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ence, and to strike an everlasting root in the soil. Under their control we cannot fall into an oblivion of our rights, nor be duped into submission to the ignominious tyranny of demagogues;—nor yield an additional proof to the world, either that popular institutions are essentially short lived, or that the forms of a free, and the purposes of an arbitrary government are not irreconcilable. While the name of Washington is suitably revered, your memorialists entertain no fear that we shall ever be afflicted with the disgrace and the calamities of foreign conquest, or overtaken by that new and mighty current which has so irresistibly set against liberty in the other hemisphere.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE PORT FOLIO.
Your discernment in perceiving, and your zeal in promoting whatever promises to conduce to the improvement of the public taste, warrants me in the expectation that you will lend your elegant pen and valuable publication to forward the grand musical performances of which a plan has been announced to the people of this city. Upon the strength of this presumption I beg leave to offer you a few observations on the music of Handel from which, it is said, selections will be made by the conductors of that plan. I do not pretend to say that those observations are my own; but as in all likelihood they will be new to your readers, they will answer the purpose of entertainment as well, and as they are taken from the writings of persons who understood the subject much more fully than I do, they will answer the purposes of instruction much better than if they were my own.
Music in its common application is considered merely as an entertainment: when bad it disgusts; when good, it creates sensations unknown from other sources, and, if it reach the sublime, our feelings are more powerfully excited than by the utmost perfection that poetry alone or painting has yet attained.
With painting music cannot be connected; but when joined, or, as Milton says, wedded with poetry, it reaches the highest pitch of excellence, and soars a height which, disjoined from its powerful ally, it never can attain. To the production of sublime effects neither poetical measure nor rhyme are necessary: Prose produced by a poetical imagination on a grand subject is as powerful as verse; indeed more so, as every one must have felt, who has heard passages from the psalms and prophets as they are set to music by Handel, from which any one of ordinary taste and capacity may conceive how much divine worship has lost by using the versions in hobbling rhyme of Sternhold and Hopkins and their fulsome successors.—How far altering the sublime words of the psalmist into the weak sing-songs generally used, for the sake of jingling terminations in rhyme, may be Lawful, I leave to the heads of the church to determine. I and mine, however, will adhere to the grand originals.
Music never attained perfect sublimity before Handel. The best vocal music was heard in churches, and the best composer was Purcell. Instrumental music was wretched till Corelli arose, and opened a new world in it. Even at this day that great composer continues to be the favourite of the tasteful and judicious. What Corelli did for bow instruments Handel did for the harpsichord, the forte piano, and the organ.
The first attempt to unite wind instruments with violins was made by Handel in his hautbois concertos; which have ever since been heard with delight, and are unquestionably the best compositions in their kind. This union of wind and bow instruments was for a long time reprobated in Italy, but like every thing that is true was at last triumphant.
The operas of Handel are confessedly superior to all preceding and contemporary compositions of the same kind. His oratorios are original in both design and execution. As these are the pieces which have from their first production to this day been most frequently performed, what Johnson says of the works of Shakspcarc may be applied to them. " They are heard without any other reason than the desire to please, and are therefore praisrd only as pleasure is obtained; yet thus unassisted by interest or passion they have passed through variations of taste and changes of manners,
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and as they have devolved from one generation to another, have received new honours at every transmission."
The first essential, and without which all others are of no consequence, is what in popular music is called tune; in more refined is denominated air; and in the superior class of composition, subject. When it has this property alone, music is entitled to a long existence, and possesses it. The next essential is harmony, the strongest ally by which air can be assisted; but.which receives from air more consequence than it communicates. To these must be added expression, giving a grace to the former, and facility which has the effect of immediate emanation, and, as the term imports, seems to accomplish with ease what, from its apparent difficulty, should be rather sought for than found.
Handel seldom possesses "tune" in the popular sense; but is seldom without "air" in its more refined application, and most commonly has an exuberance of subject for greater purposes. His harmony is well chosen and full: his expressions generally just, and his facility extreme, sinking at times even to carelessness. We find, therefore, no songs of his in the style of Carey's tunes and the old English ballad. His oratorio and opera songs are replete with air, and his chorusses which form the broad basis of his fame, are unequalled. They possess subject, contrivance and facility, altogether producing an effect superior to any other yet known. Their number and variety show his invention, the first criterion of genius. Where the words are most sublime, his composition displays most subject and expression; a proof that words exalt the fancy of the composer, and that, therefore, for the sake of music, a composer should make choice of works of imagination.
Thus, having the great essentials of genius, skill, and facility, Handel's music keeps, and is likely forever to keep possession of the public favour. Its performance is in England annually looked for with anxiety, and is by all men considered as the most exalted entertainment.
"Strong in new arms, lo, giant Handel stands,
SCIENCE—FOB THE PORT FOLIO. On the origin of stones that have fallen from the atmosphere.
The cause of such a surprising circumstance as that of stones apparently falling from the clouds, a phenomenon that has frequently happened, and the truth of which the many well authenticated accounts of such occurrences leave not a doubt, has for a long time engaged the attention of the learned world, and produced many curious disquisitions and theories for the purpose of solving this interesting question.
Dr. Halley was of opinion that the luminous bodies called fireballs, so often seen in our atmosphere, are nothing but exhalations composed of combustible gasses; but as Dr. Hutton observes, in a note upon that paper, the improbability of vapours attaining such a great height in the atmosphere, should have suggested the idea of a different origin.
From a perusal of the several accounts of the appearance of those meteors, we find that their explosion has almost always been accompanied by a fall of the stones in question; the luminous body breaks into pieces that descend with great force to the earth, and upon searching the place of the fall, masses of stone of a peculiar nature, and entirely different from any substances hitherto discovered on our earth, have been found of different sizes and at different depths in the ground, generally warm, and sometimes nearly red hot: if then the falling stones be the same with those meteors, it is evident that they are not exhalations, and that hard bodies, such as those in question, should be formed in or above the atmosphere, is contrary to every known law of nature. It is equally absurd to suppose that they are the productions of terrestrial volcanoes, for no force hitherto discovered in the eruptions of the greatest mountains of this kind would be sufficient to cast masses of rock to the one hundredth part of the distance that these substances have been found from volcanoes. Observing the absurdity of these several opinions, professor Chaldni, in a paper, on a mass of iron, found by professor Pallas in Siberia, started a new theory: he supposed that there is always an infinite number of indefinitely small particles of matter floating in space, that these particles by reason of their mutual attractive properties collect together and increase in size; and that when they arrive within the sphere of attraction of any planet, they are necessarily drawn from their direct course to the body of that planet, and that these are the stones the object of which is the subject of the present inquiry. This idea, I own, at first sight bears the appearance of probability, but a little examination of the theory entirely destroys its plausibility. In the first place the hypothesis is itself founded on an hypothesis: viz. "that there is alwjiys an infinite number of indefinitely small particles of matter floating in space;" and secondly, its ingenious inventor has advanced no probable reason for their being always in a state of ignition; the rapidity of their motion will have no tendency to put them in this state until they arrive within our atmosphere, and then the diminution of their velocity caused by the resistance they meet with in passing through the air, added to the little distance the atmosphere extends, renders it very improbable that they should acquire so great a degree of heat in passing through so small a space. In this extended field of hypothesis, an idea was started, the boldness of which strikes the mind with astonishment, and, on a transient view appears to border on absurdity; what I allude to is the supposition of the substances in question having come from the moon. This curious conjecture was first seriously proposed by Laplace, a very celebrated French mathematician, who has been enabled, satisfactorily, to demonstrate its probability by calculations founded upon the modern estimations of the moon's density, those of Newton having been since found incorrect. He determined the position of that point at which the attractive powers of the earth and moon are in equilibrio, and then proved that a body projected from a lunar volcano with a velocity of one and a half miles per second, will be thrown beyond that point, and consequently descend to the earth. To demonstrate the probability there is of masses being projected from the moon with so great a velocity, it will be necessary to premise the following observations.