Anselm Bayly

(c. 1719—1794) Church of England clergyman and writer

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Anselm Bayly was educated at Christ Church, Oxford, and attained the degree of BCL on 12 June 1749. He entered the Church and held various preferments in London. Like many eighteenth-century writers about whom very little is known, Bayly seems to have turned his hand to a number of theoretical and practical topics. However, his real interests seem to have been in philology and music, as his numerous publications testify. His first book was an essay in theology, The Antiquity, Evidence, and Certainty of Christianity (1751), which displays the learning and knowledge to be found in his later works. Though not conventionally pious, the work exhibits little original thinking but is expressed in graceful and attractive prose. Perhaps his two most significant works are A Practical Treatise on Singing and Playing, being an Essay on Grammar, Pronunciation, and Singing (1771) and The Alliance of Music, Poetry, and Oratory (1789). His enthusiasm for theories of prosody is considerable, but his eclectic approach produces too many contradictions to allow him to create a sustainable and coherent theory of prosody. In contrast, his discussions of the analogies between music and poetry are interesting. He examines the predictability of certain rhythmical patterns in both music and poetry and argues, albeit unconvincingly, for a common origin of the two. As an aesthetician, Bayly can be best described as a keen observer of various phenomena that one associates with the experience of poetry or music: he identifies clearly and empirically the feelings and sensations for the viewer, hearer or reader, as well as the data from which these feelings and sensations derive. What he does not or cannot do is formulate a theory that coherently accommodates these various phenomena.

From The Continuum Encyclopedia of British Philosophy in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Philosophy.

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