The Female Prose Writers of America/Caroline May/Handel
Carlyle truly observes, that “great men, taken up in anyway, are profitable company. We cannot look, however imperfectly, upon a great man, without gaining something from him. He is the living light-fountain which it is so good and pleasant to be near.” Carlyle was thinking of his heroes,—Odin, Mahommed, Dante, Shakspeare, Cromwell,—when he said this. Whether he would place Handel among his worshipped great men, matters not; but that he would, we have little doubt, for has he not in his own strange eloquence said, “Who is there, that in logical words can express the effect music has on us? A kind of inarticulate unfathomable speech, which leads us to the edge of the Infinite, and lets us for a moment gaze into that?” Surely, they who can silently understand, if they cannot audibly interpret, this unfathomable speech,—who have been led with wonder and admiration to gaze into Infinity, will look on Handel as on a hero, and rank his genius side by side with that of Shakspeare and Milton. But whatever the opinion of others may be, we have always found his company profitable. Whether listening to his expressive airs, or reading over his rich full choruses (lamenting, as we read, that a choir of voices could not spring at once from our grateful and delighted heart), we have always felt that, to approach Handel was to approach a living fountain of heaven-born harmony. And to be near such, is both good and pleasant.