Jan 27


                  THE CURE OF SAUL.  An Oratorio.  Written by the late Dr. Brown, and entirely new composed by Mr. Arnold.

                  The merit of this Poem is sufficiently known; and it is scarce necessary to mention, that the Author himself, with the assistance of Mr. Avison, adapted music to it, but with very indifferent success.

                  In the present case, the composer has exceeded expectation and probability.  Nothing since Mr. Handel’s time has appeared in this species of composition equal to it: and I think I may venture to declare without the least intention to flattery, that this performance is the best imitation of Mr. Handel’s Oratorio’s ever attempted.  Great ingenuity and invention runs through all the airs; learning and judgment in the proper disposition of the instrumental accompaniments, and combinations of the harmony.

                  In the Chorusses, the Composer has shewn great force and power, and given innumerable instances of an unbounded genius.  When I consider what flimsy, hackney’d music, barren of either melody or harmony, has appeared in those Oratorio’s composed since Mr. Handel’s, it raises indignation, and makes me wish that a person of Mr. Arnold’s abilities may meet with that encouragement he deserves; as it evidently appears that, that genius which fled with Handel, is returned again; and if properly supported, may once more be an ornament to the British nation, and shine out in its original luster.[1]




Apr 27

[Mary Dewes to her brother, 27 April, {?1767}]


he [i.e. Thomas Linley, Sr] makes her [i.e. Elizabeth] sing too much and too hard songs, for she is very young[2]





“History of the Reverend Mr. Hanbury’s Charitable Foundations at Church-Langton, in Leicestershire, Established in March 1767.”


Amidst the numerous plans, proposals, and schemes offered to the Public for relieving distress, encouraging merit, promoting virtue, exciting industry, and propagating religion, none has appeared in the present age more extensive, benevolent, and disinterested than the charities projected, and now finally established by the Reverend Mr. Hanbury…These charities, the public-spirited founder informs us, owe their origin to his natural genius and inclination for Planting and Gardening….Having resolved to appropriate the money arising from the sale of [his plantation] trees to the foundation of some public charities; in [1758] he published proposals exhibiting his plan, and soliciting the principal gentlemen in his neighbourhood to become trustees for carrying it into execution…[311]…we are not a little surprised at the difficulties, disappointments, and mortifications this worthy gentleman experienced in the prosecution of his design…However, Mr. Hanbury’s perseverance overcame all obstacles…To accelerate the completion of his plan, the benevolent founder had also projected the annual exhibition of Oratorios at Church-Langton, and other places in the country, the profits of which were to be appropriated likewise to the benefit of the charities; but he found the success so precarious, and the emoluments so inconsiderable, through the arts and intrigues of his enemies, among whom he numbers several of his trustees, that he determined to lay aside all farther thoughts of prosecuting that branch of his scheme.[3]




Sep 14

An Occasional Prologue [by Paul Whitehead], spoken by Mr. Powell, at the Opening of the Theatre Royal in Covent-Garden, on Monday, the 14th Instant [Sep. 1767].

For you, ye fair, who sprightlier scenes may choose,

Where musick decks in all her airs the muse,

Gay Opera shall all its charms dispense,

Yet boast no tuneful triumph over sense:

The nobler bard shall still assert his right,

Nor Handel rob a Shakespeare of his night[4]




                  One who plays with Expression, is he who, in his Performance, gives the Air or Piece of Music (let it be what it will) such a Turn, as conveys that Passion into the Hearts of the Audience, which the Composer intended to excite by it.  Dryden, in that masterly Poem, his Ode in Honour of St. Cecilia’s Day, has given us a true [49] Idea of the Meaning of the Word; the Beauties of which Poem, though they are enough to hurry any Man away from his Subject, shall not be discussed at present, not being to the Point in Hand.  We shall only make Use of an Instance or two out of it, to illustrate what has been said.

                  Handel was so sensible of it’s [sic] being capable, by the Help of Musical Sounds, of raising those very Passions in the Hearts of the Audience, which Dryden fables Alexander to have felt by the masterly Hand of Timotheus, that, by setting it to Music, he has himself boldly stepped into the Place of Timotheus.

                  In this Performance called Alexander’s Feast, it may easily be discerned, that Expression does not consist in the Staccato only, or in any one Power or Manner of playing.  For Instance this Air,

Softly sweet in Lydian Measures, &c. would be quite ruined by playing it Staccato; and again, [50]

Revenge, Revenge, Timotheus cries, &c. requires to be played in a very different Style from the foregoing Air.

[... 51 ...]

[...] the modern Harpsichord; it is very pretty, notwithstanding it’s Imperfections, with Regard to the Change of Keys [...]  But no one can say, that it speaks to his Passions like those Instruments which have so immediate a Connection with the Finger of the Performer, as to sound just in the Manner which he directs. [52]

                  In that Case the Powers are great; you have the Numbers of Graces which have Names to them, and the still greater Number which have none; you have the Staccato and the Slur, the Swell and the Smotzato, and the Sostenuto, and a great Variety of other Embellishments, which are as necessary as Light and Shade in Painting.

                  To convince the Reader of this, let him hear any Master play Handel’s Song, Pious Orgies, pious Airs, upon the Organ or Harpsichord, and he will find, that, though it will appear to be Harmony, yet it will want that Meaning, and (not to make Use of the Word too often) Expression, which it is intended to have given it by the Word Sostenuto, which Mr. Handel has placed at the Beginning of the Symphony.

                  Now a fine Performer upon the Violin or Hautboy, with a Bass to accompany him, will give it that Sostenuto, even with [53] greater Strength than the human Voice itself, if possible.


Some People are apt to confound the Idea of raising the softer Passions, which have their Residence in our Nature, with the Idea of Effeminacy, which, as I said before, are quite distinct. [... 132 ...] And Bravery in Distress is not only the Subject of Painting, but it is the constant Theme of Music: The Operas and Oratorios are full of it; and though the Misfortunes of the Heroes which are the Subject of them do soften, yet it is not such a Kind of Softness as to beget any Effeminacy, but of a contrary Nature, and is such a Sensation as an ordinary Hearer will perceive at the Beginning of this common Song, which is well enough in its Way.

How little do the Landmen know,

What we poor Sailors feel,

When Seas do roar, and Winds do blow;

But we have Hearts of Steel. [133]

If we are to be moved by such a Song as this, what shall we feel at some of the masterly Strokes of Handel in his Oratorio of Samson.

Total Eclipse, no Sun, no Moon,

All dark, amidst the Blaze of Noon.

One would think, by the resigned Solemnity of this following Movement,

Bring the Laurel, bring the Bays, &c. that he had been reading Milton’s Paradise Lost as well as the Samson Agonistes.  This seems to be the very Music of the fallen Angels, where he says, they made Use of soft Airs, which inspired true Heroic Bravery, and which he prefers to the noisy, as it was the Cause of a lasting, fixed, and reserved Courage.  Milton says, that as soon as the Colours were displayed, they marched to the Sound of Flutes and soft Recorders:

                                    Anon they move

In perfect Phalanx, to the Dorian Mood

Of Flutes and soft Recorders; such as rais’d

To Height of noblest Temper Heroes old

Arming to battle, and instead of Rage [134]

Deliberate Valour breath’d firm and unmov’d,

With Dread of Death to Flight and foul Retreat.

                  In short, the March in Rinaldo might possibly make Soldiers seize hold of their Arms and March, but it must be such an Air as that in the Overture of Berenice which makes them face an Enemy.[5]




                  The Britons prefer Italian musick to that of all Europe, except their own; the French, the Spaniards do the same, the Germans have no other; […][6]




[“Answer to the same [Enigma from 1767], by Mr. Ozwin Sutton; in a Pastoral Dialogue between Lycidas and Phillis.”]


         What, tho’ no pageant GARTERS here,

As at the glare of courts appear;

Tho’ rarely here be heard the name

Of *HANDELL, or the sons of fame.[7]





This is the last Monument which that eminent Statuary Rubiliac [sic] lived to finish.  ’Tis affirmed, that he first became conspicuous, and afterwards finished the Exercise of his Art with a Figure of this extraordinary Man.  The first was erected in the Gardens at Vaux-Hall, therefore well known to the Public.  This last Figure is very elegant, and the Face is a strong Likeness of its Original.  The left Arm is resting on a Groupe of musical Instruments, and the Attitude is very expressive of great Attention to the Harmony of an Angel playing on an Harp in the Clouds over his Head.  Before it lies the celebrated Messiah, with that Part open, where is the much-admired Air, I know that my Redeemer liveth.  Beneath only this Inscription.

George Frederick Handell, Esq; born Feb. 23, 1684.  Died April 14, 1759.[8]



[1] The London Chronicle, Saturday 24–Tuesday 27 January 1767, 95.

[2] The Autobiography and Correspondence of Mary Granville, Mrs. Delany, ed. Lady Llanover, second series, 3 vols. (London: Richard Bentley, 1862), 1:133.

[3] The British Magazine 8 (1767): 310-11; The London Magazine.  Or, Gentleman’s Monthly Intelligencer 36 (1767): 293.

[4] The Gentleman’s Magazine 37 (1767): 472; also, The British Magazine 8 (1767): 494-95.

[5] Stephen Fovargue, A New Catalogue of Vulgar Errors (Cambridge: [the author], 1767), 48-53, 131-34.

Mr. Graun, Allemand, passoit pour un Italien.  Haendel etoit le Lully des Anglois.  M.S. on Rousseau.

[6] [Henry Fuesli, Remarks on the Writings and Conduct of J. J. Rousseau (London: T. Cadell, J. Johnson and B. Davenport, and J. Payne, 1767), 91.

* An Organ.

[7] The Diarian Miscellany: Consisting of all the Useful and Entertaining Parts, both Mathematical and Poetical, extracted from the Ladies’ Diary, 5 vols. (London: G. Robinson and R. Baldwin, 1775), 5:269.

[8] [David Henry], An Historical Account of the Curiosities of London and Westminster (London: J. Newbery, 1767), 121; reprints and variants: [David Henry], An Historical Description of Westminster-Abbey, Its Monuments and Curiosities (London: J. Newbery, 1767), 121; A Companion to every Place of Curiosity and Entertainment in and about London and Westminster (London: J. Lawrence et al., 1767), 124; A New and Compleat History and Survey of the Cities of Londo[n] and Westminster, the Borough of Southward, and Parts adjacent (London: [?], 1769), 165; The Curiosities, Natural and Artificial, of the Island of Great Britain, 6 vols. (London: the proprietors, [?1775]), 1:87-88; A Description of the County of Middlesex (London: R. Snagg, 1775), 87-88; Walter Harrison, A New and Universal History, Description and Survey of the Cities of London and Westminster, the Borough of Southwark, and their Adjacent Parts (London: J. Cooke, 1776), 165; Britannica Curiosa: or a Description of the most Remarkable Curiosities, Natural and Artificial, of the Island of Great Britain, 2nd edn, 6 vols. (London: Fielding and Walker, 1777 [?1776]), 1:87-88.