1768

 

 

Jan 17

[Lichfield, 17 January 1768.]

 

                  People of distinction, who see themselves sought and courted by those of private birth and moderate fortune, generally know the precise value of the homage they receive; that it is not paid to their abilities, or their virtues, but to their rank and wealth; and if they suffer the company of their silly worshippers, it is only to divert themselves with such paltry ambition, and to ridicule it amongst their own class.

                  You remember the pompous parson of C———r and his foolish wife, whom we heard their neighbour, Lord N——h, ridicule, for ordering their servants to deny them in a morning to the ladies and gentlemen of the town, and to admit only the country families.

                  So your fine people are all for the opera, and call oratorios a heavy lumber of doleful noise; can bear no music but Italian; and assert that Handel tears the ear with the profusion of his discords!  They declaim upon the power of the ancient music over the passions, which had no discords, and to which all the combinations of harmony were unknown.

                  You have too much real feeling for the enchanting science, to credit the slanders of vitiated taste, or to [ccv] be dazzled by conclusions drawn from mistaken facts.  Collins finishes his beautiful Ode on the Power of Music over the Passions, with a seeming preference of mere melody, grounded on the vast effects which, we are told, produced in ancient Greece.

                  Now we know, that all poems, whatever their length, even the Iliad, was [sic] sung, instead of read, in their places of public resort.  It must have been but a sort of recitative, in which the twenty-four books of the Iliad could have been sung.  The effects of their meager music, and of their rich poetry, have been blended, and those effects attributed to the first, which were, in reality, produced solely by the second, to which it was probably little more than a vehicle.

                  There may certainly be harmony without discords; but its unvaried sweetness would soon satiate.  The desire of obtaining it is similar to Queen Elizabeth’s request, that there might be no shades in her picture.

                  The most vivid pleasures of all our sense result from contrast.  If we delight in umbrageous vales, verdant fields, and crystal waters, we feel the delight arise with treble poignance, when we find them at the foot of rugged rocks, and encircled by barren mountains.

                  When Handel is harsh, the harshness is either picturesque of distress or of horror; or else designed [ccvi] to prepare the ear and the soul to receive more exquisite pleasure from the gay triumphant airs, or the soft delicious melodies that succeed.

                  But needless, I am persuaded, this attempt to guard you from fashionable heresy to the inimitable excellencies of the greatest musical composer the world has ever produced.  Your sensibilities have secured your admiration.  Were you condemned, in future, to listen only to the lazy and monotonous sweetness of the Italian song, you would always recollect the varied sensations and thrilling pleasures with which his dulce strains and sublime choruses have inspired you, and to his surely immortal fame be, like the seraph Abdiel, a

“———Faithful friend,

Amidst the many faithless.”[1]

 

 

 

Jan 30

To the PUBLIC. / At the Theatre Royal in the Haymarket, on Wednesdays and Fridays during Lent will be performed, at Playhouse Prices, several New / ORATORIOS; / With some favourite ones selected from Mr. Handel’s. / Under the Direction of Mess. Arnold and Toms[.] / The Vocal and Instrumental Parts by Principal Performers.[2]

 

 

 

Feb 5

[Mary Dewes to the Rev. J. Dewes, Bath, 5 February {?1767-1768}]

 

Mr. F[rampton]. [135] repeated to us an ode he had made upon Mr. Handel, which I think is delightful; he has promised to give it me and then you shall see it.[3]

 

 

 

Feb 18

For the Public Advertiser. / MUSICAL INTELLIGENCE. / GREAT Wagers are depending on the Musical Match, which is to be run To-morrow between Sampson and Saul.  The Odds are severally laid on both Sides.  Some are of Opinion, from the many Matches which Sampson formerly won, that he will beat his young Antagonist.  Others seem quite Cock-sure, that Saul, as he carries less Weight, will win hollow, though he has never yet started for the King’s Plate.  The Knowing-ones give out, that Sampson, though formerly very strong, has been so hard run, and worn out, since he fell into the Hands of the Philistines (his present Owners) that he has not even half the Strength and Spirits, which he constantly enjoyed under the Care of his original Rider, Black-bearded John, the sweet Singer of Israel, who is now retired from his musical Jockyship.[4]

 

 

 

Feb 19

Messrs. Smith and Stanley have engaged Signor Guarducci, to sing in the Oratorios at Covent Garden Theatre, for the ensuing Season; and he will perform this Evening (for the first Time) in Samson.[5]

 

 

 

Feb 22

AT the THEATRE-ROYAL in the HAY-MARKET, on Wednesday next, the 24th instant, will be perfomed an Entertainment of Sacred Music, called

The DEATH of ABEL.

An ORATORIO.

From the ITALIAN of METASTASIO.

Set to Music by Signor NICCOLO PICCINI, Author of the celebrated Opera, called LA BUONA FIGLIUOLA.

With ADDITIONAL CHORUSSES.

And the MORNING HYMN from MILTON’S

PARADISE LOST.

The First Violin, and a Solo, by Mr. BARTHELEMON.

Concerto on the Hautboy, by Mr. SIMPSON.

Boxes 5s.  Pit 3s.  First Gall. 2s.  Upper Gall. 1s.

Places for the Boxes to be taken at the Theatre: Books of the Performance to be had there only, price sixpence.

The doors will be opened at five o’clock, and to begin at half after six.            Vivant Rex & Regina.[6]

 

 

 

Feb 22

The new Oratorio, call’d The Death of Abel, from the Italian of Metastasio, and set to Music by Signor Niccolo Piccini (Author of the celebrated Opera, call’d La Buona Figliuola) with additional Choruses, and the Morning Hymn from Milton’s Paradise Lost, will be performed on Wednesday next at the Theatre Royal in the Hay-Market, notwithstanding The Cure of Saul was advertised on Saturday last, being the Intention of the Managers to give the greatest Variety possible.  The Cure of Saul will be performed again in the Course of this Season.

                  We hear that the Oratorio, call’d Israel in Babylon, compiled from some select Pieces of Mr. Handel’s Music, which was performed twice for the Benefit of the Musical Fund at the King’s Theatre in the Hay-Market, with universal Applause, will be performed this Lent at the Theatre Royal in the Hay-Market.[7]

 

 

 

Mar 2

Mrs. Pritchard having been encouraged by many Persons of Fashion to fix her Benefit Tickets at Oratorio Prices [i.e. a performance of Macbeth at Drury-Lane Theatre on Monday April 25], hopes it will not be deemed too great an Intrusion on Public Favour, as she has ever esteemed their Approbation her highest Honour; and finding their Advice so very general on this Occasion, flatters herself they will not be displeased to see she has adopted their kind Proposals.[8]

 

 

 

Mar 9

Mrs. Pritchard being inform’d that the Partiality of her Friends does not meet with general Approbation, she most willingly resigns any Advantage she might reap from Oratorio Prices, rather than give the least Offence.  As she has been for so many Years made happy by the Indulgence of the Public, so their Displeasure would render her leaving the Stage the most disagreeable Circumstances of her Life; therefore she gives Notice, that the Tragedy of Macbeth, for her Benefit, will be at the usual Prices; and those Ladies and Gentlemen who have taken Places, and paid for their Tickets, will have the Difference return’d if they will please to send to her House in Great Queen-street, Lincoln’s-inn-fields.[9]

 

 

 

Mar 10

A new Oratorio called Abimelech, written by Mr. Smart, and set to Music by Mr. Arnold, will be performed next Week at the Theatre Royal in the Haymarket.[10]

 

 

 

Mar 11

As many Gentlemen and Ladies are continually sending for Places for Mrs. Pritchard’s Benefit, on a Supposition that her late Advertisement was owing to her not having filled her House at Oratorio Price, she begs Leave to assure the Public, (with the most grateful Acknowledgements to the Nobility, Gentry, and others, who have so greatly patronized her) that she had not a single Place in the Boxes and Pit but were engaged at Oratorio Price, and Commands for as many more as would have filled the Gallery, had she been permitted to have disposed of it; but having been shewn two anonymous Letters, and a third in the Ledger, expressing a Dislike at the Alteration of Price, Mrs. Pritchard, ever unwilling to give Offence to any, even an Individual of that Public, from whom she has always experienced so much Indulgence, very readily gave up any Emolument she might attain at the Expence of their Approbation.[11]

 

 

 

“A FAREWELL to LONDON

Written on the Author’s Retreat about eight Years ago.

 

ADIEU, ye scenes of anxious care,

Destructive wiles, and baneful air;

Ye scenes of noise and pomp, adieu;

I nobler pleasures now pursue.

O! guide my steps, thou sov’reign will,

To some delightful grove or hill!

Where fountains tinkle, warblers sing,

And flowers salute the welcome spring.

 

There grant me heerful innocence,

Health, peace, and decent competence;

Let friendship, skill’d in sacred lore,

Each harm divide, and swell my store:

Let Pope and Milton, Watts and Young,

Adorn my thoughts, correct my tongue;

Still breathing more exalted joys

In Handel’s notes, or strains of Boyce.

 

Thus may my future days be spent

In tranquil freedom, sweet content;

Diffusing bliss, or healing woe,

If heav’n the bounteous means bestow.

Of these and Julia’s charms possest,

(Charms worthy of the noblest breast)

Each heart-felt rapture she’d improve,

Inspire, and yield perpetual love.[12]

 

 

 

Apr 27

Our Chateau de St Martin near Perenes

27 April 1768

Lady Clive to Henry Strachey

and one of her daughters

 

I know not whether the music books I mentioned to you may incommode you. Cannot

you get them over to Calais, and then convey them for me by the wagons of France as far

as Paris where they may rest till my arrival? Sr John will take the charge of them. I have a

hundred times repented that I did not bring more music with me, having now an opportunity of getting it played at sight by a very decent french man who has prejudices rather

in favor of our music, or affects them. Provided the method I mention can be followed in

respect to my music books, I will beg you to pack up for me in addition to what I before

desired, Hammel’s Trios which M. Polly Harrison, or Miss J. Latham can perhaps direct

you to. If not to be easily found, e’en let Mr Crisp buy them for me, and do you also direct

that my very large book of written music, with which Miss Latham is well acquainted, and

which contains all my first tunes and several good songs, be one of the number sent me. I

before desired to have the first volume only of Handel’s songs. I now desire to have, the

moment you receive this, the following songs written viz,

 

Wise men flattering may deceive you

(out of the 5th vol. Handel’s songs)

I know that my Redeemer liveth

(out of the third volume)

Where e’er you walk cool gales shall fan the glade

(out of the second volume)

He shall feed his flock like a shepherd

(                                    )

 

Also the little French song L’Aurore vient de naitre.

 

 

Moreover if there be time two Italian duets which are in the opera of Demetrio, the one

beginning thus, Deh risplendi risplendi o chiaro Nume, the other thus, Caro spiagar

vorrei l’affano del mio cor. These two as well as all the former are to be found amongst my

music books, and any body that understands music upon looking them over will

immediately pick out the songs and write them for me into a book. There are people who

make it their business to write music. Mr Cramer our girl’s music master will readily pick

out the songs, and see that they be copied correctly by the time you leave London ...

I now beg to request that you will not bring me either Love in a Village, Artaxerxes or any

of the English operas whatever that I before mentioned Cymon excepted, for the French

music master[s] here and at Montpellier have copied most of the favorite songs, which I

had from Miss Mathews books. But bring the other books and songs I have mentioned.

Do you understand? I fear not.[13]

 

 

 

[May]

RUTH: / AN / ORATORIO.[14]

 

 

 

[June]

On opening SPRING-GARDENS, VAUXHALL, 1768.

 

I.

HERE Flora’s temple seem’d to shine,

When Handel’s strains were heard divine,

                  And Hayman’s pencil seem’d to glow;

When Wright, sweet syren! with her song,

All captivating, could prolong

                  The hour of joy, and banish woe.

II.

Then round this fair Elysian spot,

Near Handel’s dome, and Milton’s grot,

                  The lyric and the vocal sounds

In concord sweetly were combin’d;

The graces with the muses join’d:

                  But now they cease their festive rounds.

III.

Why, PLeasure, dost thou droop thy head?

“The gen’rous Tyers, alas! is dead,

                  The patron of the Muses train.”

Why, Harmony, dost thou repine?

“Will tuneful Arne no more be mine,

To grace this spot with music’s strain?[15]

 

 

 

Jul 27

[Thomas Gainsborough to David Garrick, 27 July 1768]

 

DEAR SIR,

                  I, as well as the rest of the world, acknowledge your riches, and know your princely spirit; but all will not do, for, as I told you before, I am already overpaid for that shabby performance; and if you have a mind to make me happier than all the presents London can afford, you must do it by never thinking yourself at all in my debt.  I wished many years for the happiness of Mr. Garrick’s acquaintance, and pray, dear Sir, let me now enjoy it quietly; for sincerely and truly, I shall not be easy if [309] you give way to any of your romantic whimsies: besides, d—n it, I thought you knew me too well, you who can read hearts and faces both at a view, and that at first sight too.  Come, if you will not plague me any more upon this frightful subject, I will tell you a story about first sight.  You must know, Sir, whilst I lived at Ipswich, there was a benefit concert in which a new song was to be introduced, and I being steward, went to the honest cabinet-maker who was our singer instead of a better, and asked him if he could sing at sight, for that I had a new song with all the parts wrote out.  “Yes, Sir,” said he, “I can.”  Upon which I ordered Mr. Giardini of Ipswich to begin the symphony, and gave my signal for the attention of the company; but behold, a dead silence followed the symphony instead of the song; upon which I jumped up to the fellow: “D—n you, why don’t you sing? did not you tell me you could sing at sight?  “Yes, please your honour, I did say I could sing at sight, but not first sight.”

                  I am, dear Sir, your most obedient humble servant,

                                                                                                            THOMAS GAINSBOROUGH.[16]

 

 

 

Oct 25

[Sir Horace Mann in Florence to Horace Walpole, Tuesday 25 October 1768]

 

{...} Yesterday many of us dined at Court, and in the evening Lord Cowper had Alexander’s Feast by Handel performed at his villa about a mile from the town, and it was followed by a ball.  Today Sir W. William Wynn gives a great dinner at a country house belonging to the master of the inn where he lodges {...}, which is to be followed by a great concert of music and a ball in the evening.[17]

 

 

 

[“On design and Beauty. An Epistle.”]

 

[…]

Hence various Arts proceed; for human wit

But imitates the plan by Nature set;

Truth of DESIGN, which Nature’s works impart,

Alike extends to every work of Art,

To compass this, both skill and genius meet,

Genius to bring materials, skill to fit;

Where both conspire, is BEAUTY; which depends

On the fair aptitude of means to ends:

Parts corresponding, if devoid of this,

Are affectation all and emptiness.

If Cloacina’s cell with cumbrous state

Appear superb, and as a palace great, [98]

We laugh at the superfluous pomp, unfit,

As Cibber’s odes to Handel’s music set.

Reverse of this, the true Sublime attains

The noblest purpose by the simplest means;

More perfect, as more wide its branches shoot,

While all are nourish’d by one common root.

And such, if man Immensity could pierce,

Such are the beauties of the Universe;

The various movements of this great machine

All are directed by one Pow’r within;

One Genius, as in human frame the Soul,

Rules, and pervades, and animates the Whole.

[…][18]

 

 

 

                  Handel’s Monument, was the last Performance which the late celebrated Artist Roubiliac lived to put a finishing Hand to.  By exhibiting that great Master of Harmony, the excellent Sculptor seems to have begun and concluded in Point of Fame; because Handell’s well known Statue in Vauxhall, was what first rendered Roubiliac conspicuous, and the late Figure of him for Westminster-Abbey, is a most elegant Performance.  The Face bears a striking Resemblance to its great Original.  His left Arm is represented as leaning on a Groupe of musical Instruments, than which no other Attitude could be rendered more expressive of a most elevated Attention to the Harmony of an Angel, that over his Head is playing on a Harp in the Clouds.  The celebrated Oratorio called the Messiah, opens in that Part where is, “I know that my Redeemer lives,” an Air that can never be too much admired: There is only this [62] plain Inscription underneath, “GEORGE FREDERIC HANDELL, Esq; born Feb. 23, 1684, died April 14, 1759.”

[...] Although this Monument [i.e. of James Thompson, “A descriptive Scotch Poet”] deserves but little Praise in Point of Execution, yet is it remarkable on Account of its Situation, which being over against Handell’s, would seem to insinuate an Enmity to flowing, easy and harmonious Numbers.  Its being placed next to that of England’s immortal Tragic Poet [i.e. Shakespeare], betrays the foolish and partial Vanity of his Countrymen [i.e. the Scots], who have in a Manner squeezed hard for the unnatural Vicinity; while, to the Satisfaction of all judicious Spectators, the noble and elegant Figure of Shakespear seems to turn from the Scotch Pretender [i.e. Thompson] to Poetical Supremacy, and to rump him, (as it were) according to our modern Court-Expression.[19]

 

 

 

[“A PROSPECT OF LIFE: An EPISTLE to a young NOBLEMAN; WRITTEN IN 1768.”]

 

[...]

There tun’d his lyre the Handell of the day,

And warbling virgins swell’d the sprightly lay.[20]

 

 



[1] The Poetical Works of Anna Seward; with Extracts from her Literary Correspondence, ed. Walter Scott, 3 vols. (Edinburgh: Ballantyne and Co., 1810), 1:cciv-ccvi.

[2] The Public Advertiser, Saturday 30 January 1768, [1].

[3] The Autobiography and Correspondence of Mary Granville, Mrs. Delany, ed. Lady Llanover, second series, 3 vols. (London: Richard Bentley, 1862), 1:135-36.

[4] The Public Advertiser, Thursday 18 February 1768, [2].

[5] The Public Advertiser, Friday 19 February 1768, [2].

[6] The Gazetteer and New Daily Advertiser, Monday 22 February 1768, [1].

[7] The Public Advertiser, Monday 22 February 1768, [3]; also in The Gazetteer and New Daily Advertiser, Monday 22 February 1768, [2].

[8] The Public Advertiser, Wednesday 2 March 1768, [2].

[9] The Public Advertiser, Wednesday 9 March 1768, [3].

[10] The Public Advertiser, Thursday 10 March 1768, [3].

[11] The Public Advertiser, Friday 11 March 1768, [3].

[12] The Gentleman’s Magazine 38 (1768): 295.

[13] Ian Woodfield, “New Light on the Mozarts’ London Visit: A Private Concert with Manzuoli,” Music & Letters 76 (1995), 187-208: 200.

[14] Henry Brooke, A Collection of the Pieces formerly published by Henry Brooke, Esq. to which are added Several Plays and Poems, now first printed, 4 vols. (London: the author, 1778), 343-359.

[15] The London Magazine. Or, Gentleman’s Monthly Intelligencer 37 (1768): 322.

[16] 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), 1:308-09.

[17] Horace Walpole’s Correspondence with Sir Horace Mann VII (“The Yale Edition of Horace Walpole’s Correspondence, Vol. 23”), ed. W. S. Lewis, Warren Hunting Smith and George L. Lam (New Haven: Yale University Press / London: Oxford University Press, 1967), 64.

[18] Isaac Hawkins Browne, Poems upon Various Subjects, Latin and English (London: J. Nourse and C. Marsh, 1768), 97-98.

[19] The London and Westminster Guide, through the Cities and Suburbs (London: W. Nicoll, 1768), 61-62.

[20] The Poetical Works of Mr. William Woty, 2 vols. (London: W. Flexney, 1770), 2:101.