Pagina:Baretti - Prefazioni e polemiche.djvu/320



a man of taste, a man of enthusiasm, fertile in ideas and expedients, and able to temper alternately the solemnity of churchmusic with the brilHancy of the theatrical.

To light upon such a man was not an easy thing and I went long in search of him without any success. At last I happened to hear at Paris some operas set to music by Philidor, and was equally surprised and delighted to fínd that he possessed many of the qualifícations which I was looking for. We had been acquainted in the days of our youth; but little did I expect, at that time, that he would ever excel in any thing but chess. I enquired after his musical character and found that he had carried several of the prizes oflfered by the directors of the Parisian theatres, and my good friend doctor Burney had given him a kind word in his musical travels. But Philidor was not in Paris at that time and I quitted it without coming to any conclusion. Good luck brought him, a long while after, to England again; and I communicated to him my scheme, which seemed to enflame him at once with an uncommon ardour. We read the odes together several times and discussed every syllable in them with respect to the best way of expressing musically the meaning of Horace. I gave him besides a copy of the Polymetrum, with many notes of mine in the margin, to awake hints and animate his invention.

To end my narrative, which, I hope, is not over impertinent, he has done the work to mj’^ satisfaction while he was last at Paris, where he consulted likewise the learned monsieur Diderot and several other able men. Whether he has done it to the mind of an English audience, one exhibition will show. If he succeeds, I shall claim my share of the honour of his being introduced to the acquaintance of this nation in his musical character. If he fails, I am willing to partake in his defeat and attribute it in a great measure to his having with too much implicitness complied with my notions and follo wed my advice. Let the worst come, no harm will ensue. The performance may prove unsuccessful ; but it may, in some degree, teach other composers to do better, and give Horace a more pleasing dress.