Feb 3

[Fanny Burney’s Journal, 3 February 1772, recounting events of the previous day]


[three guests debate over the merits of English music]

[...] ‘but, Sir, are we not superiour to all the World in Astronomy?—in Natural History?—in Poetry? Philosophy?—in musick?’—


                  Mr Lattice too, then took up the argument. [...] He therefore began an Eloge on our English music & Performers.  Dr. King, without knowing what he said, joined with him. [...]

                  ‘And pray, Sir?’ cried the Russian, drily—‘Who are they?—your English Composers?’— [192]

                  ‘Who, Sir?’, cried the Doctor—‘why—why we have [Dr Robert] Smith!—There’s a great man!—’

                  ‘But he, Sir,’ answered Mr Pogenpohl, ‘wrote on music—I only speak of music for the Ear.—Only tell me who are your Composers.’

                  Mr Lattice paused.  Dr. King, too bright to consider, named Handel—Ha! Ha! Ha!

                  ‘O—pardonnez moi, monsieur—Handel was not an English Composer!—But you all tell me of your excellent English music—& yet nobody will name any Composer to me!—’

                  ‘Why Sir,’ after some hesitation said Mr Lattice—‘We have Avison—& Worgan—& Stanley—[1]




Feb 29

[Richard Brinsley Sheridan to Thomas Sheridan Esq, 29 February {1772}]


[...] the first Winter-season is not yet over at Bath: They have Balls, Concerts, etc. at the Rooms from the old subscription still, and the Spring ones are immediately to succeed them.  They are like-wise going to perform Oratorios here: Mr Linley and his whole family, down to the seven year olds are to support one set at the new Rooms, and a band and Singers from London another at the old. [...][2]




Mar 6

We hear that uncommon Pains have been taken to render the Oratorios at Covent-Garden Theatre this Season worthy the Attention of the Public; the best Performers, Vocal and Instrumental, having been engaged for that Purpose.  Two Gentlewomen, who have never before made their Appearance in Public, will sing in the sacred Oratorio of the Messiah this Evening.  Mr. Ponta, whose Excellence and singular Execution on the French Horn has been so much admired, is also retained; as are Signora Sirmen and Mr. Duport to perform on the Violin and Violoncello.[3]




Mar 9

Several Persons of Distinction having expressed a Desire of having the Oratorio of Judas Maccabaeus performed at Covent-Garden Theatre on Wednesday next, the Oratorio of Abimelech is deferred till further Notice.  The two Gentlewomen, who were so universally approved on their first Appearance on Friday in the Messiah, will sing in Judas Maccabaeus.[4]




Mar 11

Yesterday arrived the Mail from Holland. / Rome, March 11. / THE Duke of Gloucester, being desirous to be present at the Performance of the famous Miserere, which the Musicians perform during the Holy Week; on Sunday Evening he went to the Palace of Cardinal Albani, who on that Occasion had invited many Cardinals, Ambassadors, &c. to whom were distributed Refreshments of the most exquisite Sort during the Performance of the Miserere, which was followed by an Oratorio on the Passion of our Lord.[5]




Mar 20

During the present Lent Season, there will be performed at the Theatre Royal, Covent-Garden, in the Manner of an Oratorio, a new Selection of several of the most capital Pieces of sacred Music by the most eminent Composers of Italy, under the Title of Concerto Spirituali.[6]




Mar 25

Handel’s oratorio of “Judas Maccabaeus” was performed on the 25th March [1772] in the theatre in King Street, to which the admission was five shillings.  Master Linley, then a musical prodigy, was “first violin” in the orchestra.[7]




Mar 26

In the Concerto Spirituale at the Theatre Royal in Covent-Garden To-morrow will be performed a Hymn written by Mr. Addison, the Music by Mr. Handel, “Miserere mei Deus, &c.” composed by Signor Pergolesi, and an Anthem by Signor Negri of Milan.  N. B. The two last Pieces were never performed in this Kingdom.[8]




Mar 27

The Concerto Spirituale, performed at the Theatre Royal, Covent-Garden, in the Manner of an Oratorio on Friday last, met with universal Approbation; and, by particular Desire, another Collection of celebrated Pieces of Music, under the same Title, will be performed at the same Theatre on Wednesday next.  In this second Concerto Spirituale will be introduced Milton’s Morning Hymn; the Music by Piccini, Jomelli, Pergolesi, Carrissime, &c. Miserare [sic] mei Deus, composed by Signor Galuppi, and performed in the Holy Week in the Hospital of Incurables at Venice; and Dixit Dominus, &c. by Signor Pergolesi.  The two last Pieces were never performed in this Kingdom; and the Miserare is that celebrated one so particularly mentioned by Dr. Barney [sic] in his admirable Account of the present State of Music in France and Italy.[9]




Apr 8

The Second Concerto Spirituale, performed at the Theatre Royal, Covent-Garden, Yesterday Evening, was received with uncommon Applause by a most numerous and brilliant Audience; and as there is but one Night of the Oratorio Season remaining, in order to gratify the Public as much as possible, the most favourite Parts of both the Concerto Spirituale: [sic] already performed, will be selected for that Evening’s Entertainment; particularly the Hymn by Addison, Milton’s Morning Hymn, the Dixit Dominus, and the Anthem by Signor Negri.  Messrs. Fisher and Ponta will (for the first Time) give a Duetto on the Hautboy and French Horn.  Mr. Duport will also perform on the Violoncello; and Signora Sirmen on the Violin, for the last Time of her performing in this Kingdom.[10]




[double line]

A P P E N D I X.



performed during the Lent Season.




THE Oratorios performed at this House, were conducted by Messrs. Stanley and Smith, for their own emolument; the Managers of this Theatre, having had no share of the profit arising from these Performances, nor any advantage, except a premium for the use of the House.  Mr. Stanley’s musical abilities, are well known.  Mr. Smith was, if we are not mistaken, a Pupil of the celebrated Mr. Handel’s; and, we believe, that Gentleman left Mr. Smith the greatest part of his Music, if not his whole Library; so that Mr[.] Smith, may with great propriety, claim the right of succeeding Mr. Handel, in the exhibition and conduct of his Oratorios, which he has undertaken, (in conjunction with Mr. Stanley) ever since Mr. Handel’s death.

                  Their Band was composed of some of the most capital Performers in this Kingdom, and was led by Mr[.] Ximenes.  The Vocal Performers (exclusive of Chorus Singers) were, [208] Mr. Norris, well known to all Lovers of Music, for his taste, and delicacy of execution.  Mr. Parry, (a Bass voice) from [t]he Cathedral Church of Salisbury.  This Gentleman, though very young, has an extensive compass, and great power of voice, and acquits himself with considerable reputation.  Mrs. Weichsel and Mrs. Scott, of whom it would be superfluous and unnecessary to say any thing, since their abilities are generally known.  And lastly, Signora Grassi, a Performer of great merit.





THE Oratorios performed at this Theatre, were conducted by Messrs. Arnold and Toms.—The former of these Gentlemen is well known in the Musical World, by being the Composer of the Music to the late Dr. Brown’s Poem, entitled, The Cure of Saul, and many other ingenious Works.  Of the latter we know nothing more, than that he compiled Music, from the Works of Mr. Handel, for an Oratorio, called, Israel in Babylon; though, we believe, this Gentleman adapted Music to the Songs in the Comic Operas of Love in a Village, and Tom Jones.—It is worthy of remark, that these Gentlemen a few years since, entered into Partnership, and opened Mr. Foote’s Theatre in the Hay-market in Lent, where they performed Oratorio’s at Play-house Prices, in opposition to Mess. Stanley and Smith, who [209] at that time carried on their Oratorios at Covent-Garden Theatre, on very high terms.  To this bold attempt the Public owes the reduction of the terms of admission to Oratorios, which before, were too exorbitant to be afforded by the generality of the Frequenters of Play-houses.  This reduction has given many an opportunity of enjoying this noble Species of Entertainment, who were, heretofore, excluded on account of the great expence.

                  These Gentlemen had a very good Band, composed of principal Performers, which was led by Mr. Baumgarten.

                  Their Vocal Performers (exclusive of Chorus Singers) were Mr. Vernon, Mr. Reinhold, Mrs. Mattocks, Mrs. Hudson from York, and Mrs. Cartwright.—The particular merits of the three first, are sufficiently known, Mrs[.] Hudson’s voice is pleasing, and her execution perfectly accurate with respect to those essentials which constitute an accomplished Singer.  This Lady never sung publicly in London before, but is perfectly acquainted with the business of Oratorios, having performed frequently in them at York and other places.  Mrs. Cartwright, seems not sufficiently to have conquered her fears, to do justice to her own merit, but this is excuseable, as it is her first attempt in public that we know of. [210]




By Command of their Majesties.

Set to Music by Mr. Handel.


THIS is Mr. Dryden’s celebrated Ode, on St. Caecilia’s day, and not an Oratorio, tho’ performed as such.  The Poetry is not more generally known than admired.  With respect to the Music, it contains many Beauties, and such as are worthy of Mr. Handel’s genius, but it has also some imperfections, on which account we cannot rank it on a footing with many other of his Performances of this nature.—Alexander’s Feast, being much shorter than the usual length of Oratorios, Mr. Handel’s celebrated Coronation Anthems were added, in order to make the evening’s Entertainment of a proper length.  These Anthems do great honour to the genius and memory of Mr. Handel, as they display great invention, and a wonderful knowledge of the power and effect of harmony.

                  A Solo on the Violoncello, by Mr. Janson.—This Gentleman is lately arrived from Paris.  He is said to have been a Pupil of Mr. Duport’s; but, though his taste and execution is very astonishing, we cannot give him the preference of his Master. [211]



The M E S S I A H:

A Sacred Oratorio.

The Music composed by Mr. Handel.

THE Words of this Oratorio are taken from Holy Writ, and the Music is so admirably adapted to the solemnity of the design, as to beggar all description: however, we have selected what has been said of it by several ingenious Writers, with some Anecdotes relative to this Oratorio worthy notice, for the entertainment of our Readers.

“This noble performance met with a cool reception at first, partly owing to the prejudice of Mr. Handel’s enemies, but more particularly, from this species of entertainment not being sufficiently suited to the apprehensions of people in general, at the time this piece appeared.  His not meeting with encouragement for his Oratorios, equal either to his expectations or his merit, in London, led him to hope for better success in a distant capital.  He accordingly went over to Dublin, where he thought he could not better pave the way to his success, than by setting out with a striking instance and public act of generosity and benevolence.  His first step was to perform this Oratorio for the benefit of the City prison.  Such a design drew together not only all the lovers of Music, but all the friends of humanity.  There was a peculiar propriety in this design from the subject of the Oratorio itself, and there was a peculiar grace in it from the situation of Mr. Handel’s affairs.  They were brought into a better posture by this journey to Dublin, where he staid almost nine months.  The reception that he met with, at the same time that it shewed the [212] strong sense which the Irish had of his extraordinary merit, conveyed a kind of tacit reproach on all those on the other side of the water who had enlisted in the opposition against him.  The cause of this opposition, and the various, relative circumstances, it is not our business to relate in this place; should the Reader be desirous to make himself acquainted with the particulars, he may find them related at large in the memoirs of his life, published in the year 1760; but we thought the above Anecdote could not well be omitted here, as it related to the history of this celebrated performance.

                  On Mr. Handel’s return to London in the year 1741-2, he found his success at Dublin had changed the face of things here, and that the minds of most men were much disposed in his favour; he therefore recommenced his Oratorios at Covent-Garden Theatre; and now fortune seemed rather to court and caress than to countenance and support him.  This was the aera of his prosperity; and what is very remarkable, his Messiah, which, as we observed before, had been received with so much indifference, became from this time the favourite Oratorio. As in the year 1741, it was applied to the relief of persons exposed to all the Miseries of perpetual confinement, it was afterwards consecrated to the service of the most innocent, most helpless, and most distressed part of the human species.  The Foundling Hospital, originally rested on the slender foundation of private benefactions.  At a time when this institution was yet in its infancy, when all men seemed to be convinced of its utility, when nothing was at all problematical but the possibility of supporting it, Mr. Handel formed the noble resolution to lend his assistance, and perform his Messiah annually for its benefit.  The sums raised by each performance were very considerable, and certainly of great consequence in such a crisis of affairs.  But what was of much greater, was the Magic of his [213] name, and the universal character of his sacred Drama.  By these charms, vast numbers of the nobility and gentry were drawn to the Hospital; and many who at first had been content with barely approving the design, were afterwards warmly engaged in promoting it.  In consequence of this resort, the attention of the Nation was also drawn more forcibly to what was indeed the natural object of it.  So that it may truly be affirmed, that one of the noblest and most extensive charities that ever was planned by the wisdom, or projected by the piety of men, in some degree owes its continuance, as well as prosperity, to the patronage of Mr. Handel, and the merit of his Messiah.  The very successful application of this wonderful production of his genius to so beneficent a purpose, reflected equal honour on the artist and the art.  Thus much by way of the history of this Oratorio.

Of this wonderful performance, we cannot help observing, that there are great inequalities in it; and as the subject is so very sacred, the Music is of course very solemn; from which cause, many of the songs are insufferable tedious and heavy; but taking it altogether, it is superior in all probability to any thing ever executed by the art of man.  In the choruses he has given innumerable instances of an unbounded genius.  In short, there is such a sublimity in many of the effects he has worked up by the combination of instruments and voices, that they seem to be rather the effect of inspiration than of knowledge in Music.  Out of a multitude of examples, we shall only instance the following viz.

For unto us a child is born, &c.

Lift up your heads, O ye gates, &c.

Hallelujah, for the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth, &c.

After these vast efforts of genius, we find him rising still higher in the three concluding choruses, [214] (beginning with, “Worthy is the lamb that was slain”) each of which surpasses the preceding, till in the winding up of the Amen, the ear is filled with such a glow of harmony, as leaves the mind in a kind of heavenly extasy.

                  End of part the first, a Concerto on the French Horn, by Mr. Ponta.—End of the second, a Concerto on the Violin, by Signora Lombardini Sirmen.





By Command of their Majesties.

Set to Music by Mr. Handel.

L’Allegro ed il Penseroso was written by the celebrated Milton, when he was very young.  It is generally known, and therefore we shall only observe, that such is the merit of this Piece, it would have been sufficient, had he never produced any thing more considerable, to have transmitted his fame to the latest posterity.—It is inimitably set to Music.  This is not strictly an Oratorio, tho’ performed as such, the subject not being taken from Holy Writ.

To which was added,

The celebrated TE DEUM:

Composed by Mr. Handel, for the Peace of Utrecht.

                  THIS is a very grand and masterly Piece of composition.—End of Act the first, A Concerto on the French Horn, by Mr. Ponta, [215] Musician to his Serene Highness the Elector of Mentz; lately arrived in England[.]  What this Gentleman executes with the Horn, is very surprizing, but, not being suited to the genius of the Instrument, it is not productive of any good effect, when considered musically; as a matter of novelty it may surprise and please, on which account, it is worthy the notice of the curious.  End of Act second, A Solo, on the Violoncello, by Mr. Janson.





An Oratorio.

Set to Music by Mr. Handel.

THE Title of this Oratorio is sufficient to explain the subject of it.  The Music is a very masterly performance, and perhaps as pleasing from first to last, as any thing of the kind, Mr. Handel ever composed.

                  End of the first Part, Solo on the Violoncello, by Mr. Duport.  This Gentleman’s Execution is truly masterly, his tone very brilliant, and his Taste pleasingly delicate and chaste.  What he performs upon this Instrument is wonderful, when the genius of it is considered.

                  End of the second part, a Concerto on the Violin, by Signora Lombardini Sirmen.—As this celebrated Lady has been some time in England, her abilities are pretty generally known.  Her tone, and stile of playing, is very pleasing, and her execution truly chaste, [216] without any of those unnecessary and extravagant liberties, which the generality of Solo players on the Violin too frequently give into.





By command of their Majesties.

See Page 215.

                  A Solo on the Violin, by Mr. Ximenes.  This Gentleman is a very spirited, and a very chaste Performer.

                  A Concerto on the Violoncello, by Mr. Janson.




S A M S O N.

An Oratorio.

The Music composed by Mr. Handel.

                  THE very Title of this Piece, must acquaint every Reader with the subject of it.  The Music is one of the compleatest performances of the kind Mr. Handel ever wrote.

                  End of the first Part, a Concerto on the French Horn, by Mr. Ponta.—End of the second Part, a Concerto on the Violin, by Signora Lombardini Sirmen. [217]




A Serenata.  Set to Music by Mr. Handel.

By Command of their Majesties.

THIS celebrated Performance is performed as an Oratorio, though only a Serenata.  The Words were written by Mr. Gay, and the Story may be found in the thirteenth Book of Ovid’s Metamorphoses: It was set by Mr. Handel, for that princely Nobleman the Duke of Chandos.  It is a very elegant and compleat Piece of Composition, and its merits are too generally known to render any particular Account of it necessary here.—This being too short for a whole evening’s entertainment, Mr. Dryden’s celebrated Ode, which was also set by Mr. Handel, was performed after the above Serenata.  There are many singular Beauties in the Composition of this Ode.

                  End of the first Part, a Concerto on the French Horn, by Mr. Ponta.

                  End of the second Part, a Solo, on the Violoncello, by Mr. Janson.




M E S S I A H.

See Page 211.

                  End of the first Part, a Solo on the Violoncello, by Mr. Duport.

                  End of the second Part, a Concerto on the Violin, by Signora Lombardini Sirmen. [218]



S A M S O N,

By Command of their Majesties.

See Page 216.

A Solo on the Violoncello, by Mr. Janson.





An Oratorio.

The Music composed by Mr. Arnold.

THIS is a very noble Piece of Composition; the Airs are pleasing, and the Choruses majestically grand; upon the whole this is the most capital Performance in the Oratorio style, Mr. Arnold has produced.

                  End of the first Part, a Concerto on the French Horn, by Mr. Ponta.

                  End of the second Part, a new Concerto on the Violin, by Signora Lombardini Sirmen, composed by Signor Cirri.







By Command of their Majesties.

See Page 210. [219]

                  A Concerto on the French Horn, by Mr. Ponta; and a Solo on the Violoncello, by Mr. Janson.




A B I M E L E C H:

An Oratorio.

The Music composed by Mr. Arnold.

THIS is a very pleasing Oratorio, though there is a great Sameness in the Songs, but the Choruses are masterly and grand.  It has undergone some Alterations, greatly for the better, since it was first brought out.

                  End of the first Part a Solo on the Violoncello, by Mr. Duport.

                  End of the second Part, Signor Cirri’s new Concerto on the Violin, by Signora Lombardini Sirmen.





An Oratorio.  Set by Mr. Handel.

By Command of their Majesties.

THE Story of this Oratorio must be known by the title.  The Composition of the Music is a very masterly Performance.

                  A Concerto on the Violoncello, by Mr[.] Janson. [220]




In the Manner of an Oratorio.

THIS is a species of entertainment, borrowed from our Volatile Neighbours on the continent, and never performed in England before; that is, not directly in this manner.—This Performance was divided into three Parts; the first consisted of Mr. Addison’s celebrated Hymn, set to Music by Mr. Handel, which is a masterly Performance; the second contained Miserere mei Deus, &c. the Music composed by Signor Pergolesi; this is a noble Performance; the third Part consisted of a very fine Anthem, by Signor Nigri of Milan, a Work of great merit.

                  A Concerto on the French Horn, by Mr. Ponta; and a Concerto on the Violin, by Signora Lombardini Sirmen.





By Command of their Majesties.

See Page 115.

                  A Concerto on the French Horn, by Mr. Ponta; and a Solo on the Violoncello, by Mr. Janson. [221]



M E S S I A H.

See Page 211.

                  End of the first Part a Solo on the Violoncello, by Mr. Duport.

                  End of the second Part a Concerto on the Violin, by Signora Lombardini Sirmen.







By Command of their Majesties.

See Page 210 and 217.

                  A Solo on the Violoncello, by Mr. Janson.




M E S S I A H.

See Page 211.

End of the first Part a Concerto on the French Horn, by Mr. Ponta.

End of the second Part Signor Cirri’s new Concerto on the Violin, by Signora Lombardini Sirmen. [222]



M E S S I A H.

By Command of their Majesties.

SeePage 211.

                  A Concerto on the Violoncello, by Mr. Janson.






                  Part I.  An Overture, by Signor Piccini.  MILTON’S MORNING HYMN; the Music selected from the Works of the following eminent Composers, viz. Piccini, Jamelli, Pergolesi, Carrissime, &c.  This Hymn was set many years since by Galliard.

                  Part II.  consisted of Miserere mei Deus, &c. composed by Signor Galuppi.  This celebrated Composition is performed in the Holy Week, in the Hospital of Incurables at Venice.  This is the Miserere so particularly mentioned by Dr. Burney, in his Account of the present State of Music in France and Italy, lately published.  The melodies of the Airs are pleasing, the Choruses grand, and the Composer has shewn great Taste and Invention in the conduct of the whole.

                  Part III.  Dixit Dominus.  The Music by Signora [sic] Pergolesi.  This is a very solemn and grand Performance.

                  A Solo on the Violoncello, by Mr. Duport; and Signor Cirri’s Concerto on the Violin, by Signora Lombardini Sirmen. [223]



M E S S I A H.

By Command of their Majesties.

                  A Concerto on the Violoncello, by Mr. Janson; and a Concerto on the French Horn, by Mr. Ponta.





In four Parts.

                  Part I.  Addison’s Hymn; with a Solo on the Violoncello, by Mr. Duport.

                  Part II.  Milton’s Morning Hymn, with a Duetto on the Hautboy and French Horn, by Messrs. Fisher and Ponta.

Part III.  Dixit Dominus, by Signor Pergolesi, with a Concerto on the Violin, by Signora Lombardini Sirmen, being the last time of her performing in England.

                  Part IV.  An Anthem, by Signor Nigri.

                  We cannot quit this Article without remarking, to the credit of the Managers at this Theatre, that there probably never was an evening Performance of this nature before exhibited, consisting of so great a variety; however, the great applause the whole received, evinced, that the Audience were sensible of an attentive endeavour to please, and, as such signified their approbation.[11]





We have received a letter, dated Worcester, and signed W—n H—s, in which the author says,

‘I have been lately reading Mr. Pope’s celebrated Dunciad (as it is generally called), and am strongly of an opinion, that the most considerable part of it is extremely dull, lifeless, and heavy.  As for the following lines, they are (in my own opinion) really insufferable, and plainly break in upon all the well known laws of philosophy, good-manners, decency, and good-sense:

‘Keen hollow winds howl thro’ the bleak recess,

Emblem of Music caus’d by emptiness.

‘I should be glad to know what he can possibly mean by the howling of a wind, or whether the epithet is not extremely unnatural?  I have heard of the howling of a dog in a high wind, and I have heard of the howling of a wolf, but I cannot conceive what Mr. Pope means by a howling wind.....

I should be glad to know still further, what he means by bleak recess? or how a hollow wind can possibly be an emblem of Music, [I am afraid, that Master Pope was not very well conversant in emblematical learning] when it is certainly one of the most beautiful sciences in the world.  It is very true, that Mr. Pope upon another occasion, speaks of Mr. Handel in very handsome terms, and talks of his moving the soul, and all that: but what is all this to the purpose, in case he abuses the whole science of Music!’——[Thus far our correspondent.”

That our correspondent should find the Dunciad dull, lifeless, and heavy, cannot be thought strange, since it appears by his letter, that he has mistaken the meaning of one of the most obvious passages in it.  That howling is a proper epithet for the wind blowing through a recess, is manifest from the same reason that justifies it when applied to a dog or a wolf; for the noise that it makes is extremely similar to the noise, called howling, that is made by those animals. [...]

That Music is caused by emptiness is a mere philosophical truth, and no more disgraces the science, than it disgraces the most beautiful flowers, or the most delicious fruit, to say that they are produced from the compost of a dunghill.  Having answered the gentleman’s questions, we should, in our turn, be glad to know, whether the epithet beautiful, applied to a science, is not ‘extremely unnatural,’ especially when it is applied to a science of sound, which, we apprehend, cannot, with any propriety, be supposed to appear either beautiful or otherwise.[12]




Jun 2

[Charles Burney to Baron d’Holbach, 2 June 1772]


{…} I have received lately from Hamburg, {…} several works upon the Theory of Music [114] & its History—such as {…}Matheson’s Lebenlauff von G. F. Händel—&c {…}[13]




Jun 15

MONDAY, 15 [June].



                  This morning the procession of the installation of knights of the Bath, set off from the prince’s chamber, at a quarter past eleven, [...] and from thence proceeded to the east door of the abbey, round the choir, into the north side of the tombs, and so into Henry the VIIth’s chapel. [...] The parties then standing in the chapel, Handel’s Coronation Anthem was sung, after which the 46 squires who attended the 15 new knights, bowing all at once to the altar, withdrew out of the chapel, [...][14]




Jul 9

[William Cole to Horace Walpole, Thursday 9 July 1772]


{...} I have not seen the Vice-Chancellor1 since I received your present, [267] though at Cambridge for this last fortnight there has been little else but oratorios, music, and balls, {...}[15]




Oct 12

[Thomas Linley, Sr to David Garrick, 12 October 1772]



I should have answered your letter sooner, but the unsettled state of my mind in regard to leaving Bath has hindered me:—this winter it appears impracticable; but as I have engaged with Messrs. Smith and Stanley for the Oratorios in the ensuing Lent, if there is any thing you can propose to me, I will treat with you, and if we can agree, when I come to London we may sign and seal.

                  I must beg leave to observe, that, unless I can be settled myself in London so as to take care of my daughter, or that you yourself may think proper to take her under your immediate protection, I cannot consent to her engaging.

                  In regard to other matters I have no doubt but that you will give me every encouragement in your power, and I hope I shall never give you reason to doubt the sincerity and esteem with which I am, Sir,

                                    Your most obedient humble servant,

                                                                                                            THOS. LINLEY.

                  My wife and daughters present their respects, and are much obliged by your kind remembrance of them.[16]







[Memoirs of the Life of Sig. Agostino Steffani, some time Master of the Electoral Chapel at Hanover, and afterwards Bishop of Spiga.]

[...] in the year 1708 he resigned his employment of chapel-master in favour of Mr. Handel, to whose laudable concern for the memory of this great genius, as also to that of the truly learned Dr. Pepusch, the author of these memoirs is indebted for the greatest part of his information.[17]




Nov 4



On Wednesday the 4th of November a Monument erected to the Memory of the late Mrs. Pritchard, the celebrated Actress, was opened at the East End of Westminster Abbey, next to Shakespeare’s, and opposite to Handel’s.[18]




Dec 1

[William Mason to Horace Walpole, Tuesday 1 December 1772]


{...} One of these {i.e. chorus books of his Elfrida}he {i.e Mason’s bookseller} has sent me in which the odes are so lopped and mangled that they are worse now than the productions of Handel’s poet Dr Morell.[19]







W.L., “A short Account of the several sorts of ORGANS used for CHURCH SERVICE”

In services and anthems, one or two persons frequently sing alone, and then the whole choir together; the verse singers and the chorus answering, alternately.  In these sudden transitions from soft to loud, two rows of keyes are absolutely necessary; one belonging to what is called the lesser organ, the other to the great organ; that so the player may instantly shift his hand from the soft to the loud organ.  Was there only one row of keyes, viz. that belonging to the great organ, it would take up too much time to change the organ by altering all the stops.  Two rows of keyes are still more necessary in oratorios, where the whole band of instrumental music, together with the loud organ, frequently strike in for a few notes only; the organ at other times being soft enough to accompany a single voice.


“A short Account of Church Organs”

That celebrated builder [Father Smith] made sometimes in the great organ what has been called a Block Flute.  The pipes of this stop are the pitch of a fifteenth, but larger bodied.  Their tone is clear, sweet, and piercing; resembling that of the steel bars used for the Carillon in the oratorio of Saul.[20]






Inscription upon the Monument of Mrs. Pritchard, which was lately put up, at the East end of Westminster-Abbey, next to Shakspeare, and opposite to Handel’s Monument.[21]





The Present State of MUSICK.

IN musick the Italians have surpassed the rest of Europe more than in any other art: France and Germany have produced a few painters that may be classed among the Italian masters; but the musicians of the first are despised every where but at home, and those of the second adopt principally the Italian manner.  All Europe except France is supplied by Italian musicians.  And among the rest, England enters so fully into that stile that we have no musick but Italian; Handell indeed struck out a manner of his own, but it was a graft upon the Italian.

                  That composer was a real and an original genius; some of his works have been admired with the sincerest applause in Italy; and in the bold, sublime exertions of his arts, particularly in his chorus’s, he is as great as imagination can conceive; but it is wholly in a stile peculiar to his [275] own school.  As a performer on the organ, his merit was undoubted.

                  Since the death of that great man, we have been a mere colony from Italy; all the great singers that have figured on our theatres have been Italians, except a few good voices, prostituted to the bawling of ballads to entertain the mob.  By borrowing so freely from the Italians, by using no other music, and forming ourselves entirely upon that system, we have carried music to as great a height as it is capable of reaching.  We have numerous composers of our own, and other parts of the world, that make London their constant residence; and we have many of the best performers, both vocal and instrumental, that Italy and Germany have produced.

                  But there is a very considerable party in this country who strenuously assert, that music died with Handell; the grave, and forcible stile of his Oratorios was that of nature, that the manner we have at present among us is the mere tricks of execution, that music being most [276] preferred, that is most difficult to execute; the performers reputation for this trivial work, being more attended to, than making strong impressions on the minds of the audience by the force of melody.  There is some truth in these assertions, but that truth is carried to absolute extravagance.  Some pieces of music have certainly been published (too many) in which the masters have attended principally to the execution of the performers; and I readily allow, that a difficult and rapid execution is too much studied in most of our performers; but I can never agree, that the present music does nothing more than raise these quirks of execution.  On the contrary, I think, that we have much new music, in which the composer addresses himself immediately to the passions, and with the utmost success.  And that this effect, which is the result of a real simplicity in the music, is not confined to the works of a few masters; [...]

[... 282 ...]

                  Dr. Burney has published several works of genuine excellence:—He is original and learned.[22]






Tune,—Black Joke.


[… 3435]



To practise Love’s lesson exceeds all the schools,

Scarlatti and Handell [sic], and such folks were fools,

At Toll, loll, loll, loll, loll, loll, loll.

They Harmony made of half Tones and whole,

To lull lady’s ears, but ’tis Love charms the Soul;

When lips to lips tuning soft Symphonies tender,

The heart beating Preludes, denote a surrender

Of Toll, loll, loll, &c.



’Tis Music and Love, or the Music of loving,

That only the life which we live for is proving,

                  Toll, loll, loll, loll, loll, loll, loll, loll.





Westminster Abbey contains all that London and even England are possessed of, most perfect in this way: the most striking pieces go by the names of Scheemaker, Rysbrack, and Roubilliac. [...] Behind this huge machine [of captain Cornwall] is placed a statue of Mr. Craggs.  This figure, with those of Shakespeare, Busby, Congreve, the celebrated Handel, are the most striking pieces in this collection, which is not to be matched in Europe.[24]







Queen Elizabeth’s taste for music caused that art to make some progress in England, by giving it some of the improvements which it had before received in Italy.

In the present age Handel, a German by birth, brought about the same revolution in England, which Lully the Italian had effected in France in the last century.  Since that aera the English flatter themselves that they have a national music: but it is nothing more than a dialect of the German, as the latter is itself a dialect of the Italian. The grand concert at St. Paul’s for the benefit of the sons of the clergy, those of Vauxhall and Ranelagh, and some private ones to which I was admitted, were said to be English compositions.  The symphony was half German, half Italian: with regard to the vocal performance, Englishmen have assured me that the just accent of their language was as much murdered by the performers, as that of the French tongue is mauled in the burlesque operas, which are imitations of parodies of the Italian.

The London opera is entirely Italian, both with regard to the words and the music; but is much less frequent than the other theatrical entertainments.  No expence is spared to procure fine singers; oeconomy is observed only in the articles of machines and dances.  With regard to both of these it is not half so well supplied as the French comedy at Paris is at present.[25]




Euphros. [...] But what are those Affections of Sounds which you call their Notes, or Tones, with their various Distinctions, as I find them in my musical Books?  Something of this Kind I should be glad to understand, as I should be then said to join a little Theory with my Practice.

Cleon.  You must not, my Euphrosyne, expect much to excel in both:——It is a Thing hardly ever known, that a Person was completely skilled in the Theory of Music, and, at the same Time, a great Proficient in Practice.  I am very well informed, that HANDEL himself knew but very little of the Philosophy of Music, at least the mathematical Part thereof.[26]



[1] The Early Journals and Letters of Fanny Burney.  Volume I: 1768-1773, ed. Lars E. Troide (Kingston and Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1988), 191-92.

[2] The Letters of Richard Brinsley Sheridan, ed. Cecil Price, 3 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1966), 1:23.

[3] The Public Advertiser, Friday 6 March 1772, [3].

[4] The Public Advertiser, Monday 9 March 1772, [2].

[5] The Public Advertiser, Monday 13 April 1772, [2].

[6] The Public Advertiser, Friday 20 March 1772 [3].

[7] John Latimer, The Annals of Bristol in the Eighteenth Century (Bristol: the author, 1893; repr., Bath: Kingsmead Reprints, 1970), 397.

[8] The Public Advertiser, Thursday 26 March 1772, [2]; repr. with substitution “This Day,” Friday 27 March 1772, [3].

[9] The Public Advertiser, Friday 3 April 1772, [3]; repr., Saturday 4 April 1772, [3]; and with the appendix “N. B. None of the Pieces in this second Concerto Spiritual were performed in the first,” Monday 6 April 1772, [3]; Tuesday 7 April 1772, [3]; and Wednesday 8 April 1772 [3].

[10] The Public Advertiser, Thursday 9 April 1772, [3]; repr., Friday 10 April 1772, [3].

[11] [John Potter], The Theatrical Review; Or, New Companion to the Play-House, 2 vols. (London: S. Crowder, J. Wilkie and J. Walter, 1772), 2:207-23.

[12] The Gentleman’s Magazine 42 (1772): 173.

[13] The Letters of Dr Charles Burney.  Volume I: 1751-1784, ed. Alvaro Ribeiro, SJ (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991), 113-14.

[14] The London Magazine: Or, Gentleman’s Monthly Intelligencer 41 (1772): 291.

1 {Cole’s copy:} {...} though the last week or ten days is the gayest time we have at Cambridge, and the last more particularly so, as the Miss Lindleys from [267] Bath and the best music from town that could be procured to perform at St Mary’s the oratorio of Sampson, and other grand concertos, for two whole days together, morning and evening, yet the weather was so hot, I had no disposition to mix in the crowd.  This was the week before, on account of the County Hospital [Addenbrooke’s Hospital], {...}

[15] Horace Walpole’s Correspondence with the Rev. William Cole I (“The Yale Edition of Horace Walpole’s Correspondence, Vol. 1”), ed. W. S. Lewis and A. Dayle Wallace (New Haven: Yale University Press / London: Humphrey Milford, Oxford University Press, 1937), 266-267.

[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), 1:488.

[17] The Gentleman’s Magazine 42 (1772): 445.

[18] The Macaroni and Theatrical Magazine, or Monthly Register, of the Fashions and Diversions of the Times 1 (October 1772—September 1773): 89.

[19] Horace Walpole’s Correspondence with William Mason I (“The Yale Edition of Horace Walpole’s Correspondence, Vol. 28”), ed. W. S. Lewis, Grover Cronin, Jr, and Charles H. Bennett (New Haven: Yale University Press / London: Geoffrey Cumberlege, Oxford University Press, 1955), 55.

[20] The Gentleman’s Magazine 42 (1772): 562, 564.

[21] The Gentleman’s Magazine 42 (1772): 588.

[22] Letters concerning the Present State of England.  Particularly respecting the Politics, Arts, Manners, and Literature of the Times (London: J. Almon, 1772), 274-76, 282.

[23] George Alexander Stevens, Songs, Comic, and Satyrical (Oxford: the author, 1772), 33-35.

[24] [Pierre Jean] Grosley, A Tour to London; or, New Observations on England, and its Inhabitants, trans. from French by Thomas Nugent, 2 vols. (London: Lockyer Davis, 1772), 2:67.

[25] [Pierre Jean] Grosley, A Tour to London; or, New Observations on England, and its Inhabitants, trans. from French by Thomas Nugent, 2 vols. (London: Lockyer Davis, 1772), 2:113-14.

[26] Benjamin Martin, The Young Gentleman and Lady’s Philosophy, in a continued Survey of the Works of Nature and Art; by Way of Dialogue, 2nd edn corrected, 2 vols. (London: W. Owen, and the author, 1772), 2:370.