Imágenes de páginas

of speech' not only peculiarly American, but as involving a physical impossibility in that 'cute and far-seeing nation. Let that croaking censor peruse the following, specimen of eloquence' from an authentic speech made by General Buxcombe, in the House of Representatives, in the days of 'Fifty-Four Forty or Fight:'.

"Mr. SPEAKER : When I take my eves and throw them over the vast expanse of this expansive country: when I see how the yeast of freedom has caused it to rise in the scale of civilization and extension on every side; when I see it growing, swelling, roaring, like a spring-freshet - when I see all this, I cannot resist the idea, Sir, that the day will come when this great nation, like a young school-boy, will burst its straps, and become entirely too big for its boots!

"Sir, we want elbow-room! — the continent- the whole continent --- and nothing but the continent! And we will have it! Then shall Uncle Sau, placing his hat upon the Canadas, rest his right arm on the Oregon and California coast, his left on the eastern sea-board, and whittle away the British power, while reposing his leg, like a freeman, upon Cape-Horn! Sir, the day will — the day must come!' A ‘gel-lorious ked'ntry' this ! - - - How much hard study, how continuous the labor, how unremitting the exertion required, to be a proficient in any profession or in any art! Ask of all the learned professions,' ask of all artists, ask of all mechanics, learned in their elaborate arts, and they will tell you what long-tried 'practice’ it requires to ‘make perfect.'

Listen then to one — an actor, and the first of his class, who is passing away, not only from the stage,' as such, but from the busy stage of lifewhile he tells you what study, what care, what practice, are necessary, eren to seem to be a proficient in the realities and observances of actual, 'real life.' We quote from the unpublished note-book of the late HoracE BINNEY WALLACE, a young man of the highest promise, whom DANIEL WEBSTER pronounced to be one of the very first scholars and thinkers of his time :'

September 23, 1845. - Mr. Williay B. Woon, the well-known manager and actor - a gentleman of irreproachable character, in a moral, social, or any point of view -passed the evening at my house. He was speaking of the immense labor, in the way of study, of a capable actor's life:

"I never omitted,' he said, “any labor that could make me more perfect in the graces of my profession.

"Finding myself somewhat awkward in opening and shutting a door, in coming upon the stage, I asked the manager to permit me to come out and announce the play; and for tiro whole years I practised that, and when I was not in the play, I would come down and dress, in stockings, sboes, etc., merely for the purpose of announcing the play ; so as to wear a sword and a cocked hat. I made a point of doing both these, at home and in my own room for years, so that this costume should be as natural and familiar to me as my ordinary one.

“The manager said to me: I never saw any one in my life to whom the use of a sword seemed to be so natural and unconscious. You sit down, get up, and more about, and yet never seem to think of the sword at all, which I have remarked derer gets in your way.'

o Just so,' continued Mr. Wood, 'I had worn it until I thought no more about it than about my ordinary gloves. So I wore a cocked hat in my bed-room, and took it off and put it on a dozen times in an afternoon.'

It may be necessary to explain, that this was part of the dress of the characters played at that time, and gentlemen meeting ladies in the piece, were obliged, in court. esy, frequently to take off their hats in the course of the play.

To put on the hat easily, and at once,' said Mr. Woon, and without a second motion of adjustment, was very difficult. I acquired it by this familiar use.'

“This was a process of assiduous labor, certainly; but Mr. Woop felt that any thing that was worth doing at all, was worth iloing rell. Moreover, as he himself tells us, he derived great advantage from associating all his life with gentlemen off the stage, and on.'

“I had no genius,' he said, modestly, 'but I had quickness of observation, and

indefatigable labor.' That he had more (every one will say who ever saw him) than these last qualifications, must be admitted, or he never could have attained to the exalted position which he held for over forty years.'

It has always seemed to us that Mr. EVERETT "touches nothing that he does not ornament.' With thoughts clearly conceived, carefully polished, and skilfully marshalled, he approaches and carries forward his theme, with a manner that is enforced by all the graces of practised eloquence. Witness the following passage from the admirable and widely-commended speech recently delivered at Dorchester :

"It has been stated, in one or two well-authenticated cases of persons restored after drowning, where life has been temporarily extinguished in the full glow of health, with the faculties unimpaired by disease, in perfect action, that in the last few minutes of conscious existence the whole series of the events of the entire life comes rushing back to the mind distinctly, but with inconceivable rapidity – that the whole life is lived orer again in a moment. Such a narrative, by a person of high otlicial position and perfect credibility I have read. We may well suppose that at this critical moment of V ASHINGTOx's life a similar concentration of thought would take place, and that the erents of bis past existence, as they had prepared him for it- his escape from drowning and the rifle of the savage on his perilous mission to Venango, the shower of iron hail through which he rode unbarmed on BRADDOCK's field — would now crowd through his memury; that much more, also — the past life of his country — the early stages of the great coniflct now brought to its crisis, and still more solemnly the possibilities of the future for himself and for America — would press upon him; the ruin of the patriotic cause if he failed at the outset; the triumphant consolidation of the Revolution if he prevailed, with higher visions of the hopeful family of rising States, their auspicious growth and prospering fortunes hovering like a dream of angels in the remote prospect-- all this, attended with the immense desire of honest tame, (for we cannot think eren WASHINGTon's mind too noble to want the last infirmity ;) the intense inward glow of manly heroism about to act its great part on a sublime theatre; the softness of the man chastening the severity of the chieftain, and deeply touched at the sufferings and bereavements about to be caused by the conflict of the morrow; the still tenderer emotions that breathed their sanctity over all the rest - the thought of the faithful and beloved wife wbo had followed him from Mount Vernon, and of the aged mother whose heart was aching in her Virginia home for glad tidings of GEORGE, who was always a good boy' - all these pictures, visions, feelings, pangs - too vast for words, too deep for tears - but swelling, no doubt, in one unuttered prayer to HEAVEN, we may well imagine to hare filled the soul of WASHINGTON at that decisive hour, as he stood upon the heights of Dorchester, with the holy stars for his camp-fire, and the deep-folding shadows of night, looped by the hand of God to the four quarters of the sky, for the curtains of his tent.

The close, in natural, simple eloquence, is scarcely less effective. We are not surprised to find that 'the eloquent orator exhibited much emotion as he concluded, and the cheering which had broken out frequently during the delivery of his address, again rose in one vehement and overwhelming and prolonged shout, which made the hills ring again :'

"Tars, my friends, in the neighborhood of the spot where, in my early childhood, I acquired the first elements of learning at one of those public schools which are the glory of and strength of New England, I bave spok

England. I bave spoken to you imperfectly of the appropriate topics of the day. Retired from public life, without the expectation or the wish to return to it, but the contrary; grateful for the numerous marks of public confidence which I have received, and which I feel to be beyond my merits; respecting the convictions of those from whom I have at any time differed, and asking the sume justice for my own, I own, fellow-citizens, that few things would better please me than to find a quiet retreat in my native town, where I might pass the rest of my humble career in the serious studies and tranquil pursuits which befit the decline of life, till the same old bell should announce that the checkered scene is over, and the weary is at rest.'

A BECENT English paper states, that in a small town, not a hundred miles from London, the curate belonging to the parish preached a sermon on Trinity-Sunday, which was recognized as a masterly discourse of the great Tillotson's. In the afternoon, the rector returned and preached the same sermon! A ‘hard-working clergy' that! -.- We have not unfrequently spoken, of late, in the KNICKERBOCKER, of a capital master of the broad burlesque, who signs himself 'John Phoenix,' in the San-Francisco (Cal.) · Pioneer' monthly magazine. Rail-road officers and operatives say that his description of opening, or rather of surveying the route of a rail-road from SanFrancisco to the Mission Dolores, which we lately published, is one of the most amusing and sarcastic things to be found anywhere. We think the following, sent to the editor, ridiculing the glowing descriptions, often furnished to the papers, of clipper-ships arriving at that port, will make shipowners and ship-captains 'let out a reef' in their waist-coats. The vessel is called the Highfalutin:

"I Send this by special current express, calculating that it will drift along a few days ahead of us; and you can have it all ready to put in, while we are within the usual 'two hours sail of the port for twenty-four days,' Don't forget also to mention the fog, loss of sails, heavy we ther, etc., and particularly the light and baffling head-winds for a couple of months.' But you can regulate that by the length of our voyage. No matter if you do make a little error of ten or fifteen days in our favor, in reporting us. If not noticed, we won't correct it; but if it is, then pitch into the compositors, and call it a typographical error.

She is one hundred and fifty tong register, and carries two thousand, as measnred in Boston, with the measurers thumb inside the callipers, which the thumb) being much swollen and tied up in a rag, may have made a few feet difference in the measurements; but that don't amount to much. Her extreme length on deck is five hundred and ninety-seven and a half feet; eight feet breadth of beam: two hundred feet deep; twenty-four feet between decks. Her bow is a great rake, and the head is composed of a feinale carved figure, with one thumb resting on the extreme tip of her nose, fingers extended in the act of gyrating; the first finger of the left hand in the act of drawing down the lower lid of the eye; which the captain explains to us as & simile from the Heathen Mythology, denoting curiosity on the part of the figure to ascertain if any body discovers any thing verdant.

* The High falutin' is finished with the patent · Snogrosticar 8,'indicating the millenium when it comes. She is rigged after the recent invention of Captain BLOWIIARD, which consists of three topsail-yards on the bowsprit, the balyards leading down through a groove in the keel, up through the stern-windows, and belay to the captain's tobacco-box. She has also the 'skufungarorum,' s sail something like a kite, which is set in light weather about seventy-five feet above the maintruck, and made fast by a running double hitch under the binnacle and aft throngh the guller, and belaved to the cook's tea-pot It is sometimes when the captain carries his family) mude fast to the baby-jumper. Her windlass is rose-wood, inlaid with clamshells. She has also a French-roll capstan with musical bars. The caboose is elaborately carved with gilt eiges, a Pike-county galley-sliding telescopic stove-pipe, of gutta-percha, and a machine for making molasses-candy for the sailors.'

Music hath charms to soothe,' etc., but when an essayist of the calibre of Hazlitt can write as follows of 'The Opera,' does it not behoove the managers of such an institution, the love of the true spirit of which is so general — for few there be who have not music in their souls' -- to labor to divest opera of all its needless artificiality ? Few opera-goers but must have seen and lamented the wholly unnecessary violations of nature which remain unexpunged from the action of even some of our most popular operatic representations :

"The opera is the most artificial of all things. It is not only art, but ostentations, unambiguous, exclusive art. It does not subsist as an imitation of nature, but in contempt of it; and instead of seconding, its object is to pervert and sophisticate all our natural impressions of things. At the theatre, we see and hear what has been seen, said, thought, and done elsewhere; at the opera we see and hear what was never said, thought, or done anywhere but at the opera. All communication with pature is cut off; every appeal to the imagination is shattered and softened in the melting medium

of syren sounds. The ear is cloyed and glutted with warbled ecstasies or agonies, while every avenue to terror or pity is carefully stopped up and guarded by song and recitative. Music is not made the vehicle of poetry, but poetry of music; the very meaning of the words is lost or refined away in the effeminacy of a foreign language.

A grand serious opera is a tragedy wrapped up in soothing airs to suit the tender feelings of the nurslings of fortune; where tortured victims swoon on beds of roses, and the pangs of despair sink in tremulous accents into downy repose. Just so much of human misery is given as to lull those who are exempted from it into a deeper sense of their own security ; just enough of the picture of human life is shown to relieve their languor without disturbing their indifference - not to excite their sympathy, but with some sweet oblivious antidote' to pamper their sleek and sordid apathy. In a word, the business of the opera stifles emotion in its birth, and intercepts every feeling in its progress to the heart.'

Strongly put. -. • SONNET to 'A Country Post-Office' needs correction. 'Murder' and 'further' do not rhyme. · · · Seldom have we read a more vivid account of the accessories of a night-battle, than may be found in this passage from one of the letters of a correspondent of one of the London daily journals, in the camp before Sebastopol: ‘For the last hour, (it is now a quarter to eleven o'clock at night,) a furious fight has been raging all along our front. To a person standing in front of the Fourth Division, the whole of the Russian lines are revealed in successive glimpses by bursts of red flame, and the bright star-like flashes of musketry, twinkling all over the black expanse between us and the town, for three or four miles in length, show that a fierce contest is going on before the trenches of the Allies. Shells, each marked by a distinctive point of fire where the fuse is burning, describe their terrible curves in the air, and seem to mingle with the stars; and fiery rockets, with long tails of dropping sparks, rush like comets through the air! Above all, the pale crescent moon is shining from a deep blue sky, covered with the constellations of heaven. The roar of the cannon, the hissing of the shells, the intermittent growl of the musketry, the wild scream of the rockets, and the whizzing of the round shot, form a horrid concert!' A terrible thing is War! ... There are two or three recent inventions of our ingenious countrymen which might be turned to good account in the American department of the French Exhibition of the Industry of All Nations. We have already mentioned in these pages the successful experiment of the inventive Yankee, who, convinced that a silk purse could be made out of a sow's ear, contrary to the maxim, went and made one that could n't be beat;' and which, he said, had become very popular' among the women-folks. Moreover, a mechanic of Genesee county, in this State, has rendered useless another maxim of a similar purport. Making a whistle of a pig's tail,' says the Buffalo Courier, ‘has long been quoted as a synonym for an impossibility ; but orators might as well let the comparison 'dry up,' for we have in our sanctum a bona-fide whistle made of a veritable pig's tail, and nothing else!' The manufacturer is Mr. WILLIAM Hicox, of Batavia, who has overcome all the obstacles that have hitherto prevented the use of pigs' tails for musical purposes, and proved, that after the last squeal has died away in the throat of the incipient swine, the latent elements of a melody still more pleasing to the ear, still exist in the caudal appendage." How many desperate cases are saved at the bar by legal ingenuity and eloquence! Here is an instance directly in point, and is entirely authentic. It comes from an eminent judicial source in a Southern State:

"A man in the town of — committed murder – a black, diabolical murder. There was not a single feature in the case that Mercy could render available. It was 'red murder,' in the truest acceptation of the term. A lawyer of considerable eminence was called on by the prisoner, but after hearing his own statement, he could give him no other advice than the following:

"My friend, if you are not hanged, it will be because you have broken jail, cut your throat, or — or — shammed mad!"

* The murderer took the hint. He was not able to accomplish the first; be was unwilling to do the second; so he attempted the third.

*He came into court on the day of his trial with one glove and one boot on; listened with apparent delight to his arraignment; and when asked, at the conclusion, if he was guilty or not guilty, answered, with a horse-laugh, such as I never heard before nor since:

“Yes - I thank you, Sir, and no mistake!'

'In this philanthropic age, this was quite sufficient to arrest the torrent of indignation which had been rightfully setting against the offender, and to substitute in place thereof a feeling of intense sympathy. • "He is mad,' says one. « Poor fellow !' muttered another. ""What a mercy we have discorered it before he was tried !' ejaculated a third. • "Why do n't they take him out of the box?' demanded a fourth. * By this time, the prisoner, in great glee, had put his glove upon his foot, and thrust his band into his boot.

"Of course, this was too much for the feelings of the crowd. It was the last hair that broke the camel's back.

««Shame! shame!' was muttered by a dozen philanthropic souls. ""Take him out of the box!' muttered the mob in general.

"Certainly,' said the Judge, 'take him out by all means. Mr. District Attorney, you can have no objection?'

"Not the slightest, may it please your Honor, provided you let two or three of the bailiffs stand between him and me.'

“The by-standers made a rush to execute the mandate of the Court, but the prisoner checked their zeal, though not their sympathy, by knocking down half-a-dozen of them with his boot!

The Court briefly addressed the jury: 'It was unnecessary to enter into the evidence. The unhappy prisoner had certainly destroyed the life of a man – a husband and a father, leaving his widow and helpless children to misery and want. At the same time, it seemed evident that this was the result rather of misfortune than of crime. We have the evidence of our own senses that the prisoner is mad — mad, gentlemen of the jury, as a March hare.

"Would any man, gentlemen, conduct himself so strangely in a court-room - wear his boots and his gloves in so eccentric a manner --- if he were not mad?

"Gentlemen: I have studied the anatomy of the human mind with much industry, and I think I may say with considerable success; and I flatter myself I am particularly conversant with the subject of insanity.

• *The brain is a delicate organ. Its membranes are of still more delicate organization. These are the dura mater and the pia mater. These, intertwining with and intersecting, as it were, the porous substance of the brain, contribute largely to the exer :cise of its transcendent powers.'

"Our Judge knows something, don't he?' said one of the sympathizers.

« AnteriorContinuar »