

 

 

 

Jan 7

Yesterday Mrs. Muscovita being taken suddenly ill with

the Pleurity, the Concertos cannot be perform’d this Evening.[3]

 

 

 

Jan 11

THE ORATORIO, or Sacred Drama,

call’d

JUDITH.

Design’d to be performed at the Crown and Anchor Tavern on

Friday next, January the 18th,

For the Benefit of Mr. DE FESCH,

At the Desire of his Friends (on Account of the Severity of the

Weather) will be deferr’d ’till further Notice.[4]

 

 

 

Jan 15

[Charles Jennens at Queen Square, London to James Harris, 15 January 1740]

 

            My intention was to defer writing till I could give you an account of Mr Handel’s final resolution upon the manner of setting the Allegro & Penseroso. But since this delay has occasion’d your suspicion of a miscarriage by the post, I shall immediately inform you how far we have proceeded. Your papers came in due time, & Lord Shaftesbury sent them to me on Thursday morning. In the evening I read them over, & by virtue of the power you gave me to alter, I inserted two songs which you had omitted; one in Penseroso, consisting of 8 lines: ‘Oft on a Plat of rising Ground’ &c: the other in the Allegro, the first line of which stands alter’d thus, ‘Or let the merry bells ring round’; & it goes on for 6 lines more. I have likewise made some omissions; one of 8 lines upon Zephyr & Aurora, another of 6 upon Saturn’s incestuous commerce with Vesta; and a 3[r]d of 6 upon Cambuscan & others, whom as I have not the honour to be in the least acquainted with (though I suppose they are to be met with in some books of the same stamp with the Seven Champions, & others, which I have formerly read,) so I see no great propriety they have for musick; though ’tis true Mr Handel can joyn ’em with very good notes, & so he can every line in the whole piece: but they may be spar’d as well as some others that are left out; & there is enough without ’em.

            §With these additions & omissions, I took your papers to Mr Handel on Friday morning. He seem’d not perfectly satisfy’d with your division, as having too much of the Penseroso together, which would consequently occasion too much grave musick without intermission, & would tire the audience. He said, he had already resolv’d upon a more minute division, which therefore I left him to make with the assistance of your plan; & this morning he brought me the first part so divided, in which I made some corrections, chiefly of Smith’s blunders in writing; & he took it back with great satisfaction, & I dare say sat down to compose as soon as ever he came home. I believe he was tir’d of the first part, for having conferr’d with me about the 2nd, & told me his own thoughts of it, he left me to write it out: but I shall not altogether follow his directions; for the lazy fit is upon him, & he is for leaving out, I think, for no other reason but to save himself the trouble of setting. You have made a transposition in the 2nd part, which I believe upon a review you would scarce have insisted on; & since we have not time to reason the point, I intend to restore the lines to the order in which Milton wrote ’em: I mean 12 lines upon the musick sent by the Genius of the Wood, the bee singing, & the waters murmuring. I believe too, notwithstanding Mr Handel’s love of brevity, I shall restore the dream: but whether he will condescend to set it or no, is more than I can divine. You have given him a very good hint, to make two overtures; but I can’t prevail with him to make so much as one; instead of an overture he intends to perform one of his 12 new concertos.

            So far I hope Milton has receiv’d no damage: but Mr Handel has his fits of hard labour as well as of idleness, & as he has a mind to shorten the 2nd part, so likewise to add a 3rd: for which purpose he show’d me Milton’s verses made At a Solemn Musick, & express’d a great desire that I would contrive to conclude the entertainment with part of that. As it stands, it has no sort of connection with the other; & to make a connection, it will be absolutely necessary to prefix some verses of anoth[er] hand. To say the truth, I am of Mr Handel[’s] opinion that the piece will be more perfect, if after the extremes of mirth & melancholy have been shown & fondly extoll’d by their admirers, a moderator should interpose, & reduce the disputants to reason. On this account, & in compliance with the needs of Mr Handel, to whom I can deny nothing but what’s nonsense; what you have forbid his minor poets, [this] minimus must presume to do; I mean[,] to add some verses to Milton’s. ’Tis true, the inequality of the poetry is a real objection to this; but Milton’s authority, which I know some will urge, is only a seeming one. It will be said, he thought the Allegro & Penseroso sufficient alone, & will you pretend to judge better than he? No: but he intended them only as two descriptive poems to be read in private: if he had made them into one piece for the stage, with or without musick, he would doubtless have added a 3rd part: at least, till the difference of the two designs is disprov’d, his judgment is not concern’d in the question.[5]

 

 

 

Feb 4

LINCOLN’s-INN FIELDS.

AT the Theatre-Royal in Lincoln’s-Inn

Fields, Thursday next, will be perform’d

ACIS and GALATEA,

A [sic] SERENATA.

With two new CONCERTO’s for several Instruments, never

perform’d but twice.

To which will be added,

The last New ODE of Mr. DRYDEN’s,

And a CONCERTO on the ORGAN.

Boxes Half a Guinea.  Pit 5 s.  First Gallery 3 s.  Upper Gallery 2 s.

To begin at Six o’Clock.[6]

 

 

 

Feb 6

In consideration of the Weather continuing so cold, the

Serenata called Acis and Galatea, that was to be performed

To-morrow Night at the Theatre-Royal in Lincoln’s-

Inn-Fields, will be put off for a few Nights further; of

which Notice will be given in the General and Daily

Advertisers.[7]

 

 

 

Feb 11

LINCOLN’s-INN FIELDS.

AT the Theatre-Royal in Lincoln’s-Inn

Fields, Thursday next, will be perform’d

ACIS and GALATEA,

A [sic] SERENATA.

With two new CONCERTO’s for several Instruments, never

perform’d but twice.

To which will be added,

The last New ODE of Mr. DRYDEN’s,

And a CONCERTO on the ORGAN.

Boxes Half a Guinea.  Pit 5 s.  First Gallery 3 s.  Upper Gallery 2 s.

To begin at Six o’Clock.

Particular Care has been taken to have the House survey’d and secur’d

against the Cold, by having Curtains plac’d before every Door, and

constant Fires will be kept in the House ’till the Time of Performance.[8]

 

 

 

Feb 14

Two chief Singers being taken ill, the Serenata call’d

Acis and Galatea, that was to be perform’d as [sic] this Day

at the Theatre-Royal in Lincoln’s-Inn Fields, must therefore

be put off performing a few Days longer, whereof

Notice will be given in the London Daily Post, and

Daily Advertiser.[9]

 

 

 

Feb 21

LINCOLN’s-INN FIELDS.

AT the Theatre-Royal in Lincoln’s-Inn

Fields, this Day, will be perform’d

ACIS and GALATEA,

A [sic] SERENATA.

(Being the last Time of performing it this Season.)

With two new CONCERTO’s for several Instruments, never

perform’d but twice.

To which will be added,

The last New ODE of Mr. DRYDEN’s,

And a CONCERTO on the ORGAN.

Boxes Half a Guinea.  Pit 5 s.  First Gallery 3 s.  Upper Gallery 2 s.

To begin at Six o’Clock.

Particular Care has been taken to have the House survey’d and secur’d

against the Cold, by having Curtains plac’d before every Door, and

constant Fires will be kept in the House ’till the Time of Performance.[10]

 

 

 

Feb 21

We hear, that To-morrow will be performed an Oratorio

call’d David’s Lamentation over Saul and Jonathan,

at Hickford’s Great Room in Brewer-street; the Vocal

Parts by Mrs. Arne, Mr. Beard, Mr. Russel, and Mr.

Rheinhold.[11]

 

 

 

Feb 27

LINCOLN’s-INN FIELDS.

Never perform’d before.

AT the Theatre-Royal in Lincoln’s-Inn

Fields, this Day, will be perform’d

L’Allegro il Penseroso ed il Moderato.

With two new CONCERTO’s for several Instruments,

And a NEW CONCERTO on the ORGAN.

Boxes Half a Guinea.  Pit 5 s.  First Gallery 3 s.  Upper Gallery 2 s.

Box Tickets will be sold on the Day of Performance at the Stage-

Door, at Half a Guinea each.

Pit and Galleries to be open’d at Four, and Boxes at Five.

Particular Care is taken to have the House secur’d against the Cold,

Constant Fires being order’d to be kept in the House ’till the Time of

Performance.[12]

 

 

 

Feb 29

To the Author

SIR,

In your Paper of the 19th instant [19

Feb, no 2830, ‘Letter from a

Batchelor’, on masquerades] you give

us the Censures of one, who

subscribes himself a Batchelor, on the

Masquerades:I send you here the

Sentiments of a Widower on another

Entertainment that is lately, God be

praised, risen up among us, which I

would beg leave to term, our sensible

Musick, or, (a Thing long unheard of

among us) Musick set to Sense. The

unmarried Ladies, whose Influence is

justly so extensive, will, I hope, have

Respect to our Opinions, in

condemning the one, and recommending

the other, for the Sake of our

Condition, if not for the Justness of our

Decision. I hope also, in Time, it will

be seen, That we speak the Sense of

our respective Fraternities; and if so, —

let the married Men and their Wives

stand out if they dare. They have been

long, more is the Pity, in an obsolete

Way, and to concur with us will be

found in the End to be the best Means

they can make use of to get out of it.

Publick Diversions have a very near

Relation to the Manners of a People.

They are the Effect of Manners, as

well as the Occasion of them. And, I

hope, the Light of rational Musick,

that is seen, to our Honour, to be in its

Dawn, will be as prevailing, as the

Darkness of a Midnight Masquerade

has been, to our great Disgrace: and

which may truly be said, now, to be

ashamed to see the Light, since, as

your Correspondent well observed, it

was obliged to have Recourse to a Lye

for a Repetition of it.

Diversions, within the Limits of

Vertue, are lawful, are honourable,

they are our Duty to indulge. And the

more Publick Concurrence there is in [5]

them, under that Restriction, the

greater is the Happiness and Honour of

our Nature.

Of all the Entertainments allowed

us, Musick has ever been held, by the

wisest of Men, to have the Pre-eminence.

It has something in it, so nearly

ally’d to the superior and more noble

Part of us, that, tho’ the Entertainment it

yields passes through the Organs of

Sense, it can hardly be deem’d of a

sensual Nature. — I mean, Sounds set to

Sense, or expressive of it.  What Dignity

has there not been given to it, to all

reasonable Minds, since our Deborahs,

our Esthers, our Sauls, and, above all,

our Israels in Egypt, have restored its

original Distinction; — may I be

pardon’d, if I add, our Allegros and

Penserosos? Foreign Words, these,

which the Divine Author of the

respective Poems (the most beautiful

Compositions we have in our

Language) chose to give to them, and

which the as divine Composer of the

Musick set to them, has out of Respect

to the Author, and not (I dare say) out

of Choice, to comply with the Barbarity

of an expiring Taste, preserved: Il

Penseroso and L’Allegro signifying no

more than what may be sufficiently

express’d in our own Language by the

Thoughtful and the Gay Person. They

being each a Collection of Images, most

beautifully put together, relating to

those two Frames of Mind, so

alternately incident to Human Nature.

The respective Delights of which we

have Faculties given us to relish; and as

we have the Faculties for both, it is a

Homage paid to the Author of our

Nature, rationally, to indulge the lighter

Enjoyment of the one, as well as the

severer, but to a Virtuous Mind and

Ear, the much more transporting

Entertainment of the other.

Never was there in any Language so

beautiful a Collection of Images suited

to each of those Tempers, as in the two

original Poems; unfortunately shut up

from the World in a Book of the

Author’s not much enquir’d after, — his

Paradise Regained. But had they been

printed entire, and annex’d to the

Drama, in a small Character, it would

have been an agreeable Compliment

paid to the Audience, had heighten’d

the Relish of the Musick, and been no

Injustice done to the Fitter of them for

the Theatre; whose dramatic Moderato

(or Mean between them) can very well

bear being compared together. — This is

as great a Compliment as it deserves,

and nothing penn’d, on such an

Occasion, needs a greater. I hope,

however, we shall soon see them call’d

for, and separately printed, since the

Town has, by the successful Boldness

of the Musical Poet, been so unexpectedly

and so agreeably let into the

Beauties of them. The more they are

read and relish’d, the greater will the

Entertainment be, — to all, I mean, who

have Souls for Sense, as well as Ears

for Sounds. — As to those who have not,

the Drama, by itself, is by much too

good for them. If the pretty Fellows

cannot help the Ladies to the Meaning

of some hard, but most beautiful

Words, or explain the entertaining

Allusions to antient Fable therein, they

need not trouble the Doctor of the

Parish to unfold it; an ordinary Curate

or Reader, if requir’d, or Bailey’s

Dictionary, will serve the Turn.

I can’t help observing the Risk the

great Composer of the Musick has run

for the Entertainment of his Audience,

whilst, to show his Mastery in his Art,

he has not only adapted his Sounds in

the most exquisite Manner to the airy

and solemn Parts in general, but has

hazarded the Expression of a Laugh

itself (the Propriety, if I may so call it,

of human Nature) in his Musick. This

he has executed in so masterly a Way,

as must do the Greatness of his Skill as

much Honour, as it will give

Entertainment to the Hearers, if the

Eclat it excites cou’d be at first

restrain’d, and the Laughers repress

the Loudness of their Sympathy till the

Chorus was got into it.

I shall conclude by observing, that I

had rather lend my Ear to the

imperfectly harmonious Voice of an

English Boy, who may live to defend

and people his native Country, than to

the most perfect Expressions of his Art

in a foreign Eunuch, who enervates the

Place he appears in, and is in himself

so great a Disgrace to Man, and ought,

wherever he is seen, to be, in the most

superlative Degree, the Detestation

and the Horror of every Woman. I am,

Sir,

 

Your humble Servant,

A Widower[13]

 

 

 

Mar 6

LINCOLN’s-INN FIELDS.

Never perform’d but Once.

AT the Theatre-Royal in Lincoln’s-Inn

Fields, this Day, will be perform’d

L’Allegro il Penseroso ed il Moderato.

With two new CONCERTO’s for several Instruments,

And a NEW CONCERTO on the ORGAN.

Boxes Half a Guinea.  Pit 5 s.  First Gallery 3 s.  Upper Gallery 2 s.

Box Tickets will be sold on the Day of Performance at the Stage-

Door, at Half a Guinea each.

Pit and Galleries to be open’d at Four, and Boxes at Five.

To begin at Half an Hour after Six o’Clock.[14]

 

 

 

Mar 10

LINCOLN’s-INN FIELDS.

Never perform’d but Twice.

AT the Theatre-Royal in Lincoln’s-Inn

Fields, Monday next, will be perform’d

L’Allegro il Penseroso ed il Moderato.

With two new CONCERTO’s for several Instruments,

And a NEW CONCERTO on the ORGAN.

Boxes Half a Guinea.  Pit 5 s.  First Gallery 3 s.  Upper Gallery 2 s.

Box Tickets will be sold on the Day of Performance at the Stage-

Door, at Half a Guinea each.

To begin at Seven o’Clock.[15]

 

 

 

Mar 14

LINCOLN’s-INN FIELDS.

AT the Theatre-Royal in Lincoln’s-Inn

Fields, this Day, will be perform’d

L’Allegro il Penseroso ed il Moderato.

With two new CONCERTO’s for several Instruments,

And a NEW CONCERTO on the ORGAN.

Boxes Half a Guinea.  Pit 5 s.  First Gallery 3 s.  Upper Gallery 2 s.

Box Tickets will be sold this Day, at the Stage-Door, at Half a

Guinea each.

To begin at Seven o’Clock.[16]

 

 

 

Mar 21

LINCOLN’s-INN FIELDS.

AT the Theatre-Royal in Lincoln’s-Inn

Fields, this Day, will be perform’d an Oratorio, call’d

SAUL.

With a CONCERTO for several Instruments, never perform’d before.

And a CONCERTO on the ORGAN.

Boxes Half a Guinea.  Pit 5 s.  First Gallery 3 s.  Upper Gallery 2 s.

Box Tickets will be sold that [sic] Day, at the Stage-Door, at Half a

Guinea each.

To begin at Seven o’Clock.[17]

 

 

 

Mar 26

LINCOLN’s-INN FIELDS.

AT the Theatre-Royal in Lincoln’s-Inn

Fields, this Day, will be perform’d an Oratorio, call’d

ESTHER.

With a CONCERTO on the ORGAN.

And a New Concerto for several Instruments, never perform’d but

Once.

Boxes Half a Guinea.  Pit 5 s.  First Gallery 3 s.  Upper Gallery 2 s.

Box Tickets will be sold this Day, at the Stage-Door, at Half a

Guinea each.

To begin at Half an Hour after Six o’Clock.[18]

 

 

 

Mar 28

LINCOLN’s-INN FIELDS.

For the Benefit and Increase of a Fund

established for the Support of Decayed Musicians and their

Families.

AT the Theatre-Royal in Lincoln’s-Inn

Fields, this Day, will be performed

ACIS and GALATEA,

A SERENATA.

With the two new Concertos, performed in the same this Season,

for several Instruments.

To which will be added,

The last new Ode of Mr. Dryden’s, and the Concerto on the

Organ, that was composed by Mr. Handel on the same Occasion this

Season.

Boxes half a Guinea.  Pit 5 s.  First Gallery 3 s.  Upper Gallery 2 s.

Box Tickets will be sold at the Stage Door on the Day of

Performance.

To begin at Half an Hour after Six o’Clock.

N. B.  Each Subscriber’s Ticket will admit one into the Boxes or

Pit, or two into the Gallery.[19]

 

 

 

Apr 1

THERE having been a greater Demand for the Paper

in which the following Letter was printed the last

Year, than there were Numbers to supply, the Writer of

it has been prevailed on to suffer it to be re-publish’d at this

Juncture.  And as the Entertainment it refers to is to be

represented this Evening, ’tis humbly hoped it will not be

thought an improper Prelude to it; having a Tendency [to]

excite a due Solemnity of Mind and Behaviour, with which

such Pieces of sacred Musick ought to be heard perform’d,

either to do Honour to an Audience, or Justice to the

Performance. —— And, if the Effects of our late Humiliation

did not go off with the Weather, it may be hoped, that what

is therein said, on the supposal of a General Popish Alliance

against us, may, if attended to, help us forward, in the right

Way, to stand our Ground against those that have already,

and as many more as shall hereafter, think fit to declare

against us.

 

Wednesday Morning, April 18, 1739.

SIR,

I Beg Leave, by your Paper, to congratulate, not Mr.

Handel, but the Town, upon the Appearance there

was last Night at Israel in Egypt.  The Glory of one Man,

on this Occasion, is but of small Importance, in Comparison

with that of so numerous an Assembly.  The having a

Disposition to encourage, and Faculties to be entertain’d

by such a truly-spiritual Entertainment, being very little

inferior to the unrivall’d Superiority of first selecting the

noble Thoughts contained in the Drama, and giving to each

its proper Expression in that most noble and angelic Science

of Musick.  This, Sir, the inimitable Author has done in

such a manner as far to excel himself, if compar’d with

any other of his masterly Compositions:  As, indeed, he

must have infinitely sunk beneath himself, and done himself

great Injustice, had he fallen short of doing so. —— But

what a glorious Spectacle! to see a crowded Audience of

the first Quality of a Nation, headed by the Heir apparent

of their Sovereign’s Crown and Virtues, with his lovely

and beloved Royal Consort by his Side, sitting enchanted

(each receiving a superior Delight from the visible

Satisfaction it gave the other) at Sounds, that at the same time

express’d in so sublime a manner the Praises of the Deity

itself, and did such Honour to the Faculties of human

Nature, in first creating those Sounds, if I may so speak; and

in the next Place, being able to be so highly delighted with

them.  Nothing shews the Worth of a People more, than

their Taste for Publick Diversions:  And could it be

suppos’d, as I hope in Charity it may, or if this and such like

Entertainments are often repeated, it will, that numerous

and splendid Assemblies shall enter into the true Spirit of

such an Entertainment, “Praising their Creator for the

“Care he takes of the Righteous,” (see Oratorio, p. 6)

and for the Delight he gives them: — Did such a Taste

prevail universally in a People, that People might expect on a

like Occasion, if such Occasion should ever happen to them,

the same Deliverance as those Praises celebrate; and

Protestant, free, virtuous, united, Christian England, need little

fear, at any time hereafter, the whole Force of slavish,

bigotted, united, unchristian Popery, risen up against her, should

such a Conjuncture ever hereafter happen.

If the Town is ever to be bless’d with this Entertainment

again, I would recommend to every one to take the Book

of the Drama with them:  For tho’ the Harmony be so

unspeakably great of itself, it is in an unmeasurable Proportion

more so, when seen to what Words it is adapted;

especially, if every one who could take with them the Book,

would do their best to carry a Heart for the Sense, as well

as an Ear for the Sound.

The narrow Limits of your Paper forbids entering into

Particulars:  But they know not what they fell short of in

the Perfection of the Entertainment, who, when they hear

the Musick, were not acquainted with the Words it expresses;

or, if they have the Book, have not the proper Spirit to

relish them.  The Whole of the first Part, is entirely

Devotional; and tho’ the second Part be but Historical, yet as

it relates the great Acts of the Power of God, the Sense

and the Musick have a reciprocal Influence on each other.

“He gave them Hailstones for Rain, Fire mingled with

Hail ran along the Ground:”  And above all, “But the

Waters overwhelm’d their Enemies, there was not one

left.” —— The Sublimity of the great Musical Poet’s

Imagination here, will not admit of Expression to any one

who considers the Sound and the Sense together.

The same of, “He is my God, I will prepare him an

Habitation; my Father[’]s God.”  Page 13. in the third

Part.

Again, “Thou didst blow with the Wind; the Sea

cover’d them; they sunk as Lead in the mighty Waters;”

—— and, to name no more, “The Lord shall reign for

ever and ever;” and Miriam’s Song at the Conclusion.

’Tis a sort of separate Existence the Musick has in these

Places apart from the Words; ’tis Soul and Body join’d [2]

when heard and read together:  And if People, before

they went to hear it, would but retire a Moment, and read

by themselves the Words of the Sacred Drama, it would

tend very much to raise their Delight when at the

Representation.  The Theatre, on this Occasian, ought to be

enter’d with more Solemnity than a Church; inasmuch, as

the Entertainment you go to is really in itself the noblest

Adoration and Homage paid to the Deity that ever was in

one.  So sublime an Act of Devotion as this Representation

carries in it, to a Heart and Ear duly tuned for it, would

consecrate even Hell itself. —–– It is the Action that is

done in it, that hallows the Place, and not the Place the

Action.  And if any outward Circumstances foreign to me,

can adulterate a good Action, I do not see where I can

perform one, but in the most abstract Solitude. —— If this

be going out of the way, on this Occasion, the stupid,

senseless Exceptions that have been taken to so truly

religious Representations, as this, in particular, and the other

Oratorios are, from the Place they are exhibited in, and to

the attending, and assisting at them, by Persons of Piety

and real Virtue, must be my Apology.

I have been told, the Words were selected out of the Sacred

Writings by the Great Composer himself.  If so, the Judiciousness

of his Choice in this Respect, and his suiting so happily

the Magnificence of the Sounds in so exalted a Manner to the

Grandeur of the Subject, shew which Way his natural

Genius, had he but Encouragement, would incline him; and

expresses, in a very lively Manner, the Harmony of his

Heart to be as superlatively excellent, as the inimitable

Sounds do the Beauty and Force of his Imagination and

Skill in the noble Science itself.

I can’t conclude, Sir, without great Concern at the

Disadvantage so great a Master labours under, with respect to

many of his Vocal Instruments, which fall so vastly short

in being able to do due Justice to what they are to perform;

and which, if executed in a manner worthy of it, would

receive so great Advantage.  This Consideration will make

a humane Mind serious, where a lighter Mind would be

otherwise affected.  I shall conclude with this Maxim,

“That in Publick Entertainments every one should come

with a reasonable Desire of being entertain’d themselves,

or with the polite Resolution, no ways to interrupt the

Entertainment of others[.]  And that to have a Truce

with Dissipation, and noisy Discourse, and to forbear that

silly Affectation of beating Time aloud on such an

Occasion, is, indeed, in Appearance, a great Compliment

paid to the divine Author of so sacred an Entertainment,

and to the rest of the Company near them; but at the

same time, in reality, a much greater Respect paid to

themselves.”  I cannot but add this Word, since I am

on the Subject, “That I think a profound Silence a much

more proper Expression of Approbation to Musick, and

to deep Distress in Tragedy, than all the noisy Applause

so much in Vogue, however great the Authority of

Custom may be for it.  I am, Sir, &c.                     R. W.[20]

 

 

 

[?1740]

 

ISRAEL / IN / EGYPT, / AN / ORATORIO. / By Mr. HANDEL. / [line] / OXFORD; / Printed and Sold by LEON. LICHFIELD, / near East-Gate; and by WILLIAM CROSS, / at his Musick-Shop, opposite the New-Inn. / (Price Six-pence.)

 

 

 

Apr 1

LINCOLN’s-INN FIELDS.

AT the Theatre-Royal in Lincoln’s-Inn

Fields, this Day, will be perform’d an Oratorio, call’d

ISRAEL in EGYPT.

(For this Day only in this Season.)

With a New CONCERTO for several Instruments,

And a CONCERTO on the ORGAN.

Boxes Half a Guinea.  Pit 5 s.  First Gallery 3 s.  Upper Gallery 2 s.

Box Tickets will be sold this Day, at the Stage-Door, at Half a

Guinea each.

To begin at Half an Hour after Six o’Clock.[21]

 

 

 

Apr 23

LINCOLN’s-INN FIELDS.

AT the Theatre-Royal in Lincoln’s-Inn

Fields, this Day, will be perform’d

L’Allegro il Penseroso ed il Moderato.

With two New CONCERTOS on several Instruments, never

perform’d before.

And a CONCERTO on the ORGAN.

Boxes Half a Guinea.  Pit 5 s.  First Gallery 3 s.  Upper Gallery 2 s.

Box Tickets will be sold this Day, at the Stage-Door, at Half a

Guinea each.

To begin at Half an Hour after Six o’Clock.

(Being the last Time of performing this Season.)[22]

 

 

 

April

To Mr. BEARD, upon hearing him sing, at Hickford’s great Room, in David’s Lamentation over Saul and Jonathan, an Oratorio, written by Mr. Lockman, and set to Music by Mr. Smith.

 

TO hear thee in a sweetly-solemn strain,

Describe fall’n Israel on the crimson’d plain,

Such wond’rous force the mournful lines receive:

Each sees the bleeding king, and hears him griev:

Sees him, fast flying from the treacherous foe,

(His soul a prey to inexpressive woe;)

Sees David and his bands, with weeping eye,

Hang o’er his urn, and hears them sadly sigh.

Say whence this magic that inspires thy tongue,

To speak each word as tho’ a seraph sung!

Let those who think verse loses all its fire,

When tun’d to music’s animating lyre,

Suspend their judgment, and their censure spare,

Till first they hear thee:—nor till then declare.

Had the rash YOUTH *, who gave the fatal wound,

Spoke with thy energy; the melting sound,

Charming the monarch’s mind, had brought relief;

Kept back his sword, and sooth’d his piercing grief.[23]

 

 

 

May 10

[Thomas Harris in London to James Harris, 10 May 1740]

 

[…] I was yesterday with Mr Jennens at Handels, who has left off performing for this season […] Lord Guernsey & Mr Jennenes talk of paying you a visitt soon, but its not quite settled […] if they come[,] it will be about the Whitson-week or the latter end of the week before. […][24]

 

 

 

May 17

[Thomas Harris in London to James Harris, 17 May 1740]

 

            I received your last letter just as I was going to dine with Mr Jennens, where I mett Lord Guernsey: they have resolved on paying you a visitt this next week and have taken me in for one of the party, which they were pleased to make a necessary ingredient, and it will be quite a leisure time for me. Their design is to dine with you on Thursday next, and that day I propose to come down in the flying coach, and should be glad if Harry (or, if he can’t be spared, T. Brown) were to meet me with your Kentish horse, so far that I may gett in early enough to have part of Acis & Galatea that evening: this I leave to your discretion.[25]

 

 

 

May 29

[Katherine Knatchbull in Hatch to James Harris, 29 [May 1740]]

 

            I would not be a fiddle string in your house this past week for the world[;] I suppose you have rose the price of catgut, though Whitsun bells in spite of you bore part of the consort[.] Such a collection as the 2 lords & you 3 common[er]s is enough to celebrate Handel worthy his merit […][26]

 

 

 

Jun 2

[Lord Chamberlain’s Records]

 

These are &c. to Mr Christopher Smith the Summ of Ninety Six Pounds Fifteen

Shillings & Ten Pence halfpenny, Office Fees inc[lude]d, for Ext[raordinar]y p[er]formers

of Music, and for Writing the Anthem for the Marriage of Her Royal Highness

the Princess Mary, as appears by the Anext Bill.  And &c. Given &c. this 2d of June

1740 in the Thirteenth Year of His Majesty’s Reign.

To the L[or]d Hobart                                                              Grafton

Marginal entry: Mr. C. Smith for Ext[raordina]ry P[er]formers & for writing the

Anthem for the Marriage of P[rince]ss Mary

£[sum not entered][27]

 

 

 

Jun 7

[Lord Guerney at Queen Square, London to [James Harris], 7 June 1740]

 

            Mr Jennens & I left Bath last Monday, one for Worcestershire the other for London. He was very well in health […][28]

 

 

 

June

BIBLIOTHEQUE

BRITANNIQUE,

OU

HISTOIRE

DES OUVRAGES

DES SÇAVANS DE LA

GRANDE-BRETAGNE:

Pour les Mois

D’AVRIL, MAI ET JUIN.

M DCC XL.

TOME QUINZIEME,

PREMIERE PARTIE.

[woodcut]

A LA HATE,

Chez PIERRE DE HONDT.

M. DCC. XL.

 

[...]

 

ARTICLE PREMIER.

 

ROSALINDA: A Musical Drama,

as it is performed at Hickford’s Great

Room in Brewer’s Street; By Mr.

LOCKMAN. Set to Music by Mr. John

Christopher SMITH. To which is prefixed,

An Enquiry into the Rise and Progress

of Operas and Oratorios, with [2]

some Reflections on Lyric Poetry and

Music: &c.

 

[... 53 ...]

 

III. Il en faudroit quelques-uns, en

troisième & dernier lieu, sur les Suites

de cette Introduction, ou sur ce que Mr.

Lockman appelle les Vicissitudes de l’Opéra

Italien en Angleterre. Le Lecteur se

contentera des Remarques suivantes.

Première Remarque. Mr. Lockman dit

qu’on a vû dans les Opéras de Londres

une bigarrure d’Italien & d’Anglois,

semblance à celle des Opéras de Hambourg,

où les Récitatifs sont en Allemand,

& les Ariettes communément en Italien.

Ou je suis fort trompé, ou l’on ne doit

point conclure de-là (quoique la

conclusion semble d’abord fort naturelle)

que l’on ait jamais eu à Londres des [54]

Opéras dont les Ariettes se chantassent en

Italien & les Récitatifs en Anglois. La

Bigarrure dont Mr. Lockman a voulu

parler, est la même dont j’ai parlé d’après

Mr. Addison, & qui a sans contredit

quelque chose de beaucoup plus bizarre

que celle des Opéras de Hambourg.

Deuxième Remarque. Notre Auteur

dit que cette bizarrerie succeda à celle

de donner des Piéces entieres en langue

inconnue. The Operas being FIRST performed

in an unknown Tongue, and AFTERWARDS

both in Italian and English &c. Je suis presque

assuré qu’il y a là quelque inadvertence.

Au moins paroît-il par l’exposé

de Mr. Addison, que l’on a eu des Opéras

bigarrez d’Italien & d’Anglois, avant

que d’avoir des Opéras tout Italiens.

Troisième Remarque. Mr. Lockman dit,

qu’on donna ensuite des TRADUCTIONS

des Piéces Italiennes. Cela ne doit point

s’entendre des Traductions chantées,

comme étoit celle de Camille. Cela regarde

les Traductions imprimées à l’opposite

du Texte Italien qui se chantoit,

& destinées uniquement à mettre au fait

les Spectateurs qui n’entendoient pas

l’Italien. Traductions, au rest, dont je

crois que l’usage a commencé avec celui

des Piéces Italiennes, & subsiste jusqu’à

ce jour.

Quatrième Remarque. Mr. Lockman

semble parler de Mr. ADDISON & de [55]

Mr. GAY, comme si ces Messieurs avoient

travaillé tous deux à-peu-près dans le

même tems, à composer quelque bon

Opéra Anglois; ou du moins, comme s’ils

y avoient travaillé l’un & l’autre depuis

l’introduction de l’Opéra Italien. Mr. Gay

l’a fait depuis cette époque; on le verra

tout-à-l’heure: mais Mr. Addison l’avoit

fait auparavant, puisque l’Opéra de

Rosemonde, son unique ouvrage en ce genre,

est, ainsi qu’on l’a vû, de l’an MDCCVII.

Cinquième Remarque. Ce que Mr.

Lockman nous dit du succès distingué de

la Piéce Angloise qui a pour titre ACIS

ET GALATÉE, peut faire souhaiter d’en

sçavoir quelque chose de plus. C’est une

Pastorale Héroïque que je trouve citée

comme une Mascarade, mais dont j’ai une

Edition où elle est qualifiée Opéra Pastoral:

& je tiens de bon lieu, qu’elle fut

composée originairement pour contribuer

aux plaisirs du magnifique Duc de Chandos

dans sa maison de Canons, où elle fut

représentée en MDCCXVI, long-tems

avant que d’être exposée sur un Théâtre

public. Le nom de l’Auteur, je ne sçais

comment, a été plusieurs années une

énigme qui s’expliquoit diversement. Le

Poetical Register, imprimé en MDCCXXIII,

attribue positivement la Piéce à Mr. Le

Motteux: mais on ne paroît plus douter

aujourd’hui qu’elle ne soit de feu Mr. Jean

GAY, le bon ami de l’illustre Mr. Pope, [56]

le même dont il s’agit dans la Remarque

précedente, l’un des plus agréables Poètes

de l’Angleterre, & qui entre autres Poésies

a écrit quelques Piéces de Théâtre,

parmi lesquelles au reste il y a plus d’un

Opéra, sans en compter une à laquelle

le nom d’Opéra ne doit peut-être pas se

donner sérieusement, & cela pour une

raison qui va se découvrir d’elle-même.

Sixième Remarque. Mr. Lockman dit,

que si quelque chose sembla rompre le

charme de l’Opéra Italien, ce fut la

représentation de l’OPÉRA DU GUEUX:

en Anglois, The Beggar’s Opera. Cet Opéra

du Gueux, aussi-bien qu’ Acis & Galatée,

est de la façon de Mr. Gay, bien que

Messieurs Pope & Swift (à ce qu’on dit)

y ayent fourni quelques traits; mais ce

n’est point un Opéra qui soit proprement

ni sérieusement ainsi nommé: c’est plutôt

une Parodie de l’Opéra, assez semblable

pour la forme aux Opéras Comiques

de Paris. Les Personnages n’en sont

rien moins que nobles. Ils parlent en prose,

& chantent sur des airs de Vaudevilles.

Cette Piéce fut mise sur le Théâtre en

MDCCXXVIII, par Mr. Rich, Maître du

Théâtre de Covent-Garden, ou du Commun-

Jardin (s’il faut prononcer comme la

plupart des François:) & elle y fut

tellement courue deux ans de suite, que les

avantages qui en revinrent, & à Mr. Rich

& à l’Auteur, firent dire à quelqu’un, [57]

en jouant sur la signification grammaticale

de leurs deux noms: Par l’Opéra du

Gueux, RICHE est gay, & GAY est riche.

Il est bon d’observer toutefois, que je n’ai

écrit Riche que pour faire sentir en François

le jeu de mots; car selon la régle qui

veut qu’on n’altère pas les noms propres,

il falloit écrire Rich, sans e à la fin.

Septième Remarque. Mr. Lockman ne dit

pas en quel tems la Piéce d’ACIS & GALATÉE

a commencé à se jouer publiquement:

& j’ai différé [sic] jusqu’ici de le dire,

afin d’éviter toute confusion dans le peu

de dates que je puis placer de distance

en distance pour éclairer notre route. Mr.

Handel, qui avoit mis la Piéce en Musique,

ne la produisit sur le Théâtre qu’en

MDCCXXXII, s’il en faut juger par

la date de l’Edition qu’on en a faite pour

la Représentation. Cette Piéce au rest

a été exécutée de plus d’une manière. On

avoit vû dans des Opéras précedens,

comme je l’ai rapporté, une bigarrure

d’Italien & d’Anglois, qui n’étoit fondée

& réglée que sur la nécessité que l’on

s’imposoit de distribuer les rôles d’une

même Piéce à des Acteurs de différente

Nation: les uns Italiens, qui ne pouvoient

bien chanter que dans leur langue:

les autres Anglois, à qui il convenoit

aussi de chanter dans la leur. Cette

nécessité avoit abouti à faire admettre

des paroles Angloises dans des Opéras [58]

Italiens. Elle forma dans celui d’Acis &

Galatée en MDCCXXXVI (à ce que

m’ont assuré plusieurs témoins du fait)

une bigarrure plus originale encore. Elle

fit admettre en Angleterre, dans un

Opéra Anglois, des paroles Italiennes,

des rôles traduits & jouez en Italien.

Huitième Remarque. Après Acis &

Galatée Mr. Lockman cite le FESTIN

D’ALEXANDRE. Qu’on ne s’imagine

pourtant pas que ce soit, ni un Opéra, ni une

Piéce nouvelle. C’est une Ode, ou pour

mieux dire une Cantate de Dryden, qu’il

avoit faite pour être chantée le jour de

Saint-Cécile. Mais Mr. Handel a composé

pour ce morceau de Poésie lyrique

une Musique nouvelle, & au lieu que

ces sortes de Piéces s’exécutoient autrefois

solemnellement dans une Eglise, il

a fait exécuter celle-ci sur le Théâtre.

Et si ce n’est pas un ouvrage dramatique,

le succès qu’il a eu n’en prouve pas moins

ce que Mr. Lockman vouloit prouver, qu’une

excellente Poésie n’est point incompatible

avec une excellent Musique. Le

Festin d’Alexandre, si je ne me trompe, fut

mis sur le Théâtre en MDCCXXXVI.

Neuvième Remarque. Le COMUS, que

Mr. Lockman allegue immédiatement après

le Festin d’Alexandre, est originairement

une Mascarade du célèbre Milton.

Elle n’avoit été jouée qu’une seule fois en

mil six-cens trente-quatre, & cela dans [59]

la maison d’un Seigneur. Elle l’a été tres- [sic]

souvent en public depuis deux ans ou

environ qu’elle fut portée sur le Théâtre,

à la faveur des changemens dont Mr.

Lockman dit un mot, & qui paroissent

venir de bonne main. On les attribue à

un homme de mérite qu’on appelle Mr.

Dalton, & qui est chargé de l’éducation

de Mylord Beauchamp, fils du Comte de

Hertford. L’ancienne Musique de la

Piéce étoit de Henri Laws; la nouvelle est

de Mr. Arne. Le nouveau Comus fut donné

au Public, & par la représentation &

par l’impression, en MDCCXXXVIII.

Dixième Remarque. Après avoir parlé

en général avec assez de mépris des

OPÉRAS ITALIENS exécutez à Londres

jusqu’à présent, Mr. Lockman fait une

exception en faveur de quelques-uns de

la façon d’un galant homme de sa

connoissance. Cela regarde certainement

Mr. Paul Rolli, Membre de la Societé

Royale, & le même dont j’ai eu

occasion de dire un mot dans l’éloge du

Paradis Perdu de Milton*. Au moins sçais-je

de bonne part, & qu’il est des amis de

Mr. Lockman, & que c’est Mr. Lockman

qui a fait la Traduction Angloise de son

Opéra Italien d’ORPHÉE. A propos de

quoi il me sera permis de remarquer,

 

* Biblioth. Brit. T[ome]. VIII. p. 183. [60]

 

que si l’on admet une exception à la

censure générale des Opéras Italiens, on

peut en admettre une aussi à la censure

générale des Traductions Angloises de ces

Opéras. La Traduction de PHARNACE,

par exemple, & celle de LOTHAIRE,

non plus que celle d’Orphée, n’ont point

été confondues dans la foule. Il s’est [sic]

même trouvé des gens qui ont cru

reconnoître, à certains traits de la Traduction

de Pharnace, le stile d’un Poète célèbre,

que je désignerois peut-être trop

clairement, à son gré, si je le qualifiois le

premier de la première volée. La Traduction

de Lothaire passe pour être de feu

Mr. Samuel Humphreys, Ecrivain estimé,

& le même qui a traduit du François le

premier Volume du Spectacle de la Nature

de Mr. l’Abbé Peluche. Pharnace a été

imprimé & représenté en MDCCXXIII,

Lothaire en MDCCXXIX; & Orphée en

MDCCXXXV.

Derniere Remarque. Mr. Lockman dit,

qu’il ne parlera point de diverses Piéces

Angloises mises en Musique par d’habiles

Compositeurs, lesquelles ont été

exécutées moins publiquement que les

précedentes. Parlons-en pour lui. Il s’agit

de plusieurs Piéces, en différens genres,

dont quelques-unes s’exécutent aujourd’hui

dans des lieux publics où l’on entre

pour son argent, mais dont la plupart

n’ont été exécutées jusqu’ici (au moins [61]

avec éclat) que dans certaines Societez

ou Académies de Musique, aux Concerts

desquelles on n’est admis, ou qu’en

qualité de Membre, ou qu’à la faveur des

billets que les Membres ont droit de donner

à leurs amis. Je connois deux de ces

Sozietez, & je ne sçais s’il n’y en a pas

davantage. L’une est celle qu’on appelle

communément du Crown-and-Anchor:

Elle a pour Directeur de ses Concerts

le Docteur Pépush; elle est célèbre: mais

je ne voudrois pourtant pas assurer que

Mr. Lockman l’ait en vûë. Je ne sçais point

de quelles Piéces on pourroit dire qu’elles

n’ont été exécutées que dans cette

Societé. Il y en a une autre qui est fort

connue sous le titre qu’elle a pris de

Societé d’Apollon: Mr. Lockman en est. On

vient d’imprimer, pour l’usage de celle-ci,

un Recueil des Piéces qui ont été mises

en Musique pour ses Concerts; &

parmi ces Piéces il y en a deux qui sont

de la façon de Mr. Lockman. La plus

nouvelle est une ODE pour la Fête de Sainte-

Cécile, chantée en grand concert, & imprimée

pour la première fois separement,

en MDCCXXXIX. La Musique est de

Mr. Boyce, l’un des Compositeurs de la

Chapelle du Roi. L’autre, mise en Musique

par le même, & intitulée, COMPLAINTE

DE DAVID sur la Mort de Saül

& de Jonathan, avoit été exécutée &

imprimée d’abord en MDCCXXXVI. [62]

J’aurai occasion de dire encore un mot

de cette Piéce dans l’Article des Oratorios,

auquel il est tems de venir.

 

§ IV.

J’ai déja observé que l’ORATORIO

est une espece d’Opéra qu’on pourroit

définir l’Opéra Sacré ou l’Opéra Spirituel;

& que ce n’est pourtant pas tellement un

Opéra, qu’il ne puisse être envisagé aussi

comme faisant un genre à part. Mais

pour mettre les Lecteurs au fait, il faut

que je dise à présent quelque chose de

plus.

Premièrement donc il est à remarquer,

que les Anglois n’ont pas toûjours

donné à leurs Opéras Sacrez le nom

d’Oratorio. La Piéce que Dryden publia en

MDCLXXVIII, intitulée l’Etat d’Innocence,

& une autre qu’Edouard Eccleston

publia en MDCLXXIX, ayant pour

titre le Déluge de Noé, quoique les sujets

soient tirez de l’Histoire Sainte, n’ont

jamais été appellées que des Opéras. La

plus ancienne Piéce connue en Angleterre

sous le nom d’Oratorio, est celle d’ESTHER,

composée (à ce qu’on a dit) par

Messieurs Pope & Arbuthnot, mise en

Musique par Mr. Handel, & qui fut exécutée

vers l’an MDCCXX, dans la Chapelle

du Duc de Chandos à Canons; lieu

situé à environ dix milles de Londres, & [63]

où ce Seigneur a une belle maison, dans

laquelle il entretenoit autrefois un nombre

considerable d’habiles Musiciens. Mr.

Pepush, Docteur en Musique, & Docteur

très-docte, en étoit un. Mr. Handel, après

avoir fait ajouter quelques paroles à son

Esther par Mr. Humphreys, & les avoir

mises en Musique, porta la Piéce sur

le Théâtre: mais ce ne fut qu’en

MDCCXXXI, ou XXXII; & le

Public n’avoit eu aucun Oratorio, que je

sçache, avant ce tems-là. Il en eut d’autres

bientôt après. Ceux d’ATHALIE,

de DEBORAH & de JUDITH, sont de

MDCCXXXIII.

Observons, en second lieu, que comme

l’Oratorio est particulierement destiné à

remplacer l’Opéra, & tout Spectacle profane,

les Mercredis & Vendredis de Carême;

il s’exécute aussi d’une manière qui lui

est propre, & qui dans le fond est assez

ridicule; mais qui ne tenant presque rien de

la pompe ordinaire du Théâtre, ni de l’Action

théâtrale, aura vraisemblablement

paru la mieux séante pour des jours

extraordinaires de devotion, & la moins

incompatible peut-être avec certains

Réglemens touchant les Spectacles. Quoi qu’il

en soit, l’Oratorio n’admet ni Habillemens

de Théâtre, ni Mahines, ni changemens

de Décorations, ni Danses, ni allées

& venues de la part des Acteurs. Le

Théâtre entier n’est qu’un grand [64]

Orquestre rempli par les Musiciens; & les

Acteurs, ou Musiciens chantans, ne sont

distinguez des autres qu’en ce qui’ils

occupent le bord du Théâtre. Là ils ont

chacun leur place, & chantent chacun à

leur tour, selon la distribution de leurs

rôles. Cela est imité de ce qui se pratique

dans les Eglises d’Italie, où l’on représente

d’une manière semblable certaines

Piéces Sacrées, dont il sera parlé plus

amplement dans la suite. Or on juge bien

que cette manière d’exécuter des Piéces

dramatiques influe, ou doit influer sur

la composition même de ces Piéces; &

que les Opéras François de Jephté, par

exemple, & de Samson, ne seroient pas

fort propres à faire des Oratorios.

Aussi peut-on observer, en troisième

lieu, qu’il n’est point absolument nécessaire

qu’un Oratorio soit une Piéce en Dialogue.

LA COMPLAINTE DE DAVID

sur la Mort de Saül & de Jonathan, porte le

nom d’Oratorio sans qu’on y trouve à

redire; & elle n’est cependant ni dramatique

ni dialoguée. C’est proprement ce

que nous appellerions en François une

Cantate Spirituelle, avec ces deux

différences seulement, que cela n’est pas

borné, comme semblent l’être nos Cantates,

à trois ou quatre Récitatifs, entremêlez

d’un pareil nombre d’Airs; & que

le Poème commence par un Choeur, qui [65]

après avoir invité le Poète à chanter,

chante avec lui dans les endroits convenables.

Notez au reste, que quand je dis

avec lui, cela doit s’entendre de ce qui

paroît à la lecture: car à la représentation

ce n’est pas la même personne qui

chante l’Action toute entiere. Peut-être

seroit-ce trop pour une seule voix:

peut-être aussi en faut-il plus d’une pour

satisfaire les Auditeurs. Ce qu’il y a de

certain, c’est que cette Piéce (avec une

nouvelle Musique de Mr. Smith) s’exécute

actuellement par plusieurs voix,

dans la salle de Hickford, & que c’est

ainsi qu’elle avoit été exécutée avec la

Musique de Mr. Boyce, soit dans la Societé

d’Apollon en MDCCXXXVI, soit

dans un Concert public qui se fit à Windsor

en MDCCXXXVII. Il y a quelque

chose de dramatique dans l’exécution.

Mais la Piéce même n’en est pas

plus un ouvrage dramatique: ce qui est

si vrai, que lorsqu’elle fut imprimée pour

le Concert de la Sociéte en 1736, ce fut

sous le nom de Poème Lyrique. Elle n’a

paru sous celui d’Oratorio que dans les

autres Editions; & il faut avouer au

reste, que quelque droit qu’on ait de

donner ce nom à des Poèmes qui ne

sont pas du genre dramatique, il apartient

à ceux de ce genre par la première

institution. Au moins cela est-il détermiuné

par le titre de la Piéce d’Esther, [66]

laquelle je regarde toûjours comme la

première que les Anglois ayent euë sous

le nom d’Oratorio. Les termes du titre

sont: ESTHER: Oratorio, ou Drame Sacré.

J’ai cru ces remarques nécessaires pour

ceux qui ne sçavent pas d’ailleurs ce que

c’est que l’Oratorio des Anglois. Sçavoir

à présent ce qui leur en a fourni le nom

& l’idée, & quelle est l’origine de la

chose même, ce sont deux questions sur

lesquelles je me contenterai presque de

rapporter le précis de ce que je trouve

dans le Discours de Mr. Lockman.

I. Tout ce que j’y vois de rélatif à la

première question, est renfermé dans un

assez long passage qu’il cite du deuxième

volume des Voyages de Mr. Wright,

imprimez, come je l’ai déja dit, en

MDCCXXX. Traduisons l’essentiel.

“Les Italiens [dit Mr. Wright] ont dans

leurs Eglises un Divertissement religieux

qu’ils appellent l’ORATORIO.

C’est un Drame en Musique, à la façon

des Opéras du Théâtre. Les Airs sont

separez les uns des autres par des

Récitatifs. La Piéce entiere est de deux

Actes. Le sujet est tiré, ou de l’Histoire

Sainte, ou de l’Histoire des Saints,

& généralement de celle-ci. Entre

les deux Actes il y a Sermon . . . . .

Et le tout commence par un Discours

(Discorso) déclamé d’une manière un

peu musicale par quelque petit Garçon. [67]

Nous entendimes deux de ces jeunes

Orateurs. Le premier étoit âgé

d’environ six ans. Il parut sur la

tribune avec la gravité d’un homme fait,

salua l’Audience, retroussa son

chapeau . . . & prononça un Silentio,

accompagné d’un mouvement de bras

qui imposoit silence d’un air important.

Le second, autant qu’on en pouvoit

juger par sa stature & par sa prononciation,

bien qu’il fût parvenu à articuler

distinctement ses paroles, n’avoit

gueres que quatre ans. Il étoit

habillé en Prêtre, & fit des

merveilles. . . . . On apprend à ces petits

Orateurs, non seulement à donner le

ton aux choses, mais à y ajuster toute

leur action; ils y réussissent extrêmement

bien”. [Ne seroit-ce pas des

Discours ou Oraisons de ces petits

Orateurs, que l’Oratorio auroit pris son nom?

On appelle Déclamations en France, dans

les Colleges des Jésuites, certaines

petites Piéces dramatiques, qui ne sont

appellées de la sorte, que parce qu’elles sont

faites pour exercer les jeunes gens à la

Déclamation. Il ne seroit pas étonnant

que celles qui portent le nom d’Oratorio

sûssent ainsi nommées par quelque raison

peu différente. Mais l’origine du nom

nous intéresse moins que celle de la

chose même.]

II. Le sentiment de Mr. Lockman sur [68]

ce second point paroît être, en deux

mots: Que les Oratorios des Italiens ont

la même origine que les Jeux & Mystères

des François; & que ce furent les

Pélérinages qui introduisirent ces

Spectacles de dévotion, comme en a jugé le

Pere Menestrier, dans son Ouvrage Des

Représentations en Musique, pp. 153, 154.

“Ceux qui revenoient de Jerusalem &

de la Terre Sainte, de Saint-Jaques de

Compostelle . . . & de quelques autres

lieux de pieté, composoient des

Cantiques sur leurs voyages, y mêloient

le récit de la vie & de la mort

du Fils de Dieu, ou du Jugement

dernier, d’une manière grossiere, mais

que le chant & la simplicité de ces

tems-là sembloient rendre pathétique;

chantoient les miracles des Saints, leur

Martyre, & certaines Fables à qui la

créance du Peuple donnoit le nom de

Visions & d’Apparitions. Ces Pélerins,

qui alloient par troupes, & qui s’arrêtoient

dans les rues & dans les Places

publiques, où ils chantoient le bourdon

à la main, le chapeau & le mantelet

chargez de coquilles & d’images

peintes de diverses couleurs, faisoient

une espece de Spectacle qui plut, &

qui excita la pieté de quelques Bourgeois

de Paris à faire un fonds pour

acheter un lieu propre à élever un

Théâtre, où l’on représenteroit ces [69]

mystères les jours de fête, autant pour

l’instruction du Peuple, que pour son

divertissement . . . .” [Ceci arriva sur

la fin du quatorzième siécle.] Le quinzième

& le suivant virent naître de toutes

parts en Europe des Spectacles qui

étoient à-peu-près dans le même goût.

Je remarquerai toutefois que l’Angleterre

paroît avoir devancé la France même

à cet égard, comme l’a fait voir Mr.

Riccoboni, p. 154. de se Refléxions.

Finissons. Mais que ce ne soit pourtant pas

sans dire un mot de la Piéce de Mr. Lockman,

à l’occasion de laquelle nous avons

parlé de tant d’autres choses.

[...]

 

 

 

Jul 23

[Lord Guernsey in Packington to James Harris, 23 July 1740]

 

[…] I have ad a great desire to know some particulars of your treatment by the gentlemen you met with on Bagshot Heath. Mr Jennens who is now with me is equally desirous of some information, in relation to this affair[,] so hope you will satisfie our curiosity.[29]

 

 

 

Aug 5

[Proposals towards raising a Supplemental

Provision for the Poor; and for the

Encouragement and Increase of Seamen

within the Bills of Mortality; and at several

Towns and Villages bordering on the Thames.

Which may be carried into Execution,

by Associations of the like Nature,

in other Maritime Cities and Ports

throughout Great-Britain and Ireland]

 

PROPOSAL XV.

 

SOME Publick Hall in London may be

hired for the Meetings of this Corporation,

till by Consent of the Lord-Mayor and

Commonalty, the Company of Mercers,

and the Professors of Gresham-College, the

Site of the said College shall be granted,

for rebuilding the same in a magnificent [28]

Manner, as well for the Use of the Professors,

and Continuance of the several Lectures,

as for the Assembly and Accommodations

of the said Corporation (the Alms-

folks there being provided for in the aforesaid

Country Hospitals.)  And the Professors

continuing under the present Right of

Nomination, may have additional Sallaries for

their Service and Attendance out of Term

as follows, viz. The Reader of Divinity as

Chaplain, of the Civil Law as standing

Council, of Physick as Physician to the

Hospitals of this Corporation, of Astronomy

and Geometry as Accomptants for Cash

and Stores, and of Musick as Teacher of

400 or more Children in vocal and

instrumental Musick, more especially in that

peculiar to Churches:  Each of which said

Professors is to have a farther Stipend of

100 l. per Ann. payable by this Corporation,

and 50 l. per Ann. may be allowed

to so many Assistants, as shall be judged

necessary.

 

ONE thousand Pounds a Year may

also be allotted to ten additional [29]

Professors of Musick, and casual Allowances

made to other Performers and Children of

chosen Voices, for a monthly Exhibition at

St. Paul’s under Mr. Handell, at an

Appointment of 500 l. per Ann. as Director.[30]

 

 

 

Aug 7

WORCESTER MUSICK MEETING.

THE Anniversary Meeting of the three Choirs

of Worcester, Hereford and Gloucester, will be held

at Worcester on Wednesday and Thursday, the 3d and 4th

Days of September next; when Mr. Purcell[’]s and Mr.

Handell’s Te Deums, with some select Anthems, will be

perform’d with Instruments.

There will be a Concert of Musick each Night, and Balls

as usual.

N. B.  The Performers are desir’d to meet on Tuesday.[31]

 

 

 

Sep 11

[Charles Jennens in Wistow to Edward Holdsworth]

 

I set out from London in May last, & with Ld. Guernsey, whom I call’d upon at Albury, went to Mr. Harris at Salisbury, where the 2d day in the midst of our Musical Entertainments the melancholy News came that Lady Aylesford was fallen ill of the small pox at Bath: […][32]

 

 

 

October

On our late TASTE in MUSICK.

By a Gentleman of OXFORD.

----Quid vocis modulamen inune juvabit

Verborum sensusqus vacans numerique loquacis?

MILTON.

 

Britons! away with the degenerate pack!

Waft, western winds! the foreign spoiler back!

Enough has been in wild amusements spent,

Let British verse and harmony content!

No musick once could charm you like your own,

Then tuneful Robinson*, and Tofts were known;

Then Purcell touch’d the strings, while numbers hung

Attentive to the sounds—and blest the song!

Even gentle Weldon taught us many notes,

Beyond th’ enervate thrills of Roman throats!          10

Notes, foreign luxury could ne’er inspire,

That animate the soul, and swell the lyre!

That mend, and not emasculate our hearts,

And teach the love of freedom and of arts.

Nor yet, while guardian Phoebus gilds our isle,

Does heav’n averse await the Muses toil;

Cherish but once our worth of native race,

The sister-arts shall soon display their face!

Even half discourag’d thro’ the gloom they strive,

Smile at neglect, and o’er oblivion live.                   20

See Handel, careless of a foreign fame,

Fix on our shore, and boast a Briton’s name:

While, plac’d marmoric in the vocal grove,

He guides the measures listening throngs approve.

Mark silence at the voice of Arne confess’d,

Soft as the sweet inchantress rules the breast;

As when transported Venice lent an ear,

Camilla’s charms to view, and accent hear!§

So while she varies the impassion’d song,

Alternate motions on the bosom throng!

As heavenly Milton guides her magic voice,

And virtue thus convey’d allures the choice.

Discard soft nonsense in a slavish tongue,

The strain insipid, and the thought unknown:

From truth and nature form th’ unerring test;

Be what is manly, chaste, and good the best!

’Tis not to ape the songsters of the groves,

Thro’ all the quiverings of their wanton loves.

’Tis not th’ infeebled thrill, or warbled shake,

The heart can strengthen, or the soul awake!                        40

But where the force of energy is sound,

When the sense rises on the wings of sound;

When reason, with the charms of music twin’d,

Thro’ the enraptur’d ear informs the mind;

Bids generous love or soft compassion glow,

And forms a tuneful paradise below!

Oh Britons! if the honour still you boast,

No longer purchase follies at such cost!

No longer let unmeaning sounds invite

To visionary scenes of false delight:

When shame to sense we see the hero’s rage,

Lisp’d on the tongue, and danc’d along the stage!

Or hear in eunuch sounds a Hero squeak,

While kingdoms rise or fall upon a shake!

Let them at home to slavery’s painted train

With Syren-art repeat the pleasing strain:

While we, like wise Ulysses, close our ear

To songs which Liberty forbids to hear!

Keep guardian gales, th’ infectious guests away,

To charm where priests direct, and slaves obey.       60

Madrid, or wanton Rome, be their delight;

There they may warble as their Poets write.

The temper of our isle, tho’ cold, is clear;

And such our genius, noble tho’ severe.

Our Shakespear scorn’d the trifling rules of art,

But knew to conquer and surprize the heart!

In magic chains the captive thought to hind,

And fathom all the depths of human-kind!

Too long, our shame, the prostituted herd

Our sense have bubbled, and our wealth have shar’d.  70

Too long the favourites of our vulgar great.

Have bask’d in luxury, and liv’d in state!

In Tuscan wilds now let them villas rear

Enobled by the charity we spare.

There let them warble in the tainted breeze,

Or sing like widow’d Orpheus to the trees:

There let them chant their incoherent dreams,

Where howls Charybdis, and where Scylla screams!

Or where Avernus from his darksome round,

May echo to the winds the blasted sound!                 80

As fair Alcyone, with anguish press’d,

Broods o’er the British main with tuneful breast,

Beneath the white-brow’d cliff protected sings,

Or skims the azure plain with painted wings!

Grateful like her, to nature, and as just,

In our domestick blessings let us trust.

Keep for our sons fair learning’s honour’d prize,

Till the world own the worth they now despise![33]

 

 

 

Nov 8

LINCOLN’s-INN-FIELDS.

AT the Theatre-Royal in Lincoln’s-Inn

Fields, this Day, will be perform’d a SERENATA, call’d

PARNASSO IN FESTA.

With CONCERTO’s on the ORGAN, and several Instruments.

Boxes Half a Guinea.  Pit 5 s.  First Gall. 3 s.  Second Gall. 2 s.

Box-Tickets will be sold this Day at the Stage-Door, at Half a

Guinea each.

The Gallery Doors will be open’d at Four o’Clock.  Pit and

Boxes at Five.

N. B. Particular Care has been taken to air the House well, and

keep it warm.

To begin at Six o’Clock.[34]

 

 

 

Nov 22

LINCOLN’s-INN-FIELDS.

By HIS MAJESTY’s COMMAND,

AT the Theatre-Royal in Lincoln’s-Inn

Fields, this Day, November 22, will be perform’d a New

OPERETTA, call’d

HYMEN.

Boxes Half a Guinea.  Pit 5 s.  First Gall. 3 s.  Second Gall. 2 s.

Box-Tickets will be sold that Day at the Stage-Door, at Half a

Guinea each.

The Pit and Gallery Doors will be open’d at Four o’Clock.  And

the Boxes at Five.

To begin at Six o’Clock.[35]

 

 

 

Nov 29

Signora Francesina being taken ill, the Opera of Hymen,

that was intended to be perform’d this Night, must be

deferr’d till further Notice is given in the General and Daily

Advertisers, for the Performance thereof.[36]

 

 

 

Dec 13

LINCOLN’s-INN-FIELDS.

By Command of his Royal Highness the

Prince of WALES

AT the Theatre-Royal in Lincoln’s-Inn

Fields, this Day, December 13, will be perform’d a New

OPERETTA, call’d

HYMEN.

Boxes Half a Guinea.  Pit 5 s.  First Gall. 3 s.  Second Gall. 2 s.

Box-Tickets will be sold that Day at the Stage-Door, at Half a

Guinea each.

The Pit and Gallery Doors will be open’d at Four o’Clock.  And

the Boxes at Five.

*** Strict Orders have been given for Fires to be kept in the House

to make it warm.

To begin at Half an Hour after Six o’Clock.[37]

 

 

 

Dec 29

[Charles Jennens at Queen Square, London to James Harris, 29 December 1740]

 

            As soon as I receiv’d your commands (which was on Christmas day) I sent for Rawlins, & gave him the first part of the Allegro in Mr Handel’s original score, which I had borrow’d to correct my own copy. He is now writing it out for you, & shall have the other parts in their return. I was glad to save my own score, because Dryden’s song, which I lent him, before, was return’d in a dirty condition. I have directed him to omitt for the present the song ‘Come, but keep thy wonted state’, & the chorus following, ‘Joyn with thee calm peace & quiet’, ‘Spare fast &c’ because Mr Handel has interpos’d the 4 lines left out, ‘There held in holy passion still &c’, made the two lines of the chorus a part of the air, & added the Muses singing about Jove’s altar; then chorus da capo as before: & I take it for granted, you will choose to have it writ with the additions in their order. There are 5 more songs added, for which I have order’d him to leave room in your copy: 1. The Landscape, the 4 first lines of which are air, the other 6 accomp. recit.[,] concluding with the air: 2. The Cricket & the Bellman: 3. Gorgeous Tragedy: 4. Orpheus hearing Lydian airs: 5. The Hermit. These are all charming, though I know you will wish some of them had been in chorus; but he was positive against more chorus’s, having three new singers to provide for, Andrioni, Sigra Monsa, & Miss Edwards. I am afraid this entertainment will not appear in the most advantageous light, by reason of the mixture of languages: for though he has set Milton’s English words, some of ’em must be translated by Rolli into Italian for Andrioni: Monsa will sing in English as well as she can.

            §We have had nothing new yet but the operetta of Hymen, in my opinion the worst of all Handel’s compositions, yet half the songs are good[.] He has a fine opera to come out on Saturday sev’nnight, called Deidamia, which might perhaps have tolerable success, but that it will be turn’d into farce by Miss Edwards[,] a little girl representing Achilles. After this follows the Allegro, then Saul & Israel in Egypt: & this is all I have heard of for this season, except that Walsh tells me Hymen will be reviv’d, with a new part in it for Monsa, who was not in it before. I wish you many happy New Years.

[P.S.] Service to your brother. My brother Hanmer desires his Service. I hope to see you both at Deidamia.[38]

 

 

 

            ORATORIO, is a sort of spiritual opera full of dialogues, recitativos, duettos, trios, ritornellos, choruses, &c. the subject thereof is usually taken from the scripture, or is the life and actions of some saint, &c.  The music for the Oratorio should be in the finest taste, and most chosen strains.  The words hereof are often in Latin, sometimes in French and Italian, and among us even in English.  These Oratorios are greatly used at Rome in time of Lent; here indeed they are used in no other season.

            ORCHESTRA, is a part of the theatre between the scenes and the audience, wherein the musicians are disposed to play the overture, &c. of a play, be it tragedy or comedy, of the opera, oratorio, serenata, &c.  See OPERA.[39]

 

 

 

Written in YEAR 1740.

 

I.

WHEN Signior Tweedle ** tunes the strings,

We seem surpriz’d, not glad;

We gape, indeed, to hear the man

Run musically mad.

 

II.

But mark Dubourg’s soft, swelling notes,

Where taste unites with art;

He from the fiddle draws such sounds,

As captivate the heart. [65]

 

III.

The tender passions of the soul,

Are all at his command;

Ye foreign tricksters now resign,

To his superior hand.

 

IV.

In peace then let the laurel wreath,

HANDEL, adorn thy head;

Thy harmony shall make them sick,

DUBOURG shall play them dead.[40]

 

 

 

A Dissertation on Italian, and Irish Musick.

[…]

ADAGIO.

Corelly’s, or Vivaldi’s Stile,

Shall from Corinna force a Smile,

Which does her Aspect more adorn,

Than all her Cruelty and Scorn,

Thus while you hold her by the Ear,

She catches others in her Snare:

The longer she is kept in Tune,

The more her Charms have Power to ruin.

Then Hendal’s Notes shall make her thrill,

When Raffa warbles them with Skill,

And if Dub—ge but touch the String,

To hear him play, and Raffa sing,

In Extasies—she sounds away,

Revives again to hear him play.[41]

 



[1] The London Daily Post, and General Advertiser, no. 1621, Saturday 5 January 1739-40, [2].

[2] Donald Burrows and Rosemary Dunhill (eds.), Music and Theatre in Handel’s World: The Family Papers of James Harris (1732–1780) (Oxford and New York, 2002), 85.

[3] The London Daily Post, and General Advertiser, no. 1622, Tuesday 8 January 1739-40, [1].

[4] The London Daily Post, and General Advertiser, no. 1625, Friday 11 January 1739-40, [1]; repr. (date reference: “Tomorrow”) no. 1632, Thursday 17 January 1739-40, [1].

[5] Donald Burrows and Rosemary Dunhill (eds.), Music and Theatre in Handel’s World: The Family Papers of James Harris (1732–1780) (Oxford and New York, 2002), 88–9.

[6] The London Daily Post, and General Advertiser, no. 1647, Monday 4 February 1739-40, [1].

[7] The London Daily Post, and General Advertiser, no. 1649, Wednesday 6 February 1739-40, [1]; repr., Deutsch, 494.

[8] The London Daily Post, and General Advertiser, no. 1653, Monday 11 February 1739-40, [1]; partly repr., Deutsch, 495.

[9] The London Daily Post, and General Advertiser, no. 1656, Thursday 14 February 1739-40, [1]; repr., Deutsch, 495.

[10] The London Daily Post, and General Advertiser, no. 1662, Thursday 21 February 1739-40, [1]; partly repr., Deutsch, 495.

[11] The London Daily Post, and General Advertiser, no. 1662, Thursday 21 February 1739-40, [1].

[12] The London Daily Post, and General Advertiser, no. 1667, Wednesday 27 February 1739-40, [1]; repr., Deutsch, 495-96.

[13] The Daily Advertiser, 29 February 1740: Ruth Smith, “Handel, Milton, and a New Document from their English Audience,” The Handel Institute Newsletter 14/2 (Autumn 2003), [1-5]: [4-5].

[14] The London Daily Post, and General Advertiser, no. 1674, Thursday 6 March 1739-40, [1].

[15] The London Daily Post, and General Advertiser, no. 1677, Saturday 8 March 1739-40, [1].

[16] The London Daily Post, and General Advertiser, no. 1681, Friday 14 March 1739-40, [1].

[17] The London Daily Post, and General Advertiser, no. 1687, Friday 21 March 1739-40, [1].

[18] The London Daily Post, and General Advertiser, no. 1691, Wednesday 26 March 1740, [1].

[19] The London Daily Post, and General Advertiser, no. 1693, Friday 28 March 1740, [1]; repr., Deutsch, 497.

[20] The London Daily Post, and General Advertiser, no. 1696, Tuesday 1 April 1740, [1-2].

[21] The London Daily Post, and General Advertiser, no. 1696, Tuesday 1 April 1740, [1].

[22] The London Daily Post, and General Advertiser, no. 1715, Wednesday 23 April 1740, [1]; partly repr., Deutsch, 499.

* The Amalekite.

[23] The London Magazine: and Monthly Chronologer 9 (1740), 188; Chrissochoidis, 749.

[24] Donald Burrows and Rosemary Dunhill (eds.), Music and Theatre in Handel’s World: The Family Papers of James Harris (1732–1780) (Oxford and New York, 2002), 97.

[25] Donald Burrows and Rosemary Dunhill (eds.), Music and Theatre in Handel’s World: The Family Papers of James Harris (1732–1780) (Oxford and New York, 2002), 98.

[26] Donald Burrows and Rosemary Dunhill (eds.), Music and Theatre in Handel’s World: The Family Papers of James Harris (1732–1780) (Oxford and New York, 2002), 99.

[27] Donald Burrows, Handel and the English Chapel Royal (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), 614.

[28] Donald Burrows and Rosemary Dunhill (eds.), Music and Theatre in Handel’s World: The Family Papers of James Harris (1732–1780) (Oxford and New York, 2002), 100.

[29] Donald Burrows and Rosemary Dunhill (eds.), Music and Theatre in Handel’s World: The Family Papers of James Harris (1732–1780) (Oxford and New York, 2002), 101.

[30] Proposals [...] (London: T. Cooper, 1740), 27-29; advertised [for the following Tuesday] in The Country Journal: Or, The Craftsman, no.735, Saturday 2 August 1740, [3].

[31] The London Evening-Post, no. 1987, Tuesday 5 – Thursday 7 August 1740, [3].

[32] Foundling Museum, Gerald Coke Handel Collection, accession no. 2702, “Jennens Holdsworth Letters 2,” item 66, f. 1v; repr. Amanda Babington and Ilias Chrissochoidis, “Musical References in the Jennens–Holdsworth Correspondence (1729–46),” Royal Musical Association Research Chronicle, 45:1 (2014), 76–129: 104.

* Now Countess-dowager of Peterborough.

Vaux-hall.

§ Vide the Spectator’s letter from Camilla, Vol. VI.

MILTON’s Comus lately revised.

† Senesino has built a palace near Sienna on an estate which carries the title of a Marquisate, but purchased with English gold.

The King-fisher.

[33] The Gentleman’s Magazine 10 (1740), 520; Chrissochoidis, 749-51.

[34] The London Daily Post, and General Advertiser, no. 1886, Saturday 8 November 1740, [1]; partly repr., Deutsch, 507.

[35] The London Daily Post, and General Advertiser, no. 1898, Saturday 22 November 1740, [1]; partly repr., Deutsch, 507.

[36] The London Daily Post, and General Advertiser, no. 1904, Saturday 29 November 1740, [1].

[37] The London Daily Post, and General Advertiser, no. 1916, Saturday 13 December 1740, [1]; partly repr., Deutsch, 508.

[38] Donald Burrows and Rosemary Dunhill (eds.), Music and Theatre in Handel’s World: The Family Papers of James Harris (1732–1780) (Oxford and New York, 2002), 110.

[39] James Grassineau, A Musical Dictionary; Being a Collection of Terms and Characters, as well Ancient as Modern; Including the Historical, Theoretical, and Practical Parts of Music ... (London: J. Wilcox, 1740), 168; “Oratorio” repr, in John Arnold, The Compleat Psalmodist.  In Four Books, 3rd edition with large additions (London: Robert Brown, 1753), no pagination; Chrissochoidis, 751-52.

* Piantinada.

[40] Benjamin Victor, Original Letters, Dramatic Pieces, and Poems, 3 vols. (London: T. Becket, 1776), 3:64-65.

[41] Laurence Whyte, Poems on Various Subjects, Serious and Diverting, never before published (Dublin: S. Powell, 1740), 155; Chrissochoidis, 752.