Page images
PDF
EPUB

voice on the lower parts of the scale ; or in other words, by singing the bass; the last by singing both bass and treble. It is, we bejere, a common fault with those who undertake the cultivation of the voice in this way, as also in speaking, to overstrain it at first, which always brings on a hoarseness, and perhaps also a severe soreness of the throat; and this is taken as a sure evidence of a defect in nature. The practice is, therefore, at once abandoned. Now the improvement of the voice, as of every other faculty, is, and ever must be, a work of time. It is no more to be expected, that the voice can be brought from a feeble and rude state, to exribit all that strength and richness of tone which characterizes the voice of a distinguished vocalist, or elocutionist, than that the mind of a savage should attain, by a half dozen lessons in the nere elements of science, to that state of perfection which chazcterizes the mind of the philosopher. So great and desirable an object, as the re-modeling of the voice, can be attained only by a continued and systematic course of practice. But if such a course be adopted and persisted in, the results will be found, we tink, in most cases, amply to repay the student for the time and labor which it may have cost him. A rich, mellow voice, possessing at the same time great strength and compass, is no ordinary altainment. Nor is it to be expected, that these properties in their perfection will in all cases be attained, whatever course of instruction is adopted. But we feel assured, that much may, and ought 10 be, accomplished under some course of instruction. For it cannot have escaped the notice of any one, whose attention has been in the least degree awake to this subject, how few are the number of good public speakers. The voice of one is squeaking, of another nasal, of a third croaking, and so on. Now all these must have their effect upon the popular ear, to impede the progress and weaken the power of the gospel. It is not enough to say, in reply to lies

, that if the speaker be affected, his hearers will be so too. These things, how much soever the speaker may feel, will act as so many hinderances to prevent him from gaining possession of the hearts of his hearers; and to deny this, is to contradict the testimony of both philosophy and observation.

Another reason why music ought to have its appropriate prosessor, is founded on the fact, that collegiate students, in passing through their course of education, generally make little or no real addition to their knowledge of this science.

That such is the fact, no one, we think, who has had experience on this subject, will pretend to deny. Nor is it a difficult matter to account for such a result. For in the first place, there is, according to the present course of instruction, no portion of time assigned for the study of this science, to those who are

29

VOL. VI.

so disposed; much less are they favored with any oral or practical instruction of any kind, from a professor or suitable personThat there are exceptions to this remark, as there are to all other general truths, we do not pretend to deny. But these ex ceptions form no reason why such a branch of instruction should not be allowed. If any one doubts the 'rareness of these excep. tions, he has only to make himself acquainted with preachers gen erally in this country, and if his experience proves like our own we think he will no longer be sceptical on this point.

We would not be thought, however, to impute to this clas of men personally, the causes of the present condition of mu sic in our country. We are well aware, and we think it mus appear equally evident to others, from what has been said above that, with desires however strong to gain a competent knowledge both practical and scientific, of sound music, they could bave ac complished but little at the utmost, under the present course study pursued in our colleges and seminaries of learning. Stil we believe, that feeling as they must the evils of this neglect, an having it in their power, by their influence, to effect a revolutio in this matter, they will suffer an appeal, like the present, in be half of sacred music. We hope we shall not have spoken in vain but that an effort, at least, may soon be made, to place this scienc also in that rank which its importance demands.

ART. V.-THE CHARACTER AND WRITINGS OF EDMUND BURKU The Works of Edmund Burke; with a Memoir of his Life ; 3 vols. New-Yor}

1833. To one who is familiar with bis character and writings, and wb has learned properly to estimate them, the name of EDMUND BURK is associated with many agreeable recollections. Not merely is the name of an individual whom he has been taught in general regard as a great man, and who accomplished much by the powe of his intellect; but it belongs to one in whose character he feel a personal interest, and with whom he claims, in some sense, a per sonal acquaintance. This very reverence, so cherished, howere may in certain respects disqualify a person for forming exact an severe conclusions respecting his character and writings, or for pre senting his own opinions to others, as those on which they may wit safety rely. For he speaks of a man who has been to him as it wer a friend and instructor ; and his feelings rather prompt him to giv utterance to his heart in glowing language, than to task himself t state with distinctness and accuracy, those qualities which excit his emotions and call forth his praise.

In attempting to lay before our readers a just estimate of the character and writings of this great man, we do not promise ourselves entire exemption from such an influence. We have no intention, however, to utter that which we merely wish to be true, but to inquire rather what is true, and what will it be for the interest of others to know. We mean not to dwell upon his personal and political history, or the many interesting and instructive lessons which these would teach us; nor will our inquiries relate mainly to the mental superiority displayed in his works. We aim rather to determine the permanent value of his character as an example, and the usefulness of his writings as a repository of treasures, rich in intellectual and moral worth.

Mr. Burke was eminently a serious man. We do not mean by this, merely, that when he had once formed an opinion, he held it with great strength of conviction, and presented it to others with great impressiveness, and earnestness of eloquence; but that his inward character, and his habits of thinking and feeling, were serious and in earnest. Without this character, perhaps, as easily 3 with it, a man may be powerful as a debater, skillful as a logician, spirit-stirring as an orator, and unyielding, where he has committed himself, as a partisan. But he who possesses it, is in the habit of viewing every thing which he himself says and does, as well as all that others say and do, as involving results on which rest a weighty responsibility, and which will be widely felt, either for good or ill, by mankind. He thus gives an aspect of importance to all that surrounds him; a deeper shading, if we may so speak, is thrown over what would otherwise interest but for the moment, and then pass away. The mind is also acted upon in turn by this aspect, which it had first given to objects without itself. The feelings have more of tone about them; the words are cautiously and slowly uttered; and the actions all show, that they are performed to some purpose. The frivolous and light, whether they are so in their intellectual or moral habits, call such man severe, and flee from his staid and reproving looks. We by no means intend to assert, that such a cast of mind and character involves either virtue before man, or holiness in the sight of God. We are speaking here of mental and moral habits, not of moral character, of the manner in which principles and feelings are shown forth, not of principles and moral feelings themselves. Mr. Fox, in these respects, as in many others, was a contrast to Mr. Burke. He was, no doubt, often more earnest, perhaps more convincing as an orator ; but was it the man who thus affected his audience; or was it not the magic of his words, and the witchery of bis eloquence? We might even suppose him, with a feeling which would excite our sympathy, to have given utterance to the gravest moral precepts, and to have enforced them with an earnestness and power which would add strength to the virtuous purposes of many better man than himself. But should we not have been able once to see, that, whatever else might have been true of his mor feelings, they were not of the kind which control the life, and giu sincerity to the words. In private life, also, we might have bee interested in the generous and amiable feelings which we are su he possessed; but would our interest have been of the same so as that with which we look upon a good, or even on a bad man, exhibits controlling energy in his character, and steady adheren to bis purposes ?

We think not. Were it necessary to state particularly the forms in which M Burke most strikingly exhibited his prevailing earnestness of fee ing, we mention as one, the sacredness of regard with which i held all his opinions. He would hardly acknowledge it as pos ble, that his interest in them resulted at all from their being tho of his party, or as likely to subserve his private interests. Fro those mistakes which must attend on human frailty, he claimed i exemption, and to them he was ever ready to admit the full ex tent of his liability; but if he erred, he claimed to err unconscious! and with a serious conviction of the truth of that in which he ba been mistaken. It may here be asked, Is not this the case wit all men ? What man is to be found, who is willing to confess be fore his fellow-men, that his zeal arises from private savor or di like, or from a regard to party interest? This is not, however, th real question. It should rather be asked, Do all men feel th same reluctance which he did, to confess the fact to themselve and coolly face it? When it is charged upon them by another they indeed resent it; but it is with that boisterous assumptio and that insolent defiance which so often attends the consciousnes of guilt; and as often is the only thing which discloses the secret that offended pride and conscious mortification is within. Such man as Mr. Burke is grieved as well as irritated, and uses the language of complaint, as well as retort. Accordingly, fron no man did unfeeling and reckless levity meet with more severe re buke, than from him; and never did the person who used it so entire ly feel, that he had mistaken his opponent and wretchedly misem ployed his weapons. His success in his reply, however, did not de pend on the aptness and skill of his retorts; for he rarely rested his cause upon any thing that was not of a graver characier than this. It was his object to make bis adversary and all others feel that here where his principles were questioned, here was no place for levity; and then to overwhelm the assailant by a bursting storm of indignation, or, perhaps, of terrible but most serious sarcasm. It was as when the man at arms comes down with all his might upon the dexterous and wily fencer, or as when Richard, the lionhearted, cleaves asunder the nimble Saracen. The man of unthinking levity, or of profane jesting, if you meet him thus, is overged, and made to feel, that his power is destroyed, and his impertinence can find no place. As instances of his mode of dealing with such men, we might cite any of those later writings of his, m which his whole soul was called out against the frivolity and mapious levity of France, or that of her defenders in his own country. No man can read such productions without feeling, that whatever else is true of them, their author at least was a man in earest, and that, too, in something more than in the ordinary Receptation of this word. The famous “ Letter to a noble Lord," written under circumstances of great irritation and deep domestic affliction, displays the seriousness of his character, in a manner which is sometimes fearfully interesting. It stands out in every page, in the cool and unmerciful dissection which he gives to the opinions and motives of his adversary, and the party which he had espoused. It tinges with a graver coloring, what might otherwise be called a coarseness of humor and broadness of ridicule, which a severe taste would condemn. But we pass over Fvery thing of this kind, and rest with a most affecting interest on those passages in which he speaks directly of himself:

'I was not, like his grace of Bedford, swaddled, and rocked, and danded into a legislator ;

“Nitor in adversum” is the motto for a man like me.

I possessed not one of the qualities, nor cultivated one of the arts, that recommend men to the favor and protection of the great. I was not made for a minion or a tool. As little did I follow the trade of winning the hearts, by imposing on the understandings, of te people. At every step of my progress in life, (for in every step was I traversed and opposed,) and at every turnpike I met, I was obliged to show my passport, and again and again to prove my sole title to the honor of being useful to my country, by a proof that I was not wholly unacquainted with its laws, and the whole system of its interests both abroad and at home. Otherwise no rank, no toleration were for be. I had no arts but manly arts. On them I have stood, and, please God, in spite of the duke of Bedford and the earl of Lauderdale, to the ist gasp I will stand.? vol. ji.

p.

199.

And then there is that mournful strain in which he laments the

1083 of his son:

* The storm has gone over me; and I lie like one of those old oaks which the late hurricane has scattered about me. I am stripped of all my bonors ; I am torn up by the roots, and lie prostrate on the earth! There, and prostrate there, I most unfeignedly recognize the divine justice, and in some degree submit to it. But whilst I humble myself before God, I do not know that it is forbidden to repel the attacks of cajust and inconsiderate men. The patience of Job is proverbial. After some of the convulsive struggles of our irritable nature, he sub

« PreviousContinue »