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T1MKS OF HiCiH \V \ ( KR A…






Monmoiiili Races.

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ABERGAVENNY CYMREIGYDDION. To the Editor of the Monmouthshire Merlin. SIR,-Every man of good sense, or the least pretension to refined taste, cannot but view with regret the indulgence in personalities to which your correspondents, now discussing the merits ofthe Abergavenny Cymreigyddion (with only one ex- ception) have descended, and which, in despite of your re- peated editorial expostulations, has continued to increase. Were the controversy conducted in a calm and gentlemanly style, with the elucidation of theutitityoftheAbergavenny Cvmreigvddion to the Welsh nation only in view, as the result, it would most likely be productive of good effects but when the high-born and noble ladies of the Principality are not safe from insult, owing to the indiscretion of both parties in the a {fair, evil will necessarily be the conclusion. To avoid this. if possible, for the future, I would propose that the conducting of the argument should be left to two com- batants. On behalf ofthe society, the Rev. T. Price, as being most conversant »ith its affairs and, on the other side^ot'tfae., question, the "Gentleman ofthe principality," hie having first opened the matter. T Though an Englishman, I anticipate with pleasure the next Eisteddiod, and cordially approve of its aims; yet I look, with equal regret, upon the indulgence in personalities bn both sidea of the question. I am, Sir, your obedient servant, Abergavenny, Sept. 22nd, 1846. IEUAN, To the Rev. Thomus Price. SIR,—I had resolved not to answer any one who might have differed from me, from the knowledge that newspaper contro- versies generally end in scurrility; but since you have come forward so ably and temperately, in defence of the treble harp, that rule will be "more honoured in the breach, than in the observance." To take your remarks seriatim, we will first see how far the treble harp is a national instrument. It is not yet ascertained when the harp was introduced here; for Jones brings forward no historical proof of his assertion that there exists harp music as old as the sixth centuiy and as to any critical proof to be deduced from internal evidence of the music itself, I do not hesitate to assert that he was as incompetent a critic as all our Welsh scholars have proved themselves to be, with deference to the poems of Taliesin, and other early bards. In the laws of Howell Dda, we find the first mention of a harp; and this, if it remained unaltered until the time of Dafydd ab Gwilym, and was that which he calls "tilyn rhawn," must have been a very primitive affair indeed. The innovation which he so bitterly denounces was probably the old single harp; and there is not a shadow of historical proof that the triple-stringed harp of Wales is older than the time of Queen Elizabeth. It must, therefore, appear that the pedal harp, if played in the Principality, must be quite as much a national harp, as the treble harp introduced when the Welsh were no longer a nation, and could have had neither nationality nor a national harp. Again. You are evidently a Conservative, as far as Welsh manners are concerned. Now, does it not appear that the horse-hair harp of the tenth century, must be much more national, and more truly Welsh, than the foreign importation of the sixteenth r You will not, I think, deny that we have at periods varying from the time of Hywel Dda to the present, had three different harps, each of which was, until superseded, the national harp of Wales. Why did they not preserv the original one ? The answer is to be found in the history of the people. Nations, like individuals, exhibit growth—a discard nig of old notions, and the adoption of new ones more consonant with increased and altered wants, and improved tastes. It was in obedience to this law of our common nature, that the Welsh, when they saw that the old "telyn rhawn" was inferior to another which had been invented, they gave it up it was in obedience to this law that the triple-stringed harp was adopted in preference to its less perfect predecessor; and it is in compliance with this Is w of development in the human mind, that I ask you to displace the treble harp and adopt the pedal, inasmuch as it is allowl 1 by all good judges to be by far the superior instrument. You deny this, and make a defence that would be creditable to even & special pleader. The pedal harp is not the national instrument of the Welsh," is one of the reasons assigned .or prohibiting it to be played at the meetings of the society. Now, as you are a minister of religion, inform me and the publ •, has not the pedal harp been frequently played at the early EisteJdfodan ? and was it not the masterly and enchanting execution of Miss Ivor, on the pedal harp, showing you the "nmense inferiority of the treble harp, that caused the banishment of the pedal ? You say" the object of the society is, the cultivation of national music, exclusively," What is our national music but an arrangement of notet peculiar to the Welsh ? To play, then, does not require a treble harp for, in fact, they may be played as correctly on a half-crown fiddle, or a three half-penny flute; and had I not so much regard for the talents which the Histo. rian of Wales undoubtedly possesses, I should call it a complete absurdity to keep up the treble harp, on the pretence of playing Welsh music. Our national music was composed long before the treble harp was introduced here; it is now played upon pedal harps, with infinitely more effect; the Royal Welsh qua- drilles are adapted by Mons. Jullien, to every instrument in his splendid brass band; and the beauty of our Welsh airs will be appreciated centuries hrtice, when the treble harp becomes a matter of history, and when its defenders will all have been forgotten, unless they have much higher claims to com- memoration. Few pedal harps are ever in perfect tune," while the noto- rious fact is, that they keep in tune infinitely longer than the treble. Upon the treble, we can effect a more rapid intro- duction of accidentals." Is not the pedal competent to answer all that is required ? The only superiority the treble harp has, is in playing the unisons but musicians and composers tell us that these are very unimportant. On the other hand, the pedal harp is superior in every essential requisite. It is superior in tone. Modulations can be effected with the pedal, when on the treble it is impossible; and the keys can be changed without much inconvenience: whereas, at Abergavenny, the tuning and horrible tinkling of the treble harps, whilst changing the keys, is the most satanic thing I was ever doomed to hear. It actually sets my teeth on edge, to think of it. The treble harp cannot play quadrilles, while on the pedal harp all music composed for the pianoforte can be executed. Of what use was the treble to Mr. Jones, of Clifton, out of the Principality ? I will dismiss the comparative merits of the harp, with an opinion from a most impartial authonty :— The harp, as a generally useful instrument, may be said to date its existence from the time when pedals were added to it. With these it is possible to modulate into all keys, and to exe- cute any music suited to keyed instruments. FenD); Cyclope- dia, article, Harp. The harp has been neglected in Ireland, and Scotland, be. cause they did not think it worth keeping. It is no answer to say that efforts have been made to recover lost ground. The Rev. Thomas Price is not the whole Welsh nation nor are half-a-dozen Scots the whole of the Scottish people. The other countries of Europe could easily get harps if they wanted them. And now that we have put the harp in tune, we will have a little music:— The wild harp hath a witebing spell About its silver string* Can aught on earth excel the charm Its pensive breathing flings r "—ELISA COOKK. And 0, Shade of Bochsa! lend me a helping hand, and aid me with one of thy magic touches, in rousing a nation from listless- ness and apathy, and in exciting the feelings of shame, pride, and emulation, to march boldly forward along the paths of improvement. Music is the soft amusement of those who are either incapa- ble of, or indisposed to, mental exertion: it calls forth none of the mental faculties; is better appreciated by the child and the war-horse, than b; philosophers and reasoning men; and why this method of prolonging a thoughtless existence should be called a mental treat, it is difficult to conceive. The Welsh harper is often a wandering vagabond, poor as a parson's cat, and ignorant of all but music. The sound of the harp is less frequently heard in the palaces of the noble, and the halls of the gentry, than in the lowest dens of infamy; and it was only a few days ago that the able pen of the Editor of the MERMX consigned to an elegant immortality, the description of a Saturday night's Saturnalia, of which a Gweut and Morganwg harpist was the presiding deity. As an auxiliary, kept under proper control, and directed to fixed purposes, the harp may conduce to much practical good; but, instead of spurring man naHnr,e.nii J ?ds> il strews flowers over the paths ot dissi- intellectu al^reo Rowing him the dignity of moral and of ODenintr (*>,SS' t* swe<?tens the inebriating cup; instead vantages of knowwf ?.res of scientific pleasures, and the ad- and causes thpm tn encourages men in luxurious idleness, & tzsr™?!, »»<* «h~. >»« would have been patterns tn sPe11' man? men fh.° country, and illustrious examnle* £ f f S' ornaments t01their their energies in mad shoutSs ii^ revels; and the harpist, who Ju"ht ff brawls, and drunken operation of his species, is freQuentlv th^ > Pf,V'\the r< in the community. There are erv Ca, gUa great and respectable exceptions • but tho admit, many so increased, and the number of hamers numbe'of harps has ately multiplied, under your excess?// 3 ?° .dlsPr°Portum- as the Welsh 'harpers are It prcIent ^T' that-Poor appetites to which they minister, they will ha^e to^e^end S lower to acquire the means of a bare aescena jet the national taste foi music, and the ease with'whichlt^Sra* tified, are made catspaws of by politic publ&Ionggwfl harpers sink as a class, and the nation degenerate in mo™]* and intelligence This is not the crazy hypothesis of a Father Mathew, but the nportant lesson taught us by experience Nations are observed to want mental cuFtivation, in proportion to the extent of their musical prepossessions Judea the patrimony of a royal musician, is now a desert, infested bv beasts of prey; Egypt has left us two monuments in order to unravel its history—the Pyramids testify to its greatness and the ThebanHarp, discovered by Bruce, lets out the secret cause of its decay; Greece, once "the land of gods and god-like men," has now thriving Klephts for its heroes, and Homer has given place to n.ore emasculating muses; music had long un- dermined the .uoman spirit, when it tamely submitted to the insults of the imperial fiddler; Italy, once the seat of science and parent of arts, is now little better than a droning waste ■' Spain, the land of chivalry, has degenerated into a howling wilderness; Ireland, the land of Brian Boru, until lately, was defective in education; and Wales, the land of bards and harpers, is now but very little better than an intellectual blank. Theconcluslol;11S irresistibly in favour of the pedal harp; for by its introduction, we should have infinitely superior music devoted to much higher purposes. ,«1C Yours, very respectfully, Sept. 28th, 1845. CATTWG. MOTTOES. "Adieu. ye lays that Fancy's fiowers adorn The soft amusements of the vacant mind."—BeATTIE. From an inordinate regard for the personal gratification derived from music, the mind is left uncultivated and the ear the only organ of communication, becomes so limited in its use as to convey impressions calculated only to please, with far more facility than those which instruct."—Higgin's Philosophy of Souna. ob

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