TO ROBERT JEPHSON, ESQUIRE.
Naples, June 4th, 1793.
JEPHSON, reflect how we're wondrously made ;
With millions of fibres the body's inlaid ;
These tremulous fibres in unison play,
To melody's pulse, while they dance to the lay ;
Yet the sounds most enchanting of harmony's thrum,
Are but vibrating air on the corporal drum.
So the magical tints that emblazon the skies,
Are but water and rays in Philosophers' eyes ;
Thus the frolic of Nature, our Sages to spite,
Makes Music from air, and the Rainbow from light ;
That primary source of each beautiful hue,
From which TITIAN and REYNOLDS their brilliancy drew.
Then Fancy's delusion le'ts never control,
'Tis the sunshine of life, and the trance of the soul :
Thro' each stage of sorrow, let love, and let wine,
Their aid to prolong the illusion combine.
WHEN Ferdinand, insanely grave
Would neither wash his hands nor shave,
Nor Olio taste, nor Jelly ;
His royal Consort, sunk in grief,
When every Saint deny'd relief,
Thus pray'd to Farinelli !
Sweet Farinelli, swell your throat,
And pour some soft bewitching note,
My dear Italian Pug ;
Each frantic passion Song commands ;
Then squall, till FREDY scours his hands,
And shaves, looks spruce and smug.
Hark ! Farinelli squeaks to please her ;
O Don Diego, snatch a razor
From yonder golden case :
Diego runs, elate with hope,
Lathers his chaps with Castile soap,
And trims his Sov'reign's face.
The King arose without a speck ;
BESS flung her arms around his neck,
And prais'd his ruffl'd shirt ;
Again, in pomp and state he dines,
In royal robes superbly shines,
Perfum'd, and free from dirt.
"The mighty Master smil'd to see,
"That love was in the next degree,"
Then sung Eliza's charms ;
The King admir'd each new-born grace,
With rapture view'd her beauteous face ;
And sunk into her arms.
Thus Farinelli's tuneful strain
Lull'd the wild tempest of his brain,
No more his senses riot ;
So when the frantic Ocean raves,
A pint of oil will still the Waves,
And all is calm and quiet .
Of David's Harp let Fidlers sing,
That coax'd a devil from Israel's King
By Tweedle-dum and dee :
No string did Farinelli touch ;
He tun'd his pipe, and did as much
By Tol-de-rol-de re !
To Letter 10
N O T E S.
* Baxter, (who was Tutor to the celebrated John Wilkes) in his very learned and ingenious Treatise on the Soul, ascribes Madness to the malignant influence of Dæmons.
p "The King of Spain being seized with a total dejection of spirits, which made him refuse to be shaved, and rendered him incapable of attending Council or transacting affairs of State, the Queen, who had in vain tried every common expedient that was likely to contribute to his recovery, determined that an experiment should be made of the effects of Music upon the King of her husband, who was extremely sensible of its charms. Upon the arrival of Farinelli, of whose extraordinary performances an account had been transmitted to Madrid from several parts of Europe, but particularly from Paris; her Majesty contrived, that there should be a Concert in a room adjoining to the King's apartment, in which this singer performed one of his most captivating songs. The King appeared at first surprised, then moved, and at the end of the second air, made the Virtuoso enter his apartment, loading him with compliments and caresses ; asking him how he could reward such talents, assuring him that he could refuse him nothing. Farinelli previously instructed, only begged that his Majesty would permit his attendants to shave and dress him, and that he would endeavour to appear in Council as usual. From this time, the King's disease gave way to medicine, and the singer had all the honour of the cure."
Burney's History of Music, Vol. IV, p. 412.
q "Sir John Hawkins, in his History of Music, tells us, that a Captain of the Regiment of Navarre, being confined in prison, requested the Governor to give him leave to send for his lute, to beguile the sad hours of captivity, which favour was granted him. After singing and playing some time, he was greatly astonished to see the mice come out of their holes, and the spiders dance from their webs, and form a circle round him : he stood motionless, and laying down his lute, these animals and insects retired to their lodgings."
Sketches of the Origin and Effects of Music, by the Rev. Mr. Eastcott, p. 87.
r "Sir Thomas Fairfax told me a pleasant tale of a Soldier in Ireland, who having got his passport to go for England, as he passed through the wood with his knapsack on his back, being weary, he set down under a tree, where he opened his knapsack upon his back, and fell to some victuals he had ; but on a sudden, he was surprised with two or three wolves, making a near approach to him ; he knew not what shift to make, but by taking a pair of Scotch bagpipes which he had, and as soon as he began to play upon them, the wolves ran all away, as if they had been scared out of their wits, whereupon the soldier said, a pox take you all, if I had known you loved music so well, you should have had it before dinner.
Howel's Familiar Letters, p. 169.
s "The following Anecdote was communicated some years since, by Mr. James Tatlow, of Wiegate, near Manchester, who had it from those who were witnesses of the fact: One Sunday evening, five Choristers were walking on the banks of the river Mersey, in Cheshire; after some time, they sat down on the grass and began to sing an anthem. The field in which they sat, was terminated at one extremity by a wood, out of which as they were singing, they observed a hare to pass with great swiftness towards the place where they were sitting, and to stop at about twenty yards distance from them. She appeared highly delighted with the music, often turning up the side of her head to listen with more facility. As soon as the harmonious sound was over, the hare returned slowly towards the wood ; when she had reached nearly the end of the field, they began the same piece again, at which the hare stopped, turned about, and came back swiftly again, to about the same distance as before, where she seemed to listen with rapture and delight, till they had finished the Anthem, when she returned again by a slow pace up the field, and entered the wood.The harmony of the Choristers, no doubt, drew the hare from her seat in the wood."
Escott's Sketches on Music, p. 84.
t [There is in fact no note "t"; the reference is presumably to the note above.]
v "The following melancholy fact, being witnessed by a vast multitude of people, can want no farther confirmation to establish it. At the first grand performance in Commemoration of Handel, at Westminster Abbey, Mr. Burton, a celebrated Chorus singer, well known in the Musical World, was immediately upon the commencement of the Overture of Esther, so violently agitated, that after laying for some time in a fainting fit he expired. However, at intervals he was able to speak ; and but a few minutes before he drew his last breath declared, that it was the wonderful effects of the Music, which had operated so powerfully on him."
Eastcott's Sketches on Music, page 62.
w "HANDEL, in his Oratorio of Israel in Egypt, has imitated by notes, the buzzing of flies, the flight of locusts, and the leaping of frogs ; and has rattled down a hail-storm so wonderfully, that to the imagination of the greater part of those who attended the Abbeymeetings, it absolutely realised dreary Winter, whilst every thing in nature was invigorated by the warm rays of the genial Sun."
Eastcott's Sketches on Music, page 101.
** Quinct. Lib. I. Cap. III.
Ca Ira. Vide Muir's Trial.
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