Page images

by a good theologian of the present the baseness to contrive. One secs very day.

well that when Clytemnestra comes to Ch. O deem not such pretence will screen herself, she cannot but have a contempt thy guilt

for a man so greatly herinferior in mind Yet it may be that on thy spirit fell

and courage ; and in this discovery, The unseen vengeance so that blood is her punishment, we will see, partly spilt

consist. How finely Homer has toucha Of the son of him who gave that feast of ed the same moral chord, in the bitter hell !

contempt which he every now and That is to say, that Clytemnestra

then makes Helen express for the was undoubtedly herself guilty of a

mean qualities of Paris ! The Chorus, very atrocious crime, although she who are aware of the despicable characmight, at the same time, be an instru- ter of Egisthus, say to the Queen, ment of retribution in the hand of


Woman! woman! providence for avenging the former And couldst thou really stain thy husband's crimes of the family,-so that Mr bed Sehlegel seems to be mistaken in an With such a man as this, tho' left the idea of which he is very fond, that the guardian Greek tragic poets inculcate the no- Of his house in absence--and then plot his tion of an irresistible destiny in human

deathaffairs, and that even the gods them. That hero's death, the moment he returned selves were supposed to be subject to

From the victorious field ! the control of this blind power. It This is one of the scenes in which was very natural for a person in the the poet comes a little upon the borcircumstances of Clytemnestra to ders of comedy, and although it is all catch at such a notion; but the poet very natural, yet it rather lowers the gives his own sentiments by the mouth elevated tone of inspiration to which of the Chorus. The moral with which he had risen. Both in the prophetic they close their disputation with the grandeur of Cassandra, and in the wild Queen, is quite in the same strain of fanaticism which partly veils and partsound thinking.

ly magnifies the guilt of ClytemnesCh. Hard 'tis to judge how onward go- tra, the strain of his poetry is more ing

than human, and we feel something The stream of fate will issue in its flowing! of a shock in being brought down aOne thing is clear that retribution gain into the intercourse of vulgar Is in the plan of never-ending Jove

mortals. Egisthus and the Chorus The slayer in his turn is slain,

proceed so far in their violence, that Pollution

they are on the point of fairly fighting Brings on pollution's stain !

it out with drawn swords, when Clya In the last scene of the drama, temnestra interferes. Her speech is Egisthus makes his appearance. He, very striking. The intoxication and too, comes in with his mouth filled fervour of her fancy seem to have subwith the justice of a divine retribu- sided: the wisdom of a superior mind ţion, of which he represents himself remains, -and the stings of conscience, as the instrument. He, it seems, was

now beginning to work upon her, the only remaining child of Thyestes, leave us satisfied with the justice of and, having been saved from the mase the ways of heaven. sacre of the rest, lived at a distance


My dearest life from his country. He returned in the Blood hath enough been spilt—what has absence of Agamemnon, corrupted his been done wife, and laid himself out for the per- Of evil already is a bloody harvest, petration of this black scheme of he- Which we shall reap in tears—no more I reditary vengeance. The Chorus and he have an altercation, in which nei. Go to your houses, old men, as your for. ther party appear with much dignity. There is nothing respectable or great Orders, obey !-We yielded to the time in Egisthus; he seems to be a inere

And 'twas necessity compelled our act vapouring coxcomb, and the Chorus If 'tis our punishment, you seek-alas! twit him with his cowardice in not It hath begun already, and will on having himself had resolution to per

Under the torturing scourge ! form the audacious deed which he had The play then ends somewhat ab.

pray thee.



ruptly. It is, in fact, the first only convinced are her neighbours of her of a series of three dramas ; and as the supernatural powers, and so inveterate remaining two are preserved, we have is their hatred against her. Six years in the Agamemnon, the Chöephorae, ago, a boat having been for some and the Eumenides, the only exam- months unfortunate in fishing, a counple still extant of an entire Trilogy- cil of war was held among the elder of which kind of series, some account fishers, and it was agreed that the is to be found in the very eloquent boat should be exorcised, and that and ingenious work of M. Schlegel. Janet was the spirit which tormented

It may be observed, in concluding, it. Accordingly, the ceremony of that a bigoted adiniration of ancient exorcism was performed as follows: writers is not much the fault of the In each boat there is a cavity called present age, and we may perhaps ra- the tap-hole ; on this occasion the holther forget, at times, their real merit low was filled with a particular kind and genius. There is, therefore, some of water, furnished by the mistress of use in reviving occasionally the im- the boat, * a straw effigy of poor Janet pressions of their excellence; and was placed over it, and had they darhowever feebly such an attempt may ed to touch her life, Janet herself be executed, yet, to have made it is would have been there. The boat not entirely undeserving of commen- was then rowed out to sea before sundation.

rise, and, to use the technical expression, the figure was burnt between the

sun and the sky, i. e. after daylight apCURIOUS REMAINS OF POPULAR SU- peared, but before the sun rose above

the horizon, while the master called

aloud, 'Avoid ye, Satan! The boat MR EDITOR,

was then brought home, and since DUNDEE, as you know, was the last that time has been as fortunate as any place in Scotland where the public belonging to the village. execution of a witch took place; and This is the only living witch with the witch burnt there was neither so whom I am personally acquainted ; old, so ugly, nor so poor, as these un- but they seem to have abounded in fortunate persons usually are. That the country about sixty years ago, and Grizzel Jamfrey was not poor, how- there are several persons alive who ever, was probably the cause of her would not scruple to affirm upon oath, death ; for the lawyers who could that the late Laird of L- - really prove the crime of witchcraft against shot a witch in the shape of a hare, any person, were rewarded by great with a silver button, after she had part, if not the whole, of what the been hunted under that form by dogs convict died possessed of,—no small and men ineffectually for many years. temptation to use diligence. But It seems that the witch was his garthough the modern capital of Angus dener's wife, who put on the form of is thus distinguished in the annals of a malkin for the purpose of spoiling demonology, I did not expect to find the kail and barking the young trees, the belief in witchcraft so general a- and that the laird watched his oppormong the lower classes, as you will tunity, and put her to death while perceive it is from the following ac- nibbling a fine head of curled kail ; count, the heroine of which is my very the supposed hare, on feeling herself near neighbour.

wounded, leaped in at the window; Janet Kindy, otherwise Hurkle L- followed her instantly, and Jean, is poor, old, and deformed; saw, as he suspected, nothing but the her evil eye is so dreaded in this woman taking off her bloody clothes neighbourhood, that the sickness •of to go to bed. He called her husband children and cattle is often attributed to her assistance, and she died that to it, and if she happen to cross a night. fisherman's path as he goes to his boat, Can any of your correspondents exthe fishing is invariably spoiled for that day. I verily believe that nothing but the fear of the law prevents Review for February 1812, on the subject

* See a note on p. 318 of the Edinburgh the tragedy of the witches of Pitten- of Lapland incantations, which may illus, weem from being acted over again, so trate this method of casting out evil spirits.

plain why the hare is supposed so very turn.” The request was complied convenient a form for a witch ? Not with, and the moment the knite was long ago a man going to Chapple taken up, the poor culprits, wearied Churnside on a May morning, saw in with fourteen hours involuntary danca meadow near the road, nine pair of ing, fell down exhausted. malkins dancing in couples, and

twelve I know not if we are more superstidancing singly. One of the dancers tious here than elsewhere. If so, we suddenly exclaimed, “ Weel footed probably owe it to our constant interLucky Forgel,” to which another re- course with Scandinavia, the very plied, “Aha, but Jeany Mathers home of all witchcraft, from the days waurs me.” He related the story; it of Odin downwards. Here Noroway is needless to add, that Lucky Forgel is always talked of'as the land to which and Jeany Mathers have been good witches repair for their unholy meetwitches ever since.

ings. 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, they are not of historical importance and said to a neighbour who was go- as facts, yet as circumstantial eviing the same road, “Willy, when yedence they may rank after the proofs see some folk dancing by the hill side afforded by language and customs. the way ye are going, look about ye

M. G. for a sinall gully, draw it out of the B-in Angus, ground, and give it me when ye re- Jan. 7, 1818.




DESULTORY OBSERVATIONS ON SOME reached us from London, and excited OF THE CAUSES OF THE WANT OF curiosity, we continued almost in a

state of apathy with regard to music, FORMANCES IN EDINBURGH; WITH till the year 1815, when the public HINTS FOR THE FORMATION OF A attention was roused by the project of PHILHARMONIC SOCIETY.

a Musical Festival. The success at

tending this was quite astonishing, MR EDITOR,

and would probably have been the The Scotch have obtained a degree same, even without the skill and of reputation for being musical, to judgment with which the whole was which, in fact, as a nation, we have as conducted ;-curiosity would have yet very little pretension. For our done the business. It was quite a simple melodies we profess and feel new thing in Scotland, and we wish the most sincere attachment; but it to see it repeated. Since the Festival, may be doubted whether we are much we have heard that all the Misses who alive to music, properly so called. possess piano-fortes, (and what Miss, That this doubt is not altogether un- from the village ale-house to the pafounded, may be proved by appealing lace, has not her piano ?) have been to the fate of almost every able pro- thrumming away at the skeletons of fessor who has settled ainong us. Handel's overtures

and choruses, Not one of them has been substan- without understanding them in the tially benefited by the exercise of his least. Among ignorant pretenders to talents in this country; and many of musical knowledge and taste, fashion them have died in a state of absolute possesses an irresistible sway; and wretchedness, leaving their families their enjoyment of it does not in a state of ubject poverty and mi- proceed from the music itself, but sery. It may be said, that this was from the self-gratulation of being owing to their own folly and dissipa- able to play (as is fondly believed) tion; and I am not inclined to at- what is new or in vogue, without tempt to wipe away a charge which the possibility of deriving pleasure in too many instances is true. But from the beauties of what is before dissipation is often the result of despair them. arising from neglect; and of neglect It is not supposed that musical ta, we must accuse ourselves, and of the lent is more rare in Scotland than in display of empty benches on almost other countries ; but it is apprehendevery occasion of musical performance. ed that musical education is by no Regular concerts have never succeed- means what it ought to be. Teachers, ed in Edinburgh ; and, although there in general, are required only to instruct exist other causes of failure, beside their pupils in the art of reading and the want of knowledge of music, yet moving the fingers; but we very selthis last is clearly the reason why pa- dom find that the pupils are taught to tronage is so sparingly bestowed on understand music. We frequently professors.

listen to brilliant, and, sometimes The exertions of a few amateurs, united with it, accurate, execution on towards the end of last century, es- the piano-forte.; and are mortified to tablished regular concerts at St Ceci- find that the player moves her fingers lia's (now Freemasons') Hall. Fo- with mere mechanical dexterity, folreign professors were encouraged to lowing implicitly what is set down, settle in Edinburgh; and, for a tiine, without seeming to feel the beauties, that is, while the impression of novel- or to be aware of any defects in the ty remained, the concerts were well piece. The taste of a composer leads attended. After a few years, how- him to put down the marks F. P. Cr. ever, they began to droop; and, if I Dim. &c. where his judgment directs; recollect well, the last appearance of but it is no unfrequent occurrence to a crowd in St Cecilia's Hall, was on find a good musician display his own the occasion of the performance of feeling in opposition to thatof the comthe celebrated violin player Giornovi- poser. For those who are not good musiehi. Since that period every attempt cians, it is indeed very dangerous toata to carry on regular concerts has fail- tempt this. The rules of harmony are ed; and, unless when some great scarcely ever understood, even by lasinger, or instrumental performer, dies whose performance on the pianowas announced, whose fame had forte is greatly admired. Few of them

can take up a piece in score, and study vation reminds me of an anecdote, its harmony at the fire-side; they which may not be alt gether out of can do nothing but strike the keys re- place here. I happened one morning ferred to by the notes on the paper; to visit the manufactory of Messrs nay, few can tell whether a simple Muir, Wood, and Company,* for the bass is good or bad. Not that they purpose of examining the large organ are incapable, but they have not been which was built by them for the Rotaught what should be the very foun- man Catholic Chapel of Glasgow. I dation of musical education. Any found there a party of gaily dressed one who will take the trouble to in- women, young and old, listening to quire, will find, that not one lady in the Hallelujah chorus. When it was a hundred can tune her own piano- finished, one asked another, “What's forte ; and this, because she does not that he played ?"-"I dinna ken." know the relative sounds of what is The performer told them, and they required in common tuning, of fifths, stared. One of the young ladies, who and octaves.

The consequence is, appeared not the most bashful of the that we are shocked every day by party, brushed up, and seated herself hearing pieces played on piano-fortes at the key-board. She seemed someout of tune, and by observing that the what puzzled by the triple row of players are not at all aware of the state keys, and aspiring to the highest, exof their instruments. If the ear be pressed her surprise loudly, when she not sufficiently good to perceive tie found the bàss cliff absolutely imdistinction of sounds in a scale, and moveable. However, she got sound when two or more sounds harmonize, at last on the great organ, and began it cannot enable its possessor to en- to play a reel when it was full. I was joy music. But I believe that the much pleased to observe that the horears of almost all who can play are rid effect staggered the whole party; sufficiently good for the purposes of though they could not probably tell tuning, and only require to be drilled just at the moment, what it was that a little in the practice of it. If teach- caused their surprise and disgust. Oners of music would attend to this, they ly a single voice exclaimed, “ What's would save themselves much trouble, the use o' an organ if yin canna play by enabling their pupils to correct reels on’t ?" It was evident that the themselves the instant when, by ace contrast between the rich harmony cident, or carelessness, they strike a wrong key; and, by teaching the ear to be offended when an instrument or There is nothing more worthy of the a voice is out of tune, their pupils will attention of the curious, than this manugradually feel their natural talents de- factory. The extent of the operations carFeloped, and insensibly their taste will ried on, and the spirit with which the become not only correct, but refined. whole is conducted, do infinite credit to The defect in practical instruction, to the projectors, and to our city; and there which I have alluded, must tend great- can be no doubt that the instruments made ly to injure young ears naturally good; here will soon rival those manufactured in and, I believe, it has been objected to and Wood nearly equal the London mak

In piano-forte making, Muir Logier's system, that the pupils are

ers already; and a little more attention to constantly in the habit of hearing dis- the seasoning of the materials, on which cord from a great number of piano- depends very much the length of time durfortes, which cannot be kept in con ing which an instrument will keep in tune, cord, and the effect of which is but ill wil probably render us independent of the disguised by the artful introduction of English metropolis. In organs, all the an organ.

stops without reeds are generally good ; From what has been said, it is by though, as yet, not so equally voiced as no means difficult to conceive that those made in London. Reed stops reearly bad habits, and want of proper even in London, there is but one maker,

quire very great skill and attention, and, instruction in the nature of harmony, Elliot, whose reed stops are remarkable for . are the seeds from which have sprung standing a long time in tune. We have that indifference to the works of great no doubt, however, that the enterprising musicians performed in concert, which manufacturers we have named will exert seems to pervade Scotland ; and that themselves in this department. No instruapparent inability to enjoy any thing ment is so well adapted for teaching har. beyond simple melody. This obsera mony as the organ.

« PreviousContinue »