« PreviousContinue »
to the buyer. The excise regulations compel the barley to be spread on the floor in a certain manner-to be wetted in a cistern, and in a certain quantity-then to be taken out of the cistern at a certain time,—all which restrictions, owing to the various sorts of barley, are very frequently fatal to the quality of the article produced : thus, though a quarter of barley might be converted without cost into a quarter of malt, owing to the swelling process, yet its natural price of 20s. or 25s. is thus raised to 40s., and then 20s. 8d. tax is levied. Nor are these the only evils; the tax falls on different places unequally, the quantity of malt consumed in the United Kingdom in 1831 being
Total · 32,963,455
4,331,996 England is therefore taxed out of all proportion to the other parts of the kingdom; but the inequality does not rest here, for the poorest counties in England, that is, those having the worst or most sandy soil, have to bear the greater part of the burden, barley being principally grown on those sandy soils which require considerable outlay, and frequently previous turnip cultivation, to render them at all productive. Hence, the tax on malt, so far as it checks the consumption of barley, throws those soils out of cultivation which employ the most labour, require the most skill, and which have been reclaimed, as it were, at the greatest expense to the owner.
Now, allowing the consumption of malt in the United Kingdom to be 33,000,000 bushels, and giving 10 bushels to every hogshead of beer, the quantity of beer which each individual would have would be little more than one pint per week! Were the tax taken off malt, we might safely calculate on the consumption rising to seven pints a-week, which, consuming 231,000,000 bushels of malt annually, would set afloat, in one ingredient of the beer alone, a capital of 39,600,0001. annually, at the rate of 4s. a bushel for the extra amount of malt consumed, independent of its effects on the health of the people in weaning them from the use of ardent spirits, contracted in consequence of their beer being so bad and so dear. Indeed, it is no exaggeration (as it could be proved by the writer in detail) to say, that the total abolition of the tax on malt would give circulation to a capital of full fifty million sterling per annum! But the moral effects resulting from the repeal now advocated would be incalculably far greater than the pecuniary. What has raised England, ---a small island in the Atlantic, —to the lofty station she holds among the kingdoms of the earth ? Has it not been the industry, skill, and moral integrity of her sons ? of her people at large ?-a people who are now sinking into an abyss of misery and vice, which hopeless, abject poverty inevitably engenders ? The farmer's labourer no longer sits at the frugal but cheerful board in his master's cottage : if unmarried, he hies, with his diminishing pittance of pay, to the village gin-shop, and being without advantage in possessing a good character, and without a friend in a superior condition of life, station, or age, he is driven, as it were, by necessity into the company of the idle and profligate of the hamlet; and in one night of beastly intoxication, the hard-wrought
earnings of the week have vanished. It was not thus so when the farmer made his own malt, brewed his own ale, and housed his agricultural servants, who looked to him as a friend, and gloried in the boast of having lived as man and boy under the same roof for half a century.
It is not, however, a mere agricultural question, it is one which affects the condition of the whole of the labouring poor of the United Kingdom, the taxation on malt liquor* haring contributed more than any other measure to demoralize and beget a desire for gin,t which, it is lamentable to think, will scarcely be eradicated from the existing generation : some taxes (as will be subsequently shown) press on the industry, others on the comforts, others on the luxuries of the mass of the people, but the tax on malt liquors has struck a deadly blow at temperance and social order-the main springs of society and the only real strength (under the guidance of Divine Providence) of a nation.
England may go on extending her cotton and woollen manufactures over the face of the habitable globe, while her famishing infants are doomed to suffer the horrors of a slavery which no civilized or uncivilized country ever before witnessed ;-her lands may be covered with railroads and machinery, and her warehouses overflowing with merchandise, —towers, and temples, and palaces may adorn her cities, and a glittering splendour surround the throne,-but if, in the midst of all these indications of national wealth, her people are becoming every day more and more unsettled, more impoverished, more dissolute, then, indeed, her very symbols of prosperity are but the gildings which adorn the sepulchre to conceal the rottenness which is within.
[The House and Window Taxes in our next.]
* The manner in which the price of malt has been enhanced, as taxation rose, is thus evinced in the Greenwich Hospital returns, which show the price paid for malt per Winchester quarter (including the duty) thus:
1770...... 283 1805 .....85/7 | 1825......6210 | 1833......600 The number of malsters has also considerably decreased since 1792.
+ The quantity of home made spirits consumed in the United Kingdom (independent of illicit distillation)is—for England, 8,000,000 gallons ; Ireland, 9,000,000, and Scotland, 6,000,000 gallons; total, 23,000,000 gallons. The money laid out by the people in gin and whisky alone, during the last twenty years, is computed at 400,000,0001.! Four-fifths of all the crime committed in the country is under the influence of liquor. During the past year, 32,636 persons were taken into custody for drunkenness alone, by the Metropolitan Police, not including assaults, or more serious offences, and excluding the suburbs. 5,000,0001. of the poor rates is owing to gin-drinking. Of 140 inmates of a London workhouse, 105 were brought directly thither by dram drinking, and the remainder traced their misfortunes to the same; and of 495 lunatic patients, 257 lost their reason by drunkenness. What sea of wickedness is the nation now plunged into!
BY THE LATE HENRY NEELE. Written on seeing Mr. Baily's Statue of Eve at the Fountain. [The following poem was written by the unfortunate Henry Neele, just before the melancholy termination of his life: it is worthy of the pen of that highly-gifted writer, and its publication will add a fresh wreath to his poetic fame. Those who have seen-and who has not?-the exquisite piece of art which called forth this effusion of the ill-fated poet, will immediately recognize its graphic power of description, and the fine-toned feeling which breathes through every line. We scarcely know which to admire most, the description of the poet or the production of the sculptor. They both command our admiration, as both are emanations of a kindred. spirit of genius, and that of the highest order.]
Nay, 'tis no sculptured art,—'tis she-'tis she !
Yet, yet she smiles !
Teemed with divine imaginings.
ON THE PROGRESS OF MUSIC FROM THE COMMENCEMENT OF THE PRESENT CENTURY*.
NO, IV. Musicians, both teachers and performers, are now a better-educated class than formerly, and, where they are not eminent for accomplishments, are, at least, persons of some reading.
Thus they have become emulous of sustaining the character and estimation of their art; and amongst the distinctions they claim for it, iş, that music is an universal language.t True; but with this grain of allowance,—that scarcely any language is so liable to various interpretation; for the force, and even the direct and indirect meaning of that interpretation depends upon the talent and the progression of the performer. We make this remark at the outset of our review of the impulse of foreign example upon English taste and practice, because it may shrewdly be suspected that, with the exception of those compositions to which we have endeavoured, in former essays, to establish the exclusive right of our countrymen, every other species, little by little, though, it must be admitted, very gradually, has been changed and wrought into a comparatively new form in execution. The powers of instrumentalists and singers have been so greatly enlarged, that the very same notation receives a totally different expression from the vigour, the velocity, and the facility of performance in the present age. This result has, indeed, been perceived by close and acute observers during the transition, but not perhaps universally, or even generally. Yet so it is; and we steadfastly believe that the finest song, if it could be now sung by Farinelli himself, in the manner he gave it when at his highest reputation,-- we steadfastly believe that, although it might touch the reflecting and sensitive part of his audience, it would, nevertheless, be voted a dull and inferior matter by the public at large. The metamorphosis which has taken place is little, if at all, short of the institution of a new species of musical phraseology—the multiplication of notes, as well as the extremity of contrast. But the copiousness of the style of music, so to speak, is the capital mutation. Of this, English music, rightly so called, is not susceptible. Our improvement, (if improvement it may be termed,) together with our progression, is altogether owing to what we have learned and imitated from foreign nations. If such adoptions betray a want of invention, they at least manifest a laudable spirit of inquiry, and a liberality which excepts not against the origin of good, come from wheresoever it may
The period when our inquiry must commence was marked by one striking and important change,-the discontinuance of the Musici,—the school of singing from whence had been derived the purest expression
* Continued from p. 192, No. CLIV. + “Unis par de si doux liens, les musiciens de toutes les nations ne forment qu’une seule famille qui a les mêmes goûts, parle le même langage, et suit le même objet ; leurs ouvrages sont exaltés ou critiqués par des juges aussi justes que compétens; une noble émulation les anime, les lumières se communiquent d'un bout de l'Europe à l'autre; et quelque part qu'ils se rencontrent, ils sont dans leur patrie.” -De I Opéra en France, tom. i., chap. 6.
and the strictest taste. The practice which devoted them to science had been felt to be inhuman, and was proscribed; accordingly that melting, but effeminate, tenderness and pathos, which were the characteristics of the old opera, were now to be superseded for evermore. With this, race much of the delicacy and intense feeling of music departed; but strength, variety, and a manlier sentiment succeeded. It is curious, however, to listen to the admirers of this class of singers, who, together with those thev admired, are now nearly all extinct. All of the past age whom we have ever heard speak of Pacchierotti, for instance, dwelt with enthusiasm on his praises, and on the effects he produced. Clementi, not long before his death, acknowledged to the writer of this article his obligations to this celebrated Musico in the fondest terms. He owed, he said, his expression, both in playing and composing, to having regarded attentively the expression of singers, and particularly to Pacchierotti, whose exquisitely expressive power always brought him to tears. The veteran amateur and critic, Lord Mount Edgcumbe, in many detached passages of his very unaffected and amusing little book, shows that he regrets the loss of this species of voice, and still more of the devotedness of the Musici to their art, for he speaks of the change as an “acknowledged decline of singing in general ;” and says, directly after, “ that another cause has certainly contributed to it, and that is the difference of the voices of the male performers.” That the art has suffered in some particulars there can be no question, but it has, as undoubtedly, gained in others. The limits which the contracted voices of the artificial soprani set to composers have been broken down,--a masculine energy in execution, ornament, and declamation, has replaced their feeble, though pathetic and polished style. If not dissolved, we are raised as well as moved, and altogether by loftier emotions, since we have had Tramezzani, Braham, Garcia, and Donzelli, for the heroes of the Italian stage. Each, however, had their beauties; but humanity will applaud the banishment of the barbarous custom, and every heart will respond.
Marchesi and Rubinelli had passed away,--a very wretched successor in the person of Roselli had sunk unnoticed, and the fame of the Italian opera had been supported by Mara, when, towards the close of the last century, Banti arrived. It has happened almost invariably that the prima donna has cast the men into shadow, and thus the attainments of one performer have frequently been the substitute for an opera supported in all its parts by a tolerable quantity of talent. Such was eminently the case when Banti appeared in England. At so low an ebb was the King's Theatre, that, in “ Semiramide,” Roselli, and Rovedino, a coarse base raised into a tenor, were her only support. Our object, however, is not to give a history of the opera, but to mark the progress of art in this country as connected with foreign professors. Banti was highly gifted by nature, indifferently trained in science, She had the ninetynine parts of the hundred,-a magnificent voice, rich, powerful, and extensive. She had also that intuitive feeling that enters with an energy, which commands the sympathy of others, into every minute characteristic and capability of the music she sung. The extended range of modern art almost demands of a singer, especially during her struggle for eminence, a knowledge of the more mechanical branches. To these Banti, who retained the coarseness of her early indigence, (she was a street singer,) could never be brought to submit. The attempts made to teach