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SCENES IN Spain. In one volume. pp. 334. New-York: GEORGE DEARBORN.
We have read this volume attentively through; and when we say that we accomplished it at two sittings, we think the declaration should serve as collateral evidence, at least, that the work possesses the power to interest the reader in a remarkable degree. It frequently reminds us, by the vividness of its descriptions, its variety of topic, and the vein of pleasantry which pervades it, of ' A Year in Spain,' and 'Spain Revisited,' by Lieutenant SLIDELL; although in some instances the style is too diffuse to favor the idea of a kindred paternity. We select a solitary passage, descriptive of the Giralda cathedral of Genoa, as a fair specimen of the ease with which our author records his impressions:
"Passing along the street of Genoa, which was filled with shops of trades-people, I presently came to the famous old cathedral, and was equally surprised at the grandeur of its dinsensions and the irregularity of its form. Beside it rose the tall tower of the Giralda, a light Moorish edifice, whose height the Christians increased by adding a belfry at the summit
, where hang a great many bells, big and little, bearing the dignified appellations of San Pedro, San Pablo, and a score of saints, male and female, painted over each. I toiled my way up the winding staircase, not on an armed warhorse, as did some knights of old. nor on a donkey, like one of the good queens of Spain, but as an humble pedestrian; stopping at intervals to get breath, and then plodding upward and upward till I reached a little shrine and image of Our Lady, and presently stepped forth upon the terrace. Just above stands the Giralda, the brazen female image which has given its name to the tower, and is the grand weathercock of Seville. Perhaps to the amiableness of this brazen dame, who whirls about with every breeze, so that one knows not how to take her, may be traced the phrase of 'hija de la Giralda,' a term of reproach to such giddy people as tell wild tales, and contradict the assertion of one moment by the asseveration of the next.
“Though the exterior of the cathedral was a venerable mass of deformity, the interior was a happy union of simplicity and grandeur, with its long solemn aisles, it sturdy stone columns, and its bold arches of massive mason work, which time had tinged with a dusky and sombre hue. Priests were moving across the aisles in different directions, some going to perform their devotions at one aliar, some at another; for, from the vast size of the church, the prayers offered at one shrine were inaudible at the rest. Devotees, mostly women, were scattered about the church, kneeling with rosary in hand before the shrines of the various saints. In this way they make the morning round from altar to altar, with the customary prayers and genukexions at each shrine, and obtain thereby a certain number of days of indulgence. Here and there, a stranger, brought thither like myself more by curiosity than devotion, and inattentive to holier things, might be seen gazing with admiration on the glittering ornaments of the altars, measuring with his eye the grandeur of the long aisles of this noble temple, or studying with delight the faithful nature and sweet simplicity of Murillo's pencil in some ni his most happy efforts. Not even in the churches in Spain is one free from the tormenting importunity of beggars. I was admiring a delightful painting of the great Spanish artist, where an angel is represented leading a bright-eyed boy by the hand, when an old woman, with a long rosary in her hand, and her sallow, wrinkied face half covered by a tattered and long mantilla, came up to me to solicit alms. She told me the usual tale, perhaps too often true, of a husband sick and helpless, and a house full of starving children. I have noticed that the mendicants get more from the priests than from any one else; they doubtless have an interest in thus cultivating the affections of the poorer classes. At all events, it is but a just retribution, that they who live idly and luxuriously by the sweat of the poor man's brow, should restore a little of their gettings in the shape of alms.
“In wandering about the church, my attention was attracted by a rough sculpture on the pavement of an antiquated ship or galley, surmounting an inscription. It was much worn by the feet and knees of the pious, for it was just in front of a shrine. On examining the inscription, I found it was the tomb of the Adelantado, the son of that great but unfortunate and injured man who discovered the far-off country from which I had begun my wanderings."
We abstain from farther extracts, not for the reason that there is not a rich field for selection, but because we have already quoted largely from works on Spain in this department; and furthermore, we lack, at this present, the 'ample room and verge enough' of the poet, for our purpose. We must not omit to add, however, that the volume is executed in a very superior manner, and embellished with two fine engravings by HINSHELWOOD, from paintings by CHAPMAN.
Edwin FORREST. The success of our countryman Forrest in England is not less honorable to his genius and character, than it is gratifying to his numerous friends and admirers in America. His whole career, since his first appearance on the boards of Drury Lane, has been one of constant triumph, until he at last stands on a prouder histrionic eminence than in his most sanguine moments he could ever have hoped 10 attain. The journals of the metropolis, with but one or two exceptions, unite in awarding to him the first place among living actors, in either hemisphere ; and his personations, in their entire detail, of Shakspeare's heroes, are pronounced in many respects equal, if not superior, to the best of the elder KEAN. We gather from a recent letter of Mr. FORREST's, in the Plaindealer, of this city, that the honors which have been privately tendered him in London have been more gratifying than his public reception. At a dinner given him by the Garrick Club, Sergeant TALFOURD, author of 'Ion,' presided, and made a highly complimentary speech, to which Mr. Forrest replied. MACREADY had welcomed and applauded him in the warmest manner; and from Messrs. STEPHEN PRICE and CHARLES Kemble he had received three swords, which were once the property of John Philip K&MBLE, TALMA, and Kean, as tokens of the admiration and esteem of the donors. An original portrait, in oil, of GARRICK had also been presented him, and his own, in the character of Macbeth, in the daggerscene, was in preparation for the next exhibition at the Somerset House. At the last advices, Mr. FORBEST was performing an engagement at Liverpool, to crowded audiences. The journals of that city are unanimous and enthusiastic in his praise. After a brief engagement at Manchester, he was to return to London, to appear in a new tragedy written expressly for him by Miss Mitford, and in the character of Richard the Third, in the representation of which he conceives some important changes for the better may be made. We hope the lesson conveyed in the following passage from Mr. FORREST's letter, will not be lost upon American audiences : "The London audiences have a quick and keen perception of the beauties of the drama. They seem, from the timeliness and proportion of their applause, to possess a previous knowledge of the text. They applaud warmly, but seasonably. They do not interrupt a passion, and oblige the actor to sustain it beyond the propriety of nature; but if he delineates it forcibly and truly, they reward him in the intervals of the dialogue. Variations from the accustomed modes — though not in any palpable new readings, which for the most part are bad readings, for there is generally but one mode positively correct, and that has not been left for us to discover -- but slight changes in emphasis, tone, or action - delicate shadings and pencilings — are observed with singular and most gratifying quickness. You find that your study of Shakspeare has not been thrown away; that your attempt to grasp the character in its 'gross and scope,' as well as in its detail, so as not merely to know how to speak what is written, but to preserve its truth and keeping in a new succession of incidents, could it be exposed to them — you find that this is seen and appreciated by the audience; and the evidence that they see and feel, is given with an emphasis and heartiness that make the theatre shake.'
Copies of a fine portrait of Mr. FORREST, published in London, have reached this country, and his friends may interchange greetings of the face with him, by calling at the publishing office of this Magazine. VOL. 1%.
PARK THEATRE – Ion.' - In the production of this classic gem, the modern drama has received a treasure as unexpected as it was desirable. The wondrous surprise, indeed, which this exquisite poem has awakened, would hardly have been exceeded, if in these degenerate days of 'les beaux arts' a second Raphael had arisen, and cast forth upon the dreaming world some mighty master-piece – perfect as the enclosed gem of Minerva's Phidian buckler. Nothing so strictly pure in its language, so classical in the imagery of its thoughts – nothing so free from the pedantry of the schools, and yet so replete with learning – so full of poetry imbued with the strength of truth — has fallen upon our times. 'Ion' sustains all its pretensions. There is the magnificent simplicity of genius in its design - the soul of poetry in the sublime tracery of its thoughts truth in the delineation of its characters probability in the consummation of its events — deep and exciting interest in its story — all hallowed by the solemn charm which the fatal principle of destiny has thrown around it. Yet 'lon' is for the closet. It seems like desecration to attempt an exhibition of its delicate perfections upon the stage. There is something too material in the means which the best theatres can afford, to give a just perception of the beauties of 'Ion.' It is not the fault of the play, but its very purity, its intellectual grace, which unfits it for stage representation. A host of angels, or the embodied spirits of the Argive heroes themselves, not to speak profanely, might enact ‘Ion.' No mortal “corps dramatique' can ever hope to portray its divine spirit. Miss ELLEN Tres has too much judgment, and a taste too refined, to be guilty of an impropriety. She could not outrage the spirit of the purest poetry that ever was written. On the contrary, we know of no artist whose style is more truly classic, or more strictly under the control of a cultivated judgment. As the tresses which shade the glowing beauties of Titian's Magdalen require the closest scrutiny to make the observer fully sensible of their minute proportions, so is it necessary, to a just appreciation of 'Ion,' that it be deeply studied, and that its delicate, half-hidden glories be brought before the mind by a process to which the rough glare and glitter of the stage are totally inadequate. If, then, Miss Tree cannot, from its peculiar delicacy, do justice to the exquisite poetry of 'Ion,' what can be expected of the rest of the corps dramatique ? Mrs. GURNER's Clemanthe does her infinite honor. She reads the part with true judgment, and evinces a just appreciation of its beauties, by her manner of expressing them : yet it is not the Clemanthe of the poet - for the same reason and no other, that the 'lon' of Miss Tree is not the character which floats in the mind of every intelligent reader of this beautiful creation. What shall we say, after this, of the men who have been thrust into this world of delicate imaginings ? As well might the manager of a theatre fancy it possible that his company could represent the ‘Paradise Lost,' with all its ethereal and divine personages, as to believe it probable that they could attempt the characters of 'Ion' without the grossest sacrilege. Is it not too bad ? — and we appeal to any person who has beheld the profanation - is it not too bad, to hear the present substitute of Agenor speak such lines as these :
-Lore, the germ
Or fancy Ctesiphon, through his present representative, giving utterance, in the offhand way of a gentleman directing his coachman, to the following exquisite picture :
"Go teach the eagle when in azure heaven
But it is not with the performers, generally, that we have any right to find fault. We
chiefly regret the necessity which compels them thus to profane some of the most graceful traceries which the genius of poetry ever conceived. It is the entire spirit of the poem which cannot be expressed on the stage, and which must cause the judicious to grieve that it has ever been attempted. Shakspeare's most delicate fancies have been sometimes desecrated by a stage performance, but seldom so foully as this poetry of TALFOURD's. The play of 'Ion,' although of a totally different character from "The Midsummer Night's Dream,' is no more fit for representation than even this most fairy-like vision of the great dramatist; and we should as soon expect to see 'Moonshine' faithfully portrayed by the palpable substance of a stout comedian, as to find the poetry and sentiment of 'Ion' justly conveyed through the medium of stage represenlation. 'Ion' has been played, and we are forced to believe in the words of Clemanthe, that
· Austere remembrance of the deed will badg
Witb hues of horror.'
AMERICAN THEATRE, BOWERY. — All who have read Byron's 'Mazeppa,' should altend its representation at this Theatre. Beyond question, it is the finest spectacle of the kind ever produced in this country; and hence it is not surprising that this large and well-regulated establishment is nightly filled to overflowing with delighted auditors. Lacking both room and time for a notice of the play, in detail, we avail ourselves of the annexed brief description, from the Evening Star: 'The whole is truly magnificent. What seem to produce the most effect, are the chariots drawn by six superb Arab steeds ; the long procession of Tartar horsemen winding up the distant mountains — the minarets, and mosques, and towers, seen in the distance – the combats of knights — the sword and shield dance of the ladies of Mr. Cooke's Circus - a pas de deur by Miss Cooke and Mr. Jackson, and a wreath-dance by the beautiful little grand-children of Mr. Cooke: all these excite prodigious applause. Then we have the white horse of Mazeppa, Aying from mountain to mountain, or swimming the Dnieper, with the unfortunate victim on his back, until victory crowng him a king, amidst the terrific combal and melée of armored knights on horseback, troops on foot, thunders of artillery, and the conflagration of the castle. This spectacle should run at least a hundred nights.'
ENGLISH WORKS ON THE FINE ARTS. A rich treat may be enjoyed in looking over the various publications which are temptingly displayed on the centre-table of Messrs. WILEY AND PUTNAM. Among those lately received from the great metropolis,' we bave had great pleasure in examining Harding's Port-Folio, with twenty-four artist-like sketches, executed in a novel style, in imitation of the original drawings; "The Anda. lusian Annual,' 'comprising,' as the book-sellers say, twelve richly-colored prints of Spanish costume, with several pieces of music; 'Finden's Tableaux,' a truly superb work, eclipsing all its rivals in the finish of its illustrations; The 'Gallery of the Graces,' and the 'Gallery of Byron Beauties,' with those of Scott and SHAKSPEARE, an array of most lovely faces; 'Spanish Sketches, and 'The Alhambra,' by Lewis ; 'Coast Scenery, by STANFIELD ; 'North Wales, by Roscoe; Illustrations of Shakspeare, by the celebrated Retsch, etc. Next to travelling, is the pleasure of seeing foreign scenes of interest well depicted by eminent artists, and next to gazing upon the face of a lovely woman, commend us to her counterfeit presentment.'
Taxes os LITERATURE – IMPORTATION OF FOELIGE Books. – Now that the subject of international copy-right law is fairly before the American Congress, a word or two respecting the heavy and unreasonable restrictions imposed by our government upon English pablications, imported into the United States, may not be irrelevant or out of place. The present duty – twenty-six cents per pound weight on books in boards, and thirty cents per pound on those in leather binding - generally enhances the cost from twenty-five to fifty per cent. The duty on a set of the Encyclopædia Britannica, for instance, is not less than thirty-five dollars. This enormous tax is paid by our literary men and reading community, wheneter they require any of the valuable and important foreiga works which have never been, and are not likely to be, re-pablished in this country- particularly scientific works, necessary for our practical mechanics and civil engineers, and the classics, etc., for students, to whom many foreign works are very desirable, but from which they are often precluded, by the expense thus largely increased. We do not advocate the interests of any one party or class, in opposition to those of another. On the contrary, we think that the very spirit of our system of legislation ought to be with reference to the rights of the many- of the majority. What, then, is the other side of this question? Who are benefitted by the present system? If any, they are, in our opinion, iwo or three publishing houses only; and we believe that even these are not so much so as they may perhaps suppose. What, we may ask, would be the effect of a reduction or abolition of this duty ? Would it curtail the business of American publishers? We answer confidently in the negative. The same class of hooks which have been heretofore re-printed, would continue to be re-produced in the same abundance, if there were no restrictions on foreiga editions, for the obvious reason that most of them, at least, can be published here for one half or one fourth the Eng. lish price, while at the same time those voluminous and heavy works which, however desirable, are too costly to be re-printed, might be furnished here at a very material reduction from the present prices.
Is it just, then, that the whole reading community should be thus heavily taxed, to subserve the interests, real or imaginary, of a very few individuals ? With all due deference to the rights of the very respectable and enterprising gentlemen engaged in re-publishing foreign books, we are confident that if this matter were placed before congress in its true lighị, the duty on books would at least be modified, if not entirely repealed. Even in Great Britain, where these restrictions and taxes are notoriously great, the duty on foreign books is but sixpence sterling, or eleven cents per pound. Now that the excess of revenue warrants a material alteration in our tarifi, we hope that literature, at least, will be the first article freed from its shackles,
While on the subject of foreign literature, we would refer the reader to the advertisement of Messrs. WILEY AND PUTNAM, in reference to importing books from abroad. The last-named gentleman has recently returned from a bibliographical tour through GreatBritain, France, and Germany, during which he made arrangements for executing orders for private libraries, as well as for universities and literary institutions, which receive their importations free of duty. The library of Columbia College and the Mercantile Library have lately been enriched by many rare and valuable works imported by this house; and we deem ourselves performing an acceptable service to the public, by a reference to the advantages and facilities at their command,
LITHOGRAPHY. – Mr. Henri HEIDEMANS, an artist of fine powers, lately arrived in this country, has recently produced two beautiful specimens of the lithographic art, in the portraits of Forrest and AUGUSTA, just published by COLMAN. In the first there are several very marked improvements upon the London copy; and in the second, the painter has portrayed the attitude and expression of the fair original, with great faithfulness,