Page:Romain Rolland Handel.djvu/75

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HIS LIFE

67

only fault which his biographer, Chrysander, does not excuse, for it wounded his German patriotism. But it is very necessary to say here that of German patriotism Handel had hardly any. He had the mentality of the great German artists of his time, for whom the country was art and religion; the State mattered little to him.

He lived then amongst the English patrons—for a year with a wealthy music lover in Surrey—then in Piccadilly at Lord Burlington's palace. He remained there three years. Pope and Swift were familiars in the house, which Gay had described. Handel performed there on the organ and clavecin before the élite of London society by whom he was much admired—with the exception of Pope, who did not like music. He composed a little,[1] being satisfied to exist, as in his sojourn at Naples, waiting without hurry to be saturated by the English atmosphere. Handel was one of those who can write three operas in two months, and then do nothing more for a year. It is the rule of the torrential river which sometimes overflows, and then runs dry. He awaited the course of events. The inheritors of Hanover seemed decidedly ousted. The Duchess Sophia died on June 7, 1714, Chrysander says of grief (but it was certainly also apoplexy)—convinced that the Stuart would attain the coveted heritage. Less than ever did Handel breathe a word of returning to Hanover, but chance

  1. He wrote, it is said, for the little amateur theatre of Burlington an opera Silla, 1714, of which he reproduced the best parts in Amadigi. One can also date from this time a certain number of clavier pieces, which appeared in a volume in 1720.