excerpt from 'Letter from Anna Seward to Edward Jerningham, Esq., 23 February 1801' pp. 361–364 (398 words)

excerpt from 'Letter from Anna Seward to Edward Jerningham, Esq., 23 February 1801' pp. 361–364 (398 words)

part of

Letter from Anna Seward to Edward Jerningham, Esq., 23 February 1801

original language

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

in pages

361–364

type

text excerpt

encoded value

What you tell me about the exclusion of compositions by English masters from the high-life concerts, only proves that the same infatuation prevails in that science amongst our great people, as in poetry amongst our academicians. It is the English mania to prefer the productions of foreigners to those of our own country. I see you are not acquainted with the beautiful compositions in music, which exist for the honour of England. You have had no opportunity of hearing them, banished as they dully are from the fashionable concerts. So was Shakespeare banished our stage from the gay Gallic reign of Charles the Second, till the talents and resolution of Garrick restored him. So have been, and so still are, the great English poets from our universities, to the infinite detriment of the understanding and taste of our students, […] 

A few words more on the subject of music.—However weak a single exception, or even two or three exceptions, may be to obviate what is given us as a general rule, yet surely exceptions, numerous as those I brought in my former letter, and which are yet only a small portion of what exist, may render its validity at least questionable. Probably you have never heard the beautiful passages in Ossian, which are set as glees by Calcot, since you say you have not heard, at the fine people’s concerts, these ten years, a single glee composed by an Englishman. O folly and affectation, how wide is your dominion! The Ossianic glees are ravishing; and, above all their brethren, 

“Peace to the souls of the heroes!” 

is most ravishing. I confess the beauty of Converso’s— 

“When all alone my pretty love was playing;” 

but Morley has several, in exactly the same style, and of equal charm. I would answer for producing an hundred glees from my own recollection, all by Englishmen, and all of original melody and correct harmony. 

When I was a girl, it was the fashion for the fine people to abuse Handel as heavy, coarse, and tiresome. Our king, by instituting the commemorations, rescued his fame. If I was Prince of Wales, I would give concerts, from which every foreign composition should be interdicted; and glees should be performed there, that must awaken the cold dead ear of prejudice itself into life and enthusiasm.

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excerpt from 'Letter from Anna Seward to Edward Jerningham, Esq., 23 February 1801' pp. 361–364 (398 words)

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