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by a good theologian of the present day.
Ch. O deem not such pretence will screen
Yet it may be that on thy spirit fell
Of the son of him who gave that feast of
the baseness to contrive. One sees very
With such a man as this, tho' left the
Of his house in absence--and then plot his
That is to say, that Clytemnestra was undoubtedly herself guilty of a very atrocious crime, although she might, at the same time, be an instrument of retribution in the hand of providence for avenging the former And couldst thou really stain thy husband's crimes of the family, so that Mr Schlegel seems to be mistaken in an idea of which he is very fond, that the Greek tragic poets inculcate the notion of an irresistible destiny in human affairs, and that even the gods them- That hero's death, the moment he returned selves were supposed to be subject to the control of this blind power. It was very natural for a person in the circumstances of Clytemnestra to catch at such a notion; but the poet gives his own sentiments by the mouth of the Chorus. The moral with which they close their disputation with the Queen, is quite in the same strain of sound thinking.
Ch. Hard 'tis to judge how onward go-
The stream of fate will issue in its flowing!
Brings on pollution's stain!
In the last scene of the drama, Egisthus makes his appearance. He, too, comes in with his mouth filled with the justice of a divine retribution, of which he represents himself as the instrument. He, it seems, was the only remaining child of Thyestes, and, having been saved from the massacre of the rest, lived at a distance from his country. He returned in the absence of Agamemnon, corrupted his wife, and laid himself out for the perpetration of this black scheme of hereditary vengeance. The Chorus and he have an altercation, in which neither party appear with much dignity. There is nothing respectable or great in Egisthus; he seems to be a inere vapouring coxcomb, and the Chorus twit him with his cowardice in not having himself had resolution to perform the audacious deed which he had
From the victorious field!
This is one of the scenes in which
the poet comes a little upon the bor-
My dearest life-
ruptly. It is, in fact, the first only of a series of three dramas; and as the remaining two are preserved, we have in the Agamemnon, the Chöephorae, and the Eumenides, the only example still extant of an entire Trilogyof which kind of series, some account is to be found in the very eloquent and ingenious work of M. Schlegel.
It may be observed, in concluding, that a bigoted admiration of ancient writers is not much the fault of the present age, and we may perhaps rather forget, at times, their real merit and genius. There is, therefore, some use in reviving occasionally the impressions of their excellence; and however feebly such an attempt may be executed, yet, to have made it is not entirely undeserving of commendation.
convinced are her neighbours of her
CURIOUS REMAINS OF POPULAR SU- peared, but before the sun rose above
PERSTITIONS IN FORFARSHIRE.
DUNDEE, as you know, was the last place in Scotland where the public execution of a witch took place; and the witch burnt there was neither so old, so ugly, nor so poor, as these unfortunate persons usually are. That Grizzel Jamfrey was not poor, however, was probably the cause of her death; for the lawyers who could prove the crime of witchcraft against any person, were rewarded by great part, if not the whole, of what the convict died possessed of,-no small temptation to use diligence. But though the modern capital of Angus is thus distinguished in the annals of demonology, I did not expect to find the belief in witchcraft so general among the lower classes, as you will perceive it is from the following account, the heroine of which is my very near neighbour.
Janet Kindy, otherwise Hurkle Jean, is poor, old, and deformed; her evil eye is so dreaded in this neighbourhood, that the sickness of children and cattle is often attributed to it, and if she happen to cross a fisherman's path as he goes to his boat, the fishing is invariably spoiled for that day. I verily believe that nothing but the fear of the law prevents the tragedy of the witches of Pittenweem from being acted over again, so
the horizon, while the master called
This is the only living witch with
followed her instantly, and
Can any of
your correspondents ex
Review for February 1812, on the subject
plain why the hare is supposed so very convenient a form for a witch? Not long ago a man going to Chapple Churnside on a May morning, saw in a meadow near the road, nine pair of malkins dancing in couples, and twelve dancing singly. One of the dancers suddenly exclaimed, "Weel footed Lucky Forgel," to which another replied, "Aha, but Jeany Mathers waurs me." He related the story; it is needless to add, that Lucky Forgel and Jeany Mathers have been good witches ever since.
turn." The request was complied
I know not if we are more superstitious here than elsewhere. If so, we probably owe it to our constant intercourse with Scandinavia, the very home of all witchcraft, from the days of Odin downwards. Here Noroway is always talked of as the land to which witches repair for their unholy meetings. No old fashioned person will But besides these vulgar witches, omit to break an eggshell if he sees Forfar has to boast a necromancer who one whole, lest it should serve to might have figured in Adelung's cu- convey them thither. A child is kept rious biography of fortunetellers, wi- quiet by telling it the Black Bull of zards, and quacks. William Grey, Noroway shall take it. In short, the kirk-officer of Forfar, in the early part powers anciently ascribed to the Runic of the 18th century, has left behind Lord, of arresting the flight of birds, him a name which embellishes many and the course of the winds by a a fire-side tale in his native county. word, seem to me to be given to the His intimacy with Satan was such, whole people of the North. Superthat he once procured his assistance natural acquirements and the gift to get sand from the bottom of the of prophecy, appear to all uncultivatloch of Forfar, by drawing the waters, ed nations so very desirable, that I not down to his own dominions, but am not astonished that our peasants upon the land towards the town. This should believe in them, any more operation, however, having endanger- than that Lucan should have deed the lives of the inhabitants, Grey scribed a witch, or Virgil a sybil; pathetically prevailed on his Sable but there is generally some great Majesty to remand them to their na- characteristic difference between the tive bed, by the promise of his first magicians of one country and those born child in case he should marry. of another. The palmistry of India He was, however, too cunning for his has now spread all over Europe; the master, dying unwedded. One of his divinations among the ancient Romost remarkable exploits I must re- mans, by the inspection of the entrails late. He was returning one night of a victim, is no longer remembered from a distant fair, when, in a lonely by the people. The Scandinavians road, he was waylaid and robbed. formerly practised the last; but they The robbers were preparing to mur- have never, I believe, used the first. der him, when he begged a few mo- Our Angus superstitions belong to the ments to pray. These were granted; more common practice of the northern and he farther begged the persons he nations, and that these have subsistwas engaged with to stand at a little ed so long among us, as well as in so distance, with which request they al- distant a country as Norway, is a fact so complied. Grey then knelt down, that I can only account for on the supand taking a small knife out of his position of our being members of the pocket, stuck it into the green sward same family, nursed on the same food, up to the heft, saying aloud, " Dance and brought up in the same habits. ye there till some one come to release If it be worth while to trace the fayou," when the spell fell on the milies of the earth, each to its genuine thieves, and they instantly danced root, perhaps these slight indications while Grey went safely home. Next of relationship may be useful, for if morning he remembered his knife, and said to a neighbour who was going the same road," Willy, when ye see some folk dancing by the hill side the way ye are going, look about ye for a small gully, draw it out of the ground, and give it me when ye re
they are not of historical importance
B——— in Angus,
DESULTORY OBSERVATIONS ON SOME
PATRONAGE FOR MUSICAL PER-
THE Scotch have obtained a degree of reputation for being musical, to which, in fact, as a nation, we have as yet very little pretension. For our simple melodies we profess and feel the most sincere attachment; but it may be doubted whether we are much alive to music, properly so called. That this doubt is not altogether unfounded, may be proved by appealing to the fate of almost every able professor who has settled among us. Not one of them has been substantially benefited by the exercise of his talents in this country; and many of them have died in a state of absolute wretchedness, leaving their families in a state of abject poverty and misery. It may be said, that this was owing to their own folly and dissipation; and I am not inclined to attempt to wipe away a charge which in too many instances is true. But dissipation is often the result of despair arising from neglect; and of neglect we must accuse ourselves, and of the display of empty benches on almost every occasion of musical performance. Regular concerts have never succeeded in Edinburgh ; and, although there exist other causes of failure, beside the want of knowledge of music, yet this last is clearly the reason why patronage is so sparingly bestowed on professors.
The exertions of a few amateurs, towards the end of last century, established regular concerts at St Cecilia's (now Freemasons') Hall. Foreign professors were encouraged to settle in Edinburgh; and, for a time, that is, while the impression of novelty remained, the concerts were well attended. After a few years, how ever, they began to droop; and, if I recollect well, the last appearance of a crowd in St Cecilia's Hall, was on the occasion of the performance of the celebrated violin player Giornovichi. Since that period every attempt to carry on regular concerts has failed; and, unless when some great singer, or instrumental performer, was announced, whose fame had
reached us from London, and excited curiosity, we continued almost in a state of apathy with regard to music, till the year 1815, when the public attention was roused by the project of a Musical Festival. The success attending this was quite astonishing, and would probably have been the same, even without the skill and judgment with which the whole was conducted;-curiosity would have done the business. It was quite a new thing in Scotland, and we wish to see it repeated. Since the Festival, we have heard that all the Misses who possess piano-fortes, (and what Miss, from the village ale-house to the palace, has not her piano?) have been thrumming away at the skeletons of Handel's overtures and choruses, without understanding them in the least. Among ignorant pretenders to musical knowledge and taste, fashion possesses an irresistible sway; and their enjoyment of it does not proceed from the music itself, but from the self-gratulation of being able to play (as is fondly believed] what is new or in vogue, without the possibility of deriving pleasure from the beauties of what is before them.
It is not supposed that musical ta lent is more rare in Scotland than in other countries; but it is apprehended that musical education is by no means what it ought to be. Teachers, in general, are required only to instruct their pupils in the art of reading and moving the fingers; but we very seldom find that the pupils are taught to understand music. We frequently listen to brilliant, and, sometimes united with it, accurate, execution on the piano-forte; and are mortified to find that the player moves her fingers with mere mechanical dexterity, following implicitly what is set down, without seeming to feel the beauties, or to be aware of any defects in the piece. The taste of a composer leads him to put down the marks F. P. Cr. Dim. &c. where his judgment directs; but it is no unfrequent occurrence to find a good musician display his own feeling in opposition to that of the composer. For those who are not good musicians, it is indeed very dangerous to attempt this. The rules of harmony are scarcely ever understood, even by ladies whose performance on the pianoforte is greatly admired. Few of them
can take up a piece in score, and study its harmony at the fire-side; they can do nothing but strike the keys referred to by the notes on the paper; nay, few can tell whether a simple bass is good or bad. Not that they are incapable, but they have not been taught what should be the very foun dation of musical education. Any one who will take the trouble to inquire, will find, that not one lady in a hundred can tune her own pianoforte; and this, because she does not know the relative sounds of what is required in common tuning, of fifths, and octaves. The consequence is, that we are shocked every day by hearing pieces played on piano-fortes out of tune, and by observing that the players are not at all aware of the state of their instruments. If the ear be not sufficiently good to perceive the distinction of sounds in a scale, and when two or more sounds harmonize, it cannot enable its possessor to enjoy music. But I believe that the ears of almost all who can play are sufficiently good for the purposes of tuning, and only require to be drilled a little in the practice of it. If teachers of music would attend to this, they would save themselves much trouble, by enabling their pupils to correct themselves the instant when, by ac cident, or carelessness, they strike a wrong key; and, by teaching the ear to be offended when an instrument or a voice is out of tune, their pupils will gradually feel their natural talents de veloped, and insensibly their taste will become not only correct, but refined. The defect in practical instruction, to which I have alluded, must tend greatly to injure young ears naturally good; and, I believe, it has been objected to Logier's system, that the pupils are constantly in the habit of hearing discord from a great number of pianofortes, which cannot be kept in concord, and the effect of which is but ill disguised by the artful introduction of
vation reminds me of an anecdote, which may not be altogether out of place here. I happened one morning to visit the manufactory of Messrs Muir, Wood, and Company,* for the purpose of examining the large organ which was built by them for the Roman Catholic Chapel of Glasgow. I found there a party of gaily dressed women, young and old, listening to the Hallelujah chorus. When it was finished, one asked another, "What's that he played ?"-"I dinna ken." The performer told them, and they stared. One of the young ladies, who appeared not the most bashful of the party, brushed up, and seated herself at the key-board. She seemed somewhat puzzled by the triple row of keys, and aspiring to the highest, expressed her surprise loudly, when she found the bass cliff absolutely immoveable. However, she got sound at last on the great organ, and began to play a reel when it was full. I was much pleased to observe that the horrid effect staggered the whole party; though they could not probably tell just at the moment, what it was that caused their surprise and disgust. Only a single voice exclaimed, "What's the use o' an organ if yin canna play reels on't?" It was evident that the contrast between the rich harmony
There is nothing more worthy of the attention of the curious, than this manufactory. The extent of the operations carried on, and the spirit with which the whole is conducted, do infinite credit to the projectors, and to our city; and there can be no doubt that the instruments made here will soon rival those manufactured in
and Wood nearly equal the London makIn piano-forte making, Muir ers already; and a little more attention to the seasoning of the materials, on which depends very much the length of time during which an instrument will keep in tune, will probably render us independent of the English metropolis. In organs, all the stops without reeds are generally good; though, as yet, not so equally voiced as those made in London. Reed stops require very great skill and attention; and, Elliot, whose reed stops are remarkable for. even in London, there is but one maker, standing a long time in tune. We have no doubt, however, that the enterprising manufacturers we have named will exert themselves in this department. No instru ment is so well adapted for teaching harmony as the organ.