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Balfour, in Fifeshire, a gentleman of considerable fortune and most agreeable talents. He had retired from the army on succeeding to his patrimony, and now divided his time between Paris, London, Bath, Cheltenham, and his estate ; and a most delightful life he had of it. The moment my engagement was concluded, he insisted upon my giving him a month at Balfour. He was a bachelor on the wrong side,' as it is termed, of fifty.' Two old maiden aunts, of the most primitive character, lived with him. Neither of them had ever visited Edinburgh more than once, and had never crossed the border. They were extremely formal and extremely kind. On my arrival at the mansion, about five o'clock, I found I had only time to prepare my toilet and be presented before dinner. I entered the drawing-room and was introduced to the ladies, who had, it appears, previously been made acquainted with my profession; when to my friend's horror, and my own great amusement, one of them, in a formal set manner, requested I would favor them with a speech! I immediately commenced, to their infinite satisfaction, with, · Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,' etc. This became a regular joke, at least with the Colonel ; and upon our dining at Wemys Castle, and other mansions in that most hospitable country, I was regularly asked, in the presence of the ladies, to make a speech.
I will not describe the effect produced upon me on this my first visit to Edinburgh by its singularly romantic appearance. The blending of the modern and the antique, the Grecian and the Gothic, gives to the first glance of the stranger an absorbing interest. I had a letter to WALTER Scott, the great magician, but he was absent, and of course I did not take the liberty of hunting the lion in his den. I had the honor, some time after, of passing three days with him at Abbotsford, through a letter of introduction from one of his earliest friends, WILLIAM ERSKiNE, a man of most refined taste, and distinguished as one of the Scottish Judges. I shall have reason to refer to this visit, without needlessly dwelling upon it now.
THE STAR-SYSTEM; GUY MANNERING IN LONDON; ETC.
OUR London season commenced with a great variety of attraction; and let me remark, that the Drama would never have been in so melancholy a position as it now is, had the same tone of management continued. The first severe blow was given by Elliston, who with all his talent and eccentricity was a great charlatan, and was very honestly entitled to the distinguished appellation of King Humbug,' which he appeared so desirous to obtain. Under his management commenced that ruinous and pernicious system of 'stars,' which served to annihi. late the ambition of each tyro in the profession, and place all hopes of his advancement in a dim and miserable perspective. A great effort was made to vitiate the public taste; and unhappily, to a certain ex. tent it succeeded.
An audience is no longer induced to visit the theatre for the purpose of enjoying a dramatic festival; but flaming letters and exaggerated pretensions are thrust forward to usurp the undivided favor of the public. The reigning characteristic of taste is fickleness; and I regret to say
that managers, instead of opposing it by all the means in their power, have endeavored to encourage it. We have, for instance, Mr. W. Farren, an admirable actor doubtless, usurping the highest position in an establishment, and exacting from the management such terms as can only be met by placing the other branches of the profession in the humiliating situation of comparative penury and distress ; while the unbounded vanity and pretensions of the one, operate to the ruin of all the rest. Will that excellent actor, Mr. FARREN, recollect that there was an artist of the name of Munden, whose talent was of the highest order, although bordering occasionally on caricature, and who was contented to mingle his versatile powers with those of the celebrated names which surrounded him ? He never ventured to dictate to authors, that if such and such a part were written to show off the abilities of another performer, he would not perform in the play! What then becomes of the spirit of emulation, without which no artist can be truly great? The system is, in fact, to recommend one species of excellence, and destroy the sense of all other merit. The genius of the author is necessarily cramped, for he is compelled to write under stipulations and restrictions, that dam up the current of his natural feelings, in the fear that his hoped. for production may be thrown aside, if the leading actor declines the performance of a character, simply because it does not occupy the sole and undivided attraction of the play. Another objection may be very rationally urged, namely: that from the want of that stimulus which can only be excited by surrounding talent, the exclusive actor degenerates into mannerism, and loses all the force and beauty of variety. He of necessity becomes toujours perdrix ; and Sir Peter Teazle and old Cockletop are to be distinguished by the difference of dress, but not by any marked definition of character.
The muse of the Great Unknown had taken at this period a deep root in England, France and Germany. His charming poetry had yielded to the powerful and daring genius of Byron, and he lost not a moment in striking out a new path, unapproachable to any other steps. The magic influence of his pen gave life and being to persons and events hitherto scarcely known by the intervening generations to exist ; and all the beautiful fiction of romance interwoven as it was with great historical research, interested the public mind in a manner almost unprecedented. Scissors and paste were put in requisition by the half-dramatists of the day, and with the aid of those powerful auxiliaries, many a tolerable operatic and melo-dramatic play was dished up from the · Heart of Mid Lothian,' "Guy Mannering,' • Rob Roy,' etc. What would these dramas have been, if their success had depended upon the genius or great talent of an individual actor ? They would not have been tolerated for a single night. A host of dramatic intellect then lent its support.
Let as take, for example, the play of Guy Mannering :' LISTON, too well known to require a comment : EMERY, one of the greatest actors the stage ever knew ; with what delight I look back to the recollection of the latter, and of his wonderful powers! His Tyke, in the play of "The School of Reform,' was a master-piece of high tragedy, and the broadest humor; a combination of excellence rarely to be met with.
His appearance and roughness of manner off the stage were almost clownish, and yet he had many of the accomplishments of a finished gentleman. He was an excellent marine artist, an admirable musician, and possessed a natural taste for poetry. One leading passion of his life was the turf, and this involved him a round of society detrimental to his health and fatal to his career. He died in the very prime of life; and so great was his popularity among all classes, that a public subscription was made for his widow, amounting to upward of three thousand pounds. Sinclair was also at that time in full possession of public favor, and warbled most delightfully ; BLANCHARD, who had the · happy talent of rendering secondary characters most prominent without disturbing the harmony of the whole ; and then came that round, fat, vulgar, humorous, rosy countenance of TOKELY; a man scarcely con. scious of the talent he possessed ; a fine portrait of Bacchus bestriding the wine barrel, the great error of whose life was in draining too freely the juice of the grape.
Could'st thou look forth amid the noise and sm
If this be
This nook of pine,
All is happiness
MY GRAND-FATHER'S POR T-FOLIO.
THE DAWN: THE NIGHT: THE NEW MORNING.
MY DEAR KNICKERBOCKER: At your request I have reöpened my Grand-father's Port-folio, and submit another of his yellow mss. to your inspection. Perhaps you will consider that the piece I have selected is of too serious a cast for your lively Magazine; or it you
will find other objections to it. If so, you will have the kindness to return me the sheets, with your usual care, as the paper is somewhat decayed and worn, and like every relic of the good old gentleman, is very pre. cious to myself and his other dutiful descendants.
You will hardly need, I think, a key to interpret his allegorical representation of what I suppose to be three important stages of his own experience and that of many others. The lives of most persons have their spiritual dawn and night. Would that all might find the new, the everlasting morning! The contrast he has drawn between the single. ness of heart and innocence of the little boy at home, and the darker thoughts and embittered feelings of the young man who has been contaminated and injured by mingling with the world, is not, I imagine, much stronger than the latter sometimes feels it to be.
I remain, yours, with constant friendship, Boston, Dec. 5, 1844.
I. THE DAWN.
In the smooth paths of a pleasant garden, a little boy is at play alone; yet no for all Nature is with him; companioning; intimate ; making sweet music for him to dance to; strewing out before him its inexhaustible museum of play-things and curiosities; kissing him ; painting his cheeks ; infusing ethereal and lively essence into his whole frame; talking with him and listening; and through her regal minister, the golden sceptered sun, bestowing her warm maternal blessing on his beautiful head. Glossy and elastic ringlets hang in thick natural clusters from his crown, shining in the sunlight like spiral threads of finest spun glass; fit coronet for the brow of innocence.
The low shrubbery that hedges his way on either side is higher than his head ; and the tall tiger-lilies stoop to dispense to him their sweet odors, while his face is painted with their yellow dust. Now he gives chase to the butterfly ; not that he would destroy, but because it is on the move and seems to beckon him to a race. Anon he flings his little cap at the humming bird, swift and gay of wing, and glistening with all beautiful hues, as his own impulsive fancies. And again, with eager curiosity, he throws himself down upon the sandy path, and digs up the subterraneous cities and granaries of the ants with his tiny wooden sword.
All the while, involuntarily, his impulses sing out in a low and fitful song, that with all its music has no meaning to human ear; for it is not VOL. XXV.