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ing to himself: "Now they have finished the first act, now comes such a song," &c.; and then would sigh to think how soon he must leave all this. Who has not heard the mysterious history of his "Requiem ?" He poured out the fevered current of his life in the hurried yet anxiously prolonged composition of it, and realized his own presentiment, that the Requiem which was ordered by the stranger, would prove his own! He died Dec. 5th, 1791.
So passed his short life, like a strain of his own music, alternating between the sweet sad ecstasy of love and the shudder of awe. Sensibility and marvellousness were the whole of him. All things in this world were nothing to him, save as the heart has property in them. His life was one intense longing to be loved; his music the expression of it, and in a great degree the satisfaction of it-Heaven's answer to his prayer. Such fond sensibility always stands on the very brink of the infinite, thrilled with strange raptures or strange fears. Love is full of presentiments; and no mortal seems to have had so much of that as he. The flesh-veil which separated him from the world of spirits was very thin and transparent. His senses fed his soul. The life of the senses was with him a spiritual life. His exquisite physical organization was truly a harp of many strings, that always thrilled with unearthly music; and in his music sense and spirit met and mingled. Hence there is a certain voluptuousness in all his music, without the least impurity. It is earnest and sad withal as the voice of the nightingale. He was born to give expression to all the passions, the loves, hopes, fears, longings, sorrows and presentiments of the private heart. He took no eagle flights up into the impersonal, the universal. That was for such as Handel. Strong, impartial, calm regard for all that is, that was too bracing an element for one so delicately strong. Love and preference, romance and tragedy, the changing hues of passion, and the Aladdin's lamp of the imagination, which stands nearer than we think to every one, and is quickly lit by feeling; these, and the superstitions of the heart, the dreadful dreams (so natural) of seeing the opposite of what we ardently wish, of being the opposite of what we strive to be; these compose the sweetness and the
strength of his music; the exquisite melody and the harsh terrific passages which so often interrupt it. Handel is naturally strong; calmly, always so. Mozart is sometimes strong; but then it is with violence, with convulsion, more like striving after strength. Handel invigorates us to that pitch, that the great, broad, monotonous ocean, the monotonous day-light, the wide unvaried plain, the mere masses and spaces of life, and the great wide waste of monotonous reality which lies around us in our dull moods, become conversible and full of novelty to us. But in the spirit of Mozart we should feel sea-sick on the ocean; we should feel strange all through the garish day, and long for moonlight bowers and the magic coloring of sentiment and fancy.
I began with speaking of the man— I find myself speaking of his musicthey are so inseparable and will run into each other. The anecdotes about his delicate musical organization, when a child, about his asking every one "do you love me?" and about his strange presentiment of death, furnish all the texts and mottos for his life and for his music. In him, therefore, we have the finest development of the dramatic element in music. In him music appears as the natural language of the affections and passions, and of the imagination which is passion's slave. The Pathetic and the Romantic made him the genius of the Opera. Gluck, his predecessor, the great reformer of the French opera, was perhaps more operatic in this sense, that all his melodies depend on dramatic situation for their effect. Rossini and others are more operatic in the modern sense of the word, which means brilliant, startling, all for effect. But Mozart's melodies and symphonies are the language of the heart, and explain themselves as well without action and scenery as with. Merely played over on the piano, without any knowledge of the story, there is infinite interest in one of his operas. And as for effect, for richness, and inexhaustible novelty of invention, the boldest of modern operas is still tame in comparison. Thousands of operas have only lived through a short day of fashion, satisfying the love of novelty, nothing more. But Don Juan and the Magic Flute can never become hacknied. They swarm with ideas, which require no coloring or setting off to
make them pass; the charm is intrinsic. The novel effects of Rossini, and still more of Myerbeer and the modern French schools, strike with overwhelming power. But these haunt us and become part of us. You find a parallel in them for all that is most tender in Bellini, most sparkling in Rossini, and most dark and bodeful in Von Weber.
Not forgetting, therefore, that he was great in all forms of composition, that he stands between Haydn and Beethoven in the symphony, as one of the rulers of the mighty deep of instrumental music, and that his masses and his "requiem" yield the palm of churchmusic to none but Handel, Bach, and Beethoven, it is as the representative of the opera that we would chiefly consider him. In that he confessedly is greatest. In whatever he did he leaned to the dramatic style; his masses and anthems breathe a too scholastic and impassioned spirit for the more sublime, impersonal religion of this Protestant era of the intellect; but are more suited to the religion of the Catholic, which takes the form of personal love to the Virgin. His instrumental works are distinguished by what is called the cantabile or singing style ; or else by somewhat harsh and violent attempts to break away from it;-how else can we account for what we are told that his symphonies, the symphonies of the delicate and sentimental Mozart, are among the noisiest works of that class? The Opera was the first leap of the genius of music, from its cradle in the Church, where it had been held down till well nigh bed-ridden and paralyzed forever, out into the free secular air. It was the idealizing of the hopes and fears, the loves and sorrows, and the whole tragedy of private life. Music sought its own in this natural, spontaneous religion of the human heart. It became a voice to the good tendency which there is at the bottom of all our love of excitement and pleasure. It saved the senses from wandering away out of all hearing of the soul. It refined sensuality into a love of beauty; and developed in passion the divine restlessness, the prophetic aspiration of the soul, which is at the bottom of it; and thus effected in a measure a reconciliation between the higher and the lower tendencies in man, between the spirit and the flesh, between the sacred and the secular. The opera makes a
purely ideal thing out of a personal history. It does away all the reserve and disguise, all the common-place there is in human intercourse; and satisfies our craving for expression, by showing us men and women moving together in so strong a light that they become transparent. Passions, feelings, desires live and move and interact before us without any screen of dullness or imperfect utterance. The whole rude materials are fused together in music, which is a perfect medium of communication. The dramatis persona of an opera, therefore, are so many personified passions or emotions. They are the inward history, the present inward lives of so many men and women, passing before us instead of their outward forms, which are more or less conventional, certainly fixtures of old habit, and therefore impervious to the light. What romance, what tragedy there would be in every little scene of daily life, could we only remove this veil of custom and appearance. This music does. It lifts the veil, it banishes the obstructions, it abridges the time, concentrates the interest, throws away the extraneous and accidental, compresses the life of days and years into as many moments, giving life the speed it would have in a less resisting element, and shows how spirits would live in time and space, but not at all limited thereby.. It does away the fiction, and shows the effect in the cause. In an opera, therefore, there are very few words, and a very slight skeleton of a story. When we see the spirits, what they are, we do not want to know what they will do. They sing themselves to us; the story is no more than the stage on which they stand. Could we know the feelings of men, we should learn at once, what their actions could only gradually and by a roundabout way reveal to us. Music is the spontaneous language of feeling. We seldom act or speak naturally. But when we do, the mere tone, without words, indicates enough. We know men by their voice more infallibly than by almost any sign. The opera composer, therefore, must be he who knows most of this natural language of the feelings; and of course he must be a person of sensibility.
But the Opera meets another want of
It supplies the craving of the senses for excitement, quenching the thirst of pleasure with a healthy
draught. It feeds the appetite with a nectar that is good also for the soul. Our tendency to excess, which it is dangerous to deny, dangerous to indulge unworthily, overflows with graceful self-recovery in the world of art and beauty. Transport is a necessity of every noble nature. And there is no music like Mozart's, to transport one into a voluptuousness, that does not smack of earth or aught impure. He in music, and Raphael in colors, have taught us the spiritual ministry of the senses. Through music Handel rises above the life of the senses. Through music Mozart bears a charmed life in the sphere of the senses. The consecration of the senses, the idealizing of common life seems to be the meaning of the opera.
But this it can never effect entirely. With the very zest of pleasure, with the very transport of love, comes a capacity for melancholy. Almost of its own accord, as if by a law of nature, the key modulates into the minor mode. There is a vein of sadness in all pathetic music; witness Bellini; witness equally, in spite of greater wealth and strength and elasticity, Mozart. He composed some comic operas; but there is no comedy in them; except the comedy which consists in the contrast of a pathetic melody with a ludicrous theme, as in the famous song of Leporello, in which he gives the catalogue of Don Juan's mistresses, and his recipes for the successful wooing of every kind of subject. Sad as the nightingale is all his music, when divested of the words. Don Juan's own melodies seem mournfully to rebuke the desperado.
Of fancy and romantic invention I will not speak as a separate requisite in the opera. Whoever has fine senses, and a soul for love, necessarily is something of a poet. Imagination is the Ariel which waits on all strong feeling. Every musical composer is fond of romantic subjects. Feeling was the "Magic Flute," which brought fairy-land around him. A writer, speaking of this opera, so called, says: "The story, which is like the wandering of a delirious imagination, harmonizes divinely with the genius of the musician. I am convinced, that if Mozart had been a writer, his pen would have been employed in depicting scenes like that where the negro, Mo
nostates, comes in the silence of the night, by the light of the moon, to steal a kiss from the lips of the sleeping Princess."
But why does sadness wait so peculiarly on those who have the keenest sense of enjoyment, those who have the fairest dreams, the most refined excitements? those who know most of the heaven of this life? It is to show that Aspiration lies nearer to the principle of life than Ecstasy itself; that the Present can never satisfy; that behind the Finite is the Infinite, and just when we are happiest, we pause upon the brink of it. An awe, a sense of mystery, a vague foreboding necessarily darkens the harmonies of so much luxury of sense and feeling. How full of presentiment, of what the Germans call
Ahnung," was Mozart's life! how full of it his music! dark, sudden modulations; low murmuring tremulos stealing in in the accompaniments; and all those passages which we associate on the stage with luminous smoke-clouds of unearthly-colored light, rising up out of the ground, and vague forms of spirits and demons moving within. We shudder while we admire. Love trembles at the stirring of a leaf; its hour is so precious, it cannot be careful enough of danger.
We have thus all the elements which enter into the composition of his greatest opera, "Don Juan." It seems at first a waste of so much fine music, to couple it with a mere story of a desperate rake, finally brought to judgment in a most marvellous way; namely, by inviting in jest the statue of an old man whom he had murdered, the father of the heroine whom he sought to ruin, to sup with him; and being surprised in the midst of his feast by the statue in good earnest, with the whole posse comitatus of the lower world, rising to claim him. But it does not seem so when we come to enter into the spirit of it. His love of the marvellous and of fairy tales, naturally led him to this old tradition, which was part of the popular lore, and that for the good reason, that it is a purely ideal story, containing a truth for the mind only, so free from all the conditions of probability as to become ideal and consistent with itself, from that very fact. Moreover, what is Don Juan? Not a vulgar sensualist; but noble in mind and person, endowed with the finest gifts and
the loftiest aspirations, eager to embrace all, filled with an intense longing for sympathy which amounts to torment, blindly seeking relief in the excitement of the passion, still restless and disappointed, till love turns to hate, and aspiration to defiance, and he drinks the cup of pleasure to the dregs, not from sensuality, but from proud denial of the law, and, like a serpent charming a bird, seduces innocent woman to her ruin, in assertion of the devilish sense of power. No man ever came quite to this-but many have come to dread it. Beings, as we are,
inclined to excess, we dread the madness of it. Thirsting for love, we instinctively suspect a lurking wickedness in the desire to be loved for our own sakes, which if carried out may lead us far from the virtues which we should seek to make loved in us. Who more than the pleasure-loving, sympathy-seeking, sad, imaginative, Mozart, would be apt to shudder in dreams before the colossal shadow of what possibly he might become through unholy excess of the very qualities which made him diviner than common men?
LOOSE LEAVES OF A LITERARY LOUNGER.
A CHAPTER ON COSTLY AND CURIOUS BOOKS.
WITH what rapt enthusiasm will the confirmed bibliomaniac pounce upon, and pour over the scarce legible pages of some antique mouldering manuscript; or clutch, with miser grasp, the musty cover of his favorite black-letter tome of the olden time. This feeling, though peculiar in its intensity to the class referred to, is yet possessed in degree by most who prefer any claims to a literary taste. An attachment or veneration for books-for books as books-if not a conclusive test of all mental refinement, is at least its rarely absent concomitant. In the companionship of books how many immunities do we enjoy, which are denied us in our intercourse with men ;-with unobtrusive modesty, they trespass not upon us unbidden guests, nor do they ever outstay their welcome. Yet it must be admitted with a writer of the past century, that books, like friends, should be few and well chosen, and then like true friends we shall return to them again and again, well knowing they will never fail us, never cease to instruct, never cloy. Hazlett has indorsed this sentiment; he says, "I hate to read new books: there are twenty or thirty volumes that I have read over and over again, and these are the only ones I have any desire ever to read at all. When I take up a book I have read before, I know what to expect: the satisfaction
is not lessened by being anticipated:
around us is gone." Honor then to those gifted ones who can thus delight and instruct us: no praise or reward can be overpaid to them while they are amongst us, nor any homage too great when they are passed away. The works of an author are his embalmed mind; and grateful to the student's eye are the well understood hieroglyphics on this mental mummy-case that tell of the worthy preserved within. What was the extolled art of the Egyptians to this? Mind and bodythe poet and the monarch-Homer and king Cheops!
Hume says, "it is with books as with women, where a certain plainness of dress and style is more engaging than that glare of paint and apparel which so dazzle the eye, but reach not the affections;" yet it cannot be denied that one is invariably delighted with an elegant book. The casket should be worthy of the gem.
In his curious chapter on the Earlier Manuscripts, D'Israeli gives the following ludicrous anecdote illustrative of the mauvaise odeur which, in monkish times, attached to the classics. To read a profane author was deemed by the communities not only as a very idle recreation, but even held by some in great horror. To distinguish them, therefore, they invented a disgraceful sign; when a monk enquired for any pagan author, after making the general sign they used in their manual and silent language when they wanted a book, he added a particular one, which consisted in scratching under his ear, as a dog which feels an itching, scratches himself in that place with his paw
because, said they, an unbeliever is
Parnarme, writing to the King of Naples, says, "you lately wrote me from Florence that the works of Titus Livius are there to be sold, in very handsome books, and that the price of each is one hundred and twenty crowns of gold. Therefore I entreat your Majesty that you cause the same to be bought; and one thing I want to know of your prudence, whether I, or Poggius have done best,-he, that he might buy a country house near Florence, sold Livy, which he had writ in a very fine hand, or I, that I might purchase the books have exposed a piece of land for sale?"
In Spain, books were so exceedingly scarce about this time, that one and the same Bible often served for the use of And even the several Monasteries. Royal Library at Paris down to the fourteenth century possessed only four of the classic authors,-Cicero, Lucan, The bestowment Ovid and Boethius. of a book to a convent, was further