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The same remark is applicable to our common people. True, they do not demand muscular action, but they greatly need the healing quickening influence of a soft insinuating principle like that of which we speak.
Every traveller in Germany is struck with the prevalence of a taste for music. At all hours of recreation, the sound of mingling instruments and voices reaches his ear, from the school, the playground, the throng of labourers, or the public walks. And even where the intelligence of the people thus employed is far less than that of the corresponding classes among ourselves, the cheerfulness, quiet, and harmony are far greater. The German tribes had been early trained to music. The Roman Catholic church had given it abundant cultivation. And Luther, being himself a musician, and understanding its power, used all exertions to render its influence universal
. His saying was, “ A schoolmaster must be able to sing, or I will not look upon him.” And he is quoted by Mr. Woodbridge as thus expressing his judgment: “When natural music is highly cultivated and polished, then we ascertain, for the first time, in part, (for it can never be fully understood,) and with astonishment, the great and perfect wisdom of God in this curious art. Wherefore, I recommend to every man, particularly to youth, and hereby admonish them duly to love, honour, and esteem this precious, useful, and cheerful gift of God; the knowledge and diligent use of which will at all times drive off evil thoughts, and diminish the effect of evil society and vices."
It is perhaps the gravest question connected with our subject, how far it is possible to form the national taste, or give musical culture to the people. An experiment has been made in Switzerland, which is full of encouragement. Allusion was made above to the prevalence of music in the Swiss cantons. Still, however, the French region in the south-west was far behind the remaining districts, and the music on the lake of Geneva was exceedingly debased. About three years ago, (we borrow from a European narrative,) a Saxon gentleman, named Kaupert, who has long resided at Morges, undertook to give gratuitous instruction to youth of any village who would accept his services. The plan was deemed chimerical, but it was crowned with success. At Morges and the neighbouring villages there were soon heard vocal concerts of hundreds, which electrified the whole environs of the lake. He was followed by crowds, and his assemblies were often held in churches, and sometimes in the open air. In the former, hymns were sung; and in the latter places, moral, descriptive, or patriotic songs." His plan," says our authority, "is to trace, in a clear and simple manner, upon a large black board, the notes of each lesson, and he furnishes each one of his pupils with a card or paper, containing what he judges fit for each step of instruction. He usually succeeds in ten lectures, to qualify these
vast masses to execute the simple and touching hymn or song, in parts and full concert, enrapturing all who witness the scene." * In the introductory lecture, he strongly affects the imagination and the sensibility of his hearers, by his descriptions of the powers and the intention of music, to breathe noble and generous sentiments, to harmonize the minds and hearts of men, to honour our country, to excite admiration of the works of God, and as the highest point of all, to show forth his praises."
The grand secret of this benevolent man was this. He summoned not a select class, but the body of the people, disregarding all other distinctions but that of Swiss nationality; and he began with the actual practice of those melodies with which it was intended to conclude. Hence the largest assemblages were carried forward in the pursuit with ardour. Under such arrangements, we have often witnessed the rapidity with which the less practised part of a choir catch the spirit of their few distinguished leaders. From the very first the music was popular, and was performed in such circumstances as fostered the social feeling among all classes. Children, and students, and whole families together, entered themselves as learners. The appeal being made to their patriotism, every one made a merit of prompt compliance. After suitable preparation, a grand meeting took place in the great church, the noblest Gothic edifice in Switzerland. The societies were designated by banners, crowds flocked together from the vicinity, and two thousand singers took their places in the church, while multitudes thronged around the building as auditors. A hymn and tune of Luther's opened the exhibition, and the effect was beyond description. Among other pieces, a patriotic song
of M. Olivier, La Patrie, “Our country, Helvetia! Helvetia!" served to animate the whole assembly with a rapture of national enthusiasm.
The simplicity of these methods, which is their most striking characteristic, renders them suitable models for other countries. There is no expensive machinery, and no alarming preparatory discipline. The effect has been a complete musical revolution in these districts, and we know no cause which should prevent similar results among ourselves. The same zeal and assiduity, especially among our youth, could not fail of their effect.
The enthusiasm was caught from hamlet to hamlet, and Swiss music became the reigning topic on every side. In Geneva, an attempt was made to frown upon M. Kaupert's endeavours by some of the aristocratical circles, but he succeeded to his utmost wishes. Youth and age mingled in his assemblies, the learned and the poor were alike smitten with the love of song; so that, when the principal collection of singers was summoned, there was no church in the city which was capacious enough to receive them; and when the performers met in the Plein Palais, they
amounted to four thousand. The torrent of harmony from such a concourse was most imposing, and it deserves to be remarked, that the asperities and discords of partially trained singers are found in practice to be wonderfully mollified, when the chorus is sustained by a multitude. Notwithstanding the difficulty of keeping time, and the adverse operation of the wind, the whole passed off admirably; the air rang with acclamations of delight, and a medal was struck in honour of the enterprising leader. Similar success attended his experiment at Lausanne. The whole population were animated with the same zeal, and associations were formed in the neighbouring villages. Other amusements gave place to musical entertainments, and a general harmony of feeling was produced in the whole country.
If any of our readers should judge that we have given too much space to a subject belonging apparently to the mere domain of taste, we must respectfully urge a reconsideration of the sentence, as we are persuaded that it has a most near relation to our highest national interests. The wisest men in all ages have acknowledged the power of popular songs; " which," we may say in Milton's words, “if wise men and prophets be not extremely out, have a great power over dispositions and passions, to smooth and make them gentle, from rustic harshness and distempered manners.”
ART. II.-POETRY OF THE TROUBADOURS.
1-Osservazioni sulla Poesia de' Trovatori, e sulle principali ma
niere e forme di essa. Modena, 1829. pp. 526. 2.--Choix des Poésies Originales des Troubadours. Par M. Ray
The annals of literature present few phenomena so well calculated to excite attention or demand investigation, as the sudden rise, extensive influence, and rapid decay of the poetry of the Troubadours. The south of Europe had scarcely recovered from the repeated shocks of invasions from the north-its institutions, its arts, and its learning, had been destroyed; and even its language had been converted into corrupt and confused jargons—when the Provençal dialect, born from a mixture of heterogeneous tongues, assumed a superiority over all its contemporaries, and in the eleventh century began to be widely cultivated, and enriched by the productions of numerous poets. "Its bards, almost at once, acquired a high reputation. Their fame was spread over a great part of Europe, and the permanent supremacy of their language, would seem to have been almost assured by their success. But almost VOL. XVII.--N0. 34.
as suddenly as it had burst forth, the glory which shone around them and their works disappeared. After a brief existence of three centuries, the literature of Provence rapidly declined. The language, with all its elegance and harmony, and its thousand treasures of poetic fancy, yielding to the introduction of new dialects, gradually sunk into insignificance, leaving to modern times the only evidence of its triumphs in the obscurity of a forgotten tongue. The causes of the rapid decay of a literature, whose influence was not only so general during its own existence, but which has also affected, to a greater or less extent, that of succeeding times though arising in some measure from political events—may doubtless be found in its own peculiar character, and in that of its numerous cultivators.
The corruption of the Latin language, by its mixture with those of the various barbarous nations which swarmed in the Roman provinces, and finally subverted the empire of the mistress of the world, gave birth, as might be expected, to different idioms, partaking indiscriminately of the characters of the dialects from which they were formed. From the fifth century to the tenth, the numerous and ever-varying races who peopled the southern part of Europe, communicated with each other in a confused and heterogeneous speech, which, changing with every popular caprice or revolution, served only to retard the progress of intellectual cultivation. It was impossible that a literature should exist at a time when its productions could not have been transmitted to a succeeding generation; and when it was deemed unsafe to entrust to the fluctuating popular dialect the chronicles of events worthy of remembrance. Thus none of the records or the histories of that period, nor even the songs composed on common occasions, which ever owe their origin to the tastes of the day, were written in the language employed for ordinary intercourse, but in Latin, which was generally understood, though much corrupted by the introduction of barbarous words. Europe at this time was sunk in the darkness of ignorance. No cheering ray appeared to dissipate the more than midnight gloom, till at length the dawn of returning light broke in from the east
. The Arabians, the nation which had principally contributed to the overthrow of letters, whose conquests had destroyed civilization and intelligence in every country which they subdued, seemed now destined, by a law of compensation, to revive the reign of mind, and shed again over the earth the lustre of intellectual day. Turning from the triumphs of victory to the pursuits of voluptuous enjoyment, these conquerors enhanced and refined the delights of sense by the cultivation of higher attainments; and in the field of art and science, soon obtained a dominion scarcely less extensive and imposing than that which their arms had won. The influence of Arabian genius spread far and wide, awakening the dormant imagination of other nations, and
continued to produce its effects long after the mental empire had passed from the hands of its original founders, and become
separated into various and remote dynasties. The beauties of oriental poetry, the rich and brilliant images in which it abounded, were transferred into foreign tongues, and eagerly imitated, thus imparting to the new literature peculiarities as distinct as possible from a classical character. Although, in the writings of the Provençal poets, we meet not unfrequently with allusions which prove incontrovertibly that the great masterpieces of Latin, and even of Greek learning, were not wholly unknown to some, it is no less evident that none of them possessed a taste sufficiently cultivated to relish or to imitate the beauties of classic lore. The Troubadours may thus far advance a claim to originality, that in naught are they indebted to the lessons or examples of the ancients. If scholastic learning was not utterly contemned among them, they at least profited not by it. In no instance had they recourse to the treasures of mythology which were at hand, to enrich their verses. They possessed in themselves the materials for poetry, independent of aught borrowed; subjects and images derived from their own local customs, and peculiar character as a nation. Their religious ideas, their chivalrous manners, their political habits and prejudices, and their general ignorance, unfitted them for the revival of ancient letters, and rendered it more easy to create a new literature, than to imitate an old one. To this indisposition to classical attainment may be attributed the number of the Troubadours, and their near equality in point of fame. No painful course of study was requisite, to win the guerdon of distinction; no elaborate care, to frame the
poems which were to charm all hearers, and confer immortality upon their author. The minstrel sang to his harp, careless of censure, and secure of success, the praises of his lady-love, or the thrilling song of victory. The crown that rewarded his labours was bestowed by the hand of beauty, and we may well jecture that it decked the brow of him who knelt most gracefully, or sang most gallantly of her charms, rather than the head silvered in the acquirement of wisdom. The profession of the “Gay Science” was as universal as the diffusion of the chivalrous spirit which inspired it. A sort of republicanism prevailed in letters; and the knight, with no fortune but his sword, won as proud a wreath of glory in the field of poetical contest, as the sovereign on the throne; while the latter disdained not to enter the lists with the humblest competitor.
The disregard of learning, among the writers of the Langue d'Oc, has been mentioned with truth as constituting one of the principal causes of the decay of Provençal literature. The resources of its votaries were easily exhausted; and having debarred themselves access to the glorious monuments of ancient genius, they were unable to supply the deficiencies of imagination. The bril