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to devote their minds in the hours of business to the material world, find an outlet for the poetry of our nature in that art which raises us from the stern realities of life to the regions of sentiment and feeling. We have established in Leeds, as I dare say you have in Manchester, “ Peoples' Concerts," but a musical education has produced and created artistio taste and feeling, and consequently this difficulty has arisen-how to reconcile low-priced tickets, which at such concerts are necessary, with the legitimate demands of first-rate artists. It is customary to designate one portion of the community by the title of the “working class," but, depend upon it, that without industry, without labour, without patience and perseverance, there can be no success in any department of human exertion. For example, we are assembled this evening to listen to one of the most wonderful productions of human genius, the work of one whom Cowper styles
“ The more than Homer of his age." And yet of all men the most laborious was George Frederick Handel. He was a working man from childhood to old age. He composed with facility, but he corrected with patience and labour, and care ; and so diligent was he in practising his art, that at his death, every key of his harpsichord, from constant use, was found hollowed out like the bowl of a spoon. And we are assembled to hear his immortal work performed by musicians and artists the most eminent in the land; but they have not arrived at their present high position in society merely by their talents, great as those talents are, but also by industry, by patience, by much self-denial, and by an expensive education. "The labourer is worthy of his hire," and the artist has a right to demand an ample remuneration from the public whom he serves; and with respect to vocalists, you will see this especially to be the case. Vocalists may in a moment of time, by a cold or a fever, be deprived of that noble instrument by which they earn their livelihood—I mean their voice; and you see how necessary it therefore is that they should demand high terms for the exercise of their talents in the time of youth, and health, and strength. Hence the difficulty to which I have alluded.
To the honour of Manchester be it said that Manchester has shewn us how to meet the diffiulty. Manchester has set the example which I know that Leeds will not be slow to follow. It will be unnecessary for me to state to you the circumstances under which this concert was instituted; suffice it to say, that the employers of labour having enjoyed the performance of the sacred oratorio of The Messiah," under the direction of one whose fame is European-Mr. Charles Hallé-they determined to share the enjoyment with the hands they employ, remembering what I hope never will be forgotten, that hands are always connected with minds and hearts. But I dare not allude to the sacred oratorio of “The Messiah" as merely an entertainment and an amusement, for I remember that when this oratorio was first performed in London, and Handel was complimented on having "entertained" the town for a whole week, the grand old man, in his usual out-spoken manner, said, “I did not wish to entertain the town, I wished to do it good.” In the programme you have an account given of the feelings under which he composed the "Hallelujah Chorus." On being questioned as to his ideas and feelings when composing it, Handel replied, in his imperfect English, “I did think I did see all heaven before me, and the great God himself." Those feelings met a response when the oratorio was first performed in London, the king being present; for king and people started from their seats and remained standing in silent awe till the whole was concluded. I may add that when a friend called upon Handel while he was setting to music the words “He was despised and rejected of men,” he found the composer dissolved in tears, absolutely sobbing.
It is, as your chairman has remarked, with feel. ings solemn such as these, that you will, I feel sure, listen to the divine strains in which the grand, the tender, the majestic, are adapted to words of unequalled sublimity and pathos. The oratorio commences by alluding to the predicted advent of the Messiah. We are brought by degrees nearer and nearer to the great event, until in the chorus “ Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given," we are brought to the eve of the nativity. The second portion of this first part, commencing with the “Pastoral Symphony,'' announces the actual advent of the Messiah-" Rejoice greatly, o daughter of Sion," -and the character of his ministry—“Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened," "He shall feed his flock like a shepherd;" concluding with the invitation to “Come unto him all ye that labour, and he will give you rest.
T'he second part commencing with the chorus “Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world,” reminds us that the Messiah came not only to teach, but to offer Himself a sacrifice for the sins of mankind. Then is described his triumph over death and the grave, his resurrection, his ascension, his session at the right hand of power, concluding with that Hallelujah Chorus to which I have already called your attention. The third part relates to our own resurrection from the dead; and in the chorus, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain," we are as it were transported from this nether sphere, and permitted to obtain a glimpse of heaven itself.
And now, ladies and gentlemen, having just alluded to the order of this performance, I make way for the music of one
Whose heaven-born strains the coldest hearts inspire ;
RIGHT HON. SIR JAMES STEPHEN, K.C.B.
(Tass familiar and delightful historically-descriptive lecture
on Milton's masque of “Comus," was delivered by the late Right Hon. Sir James Stephen, to the members of the Manchester_Young Men's Christian Association; Robert Gladstone, Esq., presiding: Sir James Stephen was Pro. fessor of Modern History in the University of Cambridge. He died recently at Coblentz, in the 71st year of his age. The honour of knighthood was conferred upon him in 1848, in acknowledgment of his services, under the Melbourne Ministry, as Onder-Secretary for the Colonies. His able articles in the “Edinburgh Review," on Ecclesiastical History, have been published in two volumes; and he is also the author of lectures on the “History of France."]
I HOPE that most of you are occasionally able to escape from the turmoil and smoke of this great city, for a summer's ramble into some of those beautiful parts of the country which the railway has brought within your immediate neighbourhood. On that supposition, permit me to suggest to you the plan for such a holiday. Year after year there go forth a large body of pilgrims to those northern mountains, where the genius of the great enchanter, Sir Walter Scott, enables them to trace the wanderings of James Fitz James, and the Lady of the
I would direct your steps to that picturesque valley which stretches many miles from the junction of the little Welsh rivers, the Teme and the Corve, both of them tributaries of the Severn, to the point where the Severn itself reaches, and nearly encircles the ancient city of Shrewsbury. There a yet greater enchanter, John Milton, will reveal to you the precise scene where Comus and his monstrous rout held their revels, and where was effected the almost miraculous deliverance of the Lady of Lndlow Castle.
When pursuing that track some years ago, I found myself ascending that steep but spacious, and even yet handsome street which rises from Ludlow Bridge to the summit of the hill on which the venerable town of Shrewsbury is built. The whitewashed walls of those now desolate mansions, and half-deserted shops, said to me as plainly as walls could say anything, “ When we were built, the windings you see beneath us of the Teme and the Corve were fringed by the then famous forest of Hainault; and out of it were hewn those massive cross-beams upon which you see our second and third storeys are resting the edges of their overlapping rooms, making for me a sheltered walk where one may escape not only the rain of this humid climate, but also that thick carpet of wet grass which stretches from one side of the street to the other, with a luxuriance unknown even in the much boasted pleasure grounds of many a city. I forced myself through that remarkable specimen of street architecture, till I reached the Abbey Church; one of those magnificent cathedral edifices of which our forefathers have left us the possession, rather than the enjoy. ment or the use; and urging my way along the crest of the hill, I stood at length on the smooth top of a vast mass of rock which had plunged its giant feet into the bed of the united rivers below. And being a holiday-making, I stood there to amuse myself with observing how the stream eddied, foamed, and fretted round the obstacle opposed to its progress, reminding one that there was a sort of analogy between the hot temperament of the two