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which expreffes the refentments of an angry lover, was tranflated into that English lamentation,
Frail are lover's hopes, &c.
And it was pleasant enough to fee the most refined perfons of the British nation dying away, and languithing to notes that were filled with a spirit of rage and indignation. It happened also very frequently, where the sense was rightly tranflated, the neceffary tranfpofition of words, which were drawn out of the phrafe of one tongue into that of another, made the mufic appear very abfurd in one tongue that was very natural in the other. I remember an Italian verfe that runs thus, word for word:
And turn'd my rage into pity;
which the English for rhyme's fake tranflated,
By this means the foft notes, that were adapted to pity in the Italian, fell upon the word rage in the English; and the angry founds that were turned to rage in the original, were made to exprefs pity in the tranflation. It oftentimes happened likewife, that the finest notes in the air fell upon the most infignificant words in the fentence. I have known the word And pursued through the whole gamut; have been entertained with many a melodious The; and have heard the most beautiful graces, quavers, and divifions, bestowed upon Then, For, and From; to the eternal honour of our English particles.
The next step to our refinement was the introducing of Italian actors into our opera; who fung their parts in their own language, at the fame time that our coun trymen performed theirs in our native tongue. The king or hero of the play generally fpoke in Italian, and his flaves anfwered him in English: the lover frequently made his court, and gained the heart of his princefs, in VOL. I.
a language which he did not understand. One would have thought it very difficult to have carried on dialogue after this manner, without an interpreter between the perfons that converfed together; but this was the state of the English ftage for about three years.
At length the audience grew tired of understanding half the opera; and therefore, to ease themselves intirely of the fatigue of thinking, have so ordered it at present, that the whole opera is performed in an unknown tongue. We no longer understand the language of our own ftage; infomuch that I have often been afraid, when I have seen our Italian performers chattering in the vehemence of action, that they have been calling us names, and abufing us among themfelves; but I hope, fince we do put fuch an intire confidence in them, they will not talk against us before our faces, though they may do it with the fame fafety as if it were behind our backs. In the mean time, I cannot forbear thinking how naturally an hiftorian who writes two or three hundred years hence, and does not know the taste of his wife forefathers, will make the following reflection : "In the beginning of the eighteenth century, the Ita"lian tongue was fo well understood in England, that "the operas were acted on the public ftage in that lan66 guage."
One fcarce knows how to be ferious in the confutation of an abfurdity that fhews itself at the firft fight. It does not want any great meafure of fenfe to fee the ridicule of this monftrous practice; but, what makes it more aftonishing, it is not the tafte of the rabble, but of perfons of the greatest politenefs, which has established it.
If the Italians have genius for mufic above the English, the English have a genius for other performances of a much higher nature, and capable of giving the mind a much nobler entertainment. Would one think it was poffible (at a time when an author lived that was able to write the Phædra and Hippolitus) for a people to be fo ftupidly fond of the Italian opera, as scarce to give a third day's hearing to that admirable tragedy!
Mufic is certainly
certainly a very agreeable entertainment; but if it would take the entire poffeffion of our ears, if it would make us incapable of hearing fenfe, if it would exclude arts that have a much greater tendency to the refinement of human nature,-I must confefs I would allow it no better quarter than Plato has done, who banishes it out of his commonwealth.
At prefent, our notions of mufic are so very uncertain, that we do not know what it is we like; only, in general, we are tranfported with any thing that is not English; fo be it of a foreign growth, let it be Italian, French, or High-Dutch, it is the fame thing. In fhort, our English mufic is quite rooted out, and nothing yet planted in its ftead.
When a royal palace is burnt to the ground, every man is at liberty to prefent his plan for a new one; and though it be but indifferently put together, it may furnish several hints that may be of use to a good architect. I fhall take the fame liberty, in a following paper, of giving my opinion upon the subject of mufic; which I ̧ fhall lay down only in a problematical manner, to he confidered by those who are mafters in the art. с
No. XIX. THURSDAY, MARCH 22.
Di bene fecerunt, inopis me quodque pufilli
Thank Heaven that made me of an humble mind;
force in it, and that the eyes of the envious have by their fafcination blafted the enjoyments of the happy. Sir Francis Bacon fays, Some have been fo curious as to remark the times and feafons when the ftroke of an envious eye is moft effectually pernicious, and have observed that it has been when the perfon envied has been in any circumftance of glory and triumph. At fuch a time the mind of the profperous man goes, as it were, abroad, among things without him, and is more expofed to the malignity. But I fhall not dwell upon fpeculations fo abitracted as this, or repeat the many excellent things which one might collect out of authors upon this miferable affection; but, keeping in the road of common life, confider the envious man with relation to these three heads; his pains, his reliefs, and his happinefs.
The envious man is in pain upon all occafions which ought to give him pleasure. The relifh of his life is inverted; and the objects which adminifter the highest fatisfaction to thofe who are exempt from this paffion, give the quickeft pangs to perfons who are fubject to it. All the perfections of their fellow-creatures are odious; youth, beauty, valour, and wisdom, are provocations of their difpleafure. What a wretched and apoftate state is this! To be offended with excellence, and to hate a man because we approve him! The condition of the envious man is the moft emphatically miferable; he is not only incapable of rejoicing in another's merit or fuccefs, but lives in a world wherein all mankind are in a plot against his quiet, by ftudying their own happiness and advantage. Will Profper is an honeft tale-bearer; he makes it his business to join in conversation with envious men. He points to fuch an handfome young fellow, and whispers that he is fecretly married to a great fortune; when they doubt, he adds circumftances to prove it; and never fails to aggravate their diftrefs, by affuring them, that, to his knowledge, he has an uncle will leave him fome thoufands. Will has many arts of this kind to torture this fort of temper, and delights in it. When he finds them change colour, and fay faintly they with
fuch a piece of news is true, he has the malice to speak fome good or other of every man of their acquaintance.
The reliefs of the envious man are thofe little blemishes and imperfections that discover themselves in an illustrious character. It is a matter of great confolation to an envious perfon, when a man of known honour does a thing unworthy himself; or when any action which was well executed, upon better information appears fo altered in its circumftances, that the fame of it is divided among many, inftead of being attributed to one. This is a fecret fatisfaction to thefe malignants; for the perfon, whom before they could not but admire, they fancy is nearer their own condition as foon as his merit is fhared among others. I remember, fome years ago, there came out an excellent poem without the name of the author: the little wits, who were incapable of writing it, began to pull in pieces the fuppofed writer. When that would not do, they took great pains to fupprefs the opinion that it was his that again failed. The next refuge was to fay, it was overlooked by one man, and many pages wholly written by another. An honeft fellow, who fat among a cluster of them, in debate on this fubject, cried out, "Gentlemen, if you are fure none of you yourselves had
an hand in it, you are but where you were, whoever "writ it." But the moft ufual fuccour to the envious, in cafes of nameless merit of this kind, is to keep the property, if poffible, unfixed, and by that means to hinder the reputation of it from falling upon any particular perfon. You fee an envious man clear up his countenance, if, in the relation of any man's great happiness in one point, you mention his uncafinefs in another: when he hears fuch a one is very rich he turns pale, but recovers when you add that he has many children. In a word, the only fure way to an envious man's favour, is not to deferve it.
But if we confider the envious man in delight, it is like reading the feat of a giant in a romance; the magnificence of his houfe confifts in the many limbs of men whom he has flain. If any who promifed themselves füccefs in any uncommon undertaking mifcarry in the