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famous cupola-painter of those times, to show the grandeur and boldness of his figures, bath a horn in his mouth, which he seems
to wind with great strength and force. On the contrary, an eminent artist, who wrought up his pictures with the greatest accuracy,
gave them all those delicate touches which are apt to please the nicest eye, is represented as tuning a theorbo. The same kind of humour runs through the whole piece.
I have often, from this hint, imagined to myself, that different talents in discourse might be shadowed out after the same manner by different kinds of music ; and that the several conversable parts of maukind in this great city, might be cast into proper characters and divisions, as they resemble several instruments that are in use among the masters of harmony. Of these, therefore, in their order; and first of the Drum.
Your Drums are the blusterers in conversation, that, with a loud laugh, unnatural mirth, and a torrent of noise, domineer in public assemblies; overbear men of sense ; stun their companions; and fill the place they are in with a rattling sound, that hath seldom any wit, humour, or good breeding in it. The drum, notwithstanding, by this boisterous vivacity, is very proper to impose upon the ignorant; and in conversation with ladies who are not of the finest taste, often passes for a man of nirth and wit, and for wonderful pleasant company. I need not observe, that the emptiness of the Drum very much contributes to its noise.
The Lute is a character directly opposite to the Drum, that sounds very finely by itself, or in a very small consort. Its notes are exquisitely sweet, and very low, easily drowned in a multitude of instruments, and even lost among a few, unless you give a particular attention to it. A Lute is seldom heard in a company of more than five, whereas a Drum will show itself to advantage in an assembly of five hundred. The Lutenists, therefore, are men of a five genius, uncommon reflection, great affability, and esteemed chiefly by persons of a good taste, who are the only proper judges of so delightful and soft a melody
The Trumpet is an instrument that has in it no compass of wusic, or variety of sound, but is notwithstanding very agreeable, so long as it keeps within its pitch. It has not above four or five notes, which are however very pleasing, and capable of exquisite turns and modulations. The gentlemen who fall under this denomination, are your men of the most fashionable education, and refined breeding, who have learned a certain smoothness of disa course and sprightliness of air, from the polite company they have kept; but at the same time have shallow parts, weak judgments, and a short reach of understanding. A play-house, a drawing-room, a ball, a visiting-day, or a Ring at Hyde-park, are the few notes they are masters of, which they touch upon in all conversations. The Trumpet, however, is a necessary instrument about a court, and a proper enlivener of a consort, though of po great harmony by itself.
Violins are the lively, forward, importunate wits, that distinguish themselves by the flourishes of imagination, sharpness of repartee, glances of satire, and bear away the upper part in every consort. I cannot, however, but observe, that when a man is not disposed to bear music, there is not a more disagreeable sound in harmony than that of a Violin.
There is another musical instrument, which is more frequent in this nation than any other; I mean your Bass-viol, which grumbles in the bottom of the consort, and with a surly masculine sound streugthens
the harmony and tempers the sweetness of the several instruments that play along with it. The Bass-viol is an instrument of a quite different nature to the Trumpet, and may signify men of rough sense and unpolished parts; who do not love to hear themselves talk, but sonetimes break out with an agreeable bluntness, unexpected wit, and surly pleasantries, to the no small diversion of their friends and companions. In short, I look upon every sensible, true-born Briton to be naturally a Bass-viol.
As for your rural wits, who talk with great eloquence and alacrity of foxes, hounds, horses, quickset-hedges, and six-bar gates, double ditches, and broken vecks, I am in doubt whether I should give them a place in the conversable world. However, if they will content themselves with being raised to the dignity of Hunting-borns, I shall desire, for the future, that they may be known by that name.
I must not here omit the Bag-pipe species, that will entertain you from morning to night with the repetition of a few notes, which are played over and over, with the perpetual humming of a drone running underneath them. These are your dull, heavy, tedious story-tellers, the load and burden of conversations, that set up for men of importance, by knowing secret history, and giving an account of transactions, that whether they ever passed in the world or not, doth not signify an half-penny to its instruction, or its welfare. Some have observed. that the Northern parts of this island are more particularly fruitful in Bag-pipes.
They are so very few persons who are masters in every kind of conversation, and can talk on all subjects, that I do not know whether we should make a distinct species of them. Nevertheless, that scheme may not be defective, for the sake of those
few who are endowed with such extraordinary ta. lents, I shall allow them to be Harpsichords, a kind of music which every one knows is a consort by itself.
As for your Passing bells, who look upon mirth as criminal, and talk of nothing but what is melapcholy in itself, aud mortifying to human nature, I shall not mention them.
I shall likewise pass over in silence all the rabble of mankind, that crowd our streets, coffee-houses, feasts, and public tables. I cannot call their discourse conversation, but rather something that is practised in imitation of it. For which reason, if I would describe them by any musical instrument, it should be by those modern inventions of the bladder and string, tongs and key, marrow-bone and cleaver.
My reader will doubtless observe, that I have only touched here upon male instruments, having reserved my female consort to anotber occasion. If he has a mind to know where these several characters are to be met with, I could direct him to a wbole club of Drums; not to mentiou another of Bag-pipes, which I have before given some account of in my description of our nightly meetings in Sheer-lane. The Lutes may often be met with in couples upon the banks of a crystal stream, or in the retreats of shady woods, and flowery meadows; which, for different reasons, are likewise the great resort of your Hunting-horns. Bas3-viols are frequently to be found over a glass of stale beer, and a pipe of tobacco; whereas, those who set up for Violins, seldom fail to make their appearance at Will's once every evening. You may meet with a Trumpet anywhere on the other side of Charing
That we may draw sometbing for our advantage
in life out of the foregoing discourse, I must intreat my reader 10 make a narrow search into his life and conversation, and, upon his leaving any company, to examine himself seriously, whether he has behaved himself in it like a Drum or a Trumpet, a Violin or a Bass-viol; and accordingly endeavour to inend his music for the future. For my own part, I must confess I was a Drum for many years; nay, and a very noisy one, until, having polished myself a little in good company, I threw as much of the Trumpet into my conversation, as was possible for a man of an impetuous temper, by which mixture of different musics I look upon myself, during the course of many years, to have resembled a Tabor and Pipe. I have since very much endeavoured at the sweetness of the Lute; but, in spite of all my resolutions, I must confess, with great confusion, that I find myself daily degenerating into a Bag, pipe; whether it be the effect of my old age, or of the
company I keep, I know not. All that I can do is to keep a watch over my conversation, and to silence the Drone as soon as I find it begin to hum in my discourse, being determined rather to hear the notes of others, than to play out of time, and encroach
upon their parts in the consort by the noise of so tiresome an instrument.
I shall conclude this Paper with a letter which I received last night from a friend of mine, who knows very well my notions upon this subject, and invites me to pass the evening at his house, with a select company of friends, in the following: words:
“ DEAR ISAAC, “I intend to have a consort at my house this evening, having by great chance got a Harpsiebord,