Jan 11

[Charles Burney to Mrs Thrale, 11 January 1778]


—But I forget that I am writing, & my Pen prattles away your Time about Tweedledum & Tweedledee with as much sober sadness as if you were a Musical Rapturist, an Enthusiastic Dilettante[1]




Jan 24

[Horace Walpole to William Mason, Saturday 24 January 1778]


Jan. 24, 1778.

I RECEIVED your act1 late last night, and though I have run

through it but once, I am impatient not only to pardon you, but

thank you.  I can forgive you anything but idleness; and music, which

your words always are, has charms to soothe even me.  The language is

so harmonious, that I think as I did of Dryden’s Ode, that it will

be more melodious unset than when adapted.  Yet if you can rival

Dryden, Giardini cannot paragon Handel.  I am, I know, a most poor

judge of musical composition, yet may not I ask if Giardini possesses

either force or simplicity?  Your act is classic Athenian—shall it

be subdi-di-di-vi-vi-vi-ded into modern Italian?—but it is too late to

ask that question.[2]




Feb 6

[William Mason to Horace Walpole, Friday 6 February 1778]


                  I KNOW thee and the wickedness of thy heart!  You would have my opera turned into a tragedy. {...}

                  As to Giardini, look you, if I did not think better of him than I do of Handel, my little shoemaker would not have had the benefit he will have (I hope) from this labour of my brain.  Let Handel’s music vibrate on the tough drum of royal ears; I am for none of it.

                  However as I am now fully employed in writing a Fast Sermon for [352] York Minister, music and operas must be lain by for a season.  I hope however you have sent the act to Giardini, otherwise he will think I have cheated him.[3]




Feb 12

[Horace Walpole to William Mason, Thursday 12 February 1778]


{...} I am a little sorry you bestow your words, not only on folk that cannot act, but on voices that cannot articulate.  If Sappho is to be sung, I wish it were by Italians, for from the pains they take to speak English, they pronounce more distinctly than our natives.

                  I sent your act to Giardini, and wish he may make it discourse most eloquent music.  His violin to be sure will make a long soliloquy—but though I like Handel, I am not bigoted.  I thought Dryden’s Ode more harmonious before he set it than after, yet he had expression; and I prefer Charles Fox’s native wood-notes to Burke’s feigned voice, though it goes to the highest pitch of the gamut of wit.[4]




Mar 5

Yesterday died, in Bow-street, the celebrated Dr. Arne.[5]




Mar 6

A New HUNTING CANTATA. / Sung by Mrs. Farrel between the Parts of Acis and Galatea, at Drury-Lane Theatre on Friday Evening last. / [Recitative and Aria][6]




Mar 7

For the Public Advertiser. / EXTEMPORE. / LET Harmony itself be mute, / Let Mirth and Music hang the Head; Hush’d be the Trumpet and the Flute, / The Viol, Harpsichord, and Lute, / The spirit-stirring Drum and Fife: / Silence! proclaim departed Life;— / For Melody and ARNE are dead.[7]




Mar 9

[David Garrick to Mary Hoare, 9 March {?1778}]


Will You go next Wednesday [March 11] with Us [Mr. and Mrs. Garrick] to hear Judas Maccabaeus—?  You shall go when you please, come back when You please, & sit upon ye Softest chair in [1215] the box?[8]




Mar 13

MUSIC. / J. BLAND, No. 45, Holbourn, nearly facing Chancery Lane, begs Leave to acquaint his Friends, and the Public in general, that he has begun to publish, SINGLY, the much admired SONGS of Mr. HANDELL, and that they are now to be had of him ONLY, at the reduced Price of One Penny a Page.  As this Work is done from Engraving, printed on the best Paper, and is 50l. [sic] per Cent. cheaper than any thing yet offered to the Public, J. Bland hopes it will recommend itself, and Him, to their Favours.  Of whom may be had, Variations to the two favourite Arias of “How oft, Louisa!” and “When Sable Night!” / *§* The Harpsichord, Piano Forte, &c. taught by an eminent Master.  Also tuned by the Time, Month, or Year.[9]




Mar 19

MUSIC. / This Day is published, Price 6s. / SIX grand Chorusses, from Mr. Handel’s Oratorios; adapted for the Organ or Harpsichord, by Mr. Hook. / [...] / London, printed for William Randall, Successor to the late Mr. J. Walsh, in Catherine-street, in the Strand.[10]




Mar 20

[Fanny Burney’s Journal, 20 March 1778]


                  Friday [20 Mar.]; Miss Humphries, Charlotte, Edward & I went to the Oratorio of Judas Maccabeus.  Oratorios I don’t love, so I shall say nothing of the performance.[11]




Mar 25

A Correspondent, who describes himself to be “Not one of the melancholy Sort,” wishes to return Thanks to Mrs. Wrighten for the Entertainment she afforded him last Wednesday Evening by singing Tally-ho [at the performance of Acis and Galatea at Covent Garden Theatre].  He thinks it an excellent Companion to Mrs. Farrel’s Hunting cantata [performed at the rendering of the same work on March 6, at Drury Lane theatre], and promises, would those Ladies sing them alternately, to attend each Theatre in Rotation during the Remainder of the Season.[12]




Mar 27

The Conductors of the Covent-Garden Oratorios not being patronized by Majesty [sic], we think renders them more assiduous in their Endeavours to obtain the Protection of the Public; as a Proof of which we need only mention their having procured Doctor Arnold’s excellent Prodigal Son, which is now in Rehearsal, and will be performed next Week.[13]




Apr 1

An EPIGRAM. / WHEN SAMSON wish’d Philistia’s Realm to burn, / Three hundred FOXES scarce could serve his Turn; / But in these Times, so wayward is our Fate, / One single Fox inflames a greater State.

[Perhaps a reference to Samson, which was performed on March 25.][14]




Apr 15

For the Benefit of the CHARITY. / AT the Lock Hospital Chapel, near Hyde-park Corner, This Day the 15th of April will be performed / RUTH, / An ORATORIO, set to Music by Mr. Giardini.  The Vocal Parts by Miss Linley, Miss M. Linley, Signor Rauzzini, Mr. Norris, Mr. Champnes, and others.  First Violin and Concerto by Mr. Giardini. / F No Persons to be admitted without Tickets, which may be had at the following Places at Half a Guinea each: St. James’s Coffee-house, St. James’s-street; the Mount Coffee-house, Grosvenor-street; George’s Coffee-house, Temple-bar; Rainbow Coffee-house, Cornhill; and [a]t the Hospital.  To begin at Twelve o’Clock at Noon precisely.[15]




May 2

[Saturday 2 May.] Their Majesties arrived at Portsmouth to review the fleet.  They were received by the acclamations of thousands of the neighbouring gentry who were assembled on the occasion, and were conducted to the Governor’s house by all the great officers who attended.  The artificers, &c. were assembled, and, in imitation of those at Chatham, saluted their Majesties with the song of “God the save the King,” in full chorus.[16]




May 28

For the Benefit of / The MIDDLESEX HOSPITAL. / AT Free Masons Hall, in Queen Street, Lincoln’s-Inn Fields, This Day, the 28th instant will be performed the Oratorio of / PROVIDENCE. / Composed by Dr. Fisher.  The principal Vocal Parts by Mr. Vernon, Mr. Reinhold, Miss Brown, and Mrs. Farrel.  Between Part the Second and Part the Third a Concerto on the Hautboy by Mr. Parke. / The Doors to be opened at Eleven o’Clock, and to begin exactly at Twelve at Noon.  F Tickets 10s. 6d. to be had at the Hospital, at the Place of Performance, and at Tom’s Coffee-house, Covent Garden.[17]






To commemorate the Naval Review at Portsmouth, the Oratorio of Alexander’s Feast is to be performed at one of the Theatres Royal, by command of his -------, with the following alterations, by W------ W--------, Esq; Poet L-----t.








’Twas at the royal show, and grand display

Of all the navy which at Portsmouth lay;

    Aloft in laughing state,

    B------’s monarch sat,

    And look’d serenely gay.

Goldstick, and other peers were plac’d around,

Their hair in bags or silken ribbons bound;

 So should, ye fair, our men of arms be crown’d!

    Charlotte smil’d sweetly at his side,

    Yet inwardly, alas! she sigh’d

    At G-----’s folly, and at Twitcher’s pride.



Happy, happy, happy pair,

  How they rejoice!

  How they rejoice!

To see the weather grown so fair!

Chorus, and the same. [221]



Then Sandwich plac’d on high,

  Amid the tuneful band,

  Struck the loud kettle-drums with mighty hand;

The deaf’ning notes ascend the sky.

  And sound along the strand.



From Fred’rick began the strain,

Who left Germania’s bleak domain

For England—such the pow’r of Stuart’s reign!

    Augusta then his Highness woo’d,

    Got children, as all Princes shou’d,

    When he to Saxe-Gotha press’d,

    And while he sought her snowy breast:

  Then round her waist his arms he spread,

And stamp’d an image of himself—a Prince without a head.



The list’ning tars admire the lofty sound;

A Prince without a head—they shout around;

A Prince without a head—the vaulted skies rebound.



        Not us’d to hear

        Such truths sincere, [222]

        At first he shrinks

        Before he thinks,

      That tars must have their jeer.



The praise of Pinchy then the great musician sung,

Of Pinchy in invention ever young;

    The jolly dog in triumph comes,

    (Sandwich beats the kettle-drums)

      Flush’d with a purple grace,

      He shews his merry face;

Make room, the Sov’reign cries—he comes! he comes!


AIR,  [accompanied by a curious musical clock.]

    Pinchy’s ever fertile brain

    Did patent snuffers first ordain;

  Pinchy’s nicknacks are a treasure,

  Pinchy’s toys a monarch’s pleasure.

        Rich the treasure,

        Sweet the pleasure,

    Sweet as pleasure after pain.



    Pinchey’s nicknacks are a treasure, &c.



  Sooth’d with the sound the King grew vain,

  Sail’d thro’ his navy once again,

And in idea thrice he drubb’d the great d’Estaing, [223]

  Sandwich beheld the madness rise,

  His glowing cheeks, his sullen eyes;

And while he France and Spain defy’d,

Chang’d his hand, and check’d his pride.


RECITATIVE.                  [accompanied.]

    He chose a mournful muse,

    Soft pity to infuse.



  He sung Britannia great and good,

    By too severe a sate,

    Fallen from her high estate,

  Defenceless on the flood.

    To ruin and destruction led,

    By Scotchmen, whom her bounty fed;

    On the bare sea expos’d she lies,

    To France an easy sacrifice.



  Behold Britannia, great and good,

  Defenceless on the flood;

  On the bare sea expos’d she lies,

  To France an easy sacrifice!



With downcast looks the cloudy monarch sat,

  Revolving in his alter’d soul

  The various turns of chance below,

  And now and then a sigh he stole,

    And tears began to flow. [224]



But Sandwich, tho’ with vast surprize,

He saw the monarch’s weeping eyes,

Told him it would not be amiss--

“The more he cry’d, the less he’d ----!”


RECIT.  [accompanied.]

Softly sweet in Scottish measures,

The bagpipe soothes his soul to pleasures.



  War, he sung, is toil and trouble,

  Honour but an empty bubble;

  Ease and comfort still refusing;

    Fighting still, and still destroying:

  Though a crown be worth thy losing,

    Turning buttons worth enjoying.

  Bute soon again shall sit beside thee;

  Take the friends the Scots provide thee.


    War he sung, &c. repeated again.



Glad Sawney rends the skies with loud applause;

So B--e was crown’d, and England won the cause.



The Prince, his joy unable to contain,

    Sigh’d for the Thane,

    Who caus’d his pain, [225]

And sigh’d and look’d, sigh’d and look’d,

Sigh’d and look’d, and sigh’d again.

At length, with sailing and with singing tir’d,

Home to his bed the drowsy King retir’d.


CHORUS  repeated.

Glad Sawney rends the skies with loud applause;

So B--e was crown’d, and Scotland was the cause.


[End of the First Act.]




RECITATIVE.                  [accompanied.]

  Now strike the kettle-drums again,

  A louder yet—and yet a louder strain!

  Break his bands of sleep asunder,

And rouse him with salutes as loud as thunder.



    Break, &c.



  Hark, hark! the martial sound

    Has rais’d up his head

    After sh-------g a bed,

  And amaz’d he stares around.



  Revenge, revenge, bold Sandwich cries,

  See the Furies arise; [226]

  See the snakes that they rear,

  How they hiss in their hair,

And the sparkles that flash from their eyes.



    Behold a mournful band

    Without arms in their hand!

These are British troops, that in battle were ta’en,

    And captive remain

    Beyond th’ Atlantic main.


RECIT.  [accompanied.]

    Give the vengeance due

    To Burgoyne’s injur’d crew—

Behold how they pile up their arms all on high,

  How they point to the army of Gates,

And dine in dumb despair off * broken plates!



  The nobles applaud with a furious frown,

And the K--g with a tom’hawk wou’d fain knock them down. [227]



    Campbell shall lead the way,

    And guide him to his prey,

And like another Dunmore fire another town.



The nobles applaud, &c.

The four following lines being repeated.


RECITAT[I]VE.   [accompanied.]

    Not long ago,

When statesmen knew that Western winds cou’d blow,

  And Scotchmen yet were mute,

  Great Pitt, uncircumscrib’d by B--e,

    With noble fire

Plann’d such amazing deeds as made the world admire.



  At length, to blast our glory, came,

  That Scotchman of detested name; [228]

  The dark deceiver, in a cursed hour,

    Poison’d his Royal Master’s mind;

    And fraught with treachery design’d

  Made Britain sue for peace to Bourbon’s broken power!



  Your voices tune, and raise them high,

  Till they echo from the vaulted sky

    The Thane’s detested name.

  To him and N--th we jointly owe

  The ills we now have learn’d to know;

    Sound loudly then their shame.



  Let B--e and N--th divide the block,

    Or both at Tyburn swing;

  And then, as late in Portsmouth dock,

    We’ll chaunt, “God save our King!”



By all the Minority, and every good Subject in the Kingdom.

The four preceding lines repeated.[18]




[...] The character of Dr. Minim, in this piece [Tony Lumpkin], I made to have composed an Oratorio, called “The Prodigal Son,” not knowing that Dr. Arnold had actually composed such an Oratorio.  Some time after, the Doctor mentioned this to me with a great deal of good humour, supposing I had really written the character for him, of which he was rather pleased and proud.  Many years after, he urged [366] me to write a sacred Oratorio for him to compose, but I never did.[19]




Jun 29

[Mrs Henry Bates, in Freckenham, to her sister-in-law,

 Grace Furey, 19 July 1778]


On Monday the 29th

of June we went to Cambridge where we

met Joah and Miss Harrop.  I take it for

granted that you have heard of Miss Harrop’s

being engaged to sing at the Oratorio

at Cambridge[20]





                  The basis of the language spoken by these islanders [Nicobar islands], is chiefly Malay, with some words borrowed from Europeans, and other strangers, as will appear in the following specimen:


Hendel                   Musket[21]




Jul [2]

[William Cole to Horace Walpole, Thursday {2} July 1778]


My servant was at St Mary’s this day, being the grand music for the Hospital {... 95 ...} Though the oratorio of Judas Maccabeus is to be performed at St Mary’s tomorrow by the best hands and voices from town, and I have a longing to hear it, yet I dare not venture, from the heat and the cold.[22]




Jul 2

[first performance: 2 July 1778]


Doct[or Minim].  Three bar rests, if you please, sir; I am surpriz’d you can be so much out of tune, gentlemen.  I am one of the connoscenti---have had the honour to be balloted a member of three select private concerts, composed of persons of the first rank, aye the Alto Primo of taste---had the refusal of the band of Carlisle House---led the band for five seasons at Vauxhall---had some thoughts of purchasing the gardens myself---I have compos’d two oratorios, ten serenatas, three sets of overtures, concertos for Signior Florentini’s violoncello, songs for the Capricci of Palermo, and solos for Madam Sirmen’s violin, grand ballets for Signor Georgettini, Signora Caperini, Signora Baccini, Signora——[23]




Nov 19

[Charles Burney to Mrs Thrale, 19 November 1778]


O, but à propos to Seward—I was pleasantly surprised to see him at the R. S. to Night, & still more to find him a Candidate for the honour of becoming a Confrere—he’s gibbeted already—& I wd not quit the room till I had under-written him—But the rogue will soon have a surfeit of queer Wigs, threadbare Coats, Fluxions, Logarithms & Cockle-shells.—These will not Stir his blood half so much as a good sonorous Chorus of Handel a dui Cori, con Trombetti, Timpani, e Corni da Ca<c>cia—[24]




This entertainment concluded with a concert of mechanical music: I cannot explain how it was produced, but the effect was pleasing.  Madame Duval was in extacies; and the Captain flung himself into so many ridiculous distortions, by way of mimicking her, that he engaged the attention of all the company; and, in the midst of the performance of the Coronation Anthem, while Madame Duval was affecting to beat time, and uttering many expressions of delight, he called suddenly for salts, which a lady, apprehending some distress, politely handed to him, and which, instantly [129] applying to the nostrils of poor Madame Duval, she involuntarily snuffed up such a quantity, that the pain and surprise made her scream aloud.  When she recovered, she reproached him, with her usual vehemence; but he protested he had taken that measure out of pure friendship, as he concluded, from her raptures, that she was going into hysterics.  This excuse by no means appeased her, and they had a violent quarrel; but the only effect her anger had on the Captain, was to encrease his diversion.[25]




Ma[ster].  […] your intrepidity shews fire, imagination, and, perhaps, genius.  Who knows whether I may not now be breaking the egg, to let out a Composer that will take the noblest flights?  How proud it will make me!  I shal say, it was I who first taught him to know what was a Minim, a Crotchet, a Quaver, a Rest; but to write your future sublime melodies, you must know how to read and write a Bass too; the Counter-tenor, the first and second Treble, and other voices.

Dis[ciple].  All that is necessary, I am willing; and let posterity profit by my labours.  Handel and Pergolesi were once in musical knowledge where I am, and setting out from the same place with me; why may I not arrive at the same point they did?


Phi[losopher].  It is certain, that the progress you have made on the harpsicord [sic], bears no proportion to the time you have given to that study; but, independent of your taste, and natural disposition, the method of this gentleman is excellent.

Dis[ciple].  Excellent!  Marvellous.

Phi.  Sir, you are going to lose a scholar; will you let me propose another to you?

Ma[ster].  Yourself, Sir, I hope.

Phi.  No, my daughter; she makes a pretty good figure in the works of Handel, Bach, Scarlatti, and others, but, I believe she understands nothing of the theory of music.


Ma[ster].  […] What an astonishing variety of fugitive and momentary sensations should I have excited, had I interwoven the Discordant with the Concordant Harmonies, and put in practice all the power of the art. […] What numbers of different pictures do the true masters sometimes give us, in a single accompanied recitative! the key is pressed, the sentiment rendered, and the heart moved.

And here is what you, Miss, have thought proper to call a [harmonic] combination; and such to be sure it is; but who are they reserved to make such combinations?

Philos[opher].  Hass, Ciampi, Perez, and Handel, when he would take the trouble; his Oratorios are a proof of this; and it has rendered them immortal.  Purcell, the British [229] Orpheus, stands one of the foremost in expression.  One swallow or two do not make a summer; but the progress Music has made in the British Islands, is a proof that the Composer may march in a rank with the Poet and the Painter, however distinguished.  And as I have said Hass, Ciampi, Perez, Handel, Purcell, and some others, class with Raphael, Reynolds, Tasso, and Milton, and seem to cry out, I too can paint, I too can touch the soul.[26]



[1] The Letters of Dr Charles Burney.  Volume I: 1751-1784, ed. Alvaro Ribeiro, SJ (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991), 243.

1 The third and final act of Sappho {...}

[2] 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), 345.

[3] 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), 351-52.

[4] 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), 354.

[5] The Public Advertiser, Friday 6 March 1778, [3].

[6] The Public Advertiser, Wednesday 11 March 1778, [2].

[7] The Public Advertiser, Saturday 7 March 1778, [2].

[8] David Garrick, The Letters of David Garrick, ed. David M. Little and George M. Kahrl, 3 vols. (Cambridge, MA: Belknap/Harvard University Press), 3:1214-15.

[9] The Public Advertiser, Friday 13 March 1778, [1].

[10] The Public Advertiser, Thursday 19 March 1778, [1].

[11] The Early Journals and Letters of Fanny Burney.  Volume III: The Streatham Years.  Part I: 1778-1779, ed. Lars E. Troide and Stewart J. Cooke (Montreal & Kingston, London, and Buffalo: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1994), 8.

[12] The Public Advertiser, Friday 27 March 1778, [3].

[13] The Public Advertiser, Friday 27 March 1778, [3].

[14] The Public Advertiser, Wednesday 1 April 1778, [2].

[15] The Public Advertiser, Wednesday 15 April 1778, [1].

[16] The Gentleman’s Magazine 48 (1778): 237.

[17] The Public Advertiser, Thursday 28 May 1778, [1].

* After the capitulation, General Burgoyne, and his principal officers, dined in the General Gates, a description of which entertainment, and the table furniture, appeared some time ago in the public papers.

The author means that officer, who said in the House of Commons, that one regiment would march from one end of America to the other; that was considered as very presuming by many diffident people, who were not soldiers; but, in justice to Mr. C------ it must be suggested, meant the marching from one end of the Continent to the other à la manière de Burgoyne.

[18] The New Foundling Hospital for Wit.  Being a Collection of Fugitive Pieces, in Prose and Verse, not in any other Collection.  With several Pieces never before Published, new edition corrected, 6 vols. (London: J. Debrett, 1784), 4:220-28.

[19] John O’Keeffe, Recollections of the Life of John O’Keeffe, written by Himself, 2 vols. (London: H. Coburn, 1826), 1:365-66.

[20] Betty Matthews, “Joah Bates: A remarkable amateur,” The Musical Times 126 ([no. 1714, December] 1985), 749-53: 749.

[21] Nicolas Fontana, “On the Nicobar Isles and the Fruit of the Mellori,” Asiatic Researches; Or, Transactions of the Society, Instituted in Bengal, for inquiring into the History and Antiquities, the Arts, Sciences, and Literature, of Asia, Volume the Third (London: J. Sewell et al., 1799), 149-64 (157, 159).

[22] Horace Walpole’s Correspondence with the Rev. William Cole II (“The Yale Edition of Horace Walpole’s Correspondence, Vol. 2”), ed. W. S. Lewis and A. Dayle Wallace (New Haven: Yale University Press, / London: Humphrey Milford, Oxford University Press, 1937), 94-95.

[23] J[ohn O’]Keeffe, Tony Lumpkin in Town: A Farce (London: T. Cadell, 1780), 16; facsimile reproduction in The Plays of John O’Keeffe, ed. Frederick M. Link, 4 vols. (New York & London: Garland, 1981), 1:16.

[24] The Letters of Dr Charles Burney.  Volume I: 1751-1784, ed. Alvaro Ribeiro, SJ (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991), 263.

[25] [Fanny Burney], Evelina, Or, A Young Lady’s Entrance into the World.  In a Series of Letters, 2nd edn, 3 vols. (London: T. Lowndes, 1779; original edn, 1778), 1:128-29 (Letter 19).

[26] [Anton] Bemetzrieder, Music made Easy to every Capacity, in a Series of Dialogues; being Practical Lessons for the Harpsichord…, trans. from the original French (London: R. Ayre and G. Moore, 1778) 38, 84, 228-29.