The Benefits of a Little Philanthropy

It was Tyne Consort’s great pleasure to give a recital at the Lit and Phil, or the Literary and Philosophical Society of Newcastle in full, last autumn. It is a well-named place, resonating with a stylish antiquity which cannot fail to appeal to classical musicians who spend their time cherishing those things – musical works, buildings, civic institutions – which have survived their hazardous exodus from history. It is very clearly a product of the Enlightenment, in thought if not in strict chronology; it puts one in mind of coffee houses and the kind of unregulated spelling which prevailed before Dr. Johnson intervened. At the same time it is hard to avoid the thought that one of the Enlightenment’s principal bê tes noires, Edmund Burke, that great believer in tradition as the repository of the wisdom of the ages, would have felt as much at home there as Thomas Paine or, for that matter, Mozart.