Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

sions; as well she might be, poor woman, when her husband had been made a holocaust, and served up like a broiled and peppered chicken, to feed the grim maw of death; and her interesting infant, the first pledge of her pure and perfect love, had been precociously sucked, like an unripe orange, and nothing left but its beautiful and tender skin. The disconsolate widow caused her husband to be embalmed; and he was buried amid the lamentations and tears of all the funeral; much regretted by all who had the honor of his acquaintance, particularly by his negroes; who could not soon forget him; as he had left too many sincere marks of his regard upon their backs, to be ever obliterated from their recollections.

• Time, as all the Greek tragedians, SOLOMON, and others have remarked, is a benevolent deity. Mrs. PERSONNE's grief yielded to the soothing hand of the consoling power; and her bloom and spirits returned with more lustre and elasticity than they had before exhibited : as the rose, that had drooped in the fury of the passing storm, erects its blushing honors, and shows more beautiful and vivid tints when the squall is over!

• Many years after these occurrences took place, while EUPHEMIA was in second mourn. ing for her third husband, she was indulging in the luxury of solitary grief; and reading BURTON's Anatomy of Melancholy, and The Melancholy Poems Dr. FARMER, in an orangerie. The refreshing breezes from the ocean, which now tempered the sultry heats of the declining day; the soft perfume of the opening blossoms; and the mellow tints of the evening sky, shedding that holy liglit, so dear to sensitive hearts, diffused a calm over her soul, wrapped in the contemplation of departed days. While lost in this pensive reverie, she perceived two strangers approaching her, in the extremity of the long vista of the grove. One of them was a colored gentleman, of remarkable height, and deep jetty blackness; a perfect model of the Congo Apollo. He was dressed in the rich garb of a Moorish Prince; and led by the hand a pale European boy, in an Asiatic dress, whose languid countenance, slender form, and tristful gait were strongly contrasted with the portly appearance and majestic step of his conductor.

They both saluted the lovely widow, and after an interchange of compliments, accepted her polite invitation to sit down, and take tea with her in the bower. She learned from the elder stranger that he had brought out a cargo of slaves, whom his subjects had lately taken prisoners in war; and whom he had resolved to dispose of himself; as he was desirous of seeing the world. His page, he said, was an orphan, left by a slave-merchant in Africa.

“The manners and conversation of the PRINCE had an irresistible charm. The regal port was manifest in his gigantic and well-proportioned frame; and majesty was conspicuous on his brow, without its diadem. The turban and crescent had never graced a nobler front; but the winning condescension of his tones and language, while they could not banish the feeling the presence of royalty, removed every restraint incident to that consciousness. Ile criticised the works which EUPHEMIA had been perusing, with masterly precision, and displayed more knowledge than even the accomplished ideologist of Lady MORGAN; with infinitely more discretion and good sense.

'It is remarked by the Abbe REYNAL, that there is a peculiar elegance and beauty in the complexion of the Africans, (when the eyes and nose are accustomed to their hue and odor.) This truth was realized by EUPHEMIA, as she gazed on the open visage of her illustrious guest. She thought surely that in him Nature might stand up and say "This was a man!' And certainly it is only the weakness and imperfection of our human senses, which, penetrating no farther than the surface, is forever deceived by superficial shadows. The empyrean is always blue, whatever vapors may float in our contracted atmosphere. And if we gaze on the rows of skulls which festoon and garnish Surgeon's Hall, we can apply no standard to determine their relative beauty. They are all equally ugly; and the block of Helen might be mistaken for that of Medusa. Shakspeare, true to nature, has also remarked, ' Black men are pearls in beauteous ladies' eyes.'

• The beauty then, the royalty, gentility, and various accomplishments of the BAMBUCK monarch, made captive the too sensible heart of the French widow. She forgot her ogles, graces, and even her loquacity; rooted to her seat, and fixed in immoveable contemplation of the AFRICAN's face. What peculiar feature or lineament attracted her attention, she knew not: his eyes, though bright, did not sparkle; and the iris, though of a more vivid red than the roseate line in the rainbow, emitted no scintillations. In fact, his whole countenance seemed to look, and to perambulate her own.

• The conversation gradually assumed a more empassioned and amorous complexion ; and the little page, (who, though meagre and emaciated, evidently showed that he was no gump for his years,) taking certain broad hints, cast a mournful and intelligent look on the widow, said he would fetch a short walk in the plantation, and left the orangerie.

“The PRINCE then spreading his glittering sash upon the grass, went down on his knees upon it, and broke out into the most ardent exclamations of love and admiration, and professions of constant attachment. He said that the flat-nosed beauties of Zara; the scarred, squab figures of the golden coast; the well-proportioned Zilias, Calypsos, and Zamas on the banks of the Niger; and even the great Hottentot Venus herself, had never for a moment made the least impression on his heart. His passion was a mystery to himself; its origin secret as the sources of the Nile ; but full and impetuous as its ample channel, when replenished from the celestial fountains of Abyssinia ; while if Mrs. DUBOIS would shine upon its waves, its enlivened currents would fertilize his vast dominions in the luxuriant realms of central Africa; making them to fructify yet more abundantly, with burning gold and radiant diamonds !

“What female heart could resist such pleadings, and the compliment implied in such a preference? When ZEMBO (the page) returned, the parties had agreed to be privately united on the same evening The ceremony was accordingly performed, on the spot, by the family chaplain of Mrs. DUBOIS : not without many remonstrances on his part, as to the impropriety of marrying a negro. The PRINCE did not seem to resent the affront; which, by the by, he had no right to do, as the priest got nothing for the job. ZEMBO too was extremely restless, till Mrs. DUBOIS gave him some sweet-meats, which seemed to quiet his conscience; after which he took some stiff punch, and fell asleep!

* About midnight, the Prince came to him; and shaking him by the ears, bade him rise and follow him. His bride was hanging on his arm, in an enchanting deshabille; and did not seem to be in perfect possession of her right senses. ZEMBO mournfully followed the new married pair.

“They went silently out of the back door, with cautious steps, and proceeded through the orangerie. No breath of wind was stirring. The moon was in the zenith, surrounded by a pale halo of ghostly lustre. When they had crossed the plantation, they came to a place of sepulture; where the dark cypresses and lugubrious mahogany admitted but sparse and glimmering streaks of funereal light; which, falling on the rank foliage, the white monuments and broken ground beneath, presented a thousand dusky shapes, flitting in the dim uncertainty, dear to superstition.

• Vague terrors seized on the mind of the bride; and she began very naturally to inquire, what was the use of getting out of a comfortable bed, and trailing through the heavy dew, in her undress, to such an unusual spot for midnight recreation.

• They now stood near the spot where her three husbands, several children, and the skin, hair and nails of her first baby, were deposited in a row. At the foot of a tamarind lay her third son, whose christian name was SPOONER, and who died, according to the tomb-stone, in a fit of intoxication, aged seven years and six months. On him she had bestowed a greater share of tenderness than on any of her other offspring; and his loss had caused her most affliction. The African, making observations on the grave, began to strip himself very expeditiously, assisted by ZEMBO, who seemed to recover from his blues; and by his activity and eagerness, manifested his expectation of soon seeing some fine sport.'

Now, in order to ascertain what this 'fine sport' was, and the wonderful things which were encountered by Mrs. PERSONNE and Mr. ZEMBO, the reader will be compelled to wait until our next number.

a

• CONFORMITY OF RELIGION AND Taste.'- We are indebted to a new and welcome contributor for some excellent observations upon this theme, which we regret to say were mislaid for a few days; a circumstance which must account for their compression into a space available to this department of our Magazine. The divine purity which the Supreme Law-giver commands us to seek, the writer conceives to consist, first of all, in goodness of heart, and then in the pursuit, in the knowledge, and in the enjoyment of eternal truth. *This divine truth is embodied in a thousand forms; in nature, in art, and in literature. It is not entirely discoverable by our instincts, or our instructed senses. Individual mind is not sufficient for the attainment of it: it is aggregated and transmissive. We not only see it with our eyes, and hear it with our ears; we must toil for it and earn it; we must borrow it and inherit it. The poet, the philosopher, the historian, are its depositaries ; nor is the kindred mind of the artist less its organ. “It is wise,' says HENRY TAYLOR, “to open the mind to the reception of pleasure from the productions of every species of talent.' It is not only wise to do so, it is a kind of self-abuse to refuse to do so; a self-privation, that inflicts upon us a famine of the soul; a stunting of its growth, a deterioration of its capabilities. This enlargement of the intellectual being must be sought from high motives; the very thought of self-distinction adulterates it. Being sought without prejudice, being pursued in the love of it, and in the desire of perfection, it will be attained. The mind so cul. vated, so aspiring, will be filled with faith, hope and charity. As knowledge is increased, the wisdom of God in creation; the harmony and beneficence of the divine laws; the Providence of God turning seeming evil to good; will become apparent, and will dispose him who discerns the good and perfect will of the great Disposer to act upon His plan. When moral cause and consequence are understood ; when self-knowledge is revealed to us; when the infirmity of our personal nature is felt, then shall we pity and forgive from the depths of the heart; then humility, compassion, and active benevolence will grow out of our wider views of God and man. Not only our sentiments will be purified, but the luxury of living will be exalted; the grief of the hour will not subdue us, for we belong to a system of discipline and of compensation; the imagination will pass beyond what we know or what we read, and innumerable associations will augment our perceptions of what is gracious and lovely. The flowers that spring up in our path will not only seem beautiful, because, as Mr. WiLBERFORCE said, “They are the smiles of God's goodness,' but because the poet is their interpreter; because Burns recorded forever the modest, crimson-tipped daisy,' and WORDSWORTH the small Celandine, and Bryant the Fringed Gentian, and the Death of them all before the wintry blast.

• It was a most religious fable to suppose that the Muses were the offspring of the universal deity and the memory of man; for Mnemosyne can signify no other memory. The poet WITHERS says of the Muse:

Her divine skill taught me this,
That from every thing I saw
I could some instruction draw,
And raise pleasure to the height,
Through the meanest object's sight.
By the murmur of a spring,
Or the least bough's rustling;
By a daisy whose leaves spread,
Shut when Titan goes to bed;
Or a shady bush or tree,
She could more infuse in me
Than all nature's beauties can
In some other wiser man.'

WITHERS meant by the 'wiser man' one of those who are wiser in their generation than the children of light.' It was indeed a moral truth disguised under the myth of the Muses, that divinity and all grave science, pure poetry, and the gay arts, belong to their inspiration, to their united province, as in truth they belong to the wholeness of man's nature, to the entireness of his self-culture. Because I believe this ; because such conviction is the law of my moral life, of my preference, and self-discipline, I cannot be satisfied with those who dwell in decencies forever;' those who have taken root in the earth like the trufle, which swine may disinter, but which he of heavenly frame walks over and heeds not. I have sheltered myself in a covert that looks skyward, but I have carried thither the human heart. I would not dwell apart, but cherish the sympathies that blend all consciousness with other reason, other imagination, other love of God and humanity, other admiration of the creations of the one and the manifestations of the other. Happy is he whose religion encourages his tastes, and whose tastes do not deprave his religion !

THE DRAMA, ETC. - A correspondent, whose opportunities of studying and ability to appreciate the merits of the late operatic performances at the Park-THEATRE were ample, bas obligingly favored us with the following critique; which is the more acceptable, that our own pressing avocations have deprived us of the pleasure which himself, in common with the theatre-going public generally, must so heartily have enjoyed.

PARK-THEATRE: "THE BOHEMIAN GIRL.'-- We are rejoiced to witness the revival of Old Drury's fortunes. Every thing has been auspicious to this end, from the first. The excellent reinforcement of his company by Mr. SIMPSON, gave token at the outset of the vigor with which the campaign would be carried on. First came MACREADY - a profitable engagement. Then, ANDERSon, a still more profitable one, and at the last, one equally pleasing and satisfactory to the town. Next came the Opera, which has proved as great a card' as either. The piece selected was • The Bohemian Girl;' a composition of Mr. BALFE, which, on the twelfth of November, was performed at Drury Lane Theatre for the hundredth time, with complete success, the composer bimself leading the orchestra. A series of full houses, for three weeks, also put the seal of approbation upon the opera at our Drury. The great liberality of the managemeut in putting the piece upon the stage without regard to expense; the indefatigable labor of Mr. Barry, as stage-manager, in directing the multifarious operations, necessary to give the piece, with all its variety of opera, ballet, spectacle and drama, fair play; the esprit du corps manifested by the entire company, including Mesdames SloMAN, BARRY, SKERRETT, ABBOTT and HORN, and Messrs. CHIPPENDALE, FISHER, SKERRETT, CRISP and Dyott, in coming on to give greater effect to the show-scenes ; all deserve the approbation of those for whose pleasure this gorgeous pageant was so admirably got up. Nor should a meed of praise be withheld from Mons. MARTIN, who, in connection with Miss JULIA TURNBULL, and a well-trained corps, produced a ballet of great and varied merit. Mr. HILLIARD's scenes, too, painted expressly for the piece, were beautiful exceedingly;' especially the moonlight view of Presburg, on the Danube, the 'Grand Platz,' and the residence of Count ARNHEIM. The costuming' of the piece, under the charge of Mr. DEJONGE, was a great point, admirably managed. The gipsy dresses had all the picturesque wildness that should characterize them, and the military costumes were perfect. And thus the entire stage effect was in good keeping throughout, nothing having been omitted that was necessary to make it all it should be. The selection of the ‘Bohemian Girl' for the opening of the opera season, and the début of the three excellent vocalists who were its chief attractions, were highly creditable to the judgment of those concerned in producing it. It combines all the attractions of the different branches of the drama; and independently of the music, would give satisfaction to a majority of play-goers But when it is considered that as an opera, it is a work of genius, full of fine instrumental and vocal beauties, and that it gives opportunity to such singers as Mrs. SEGUIN, with her full rich soprano, and Mr. FRAZER, with his sweet and admirably-cultivated tenore, and Mr. SEGUIN, with his inimitable basso, to display their rare abilities, the attraction was certainly immeasurably enhanced.

To Mr. CHUBB belongs the credit of producing the new opera in so short a space of time, and with such a degree of excellence. From the first he took a strong liking to it; and it has been a ‘labor of love' as well as of severe toil with him. He immediately gathered around him a good, well-balanced orchestra, and selected and drilled a chorus, consisting of a large number of well-taught singers, all of whom could read music, instead of being compelled to learn their parts by rote. Under his admirable direction, every thing went off smoothly, as the piece advanced, and there were no lapses in time, or discords, or failures in this important department; a great point gained. Mr. FRAZER, the new

6

tenore, who sustained the rôle of the hero of the piece, has a voice of great richness, force and effectiveness; round, full and capacious, and capable of producing a strong impression, particularly in the affetuoso passages. How beautifully was this evinced in the duett, in the early part of the second act, with ARLINE:

"The wound upon thy arm,' together with that delicious cantabile,

. The secret of her birth;' and that before the grand finale:

Pity for one, in childhood tom,' etc. His songs were all admirably given too; all three were every night rapturously encored ; and it did not require a longer ordeal than a single night to establish him a favorite with the KNICKERBOCKERS, His reputation will hereafter be their especial care.

Mr. SEGUIN, whose rôle in 'Don Giovanni,' .La Gazza Ladra,' 'Amilie,' 'Fra Diavolo,' etc., had stamped him as the first of prima bassos in America, had but little to do, that was worthy of his great powers, in .The Bohemian Girl.' He had no single song; but had nevertheless, some opportunities to make his splendid voice tell, in the concerted music of the piece. Such was the exquisite trio,

"All the world hither fiy,'

with ARLINE and THADDEUS. A gipsy-song might be introduced for him with great effect. His wild and characteristic action in the dance, after the betrothal of the gipsy-bride,' was very rich, and rendered that spirited scene doubly successful.

Mrs. SEGUIN, in this opera, was triumphant; more than satisfying her previous admirers, and converting many to an adequate admiration, who had before withheld their applause. Always a favorite she was found to have greatly improved in the mellowness and modulation of her voice; and had made so rapid and decided an advance in every branch of her profession, as to surprise even those who had ever been her warmest appreciators. She trode the stage with freedom, exhibiting no constraint in action, nor lack of confidence in illustrating what she undertook, in her dramatic as well as vocal exertions. Her voice is a pure, flexible, melodious soprano, of rare modulation and exceeding sweetness. All her embellishments are in good taste, and there is never any fear in the mind of an auditor that she will sing flat here, or sharp there, or that she will fail in a roulade, or make a false shake, or fail to take up her part, or in any other wise mar instead of making the pleasure of those who are listening. She is as true and reliable as a well-tuned instrument, and truer. A good musical education, strengthened by time and constant application, shines out in every thing she does. She has won, over and over again, the highest honors of the Academy, with which she (as well as her husband,) graduated, at one of the best musical institutions in Europe.

With what feeling and pathos did she win the nightly encore which burst from the hands and lips of the delighted audience, at the close of her performance of her leading aria:

. I dreamt that I dwelt in marble halls,' and of that sparkling allegretto:

• Come with the gipsy-bride!' How deliciously she gave the cavatina, in the third act,

"See at your feet, a suppliant one!' and in the grand finale, was there ever any thing heard on the American stage to surpass the brilliancy and effect with which she sang the rondo

Oh! what full delight!' We have undertaken to give no account of the plot of this opera, presering to occupy the space allotted us in a more interesting manpor. The book is 'extant' (as Hamlet says,) though not 'written in very choice' English, and is easily procurable. But the story tells itself clearly and satisfactorily upon the stage, in the development it receives from the combination of those fine powers upon wirich we have been descunting. Let those who are curious upon the point, learn the tale as it was taught to us. We found it a great improvement upon that vulgar art which DOGBERRY says "comes by nature,' the art of reading. These vocalists return to us early in the spring, and will bring out several operas, never before performed in America.

[ocr errors]

J. F. O.

The Italian Opera, at Palmo's Theatre, has proved a very prominent attraction during the month. It has been our good fortune to witness the frequent representation

« AnteriorContinuar »