Jan 11

[Mary Delany to Anne Viney, 11 January 1775]


I heard a sweet new instrument called the celestinet, the improvement, if not the invention f Mr. Mason the poet.  His gentlest muse is not more harmonious and pathetick.  I know your sister will long, as well as yourself, to have it described, but that is past my skill.  I can give you a sketch, but not a finished piece.  The shape is that of a short [91] harpsichord, with the same sort of keys, and played on only with the right hand in the same manner; and at the same time you draw with your left hand a bow like the bow of a fiddle, that runs in a groove under the keys, and by proper management presses on the wires and brings out a delicate, exquisite sound, something between the finest notes of a fiddle and the glasses.  It is not above 2 feet long and 1 foot and a half in the broadest part, where the keys are, which are placed on the top of the instrument in this manner [sketch on the page].  It is set on a table, and is best accompanied with a pianoforte or harpsicord [sic].  Mr. Mason plays charmingly, with great expression.  I must own tho’ that Handel’s majestic musick is too deeply implanted on my soul to suffer me to delight (in general) in modern flimsy Italian music.  This being a curious invention I could not help giving you a detail of it, and perhaps have tired you.[1]




Mar 22




To-morrow, Wednesday, March 22, 1775,


L’Allegro il Penseroso.



‘Let thy Hand be Strengthen’d’ and ‘The King shall rejoice.’

End of the FIRST PART



End of the SECOND PART






F Tickets to be had, and Places for the Boxes to be taken of Mr. JOHNSTON, at the Stage-Door of the Theatre, at HALF a GUINEA each.

Pit 5s.  First Gallery 3s. 6d.  Second Gallery 2s.

The Doors will be opened at FIVE o’Clock.

To begin exactly at HALF past SIX.                      Vivant Rex & Regina.[2]




Mar 29




On Wednesday next, March 29, 1775,

{To-morrow, Wednesday, March 29, 1775,}


The Fall of Egypt.


Written by the late Dr. HAWKSWORTH,

{Written by the late Dr. HAWKESWORTH.}

And Composed by Mr. STANLEY.

{And Set to Music by Mr. STANLEY.}

End of the FIRST PART



End of the SECOND PART



C Tickets to be had, and Places for the Boxes to be taken of Mr. JOHNSTON, at the Stage-Door of the Theatre, at HALF a GUINEA each.

Pit 5s.  First Gallery 3s. 6d.  Second Gallery 2s.

The Doors will be opened at HALF after FIVE o’Clock.

To begin exactly at HALF past SIX.                      Vivant Rex & Regina.[3]





[Richard Brinsley Sheridan to {Thomas Lindley}, {after April 1775}]



If you had conducted oratorios last spring in Town on your own account—you might have clear’d £1000 or £1200.—Maria’s Reputation is spreading amazingly—whatever you did get by Betsy [=Elizabeth]—and what more you might have got had you come sooner to Town or had I not robb’d you of her—you may get and if you rely only on yourself, certainly will get by Maria.—You have yourself deserved Reputation—it is no little credit to have bred and taught the acknow[ledg]’d best English Singer that has been—you have a right to the Attention of the Public in introducing another—and surely if such a Man as Arnold was encouraged in attempting oratorios on his own account, no one can expect that you will again share with others the fruits of any other excellent Singer you may Produce—especially when you have so little obligation to any of them.  Polly is certainly at present considered here as the best Oratorio Singer there now is, and tho’ her Sister Maria may come to surpass her in some things—She will always be respectable and in the first Line.—From this Prospect I will not allow that it admits of Doubt but that you may, if you will Quit Bath, establish the Best, and most probably the only Oratorio in London.—Bach [304] will undertake it no more—and I think it would be madness for you to join Stanley.—This would be respectable, independent, and highly beneficial.—You would be no Man’s Servant—your Family would still be your own—and No Change, Jealousies, or Caprice could distress you.  In the other Case—You succeed Mr. Dibdin [=house composer at Drury Lane Theatre]—in a Post of no great Eminence, however dignified by Restrictions—which would not signify a Pin if once you were on ill Terms with the Manager.  The Labour and Servility of the Employment of such sort as would be most irksome to you—new Proposals would be made you—which you must consent to—(Dibdin leaves G——— for having broke every promise to him)—Polly would be an Actress—probably successful—possibly not—Maria Actress, Singer, etc. and poor Tam [=Thomas Junior] hedg’d in to answer the temporary Purpose of a singing Boy—or Chorus in a Sphere which He would soon grow out of, and be fit for nothing else there, nor anywhere else.—Here every advantage of their Abilities to you in their present Profession is cut off.—By the Time Polly or Maria have warbled Ballads a couple of winters on Drury-Lane no Person would give sixpence to hear them in Particular, in Oratorios.—Stage Singers necessarily and speedily grow out of Estimation with the Politer Ranks—tho’ they may for a while continue the Miss Brents of the Galleries—therefore once on the Stage look for no Particular attraction or advantage in them for Oratorios.  On the subject of Oratorios—you say that Mr. G. has engaged to join you in them with Stanley or if S. refuses—that He will himself be concerned [305] in them with you.  This Bounty in my opinion amounts just to this.—That if you are willing to ford this musical Pactolus He (Mr. G.) will undertake to hang a Mill-Stone round your Neck, or if the Mill-Stone won’t hang you shall dive for the Golden Sand yourself and He will share it with you.—What Attraction Mr. G.’s Name would have to bring People to an oratorio I can’t conceive—and Stanley can never be anything but a dead weight on such a scheme.  G’ Generosity to the Latter this Winter—was no greater than that of the Musicians.  The Latter gave up their Pay first and G’s munificence limp’d after.  Polly’s Talents for the Stage you say are undoubted—I grant it—yet is her Success precarious—Her constitution may not be Robust enough to carry her thro’ the Practice of tragedy Parts—and I should hope she would never acquire assurance enough to be perfectly easy in Comedy—but still Mr. G. promises that you shall always be at Liberty to withdraw—provided you do not engage in any other Theatre.  This I think the most insidious and iniquitous Clause that He could shackle his Generosity with.  When once you have exposed and made cheap your Daughters on the Stage He very well knows that there must lie their future Profession—Unsuccessful there or retiring from thence upon whatever discontent—they never could regain the Respect or eminence of their former Situation when the Town had already heard them down to the one shilling Mob—in Operas and Farces—what Price would ever after be set upon their Performance in Con[c]erts or Oratorios!—yet the Restriction is that they sha’n’t be received on any other Theatre and consequently they are upon his own Terms to continue fix’d on his!—This is Honour and Generosity with a Vengeance!—You say—you are convinced that Mr. G. studies your advantage and will act honourably in the Affair.  This conviction I own is unaccountable to me—you did not once think so highly of him—as to his Countenance, Protection etc. to Polly—that is all of course and I dare say might be the case.  However that would be but of a short Date.—G. has to my certain knowledge, this Winter endeavour’d to dispose of his share of the Patent.—[306] He waits but for his Price—and would certainly be glad to put it up to sale as well supported as He could—this would be help’d by an Engagement with you including Polly and Maria—(bound to leave it for no other Theatre!—an obligation unprecedented!)—I am much mistaken if Coleman will not then be your Manager—or be it who it may—all Mr. G’s services end of course, and the new Manager may have other Favourites, and as for the clause of your right to continue seven or fourteen years—that I again repeat, were not the Manager entirely content, would be impossible with Credit or Comfort.

                  In short it is my sincere opinion that Mr. G. went to Bath on Purpose to draw you into some agreement with him—that He thinks Maria principally will be a Treasure to him—and that his whole Plan is insidious, and selfish, and his Professions insincere.—If you determine to leave Bath—I think you may in point of Profit only succeed infinitely better by having no connection with the Stage—and in point of Credit and Happiness that you would soon find the latter your bane: and above all I hold in my own mind the most ominous Conviction that you will see the Day which, for your Daughter’s sake, will make you curse the Deceiver who first drew you into that Scene of Life. [...][4]




When I was at Paris, in the year 1775, I had the honour of being known to Lord Stormont, the English ambassador at the French court, at which I had moreover the honour of being introduced, through the favour of his lordship.  Whilst there, I had two court suits made, by a fashionable tailor, one for the summer and one for the winter; and was afforded, on my return, an opportunity of comparing the splendour of the court of Versailles with that of St. James’s, the inferiority of which was sufficiently manifest.

My father had the honour, for several years, to make his bow at St. James’s, at the drawing-room, on the 4th of June, the birth-day of our late Sovereign.  I, too, had the honour of being introduced, when I made my appearance in my fine French suit.

On the day of my first introduction, being near his Majesty as he walked round the circle, conversing with the company, a remark which his Majesty made, whilst the music was performing, made a lasting impression on my memory. [346]

This occurred during a sudden storm of wind, thunder, and lightning.  The trumpets were sounding; and at the moment a tremendously loud clap of thunder burst, as it were, right over the palace, which seemed to appal [sic] many present; when the King, addressing himself to Lord Pembroke, exclaimed, “How sublime!  What an accompaniment!  How this would have delighted Handel!”


TWO COURT DRESSES.—Having been introduced to Lord Stormont, who was ambassador, when I was first at Paris, I had two court suits made—a winter and a summer one.  At my return to England, my father, who always attended the drawing-room on the King’s and Queen’s birthdays, took me with him there, having by me my necessary entrée, seasonable court-dresses.  The first year, on June the 4th, I exhibited my summer suit, keeping close to his Majesty, as he walked round the circle, speaking to those who had been introduced to him.  Previous to a very heavy shower of rain, there was a terrible storm of thunder and lightning, whilst the ode was playing.  I was very near the King at the time, and I heard him say, “Tremendous! awful! what a divine accompaniment?  How it would have delighted Handel!”[5]




[W.L. “An Essay on MUSICAL TIME”]

It ought to be observed, that the rules for writing music, as before laid down, are not strictly adhered to.  Pieces in minuet time are often marked 6/8, and are written with three quavers in a bar, which are to be played no faster than crotchets in a common minuet; and when semi quavers occur, they are to be divided into three pairs, as in a minuet.  The song in the Messiah, O thou that tellest glad tidings, is so written.  Again, the same piece shall be sometimes written with 3 crotchets in a bar, and marked 3/4; at other times with 3 quavers in a bar, and marked 3/8; the quavers in the latter case are to be made as long as the crotchets in the former.[6]




[W.D. criticizes mistakes in the essay:]

...The song, O thou that tellest glad tidings, is not written with three quavers only in a bar, but with six, as marked at the beginning 6/8.[7]




[W.L. replies defending his essay:]

The mistake of three quavers for six, is what the context shews to be a slip of the pen.  Nor does it affect what is said of the manner in which the song O thou that tellest glad tidings is written, viz. with the usual signature of jigg-time at the head of the staff, though the song be in minuet-time; and with semi-quavers, which are yet to be made as long, and played just as quavers are in a common minuet.[8]




Oct 10

[The Dowager-Countess Gower to Mary Delany, 10 October 1775]


                  I soppose [sic] you’ve seen L—d Chomondeley’s epigram, Mr. Garrick’s petition to Mr. Stanley, and ye Pheiades.[9]




Oct 16

[16 Oct. 1775. The day passed among the Austin Nuns of the English Convent in Paris] Another Nun pleased me very much.  She has been a Beauty about London since my Time, & is now eminently handsome: She has likewise seen a great deal of the World, has travelled & has read; She has many Books in her Room on [121] various Subjects, & talks of studying Latin in good earnest.  She played on the Church Organ for my Entertainment, & went over Handel’s Water Musick with great Dexterity.[10]




Dec 31

[Richard Brinsley Sheridan to Thomas Linley, 31 December 1775]


                  I suppose Mr. Stanley has written to you relative to your oratorio orchestra.  The demand, I reckon, will be diminished one third, and the appearance remain very handsome, which, if the other affair takes place, you will find your account in; and, if you discontinue your partnership with Stanley at Drury Lane, the orchestra may revert to whichever wants it, on the other’s paying his proportion for the use of it this year.  This is Mr. Garrick’s idea, and, as he says, might in that case be settled by arbitration.[11]




On the Death of Mr. HANDELL.

                  In the Midst of the Performance of his Lent Oratorio (1759) of the Messiah, Nature exhausted, he dropt his Head upon the Keys of the Organ he was playing upon, and with Difficulty was raised up again.  He recovers his Spirits, and goes on managing the Performance ill the Whole was finished.  He was carried Home, and died.

                  To melt the Soul, [...see Deutsch, Handel, 817-18.][12]




“Epistle Dedicatory.  To Henry Burgum, Esquire”

[a slanderous attack against the author’s former

and ungrateful patron Burgum.]


When erst in Vanity’s soft shackles bound,

He banish’d solid Sense for empty Sound;

When Science wond’ring at the feast he gave,

Saw mighty Handel tremble in his grave;

When Wisdom all concern’d reclin’d her head;

When Taste astonish’d struck with terror fled; [7]

When Discord high in alt commenc’d her scream,

And Fancy scarce gave credit to the dream,

I, all observant of the comic scene,

To save his credit sacrific’d my spleen;

Join’d with the senseless rout in idle roar,

Extatic stood, clap’d hands and cry’d—ENCORE![13]




[…] I may ask the Reason, why, out of so many Hundreds of Musicians as there are, and have been in the World, [and some of them also Mathematicians] why, I say, that no one had ever as yet before discovered the true or real Scale of Music, or its Foundation? as of which hereafter; but towards the Matter, as they thought it to be, or that it must be] was always an Acting in some Measure contrary, and that as not to be taken in a small Degree, contrary, I say, to the Nature of the Thing, viz. in tuning the Organ, Harpsichord, and Spinnet!  Nay, the great Mr. Handel had his Organ, &c. so tuned!


but still, for the Sake as it were of such as that, it all along hitherto so happened, that Violence, as with Respect to natural Harmony, was in some Measure put [as thought for the better] to prey upon Nature in tuning the Organ, &c.  And whenas or as when, what was done for the best, was with quite a contrary Drift thereto, the Whole being thereby for the worse affected, and that as not in a very small Degree, and yet the great Mr. Handel among the rest [as not discovering the Matter] had his Organ and Harpsichord so tuned.


Not that I greatly mind what we call an Anthem; but a Psalm, viz. with its Tune or Composition of Musick properly adapted (not such Composition as according to Mr. Handel’s Taste, of or for a Psalm-Tune) and so to be pitch’d, as that exactly to suit the Voices, and sung in three or four Parts by a Company of Singers as above—what a noble Thing it is![14]




Soon after this affair Miss C[atle]y was in high favour with a junior student of Magdalen College Oxford.  Their acquaintance first began at an Oratorio where he had heard her sing.  Pleased with the sweet melody of her enchanting voice she captivated his heart to so high a degree, that he would have given all the world, had it been in his possession, to have revelled in the delights of her charms for one night only.[15]



[1] The Autobiography and Correspondence of Mary Granville, Mrs. Delany, ed. Lady Llanover, second series, 3 vols. (London: Richard Bentley, 1862), 2:90-91.

[2] Broadsheet: The Eighteenth Century (microfilm collection).

[3] Broadsheet in two versions: The Eighteenth Century microfilm collection; curly brackets indicate second version variations.

[4] The Letters of Richard Brinsley Sheridan, ed. Cecil Price, 3 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1966), 3:303-06.

[5] The Reminiscences of Henry Angelo, 2 vols. (New York and London: Benjamin Blom, 1904), 1:345-46; 2:286.

[6] The Gentleman’s Magazine 45 (1775): 467.

[7] The Gentleman’s Magazine 45 (1775): 554.

[8] The Gentleman’s Magazine 45 (1775): 635.

[9] The Autobiography and Correspondence of Mary Granville, Mrs. Delany, ed. Lady Llanover, second series, 3 vols. (London: Richard Bentley, 1862), 2:162.

[10] The French Journals of Mrs. Thrale and Doctor Johnson, ed. Moses Tyson and Henry Guppy (Manchester: The Manchester University Press, 1932), 120-21.

[11] The Letters of Richard Brinsley Sheridan, ed. Cecil Price, 3 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1966), 1:95.

[12] T. Webb (compiler), A New Select Collection of Epitaphs...together with One Thousand Epitaphs never before published, 2 vols. (London: S. Bladon, 1775), 1:326; repr. in Frobisher’s New Select Collection of Epitaphs (London: Nath[anie]l. Frobisher, [?1790]), 156.

[13] James Thistlethwaite, The Consultation.  A Mock Heroic, In Four Cantos, 2nd enlarged edn (Bristol: [?], 1775), 6-7.

[14] John Harrison, A Description concerning such Mechanism as will afford a nice, or true Mensuration of Time…as also an Account of the Discovery of the Scale of Musick (London: the author, 1775), 18, 75n, 85n.

[15] A Brief Narrative of the Life of the Celebrated Miss C*tt**y; containing the Adventures of that Lady In Her Public Character of a Singer, and Private One of a Courtezan.  In England, Ireland, &c.  Also Some of the most remarkable Occurencies in the Hight Court of Gallantry, on the Stage, in the Public Gardens and in the Polite World, or Court-End of the Town.  With Many Curious Anecdotes never before published (London: W. Bailey, [?1775]), 55.