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read the part. And so accurately was the key note given, that he had no need to name afterwards the person who spoke; the stupidest of the audience could not miss to recognize him.
We now approach Michael Kelly, but the play has taken up so much time that we must curtail the afterpiece, and we are sorry for it, because it would be sure to send our readers home in good humour. All the world knows that Michael Kelly, eminently gifted as a musician, who long, with the assistance of the Storaces and Mrs. Crouch, maintained the Italian Opera in London, and contributed his powers to many other musical departments in the drama, had been educated for five years in Italy, and had appeared as a singer at most of the courts on the Continent with good approbation. So that he can tell the reader many a tale of foreign parts, of princes, and archdukes, and emperors, which are well worth listening to. He has his hair-breadth escapes to tell you, and his perils by flood and field.' Being born an Irishman, he has some of the reckless humour of his country, with a Jarge share of its good-nature; gets into scrapes, scrambles out of them again, and laughs heartily both at the danger and the escape. The Memoirs, written undoubtedly by a man of far in ferior talent, recalled to us nevertheless those of Goldoni; nay, often put us in mind of Gil 'Blas--not that Mr. Kelly has the least of the picuro, which in some degree attached to him of Santillane, but that hanging, as it were, between the higher and sometimes highest orders, in whose behalf he exercised his talents, and a class eminently exposed to variations of society and alternations of fortune, he has seen the world on,both sides, and has told the result of his observation with a good deal of light humour. An adventurous little schooner of this kind skirring the coast in search of its own peculiar objects cannot be expected to bring back a ponderous or bulky cargo of wares; consisting of solid efficient value in the mart of literature. No matter---the smart little cruiser is the more likely to collect these light notices of persons and manners in society, which, if they are not grave in themselves, are eminently well calculated to relieve works of a graver description. Not but that Mr. Kelly bas added things worthy the notice of the bistorian. There are, in particular, some curious facts concerning the manners of that well-intentioned but misguided speculator in politics, Joseph II. wbich, had we time, we would willingly pause to introduce.
There is besides much conceruing music, the science in which Mr. Kelly has distinguished himself, which we conceive must be highly interesting to connoisseurs, and which has afforded ourselves entertaitment-for which we give the author our hearty thanks --- although, like young Pottinger, we can only wave our
bals and join our applause to that of others, obviously without compreliending much of what has been going on.' One thing we do comprehend, which is the advice of the distinguished Mozart to our "hero 'hinself. It seems that Mr. Kelly, whose natural talents and taste had been greatly improved by five years residence in Italy, having originally determined on the stage as a profession, becaine ambitious in his prosecution of musical distinc, tion, and thought of devoting himself to the inysteries of counterpoint. Mozart pointed out to him the disadvantage of engaging in a dry and abstract study, instead of cultivating the powers of melody with which nature had endowed him. “Melody is the essence of music," continued he ;
“I compare a good melodist to a fine racer, and counterpointists to haek post-horses : therefore be advised, let well alone, and remember the old Italian proverb -Chi sa più, meno sa-- -Who knows most, knows least." The opinion of this great man made on me a lasting impression.'— Kelly, vol. i. p. 225.
Now we, being no musicians, have always been of the same opinion.
Mallem convivis quàm placaisse coquis.' It is the proper business of the fine arts to delight the world at large by their popular effect, rather than to puzzle and confound them by depth of learning. For our own part, when we are, in spite of our snuff-box, detected with closed eyes during some piece of erudite and complicated harmony, we are determined not to answer, as heretofore, that we shut our eyes to open our ears with less interruption, but boldly to avow with Jeremy in Love for Love, that though' we have a reasonable ear for a jig, your solós and sonatas give us the spleen.' We will quote Mozart's authority to silence all reprehension, and,
"We thank thee, Mike, for teaching us that word.' When Michael Kelly came to England, his musical talent speedily gained him distinction and employment; Mr. Boaden gives the following account of his proficiency:
It often happens in music, that the sweetest organ leads to nothing brilliant, and that truth of tone, and flexibility, and compass, achieve perfection in the art. Something like this was true of Kelly. His voice had amazing power and steadiness ; his compass was extraordinary. In vigorous passages he never cheated the ear with the feeble wailings of falsetto, but sprung upon the ascending fifth with a sustaining energy, that often electrified an audience. Some of my readers will remember ap, instance of this in the air, sung only by himself, Spirit of my sainted Sire," where the fifth was upon the syllable saint:--The Conservatore at Naples, in which he passed five years of bis youth, gave him all that science could add to an original love for the art; and Apprili, the hest master of any age, completed the studies of the young
He was soon versed in all the intricacies of the Italian conversation pieces and finales, and acquired the reputation upon the continent, of being an excellent tenor.'-— Boaden, vol. i. pp. 350, 35).
Thus accomplished he easily came to take a distinguished lead in the musical world, and his line connected him in a like degree with the various theatres. True it is that fortune was humorous and did not always smile upon Michael, though he courted her in every possible shape. He gives a very diverting account of his pursuits and the emoluments which attended them, in a dialogue betwixt him and the Commissioners of the income tax, a set of gentlemen eminent some years since for the interest they took in prying mto the concerns of other folks.
Mr. Kelly, in the pride of his heart, had reported his income as amounting to £500 yearly; but the unreasonable commissioners were not contented, and urged that his various employments must bring him twice or thrice that annual sum. The push and parry are as well maintained as between Tilburina and her father in the Critic.
6 « Sir," said I, “I am free to confess I have erred in my return; but vanity was the cause, and vanity is the badge of all my tribe. I have returned myself as having 5001. per annum, when, in fact, I have not five hundred
of certain income.'' Pray, sir," said the commissioner, “ are you not stage-manager of the Opera-house?"
· Yes, sir," said I; “but there is not even a nominal salary attached to that office; I perform its duties to gratify my love of music.”
“Well, but, Mr. Kelly," continued my examiner, "you teach ?" “I do, sir,” answered I ; “ but I have no pupils.' “I think,” observed another gentleman, who had not spoken before, that you are an oratorio and concert singer?”
“You are quite right,” said I to my new antagonist ; “but I have no engagement."
Well, but at all events," observed my first inquisitor, "you have a very good salary at Drury Lane."
" A very good one, indeed, sir," answered I; “but then it is never paid."
“But you have always a fine benefit, sir,” said the other, who seemed to know something of theatricals.
Always, sir,” was my reply; “but the expenses attending it are very great, and whatever profit remains after defraying them, is mortgaged to liquidate debts incurred by building my saloon. The fact is, sir, I am at present very like St. George's Hospital, supported by voluntary contributions; and have even less certain income, than I felt sufficiently vain to return."'-Kelly, vol. ii. pp. 189-191.
Well done, Michael a brave, brave et demi—We see the dismayed commissioners gazing on each other with dejected and
embarrassed aspects, while Mike walks out of the room humming the motivo of some meditated composition—CANTAVIT VACUUS.
To be sure this was being in the case of the conjurer who could devour any quantity of fire, but was unable to procure bread to eat. But it is explained by the connection of Kelly as a composer with the celebrated Sheridan.
That comet of eccentric genius was Kelly's patron friend, sometimes partner, and often companion; and how could he thrive, in a worldly sense, with such a principal? The senator and statesman was continually bringing the poor composer into scrapes by his utter neglect of economy, and hitching him out again by ingenuity such as none but he possessed. Some of his tricks on Kelly were, however, sufficiently harmless. On one occasion, to adorn some burletta, Kelly bad to sing a song, which Sheridan was to introduce by a speech; and the actor requested, as a particular favour, Iris part might be as short as possible. This jumped with Sheridan's humour, and the speech was accompanied by a stage-direction, enjoining Kelly to gaze for a moment at a cottage in the distance, and to proceed thus; Here stands my Louisa's cottage--and she must be either in it or out of it. The audience were much amused at this sublime and solitary speech.--vol. ii. p. 63. Some other good jokes passed betwixt the wit and the melodist. When Kelly had a dangerous fall on the stage, Sheridan alleged that he exclaimed
And if I had been killed now, who was to maintain me for the rest of my life?' Though he allowed his friend the confusion of ideas commonly imputed to the Green Isle, he would not permit him to possess its dialect: for one night, when Kelly performed an Irish character, Sheridan called to compliment him upon his excellent English. On another occasion Sheridan was to have an audience, on theatrical business, of the late king, for which purpose his present Majesty condescended to propose carrying him down at an appointed hour to Windsor. In order that Sheridan might be near Carlton-house, and sure of keeping his appointment at twelve next day, Kelly, retiring to sleep in the country, gave up his own bed in Pall Mall to his patron. But, unluckily, Sheridan detected in Michael's pantry a cold neck of mutton, together with a comfortable reserve of five bottles of port, two of Madeira, and one of brandy, all which he consumed with a brace of jolly companions, and, busied with poor Kelly's good cheer, quite neglected, and indeed incapacitated himself for the purpose for which he had borrowed his lodging.- vol. ii.229. A still more severe joke was his subjecting Kelly to be arrested for an upholsterer's bill with which he had no personal concern. But Sheridan on this occasion did his friend ample justice. He
not only persuaded the upholsterer to release Kelly, but, to punish the citizen for his unjust and ungenerous arrest, he borrowed two hundred pounds of him.
One inore extraordinary anecdote of this singular compound of genius and carelessness, and we have done.
Pizarro was brought forward as the stay and prop of Drury; all the boxes were bespoke and the scenery prepared ; and still Kelly had not been supplied with one word of the songs for which he was to compose music, and the half-distracted composer dunned the bard in vain. - Some hope was afforded by a summons at ten o'clock one evening, when Sheridan carried him off from a choice party just at the sweetest hour of the night, but it was only to show him the Temple of the Sun, through the vapours of a large bowl of negus which the bard had planted in the critics' row of the empty pit. At length they got to work and a curious process it
Here,' said Sheridan, 'I design a procession of the virgins of the sun, with a solemn hymn.' Kelly sung a bar or two suitable for the occasion.
"He (Sheridan) then made a sort of rumbling noise with bis voice, (for he had not the slightest idea of turning a tune,) resembling a deep, gruff bow, wow, wow; but though there was not the slightest resemblance of an air in the noise he made, yet so clear were his ideas of effect, that I perfectly understood his meaning, though conveyed through the medium of a bow, wow, wow.'—Kelly, vol. ii. pp. 145, 146. Cora's
song Sheridan did supply; and Kelly got some songwright to do the rest after the ideas which he had collected from these bow, wow, wows. By the way, the choral hymn of these same virgins, vol. ii. p. 193., the same which in Peeping Tom is set to the words of Pretty Maud, is erroneously termed by Mr. Kelly a Scotch air. It is an English ballad of the reign of George I., on the catastrophe of the celebrated pirate, beginning
My name is Captain Kidd,
When I sail'd, when I sail'd, &c.' At last, while Pizarro was in the act of being performed, * all that was written of the play was actually rebearsing, and incredible as it may appear, until the end of the fourth act, neither Mrs. Siddons, nor Charles Kemble, nor Barrymore, bad all their speeches for the fifth ! Mr. Sheridan was up stairs in the prompter's room, where be was writing the last part of the play, while the earlier parts were acting; and every ten minutes he brought down as much of the dialogue as he bad done, piecemeal, into the green-room, abusing himself and his negligence, and making a thousand winning and soothing apologies, for having kept the performers so long in such painful suspense.'-Kelly, vol. ii. pp. 146, 147.
Talk after this of being hunted with printer's devils, with more copy, sir-the press stands ; pshaw.