when something is found which is beyond the range of the observation which served as the basis for a law, and seems therefore to contravene it; for many men so readily mistake their habits for absolute truth that when they are shown a novelty which passes their point of realisation and is out of the beaten track, they condemn it at once as heresy, and use the utmost of their power to prevent its dissemination; and where they find themselves unable to stem the tide through the acknowledged greatness of the genius who has originated it, or through the acceptance of its principle becoming general, they excuse themselves and stigmatize what they mistrust by calling it a license.
A license, then, is the breaking of a more or less arbitrary law in such respects as it is defective and its basis unsound and insufficient; and it is by such means that the greater part of expansion in musical art has been made. An irresistible impulse drives genius forth into the paths of speculation; and when a discovery is made it frequently happens that a law is broken, and the pedants proclaim a license. But the license, being an accurate generalisation, holds its place in the art, and the laws have to be modified to meet it, and ultimately men either forget that it was ever called a license or stand in amazement at the stupidity of their predecessors; while it must be confessed that they assuredly would not have been any wiser if they had been in their places.
The history of music is full from end to end with examples—from De Muris in the fourteenth century bewailing in bitter terms the experiments in new concords, to the purists of Monteverde's time condemning his use of the dominant seventh without preparation, on to the vexation of the contemporaries of Mozart at the extravagant opening of the C major Quartet, and the amazement of many at Beethoven's beginning his first Symphony (in C) with a chord ostensibly in F major. Even at the present day Bach's complicated use of accidentals is a stumblingblock to many, who fancy he breaks laws against false relations; while in reality this law, like that against consecutive fifths, is only the particular formula covering a deeper law which Bach had the power to fathom without waiting for its expression. So again with the resolution of discords; the old formulas were mere statements of the commonest practices of the older composers, and did not attempt to strike at the root of the matter: so we find even Haydn taking license in this direction in relation to the lights of his time; while Bach's resolutions are often inexplicable even at the present day as far as the accepted principles of resolution will go, because theorists have hardly got far enough yet to see clearly what he saw and expressed so long ago. At the present day, however, the increase of the accumulated results of observation and analysis, joined with a more philosophical spirit, tends to produce a more and more accurate determination of the real laws of art, and by the systematisation of these into a more congruous and connected theory, a nearer approach is made to what is universally true, and so less room is left for those speculative experiments of genius which the denseness of mere pedants has been content to brand as licenses.
This progress explains the fact that the term 'license' is not so frequently heard in relation to music as it formerly was: but there is still plenty of room for theorists to invent false hypotheses; and the apparently growing desire of many scientists to force upon artists as final the results of the most elementary discoveries in relation to the material of the art, will still afford genius the opportunity of asserting the strength of its convictions by taking so-called licenses, and will likewise afford dogmatists further opportunity of making themselves ridiculous to posterity by condemning the truths thus discovered.
There is just one last consideration. Libertines are unfortunately to be met with in the art world as well as elsewhere, and the licenses they take too frequently deserve the bitter language of the enraged pedant. There is no need to stay to consider their experiments, for they will not take long to die of inanition. It only remains to remind the too hasty enthusiast that to take licenses with safety for the art is not the part of every ready believer in himself; but only of those in whom the highest talents are conjoined with unflagging patience and earnest labour; who pass through the perfect realisation of the laws they find in force at first, and by learning to feel thoroughly the basis on which they rest, and the principles of their application by other great masters, finally arrive at that point where they can see the truths which lie beyond the formal expression of the law, and which the rest of humanity only call licenses for the nonce because their eyes are not clear enough nor their spirits bright enough to leap to the point which the inspiration of genius has achieved.
Beethoven appears to have used the term 'licenze' in relation to construction with reference to the fugue in B♭ in opus 106. It is difficult to indicate precisely in what particular the licenses consist. The case is similar to the sonatas which he called 'quasi Fantasia,' merely indicating that in them he had not restricted himself closely to the laws of form as accepted in his time, but had enlarged the bounds according to his own feelings.
[ C. H. H. P. ]
LICHFILD, Henry, was the composer of 'The First Set of Madrigals of 5 parts, apt both for Viols and Voyces,' printed in 1613 and reprinted in 1614, and containing 20 madrigals. Nothing is known of his biography.
[ W. H. H. ]
LICHNOWSKY, Carl, Fürst (Prince), by Russian patent issued January 30, 1773; born 1758, died April 15, 1814; was descended from an old Polish family whose estates were so situated that, after the partition of Poland, it owed allegiance to all three of the plunderers. The principal seat of Prince Carl was Schloss Grätz, near Troppau in Silesia; but Vienna was his usual place of residence. He claims