Feb 12

THE ORATORIOS will be performed at the Theatre Royal in Drury-lane, on every permitted Wednesday and Friday during the ensuing Lent, under the Direction of Dr. Arne.  The principal Singers will be Mr. Tenducci, Miss Brent, Miss Thomas, Mr. Aynscombe, and Mr. Champnes.  Mr. Handel’s most approved Oratorios will alternately be performed, with the following composed by Dr. Arne, viz. / A new Serenata, call’d BEAUTY and VIRTUE. / The Oratorio of ALFRED. / The SACRIFICE, or DEATH of ABEL.  And / The Oratorio of JUDITH./ Pit and Boxes to be put together at Half a Guinea; First Gallery 5s.  Upper Gallery 3s. 6d. / Such of the Nobility and Gentry as chuse to subscribe three Guineas, shall (by sending them to Dr. Arne, in the Piazza, next the Church, Covent-Garden) receive nine Box Tickets, which may be made Use of at Pleasure till all have come in.[1]




Mar 3

[Lord and Lady Clive’s account book]


Paid at Alexanders Feast 1-3-0[2]




Mar 5

On the 5th [March 1762] we and the Gentleman Usher von Reden were presented at the King’s levée on [272] taking leave; we afterwards heard, for the first time, at Covent Garden, the oratorio Judas Maccabeus.  These oratorios are by Handel, and are composed in the style of church music.  The instrumental music is very complete and perfect.  The famous G[i]ardini played a violin concerto between the second and third acts, which, according to my ideas, he performed very well indeed.  Between the first and second acts the organist played a piece which was certainly not easy.  The remarkable feature in it was that this man, named Stanley, has been absolutely blind since his fourth year, and, notwithstanding this, owing to his good memory, he plays all operas and oratorios by heart.  In addition to several good airs and choruses in this oratorio, a chant of victory is especially beautiful.  It ends with a splendid march, with kettledrums and trumpets; the time is beaten on a stretched parchment in perfect imitation of the sound of guns, not too powerfully, but in keeping with the loud music.  The voices might have been better; one singer, by name Fraser [i.e. Frasi], who had been famous, is beginning to lose her voice, but she is better than Mrs. Scott, formerly Miss Young, who takes her present name from her husband, a brother to my Lord [273] Deloraine.  The two men’s parts are taken by Bard [i.e. Beard] and Quilici; the former sings and acts at Covent Garden when there are any singing parts.  His first wife was a sister of my Lord Waldegrave; she was a widow, and fell in love with him when she heard him sing.  His second wife is a daughter of Rich, the old proprietor of Covent Garden theatre, after whose death recently it passed to his wife and her sister, who is also married.  He belongs to the King’s choir, but sings no airs better than sailors’ songs, which are really his forte.  The second singer, Quilici, can only be ranked amongst indifferent vocalists.

                  On the stage an amphitheatre is erected with a platform, on which all the musicians and singers have their seats, whilst the public sit in the same places as during the plays.  Every Wednesday and Friday during Lent, one of these oratorios is played; it certainly seems rather strange to hear on one day a comedy, which is often very worldly, and on the following day, in the same place, sacred music, which always ends with an Alleluia, when everybody in the theatre quietly and devoutly rises.

                  At the end of the oratorio we had supper at my Lord De La Warr’s.[3]




Mar 19

We hear that several Persons of Distinction have proposed Friday the 2d of April as a particular Day for Dr. Arne’s Advantage, in Part to make up his great Losses, sustained by performing Oratorios during this Lent; and that thy have desired his last new Oratorio call’d Judith, to be then performed.—In a few Days will be publish’d Dr. Arne’s Case in an Appeal to the Public.[4]




Mar 26

The COMPOSER’s particular NIGHT. / At the Desire of several PERSONS of QUALITY. / AT the Theatre Royal in Drury-Lane, / on Friday, April 2, will be performed an Oratorio called / JUDITH. / Composed by Dr. ARNE.  With CONCERTOS. / Boxes (by Desire) Half a Guinea. / Pit 5 s.  First Gallery 3s.  Upper Gallery 2s. / To begin exactly at Half an Hour after Six.  Vivant Rex & Regina. / ¶ Tickets to be had of Dr. Arne, in the Piazza, next the Church, Covent-Garden. Places to be taken of M. Johnston, at the Stage-Door of the Theatre.[5]





On Miss BRENT’s Performance in the MESSIAH


So wond’rous Brent’s thy melody below,

Such raptures your enchanting notes bestow;

That when you spurn this mortal coil, and rise

To claim the glories of your kindred skies;

Angels with envy shall your coming view,

Knowing their excellence outdone by you.[6]




[ill-success of Drury-lane in 1763. In 1761 Mr. Beard succeeded his father-in-law in the management of Covent-Garden.]

...as he was an excellent [62] singer, and a compleat judge of all musical pieces, he was determined to promote, amongst other entertainments of the stage, that which he understood best.  He, in a very short time, presented to the public English operas and ballad operas, burlesque operas and dramatic operas, &c. particularly Artaxerxes, Thomas and Sally, Love in a Village, Midas, and the Maid of the Mill; all which were played successively, and so accommodated by music, as well as acting, to the reigning taste, that they met with uncommon approbation.  But by his engaging a new singer, rejected by the manager of Drury-lane, he absolutely turned the scale of public approbation, in spite of all the skill and various abilities of Mr. Garrick, in favour of Covent Garden.

Miss Brent, a scholar of Dr. Arne, had been employed in an oratorio performed at Drury-lane in the spring of 1762: her voice had not then reached that full strength and melody, to which, by frequent practice, it afterwards attained.  However, it was [63] then clear, pleasing, and harmonious, and gave a very fair promise of its rising to great perfection.  Arne made a tender of her abilities to Mr. Garrick, at a very moderate income.  A taste for music, or even a tolerable ear for a song, was not amongst Mr. Garrick’s endowments.

[Garrick refused the pressing advices of his friends and rejected her.]

The ensuing winter he had full leisure to repent his obstinacy; for Mr. Beard made Miss Brent his most powerful engine to demolish the success and humble the pride of Drury-lane.[7]




[“Letter from an Italian cheerful, on the defects of London”]


As Music is your favourite study, you would never forgive me if I should be silent upon this head.  I have been present at many concerts, and musical entertainments.  The Opera is but moderate; the leading performers are some of them our countrymen [footnote in the original: Is not this a mistake?].  The English are but poor fiddle players, and worse singers (at least we should think so;) they have some good performers on the harpsichord and organ, but not many.  They do not want good compositions; Handel, the famous German, spent the greatest part of his life in this country, and has left an amazing quantity of his works behind him!  They are, for the most part, truly original and excellent; but it is necessary, to be used to his music, to have the true relish—I speak as an Italian; for the English will not hear of any thing like a defect in their admired author.  I am making a collection of his music, which, when I have I, I will send to you.  What I have now sent (pursuant to your request) are the works of English masters.  Arne is at present in great repute, or, as the painter said, ‘in fashion’—You have some of his best pieces that have come to my knowledge.  The Chaplet of Boyce is one of the prettiest musical entertainments for the stage the English have.  I have, as you desired me, enquired for some more of Jackson’s music, but I find there are but two works of this author published.  His songs you have, and now I send you his sonata’s, which, I believe, will confirm you in your high opinion of his knowledge, and the originality of his genius.[8]




“Verses to the Memory of Samuel Brown, a Cornish Fidler”


ALAS! poor Brown, thy days are done,

There fell Apollo’s fav’rite son,

Which shews to ev’ry serious eye

Fidlers, like other men, must die.

His loss each hee’ring muse deplores,

And father Phoebus fairly roars.

But what avail the ladies cries,

Or what his godship’s two red eyes,

They could not save the sweet Corelli,

With score of others I could tell ye,

Old Handel, Arne, that tuneful morsel,

And eke the famous Daniel Purcell.

Had music pow’r to save, how clever!

Then tuneful Brown had liv’d for ever.





May 15

[Horace Mann in Florence to Horace Walpole, Saturday 15 May 1762]


The 12 oratorii of Hendal with their scores, that is, all the parts, are for Madame Branchi, a most divine singer, who charmed the Duchess of Grafton twice, therefore deserves that return or any other [36] acknowledgment from me.  Mr Morice tells me that you must ask the assistance of some musical man to choose the most esteemed among those oratorii. {...}



12 of the best oratorii of Hendal.[10]




May 31

[Thomas Twining to John Hey, Hot Wells, Bristol, 31 May 1762]


I have been in luck here, as to music.  One M. Renaudet, a surgeon & a friend of Jenner’s, has bought a very fine Kirkman & maintains it solely for the use of his musical friends, tho’ he does not play a note himself, nor has an idea about the matter.  To this harpsichord I have free access.  Moreover there is a Dr. Woodward, a physician at Bristol, who plays the fiddle & has [31] really notions about music.  I don’t know how he performs for he has not yet been able to find time for a sonata.  But he has some very fine music, & of the sort which I am looking after.  He has lent me three more cantatas of Pergolesi (the very things Mr. Grey wants so much), with full liberty of copying.  He has lent me besides an entire Mass by the same master for five voices with instruments.  This you may suppose was a great treat to me, having never seen any thing of Pergolesi’s in the full Church style.  There are solos & duets in it.  I won’t tell you how fine it is.  You shall see some time or other, for I will be at the expence of a copy, tho’ I bring myself to the workhouse for it.

If the choruses of Pergolesi have not the sublimity of conception, the variety, the bustle, and density of design (if I may say so) which Handel’s have, they have yet a beauty, a simplicity, a practicable spirit, a perspicuity & cleanness of composition which the other’s have not.  I cannot express my idea of the main difference between the two kinds of Chorus that I am speaking of, any otherwise than by referring to a sister art.  Mr. Handel’s Chorus (I don’t speak without exception) is like a large labored history piece crowded with figures & full of design – “Bless me, how fine it is, but I wish I had more eyes to see it, or cou’d stay here a week to study it.  Look at that man upon the horse there; how fine that woman is; what a charming tree; the expression of that man’s face is fine, &c.”  But every figure is equally principal, all crowds forward with equal pretention upon the eye: there are no shades, no chiaro oscuro, to repose the eye (as the painters say, I think very intelligibly): But Pergolesi’s Chorus is like a painting where the figures indeed are not many, but full of beauty & expression, & so dispos’d as to form a whole which the eye can comprehend without distraction.  It is not one glare of light, but a mass of light & shade, in which the subordinate parts, falling back, teach the eye where to fix itself as upon the principal object. [32] A chorus is indeed a moving picture, where the different figures are or should be principals alternately.  This they are in Pergolesi.  If one or two figures come forward you are sure to have as many retire: they either stand still or are moving in the background in such a manner as to set off & give a relief or spirit to the foremost.  In Mr. Handel they often come all forward together, or if any of them retire, they torture themselves into such unnatural attitudes, & use such ungraceful motions as if they were determin’d, in revenge for being sent off, to do their utmost to confound the principal figures & spoil the picture.

                  Pray does all this fine stuff give you any idea of what I mean?  I am to have another mass of Pergolesi’s from Dr. Woodward for a double choir, which he tells me is much beyond the other: if it were not Pergolesi, who seems to have been incapable (voluntarily incapable) of transgressing in that way, I shd. be afraid of some confusion from this double choir.[11]




Jun 20

[Horace Walpole to Horace Mann, Sunday 20 June 1762]


I SHALL certainly execute your commissions cheerfully, punctually, and on the terms you desire {...} The oratorios, as Mr [42] Morrice rightly advises, I will choose by proxy; for as he and you know, I have not only very little music in me, but the company I keep are far from Handelians.[12]




Jul 1

[Horace Walpole to Horace Mann, Thursday 1 July 1762]


I have ordered all your books, and your brother James has undertaken for the oratorios.  There is a ship going, so I would not wait for more consultation in the choice of them.  Handel’s best pieces are settled among his sect, and your brother knows more of his followers than I do.  I was impatient to have your commission executed, and I knew no better way than this.  I did not say a syllable to James, as he has repaired his omissions.[13]




Jul 2

Oxford, July 2.  This Day, according to the Appointment of Bishop Crewe, the Annual Commemoration of Benefactors to this University, was celebrated in our Theatre; on which Occasion the Commemoration Speech was spoken by the Rev. Mr. Nowell, Public Orator.

                  In the Evening there was a Concert of Vocal and Instrumental Music in the Music-Room: And the preceding Evening the Mask of Acis and Galatea was performed at the same Place.[14]




Jul 8


The monument lately erected to the memory of Mr. Handel in Westminster-abbey was opened.  That gentleman is represented at full length in his morning-gown, resting his arms on a table, and pointing with his finger upward to an angel playing on a harp, near which is an organ; on the table lie a French horn and lutes, and underneath a bass viol.  The drapery and the figure are exceeding beautiful, and the whole monument may be considered as one of the finest in the abbey.  It is decorated on each side with pillars of polished marble: The sculptor was Roubiliac, and it does honour to his abilities.  There is only this plain inscription: “GEORGE FREDERICK HANDEL, Esq; born Jan. 23 1684, died April 14, 1759.”[15]




Jul 10

SATURDAY 10 [July].  Was opened in Westminster Abbey near the Poets Corner, the monument in memory of the late George Frederick Handel, Esq; He is represented pointing to the back of the monument, where David is playing on the harp.  In Mr Handel’s right hand is a pen, writing part of the Messiah,

‘I know that my redeemer liveth, &c.’ and the following inscription,


Born February 23, 1684,

Died April 14, 1759.[16]




Jul 31

[Horace Mann in Florence to Horace Walpole, Saturday 31 July 1762]


I am much obliged to you for your consenting to be troubled with my trifling commissions.  They must chiefly be such both for my own and other people’s use.  The music {i.e. scores of Handel’s oratorios}, however, I except, as it is designed for a favourite {i.e. the singer Branchi} of the Duchess of Grafton, and she ennobles everything that she has the least connection with.[17]




Aug 12

His [Handel’s] talents, so cherished in Dublin, made me exult in seeing him in his exalted niche, and marble organ, in Westminster Abbey, when I went first to London [on August 12, 1762].[18]




Aug 15

[15 August 1762]


Our entertainment yesterday was magnifique, and in the Gusto Belmonto: there is a beautiful lake in the park, on the borders of which, on one side, interspersed amongst the trees, which form a woody theatre round it, at a distance of about three hundred yards, tents were fixed for the company to dine in, which consisted of all the gentlemen’s families twenty miles round. [...] Streamers of the gayest colors waved on the tops of the tents, and glittered in the dancing sunbeams: the tables were spread with every delicacy in season, at which we placed ourselves in parties, without ceremony or distinction, just as choice or accident directed.  On a little island in the midst of [204] the lake, an excellent band of musick was placed, which played some of the finest compositions of Handel during our repast; which ended, we spread ourselves on the borders of the lake, where we danced on the verdant green, till tea and coffee again summoned us to the tents; and when evening “had in her sober livery all things clad,” a superb supper, and grand ball in the saloon finished our festival.[19]





[John Brown to David Garrick, {fall 1762}]


                  I wrote to you some weeks ago, and, I suppose, should have heard from you before this, had not your theatrical affairs come on and demanded all your attention.  I should not have interrupted you by this, had not an affair of consequence unexpectedly intervened, which the enclosed letter will explain to you.

                  You will see by this, that Mr. Smith has an intention of putting off the performance of “The Cure of Saul” till another season; but as this is a design which I cannot submit to, upon many accounts; so I have desired, (in a letter which I wrote to him yesterday,) that in case he persists in this resolution, the copy of my Oratorio (now in his hands) may be carefully delivered to you.  If he should do this, and [179] should say any thing to you upon the subject, I desire that my letter to him may be shown to you, in which you will see the reasons at large why I cannot consent to his proposal.

                  In case, therefore, this should be the issue of the affair, as I am at so great a distance, and an immediate journey to London would be very inconvenient on many accounts, I rely on your friendship for your assistance in this critical juncture: for as the season is approaching, no time is to be lost.  The first thing I should be glad to know is, whether Dr. Arne, or any other person, has engaged, or intends to engage, your house during Lent.  2dly. Whether you think it a practicable thing for me to employ Arne, or Boyce, to manage the whole affair, and lead the Oratorio, and to get a sufficient band, during the vacant nights in Lent.  3dly. In case this be not practicable, would you venture to embark with me in this affair during any of the other nights in Lent, when the best band in town may be procured, you furnishing your house and musical band, (as part of the whole,) and we two dividing the profits, or the loss between us?  Lastly, in case this would not be eligible, what must be the least that I must give for the use of your house, (on an acting night,) having the use of your band of music?  In some or other of these ways, I think the thing may be very practicable.—N.B. Giardini does not perform at Covent Garden this year; he was here lately, and I talked with him on the subject.  But from what he said, I am sure I could procure him, provided he was to have the direction of the whole.  For the subjection to other people’s humours was what he complained of.

                  Mr. Smith says, I did not send up the Oratorio in the time I proposed: I sent it from hence at the time proposed; and all the time that was lost, was only in the slow carriage up to London, which was about a fortnight.  The particular reason which he assigns for putting it off, is, that they have only two music-writers.  Is not this strange, that only two music-writers can be found in the whole City of London?  As to the Oratorio, he confesses it as good as any that has ever appeared.  With respect to the poetry, and the application of the music, I can say nothing, because these are my own doings: but as to the music itself, I dare assert that it is far better than any that ever appeared in any one, or in any four Oratorios put together.  The last thing I have to request of you is, that you will not descend to intreat the performance of it this winter.  This, I know, your friendship might prompt you to; but this is the only step you are capable of taking, in which you can displease me: therefore, no more of that.  I have treated them with all possible respect, in the progress of this affair; but if they think I am afraid, I will convince them that they are mistaken.  It is true, I shall put something to the hazard by having it performed at your house; but the chances on the other side are equal if the thing succeeds.  If they do persist, I have other plans which I will certainly put in execution; and I think I am pretty sure they will repent their ill-treatment of me.  They may flatter themselves as they please, but I well know that they have only three Oratorios that will ever bring them houses; and these three are losing their force every season.

                  I beg your pardon for troubling you with the contents of this long letter; and [180] nothing but the sense I have of your truly friendly disposition could have induced me to give you this trouble.  I will be particularly obliged to you for the most speedy intelligence in this affair; because no time is to be lost.  But before you do any thing in it, you must certainly know Mr. Smith’s final resolution.  If he brings or sends you the Oratorio, you may look on that as a final answer.

                  I hope to hear that your health and Mrs. Garrick’s continues good: for myself, I never was better.  I have now got into my own house, which, people say, is one of the sweetest rural retreats that ever was seen in a great town.  My love and respects attend Mrs. Garrick, and I am truly, dear Sir,

                                                      Your most faithful and affectionate humble servant,

                                                                                                                                                                  J. BROWN.[20]




Oct 22

[first performance: 22 October 1762]


THE SPRING, a Pastoral, the Music by Mr. Handell and other eminent Masters.—It was well performed, and approved by the [48] few who were Judges, and lovers of Music:--But these elegant Performances appear too languid after a Play, for the Galleries.  Mr. Norris, now an excellent Tenor in the Oratorios, made his first Appearance in the above Pastoral.[21]





Some Account of the new Pastoral Entertainment, called THE SPRING.


Prefixed to the printed books, sold at the theatre, is the following advertisement.

“As this pastoral was not originally designed for the theatre, it is thought proper to give the public some account of it, and by what means it has found its way to the stage.

“The choruses and airs were selected from Mr. Handel, and several other eminent masters, by a gentleman whose taste and knowledge in music is perhaps his least merit.

“Having conceived the design of a musical entertainment of this miscellaneous nature, he found himself obliged, in order to introduce the several airs and choruses with propriety, to connect them by a recitative of his own composition: This naturally produced a kind of little drama; and the ease and elegance of the whole, is the more to be admired, when it is considered that the words were of necessity composed in perfect subservience to the music.

“The piece has been several times performed at Salisbury, and been greatly admired by many of the first rank, and other acknowledged judges of music, [sic] The author, upon Mr. Norris (who performed a capital part in the pastoral) being engaged at the theatre, was applied to for leave to bring it on the stage, to which he has most obligingly given his consent, [?]


The act concludes with a dance, accompanied by a chorus; which is a sort of theatrical novelty, and had a very pleasing effect.[22]




“Anecdote of Dean Swift and Mr. Handel

Some time after Dr. Swift’s memory began to fail him, Mr. Handel, being at Dublin, and desirous to have a concert, waited on the Dean, to beg the favour of him to permit one of his choiristers to sing at it.  He sent up his name, and the Dean enquiring of his servant who this Handel was, received for answer, that he was a very famous musician, a great genius.  “Go and ask him, said the Dean, what countryman he is:” and on the servant’s bringing him back word that he was a German.—“A German, and a genius!” exclaimed the Dean with humorous admiration!  “Send him up, send him up.”[23]




Nov 10

[David Garrick to Doctor Thomas Augustine Arne, 10 November 1762]


[Regarding Arne’s complaints of being neglected]

Your Assertion—that neither You, nor Your Abilities &c have had a Smile of favour from me, has no foundation[;] for Every body who knows me, knows that I have always given You, your due, as a Man of Genius, but at the Same time I had no great Reason to applaud your Behaviour to Me [Arne’s defecting to Covent Garden in 1760].  I never ill treated a Man of Genius in my Life, and I [was] so far from returning ill will towards You, that I agreed contrary to my Judgment and against all rules of Reason & policy, that You should make new prices at our Theatre for your Oratorios.—Therefore You will be much at a loss to particularize the Ill treatment You mention’d; nor know I of any Transactions between us, but your indulging us with an Engagement with Mr Fawcett, when You Enter’d into Articles with the other House for Miss Brent.[24]




Nov 26

[John Brown to David Garrick, 26 November 1762]



                  I know that your affairs require all your attention in the winter; and therefore I would not teaze you with any more letters on the subject of my last, till I knew [153] certainly how the affair would be determined.  I have at length settled it amicably with Mr. Smith, and the Oratorio is to be performed in Lent.

                  You may remember, perhaps, some hints that I dropped to you in London; from whence you might reasonably conclude, that I should not be much surprised if I was improperly treated from that quarter.  The late occurences have confirmed me in my opinion: and what you say of his behaviour to you, is a farther confirmation of it.  However, we must take things as they fall out; but there never was a greater untruth uttered since the creation, than what he charged upon me with respect to the time of sending up the music: but let it pass.  He complains of the determined style of my letter to him; yet I know that it was that determined style that induced him to change his resolution.

                  I am sorry to hear of his dismission of your friend the Duke of D[evonshire].  Though as to myself, you know, if I was disposed to triumph on the defeat of an enemy, I might say something on that head.  But though I never thought highly of his political system and conduct, yet I believe him an honest man; more honest, perhaps, than some of whom I once thought more highly: and therefore, I wish he had still been about the King…I do not like your friend Churchill’s third book of the Ghost.  To talk in the grand epic style, it has neither beginning, nor middle, nor end: it is crammed with personal abuse, and that, thrown on people who did not deserve it, for aught that appears.  It is obscure: here and there a good line; but many of the mediocre rank, in my opinion.  In short, he will scribble himself down in spite of genius.

                  The press is groaning and in labour with my Dissertation.  You saw a rude draught of it; but I have been able to improve it in almost every part: and I dare almost prophesy, that it will please you.  The Ode is printed.

                  What, in the name of wonder, is this huge work of the Bishop of Gloucester [Warburton] upon Grace?  I cannot conceive how any man could spin the subject to such an immoderate length.  What mortifies me most is, that I do not hear of any body that is abusing it in print…Let me hear a political anecdote when you can…[25]




The ENGLISH music, at this period, is a composition of GERMAN and ITALIAN, [44] in conjunction with the old ancient English music: For this agreeable union we are principally beholden to Mr. HANDEL: He not only laid the foundation, but liv’d long enough to compleat it.  So that the English music may with justness be called Handel’s music, and every musician the son of Handel; for whatever delicacies, or improvements have been made by others, they are all owing to, and took their rise from, a perusal of his works.  What had we to boast of, before he settled in England, and new-modell’d our music?  Nothing, but some good church music.  He has join’d the fullness and majesty of the German * music, the delicacy and elegance of the Italian, to the solidity of the [45] English; constituting in the end a magnificence of stile superior to any other nation.

Perhaps this assertion may be thought too partial, but the truth of it will clearly appear if we compare things together: And as there is no music that can be compar’d with the English but the Italian, it is easy to see the difference and preference one to the other.

The Italians can only be said to excel in their taste and elegance in modulating a single part.  As to their management of things in parts, or the joining of musical powers together, Handel and the English are universally known to exceed them.  Handel,” says the author of his memoirs, “got many advantages from his thorough acquaintance with the Italian masters, to whose delicate and beautiful melody he added still higher touches of expression, at the same time that he united it with the [46] full strong harmony of his own country.”  Here then, is an improvement even of their greatest boasted superiority, exclusive of his additions in the force of his harmony.



I intended to have made some remarks on the works of Mr. Handel, but it has been done so well by the ingenious author of his life, that I shall not attempt it.  I therefore recommend the reader to a perusal of that book, where he will not only find an account of Mr. Handel thro’ his different scenes of life, a catalogue of his works and observations on them; but also a criticism on many particulars relative to the science of music.  I have not the honour to know the gentleman that has done so much justice to the character of Mr. Handel; however I take the liberty to pronounce him a person of great abilities, and one who has consider’d things with judgment and impartiality: I shall give the reader a passage or two from him, where he is considering Mr. Handel’s abilities.

In one place he says, “In short, there is such a sublimity in many of the effects he has work’d up by the combination of instruments and voices, that they seem to [53] be rather the effect of inspiration, than of knowledge in music.”  In another place he says, “In his choruses he is without a rival.  That easy, natural melody, and fine flowing air, which runs thro’ them, is almost as wonderful a peculiarity, as that perfect fullness and variety, amid which there seems however to be no part but what figures, and no note that could be spar’d.”  “There are indeed,” says he, “but few persons sufficiently versed in music, to perceive either the particular propriety and justness, or the general union and consent, of all the parts in these complicated pieces.  However, it is very remarkable that some persons, on whom the finest modulations would have little or no effect, have been greatly struck with Handel’s chorus’s.  This is probably owing to that grandeur of conception, which predominates in them; and which, as coming purely from nature, is the more strongly, and the more generally felt.”  “To conclude, there is in his works such a fullness, force, [54] and energy, that the harmony of Handel may always be compar’d to the antique figure of HERCULES, which seems to be nothing but muscles and sinews; as his melody may often be liken’d to the VENUS of Medicis, which is all grace and delicacy.”  In short, he should be stil’d The prince of musicians, as he was the greatest Europe ever produc’d, both as a composer and player.



  But the force of the objection I am now combating, will be quite destroy’d if we observe; that there have in all times, and in all countries, been several persons, whose merits in music have advanced them to very [71] high stations *, without the assistance of other friends, than those their establish’d reputation has procur’d them.





                  The continuance of the rain rendered it impossible to stir out of the house; my cousin, who seemed to think variety necessary to amuse, asked if we loved music? which being answered in the affirmative, she begged the other ladies to entertain us with one of their family concerts, and we joining in the petition, proper orders were given, and we adjourned into another room, which was well furnished with musical instruments.  Over the door was a beautiful saint Cecilia, painted in crayons by Mrs. Mancel, and a fine piece of carved work over the chimney, done by Mrs. Trentham, which was a very artifical representation of every sort of musical instruments.

While we were admiring these performances, the company took their respective places.  Mrs. Mancel seated herself at the harpsichord, Lady Mary Jones played on the arch lute, Mrs. Morgan on the organ, Mrs. Selvyn and Mrs. Trentham each on the six-stringed bass; the shepherd who had charmed us in the field was there with his German flute; a venerable looking man, who is their steward, played on the violincello, a lame youth on the French horn, another, who seemed very near blind, on the bassoon, and two on the fiddle.  My cousin had no share in the performance except singing agreeably, wherein she was joined by some of the ladies, and where the music could bear it, by ten of the young girls, with two or [13] three others whom we had not seen, and whose voices and manner were equally pleasing.  They performed several of the finest pieces of the Messiah and Judas Maccabeus, with exquisite taste, and the most exact time.  There was a sufficient number of performers to give the choruses all their pomp and fullness, and the songs were sung in a manner so touching and pathetic, as could be equalled [sic] by none, whose hearts were not as much affected by the words, as their senses were by the music.  The sight of so many little innocents joining in the most sublime harmony, made me almost think myself already amongst the heavenly choir, and it was a great mortification to me to be brought back to this sensual world, by so gross an attraction as a call to supper, which put an end to our concert, and carried us to another room, where we found a repast more elegant than expensive.[27]




To Mr. T----- L------ [presumably Thomas Linley, Sr], at Bath.


                  THE first Science that appear’d in the eventful History of Man, is that of Musick: […]

                  There is no Question to be made, but at the first Introduction of this perswasive [sic] Novelty, the attentive Herdsmen were greatly affected by it. [… 45 …]

                  These early Addresses were to the Deity itself, to the LORD our GOD; but as the Practice of Musick became more extensive in after Ages, it paid its Tribute to the best of Men, to the Good and Virtuous only; with repeated Instances of this, sacred and profane Authors abound.  Among these Writings, the Songs of Pindar and Horace will ever live.


To recite the Actions of the famous Hebrew Leader, Judas Maccabeus, has Mr. Handal [sic] employ’d his unparallell’d [sic] Abilities, which grand Composition was mostly happily execued at the Great Musick-Room, in Princess-Street, on Wednesday Night, by a Band of eminent Performers, both Vocal and Instrumental, to whom Timotheus himself might with Pleasure have listen’d, and St. Cecilia been attentive. [46]

                  For this refin’d Entertainment, we are obliged to the Skill and Care of Mr. Br-d-r-p, who, much to his Reputation, conducted the whole.  As it is impossible for me to do Justice to the Gentlemen, either Vocal or Instrumental, that contributed to this exalted Pleasure, I shall be silent; but shall venture to say of the Children who came from Salisbury, that the Bird of Morn, on their own happy Downs, never caroll’d it so sweet.[28]




In 1762 when Mr {Ozias} H{umphry} first engaged their Apartments, Eliz: Mrs Sheridan

was in her ninth year & Thomas nearly seven. Mr Linley’s avocation’s

angaged him almost continualy either at the Pump Room, the Theatre,

or in teaching the numerous Scholars. He had also a certain number of

Benefit Concerts each Season, at which Miss Linley assisted with her

vocal powers, and Thomas, by his early and extraordinary Performances

on the Violin. To prepare and urge forward their respective Talents, for

such early exhibitions, was the Father’s task, for which his Habits and

Education [were assisted] by the solid knowledge and professional

powers of Mr David Richards on the Violin, since so eminent as a leader

at Ranelegh, Drury Lane, and in other public Concerts of the

Metropolis. To these must be superadded the occasional and superior

aids of Sign Giardini, Abel, Bach and various other performers of the

first class from time to time, who were induced every season to visit

Bath. Mr Gainsborough lived in great Intimacy with the Family, who was

passionately fond of music as well as Painting, and never fail’d to

communicate useful Hints, or good general Instruction. The Elegies of Mr

Jackson of Exeter were then newly compos’d and had never been publickly

performed, who was therefore frequently with them, for the

purpose of assisting at the Rehearsals, and explaining his Ideas, and generally

conduced to regulate their studies. The Habits of these were often {100}

accidental depending upon the prevailing Sentiments, or Circumstances

of the Parties, but always Musical.

Elizabeth, then a rising Bud of matchless Beauty, wou’d sometimes

be required by her father, to rehearse & complete her Songs or duetts

for public Exhibition: and it often occur’d that Mr Richards came, and

assisted (as a vocal performer) in performing duetts and Trio’s from

HandeI & other Masters.

The Elegies of Jackson were then new, and had never been publickly

perform’d, therefore to comprehend their ch{a}racter, and to execute them

perfectly, occupied much of their attention; and to this must be imputed

their impressive effect upon the publick, wch established their high


Catches and Glees were occasionally sung by this party round their

table after dinner, in the most joyous and convivial manner.

It frequently happened, that our artist wou’d hear Mrs Linley, whilst

painting in his own appartment, singing to herself below stairs in the

parlour, when he seldom fail’d to hasten down and request her to come

and sit wth him. She generally comply’d and if not interrupted wou’d

sing to him the whole of the Airs of Thomas and Sally, the Chaplet, the

Beggars Opera, & Love in a Village etc for she was never weary.

To these she occasionally added the most admir’d Songs of Handel,

Giardini, Jackson, Doctor Arne & others. Mrs Linley’s feeling was of the

first degree, and she acquired by attention so much stile expression and

manner wth a voce di camera that her singing was in the best English

taste: wch afterwards shone, with perhaps superiour Lustre in the daughters

Elizabeth, Maria, and Mary, at the Oratorios in London, and excited

universal wonder.[29]





It hath been the Fate of most of the Arts to have advanced by slow Degrees to a certain Point of excellence, which to preserve hath proved as difficult as it was to acquire.  Modern Music was first methodized by GUIDO ARETINE, and received but little known Improvement for several Centuries after.  At the Time that Italy produced the great Painters, some of their best Musicians flourished.  We in England begun a little later, for it was not until the Reign of ELIZABETH that we had any Music to stand in Competition with the Italian.  In my Opinion the Advances were very slow for some Years after, and tho’ GIBBONS did something, PURCEL was the Man who first apparently improved Air, the great Support of modern Music.  PURCEL is still a favourite Author, and will continue so; for his Genius was of the first Rate, tho’ much disguised by the false Ornaments of the Age in which he lived.  His imitating the Sound of the Words, rather than expressing the Thoughts of the Sentence*; his frequent Repetitions of the same Word, Divisions numberless, and some almost endless, were taken up by the Composers of the Times, who not having Genius enough to imitate his Excellencies, took the easier Task of copying his Faults.  This might probably have prevented, at least retarded the further Improvement of Music, had not Mr. HANDEL most seasonably made his Appearance.  He introduced and established a new Species, which I am afraid will soon be taken from the public Ear; and live only in Memory, or in the private Performance of those who dare to be unfashionable.  He brought Air to its Perfection; and tho’ he has been happily imitated by a few, which perhaps may a little while delay a total Degeneracy, it is but too certain, that we are getting into as frivolous and trifling a Taste as ever existed.

M. VOLTAIRE remarks, ‘La Musique aujourd’hui n’est plus que l’art d’executer des choses difficiles.’  There is much reason in this Observation, for at present the Art of [iv] playing upon Instruments, is rather the Art of playing Tricks with them.  Singing is in the same corrupted State.  What dreadful Howlings have I heard, which I could never have imagined to proceed from an human Throat, if my Eyes would have permitted me to doubt it!  In our Taste we have certainly gone beyond the Mark.  Last Winter I carried a sensible young Fellow of the Country to a public Performance, who had scarce ever heard any other Music than the Fiddle of his Dancing-Master.  At a Cadence when one of the Female Singers was indulging herself and the Audience with a Shake ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ of a Mile, my Gentleman burst into a violent Laugh.  Upon being asked the reason; who can forbear, says he, that Lady has been laughing in my Face this Half-hour.  May we not suppose then, as the Observation came from unadulterated Nature, that tho’ a moderate Shake is agreeable, a long one is ridiculous?  The Swell is carried to the same Extravagance.  Why do all who are honoured with the Title of Great Singers, Prodigious Creatures, &c. &c. almost constantly affect, particularly in slow Movements, to be behind the Time, and sing any Intervals but the true?  Intervals which would have puzzled ALYPIUS to express, had he even turned the Greek Letters inside out, and made DEMOIVRE acknowledge, that they were beyond the Reach of his Numbers.  For what Character, what Ratio will express a gradual Slide from the Unison to an out-of-tune Octave?-----It is not my Intention to enter into a Detail of all the Extravagancies that have of late been deforming one of the most agreeable of the Arts: I have just hinted at a few, and have already said more upon the Subject, than I at first intended.

When we would make a crooked Stick straight, we bend it as much the contrary Way.-----If it should become fashionable to perform Music as plain and unadorned, as what is now offered to the Public, (and Fashion has worked greater Miracles) perhaps our Taste might at last settle in a proper Medium.  The easier to attain this End, in some Pieces I have endeavoured to unite the Air of the Moderns, to the plain substantial Harmony of the Ancients.  In others, the Melody, as well as the Harmony, is rather antique: And in some Passages, the modern Improvements, in respect to the Management and Succession of Discords, are introduced, and, I hope, with effect.  As this, possibly, is the only real Improvement in Harmony of late, it is a Pity it is not solely applied to the Effect it seems so admirably adapted to produce, viz. to excite the Ideas of Pain, Terror, &c. for surely the contrary can never be produced from the most discordant Sounds that can be combined, where Art has any Share in the Combination.

It is the Business of Art to dress Nature to Advantage.-----This Maxim should never be forgotten by the Musician, any more than by the Painter or Sculptor.  Nature unadorned is lovely, but I think that she may wear many Ornaments, and still be so: The Skill is in knowing when there is enough, and in disposing with Elegance what Judgment has chosen; tho’ if we are in doubt, I think it better to be deficient than to overcharge.  Mr. HOGARTH has something in his Analysis of Beauty exactly to the present Purpose: it is where he goes gradually from a straight Line to an exaggerated double Curve; thus,

[a “I” gradually bends its two ends until it becomes an “S”] [v]

                  He says, and justly, that the middle one is the most graceful.  The next in beauty is [u]ndoubtedly the preceding one.  This is no bad Illustration of the ancient and modern Music.  We will call the first Line the Age of GUIDO.  The second that of BULL, TALLIS, &c.  The middle one expresses The Compositions of HANDEL, and perhaps a few others; and one of the following, (I hope, not the last) our present crooked Deviation from the true Line of Beauty.[30]



[1] The Public Advertiser, Friday 12 February 1762, [2].

[2] Ian Woodfield, “New Light on the Mozarts’ London Visit: A Private Concert with Manzuoli,” Music & Letters 76 (1995), 187-208: 208.

[3] Count Frederick Kielmansegge, Diary of a Journey to England in the Years 1761-1762, trans. Countess Kielmansegg (London, New York and Bombay: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1902), 271-73.

[4] The Public Advertiser, Friday 19 March 1762, [2].

[5] The Public Advertiser, Friday 26 March 1762, [1].

[6] The British Magazine 3 (1762): 216.

[7] Thomas Davies, Memoirs of the Life of David Garrick, Esq., 2 vols. (London: the author, 1780), 2:61-63.

[8] The Gentleman’s Magazine 32 (1762): 248.

[9] The Gentleman’s Magazine 32 (1762): 287.

[10] Horace Walpole’s Correspondence with Sir Horace Mann VI (“The Yale Edition of Horace Walpole’s Correspondence, Vol. 22”), ed. W. S. Lewis, Warren Hunting Smith and George L. Lam (New Haven: Yale University Press / London: Oxford University Press, 1960), 35-36.

[11] A Selection of Thomas Twining’s Letters, 1734-1804: The Record of a Tranquil Life, ed. Ralph S. Walker, 2 vols. (Lewiston/Queenston/Lampeter: The Edwin Mellen Press, 1991), 1:30-32.

[12] Horace Walpole’s Correspondence with Sir Horace Mann VI (“The Yale Edition of Horace Walpole’s Correspondence, Vol. 22”), ed. W. S. Lewis, Warren Hunting Smith and George L. Lam (New Haven: Yale University Press / London: Oxford University Press, 1960), 41-42.

[13] Horace Walpole’s Correspondence with Sir Horace Mann VI (“The Yale Edition of Horace Walpole’s Correspondence, Vol. 22”), ed. W. S. Lewis, Warren Hunting Smith and George L. Lam (New Haven: Yale University Press / London: Oxford University Press, 1960), 49.

[14] The Public Advertiser, Monday 5 July 1762, [3].

[15] The British Magazine 3 (1762): 390.

[16] The Gentleman’s Magazine 32 (1762): 340; also, The London Magazine: Or, Gentleman’s Monthly Intelligencer 31 (1762): 395.

[17] Horace Walpole’s Correspondence with Sir Horace Mann VI (“The Yale Edition of Horace Walpole’s Correspondence, Vol. 22”), ed. W. S. Lewis, Warren Hunting Smith and George L. Lam (New Haven: Yale University Press / London: Oxford University Press, 1960), 50.

[18] John O’Keeffe, Recollections of the Life of John O’Keeffe, written by Himself, 2 vols. (London: H. Coburn, 1826), 1:29.

[19] [Frances Brooke], The History of Lady Julia Mandeville, 2 vols. (London: R. and J. Dodsley, 1763) 1:203-04.

[20] David Garrick, The Private Correspondence of David Garrick with the Most Celebrated Persons of his Time, 2 vols. (London: Henry Colburn and Richard Bentley, 1831), 1:178-80.

[21] [Benjamin] Victor, The History of the Theatres of London, from the Year 1760 to the Present Time (London: T. Becket, 1771), 47-48.

[22] The British Magazine 3 (1762): 545-46; also in The London Magazine: Or, Gentleman’s Monthly Intelligencer 31 (1762): 519.

[23] The British Magazine 3 (1762): 652.

[24] David Garrick, The Letters of David Garrick, ed. David M. Little and George M. Kahrl, 3 vols. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1963), 1:369.

[25] David Garrick, The Private Correspondence of David Garrick with the Most Celebrated Persons of his Time, 2 vols. (London: Henry Colburn and Richard Bentley, 1831), 1:152-53.

* “He form’d his taste,” says the author of his memoirs, “upon that of his own countrymen.”  And in another place, “it is highly probable, that whatever delicacies appear in his music, are owing to his journey into Italy.”  This is undoubtedly true, for such a great genius as he was, certainly pick’d the flowers of every thing he met with, and it is as certain, that he made improvements.

* I have heard that Corelli had the honour of some considerable post, as a reward for his great merit….

  STEFFANI, a native of Venice, and a most delicate master of music, was promoted to great honour, as a musician; and at last was exalted to the high offices of bishop and ambassador.

  Lully of France, was thought worthy of being raised to the rank of a statesman and privy counselor.

  Most of our old English masters were honour’d with being organists to the chapel-royal…

  Handel, had an uncommon respect paid him, by many royal and illustrious persons; and to his death enjoy’d a very considerable yearly income, bestow’d on him by the bounty of several crown’d heads, viz. queen Anne, king George the first, an her late majesty queen Caroline.

[26] John Potter, Observations on the Present State of Music and Musicians (London: C. Henderson, 1762).

[27] [Lady Barbara Montagu and Sarah Scott,] A Description of Millenium Hall, and the Country Adjacent: Together with the Characters of the Inhabitants, And such Historical Reflection, As May excite in the READER proper Sentiments of Humanity, and lead the Mind to the Love of VIRTUE (London: J. Newbery, 1762), 12-13.

[28] Emanuel Collins, Miscellanies, in Prose and Verse (Bristol: E. Farley, 1762), 44-46.

[29] Ian Woodfield, Opera and Drama in Eighteenth-Century London: The King’s Theatre, Garrick and the Business of Performance (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 99-100.

* Tho’ I have mentioned this as a Fault of PURCEL’s, yet it is almost an universal Practice, and has continued, from the first Attempts towards Expression, to the present Time.—PURCEL indeed may be justly blamed for giving the Sanction of his Authority to what is in itself absurd.

Sometimes it is impossible to avoid repeating Part of a Sentence, but then it should be the most expressive Part of it, and the Passion to be excited should be more and more enforced at each Repetition.

[30] William Jackson, Elegies (London: the author, [?1762]), iii-v.