Page:1880. A Tramp Abroad.djvu/249

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
237
GRADES OF MUSIC.

know, indeed, that it must be low-grade music, because it so delighted me, warmed me, moved me, stirred me, uplifted me, enraptured me, that I was full of cry all the time, and mad with enthusiasm. My soul had never had such a scouring out since I was born. The solemn and majestic chanting of the monks was not done by instruments, but by men's voices; and it rose and fell, and rose again in that rich confusion of warring sounds, and pulsing bells, and the stately swing of that ever-present enchanting air, and it seemed to me that nothing but the very lowest of low-grade music could be so divinely beautiful. The great crowd which the Fremersberg had called out was another evidence that it was low-grade music; for only the few are educated up to a point where high-grade music gives pleasure. I have never heard enough classic music to be able to enjoy it. I dislike the opera because I want to love it and can't.

I suppose there are two kinds of music,—one kind which one feels, just as an oyster might, and another sort which requires a higher faculty, a faculty which must be assisted and developed by teaching. Yet if base music gives certain of us wings, why should we want any other? But we do. We want it because the higher and better like it. But we want it without giving it the necessary time and trouble; so we climb into that upper tier, that dress circle, by a lie: we pretend we like it. I know several of that sort of people,—and I propose to be one of them myself when I get home with my fine European education.

And then there is painting. What a red rag is to a bull, Turner's "Slave Ship" was to me, before I studied Art. Mr. Ruskin is educated in art up to a point where that picture throws him into as mad an ecstacy of pleasure as it used to throw me into one of rage, last year, when I was ignorant. His cultivation enables him,—and me, now,—to see water in that glaring yellow mud, and natural effects in those lurid explosions of mixed smoke and flame, and crimson sunset glories; it reconciles him,—and me, now,—to the floating of