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a tenor. Only sometimes the thorough bass I con-
trive to guess at, from its being supereminently harsh
and disagreeable. I tremble, however, for my mis-
application of the simplest terms of that which I
disclaim. While I profess my ignorance, I scarce
know what to say I am ignorant of. I hate, per-
haps, by misnomers. Sostenuto and adagio stand in
the like relation of obscurity to me ; and Sol, Fa, Mi,
Re, is as conjuring as Baralipton.

It is hard to stand alone in an age like this,
(constituted to the quick and critical perception of
all harmonious combinations, I verily believe, beyond



8O A CHAPTER ON EARS.

all preceding ages, since Jubal stumbled upon the
gamut) to remain, as it were, singly unimpres-
sible to the magic influences of an art, which is
said to have such an especial stroke at soothing,
elevating, and refining the passions. Yet rather
than break the candid current of my confessions, I
must avow to you, that I have received a great
deal more pain than pleasure from this so cried-up
faculty.

I am constitutionally susceptible of noises. A
carpenter's hammer, in a warm summer noon, will
fret me into more than midsummer madness. But
those unconnected, unset sounds are nothing to the
measured malice of music. The ear is passive to
those single strokes ; willingly enduring stripes, while
it hath no task to con. To music it cannot be pas-
sive. It will strive mine at least will 'spite of
its inaptitude, to thrid the maze ; like an unskilled
eye painfully poring upon hieroglyphics. I have sat
through an Italian Opera, till, for sheer pain, and
inexplicable anguish, I have rushed out into the
noisiest places of the crowded streets, to solace my-
self with sounds, which I was not obliged to follow,
and get rid of the distracting torment of endless,
fruitless, barren attention ! I take refuge in the un-
pretending assemblage of honest common-life sounds ;
and the purgatory of the Enraged Musician be-
comes my paradise.



A CHAPTER ON EARS. 8l

I have sat at an Oratorio (that profanation of the
purposes of the cheerful playhouse) watching the
faces of the auditory in the pit (what a contrast to
Hogarth's Laughing Audience !) immovable, or af-
fecting some faint emotion, till (as some have
said, that our occupations in the next world will be
but a shadow of what delighted us in this) I have
imagined myself in some cold theatre in Hades,
where some of the forms of the earthly one should be
kept up, with none of the enjoyment; or like that

Party in a parlour,

All silent, and all DAMNED !

Above all, those insufferable concertos, and pieces
of music, as they are called, do plague and embitter
my apprehension. Words are something ; but to
be exposed to an endless battery of mere sounds ;
to be long a dying, to lie stretched upon a rack of
roses; to keep up languor by unintermitted effort;
to pile honey upon sugar, and sugar upon honey, to
an interminable tedious sweetness; to fill up sound
with feeling, and strain ideas to keep pace with it ;
to gaze on empty frames, and be forced to make the
pictures for yourself; to read a book, all stops, and
be obliged to supply the verbal matter; to invent
extempore tragedies to answer to the vague gestures
of an inexplicable rambling mime these are faint
shadows of what I have undergone from a series of
6



82 A CHAPTER ON EARS.

the ablest-executed pieces of this empty instrumental
music.

I deny not, that in the opening of a concert, I
have experienced something vastly lulling and agree-
able : afterwards followeth the languor, and the
oppression. Like that disappointing book in Patmos ;
or, like the comings on of melancholy, described by
Burton, doth music make her first insinuating ap-
proaches : "Most pleasant it is to such as are
melancholy given, to walk alone in some solitary
grove, betwixt wood and water, by some brook side,
and to meditate upon some delightsome and pleasant
subject, which shall affect him most, amabilis insania,
and mentis gratissimus error. A most incomparable
delight to build castles in the air, to go smiling
to themselves, acting an infinite variety of parts,
which they suppose, and strongly imagine, they act,
or that they see done. So delightsome these toys
at first, they could spend whole days and nights
without sleep, even whole years in such contempla-
tions, and fantastical meditations, which are like so
many dreams, and will hardly be drawn from them
winding and unwinding themselves as so many clocks,
and still pleasing their humours, until at the last the
SCENE TURNS UPON A SUDDEN, and they being now
habitated to such meditations and solitary places, can
endure no company, can think of nothing but harsh
and distasteful subjects. Fear, sorrow, suspicion,



A CHAPTER ON EARS. 83

subrusticus pudor, discontent, cares, and weariness
of life, surprise them on a sudden, and they can
think of nothing else : continually suspecting, no
sooner are their eyes open, but this infernal plague
of melancholy seizeth on them, and terrifies their
souls, representing some dismal object to their
minds ; which now, by no means, no labour, no per-
suasions they can avoid, they cannot be rid of it,
they cannot resist."

Something like this " SCENE-TURNING " I have ex-
perienced at the evening parties, at the house of my

good Catholic friend Nov / who, by the aid of

a capital organ, himself the most finished of players,
converts his drawing-room into a chapel, his week
days into Sundays, and these latter into minor
heavens.*

When my friend commences upon one of those
solemn anthems, which peradventure struck upon my
heedless ear, rambling in the side aisles of the dim
abbey, some five and thirty years since, waking a
new sense, and putting a soul of old religion into
my young apprehension (whether it be that, in
which the psalmist, weary of the persecutions of bad
men, wisheth to himself dove's wings or that other,
which, with a like measure of sobriety and pathos,
inquireth by what means the young man shall best

* I have been there, and still would go ;
'T is like a little heaven below. Dr. Watts.



84 A CHAPTER ON EARS.

cleanse his mind) a holy calm pervadeth me.
I am for the time

rapt above earth,

And possess joys not promised at my birth.

But when this master of the spell, not content to
have laid a soul prostrate, goes on, in his power, to
inflict more bliss than lies in her capacity to receive,
impatient to overcome her "earthly" with his
" heavenly," still pouring in, for protracted hours,
fresh waves and fresh from the sea of sound, or from
that inexhausted German ocean, above which, in
triumphant progress, dolphin-seated, ride those Arions
Haydn and Mozart, with their attendant tritons,
Bach, Beethoven, and a countless tribe, whom to at-
tempt to reckon up would but plunge me again in
the deeps, I stagger under the weight of harmony,
reeling to and fro at my wit's end ; clouds, as of
frankincense, oppress me priests, altars, censers,
dazzle before me the genius of his religion hath
me in her toils a shadowy triple tiara invests the
brow of my friend, late so naked, so ingenuous he
is Pope, and by him sits, like as in the anomaly
of dreams, a she-Pope too, tri-coroneted like him-
self ! I am converted, and yet a Protestant ; at
once malleus hereticorum, and myself grand heresi-
arch : or three heresies centre in my person : I
am Marcion, Ebion, and Cerinthus Gog and Ma-
gog what not ? till the coming in of the friendly



A CHAPTER ON EARS. 85

supper- tray dissipates the figment, and a draught of
true Lutheran beer (in which chiefly my friend shows
himself no bigot) at once reconciles me to the ra-
tionalities of a purer faith; and restores to me the
genuine unterrifying aspects of my pleasant-counte-
nanced host and hostess.



ALL FOOLS' DAY.



THE compliments of the season to my worthy mas-
ters, and a merry first of April to us all !

Many happy returns of this day to you and you
and you, Sir nay, never frown, man, nor put a
long face upon the matter. Do not we know one
another? what need of ceremony among friends? we
have all a touch of that same you understand me
a speck of the motley. Beshrew the man who on
such a day as this, the general festival, should affect
to stand aloof. I am none of those sneakers. I am
free of the corporation, and care not who knows it.
He that meets me in the forest to-day, shall meet
with no wise-acre, I can tell him. Stultus sum.
Translate me that, and take the meaning of it to
yourself for your pains. What, man, we have four
quarters of the globe on our side, at the least
computation.

Fill us a cup of that sparkling gooseberry we
will drink no wise, melancholy, politic port on this
day and let us troll the catch of Amiens due ad
me due ad me how goes it ?



ALL FOOLS' DAY. 8/

Here shall he see
Gross fools as he.

Now would I give a trifle to know historically and
authentically, who was the greatest fool that ever
lived. I would certainly give him in a bumper.
Marry, of the present breed, I think I could without
much difficulty name you the party.

Remove your cap a little further, if you please ;
it hides my bauble. And now each man bestride
his hobby, and dust away his bells to what tune he
pleases. I will give you, for my part,



The crazy old church clock,

And the bewildered chimes.



Good master Empedocles, you are welcome. It
is long since you went a salamander-gathering down
^Etna. Worse than samphire-picking by some odds.
'T is a mercy your worship did not singe your mus-
tachios.

Ha ! Cleombrotus ! and what salads in faith did
you light upon at the bottom of the Mediterranean ?
You were founder, I take it, of the disinterested sect
of the Calenturists.

Gebir, my old free-mason, and prince of plas-
terers at Babel, bring in your trowel, most Ancient
Grand ! You have claim to a seat here at my right
hand, as patron of the stammerers. You left your



88 ALL FOOLS' DAY.

work, if I remember Herodotus correctly, at eight
hundred million toises, or thereabout, above the
level of the sea. Bless us, what a long bell you
must have pulled, to call your top workmen to their
nuncheon on the low grounds of Sennaar. Or did
you send up your garlick and onions by a rocket?
I am a rogue if I am not ashamed to show you our
Monument on Fish-street Hill, after your altitudes.
Yet we think it somewhat.

What, the magnanimous Alexander in tears?
cry, baby, put its finger in its eye, it shall have an-
other globe, round as an orange, pretty moppet !

Mister Adams 'odso, I honour your coat

pray do us the favour to read to us that sermon,
which you lent to Mistress Slipslop the twenty
and second in your portmanteau there on Female
Incontinence the same it will come in most irre-
levantly and impertinently seasonable to the time of
the day.

Good Master Raymund Lully, you look wise.
Pray correct that error.

Duns, spare your definitions. I must fine you
a bumper, or a paradox. We will have nothing
said or done syllogistically this day. Remove those
logical forms, waiter, that no gentleman break the
tender shins of his apprehension stumbling across
them.

Master Stephen, you are late. Ha ! Cokes, is it



ALL FOOLS' DAY. 89

you ? Aguecheek, my dear knight, let me pay my
devoir to you. Master Shallow, your worship's
poor servant to command. Master Silence, I will
use few words with you. Slender, it shall go hard
if I edge not you in somewhere. You six will en-
gross all the poor wit of the company to-day. I
know it, I know it.

Ha ! honest R , my fine old Librarian of

Ludgate, time out of mind, art thou here again?
Bless thy doublet, it is not over-new, threadbare as
thy stories : what dost thou flitting about the world
at this rate? Thy customers are extinct, defunct,
bed- rid, have ceased to read long ago. Thou goest
still among them, seeing if, peradventure, thou canst

hawk a volume or two. Good Granville S ,

thy last patron, is flown.

King Pandion, he is dead,

All thy friends are lapt in lead.

Nevertheless, noble R , come in, and take

your seat here, between Armado and Quisada : for
in true courtesy, in gravity, in fantastic smiling to
thyself, in courteous smiling upon others, in the
goodly ornature of well-apparelled speech, and the
commendation of wise sentences, thou art nothing
inferior to those accomplished Dons of Spain. The
spirit of chivalry forsake me for ever, when I forget
thy singing the song of Macheath, which declares
that he might be happy with either, situated between



90 ALL FOOLS' DAY.

those two ancient spinsters when I forget the in-
imitable formal love which thou didst make, turning
now to the one, and now to the other, with that
Malvolian smile as if Cervantes, not Gay, had
written it for his hero ; and as if thousands of pe-
riods must revolve, before the mirror of courtesy
could have given his invidious preference between a
pair of so goodly-propertied and meritorious-equal
damsels. *****

To descend from these altitudes, and not to pro-
tract our Fools' Banquet beyond its appropriate
day, for I fear the second of April is not many
hours distant in sober verity I will confess a truth
to thee, reader. I love a Fool as naturally, as if
1 were of kith and kin to him. When a child,
with child-like apprehensions, that dived not below
the surface of the matter, I read those Parables
not guessing at their involved wisdom I had more
yearnings towards that simple architect, that built
his house upon the sand, than I entertained for his
more cautious neighbour; I grudged at the hard
censure pronounced upon the quiet soul that kept
his talent ; and prizing their simplicity beyond the
more provident, and, to my apprehension, somewhat
unfeminine wariness of their competitors I felt a
kindliness, that almost amounted to a tendre, for
those five thoughtless virgins. I have never made
an acquaintance since, that lasted; or a friendship,



ALL FOOLS' DAY. 91

that answered ; with any that had not some tincture
of the absurd in their characters. I venerate an
honest obliquity of understanding. The more laugh-
able blunders a man shall commit in your company,
the more tests he giveth you, that he will not betray
or overreach you. I love the safety, which a pal-
pable hallucination warrants ; the security, which a
word out of season ratifies. And take my word for
this, reader, and say a fool told it you, if you please,
that he who hath not a dram of folly in his mixture,
hath pounds of much worse matter in his composi-
tion. It is observed, that "the foolisher the fowl
or fish, woodcocks, dotterels, cod's-heads, &c.
the finer the flesh thereof," and what are commonly
the world's received fools, but such whereof the
world is not worthy? and what have been some of
the kindliest patterns of our species, but so many
darlings of absurdity, minions of the goddess, and
her white boys ? Reader, if you wrest my words
beyond their fair construction, it is you, and not I,
that are the April Fool.



A QUAKER'S MEETING.



Still-born Silence ! thou that art

Flood-gate of the deeper heart f

Offspring of a heavenly kind !

Frost o' the mouth, and thaw o' the mind I

Secrecy's confident, and he

Who makes religion mystery !

Admiration's speaking'st tongue !

Leave, thy desert shades among,

Reverend hermits' hallowed cells,

Where retired devotion dwells !

With thy enthusiasms come,

Seize our tongues, and strike us dumb ! *



READER, would'st thou know what true peace and
quiet mean ; would'st thou find a refuge from the
noises and clamours of the multitude; would'st
thou enjoy at once solitude and society; would'st
thou possess the depth of thy own spirit in stillness,
without being shut out from the consolatory faces of
thy species ; would'st thou be alone, and yet accom-
panied; solitary, yet not desolate; singular, yet not

* From " Poems of all sorts," by Richard Fleckno, 1653.



A QUAKER'S MEETING. 93

without some to keep thee in countenance ; a unit
in aggregate ; a simple in composite : come with
me into a Quaker's Meeting.

Dost thou love silence deep as that " before the
winds were made?" go not out into the wilderness,
descend not into the profundities of the earth ; shut
not up thy casements ; nor pour wax into the little
cells of thy ears, with little-faith'd self- mistrusting
Ulysses. Retire with me into a Quaker's Meeting.

For a man to refrain even from good words, and
to hold his peace, it is commendable ; but for a mul-
titude, it is great mastery.

What is the stillness of the desert, compared with
this place? what the uncommunicating muteness
of fishes ? here the goddess reigns and revels.
" Boreas, and Cesias, and Argestes loud," do not
with their inter- confounding uproars more augment
the brawl nor the waves of the blown Baltic with
their clubbed sounds than their opposite (Silence
her sacred self) is multiplied and rendered more in-
tense by numbers, and by sympathy. She too hath
her deeps, that call unto deeps. Negation itself
hath a positive more and less ; and closed eyes would
seem to obscure the great obscurity of midnight.

There are wounds, which an imperfect solitude
cannot heal. By imperfect I mean that which a
man enjoyeth by himself. The perfect is that which
he can sometimes attain in crowds, but nowhere so



94 A QUAKER'S MEETING.

absolutely as in a Quaker's Meeting. Those first
hermits did certainly understand this principle,
when they retired into Egyptian solitudes, not
singly, but in shoals, to enjoy one another's want
of conversation. The Carthusian is bound to his
brethren by this agreeing spirit of incommunicative-
ness. In secular occasions, what so pleasant as to
be reading a book through a long winter evening,
with a friend sitting by say, a wife he, or she,
too, (if that be probable), reading another, without
interruption, or oral communication ? can there be
no sympathy without the gabble of words ? away
with this inhuman, shy, single, shade-and-cavern-
haunting solitariness. Give me, Master Zimmer-
man, a sympathetic solitude.

To pace alone in the cloisters, or side aisles of
some cathedral, time-stricken;

Or under hanging mountains,
Or by the fall of fountains ;

is but a vulgar luxury, compared with that which
those enjoy, who come together for the purposes of
more complete, abstracted solitude. This is the
loneliness "to be felt." The Abbey Church of
Westminster hath nothing so solemn, so spirit-
soothing, as the naked walls and benches of a Qua-
ker's Meeting. Here are no tombs, no inscriptions,

sands, ignoble things,

Dropt from the ruined sides of kings



A QUAKER'S MEETING. 95

but here is something, which throws Antiquity
herself into the fore-ground SILENCE eldest of
things language of old Night primitive Dis-
courser to which the insolent decays of moulder-
ing grandeur have but arrived by a violent, and, as
we may say, unnatural progression.

How reverend is the view of these hushed heads,
Looking tranquillity!

Nothing-plotting, nought-caballing, unmischiev-
ous synod ! convocation without intrigue ! parlia-
ment without debate ! what a lesson dost thou read
to council, and to consistory ! if my pen treat of
you lightly as haply it will wander yet my spirit
hath gravely felt the wisdom of your custom, when
sitting among you in deepest peace, which some
out-welling tears would rather confirm than disturb,
I have reverted to the times of your beginnings,
and the sowings of the seed by Fox and Dewes-
bury. I have witnessed that, which brought before
my eyes your heroic tranquillity, inflexible to the
rude jests and serious violences of the insolent sol-
diery, republican or royalist, sent to molest you
for ye sate betwixt the fires of two persecutions, the
out-cast and off-scouring of church and presbytery.
I have seen the reeling sea-ruffian, who had
wandered into your receptacle, with the avowed in-
tention of disturbing your quiet, from the very spirit
of the place receive in a moment a new heart, and



96 A QUAKER'S MEETING.

presently sit among ye as a lamb amidst lambs.
And I remembered Penn before his accusers, and
Fox in the bail-dock, where he was lifted up in
spirit, as he tells us, and " the Judge and the Jury
became as dead men under his feet."

Reader, if you are not acquainted with it, I
would recommend to you, above all church-narra-
tives, to read Sewel's History of the Quakers. It
is in folio, and is the abstract of the journals of
Fox, and the primitive Friends. It is far more
edifying and affecting than any thing you will read
of Wesley and his colleagues. Here is nothing to
stagger you, nothing to make you mistrust, no sus-
picion of alloy, no drop or dreg of the worldly or
ambitious spirit. You will here read the true story
of that much-injured, ridiculed man (who perhaps
hath been a by- word in your mouth,) James
Naylor : what dreadful sufferings, with what patience,
he endured even to the boring through of his tongue
with red-hot irons without a murmur; and with
what strength of mind, when the delusion he had
fallen into, which they stigmatised for blasphemy,
had given way to clearer thoughts, he could renounce
his error, in a strain of the beautifullest humility,
yet keep his first grounds, and be a Quaker still !
so different from the practice of your common con-
verts from enthusiasm, who, when they apostatize,
apostatize all, and think they can never get far



A QUAKER'S MEETING. 97

enough from the society of their former errors, even
to the renunciation of some saving truths, with which
they had been mingled, not implicated.

Get the Writings of John Woolman by heart;
and love the early Quakers.

How far the followers of these good men in our
days have kept to the primitive spirit, or in what
proportion they have substituted formality for it,
the Judge of Spirits can alone determine. I have
seen faces in their assemblies, upon which the dove
sate visibly brooding. Others again I have watched,
when my thoughts should have been better engaged,
in which I could possibly detect nothing but a blank
inanity. But quiet was in all, and the disposition
to unanimity, and the absence of the fierce contro-
versial workings. If the spiritual pretensions of the
Quakers have abated, at least they make few pre-
tences. Hypocrites they certainly are not, in their
preaching. It is seldom indeed that you shall see
one get up amongst them to hold forth. Only now
and then a trembling, female, generally ancient,
voice is heard you cannot guess from what part of
the meeting it proceeds with a low, buzzing, mu-
sical sound, laying out a few words which " she
thought might suit the condition of some present,"
with a quaking diffidence, which leaves no possi-
bility of supposing that any thing of female vanity
was mixed up, where the tones were so full of ten-
7



98 A QUAKER'S MEETING.

derness, and a restraining modesty. The men, for
what I have observed, speak seldomer.

Once only, and it was some years ago, I wit-
nessed a sample of the old Foxian orgasm. It was
a man of giant stature, who, as Wordsworth phrases
it, might have danced " from head to foot equipt in
iron mail." His frame was of iron too. But he was
malleable. I saw him shake all over with the spirit
I dare not say, of delusion. The strivings of the
outer man were unutterable he seemed not to speak,
but to be spoken from. I saw the strong man bowed
down, and his knees to fail his joints all seemed
loosening it was a figure to set off against Paul
Preaching the words he uttered were few, and
sound he was evidently resisting his will keeping
down his own word- wisdom with more mighty effort,
than the world's orators strain for theirs. " He had
been a WIT in his youth," he told us, with expressions
of a sober remorse. And it was not till long after
the impression had begun to wear away, that I was
enabled, with something like a smile, to recall the
striking incongruity of the confession understand-
ing the term in its worldly acceptation with the
frame and physiognomy of the person before me.
His brow would have scared away the Levities the
Jocos Risus-que faster than the Loves fled the face
of Dis at Enna. By wit, even in his youth, I will
be sworn he understood something far within the
limits of an allowable liberty.



A QUAKER'S MEETING. 99

More frequently the Meeting is broken up without
a word having been spoken. But the mind has been
fed. You go away with a sermon, not made with
hands. You have been in the milder caverns of
Trophonius ; or as in some den, where that fiercest
and savagest of all wild creatures, the TONGUE,
that unruly member, has strangely lain tied up and



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