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The Progress of the Nation page 10


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Amongst native portrait painters may be mentioned Hayls, Michael Wright, a Scotchman, who painted the judges for the Guildhall of London, still remaining there; but more noted for his portrait of Lacy, the actor, in three characters; Henry Anderton, a pupil of Streater's, who became very popular; John Greenhill, and Thomas Flatman, also a poet of some note.

A number of Dutch and Flemish painters of still-life were also employed in England at this period, of whom the most celebrated were Vansoon, Hoogstraten, Roestraten, and Varelst,. who also attempted portrait. There was also Abraham Hondius, animal painter, and Danker, Vosterman, Griffiere, Lankrink, and the two Vandeveldes, landscape painters. The Vandeveldes were justly in high esteem; Lankrink was the painter of Lely's backgrounds.

The two great sculptors were Caius Gabriel Cibber, a native of Holstein, and Grinling Gibbons, whom Macaulay calls a Dutchman, but who, though supposed to be of Duteh extraction, was an Englishman, born in Spur Alley, London. Cibber - who was the father of Colley Cibber, afterwards poert laureate, and immortalised by Pope in the "Dunciad" - is now chiefly known by his two figures of Raging and Melancholy Madness, which adorned the principal gate of old Bethlehem Hospital, and were afterwards removed to South Kensington - a work of real genius. He also erected the bas-reliefs on the pedestal of the London Monument, and did much work at Chatsworth.

Grinling Gibbons was found by John Evelyn in a cottage at Deptford, carving his celebrated "Stoning of St. Stephen," after Tintoretto, and by him introduced at court. He executed a marble statue of Charles II. for the area of the late Royal Exchange, and another in bronze of James H. for the garden at the back of Whitehall, which fixed his high merit as a sculptor; but his unrivalled genius in carving soon drew him from sculpture, and he became extensively employed at Windsor, Chatsworth, Petworth, and other great houses, carving flowers, feathers, foliage, and like ornaments, which rival in wood the lightness and accuracy of nature. In the chapel at Windsor he executed abundance of carving of doves, pelicans, palm-branches, &c. At St. Paul's he did much of the foliage and festoons of the stall-work and the side aisles of the choir. At Chatsworth there are feathers in lime-wood that rival those of the living goose; and he there executed in wood a point-lace cravat of marvellous delicacy. At Southwick, in Hants, he embellished an entire gallery, and a room at Petworth, which is generally regarded as amongst his very finest performances.

Engraving at this era fell also greatly into the hands of foreigners. Loggan, Booteling, Valek, Hollar, and Vander- bank were amongst the chief; but there were two Englishmen who were not less patronised by their countrymen. Robert White was a pupil of Loggan's, and, like his master, excelled in portraits. Walpole enumerates two hundred and fifty-five works of this artist, many of them heads drawn by himself, and striking likenesses. But William Faithorne was unquestionably at the head of his profession. Faithorne in his youth fought on the royal side, and was taken by Cromwell at the siege of Basing House along with Hollar. Hollar left England during the commonwealth, and resided at Antwerp, where he executed his great portraits from Leonardo da Vinci, Holbein, and other great masters. On the restoration he returned to England, and did the plates in Dugdale's "Monasticon," "History of St. Paul's," and "Scenery of Warwickshire," for Thoroton's "Nottinghamshire;" and he made drawings of the town and fortress of Tangier for Charles, which he engraved, some of these drawings still remaining in the British Museum. Faithorne in the meantime took refuge in France, and there studied under Nanteuil, and acquired a force, freedom, richness, and delicacy in portrait engraving which was unequalled in his own time, and scarcely surpassed in ours. He drew also in crayons.

The art of mezzo-tint was introduced at this period by prince Rupert, who was long supposed to have invented it; this, however, has since then been doubted; but its introduction by him is certain; and it became so much cultivated in this country as to become almost exclusively an English art.

Coinage

The coins of this period were the work of the Roteri family. Of these there were John, Joseph, and Philip, and Norbert Roteri, the son of John. They were men of much taste and skill, as their coins show, though by no means equal to Simon, the coiner of Cromwell. Their father was a Dutch banker, who had obliged Charles during his exile by the loan of money, on condition that, in case of restoration, he should employ his sons. They, however, introduced some decided improvements into our coin, particularly that of graining or letters on the rims of the coin. Charles called in all the commonwealth money, and coined fresh. In 1662 the gold coin called a guinea was first invented, from gold brought from the coast of Guinea, and had the stamp of an elephant under the king's head, in honour of the African company which imported it. In the last year of Charles's reign he coined farthings of tin, with only a bit of copper in the middle. The figure of Britannia still retained on our copper coinage was first introduced in the copper coinage of Charles, and was modelled from Miss Stuart, afterwards duchess of Richmond, of whom Charles was deeply enamoured, by Philip Roteri - much to the scandal of all decent subjects.

James II. followed the fashion of Charles in coining tin halfpence and farthings with copper centres. After his abdication he was reduced in Ireland to coin money out of old brass cannon, and pots and pans, and, when that failed, out of pewter.

Music

With the restoration came back mirth and music, which had been banished by the puritans from both churches and private houses. From these, however, it is but just to except Cromwell and Milton. Cromwell was especially fond of the organ, and gave concerts in his own house when at the head of the government. Milton, as might be supposed j from his poetical nature, and the solemn music of his verse, was equally attached to harmony of sounds. He was the friend of Henry Lawes, one of the greatest composers of the time, and addressed to him the well-known sonnet on the publication of his airs, beginning

Harry, whose tuneful and well-measur'd song
First taught our English music how to span
Words with just note and accent.

But perhaps the royalists were all the more musical on their return to power to mark their contempt of the gloomy puritans, and music burst forth in church and chapel, in concert, and theatre, and private house with redoubled energy. The theatres and operas did not delay to draw the public by the charms of music as well as of representation- Even during the latter years of the commonwealth Sir William Davenant opened a kind of theatre under the name of masque and concert, and enlivened it by music. The royalists at Oxford during the time Charles I.'s court was there, held weekly musical parties with the members of the university; and no sooner was the commonwealth at an end than the heads of houses, fellows, and other gentlemen renewed these parties, and furnished themselves with all necessary instruments, and the compositions of the best masters. But what marks the musical furore of this period more than all was the flocking of the aristocracy and the finest musical performers to the miserable house of a dealer in coal-dust in Clerkenwell, where musical parties were held. "It was," says Dr. John Hawkins, "in Aylesbury Street, Clerkenwell. The room of the performance was over the coal-shop; and, strange to tell, Tom Britton's concert was the weekly resort of the old, the young, the gay, the fair of all ranks, including the highest order of nobility." Dr. Pepusch and frequently Handel played the harpsichord - though this must have been at a later period, for he did not arrive in England till 1710. Mr. Needier, accountant- general of the excise; Hughs the poet, Woolaston the painter, and many other amateurs were among the performers. Walpole says Britton took money from his visitors, but Hawkins entirely denies it.

The example of Tom Britton was contagious, and similar places of musical entertainment, but on the principle of professional emolument, were soon opened east and west. Amongst the first of these was Sadler's Wells.

One of the finest composers for the theatre and opera was Matthew Locke. He was appointed composer in ordinary to Charles II., and composed a church service and some anthems; but he was much more famous for his setting of songs, and the music to plays. He wrote that to Davenant's alteration of "Macbeth," to Shadwell's opera, "Psyche," and various other dramas. He received a salary of two hundred pounds a year as director of the king's music. He became a convert to Catholicism, and was made organist to Catherine, the queen of Charles. But the rage for everything French was growing, and Locke was succeeded in his office by a Frenchman, Cambert, who produced an English opera; and he by Louis Grabut, another Frenchman, who set Dryden's "Albion and Albanias," a satire on Shaftesbury - a poor performance. After Charles quarrelled with Louis XIV., Italian taste superseded the French, and Italian music and musicians were patronised. Amongst the latter Nicola Matteis was a popular violinist.

But that which possessed the most decided merit was the church music of this period. It was not that which one would have expected in the reign of Charles II., but we must do him the justice to say that he seems to have encouraged greatly the musical services of the Church. He united all the distinguished composers and performers, to assist in restoring this service to its former glory; and, amongst the survivors of his father's reign, reappeared Dr. Child, Dr. Christopher Gibbons, Dr. Rogers, Dr. Wilson, Henry Lawes, Milton's friend, Byrne, Lowe, and Cook, commonly called Captain Cook, from his having borne a commission in the royalist army. Cook was made master of the children of the choir in the royal chapel; Child, Gibbons, and Low, organists; Lawes, clerk of the cheque; Rogers, organist at Eton; Byrne, organist at St. Paul's; and Wilson was attached to the service in Westminster Abbey.

By these means the church musical service was soon raised to a high pitch of excellence; a spirit was diffused through the whole kingdom from the king's chapel, and the cathedral service became is fine as ever. Captain Cook trained his boy-choristers to admiration, and out of them arose some of the best composers of sacred music that England possesses. Amongst them are Pelham Humphrey, Michael Wise, John Blow, and, superior to them all, Henry Purcell. Some of these produced anthems whilst mere striplings, which still remain in use. Amongst these Pelham Humphrey greatly distinguished himself; and was, therefore, sent by Charles to Paris, to study under the famous Lulli, and then made gentleman of his chapel. At the death of Cook, his master, he succeeded to his office. Michael Wise became, for a time, organist of Salisbury cathedral, but returned to the royal chapel as one of the gentlemen. His anthems are still greatly admired. Blow succeeded Humphrey as master of the children, and was organist of Westminster Abbey. He published various compositions, both sacred and secular, some of which are yet in much esteem, others have fallen into merited neglect.

But the musical master of the age was Henry Purcell, who was for some time organist of Westminster Abbey, and afterwards of the king's chapel. His sacred music, especially his Te Deum and Jubilate, has never been surpassed. Dr. Burney declared him superior to all the foreign composers of the day - Carissimi, Stradella, Scarlatti, Keiser, Lulli, and Rameau; but others do not except any composers of any previous age. In his secular music he again surpassed himself. His music of the drama is voluminous. He set the songs in Nahum Tate's "Dido," the music for Lee's "Theodosius;" that for the "Tempest," as altered by Dryden, which is still heard with delight; that for the "Prophetess," altered by Dryden and Betterton, from Beaumont and Fletcher; the songs of Dryden's "King Arthur," in which are the lovely air "Fairest Isle," the charming duet "Two Daughters of this aged Stream are We," and the inimitable frost-scene. He furnished the music for Howard and Dryden's "Indian Queen." In Dryden's altered "Boadicea," the duet and chorus " To Arms," and the air " Britons, strike home," are still heard with acclamations on all occasions of patriotic excitement. Besides these he wrote airs, overtures, and set tunes for numerous other dramas, as Dryden and Lee's "Timon of Athens," "CEdipus," "The Fairy Queen," altered from the "Midsummer Night's Dream," and Dryden's "Tyrannic Love." He wrote many odes, glees, catches, rounds, many single songs and duets, twelve sonatas for two violins and a bass, &c. The air of "Lillibullero " is attributed to him. His widow published many of these after his death, in two folio volumes called "Orpheus Britannicus." The music of Purcell is national property, and, spite of more recent genius, will long continue to be heard with rapture.

Notwithstanding Charles II.'s restoration of church music, he endeavoured to degrade it by the introduction of French customs, and at one time introduced a band of twenty-four fiddlers into his chapel, in imitation of Louis XIV. Tom D'Urfey ridiculed it in the song, "Four-and-twenty Fiddlers all in a Row;" and Evelyn describes his disgust at witnessing this strange sight, "more fit for a tavern or playhouse than a church." The public feeling, indeed, soon caused the king to withdraw the Gallic innovation.

Amongst the musical productions of this time we may note Blow's "Amphion Anglicus," Roger North's " Memoir of Music," still in manuscript; Sir Francis North's "Philosophical Essay on Music," Lord Brouncker's translation of Descartes' "Musicse Compendium." Marsh, archbishop of Armagh, was the first to treat acoustics methodically, in a paper in the "Philosophical Transactions." Dr. Wallis, one of the founders of the Royal Society, and whom we have mentioned as an eminent mathematician, wrote much in the "Philosophical Transactions" on musical subjects, and published an edition of "Ptolemy's Harmonies." Thomas Mace, John Birchensha, Christopher Simpson, and John Playford are musical authors of that age.

Domestic Arts – Furniture

The furniture of this period had the general characteristics of the last age. Cane backs and seats began to be used in chairs, and the beautiful marquetrie work - so called from its inventor, M. Marquet - adorned tables, cabinets, clock- cases, wardrobes, and other rich pieces of furniture. The Louis Quatorze style, with its rich sweeps and abundance of carving and gilding, began to appear in England, but did not attain to general use till a later period. The floors began to be covered with gay-coloured mats and carpets, but the richest pieces of Turkey carpet were still more frequently used for table-covers. Oil-cloth was now introduced from Germany, and manufactured in London. The Gobelin tapestry manufactory was established in France in 1677, and towards the end of this period began to cover the walls of our great mansions.

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Pictures for The Progress of the Nation page 10

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