We Not Only Believe Them To Have Been The Best Men
Familiarly Known Here In England, But We See Foreign Nations Join
Us For The Most Part In Assigning To Them The Highest Place As
Renderers Of Emotion.
It is always a pleasure to me to reflect that the countries dearest
to these two master spirits are those which are also dearest to
myself, I mean England and Italy.
Both of them lived mainly here
in London, but both of them turned mainly to Italy when realising
their dreams. Handel's music is the embodiment of all the best
Italian music of his time and before him, assimilated and
reproduced with the enlargements and additions suggested by his own
genius. He studied in Italy; his subjects for many years were
almost exclusively from Italian sources; the very language of his
thoughts was Italian, and to the end of his life he would have
composed nothing but Italian operas, if the English public would
have supported him. His spirit flew to Italy, but his home was
London. So also Shakespeare turned to Italy more than to any other
country for his subjects. Roughly, he wrote nineteen Italian, or
what to him were virtually Italian plays, to twelve English, one
Scotch, one Danish, three French, and two early British.
But who does not turn to Italy who has the chance of doing so?
What, indeed, do we not owe to that most lovely and loveable
country? Take up a Bank of England note and the Italian language
will be found still lingering upon it.
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