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s'.['Y L}i~ 1 PART I AMONGST the never-ending arguments for thankfulness in the privilege of a British birth-arguments more solemn even than numerous, and telling more when weighed than when counted, ponaere quCllm nurnero-three aspects there are of our national character which trouble the uniformity of our feelings . A good son, even in such a case, is not at liberty to describe himself as "ashamed." Some gentler word must be found to express the character of his distress. And, what· ever grounds of blame may appear against his venerated mother, it is one of his filial duties to suppose either that the blame applies but partially, or, if it should seem painfully universal, that it is one of those excesses to which energetic natures are liable through the very strength of their constitutional characteristics. Such things do happen. It is certain, for instance, that to the deep sincerity of British nature, and to that shyness or principle of reserve which is inseparable from self-respect, must be tl'aceu philosophically the churlishness and unsocial bearing for which, at one time, we were so angrily arraigned by the smooth south of Europe. That facile obsequiousness which attracts the inconsiderate in l:1elgians, ]'renchmen, and Italians, is too generally a J}lixed product from impudence and insincerity. Want of principle 1 Published first in four successive parts in Blackwood for July, September, and October 1840, and ! CRITICISM it were even sure to be permanent, we share with all the other malicious nations arouud 1ll:I. On that head we are safe. And in the most majestic of the Fine Arts,-in Poetry, -we have a clear and vast pre-eminence as regards all nations. No nation but ourselves has equally succeeded in both forms of the higher poetry, epic and tragic; whilst of meditative or philosophic poetry (Young's, Cowper's, Wordsworth'a)-to say nothing of lyric-we may affirm what QuintiIian says justly of Roman satire: "toto., quidem nostm, est." If, therefore, in every mode of composition through which the impassioned mind speaks a nation has excelled its rivals, we cannot be allowed to suppose any general defect of sensibility as a cause of obtuseness with regard to music. So little, however, il> the grandeur of this divine art suspected amongst us generally that a man will write an essay deliberately for the purpose of putting on record his own preference of a song to the most elaborate music of Mozart: he will glory in his shame, and, thongh speaking in the character of one seemingly confessing to a weakness, will evidently view himself in the light of a candid man, laying bare a state of feeling which is natural and sound, opposed to a class of false pretenders who, whilst servile to rules of artists, in reality contradict their own musical instincts, and feel little or nothing of what they profess. Strange that even the analogy of other arts should not open his eyes to the delusion he is encouraging! A song, an air, a tune,-that is, a short succession of notes revolving rapidly upon itself,-how could that, by possibility, offer a field of compass sufficient for the development of great musical effects 1 The preparation pregnant with the future; the remote correspondence; the questions, as it were, which to a deep musical sense are asked in one passage and answered in another; the iteration and ingemination of a given effect, moving through subtle variatiolls that sometimes disguise the theme, sometimes fitfully reveal it, sometimes throw it out tumultuously to the blaze of daylight: these and ten thousand forms of self-conflicting musical passion,-what room could they find, what opening, what utterance, in so limited a field as an air or song 1 A hunting-box, a park-lodge, may have a forest grace and the beauty of appropriateness; but what if a man shonld match STYLE 187 such a bauble against the Pantheon, or against the minsters of York and Cologne 1 A repartee may by accident be practically effective: it has been known to crush a party scheme, and an oration of Cicero's or of Burke's could have done no more; but what judgment would match the two against each other as developments of power ~ Let him who finds the rn.axirnum of his musical gratification in a song be assured, by that one fact, that his sensibility is rude and undeveloped. Yet exactly upon this level...


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