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are, and ever will be, discoverable and eminent in his works. He possessed, like Shakspeare and Guido, the INIMITABLE of his art; and snatched the grace beyond it above all who have ever before or since been famous.
Walther, by not having assigned to Purcell a niche in his Musical Dictionary, seems never to have heard of his existence; but Purcell was so truly a national composer, that his name was not likely to be wafted to the continent; and the narrow limits of his fame may be ascribed not only to the paucity of his compositions for instru. ments, without which musical productions are an unin. telligible language to foreigners, but to his vocal compositions being solely adapted to English words. We should have known as little of Lulli as the French and Italians do of Purcell, if it had not been for the partiality which Charles acquired by his long residence on the continent. The first attempts at operas here, after the Restoration, were either French, or on the model of those in favour at Versailles; and whoever is acquainted with the general melody of Lulli and Purcell must perceive a strong resemblance. Purcell, however, having infinitely more fancy than the frenchified Tuscan, his productions afford far greater pleasure, to judges of good music, than can be found in Cambert and Grabu, whom Charles patronised in preference to Purcell. Purcell has fortified, lengthened, and harmonised, the, true accents of the English language-those notes of passion which an inhabitant of our island would breathe in such situations as his words describe, he' has enforced by the energy of modulation, which on the different occasions is sweet, bold, affecting, and sublime.
These remarks are addressed to none but Englishmen; for the expression of words can only be felt by the natives of
any country, who seldom extend their admiration of foreign vocal music further than its effect on the ear: por has it any advantage over instrumental, excepting that of being executed by the human voice, like Solfeggi. If the Italians themselves did not come over here to give us the true expression of their songs, we should never
find it out by study or practice.
It has been unfortunate for our national taste, that Gibbons, Humphrey, and Purcell, were not favoured with longevity; as a school might then have been erected, which, with these masters at the head of it, including Blow, would have enabled us to proceed without foreign assistance.
Purcell died at thirty-seven, in the year 1697. No other vocal music was celebrated for thirty years after his death ; and it then gave way only to some favourite airs of Handel.
We cannot quit this branch of the arts without an honourable mention of Purcell's catches and glees; of which the humour, ingenuity, and melody, were so congenial to the national taste, as to render them the sole productions in this facetious strain, which were in general use for nearly a century. And though the patronage and premiums bestowed in later times upon this species of composition, as well as modern skill in performance, have given birth to many glees of a more exalted strain, Purcell has never been equalled in the wit, contrivance, or effect of his catches.
A charter granted to the musicians of the city of Westminster by Charles I. had lain dormant from his death till the Restoration ; but immediately after that event the persons named in it who were still living determined to rescue music from the disgrace into which it had fallen, and exert their authority for the interest of its professors. The king's band, and other professors, both natives and foreigners, eminent in that time, were enrolled in this charter as the king's musicians; “ and all such as are and
" shall be musicians of his majesty, his heirs, and succes
sors, shall from henceforth for ever, by virtue of the " said grant, be'a body corporate and politic, in deed, “ fact, and name,” &c. The other powers granted by this charter allowed the corporation from time to time to make bye-laws, and impose fines on such as transgressed them;" which fines they shall have for their own use.' In pursuance of these powers, the corporation hired a room in Durham-yard, in the Strand, within the city of Westminster. Their first meeting was in 1661 (Nicholas Lamine being marshal); from which day they proceeded to make orders—summoning, fining, and prosecuting the first professors “ who dared make any benefit or advan"tage of music, in England or Wales, without first taking
out a license from their fraternity.” Amongst the instances of the exercise of their power, it was ordered “that Lock, Gibbons," and other celebrated masters in
“ do come to Durham-yard, and bring each of " them ten pounds, or show cause to the contrary.”
This seems to have been one of the most unmeaning and oppressive monopolies with which the Stuarts had long vexed the nation. Such a tyranny over the professors of a liberal art, there is reason to fear, would have been abused in whatever hands it had been lodged. The college of physicians, which superintends the dispensations of life and death, may have its use in preventing or detecting quackery; but that the ministers of our inno. cent amusements should be subject to any other controul than that which the common law of the realm is empowered' to exercise over men of all ranks and degrees in the state, is a noxious delegation of power, far less likely to benefit the public, or accelerate the progress of the art, than to enable artists to torment and harass each other from motives of jealousy and avarice.
The minutes of this corporation are extant among the Harleian MSS. in the British Museum ; by which it ap
pears that the meetings continued no longer than 1679; when the members finding themselves involved in lawsuits, and incapable of enforcing the power they assumed and the penalties threatened, it was deemed 'most advisable to leave the artists and the art to the neglect or patronage of the public *.
* Anthony Wood, Evelyn, Vertac, Graham, Walpole's Anecdotes, Burney's and Hawkins's Histories of Music, Biographia Britannica, &c.