despising, if he pleased, the soul that would invent
a sauce. I mean to say, he would, like the larger
body of our sentimentalists, have acquiesced in our
simple humanity, but without sacrificing a scruple
to its grossness, or going arm-in-arm with it by any
means. Sir Purcell, however, never sank, and never
bent. He was invariably erect before men, and
he did not console himself with a murmur in secret.
He had lived much alone; eating alone; thinking alone.
To complain of a father is, to a delicate mind, a
delicate matter, and Sir Purcell was a gentleman to
all about him. His chief affliction in his youth,
therefore, kept him dumb. A gentleman to all about
him, he unhappily forgot what was due to his own nature.
Must we not speak under pressure of a grief?
Little people should know that they must: but
then the primary task is to teach them that they are
little people. For, if they repress the outcry
of a constant irritation, and the complaint against
injustice, they lock up a feeding devil in their hearts,
and they must have vast strength to crush him there.
Strength they must have to kill him, and freshness
of spirit to live without him, after he has once entertained
them with his most comforting discourses. Have
you listened to him, ever? He does this:—he
plays to you your music (it is he who first teaches
thousands that they have any music at all, so guess
what a dear devil he is!); and when he has played
this ravishing melody, he falls to upon a burlesque
contrast of hurdy-gurdy and bag-pipe squeal and bellow
and drone, which is meant for the music of the world.
How far sweeter was yours! This charming devil
Sir Purcell had nursed from childhood.
As a child, between a flighty mother and a father
verging to insanity from caprice, he had grown up
with ideas of filial duty perplexed, and with a fitful
love for either, that was not attachment: a baffled
natural love, that in teaching us to brood on the
hardness of our lot, lays the foundation for a perniciously
mystical self-love. He had waged precociously
philosophic, when still a junior. His father had
kept him by his side, giving him no profession beyond
that of the obedient expectant son and heir.
His first allusion to the youth’s dependency
had provoked their first breach, which had been widened
by many an ostentatious forgiveness on the one hand,
and a dumbly-protesting submission on the other.
His mother died away from her husband’s roof.
The old man then sought to obliterate her utterly.
She left her boy a little money, and the injunction
of his father was, that he was never to touch it.
He inherited his taste for music from her, and his
father vowed, that if ever he laid hand upon a musical
instrument again, he would be disinherited. All
these signs of a vehement spiteful antagonism to reason,
the young man might have treated more as his father’s
misfortune than his own, if he could only have brought
himself to acknowledge that such a thing as madness