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I ever met with is Felix Mendelssohn. I do not recollect if it were himself or some one else who told me of a letter which Carl von Weber had addressed to him, warning him that he never could attain the highest honors in his profession without cultivating the virtues and the decencies of life. “A great artist," said Weber, “ought to be a good man.”
While I am “i' the vein," I must give you a few more musical reminiscences before my fingers are quite frozen.
I had once some conversation with Thalberg and Felix Mendelssohn, on the unmeaning names which musicians often give to their works, as Concerto in F, Concerto in B b, First Symphony, Second Syınphony, &c. Mendelssohn said, that though in almost every case the composer might have a leading dea, it would be often difficult, or even impossible, to give any title sufficiently comprehensive to convey the same idea or feeling to the mind of the hearer.
But music, except to musicians, can only give deas, or rather raise images, by association; it can
; give the pleasure which the just accordance of mus sical sounds must give to sensitive ears, but the associated ideas or images, if any, must be quite accidental. Haydn, we are told, when he sat down to compose, used first to invent a story in his own fancy—a regular succession of imaginary incidents and feelings—to which he framed or suited the successive movements (motivi) of his concerto
Would it not have been an advantage if Haydn could have given to his composition such a title as would have pitched the imagination of the listener at once upon the same key? Mendelssohn himself has done this in the pieces which he has entitled " Overture to Melusina," “ Overture to the Ilebrides,” “Meeres Stille und Glückliche Fabrt," “ The Brook," and others,—which is better surely than Sonata No. 1, Sonata No. 2. Take the Melusina, for example; is there not in the sentiment of the music, all the sentiment of the beautiful old fairy tale ? --- first, in the flowing, intermingling harmony, we have the soft elemental delicacy of the water nymph; then, the gushing of fountains, the undulating waves; then the martial prowess of the knightly lover, and the splendor of chivalry prevailing over the softer and more ethereal nature; and then, at last, the dissolution of the charm; the ebbing, fainting, and failing away into silence of the beautiful water spirit. You will say it might answer just as well for Ondine; but this signifies little, provided we have our fancy pitched to certain poetical associations preëxisting in the composer's mind. Thus, not only poems, but picturgs and statues, might be set to music. I sugo gested to Thalberg as a subject the Aurora of Guido. It should begin with a slow, subdued, and solemn movement, to express the slumbrous softness of that dewy hour which precedes the coming of the day, and which in the picture broods over the distant landscape, still wrapt in darkness and sleep; then the stealing upwards of the gradual dawn; the brightening, the quickening of all life; the awakening of the birds, the burst of the sunlight, the rushing of the steeds of Hyperion through the sky, the aerial dance of the Hours, and the whole concluding with a magnificent choral song of triumph and rejoicing sent up from universal nature.
And then in the same spirit—no, in his own grander spirit-I would have Mendelssohn improvise the Laocoön. There would be the pomp and procession of the sacrifice on the sea-shore; the flowing in of the waves; the two serpents which come gliding on their foamy crests, wreathing, and rearing, and undulating; the horror, the lamentation, the clash of confusion, the death struggle, and, after a deep pause, the wail of lamentation, the funereal march ;-the whole closing with a hymn to Apollo. Can you not just imagine such à piece of music, and composed by Mendelsohn ? and can you not fancy the possibility of setting to music, in the same manner, 'Raffaelle's Cupid and Psyche, or his Galatea, or the group of the Niobe ? Niobe would be a magnificent subject either for a concerto, or for a kind of mythological oratorio.
ON THE FEMALE CHARACTER.
March 2. TURNING over Boswell to-day, I came upon this passage: Johnson says, “ I do not commend a soci. ety where there is an agreement that what would not otherwise be fair shall be fair; but I maintain that an individual of any society who practises what is allowed, is not dishonest.”
What say you to this reasoning of our great moralist ? does it not reduce the whole moral law to something merely conventional ?
In another place, Dr. Johnson asks, “Wha proportion does climate bear to the complex system of human life?” I shiver while I answer, " A good deal, my dear Doctor, to some individuals, and yet more to whole races of men.”
He says afterwards, “I deal more in notions than in facts.” And so do I, it seems.
He talks of “men being held down in conversation by the presence of women ”-held up rather, where moral feeling is concerned; and if held down where intellect and social interests are concerned, then so much the worse for such a state of Bociety.
Johnson knew absolutely nothing about women; witness that one assertion, among others more insulting, that it is matter of indifference to a woman whether her husband be faithful or not. He says, m ar.other place, “ If we men require inore pe deco tion from women than from ourselves, it is dung them honor."
Indeed! If, in exacting from us more perfeclion, you do not allow us the higher and nobler nature, you do us not honor, but gross injustice; and if you do allow us the higher nature, and yet regard us as subject and inferior, then the injustice is the greater. There, Doctor, is a dilemma for you.
Of all our modern authors, Coleridge best understood the essential nature of women, and has said the truest and most beautiful things of our sex generally; and of all our modern authors, Hazlitt was most remarkable for his utter ignorance of women, generally and individually.
Charles Lamb, of all the men I ever talked to, had the most kindly, the most compassionate, the most reverential feelings towards woman; but he did not, like Coleridge, set forth these feelings with elaborate eloquence—they came gushing out of his heart and stammering from his tongueclothed sometimes in the quaintest disguise of ironical abuse, and sometimes in words which made the tears spring to one's eyes. He seemed to under: stand us not as a poet, nor yet as a man of the world; but by the unerring instinct of the most loving and benevolent of hearts.
When Coleridge said antithetically, “ that it was the beauty of a woman's character to be charac serless," I suppose it is as if he had said, “It is cha