Feb 5

The Oratorio of Judith, intended to be performed at the King’s Theatre in the Hay-market on Thursday next, the 7th instant, is obliged to be deferred till farther Notice [Feb 7: “till Friday the 15th instant”], on account of the Indisposition of a principal Performer.[1]




Feb 13

Wed[nesday]. February 13 [1765].—I heard “Ruth,” an oratorio, performed at Mr. Madan’s chapel [in London].  The sense was admirable throughout; and much of the poetry not contemptible.  This, joined with exquisite music, might possibly make an impression even upon rich and honourable sinners.”[2]




Feb 14

HAYMARKET, Little Theatre, / ON Account of Dr. ARNE’s / Oratorio of JUDITH”, and the same Reason for want of some principal Assistants of Performers, Master and Miss MOZART are obliged to postpone the Concerts which should have been To-morrow, the 15th instant, to Monday the 18th instant.  They desire that the Nobility and Gentry will be so kind as to excuse them for not performing according to the Time first proposed. / Tickets to be had of Mr. Mozart, at Mr. Williamson’s in Thrift-street, Soho, and at the said Theatre. / Tickets delivered for the 15th will be admitted. / A box Ticket admits two into the Gallery. [...][3]




Mar 1

AT THE / Theatre Royal, Covent Garden, / This Day will be perform’d an Oratorio call’d / ISRAEL In BABYLON. / With a Concerto on the ORGAN by Mr. STANLEY. / Pit and Boxes to be put together, and no Person to be admitted without Tickets, which will be delivered this Day at the Office in the Theatre at Half a Guinea each; 1st Gall. 5s.  2d Gall. 3s. 6d.  Galleries to be opened at half an Hour after Four o’Clock; Pit and Boxes at Five.  To begin at half an Hour after Six o’Clock.            Vivant Rex & Regina.[4]




Mar 3

Joseph Goupy, cabinet painter to Fred. Prince of Wales, sold the remainder of his works in water-colours & crayons, & his pictures, in like manner of Hobbs’s in Pallmall on March 3d. 1765.  There was a caricature of Handel as a Hog playing on an organ with symbols of gluttony (they had quarelled) in crayons [...][5]




Mar 13

To the Printer of the Public Advertiser. / SIR, / I WAS at the Oratorio of Israel in Egypt last Night; and notwithstanding it was advertised in the public Papers that a Concerto on the Organ was to be played by Mr. Stanley, after waiting a considerable Time between the Second and Third Acts, to the no small Astonishment of the Audience, the Third Act begun without a Solo or Concerto, or even an Apology for either.  This Circumstance was taken much amiss by that Part of the Company near me, especially as the Managers might have desired Mr. Pinto to oblige the House with a Concerto (which he is very capable of when he pleases) notwithstanding Mr. Stanley’s being prevented from attending by Illness, or some urgent Business.—This seemed the more necessary, as the Managers were honoured with the Company of two of the Royal Family.  Give me Leave to mention, Mr. Printer, that I believe a great Part of the People, who frequent Oratorios, would be glad to hear a Concerto from Mr. Pinto now-and-then by way of Variety; for the Organ is made so capital an Instrument in the Band, that I think the Violin would be a pretty Relief.  In the Chorus’s last Night, I observed the Organ was so powerful, that the other Instruments were quite drowned (in the musical Phrase).  This has struck me often (for you must know I am a tolerable Proficient) and I have found many Adepts in Music, who have been entirely of my Opinion. / Your humble Servant, / March 14.  N.[6]




Mar 20

For the Public Advertiser. / Hearing Mr. HANDEL’S Oratorio of SAMSON. / RAIS’D by his Theme, aloft bold MILTON flew, / When all * Creation open’d to his View: / By MILTON fir’d, brave HANDEL strikes our Ear, / And ev’ry Power of Harmony we hear. / When two such mighty Artists blend their Fire; / Call forth each Charm that Genius can inspire; / The Man whose Bosom does not Transports feel, / Must have no Soul, or all his Heart be Steel.[7]




Mar 22

Writ after the first Representation of the Oratorio of JUDAS MACCHABAEUS. / THE Doctrine taught us by the Samian * Sage, / [...] / Sweet Antepast of Harmony in Heaven![8]




Mar 27

For the Public Advertiser, / To the MANES of Mr. HANDEL. / By Mr. LOCKMAN. / TO mourn o’er thee, I not invoke the Nine: / [...] / And Heaven with thy great Hallelujahs ring.[9]





To the MANES of Mr. HANDEL.







Description of Vauxhall gardens:


Next is a piazza of five arches, which open into a semi-circle of heerful, with a temple and dome at each end, and the space in front decorated with trees.  In the middle of the piazza, which preserves the line and boundary of the grove, is a grand portico of the heer order; and under the arch, on a pedestal, is a beautiful marble statue of the famous Mr Handel, in character of Orpheus, playing on his lyre, done by the celebrated Roubiliac.

In the pediment above is represented St Cecilia, the Goddess of Musick, playing on the violoncello, which is supported by a Cupid, while another holds before her a piece of musick....From the statue of Handel, up the garden, appears a noble vista, which is called the grand south walk, of the same size as that seen at our first entrance, and running parallel with it.  It is adorned by three triumphal arches; the prospect is terminated by a large painting of the ruins of Palmyra, which has deceived many strangers, and induced them, at first sight, to imagine they really saw a pile of ruins at some distance.[11]




Aug 17

[John Brown to David Garrick, {17 August 1765}]


                  I received yours, and am altogether of your opinion, that much will depend upon the music, and that the airs in general ought to be as light as possible.  You may depend upon it I shall select them of this kind from Handel, as far as they are to be found there; but the present taste has got down so far towards the ballad style, that I question whether the lightest of Handel’s airs will quite hit the humour of the town.  To an audience of taste, I could go through this with pleasure and security of success; to such an audience as we have to deal with, I cannot pretend to any certainty as to this matter.  I have already selected twice as many songs from his operas as will be sufficient for our purpose, and these of great variety and spirit; but still they are of a higher form than many in Artaxerxes.  I apprise you of this beforehand, that I may not seem to mislead you; and therefore, if you think that any of the composers in London can go through the thing in a more popular manner, I shall be glad to resign it to them, and to pay them the usual price for such performances.  If Boyce would undertake it, he (next to Arne) I think most capable of it.  It would accelerate the completion of the opera; because, as soon as one act was finished, I could send it, and thus the poetry and music would be advancing together; whereas, if I do both, the one must precede the other.  You will think of this, and let me know your sentiments.

                  There will be a resemblance between this and “Arthur” in one sense, that is, so far as machinery is concerned in both; but as to the main subject, I recollect but little; and the conduct of the machinery is so different, that no striking resemblance can arise.  By your asking me this question, I suppose you have some thoughts of presenting “Arthur.”  I wish I had heard the music when I was in town, but I cannot help suspecting the success of it.  My first doubt is, whether there be any thing pathetic in the plan; my second is, with respect to the popularity of the music, Purcel is admirable here and there; but as to any whole of his composition, I cannot help questioning the success of it at this time of day, unless it was purged and done up anew.  Within two or three days after this comes to hand, you will receive two packets from Colchester; this is owing to my having dealings with a wit, who, of course, has no memory.  I desired you, in my last, to tell me of some Member of Parliament to whom I might inclose any thing I had to send you.  This you totally forgot; (pray, good Sir, if you please, to remember this the next time you write.)  For want of this I have been forced to send to Mr. Gray, of Colchester, two packets which contain a new edition of “Bartholomew Fair.”  I pique myself more on rectifying this plan, than on any plan I ever struck out in my life.  It is amazing to think how any writer could do so well, and so ill, at the same time, as Ben Jonson did in this comedy.  However, so far as I am a judge, there are admirable materials left, enough to make out a first-rate comedy after the trash is thrown out.  But I will not anticipate.  As to the little connecting scenes which I have added, I have made them [148] as short as possible, because I know that my comic composition is nothing.  As soon as you have well considered it, let me have your thoughts.  I can furnish you with some songs that will be proper for the purpose: that which is inserted is the finest that ever Purcel composed; and if Miss Wright can act it as well as she can sing it (for both will be necessary), that very song will draw an audience….

                  I was much diverted with your story of the Bishop of Gloucester [Warburton] and Quin.  I see you are going on triumphantly in politics, and we of the minority have nothing to do, but hide our heads.  For my part, I am glad to find that the late minority have laid aside their factious dispositions, and are become willing to serve their king and country; and I think I have a fair title to a deanery at least, for having advised them to this conduct.  At least, after having taken my advice, I think they ought not to be angry at me for having given it….

                                                                                                                              Yours, yours, in good spirits,

                                                                                                                                                                                    J. BROWN.[12]




Sep 4

[John Brown to David Garrick, 4 September 1765]


                                    DEAR SIR,

                  I have been for some time expecting an answer to my last, in which I told you that I had forwarded two packets for you by the way of Colchester.  As I imagine you are considering that point, as well as what I said with respect to the music of “Armida,” I have in the mean time made some progress in the last-named work, both as to the poetry and music; and that no time may be lost, I send a small box by to-morrow’s London Fly, directed to you in Southampton-street, which contains the first act, (supposing it divided into five,) both poem and music, [199] consisting of five songs.  I do this that you may make trial of them, and by that means judge the better, how far the songs of Handel, or other eminent composers (the songs not being hacknied ones,) may be likely to have popularity and success.

                  I make no doubt of going through the whole in the same manner; and as to the real excellence and propriety of the music, make no scruple to say, that I believe no modern composer can come near it.  But this not being the only point aimed at, I am desirous of giving you this means of judging how far this music, or such as modern composers can produce, may most likely be attended with success.  The little box will be in town on Saturday evening, and will be left at your house.  The post is just going out.  I am going upon a party of pleasure to Keswick for a fortnight.  By that time, I hope I shall have your opinion in these points, and shall know what method you think most advisable.  Pray be as explicit as you can.

                                                                                                                                                Always yours,

                                                                                                                                                                  J. BROWN.[13]





Written in 1765, but never before printed.


Cries Damon, teaz’d by dearest life,

To trudge to Vauxhall with her,

“If song from hell could fetch a wife,

“Why can’t it send one thither?


“But if, alas! to Pluto’s cell

“By music none are driven,

“Say, Handel, is there not a spell

“Can send her soul to heaven?


“Come, then, some sweet entrancing strain,

“To native skies restore her,

“And when to angel turn’d again,

“I may again adore her.”[14]




Some foreigners make a figure in this illustrious company.  Handel, the learned Casaubon, St. Evremont, &c. have monuments erected in honour of them, which seem to refute Horace’s reproach upon the Britons.[15]




[Asserts] The great superiority of the Scotch songs to the English [ones] [...]. On the other hand, England has produced many admirable Composers of Church Music.—Their great attachment to Counterpoint has often led them into a wrong track; in other respects, they have shewn both [109] Genius and Taste.—Religion indeed opens the amplest field for musical, as well as poetical Genius; it produces almost all the variety of Subjects, which Music can express, the sublime, the joyous, the  chearful, the serene, the devout, the plaintive, the sorrowful.  It likewise warms the heart with that enthusiasm so peculiarly necessary in all works of Genius.—Accordingly the finest compositions in Music we have, are in the Church stile.  Handel far advanced in life, when his constitution and spirits seemed nearly exhausted, was so roused by this Subject, that he exhibited proofs of extent and sublimity of Genius in his Messiah, superior to any he had shewed in his most vigorous and happy period of life.—We have another instance of the same kind in Marcello, a noble Venetian, who set the first fifty [110] Psalms to Music.  In this work he has united the simplicity and pathos of the ancient Music with the grace and variety of the modern.  In compliance with the Taste of the times he was sometimes forced to leave that simplicity of stile which he loved and admired, but by doing so he has enriched the Art with a variety of the most expressive and unusual Harmonies.—The great object in vocal Music is to make the Music expressive of the sentiment.  How little this is usually regarded appears by the practice of singing all the parts of a song to the same Music, though the sentiments and passions to be expressed be ever so different.—If the Music has any character at all, this is manifest violation of Taste and common sense, as it is obvious every different sentiment and passion should be expressed [111] in a stile peculiarly suited to itself.—But the most common blunder in Composers, who aim at expression, is their mistaking imitation for it.—

MUSIC, considered as an imitative Art, can imitate only Sounds or Motion, and this last but very imperfectly.—A Composer should make his Music expressive of the sentiment, and never have a reference to any particular word used in conveying that sentiment, which is a common practice, and really a miserable species of punning.—Besides, where imitation is intended, it should generally be laid upon the instrumental accompanyments, which by their greater compass and variety are fitter to perform the imitation, while the voice is left at liberty to express the sentiment.  When the [112] imitation is laid upon the voice, it obliges it to a strained and unnatural exertion, and prevents the distinct articulation of the words, which it is necessary to preserve in order to convey the meaning of the song.—Handel sometimes observed this very carefully, at other times, as his Genius or Attention was very unequal, he entirely neglected it.  In that beautiful song of the Il Penseroso,

“Oft on a plate of rising ground,

“I hear the far off curfew sound,”

he has thrown the imitation of the bell with great art and success into the symphony, and reserves the song entire for the expression of that pleasing tranquil melancholy, which the words emphatically convey.  He has shewn the same [113] address in the celebrated song of Acis and Galatea, “Hush ye little warbling quire,” where he has laid the imitation of the warbling of the birds upon the symphony and accompanyments, and preserves in the song that simplicity and tender languishing, which the Subject of it particularly required.—On the other hand in the song in Semele,

“The morning lark to mine accords his note,

“And tunes to my distress his warbling throat,”

he runs along and laboured division on the word Warbling; and after all, the voice gives but a very faint imitation of the warbling of the lark, though the violins in the symphony could express it with great justness and delicacy.—In the union of Poetry and Music, the Music should be [114] subservient to the Poetry: the very reserve is the common practice; the Poetry is ever made subordinate to the Music.—Handel made those people, who composed the words of his Oratorios, alter and transpose them, as he thought best suited his Music; and as no Man of Genius could submit to this, we find the Poetry the most wretched imaginable.—We have frequently a more shocking instance of the little regard the Composer has to the Poetry, and to the effect which should be left upon the Mind in the repetition of the first part of the Music after the second.—It frequently happens, that a succession of very opposite Passions takes place in the course of a song; for instance, from anger to reconciliation and tenderness, with which the sense [115] requires it should conclude; yet the Composer sometimes constructs his Music in such a way, as requires a return from the second to the first part with which it must end.—This is a glaring absurdity in point of sense, and likewise distracts the Mind by a most unnatural succession of Passions.—We have another instance of the little regard paid to the ultimate end of Music, the affecting the Heart and Passions, in the universally allowed practice of making a long flourish at the close of a song, and sometimes at other Periods of it.—In this the Performer is left at liberty to shew the utmost compass of his throat and execution; and all that is required, is, that he should conclude in the proper key: the Performer accordingly takes this opportunity of shewing the audience the extent of his abilities, by the most [116] fantastical and unmeaning extravagance of execution.—The disgust which this gives to some, and the surprise which it excites in all the audience, breaks the tide of Passion in the soul, and destroys all the effect which the Composer has been labouring to produce.—Our Oratorios lie under a great disadvantage in being deprived of the assistance of Action and Scenery: another one is their having no unity or design as a whole.  They are little else than a collection of songs pretty much independent of one another.—Now the effect of a Dramatic performance does not depend on the effect of particular passages, considered by themselves, but on that artful construction, by which one part gives strength to another, and gradually works the Mind up to those sentiments and passions, which it was [117] the design of the author to produce.—The effects of Music depend upon many other circumstances besides its connection with Poetry.—The effect, for instance, of Cathedral Music depends greatly on its being properly adapted to the particular service of the day, and discourse of the Preacher, and such a direction of it requires great taste and judgment.—Yet this is never thought of: the whole conduct of the Music is left to the caprice of the Organist, who makes it airy or grave, chearful or melancholy, as it suits his fancy, and often degrades the solemnity and gravity suitable to divine worship, by the lightest and most trivial Airs.

WE see the same want of public Taste in the Music performed between the acts [118] in Tragedy, where the tone of Passion is oft broke in upon, and destroyed by airy and impertinent Music.—The effect of Music may sometimes be lost by an unhappy association of Ideas with the person and character of a Performer.  When we hear at the Oratorio an Italian Eunuch squeaking forth the vengeance of divine wrath, or a gay lively strumpet pouring forth the complaint of a deeply penitent and contrite heart, we cannot prevent our being hurt by such an association.—These observations relate principally to the public Taste of Music in Britain, if the Public can be said to have any Taste.—In Italy a chastity, an elegance, a simplicity and pathos of stile has been cultivated by Pergolese, Astorgo, [119] Caldara, and some other eminent masters, and we hope will soon spread its influence.—I could not pursue this Subject farther without entering deeply into the intricacies of the technical part of Music, which I have carefully endeavoured to avoid.—My design was only to shew, that the Principles of Taste in Music, like those of the other fine Arts, have their foundation in Nature and common sense; that these Principles have been grossly violated by those unworthy hands to whose direction alone this delightful Art is entrusted; and that Men of sense and genius should not imagine they want an ear or a musical Taste, because they do not relish much of the modern Music, as in many cases this is rather a proof of the goodness both of the one and the other.[16]




                  Of all our musical fraternities, none seems to stand upon so firm a basis [i.e. honoring sense] as the ancient academy*.  Here we find the sublime, the harmonious, the humorous and the sprightly, happily disposed or blended, whilst the general taste is for devotional music.[17]



[1] The Public Advertiser, Tuesday 5 February 1765, [2]; Thursday 7 February 1765, [2].

[2] John Wesley, The Journal of the Reverend John Wesley, A.M., ed. John Emory, 2 vols. (New York: Carlton & Phillips, 1856), 2:197.

[3] The Public Advertiser, Thursday 14 February 1765, [1].

[4] The Public Advertiser, Friday 1 March 1765, [1].

[5] Horace Walpole, “Books of Materials,” vol. 1, f. 234 (Hazen 2615), Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University.

[6] The Public Advertiser, Tuesday 19 March 1765, [2].


[7] The Public Advertiser, Wednesday 20 March 1765, [2].

[8] The Public Advertiser, Friday 22 March 1765, [2].

[9] The Public Advertiser, Wednesday 27 March 1765, [2].

[10] The London Magazine.  Or, Gentleman’s Monthly Intelligencer 34 (1765): 207.

[11] The Gentleman’s Magazine 35 (1765): 356.

[12] 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), 1:147-48; the letter is erroneously dated “1762” in pencil.

[13] 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), 1:198-99.

[14] The Gentleman’s Magazine 44 (1774): 436.

[15] [Pierre Jean] Grosley, A Tour to London; or, New Observations on England, and its Inhabitants, translation from French by Thomas Nugent, 2 vols. (London: Lockyer Davis, 1772), 1:206.

See Harris and Avison.

Elements of Criticism.

[16] [John Gregory], A Comparative View of the State and Faculties of Man, with those of the Animal World, 2nd edn (London: J. Dodsley, 1766]), 108-19.

* Handell, Purcell, Pepush, Allegri, Crofts, Steffani, Palastrina [sic], Pergolesi, Green; and lately the great Marcello, and some others most esteemed at the Crown and Anchor society, on Thursdays.  This society has wisely printed a book with the words of the music they usually perform, for their own particular use.

[17] [Jonas Hanway], Thoughts on the Use and Advantages of Music, and other Amusements (London: J. Dodsley, 1765), 69; reissue, Jonas Hanway, Thoughts on the Importance of the Sabbath, with a caution not to trespass on the design of it: also on the Use and Advantage of Music, as an amusement to the polite part of mankind.  Likewise on the Abuse of Music in Churches as practised by many Organists (London: [?J. Dodsley], 1765), 69.