excerpt from 'Letter from Anna Seward to Sophia Weston, 17 April 1787' pp. 287 (274 words)

excerpt from 'Letter from Anna Seward to Sophia Weston, 17 April 1787' pp. 287 (274 words)

part of

Letter from Anna Seward to Sophia Weston, 17 April 1787

original language

urn:iso:std:iso:639:ed-3:eng

in pages

287

type

text excerpt

encoded value

Familiarity with excellence has a prevailing tendency to chill and blunt the sensibility of its graces, and to render the judgment coy and fastidious. Upon two people, whose taste for music was by nature perhaps equally keen, if one of them has been in the constant custom of hearing the best music, and the other has had but seldom opportunity of listening even to the most moderate, probably the simplest air, of perhaps but indifferent merit, would have more effect upon the passions of the novice, than the sublimest air of Pergolezzi’s or Handel’s, upon the feelings of him whose ear had been habituated to their admirable compositions. 

Every adept in the science of music knows, that it is impossible for melody alone to have produced musical effects, that could, in excellence, bear any comparison with those which she has displayed since her association, in later ages, with the mightier powers of harmony. 

The English language may have too many consonants; yet who, that listens to Milton’s poetry, finely read, or to Johnson’s best prose, or to Handel’s oratorio airs, sung with expression, will pronounce it inharmonious? 

In the amoroso style, we have beautiful music from Italy; more voluptuous certainly, but not more tender, more touching, more sweet, than the pathetic songs of Handel. That truth is now pretty universally felt and acknowledged; while none dispute the immense superiority of that great master in the more energetic harmonies. Thus is it proved, that our language, though less soft than the Italian, is yet sufficiently liquid for the most melting purposes of melody and harmony.

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excerpt from 'Letter from Anna Seward to Sophia Weston, 17 April 1787' pp. 287 (274 words)

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