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No. 13. SATURDAY, APRIL 18, 1807.
Φανερὸν, ὅτι δύναται ποιόν τι τὸ τῆς ψυχῆς ἦθος ή Μουσικὴ παρα
It is manifest that Music is capable of producing a permanent effect, in forming the character of the soul.
To the Director.
THOSE persons certainly entertain a very mean and degrading opinion of the polite arts, who consider them merely as subservient to amusement, or at most to that cultivation of mind which,
Emollit mores, nec sinit esse feros.
THE history of the world evinces that they have all a natural and close alliance
with morality and religion. The Muses, though not themselves goddesses, as the Heathen superstition made them, are handmaids even to the worship of the true God; and will be found in their most lovely appearance attending on the altar, and enlivening the energies of devotion. Of Music in particular, I am inclined to think, not only that her best, but that her most appropriate employment is of this kind; and that she is never so truly in her element, as when she is soothing the passions, or elevating the religious feelings, of human beings. As an art of imitation, Music, undoubtedly, ranks very low. Her resemblances are imperfect, but her sympathies are complete. She cannot paint a battle; but she can give dignity, and even sublimity, to the thanksgiving after it; nor can the difference be shewn more strongly, than by comparing the efforts made in each way. It is in proportion to the merit of the Battle of Prague, by Kotzwara, in comparison with the Dettingen Te Deum of Handel.
THE gratification which the sense of hearing receives from the immediate effect of sweet sounds, must, indeed, be allowed to be considerable; and the human voice, above all instruments of sound, is so calculated to convey delight to the human sense, that perhaps no gratification of mere perception, is at all comparable to that, which is produced on well-formed ears by the notes of Farinelli, a Billington, or a Catalani. The natural melodies of the nightingale are heard with rapture by old and young, civilized and barbarous; yet to shew how the moral feeling insinuates itself with Music, even when the singer is no moral agent, the poets have, with one consent, agreed to attribute passions to the nightingale, to which she doubtless is a stranger; and have supposed that she laments her young, or laments herself; though, probably, in those sounds, which we think plaintive, she only calls her mate, or gives vent to the liveliness of health. Yet the fiction vibrates on
the human heart, and therefore has always succeeded.
Where the moral influence of Music is wholly disregarded, as in the case of those low professors, who degrade it into a trade, or of those unthinking dilettanti who give their whole time to it, as an idle and expensive luxury, nature seems to take revenge on the abuse, by joining with it a proportionable degradation of character; and a profligate fiddler and a fiddling gentleman are very often fit company only for each other. But it is far otherwise with the inventors, or as they may rightly be styled the PoETS of this divine art; who frequently exemplify in their conduct the moral and religious effects, which they are accustomed so powerfully to communicate by their compositions. Examples might be cited in great numbers; and probably the recollection of most readers will supply some from memory or obser vation. Suffice it to say that HANDEL