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R. Busy at the needle, hey! my friend? That it
seems is preferable, just now, to the book, the key,
the pencil.

L. It is necessary. Music and painting will not
cloathe nor feed me. They are occasional amuse-
ments, and are far from being the business of my
life. The pencil, at least, music is something more.

R. Why what is music to you more than a
mere recreation. I never have hitherto inquired,
and wonder at myself for not doing so, into the
manner in which you distribute your time. How
much do you give to your music?

L. Regularly thirty or forty minutes in the
twenty-four hours.

R. What is your instrument? and where do
you keep it?

L. 'Tis a piano forté. I keep it in my chamber.

R. Why not in your drawing-room? when you
wish to gratify your friends must you take them
into your chamber?

L. I never gratify my friends with music. I
am unable to do it. I should think myself culpa-
ble if I had bestowed that time on music,
which is necessary to make me a proficient, and
to qualify me for pleasing hearers of true taste.
Those void of taste, those capable of being pleased
with my performance, I should find no pleasure in

R. And is that your motive for concealing your

L. It is one among several. That alone would
suffice, but that is not all that influences me.

R. What others have you?

L. I select my friends and visitants for their in-
tellectual and social merits. I invite them to converse
with them, to mingle feelings and ideas with them,
which can only be done, or, at least, can best be
done, by speech. Should they prefer my music
to my conversation, what could I infer but their
want of a correct taste, or my want of affability or
talents? and either inference would mortify my
vanity or lower them in my opinion, and unfit
them for visitants of mine. They must think lightly
of my conversation, or I must think lightly of their

R. This is reasoning, I think, with too much
refinement. In the first place, what you call pro-
ficiency in music, is ambiguous and indefinite. No
doubt, he that devotes all his zeal and his time to
any instrument, will still have something to learn,
after forty or sixty years of application. Some new
grace, some additional dexterity, will be daily and
hourly acquired. At no time can it be said that he
has gained all possible excellence; at no time will
his friends be able to congratulate him upon having
nothing more to learn, but if we cannot be
pleased with any thing short of absolute excellence,
it follows that no performance can ever please.

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The truth is, that this like every other skill, is
susceptible of innumerable degrees. The candid
and judicious hearer will be pleased, in proportion to
the degree of skill that is displayed. The highest
degree of skill will please most, but that degree is
unattainable. The lowest degree may please, in
a low degree, but, nevertheless, will somewhat
please him.
Beside, you must not forget of how complex and
variable a kind is the pleasure of music. We are
pleased with an air, not merely from the skill
displayed, the mere fruit of application, memory,
and habit, in subdividing time and melody, but
in numberless associations flowing from the time,
place, the company, the person, character and
situation of the performer, and particularly, from
the words or images of the stanza or the ode that is
thus embellished.
And further, a pleasing performer is not made
by merely mechanical command of muscles either
of the voice or fingers. She must have sensibility and
taste, and these may be gained or be possessed with-
out eternal application to the wires or the gamut. As
to sensibility and taste, I see no reason to deny them
to you. As to skill, you once confessed, that for
five years together, you never omitted to sing or
play, once a day at least. Now, surely, this
quantity of application, added to that taste, in which
I cannot imagine you very deficient, must have
qualified you to please the most select and judicious
Your preference of talk to music is laudable,
but not enough to justify the total neglect, or ob-
stinate concealment of your music. There is a
time, says the adage, for all things, and a season
when it is a mark of wisdom even to play the
fool. It must be granted that conversation is better
than music, and that one topic of conversation is
better than any other, but still, as it is necessary to
vary conversation, by admitting different topics, it
is requisite to diversify our intercourse by different
employments. What say you to my arguments?

L. Excuse me if I say that they are inapplicable
to the present case. Your general rule, like your
adage, is true only with abundance of limitations.
Possibly, there may arise cases, when music and
cards may be proposed or encouraged, without im-
propriety; and when these cases occur, I endeavour
cheerfully to conform to them; but they occur
much oftener than is necessary. It is folly that
generally creates them, and indolence that fosters.
Very seldom, indeed, and never in my own house,
where I endeavour to exempt myself from all im-
pertinent and useless company, has it been ne-
cessary to while away the time by a game, or
enliven the torpid attention by a tune.

R. So, you place the harpsichord and whist
table on the same level. They are equally, you
think, time-killers and impertinents? I cannot
agree with you. The pleasure of music is not
merely sensual. It suspends, to be sure, for a
time, but does not incapacitate for conversation. It
illuminates the fancy, stimulates reflection, and
calls forth, not merely innocent, but laudable and
generous emotions, and this is far more the ten-
dency of vocal and social strains, than of instru-
mental and solitary symphonies, in which it seems
you are not unwilling to indulge yourself. I think
you said you devote to your minuet some minutes

L. I do, but my motive will, perhaps justify

R. What is your motive?

L. I owe duty to my maker; not only the worship
that consists in conforming, in sentiments and
actions to his known will, but in gratitude and ho-
mage. These emotions prompt me to utterance
and to musical utterance. I love to give voice to my
devotion, and to accompany my voice with the forte
and piano of my instrument.

I have gradually, without much design, studied
into some regularity in this respect, and have for
some years set apart, an half hour before I go to
rest, and made it sacred to an hymn. Thoughts,
suitable to this office, I have found most readily to
occur in night, stillness, and solitude: I have never
been fortunate enough to associate in a domestic
way, with one capable or willing to join with me in
this service. From the nature of the human mind,
perhaps, or merely from peculiarities of constitution
or habit in myself, I find company of any kind,
the glare of day, or of numerous lights, tend to
divert and bewilder my attention. I must have
power to enter into my own thoughts, darkness and
stillness must surround me; the business of the
day must be passed, and I must be alone, before I
can muse myself into the seriousness and ardour
of devotion, before I can commune with my own
heart, or raise my affections to my maker.

R. But is that your only religion? do not you ap-
prove of social worship?

L. Certainly, but my approbation of public, does
not require me to condemn or to intermit the
duties of private worship. In the sect, to which
I belong, you know that public worship occurs
but one day in the seven, but I should think myself
culpable in not making it a daily office.

R. But you spoke just now of the tendency of
company, and glare and noises to dissipate atten-
tion and counteract devout impulses.

L. True, but I spoke only of this tendency in re-
lation to myself; others may have different habits
or a different constitution, and in that respect their
rectitude and zeal may be superior to mine.
Heaven forbid that I should deny zeal or sincerity
to those who confine their oraisons to the church
on the Sabath. I only hint that night is the season,
and my closet is the place, most favourable to my
And this, perhaps, has arisen from peculiar cir-
cumstances. I left my country when very young, and
went to reside among a people who were of a re-
ligious profession different from mine. My father
was not an irreligious man, but he was religious
by habit, and merely in form. Piety consisted
with him in going to church, paying his tythe, and
dressing himself sprucely on Sundays. There
being no congregation established, nor rector sup-
ported near him, he thought himself acquitted of
the duty of church going, and imagined there was
guilt in frequenting himself, or allowing me, his
daughter, to frequent the Presbyterian place of
I was young, pliable, and obsequious in conse-
quence of my youthful diffidence and of my father's
authoritative deportment. Strange faces startled
me, as strange forms disgusted him. I was obliged
to content myself, therefore, and was easily con-
tented with worshipping on Sundays as unformally
as on other days. Habit, while it facilitated and
endeared to me this practice, made every other
productive of constraint, cold, embarrassing, un-

R. But your situation is now changed. In
New-York you have splendid and commodious
churches, and celebrated teachers of your own

L. And yet, (perhaps I ought to say it to my
shame) I am far from being a punctual attendant. I
am no theologian. I have never dived into contro-
versies, nor gotten creeds and confessions by heart.
I am far from denying the utility, or even, in ge-
neral, the necessity of public worship, but to me it
is not, I am inclined to think, either useful or
Yet I do not estrange myself wholly from church
. When all circumstances favour, I go, but I readily
permit bad weather or bad health to prevent me
from going. Besides, I am no admirer of the
preachers whom I near. Had they more eloquence
or more wisdom in their sermons, my taste, if not

my piety, would lead me oftener to the church
than I am now led.

R. But to return to your music. In what way
do you make it subservient to devotion? what
pieces do you play?

L. My scheme, I confess to you, is a very
strange one. I never play from a book, and can
hardly be said to play from memory.

R. Indeed? how then? are you an improvista?

L. I will tell you how it came. I went to live, as I
said, when very young, not more than fourteen,
with my father, at——. I gradually became
sociable and intimate with the young ladies of the
place. One of them some years older than myself,
was fond of her piano forte, and I, by frequently
seeing and hearing her performance, grew fond of
it also; she allowed me and even persuaded me to
thrum it now and then, and assisted me by her in-
structions till, in a few months, I could execute a
simple tune, a march or a minuet, with tolerable
accuracy as to time.
At length, my friend accepted an invitation to
spend a winter at New-York, and offered me, mean-
while, the use of her instrument, during her absence,
which I freely accepted. My father had no pleasure
in music, and even condemned it as a waster of
time, and as unsuitable to the station in which I was
placed. His reasonings had some influence on my
judgment, but I thought myself bound to conform
to her wishes. I obtained his consent to my re-
ceiving the instrument on condition, as he said, that
I would keep it out of sight, and give to it but a very
few minutes in the day.
During the lightsome and wakeful hours, I was
sufficiently employed in attendance upon him, with
my books, pen, and household affairs. It was only
when the day's occupations and amusements were
over, and I withdrew to my chamber, that I found
time to be musical; but that was the hour in which
I had used myself to offer up the tribute of my
gratitude and penitence to Heaven. This office I
could not, on any account, relinquish or encroach
upon. What then was I to do?
The solemn strains which my friend had some-
times played in my hearing, had frequently and
in a powerful degree, soothed and elevated my
thoughts. They inspired me with awfulness and
rapture. Reflecting on this, and on the union
there had always been, in every species of worship,
between devotion and music, me thought I could not
do better than to make them coalesce on this occa-
I began, therefore, with the simple tune of which
I was mistress, and contrived to adapt to it spon-
taneously the words which occurred to me at the
fleeting moment. I never prayed according to set
forms. I was accustomed to lean upon my pillow,
collect and fix my thoughts on Providence and
Heaven, and utter, lowly, indistinctly, the sugges-
tions of the moment.
To this practice I still partly adhered, but now
modulated my accent into some accordance with
my instrument. I did not strive after numbers or
rhyme. These were restraints wholly unsuited to
my purpose or my indolence. I kept to the tune
that I had learned; sometimes was silent for a
minute, then uttered a word or syllable that
chanced to come, and endeavoured, not at first, with
constant success to make my voice coincide with
the key.
I love to look back upon some parts of my
life. To trace my present situation, views,
and capacities to their earliest original; their
beginnings and their progress, but to describe
these would make me, I fear, a tedious com-

R. Lay aside that apprehension, I beseech
you. You cannot please me more than by such
details. I pray you go on, and be as minute as

(To be continued).