This accomplishment, so popular at the present time, is a source of surpassing delight to many minds. From its power to soothe the feelings and modify the passions, it seems desirable to understand it, if it does not involve too great expense of time. Vocal music is an accomplishment within the reach of most persons. “I have a piano within myself,” said a little girl, “and I can play on that, if I have no other.”
An excellent clergyman, possessing much knowledge of human nature, instructed his large family of daughters in the theory and practice of music. They were all observed to be exceedingly amiable and happy. A friend inquired if there was any secret in his mode of education. He replied, “When any thing disturbs their temper, I say to them sing; and, if I hear them speaking against any person, I call them to sing to me, and so they have sung away all causes of discontent, and every disposition to scandal.” Such a use of this accomplishment might serve to fit a family for the company of angels and the clime of praise. Young voices around the domestic altar, breathing sacred music at the hour of morning and evening devotions, are a sweet and touching accompaniment.
Instrumental music, being more expensive in its attainment, both of money and time, and its indifferent performance giving pain to those of refined sensibility, seems scarcely desirable to be cultivated, unless the impulse of native taste prompts or justifies the labor. The spirited pen of Miss Martineau, in her “Five First Years of Youth,” has sketched a pleasing description of a young lady, possessing a strong predilection for music. “She sang much and often, not that she had any particular aim at being very accomplished, but because she loved it, or, as she said, because she could not help it. She sang to Nurse Rickham’s children; she sang as she went up and down stairs; she sang when she was glad, and when she was sorry; when her father was at home, because he liked it; and when he was out, because he could not be disturbed by it. In the woods, at noonday, she sang like a bird, that a bird might answer her; and, if she awoke in the dark night, the feeling of solemn music came over her, with which she dared not break the silence.”
Where such a taste exists, there is no doubt that opportunities for its improvement should be gladly accepted. Where there is no taste, it seems cause of regret, when time, perhaps health, are sacrificed to the accomplishment. Even where a tolerable performance of instrumental music might probably be attained, without the prompting of decided taste, there may be danger of absorbing too much of time and attention from those employments which a female ought to understand and will be expected to discharge, and which are in reality of far greater importance.