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his sombre thoughtsor rather to make him
think, if it were in him to do sohis wife,
Elizabeth Farnese, bethought her of the
marvellous gifts of Farinelli. How they were
applied, Dr. Burney thus describes:

"It has often been related, and generally
believed, that Philip the Fifth, King of Spain,
being seized with a total dejection of spirits,
which made him refuse to be shaved, and
rendered him incapable of attending council or
transacting affairs of state, the queen, who had in
vain tried every common expedient that was likely
to contribute to his recovery, determined that
an experiment should be made of the effects of
music upon the king, her husband, who was
extremely sensible to its charms. Upon the
arrival of Farinelli, of whose extraordinary
performance an account had been transmitted to
Madrid from several parts of Europe, but
particularly from Paris, her majesty contrived that
there should be a concert in a room adjoining
the king's appartment, in which this singer
performed one of his most captivating songs. Philip
appeared at first surprised, then moved, and
at the end of the second air made the virtuoso
enter the royal apartment, loading him with
compliments and caresses, asked him how he could
sufficiently reward such talents, assuring him
that he could refuse him nothing. Farinelli,
previously instructed, only begged that his
majesty would permit his attendants to shave
and dress him, and that he would endeavour to
appear in council as usual. From this time the
king's disease gave way to medicine, and the
singer had the honour of the cure. By singing
to his majesty every evening, his favour
increased to such a degree that he was regarded
as first minister; but, what is still more
extraordinary, instead of being intoxicated or giddy
with his elevation, Farinelli, never forgetting
that he was a musician, behaved to the Spanish
nobles about the court with such humility and
propriety, that instead of envying his favour,
they honoured him with their esteem and

Elizabeth Farnese was too clever a woman,
and too deeply interested in directing the will
of her husband, not to see the advantage she
might derive from the admirable talent of
Farinelli. She accordingly proposed to him to fix his
residence at Madrid, assuring him an income of
two thousand pounds sterling, on condition of
his never singing anywhere but at court and
before the king. Farinelli agreed to this
proposal, and during the remaining ten years of
Philip's life he sang four pieces to him every
night. Under Ferdinand the Sixth, the son and
successor of Philip the Fifth, who inherited the
melancholy and indolence of his father, the
fortune and credit of Farinelli received a still
greater increase, for, repeating the vocal charm
which had already operated so miraculously in
the first instance, the gratified monarch at once
invested the lucky singer with the Order of
Calatrava, and loaded him besides with signal
marks of favour, appointing him, amongst other
things, to the post of intendant of musical and
dramatic representations to the court; and
approaching the king's person as he now constantly
did, Farinelli became a sort of quasi-political
personage whom ambassadors and ministers found
it their interest to take into consideration. As
we have already seen, from Dr. Burney's statement,
Farinelli used his extraordinary power
with great moderation, and exercised kindness
whenever he had an opportunity. A striking
instance of his goodness of heart is shown in
the following well-attested anecdote: "One day
in going to the king's closet, to which he had at
all times access, he heard an officer of the guard
curse him, and say to another that was waiting,
'honours can be heaped on such scoundrels as
these, while a poor soldier, like myself, after
thirty years' service, is unnoticed.' Farinelli,
without seeming to hear this reproach,
complained to the king that he had neglected an old
servant, and procured a regiment for the person
who had spoken so harshly of him in the
antechamber; and on quitting his majesty he gave
the commission to the officer, telling him that
he had heard him complain of having served
thirty years, but added, 'you did wrong to
accuse the king of neglecting to reward your

Of Farinelli's singular good nature and
generosity, Dr. Burney also relates the following
story: "This singer being ordered a superb suit
of clothes for a gala at court, when the tailor
brought it home, he asked him for his bill. 'I
have made no bill, sir,' says the tailor, 'nor ever
shall make one. Instead of money,' continues
he, 'I have a favour to beg. I know that what
I want is inestimable, and only fit for monarchs;
but since I have had the honour to work for a
person of whom every one speaks with rapture,
all the payment I shall ever require will be a
song.' Farinelli tried in vain to prevail on the
tailor to take his money. At length, after a
long debate, giving way to the humble entreaties
of the trembling tradesman, and flattered,
perhaps, more by the singularity of the adventure
than by all the applause he had hitherto
received, he took him into his music-room, and
sang to him some of his most brilliant airs,
taking pleasure in the astonishment of his
ravished hearer; and the more he seemed
surprised and affected, the more Farinelli exerted
himself in every species of excellence. When
he had done, the tailor, overcome with ecstasy,
thanked him in the most rapturous and grateful
manner, and prepared to retire. 'No,' says
Farinelli, 'I am a little proud; and it is perhaps
from that circumstance that I have acquired
some small degree of superiority over other
singers; I have given way to your weakness, it
is but fair that, in your turn, you should indulge
me in mine.' And taking out his purse, he
insisted on his receiving a sum amounting to
nearly double the worth of the suit of clothes."

Unshaken in credit and unaltered by
prosperity, Farinelli continued for five-and-twenty
years to devote himself to his successive royal
patrons, but on the death of Ferdinand the Sixth
he was abruptly dismissed by that king's brother,