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in proportions scarcely less regular. The loftiest and the last grain of sand is alone and above the rest, but there is a connection intimate and complete from this grain, down to the low and broad stratum at the bottom. Without such an arrangement of parts in society, and in the intellect which regulates the advances of art, the communicating contact would be broken. There would be at some point an impassable void, and the progress of civilization would be stopped. But we perceive the continual diffusion of knowledge, and from this law of nature, in regard to mind, criticism gathers one of its most necessary and useful canons-viz. to consider every production, with relation to the state of the art at the time such production appears.

MR. BISHOP, whose works are to be the subject of our present discussion, comes late into the arena of public competition; and it seemed to us, that we could place him fairly by no other method than by a complete and cautious examination of the compositions of all the writers of eminence who have gone before him in the department to which he more particularly belongs, namely, that of the stage. The quality and quantity of this gentleman's productions, entitle him to a degree of respect that will not be found to appertain to many of his predecessors-and if he has been exceeded by some, and by some who are still living to enjoy their well-deserved honours, there is yet no one who at the present day fills so large a portion of the field of public vision as himself. In the course of our investigation, we have been forcibly struck with the justice of the general observations with which we commence our article. Since the earliest age of the English opera, the ascent to our present position rises with so gradual and easy a slope, that after MATTHEW LOCK, we confess we are little able to discover or to indicate, at any particular moment, any sudden or important rise. Perhaps we ought to premise, that we have not strictly confined our examination to English composers ; nor would such a course have been sufficient to our purposes, since the Italian (and in an early stage of opera writing, the French) musicians were accessible to, and were studied by our countrymen. The intercourse between the professors of the several countries of Europe has always been preserved ;* and if

* COPERARIO, who was the master of Charles the First, is amongst the first examples. He was an Englishman who, after visiting Italy, returned to his own country, and changed his name from Cooper to Coperario.

execution, he will in the end secure a much more high and lasting degree of fame from the feelings and the judgment of all persons of sensibility and sound taste.

TIE OPERAS OF H. R. BISHOP. TH

'H E possible coinbinations of musical notes are so various, that we may fairly consider them to be inexhaustible; and when these combinations are employed to express the sentiments and the passions of the mind, as they do when united with words in compositions for the voice, a new term is superadded. This term, however, may be said to reduce the power of multiplying and diversifying musical phrases, because it not only limits their use to the expression of particular ideas, but also circumscribes the composer to the compass of the human voice. When, therefore, we look back upon the ages that have passed, the numberless musicians who have devoted themselves to this department, at all times the most favourite vehicle of musical gratification to the world in general, it will not be marvellous if we should find little of what is really new in the compositions of the present day. But in those arts which address themselves to the imagination as well as to the senses, it will be obvious that there must be a continual progression, according to the delicacy, strength, extension, and polish of that directing faculty which enlarges the bounds of our perceptions, and affords us fresh means of enjoyment; and if we examine the productions of any class of artists, in all ages and countries, we shall find their works advancing gradually with the intellectual acquirements of the times and nation in wbich they live, and we shall see that genius, though it always precedes, nevertheless precedes at no such immeasurable distance as is commonly represented, the general march of those minds for which its powers are exercised. That such is the universal law of nature, may be gathered from the plain reflection, that the means must be always fitted to the end—the agent to the object upon which it is designed to act. The members tbat make up the mighty mass we call society, like the atoms that form a gigantic pyramid, lie closely and compactly together, and rise above each other from the base to the summit in harmonious and uninterrupted succession. imagine the gradations of intellcct to ascend in similar degrees, and

We may

in proportions scarcely less regular. The loftiest and the last grain of sand is alone and above the rest, but there is a connection intimate and complete from this grain, down to the low and broad stratum at the bottom. Without such an arrangement of parts in society, and in the intellect which regulates the advances of art, the communicating contact would be broken. There would be at some point an impassable void, and the progress of civilization would be stopped. But we perceive the continual diffusion of knowledge, and from this law of nature, in regard to mind, criticism gathers one of its most necessary and useful canons-viz. to consider every production, with relation to the state of the art at the time such production appears.

MR. BISHOP, whose works are to be the subject of our present discussion, comes late into the arena of public competition; and it seemed to us, that we could place him fairly by no other method than by a complete and cautious examination of the compositions of all the writers of eminence who have gone before him in the department to which he more particularly belongs, namely, that of the stage. The quality and quantity of this gentleman's productions, entitle him to a degree of respect that will not be found to appertain to many of his predecessors—and if he has been exceeded by some, and by some who are still living to enjoy their well-deserved honours, there is yet no one who at the present day fills so large a portion of the field of public vision as himself. In the course of our investigation, we have been forcibly struck with the justice of the general observations with which we commence our article. Since the earliest age of the English opera, the ascent to our present position rises with so gradual and easy a slope, that after MATTHEW Lock, we confess we are little able to discover or to indicate, at any particular moment, ang sudden or important rise. Perhaps we ought to premise, that we have not strictly confined our examination to English composers ; nor would such a course have been sufficient to our purposes, since the Italian (and in an early stage of opera writing, the French) musicians were accessible to, and were studied by our countrymen. The intercourse between the professors of the several countries of Europe has always been preserved ;* and if

* COPERARIO, who was the master of Charles the First, is amongst the first examples. He was an Englishman who, after visiting Italy, returned to his own country, and changed his name from Cooper to Coperario.

England has been slower in the adoption and the circulation of musical taste among every class of her subjects than Italy, it will be found to be owing to other causes than a want of knowledge or of genius in her native and her naturalized musicians. We build our assertion rather upon individual excellence than upon numerical amount. But we think our method of examination has been just; because, if we can shew that the improvements of our foreign preceptors were in all cases immediately sought and attained by our countrymen, and if we can prove by instances, that we have in some points preceded them, which we think is the fact in the nervous expression of Lock and Purcell, we must seek the causes of the national indisposition to receive the new discoveries, and to enjoy the new delight, in other sources than want of talent, industry, or acquisition in the professors of the science.

Though Dr. Burney considers Eurydice to have been the first opera ever performed in public, the primary attempts at dramatic music were probably made at an earlier period. Eurydice was produced on the occasion of the marriage of Henry IV. of France, to Mary di Medicis, and acted at Florence in 1600.

1600. OTTAVIO RINUCCINI was the author, JacOPO Peri and GIULIO Caccini the composers. The band consisted of a harpsichord, a chitarone or large guitar, a viol di gamba, and a large lute. These instruments were played behind the scenes. We

may

conceive that this was a very rude attempt, and the opera music or canlo parlante, as it was then called, at this time of day excites no other emotion than curiosity. The specimens preserved, bear a nearer resemblance to the melody of a chaunt than to any thing else, and they are so far below this now refined species of composition, that they are greatly exalted by the comparison with modern chaunts. There is not the slightest resemblance to air. From this commencement, however, operas * soon grew to be more frequent, and by degrees, more popular and more musical. It was not till about the middle of the century, that the learning and contrivance of the old composers gave way to simplicity, to melody, and fine air, and what in one emphatic term we now call EXPRESSION. The words then first imparted a colour to the music, and grace and propriety were studied. Dr.

* They were generally performed in the palaces of Princes, at the celebration of marriages, or on some public occasion of joy and festivity. Dr: BURNEY.

BURNEY relates, that the grave recitative began first to be interrupted with that ornamented sort of stanza called Aria,” in the opera of Giasone, set by CAVALLI in 1619. But it was not till till about thirty years after, that music received its great improvement in Italy, by the works of CARISSIMI, Luigi, Cesti, and Stradella. In those of the former, it is the opinion of the same learned critic, that “there are more traits of fine melody than in any writer of the 17th century.”

Although we are now examining the rise and progress of dramatic composition, we cannot throw out of our view the general advancement of music, for as in the early stage of the science the style of the church was in a manner translated to the theatre, so the theatre ultimately reciprocated variety and ornament with the different branches that grew out of the parent trunk. Such would be the natural consequence of composers addressing their talents and attention to different departments. From the beginning of the next century a succession of genius continued to arise, and gave to music, of every sort, the solidity and the polish that we now enjoy.* The stage affording the fullest scope for the employment of whaterer discoveries were made in the language of musical expression, very naturally became the richest depository of art. It has gone on up to the present day to attract the greatest share of ability, and to employ all the powers both of theory and of practice in its service. Italy took and has kept the lead, although the progress of society has at length enabled other countries of Europe to make almost equally rapid advances. Having thus given an outline, which though faint, may be sufficient to direct those who wish to examine into the matter more deeply, whence and where to trace the course of the great stream of musical instruction, we shall come to the more immediate object of enquiry, THE MUSICAL DRAMA OF OUR OWN COUNTRY.

And here, as it is not our purpose, to give a history of the English opera, but merely to follow and compare the improvements of succeeding times, we shall content ourselves with referring our readers

* SCARLATTI, GASPARINI, LOTTI, PERGOLESI, MARCELLO, HASSE, PORPOR A Bonomi, and HANDEL, appeared to instruct and to delight mankind. Of ALESSANDRO Scarlatti, who flourished about 1704, Dr. Burney says, that “ his genius was truly creative, and I find part of his property among the stolen goods of all the best composers of the first forty or fifty years of the present century."

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