Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

have seen more of her — is to play tragedy-queens, princesses, and forlorn ladies; but no one doubts that any change here from the last season, must be an improvement. Miss Lane — a pretty creature, young and pretty- plays very nicely, and will improve. She has chosen an arduous profession — poor girl! Miss Kerr dances well, we dare say ; she is not particularly beautiful, nor ugly. Ugliness is perfectly inexcusable in an actress. The other female favorites remain, excepting Mrs. Hughes — poor woman ! the absence of whose shrill tones will save us all in cotton for the ears - Shakspeare! Ever-charming Mrs. Barrett was the first that stepped on the stage when the green curtain (many thanks for its restoration !) first arose with tremendous applause. She delivered a poetical address on the opening of the theatre — the production of a nautical friend of ours — (the readers of the Magazine cannot have forgotten CAPTAIN SINGLETON ;) which, being admirably written, and very appositely delivered, went off with quite a brilliant effect. Mrs. Barrett seldorn fails of success in any part which she undertakes. Her face and figure are so remarkably fine, her manners and motions so graceful, that we should be blind to many greater errors than those into which she occasionally falls. She is the crown-favorite of a Boston audience ; and long may she continue BO! She is as radiant as ever this season, and plays with the same capital spirit. Mrs. Smith is a very agreeable actress, and always performs her part to the lifeunless it be a serious character of tragedy, to which her form and proportions are very badly adapted. In farce and melodrama she is unsurpassed ; but there is not an actress in the company that does not stand higher in her profession, when

Gorgeous Tragedy, In solemn pall, comes sweeping by.' We shall not dwell more particularly at this time on the individual merits of the company - they are well known and appreciated; but we shall, from month to month, offer such critical observations on theatrical matters, as will doubtless tend to enlighten the performers, and keep our readers informed of the progress of the drama. A word or two in season, however, about one or two of the best actors. Mr. Barrett played Sir Charles Rackett admirably the other night ; it could not be more inimitably excellent : so did he not play Benedict. The dress of a Spanish cayalier is unbecoming to his figure. He should never play Sir Thomas Clifford. As he is stage-manager, he should cast the parts more judiciously and give them to Barry. The reason is evident: Benedict is no buffoon to wear a goat's head as a mask ; neither is it allowable for Clifford to act an indifferent part indifferently; or — accomplished gentleman that he is — to talk another man’s English than his author's. We, by far, prefer Mr. Barrett's acting in genteel comedy to that of any performer we ever saw - without excepting Charles Kemble ; but he often plays with too much and sometimes with too little spirit. Mr. Smith never should be cast for Claudio. He misconceives the character altogether. Macduff is very well suited to his impetuous manner of acting. This part he plays well as need be. Tender scenes should never be shouted. He plays Tybalt very well ; but not the lover of the gentle Rosalind. He is, like Mrs. Smith, capital in melodrama and light comedy. He makes an inimitable town-gentleman or gentleman's gentleman, or officer or gay cavalier ; but he is awkward in plate armor, and struts badly in state robes. Mr. Smith appears to do more work and to be more useful than any other actor. He can adapt himself to the many diversified parts into which he is

thrown, exceedingly well ; a man cannot be expected to excel in all things ; he would be a prodigy not to fail in some.

We will promise to laugh more heartily than ever at Andrews, if he will try to act with a little more force, and to vary his style for a wonder.

Enough of the company. We would give them a word more, but have not space at present. They shall not escape our notice. The theatre will be benefited by a little independent and severe criticism ; and we intend to confer the favor. Our cousins, of the daily journals, are too lenient or too harsh. We entreat them to criticize fairly — not to puff or abuse. It does no good.

Those of our readers who have not yet returned to their city residences, or who have deferred their visit to their city friends till autumn — our most delightful season — will, on entering the Tremont, find it vastly improved in its internal appearance. The manager has displayed as much good taste, in decorating this favorite temple of the drama, as he has in elevating the character of its ceremonials. The house has been considerably enlarged. The stage is entirely new. The useless and misplaced, old-fashioned side-doors have been removed, and in their stead have been placed six private boxes - to two of which, neatly-finished withdrawingrooms are connected ; all decorated, with silken hangings and tassels, in expensive style, and handsomely carpeted and furnished with seats. The dome is richly painted in fresco ; above the stage is a bust of the drama's high-priest; over which, along the whole arch, passes a finely-carved golden wreath of laurel. The boxes are impannelled with crimson silk, gathered together with ornaments of a most classic pattern ; and the whole affords to the spectator a coup d'ail, which has never been surpassed in this country. The house is fashioned exactly after the model of Drury Lane - Old Drury — with this exception, that the Tremont has one tier less of boxes.

The season promises to be very brilliant. Mr. and Mrs. Wood have arrived and will soon appear; and so will several other performers of great merit, whom the manager, with his accustomed liberality, has sent to England to engage, with offers of the highest remuneration.

Miss Ellen Tree will be the brightest attraction, and may, as has been delicately insinuated, come attended by a satellite, of scarcely inferior lustre - Mr. Charles Kean.

Mademoiselle Celeste is now turning the heads of the multitude.

She is no favorite with us. We could never discover, in her labored display of exquisite mechanical movement, the poetry of motion. She is not to be named with Taglioni. Such dancing, as popular as it may be, will not, in our judge ment, help forward the manager's favorite plan of elevating the character of the drama. It is all very fine to talk fashionably and philosophically about ; but modest women will blush- and men of good taste will not

Leave the gentle Juliet's wo,
To count the twirls of Almaviva's toe.'

LITERARY ANNOTANDA.

The most interesting literary festivals of the year have taken place within the last month.

There has been a public examination of the common schools in Boston, which was followed by a dinner at old Faneuil Hall, at which several distinguished men of letters were present. The remarks made by various speakers were exceedingly happy and appropriate ; the toasts prepared and the songs written for the occasion, went off merrily; and the whole scene was one of the most gratifying kind.

The Commencement at Yale College was celebrated on the twentieth ultimo. Seventy-three candidates received in course the degree of A. B, twenty-three that of A. M., and seventeen that of M. D. Four gentlemen received the honorary degree of M. D., on the recommendation of the Medical Society. From sixty-five to seventy pupils were admitted to the Freshman Class, and twelve to the Sophomore. The exercises of the day were well received by a numerous audience.

The Commencement exercises at Harvard University took place on the twentysixth ult. There were fifty-six candidates who received the Baccalaureate degree. The performances were highly creditable to the young gentlemen who participated in them. The honorary degree of L. L. D. was conferred on the Hon. Judge Thompson of the Supreme Court of the United States, Hon. John Pickering, and Hon. Edward Everett. The degree of D. D. was conferred on the Rev. Jonathan M. Wainwright, of Boston, and Rev. James Walker, of Charlestown.

The anniversary of the Society of Phi Beta Kappa was celebrated on the twentyseventh, at Cambridge. An oration was delivered by Theophilus Parsons, Esq., of Boston, and a poem by the Rev. Mr. Peabody, of Cincinnati. We shall take occasion to speak of these productions when they shall appear in print.

We are still behindhand in our notices of several new books ; such, for instance, as Horse-Shoe Robinson,' and The Brothers, a Tale of the Fronde.' The latter, we are informed, is from the pen of Mr. Herbert, one of the editors of the American Monthly Magazine. His papers in this most excellent periodical, as well as the present work, shew him a man of superior genius, and one whose literary services must prove of the highest value in the task of elevating American literature. We are happy to be engaged in the same labors with such able compeers as our cousins of the American Monthly.7

The Linwoods,' by Miss Sedgwick, is announced as shortly to be produced. Carey & Hart announce a new annual, 'The Gem,' to be edited by Miss Leslie. "The TOKEN' will be published as usual by Mr. Bowen. Light & Horton have in press "The Youth's KEEPSAKE,' which is to be presented to its little readers in a style superior to that of any of its predecessors -- elegantly illustrated by copperplate and wood engravings. James Munroe & Co. have in press Wordsworth's new volume, YARROW REVISITED, AND OTHER Poems, which we have read in the English copy with great delight.

THE.

NEW-ENGLAND MAGAZINE,

OCTOBER, 1835.

ORIGINAL PAPERS.

ELIA. An admirable humorist is Mr. Charles Lamb - airy without frivolities ; queer and capricious without impertinence; sentimental without sentimentality ; sanciful, witty and wise. His papers look like pure self-indulgences — the reveries and freewill speculations and sauntering gambols of an unharnessed mind. Elia is very original. He reininds us, slightly and occasionally, of Addison, of Sterne, of Goldsmith and of Irving, (less, indeed, than they resemble each other) — of Dr. Donne, too, and Cowley, and — shall we say it? — of Shakspeare. Elia's wit is sometimes more subtilized, and his humor more whimsical and more curiously suffused over his thoughts and words, than that of any other English essayist. He will refine and over-refine an odd idea, till one fairly laughs out in admiration of its impalpable, transparent, glittering, Auttering exility! He delights to seethe a conceit in humor, till it rises volatilized, and vanishes, with all its Iris colors, in the air. Yet is he not, at all nor at any time, laborious or tedious or obscure : we doubt if he read German. His fancy is as racy and individual as it is exquisite and recherché. Still we do not wonder that he has not been much read in our country. He is essentially a refiner — an eccentric - a lover of obsolete and curious thoughts and things. His sympathies are not general enough ; he does not view things in sufficiently plain relations and everyday lights to be, like Scott or Goldsmith, everybody's favorite. He lacks story and satire, extent of observation, breadth of humor, and boldness of wit, to

make the unskilful laugh.' The million are incapable of him. His curious lore — his classic yet aboriginal diction — his quaint snatches and recondite allusions -- his innocent sophistries, and burlesques and grotesques, and paradoxical humors, and motley

VOL. IX.

30

clad truths — his metaphysic wit, and the sentiment that exales from it airily, like an aroma — must ever be "caviare to the general.'

But what universal favorite – or who but Elia — could have written this account of · The Two Races of men'?

· The human species, according to the best theory I can form of it, is composed of two distinct races, the men who borrow and the men who lend. To these tivo original diversities may be reduced all those impertinent classifications of the Gothic and Celtic tribes, white men, black men, red men. All the dwellers upon earth, • Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites,' flock hither and do naturally fall in with one or the other of these primary distinctions. The infinite superiority of the former, which I choose to designate as the great race, is discernible in their figure, port, and a certain instinctive sovereignty. The latter are boru degraded. He shall serve his brethren.' There is a something in the air of one of this cast, lean and suspicious; contrasting with the open, trusting, generous manner of the other.

Observe who have been the greatest borrowers of all ages — Alcibiades, Falstaff, Sir Richard Steele, our late incomparable Brinsley — what a family-likeness in all four!

• What a careless, even deportment hath your borrower! what rosy gills ! what a beautiful reliance on Providence doth ha manifest, — taking no more thought than lilies! What contempt for money, - accounting it (yours and mine especially) no better than dross! What a liberal confounding of those pedantic distinctions of meum and tuum! or rather what a noble simplification of language, (beyond Tooke) resolving these supposed opposites into one clear, intelligible pronoun adjective! What near approaches doth he make to the primitive community! to the extent of one half of the principle at least !

• He is the true taxer who calleth all the world up to be taxed;' and the distance is as vast between him and one of us, as subsisted betwixt the Augustan Majesty and the poorest obolary Jew that paid tribute-pittance at Jerusalem! His exactions, too, have such a cheerful, voluntary air ! so far removed from your sour parochial or state gatherers, – those ink-horn varlets, who carry their want of welcome in their faces! He cometh to you with a smile, and troubleth you with no receipt ; confining himself to no set season. Every day is his Candlemas, or his feast of Holy Michael. He applieth the lene tormentum of a pleasant look to your purse, - which to that gentle warmth expands her silken leaves as naturally as the cloak of the traveller, for which sun and wind contended! He is the true Propontic which never ebbeth !- The sea which taketh handsomely at each man's hand. In vain the viction, whom he delighteth to honor, struggles with destiny ; be is in the net. Lend therefore cheerfully, 0 man ordained 10 lend — that thou lose not in the end, with thy wordly penny, the reversion promised. Combine not preposterously in thine own person the penalties of Lazarus and of Dives !- but, when thou seest the proper authority coming, meet it smilingly, as it were halfway. Come, a handsome sacrifice! See how light he makes of it! Strain not courtesies with a noble enemy.'

There is here a certain comic exquisiteness of touch and expation, hardly equalled, we think, (certainly never surpassed) by Knickerbocker or Yorick. Again : how doth our Elia continually cumulate and rise upon himself — how subtile and transcendental he is — in this paragraph on the player Munden !

Can any man wonder, like him? can any man see ghosts, like him? or fight with his own shadow — sessa — as he does in that strangely-neglected thing, the Cobler of Preston — where his alternations from the Cobler to the Magnifico, and from the Magnifico to the Cobler, keep the brain of the spectator in as wild a ferment, as if some Arabian Night were being acted before him, or as if Thalaba were no tale! Who like him can throw, or ever attempted to throw, a super

« ZurückWeiter »