1766

EDENBOURG IN IRLAND

 

One of the most eccentric, and puzzling, of Kammell’s communications to Count Waldstein is a letter dated October 20th, 1766 from “Edenbourg in Irland”.

It seems that the composer did not have a grasp of the geography of the British Isles after eighteenth months in England. I think it must be assumed that the city he found himself in was Edinburgh and that he had not crossed the Irish Sea. A sea crossing is likely to have been mentioned, especially after the terrible experience if his previous (and possibly only) voyage the year before.

He had come to Scotland as part of a long tour, already eight weeks, “looking at countries” “with a certain Mr Nouelle who is a great lover of Music.”

This seems to have been a sight-seeing tour rather than an opportunity to earn money. Rather oddly Kammell writes that

“our trip and our identity, wherever we come, is incognito. I attended here even the greatest assemblies. My name is Sigr Carmellino.” (FREEMANOVA 2)

Kammell’s non-musical interests are being satisfied in this adventure:

“I haven’t seen so many beautiful women as here in Irland. Day after day I am more and more in love.”

Kammell had been composing, and he writes that he had played in Edinburgh, though when or where this might have been is impossible to answer. He told Count Waldstein that he had “more and more beautiful thoughts in his composing” and that he had written an elaborate work which he called a “Pantomime”, which consisted of a Symphony (or overture), “12 Andantes and 12 Allegros including a concluding allegro.”

“I amazed everybody, all the Ladies and Lords and Gentlemen say that they haven’t heard anything similar in their lives.”

The description of this work matches a publication with the rather complicated title of “A third set of trios or Ballo consisting of two Acts with a short introductory Overture to each Act and a collection of Airs etc.” published by Welcker, though there are only twenty-four pieces in all. It’s a very curious work. This is not, as the published title implies, a set of individual trios but a kind of imaginary ballet. It is hard to see it being used for a ball as none of the pieces are identified as types of dance. There are not even any minuets, which are otherwise very common in all Kammell’s publications.

 

Who was this “Mr Nouelle” who had taken Kammell on this very long trip?

 

In the same letter he mentions that he is returning to “Cavalier Mann” “for a woodland snipe”, presumably an autumnal shooting expedition. This must mean that he was to travel south to the Mann’s Rutland house, Cottesmore. He was certainly there by January 1767. He says he promised this two months ago, which would have been when he was still with the Manns in Kent before setting off on the eight-week tour.

Lady Lucy Mann was the third daughter of Baptist Noel. As Noel was Lady Lucy’s maiden name the most obvious answer is that “Mr Nouelle” was actually a “Mr Noel” and that he was one of Lady Lucy’s family.

This seems reasonable, but if this is the case, which of her family could it be? She did have a brother, Henry Noel, but he was, at that time, the Earl of Gainsborough, having inherited the title from Lucy’s only other brother, Baptist, who had died at the age of 19, in 1759. Henry was only 23 in 1766. A young earl might fancy travelling incognito, but he could only do this where he would not be recognised. Another argument against “Mr Nouelle” being anyone remotely aristocratic is that Kammell is always drawing attention to his aristocratic acquaintances, as if trying to impress Count Waldstein, and at the same time to support his own claims to be a gentleman, rather than a servant musician. If this travelling companion is a relation of Lady Lucy, why does Kammell not say so?

If Mr Noel was the Earl of Gainsborough it could be that this was, indeed, an elaborate entertainment or joke to cheer up Kammell after months of ill health. while he, at the same time, would be an older companion to keep the young earl in order.

There is another possibility.

On 6th February 1769 Kammell led the orchestra in a concert at The Thatched House Tavern, St James’s Street, London, which featured a musician called George Noel as soloist on the Pantaleon, a kind of enormous and elaborate cimbalom, a stringed instrument played with hammers.

Of course, the identification of Kammell’s travelling companion and this George Noel would be instantly disproved if Noel could be found performing elsewhere when Kammell was in Edinburgh.

The first known appearance of George Noel after Kammell’s Edinburgh letter (which is dated 20th October) is at a concert in Bath on Thursday 30th October.

“A Grand CONCERT of MUSICK in which will be introduced a NEW INSTRUMENT, call’d the PANTALEONE.”

 

Noel was, then, an unusual musician, with whom Kammell performed, but would it have been possible for Noel to have been in Edinburgh on 20th October and Bath on the 30th? Was such a thing possible in 1766 – and how would a travelling musician, like Noel, or like Kammell, who later performed in, amongst other places, Salisbury and Northampton, have travelled? How would “Mr Nouelle” and “Signor Carmellino” have got to Edinburgh on their eight-week tour?

These days the train from Edinburgh to London takes less than five hours. In 1750 a stagecoach from Edinburgh to London took ten days. Later in the century it accelerated to four. Stagecoaches were the fastest method of travel at the time. The system was based on changing horses at inns so that the coach could keep going all day. Roads were bad and coaches, before the last few years of the century when springs became sophisticated, were primitive and very uncomfortable. A coach could carry about twelve people, mostly on top or on the box, with only six in relative comfort inside.

Very rich people had a private carriage, but they would have their own horses to go with them. They could not travel more than forty miles in a day. The wealthy could go on long tours, but they would stay at other people’s houses on the way.

The more common means of transport for gentlemen would be on horseback. This would be relatively fast and flexible, not having to worry so much about the state of the roads, but it would still only be possible to go about forty miles a day. Long journeys would depend on inns or the houses of acquaintances, Country houses did function rather like hotels and would be prepared for visitors.

Horses were essential. In Kammell’s first letter to Count Waldtsein he had asked for a bill of exchange, which he would, of course, repay “for a horse or other things.”

Edinburgh to Bath is 368 miles. Even if there were stagecoaches running direct, or with very good connections – and carriage services would run weekly rather than daily so connections might mean a day or more delay – the journey would have taken several days. On horseback ten days would be the minimum and presumably the same for a private carriage.

This is all worth bearing in mind when thinking about Kammell’s journeys. It does seem to rule out George Noel as a candidate for “Mr Nouelle”.

Another tantalising piece of evidence in the mystery of Mr Noel comes from seventeen years later and the marriage of Kammell’s sister in law Lydia Edicatt (or Edicott) to Charles Christian Besser in March 1783 where the witnesses were Kammell and “Henry Noel”. If this is the Earl of Gainsborough, again in incognito, it would be evidence that the Earl had remained a fried of the composer and his family until the last year of Kammell’s life.  I have been unable to identify any other Henry Noel who might have been this witness.

 

Unless another Mr Noel can be found who has some connection with Kammell it seems reasonable to conclude that “Mr Nouelle” was Henry Noel, Sixth Earl of Gainsborough. The composer and the 23-year-old Earl might have travelled in a private carriage, but that would have encumbered them with a coachman and possibly other servants. Horseback would have been the only practical means of transport such as this. Though the Earl might have been incognito – and does Kammell actually mean, in his letter, that “a certain Mr Nouelle” is the incognito his companion is travelling under, as he is using “Signor Carmellino”? – he might have had friends in on the secret who would have given them entry to “the greatest assemblies.”

 

Though this mystery may never be solved conclusively it seems very possible that Kammell, immediately after writing to Count Waldstein, rode south to Rutland, to join Sir Horatio Mann for the autumnal shooting season, travelling with Mann’s brother-in-law, Henry Noel, 6th Earl of Gainsborough, whose sister, Lady Lucy Mann, had recently become the dedicatee of his Opus 1.

 

That the principal reason for the visit to Rutland was shooting is confirmed by a letter to Count Waldstein in January 1767.

“I list here to Your Excellency, what I have shot this year here in England: 212 quails, 58 hares, 178 snipes, 69 crows, 287 rabbits.” (FREEMANOVA 2)

The stay at the Manns’ Rutland house Cottesmore, which was Lady Lucy’s property, was also an opportunity to make more friends.

“I am gaining more friends here; and I am doing so well that I cannot describe it to Your Excellency. I am missing neither friends nor money, everything goes according to my wishes and pleasure. I am highly esteemed, everybody likes me. I believe that the reason for it is my good upbringing and suitable ways of living…” (FREEMANOVA 2)

This is a great change after his period of illness the year before, which had brought him to Kent.

While at Cottesmore Kammell performed at the nearby town of Stamford, about 12 miles away. He writes that he only played two solos in a public concert but that he had made a great impression,

“The clapping was such as I never had in my life…young and old ladies and Misses, all of them in love, (and) I made them even more loving through my old violin, and (I myself) was the second day very much in love with one young lady…” (FREEMANOVA 2)

There are no further mentions of the Mann family in Kammell’s letters. His whereabouts for the rest of 1767 is unknown. Up to this time there is no evidence that he had given any concerts of his own or had appeared as the star performer, apart from this brief performance at Stamford. A year later, by March 1768, he was a published composer, advertising the first concert in his own name, (“For the Benefit of ANTONIO KAMMELL”) and he had found a new circle of patrons.