Page images
PDF
EPUB

translation of that author. This Life, however, was not published till some years after his death.

The English Virgil, we have seen, was given to the publick in July, 1697 ; and such was the demand for it, that all the copies were dispersed in a very few months, and a second edition was sent to the press, which appeared in the following year.

Previous, however, to the review of his translation, he was solicited in the month of August, 1697, by the Stewards of the Anniversary Musical Festival, to write a second Ode, to be sung at the celebration of St. Cecilia's Day, which has been represented as one of the latest productions of his Muse : but this statement is unquestionably erroneous; for it was written at this time, and pub. lished separately in folio, under the title of Alex

which he seems to make by humble hummings, the swarm arises under his conduct: if the answer be, Le Roy s'avisera, that is, if the old monarch think it not convenicnt for the publick good to part with so many of his subjects, the next morning the prince is found dead before the threshold of the palace.

Since the above was written, I have observed, that in a letter in the Museum.. MSS. Sloan. 4059, hie subscribes his name, H. Shere.

? This translation, by several hånds, was published by Samuel Briscoe, in three vols. 8vo. in 1711. It was announced by Motteux in his Gent. Journ. in June, 1693; and in March, 1694. said to be extremely forward ; but that the Life was not written till after 1695, is ascertained by the passage quoted above. (n. 3.) From the pub. lisher's Dedication it should seem to have been written in 1695.

Ander's Feast, OR THE POWER OF MUBICK, in December, 1697.

The history of this nominal Patroness of Musick is involved in somc obscurity, it not very clearly appearing, how she became entitled to this honour. She is supposed to have been born in the reign of the Emperor M. Aurelius Antoninus, and to have suffered martyrdom in that of Septimius Severus, in the beginning of the third century; and, according to the legend, she was a noble Roman lady of distinguished piety, who from her infancy had been bred in the Christian faith ; notwithstanding which, she was married by her parents to a young Pagan nobleman, named Valerianus, who, on claiming the rights of a husband, was told by her, that she was visited nightly by an Angel, who was enamoured of her, and would destroy him, if he presumed to approach her. He replied, that he would desist, if he were permitted to behold his rival; and he should prove an Angel; but if he were a mere mortal, as he feared, he would put them both to death : to which Cecilia answered, that he should be indulged in what he desired, provided he became a convert to Christianity. To this requisition Valerianus agreed; and after having been baptized by Bishop Urban, (afterwards Pope Urban I.) repaired to his wife's chamber, where he found her at prayer, with the Angel by her side, in the form of a beautiful youth, cloathed with celestial brightness. The Angel had in his hand two crowns or wreaths, the one of lilics, the other of roses, which he had brought from Paradise : one of them he presented to Cecilia, and the other to her husband; informing him at the same time, that, as a reward for his piety, whatever he asked should be granted him. Valerianus replied, that he had a brother named Tiburtius, whom he wished to be made partaker of the same grace which he had received. The Angel, having granted his request, told him, that they both should be crowned with martyrdom; and then vanished. They accordingly were put to death for their faith ; but Cecilia was informed, that she should be sparcd, if she would offer sacrifice to Jupiter. Not choosing to preserve her life on such conditions, she suffered martyrdom, by being shut up in a dry bath, benéath which a large fire was made, for the purpose of slowly consuming her.“ Finding, however, that the fire had no effect, her tormentors put her to death.Such is the Golden Legend of Jacobus Januensis; the foundation of Chaucer's Second Nonxes Tale, which he has inserted among his other Canterbury Tales, but appears to have originally intended for a distinct work.?

In this legendary story we do not find any thing related, from which the veneration paid to

^ According to other accounts, she was thrown into scalding water. Fortunatus of Poitiers, who lived in the sixth century, says, she suffered martyrdom in Sicily.

Mr. Tyrwhitt observes, " that it is mentioned by · Chaucer in his LEGEND OF Good Women, (ver. 426.) under the title of “ The Life of Scint Cecile;" and it still retains evident marks that it was not originally come

this Saint by the votaries of musick may be supposed to have arisen. If, as Dryden and others seem to have thought,' she had been the inventress of the organ, an instrument so happily

posed in the form of a Talc to be spoken by the Nonne. The whole introduction is in the style of a person writing, and not of one speaking ; - ... - and in ver. 15530, the Rclater, or rather writer, of the Talc, in all the MSS. (except one of middling authority) is called “ unworthy son of Eve." Cant. Tales. iv. 180.

. Thus Chaucer, in his Account of St. Cecilia (SE. cond Nonnes TALE):

“ And while that the organs maden melodie,

“ To God alone thus in hirc licrt song shc." After whom, our author, in his ALEXANDER'S FEAST:

“ Thus, long ago,
“ Ere heaving bellows Icarn'd ta blow,
" While organs yet were mute,
“ Timothcus, to his breathing flute

“And sounding lyre, “ Could swell the soul to rage, or kindle soft desire : .• At last divine Cecilia came,

Inventress of the vocal frame," &c. So, in his former Ode: • But bright Cecilia rais'd the wonder higher, " When to her organ vocal breath was given ;

“ An Angel heard,

And straight appear’d,

“ Mistaking carth for heaven." Thus also, Congreve :

“ The soft enervate lyre is drown'd
“ In the deep organ's solemn sound:

adapted to religious worship, that circumstance might have entitled her to a place, though not to go extraordinary an elevation, among the improvers of

" In peals the breathing notes ascend the skies, .- Perpetual brcath the swelling notes supplics;

" And lasting as her namc,

Who forin'd the tuneful frame, • The immortal musick never dies." Brady, Bishop, and Yalden, also concur in ascribing, in thcir Odes, the invention of this instrument to Cecilia. But her claim to it is extremely questionable ; for an in. strument resembling the inodern organ is supposed to have been invented before her time. The most ancient proof, however, of a pneumatick organ that Dr. Burney could find, is a Greck cpigram in the AUTHOLOGIA, attributed to the Emperor Julian tlic Apostate, who flou. rished about the year 364. Hist. of Musick, i. 65. The Hydraulicon, or Water-Organ, is of much higher antiquity, being invcnted (according to Athenæus, iv. 174,) by Ctesibius, in the time of thc second Ptolemy Evergetes, about thirty years before Christ. Of this instrument, however, the original idea was furnished by Plato; who invented a night-clock, or water-clock, which told the hours by the sound of flutcs, modulated by water.

The learned Dr. Powel leaves this question in doubt. “ All instruments of musick (says he) were by the Latins called Organa, Organs. But that which is more especially called by that name, makes a grave solemn musick, like the sober Dorick, and hath been very anciently used, with psalmodies, in divine service; the inventor whereof was King David, as some affirm.” HUMANE INDUSTRY, 8vo. 1661, p. 108.-Milbourne, who never has any doubts, treats our author on this subject with his usual

« PreviousContinue »