William Allingham, A Diary, H. Allingham and D. Radford (eds.), London: Macmillan and Co., 1907, pp. 249-250.



William Allingham

We talked of music. B[rowning] goes to all the best concerts and musical parties he can. Spoke of people who know nothing at all of music. ‘Last night at a private house — Joachim playing “Beethoven”; Mrs. P., sitting next me, knew and cared absolutely nothing about it.’

I tried to say that there are people with no ear and also people with some, though not much, and these latter may, having sensitive and imaginative souls, be much moved by what does reach them; and I instanced Carlyle — but had no sooner uttered the name than B., more suo, snatched the ball out of my hands, and ran off with it in another direction.

‘Carlyle talks the most utter rubbish about Beethoven, knows absolutely nothing about it, etc. etc.’ And went on to declare, in his rapid way, that no untrained person could know or feel anything of this high music. ‘It cannot be reached per saltum — instead of a melody in a song or ballad, you have, in the harmonies and transitions, countless melodies melted and flowing and mingling,’ and so on.