Page images
PDF
EPUB

little encouragement is given to the classical literature of these countries. To the young student, a tale is far more interesting than the study of Dante, or Petrarch, or Ariosto. Where is the young man, who can read the Romeo and Juliet of Shakspeare, without feeling his breast inflamed with a noble passion ? And yet the poet has merely adapted the subject to the stage. We are even more affected, if possible, by the story than the play. But let it not hence be argued, that the Bard of Avon was ' no great Shakes.' He was a clever writer, was Shakspeare !

To the before mentioned tales, succeed extracts from the history of Verona, relating to the main subject, with an account of the tomb, its present and past condition, and the attempt to restore it; a poem on the unhappy love of the two most faithful lovers, Julia and Romeo, dedicated to the Duchess of Urbino, and many other topics, all in the same connection, but too numerous to be here recounted. In all of them, however, there is the same interest, and the pleasure never palls upon the appetite.

Music - MR. RUSSELL. Since our last number, the readers of this Magazine in this city, and several eastern towns, have enjoyed the rare pleasure of hearing Mr. RUSSELL sing many of his popular songs; and we doubt if there be one who has been thus privileged, but will bear witness, that this distinguished vocalist deserves the full measure of praise which was awarded him in these pages, previous to his first public appearance before a New-York audience. Mr. Russell does dot need our encomiums; but we would embrace this occasion to say, that the delighted crowds, comprising the first and most discriminating of our citizens, who attended his recent concerts, sufficiently evince, that nature is superior to, and more attractive than, fashion, in matters of music, with wbich, after all, the heart would really seem to have something to do. People thronged to hear Mr. Russell sing, not because he had studied under the best English masters, and had been an accomplished pupil of Rossini; nor yet because he had received, as a meed of professional excellence, a golden medal from the King of Naples. Neither did he, as many fashionable singers before him have done, win his laurels, by carrying bis voice to the farthest point of inarticulate sound,' and tarrying there to shake and trill for an indefinite period ; no, nor by mouthing His Christian Majesty's English, in such wise that it became a dead letter to the listener, who, were it not à la mode to stay and applaud, would infinitely prefer making one of the promiscuous crowd of amateurs, who throng the pavement, of a pleasant night, before Peale's Museum. Mr. Russell's style, though chaste and refined, is simple, and unadulterated by modern improvements. His voice is powerful, yet mellow, all its toncs, as the soft notes of an organ; and it has always a strong, rich effect. His enunciation is as distinct as if he were only speaking; and his musical expression, if we may use the term, is wholly unsurpassed by that of any vocalist we have ever heard. He depicts scenes with the palpable truth of a painter; and he 80 clothes his subjects with life, that we are not quite sure that he would not 'sing the ten commandments, and give an appropriate character to each prohibition.'

We have already spoken of Mr. Russell's execution of Wind of the Winter Night,' • The Old English Gentleman,' 'Come Brothers, Arouse', etc., and of the natural effect given to the two former, in all the scenes and events described by the songs themselves, which also accompanied our remarks. In the additional pieces which this vocalist performed at his recent concerts, the same power and fidelity were visible. We will cite but one example – The Brave Old Oak.' What hearer did not see the sunlight die away from the rosy bosom of the western cloud, and hear the roar of the midnight wind in the forest-oak ? — and who did not instantly revert to Irvina's delightful pictures of an English Christmas, or lament the lost, with the bereaved mourner ? — when the fol.

lowing lines, (from the pen of Henry F. Chorley, Esq., of the London Athenæum,) rendered doubly pleasing by the feeling and power of the singer, fell on the ear?

' A SONG of the oak, the brave old oak,

Who hath rulld in this land so long :
Here's health and renown, to his broad green crown,

And his fifty arms so strong!
• There is fear in his frown, when the sun goes down,

And the fire in tbe west fades out;
And he showeth his might, in the wild midnight,

When storms through his branches shout!
Then sing of the oak, the brave old oak,

Who hath rul'd in this land so long –
And still flourish he, a hale green tree,

When a hundred years are gone!

He saw the rare times, when the Christmas chimes

Were a pleasant sound to hear,
And the squire's wide hall and the cottage small

Were full of right merry cheer;
And all the day, to the rebeck gay,

They frolick'd with lovesome swains :
They are gone! - they are dead! - in the church-yard laid -

But the tree — he still remains !
• Then sivg of the oak, of the brave old oak,

Who hath ruild in this land so long :
And still flourish he, a hale green tree,

When a huudred years are gone!'
Appropos of this beautiful song. We are sorry to see, in the American copies, that Mr.
Russell has permitted the third and fourth lines to be altered, thus :

* And the squire's wide hall and the cottage small

Were full of American cheer.' This couplet, in connection with what precedes and follows it, is the veriest nonsense imaginable. The whole song is English, and there is no such thing as giving it an American keeping; and no American will be so soft-headed as to take the interpolation as at all complimentary.

We intended, when we commenced this notice, to speak of Mr. Russell's eminent merits as a musical composer, but our present limits will not permit. The music of most of his songs is either entirely his own, or made essentially so, by adaptation and improvements. His ' Largo al Factotum,' from the 'Marriage of Figaro,' proves him an accomplished student of Italian, as well as an adept in the most difficult species of vocal execution. Mr. Russell has commenced a new musical era, in which taste, truth, and feeling, take the place of show, affectation, and 'thin accompaniments of thinner warbles.' May he live a thousand years ! -- and in the Albany Musical Academy, of which he is the capable President, train up in the way they should go a long band of pupils who will do honor to his instructions, and effect a happy reform in the fashionable systems' of the day.

Park THEATRE – MADEMOISELLE AUGUSTA. 'La Bayadere,' like Cinderella, seems destined to mark its repetitions in round numbers. There must be great attraction somewhere, to carry a piece through a succession of fifty nights, at one house, when the same piece — although, indeed, in very different hands — had been already deprived of novelty, by previous repetitions at another. M’lle Augusta may take great credit to herself, for producing this effect. Her exquisite grace never tires. It matters little whether it be displayed in one ballet, or in half a dozen. True taste never wearies in its contemplation of a perfect specimen of art; so are her audiences ever satisfied and happy in her presence, although it be enlivened only by music, fifty times repeated. Augusta, herself, is always new. The grace and perfection of her art never cease to delight; and

should 'La Bayadere' be repeated for the hundredth time, there can be but little doubt that its centesimal representation would be graced by crowds equal to those which now nightly press to witness it. If 'La Bayadere can do so much, what might not 'La Sylphide,' or 'La Somnambulé' accomplish? This is a question which it is hoped a ew weeks will answer. If they cannot add to the enviable reputation of Augusta, in the dance, they will at least increase her fame as an actress, and prove that she possesses powers in pantomime, equal to the agile grace which adorns the mazy steps of the 'Bayadere.

MR. AND Mrs. Keeley. – After a long intermission, the New-York public have again been gratified by the appearance of these universal favorites at the Park. There is a degree of truth in all the delineations attempted by Mr. and Mrs. Keeley, which justifies the almost antiquated assertion, that the stage is nature's mirror.' There can be no reflection of our great mother less free of blemish — more minutely true — than is thrown back upon our admiration, from the clear and polished surface, which the acting of the Keeleys affords. There is something in the character of the high-stalking-heroes of tragedy, which, while they excite wonder, do not always touch the sympathies. We look at them as giants of by-gone time – mammoths of energy, who talk in blank verse, and do deeds for which we look in vain for parallels in our own days. We admire them as extraordinary specimens of humanity, elevated in virtue, or depressed in vice, so far above or below that medium which forms the moral atmosphere of our time, that we cannot regard them with the hearty fellowship of common acquaintances. The characters which the Keeleys hold up for our observation, are a different race of beings altogether. They belong to every-day life; they are domestic, familiar creatures, such as we can take by the hand, and after a hearty shake, inquire of concerning the state of the crops, the price of corn, and the scandal of the village. We can think of Tragedy only as some immense personage, taller than the tallest, by a head - encased in a gloomy dress, rich in sables, and studded with orders and dignities ; his face black with passion, paint, and mustachoes, and his body loaded with bloody daggers, guns, swords, and pistols. We can fancy this personification of the fiend of evil, dragging by the hair some beauteous damsel from the marriage altar, all decked in white muslin, all steeped in tears, and not guiltless of a particularly fine white pocket-handkerchief. We can see the delicate prisoner kneeling at his feet, and with all her might 'pumping up a passion,' and flourishing the aforesaid bit of cambric, like a signal of distress, while we hear the dignified villain utter from the depths of his inhuman stomach, the horrid sentence that seals poor Dollalolla's fate for ever. This is tragedy à la mode. Not so appear the figures which live, and move, and have their cherished being, in the personations of our unpretending favorites. We see a simple village maid, innocent and pure as the air which winnows the blossoms that creep in the soft spring-time around her cottage-window, where, with her rustic lover, she looks out upon the clear moonlight. We mark her devotion, her faith; we weep at sorrows which we feel might befall us all, in our own sphere, and we are made happy in witnessing pleasures which may, without changing the order of the society in which we live, be ours also. We believe in the sincerity as well as the simplicity of Peter Spyk. We laugh at his embarrassment and his doubts; but he has our sympathy, although he breathes not su soft a sigh as Romeo; and we are altogether pleased in recognising in him, and all his tribe, old and valuable acquaintances, whose counterparts we can all remember, from a time beyond which memory hath no cognizance. These are, beside, the characters which makeus in love with our species, and not altogether dissatisfied with the present constitution of the time. These are the plays, which, while they do not so much excite the imagination, affect the reason more. They are the every-day food which nourishes, and of which all may partake, and all appreciate its excellence. In the performances of Mrs. Keeley, there is a minute delicacy, which is a constant and just theme of praise among her many admirers. She is never

satisfied with the mere outline of a picture; the filling up' has its full share of attention ; and every light and shade which nature throws into a landscape, are made to adorn her works with the discrimination and truth of the great painter himself. It is, indeed, those little delicate truths which she scatters throughout her delineations, that give them their greatest value. The same good sense which so strongly marks Mrs. Keeley's personations, distinguishes those of her husband. He never leaves any thing undone, nor, unlike many popular artists, does that which he has no right to do. If there is comedy in the character he represents, he is sure to bring it out to its fullest bearing, but he never seems inclined 10 raise a laugh at the expense of truth or propriety. He is an irresistible droll, without extravagance; she, a powerful actress, who, in return for the favors which Nature has lavished upon her, is determined to show her gratitude, by a strict obedience to the dictates of her benefactress.

C.

"THE FEAST OF TABERNACLES' is the title of a 'Poem for Music,' from the pen of HENRY WARE, JR., of Cambridge, Mass. The piece is in preparation, under the supervision of an eminent professor, for musical representation at the Odeon in Boston, by the choir of the Academy of Music of that city. From a hasty perusal, we are favorably impressed with the literary merits of this production. It is clear in its details, and the versification is generally flowing and melodious. We annex one or two specimens:

PRIEST.
Whop, from Egyptian bondage driven,

Our fathers sought their promised home,
For many a year offended Heaven

Condemned them in the wild to roam.
No house received their weary forms,

No city knew their way-worn feet;
In tents they braved the winter's storms,

In tents endured the summer's leat.
And now in Judal's prosperous days,

Oft as the barvest month comes round,
Our humble tents and booths we raise,

And houseless, like our sires, are found.
We bring to mind their sins and woes;

Their path o'er Jordan's wave we trace,
Till on these fruitful hills arose

Their heritage and resting place.

We subjoin another episode, of a similar character :

HIGH PRIEST.
Now tell your child:en what this rite intends ;
What mean these glowing forms, these words of joy.

PRIEST.
The prophet gave the blow;
Forth gushed the cool, refreshing waye,
The parched and perishing to save,

Far as its waters flow.
Recalled to life, the dying band
Pressed eager to the destined land.

So, in some later day,
When Israel lics in wo and fear,
Her great Anointed shall appear,

To chase her dark dismay.
From Him a holier stream shall flow,
To save the world from darker wo.

O haste the glorious hour!
Haste, David's son, illustrious King!
Come to thy waiting saints, and bring

Thy glory, peace, and power.
Hosanua! let the people cry;
Hosanna! earth and heaven reply.

HIGH PRIEST.
The day declines. The slow-descending sun
Casts lengthening shadows o'er the darkened vales.
Light up the temple! Through the pillared walks
Hang out the lamps, and from the crowded courts
Keep off the gathering night. Then, while the blaze
Is tlashing from the altars, gates, and roofs,
Till evening shines with more than noonday fires,
Let ope loud choral anthem close the day,

This little work is marked by the neatness of execution which generally distinguishes publications from the Boston press. New-York : Samuel COLMAN.

AMERICAN History. - We welcome heartily, as most timely and appropriate, the clear, succinct, and well-digested Remarks on American History,' from the pen of JABED Sparks, which have been neatly re-printed, in pamphlet form, from the Boston Book,' for 1837. To one who would obtain, in a brief compass, the great leading outlines of the colonial and revolutionary periods of our national existence, we would recommend this pamphlet, as supplying an important desideratum. In alluding to the Indians, and their wars, Mr. Sparks holds the following language, confirmatory of a truth which we have frequently advanced - namely, that the Indian oratory of our novelists is often any thing but natire, while the character of the red man, in their hands, has suffered not less in another and more important respect :

"Indian eloquence, if it did not flow with the richness of Nestor's wisdom, or burn with Achilles' fire, spoke in the deep strong tones of nature, and resounded from the chords of truth. The answer of the Iroquois chief to the French, who wished to purchase his lands, and push him farther into the wilderness, Voltaire has pronounced superior to any sayings of the great men commemorated by Plutarch. We were born on this spot; our fathers are buried here. Shall we say to the bones of our fathers, arise, and go with us into a strange land ?'

“But more has been said of their figurative language, than seems to be justified by modern experience. Writers of fiction have distorted the Indian character, and given us any thing but originals. Their fancy has produced sentimental Indians, a kind of beings that never existed in reality; and Indians clothing their ideas in the gorgeous imagery of external nature, which they had neither the refinement to conceive, nor words to express. In truth, when we have lighted the pipe of concord, kindled or extinguished a council fire, buried the bloody hatchet, sat down under the tree of peace with its spreading branches, and brightened ihe chain of friendship, we have nearly exhausted their flowers of rhetoric. But the imagery prompted by internal emotion, and not by the visible world, the eloquence of condensed thought and pointed expression, the eloquence of a diction extremely limited in its forms, but nervous and direct, the eloquence of truth unadorned and of justice undisguised, these are often found in Indian speeches, and constitute their chief characteristic.

“ It should, moreover, be said for the Indians, that, like the Carthaginians, their history has been written by their enemies. The tales of their wrongs and their achievements may have been told by the warrior-chiefs to stimulate the courage, and perpetuate the revenge of their children, but they were traces in the sand; they perished in a day, and their inemory is gone.'

Would that the truths contained in the following closing paragraphs might be written as with a living coal upon every American heart!

“The instructive lesson of history, teaching hy example, can no where be studied with more profil, or with a better promise, than in this revolutionary period of America; and especially by us, who sit under the tree our fathers have planted, enjoy its shade, and are nourished by its fruits. But little is our merit, or gain, that we applaud their deeds, unless we emulate their virtues. Love of country was in them an absorbing principle, an undivided feeling; not of a fragment, a section, but of the whole country. Union was the arch on which they raised the strong tower of a nation's independence. Let the arm be palsied, that would loosen one stone in the basis of this fair structure, or mar its beauty; the tongue mute, that would dishonor their names, by calculating the value of that, which they deemed without price!

“They have left us an example already inscribed in the world's memory; an example, portentous to the aims of tyranny in every land; an example that will console in all

« PreviousContinue »