Mar 19

[first performance: 19 March]


[the two characters talk about a dance]

Sir Hans.  George, so ’twas you rasp’d up the fiddle for them?

George.  Yes, Sir, so we had no fiddler to pay.

Sir Hans.  Psha!  I’d hire Handel’s anniversary band to see you dance the Cameronian Rant with Augusta.  This scheme of leaving her at large wo’nt do—she’ll be snapt up.[1]




Jun 19

[Anna Seward to Mrs Hayley, 19 June 1795.]


            The musical opinions expressed in your last do not coincide with Giovanni’s and mine, to whom the choruses of Handel are dearer than any other species of music.  The exhilaration and rapture with which they inspire me are extreme; so is the admiration they excite of the genius and skill of that great master, as the “volant fugue” bursts from every part of the orchestra successively; the leading air supplied, in turn, by the various orders of voices, and sustained by the rich fullness of the inner harmonies.

            Every person here and elsewhere, that I have heard mention K——, except yourself, pronounce [70] him detestable as an oratorio singer; that his coarse tones, flourishing, and gaudy style of expression, outrage the chaste delicacy of Handel’s softer song, nor less the sacred energies of his bolder strains.[2]






[bibliographical note: originally published in 31 parts, parts 10–31, including the following excerpt, are dated 1795]




[… 239 …]


In fancy I jok’d with his GRACE,

  And felt a huge torrent of bliss—

Then I flatter’d the Duchess’s face,

  And whisper’d love-stories to Miss.


In fancy his GRACE I beheld,

  Heard his mouth with sound criticism ope;

That mouth most deliciously swell’d

  With quotations from DRYDEN and POPE.


In fancy I heard him aloud

  Read his prologue so sweet to his guests;

Saw wonderment stare from the croud,

  And rapture burst wild from their breasts.


Now I heard him delightfully thrum;

  Now in praise of old music a raver;

Now HANDEL’s huge choruses hum;

  Now a critic on crotchet and quaver.





[…] For the Organ, you will excuse the digression, may justly be compared to a full band, it being the representative of all, or at least the greater part of instruments known.  Let me be indulged likewise in observing, that it not only is the most noble, but, if we do not discredit historical evidence, the most ancient of all others.  All instruments indeed, after the Organ, appear to a manifest disadvantage; and, when the instruments is in the hands of a skilful performer, the most powerful band must follow its lead.  A striking instance of this was, at the late Commemoration of Handel, in Westminster Abbey, universally felt and acknowledged.  The circumstance I allude to, is where Mr. Bates, on an Organ made by Green, exerted himself in so judicious and masterly a manner, as to make the most potent of all Bands, hitherto heard in this, or in any other Kingdom, obey in every Chord.  The organ likewise bears a sacred distinction in the Church, and is preferred before all instruments for that solemn service.


Mr. Handel’s music, for the practice of all who wish to become good performers on the Organ, particularly his Overtures and Choruses, I would wish principally to recommend.[4]






            When Cardinal d’Estrées was at Rome, he praised Corelli’s Sonatas very much before that exquisite Author.  “Sir,” replied Corelli, “if they have any merit, it is because I have studied Lulli.”  Handel himself has imitated Lulli in many of his Overtures.[5]



[1] John O’Ke[e]ffe, Life’s Vagaries (London: G. Woodfall, 1795), 63.

[2] Letters of Anna Seward: written between the Years 1784 and 1807, 6 vols. (Edinburgh: A. Constable, 1811), 4:69–70.

[3] Peter Pindar [=John Wolcot], Pindariana; Or Peter’s Portfolio (London: T. Spilsbury and Son, 1794), 238–39.

[4] Jonas Blewitt, A Complete Treatise on the Organ… (London: Longman and Broderip, [ca 1795]), 7, 8.

[5] [William Seward], Anecdotes of Some Distinguished Persons, chiefly of the Present and Two Preceding Centuries, 4 vols. (London: T. Cadell, Jun. and W. Davies, 1795), 2:190.