Something like this “SCENE-TURNING” I have experienced at the evening parties, at the house of my good Catholic friend Nov——; who, by the aid of a capital organ, himself the most finished of players, converts his drawing-room into a chapel, his week days into Sundays, and these latter into minor heavens.
When my friend commences upon one of those solemn anthems, which peradventure struck upon my heedless ear, rambling in the side aisles of the dim abbey, some five and thirty years since, waking a new sense, and putting a soul of old religion into my young apprehension—(whether it be that, in which the psalmist, weary of the persecutions of bad men, wisheth to himself dove’s wings—or that other, which, with a like measure of sobriety and pathos, inquireth by what means the young man shall best cleanse his mind)—a holy calm pervadeth me.—I am for the time
—rapt above earth,
And possess joys not promised at my birth.
But when this master of the spell, not content to have laid a soul prostrate, goes on, in his power, to inflict more bliss than lies in her capacity to receive,—impatient to overcome her “earthly” with his “heavenly,”—still pouring in, for protracted hours, fresh waves and fresh from the sea of sound, or from that inexhausted German ocean, above which, in triumphant progress, dolphin-seated, ride those Arions Haydn and Mozart, with their attendant tritons, Bach, Beethoven, and a countless tribe, whom to attempt to reckon up would but plunge me again in the deeps,—I stagger under the weight of harmony, reeling to and fro at my wit’s end;—clouds, as of frankincense, oppress me—priests, altars, censers, dazzle before me—the genius of his religion hath me in her toils—a shadowy triple tiara invests the brow of my friend, late so naked, so ingenuous he is Pope, and by him sits, like as in the anomaly of dreams, a she-Pope too,—tri-coroneted like himself!—I am converted, and yet a Protestant;—at once malleus hereticorum, and myself grand heresiarch: or three heresies centre in my person:—I am Marcion, Ebion, and Cerinthus—Gog and Magog—what not?—till the coming in of the friendly supper-tray dissipates the figment, and a draught of true Lutheran beer (in which chiefly my friend shows himself no bigot) at once reconciles me to the rationalities of a purer faith; and restores to me the genuine unterrifying aspects of my pleasant-countenanced host and hostess.
I have been there, and still would go;
’Tis like a little heaven below.—Dr. Watts.]
The compliments of the season to my worthy masters, and a merry first of April to us all!