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To the Reverend Father FILIPPO
BONINI, at Rome.
URING the time I tarried in Paris, Icould never perceive that the French mufic was ever adapted to the words which accompanied them; no paffion whether love or hatred, anger or despair, were attended with those founds, which are uttered by thofe who are under the influence of either of these paffions.
THE lover, but for his action in his tender paffages, would to my hearing have been indiftinguishable from those in his rage; the mufic feem'd as well adapted for the expreffing one sensation as the other in each circumstance; this made the French opera a most displeasing entertainment to my ears, especially when every thing was accompanied with a fquawl, which is as much out of tune, as the crying of cats, or a pig leading to the flaughter.
NOTWITHSTANDING this, to the sense of seeing, an opera in France is an agreeable amufement; even the chorus of fingers, which made my ears thrill with horror, offered an agreeable entertainment to my eyes, and in fome measure abated the distress of hearing; and tho' Jelliot gave me pain in his finging, yet Duprés charmed me with his graceful attitudes in dancing; the eye is exquifite, and the ear almost void of diftinction in the natives of France. Yet it must be acknowledged, that the little chansons à boire, and gay fonnets, are fet naturally and well, and all the others infufferable; thefe are innate to every French creature.
PERHAPS the French language, which feems but badly adapted for poetry, is not capable of being fet to mufic, in parts which express the pathetic or any other paffion; and the fame fault has crept into the founds which form their language, thro' want of accuracy in the organs of hearing, that has into their mufic from the fame cause.
METHINKS Voltaire writes much better in profe, than poetry; and no poet, Rouffeau except ed, amongst this nation, has fucceeded fo well in verse as in profe; the language is absolutely repugnant to the measures and fweetness of true verfification; yet it becomes profe extremely well in moft kinds of writing, particularly the narrative, airy, and trifling, in which it excells all languages that I understand.
THE language of Great Britain is well adapted for poetry; it has a ftrength which is not to be found in the French, and a variety which is wanting in the Italian, from that kind of monotony which attends our words being termi nated in vowels.
INDEED, after having lived long amongst these founds, I am inclined to think, that no language is better form'd for being well put to mufic than the English; and Mr. Handel, and others of their own composers, have shewn, that this obfervation is true beyond contradiction ; a thing which I never could perceive in the French compositions.
YET, this does not feem to have much influenced the opinion of the inhabitants of this ifland ; a few women, and a few men, who are judges of harmony, for the fame reason that birds are of pneumatics, because one has fled thro' Italian music, as the others have thro' the air, determine all in favour of Italy, and a caftrato is the only finger, and Italian the only melody on earth.
To fuch a degree is this carried, that in complaifance to the most miferable fet of Italian fingers that ever accompanied any inftrument above a falt-box, or a Jews harp, an English opera, composed by an English musician, was prohibited being prefented; and the living language of a country, capable of equal graces with the Italian, well fet to mufic, which was univerfally understood, has been poftponed in preference to bad voices, unknown language, old fcenes, and dirty cloaths. This is encouraging Foreigners in a true fenfe, and outdoing the good Samaritan, who, tho' he poured wine and oil into the wounds of a stranger, did not prefume to
to starve the natives of his own country; this then is the land of true hofpitality.
Ir is a true observation of the English, that they love their country, and are not much attach'd to loving one another; and that the Scotch love not their country, but are very warm in affection for their countrymen ; and yet the Englishman fhall continually exclaim against England, and never quit it for another place; and the Scot harangue in the praise of his na tive land, and never wish to return to it.
METHINKS, the language which is most capable of being fet to thofe founds which accompany fenfations of the foul, fhould be the best and as the inhabitants of this earth, whether white, brown, or black, exprefs their feelings by much the fame tone of voice in joy or forrow, fear, hope, anger, or love; it is a moft amazing thing, how the founds which exprefs thofe ideas fhould in themfelves be fo different, and that words which have no affinity in found, fhould exprefs the fame idea, as εgws, amor, love, in Greek, Latin, and English, or how that feeling, which feems to be one in all the different