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Behind, for liberty athirst in vain,
But why not? Why should not folly have her day? Give us the cap and bells ! Stand aside, Common Sense, you old driveller! Here goes :
UNACCUSTOMED as we are to public writing, as well as public speaking, we do not consider ourselves competent to enter the ranks with the erudite manufacturers of modern melo-dramas : yet earnestly desirous that the trade of folly's fulminators should Aourish, we here, in our illustrious corner of this magazine of immortality, do freely, and without charge, make known the following original hints, for the speedy manufacture of a successful melo-dramatic spectacle, to be got up' as soon after its manufacture as possible, 'with new scenery, dresses and decorations.'
The subject which we have chosen, is one that is associated with our earliest recollections-interwoven with our reminiscences of cradles, swaddling-clothes, pap, and paregoric, and one, therefore, which must come home to men's bosoms with peculiar emphasis and effect :
• Jack and Jill went up the hill
To fetch a pail of water;
And Jill came tumbling after.' There, ye play-wrights — ye dealers in the small wares of Fancy – there's a subject for you! - plan, plot, and characters -- subject, story, development, and catastrophe all in a breath. A hero and heroine, whose early loves — whose ambitious impulses — whose gradual progress up the hill' — is worthy the pen of Shakspeare, Knowles, or the illustrious poets, male and female, who vegetate under the approving smiles of the critics of Rotten-row. Ladies and gentlemen!- you will please to consider the publication of the foregoing programme an especial act of liberality on our part, for the benefit of the public generally, but for your emolument particularly. Your own good taste, now so generally appreciated, will of course obviate the necessity of any very particular hints from us, in regard to the filling up of this ingenious plot, or in any way relating to the appurtenances of its representation. But feeling that natural regard for our mental offspring which a parent feels for his first-born, you will not perhaps object to a very few remarks, explanatory of our wishes relating to this anxious subject of our future care.
In the first place, then, ladies and gentlemen, you will please to allow the curtain to rise to slow music - discovering Jack and Jill seated within a picturesque arbor, supposed to be situated somewhere within the territorial jurisdiction of the Great Mogul There should be seen birds of every variety of plumage; in the foreground a peacock; with a real tail, and a black swan; flowers of every hue should brighten and variegate the scene, from the immaculate bloom of the towering magnolia, to the humble hue of a daffy-down-dilly. Gentle music — its time to be regulated by the movements of the peacock's tail. You will please, ladies and gentlemen, to consider Jill the daughter of the mighty Prince of Kamschatka, and by her father's will affianced to the only son of the Emperor of China. Jack, of course, is a humble peasant, with no other merit than the love he bears the gentle Jill. You will see the propriety of placing this amiable creature under the protection of some kind and powerful spirit, whose only care it is to effect the desired nuptials between the humble swain and the mighty princess: say, for instance, you designate her protector the 'Lady of the Fountain.' The son of the Emperor of China must be, by all the rules of nature and effect, a most unprincipled wretch, whose aggravated crimes entitle him to no other bride than the bow-string. These little matters, of course, are all talked over in the arbor, or gently insinuated by the inferior characters, through the course of the first act.
You will please to arrange matters so that the curtain shall rise upon the second act, discovering the Falls of Niagara, which you will suppose the summer residence of the ‘Lady of the Fountain.' Here's a chance for your scene-painter. Hither Jack and Jill, having stolen away from the ice, and snow, and black clouds, of Kamschatka, have come to ruralize, thaw out, and brood over the hard fate which they feel awaits them. Sitting upon Table-Rock, in the cool calm of evening, despairing of all things save their unchangeable attachment, they are surprised by the appearance of the 'Lady of the Fountain,' (done up, of course, with spangles, oyster-shells, and green hair,) who quiet their fears, by announcing herself their guardian-spirit, and assuring the disconsolate Jack, that if he has the courage to obtain a single pail full of water from the fountain, (her abode,) situated on the top of Mount Parnassus, he will possess a talisman by which he can destroy forever Ching-Chang, his rival, and the son of the Emperor of China. Here, you will perceive, is business enough for the second act. But now for the third. Here must be a condensation of effect a consolidation of events and catastrophes — that shall astonish while it delights your already grateful audience. Ladies and gentlemen, permit us 10 sharpen our pen before we commence the third act.
Act third opens and discovers the fountain on the top of Mount Parnassus, guarded by the Nine Muses, and other ferocious and malignant spirits, fast asleep on the sides of the mountain! Time - evening: moon-light — soft music, interrupted by an occasional nightingale; fire-flies and shooting-stars diversify the scene. Jack and Jill appear, with an empty pail between them, ascending the hill; they pass the sleeping sentinels — are welcomed by the Spirit of the Fountain — fill their pail with the Castalian dew drops, and turn to descend the hill, high in heart, and joyous in the confidence of a victory almost won. Now mark the contrast - observe the beautiful effect which may now be produced. Your audience are on the tiptoe of expectation; an agreeable disappointment flutters about their hearts, in beholding the acquisition of the pail of water accomplished without a struggle. You will remember that they walked up the hill to the soft strains of faëry music, talking of their hopes, and confident of success. Again, I say, mark the contrast. No sooner do they turn to descend the hill, than black clouds arise — the heavens are suddenly overcast – wind ! — rain ! — thunder and lightning !ghosts ! fire kings! — spirits of the air, earth, and sea !- hobgoblins! and the great Glumfungus, (the infernal magician, protector, and familiar of the son of the Emperor of China,) all in horrid confusion, fill up the scene with their awful peculiarities. Jack fights like an ancient hero – Jill ditto — but it wo’nt do: Glumfungus throws a powder-cracker - Jack 'falls down and breaks his crown! — (Catastrophe, No. 1.,) and Jill comes tumbling after !' (Catastrophe, No. 2.) – A beautiful example of female devotion! Jack rises ; terrible combat between him and his rival!!- overcomes Glumfungus, by ejecting some of the water into his eyes, and this scene closes.
Scene last. Grand procession of the King of Kamschatka, in honor of the wedding of his daughter with the mighty Jack (now surnamed) the 'Giant Killer – the acknowledged son, 'born in lawful wedlock,' of the 'Lady of the Fountain' – the beauteous Cascatella! Ladies and gentlemen, this being your last and greatest scene, pray give direction to the scene-painter and property-man to make it effective. Allow me to close my remarks, by gently insinuating the propriety of some arrangement like the following: Let the scene represent 'the Water-Lady's cave -- a most magnificent abode!' Pearl, coral, and other gems of the sea, hanging 'like blackberries' from the roof - sundry beautiful specimens of the oyster family observed, making love in the fore-ground; sharks, whales, and hyppotamuses shooting marbles in the distance; two or three hundred feet of the posterior extremity of the American sea-serpent coiled around the interior of the apartment, acting as a corps-de-garde, while his head and shoulders are on exploring duty in the distance.
Among the worthies who compose the procession, do not, by any means, forget the following:
THE PRIME MINISTER OF ENGLAND!
LORDS OF THE CELESTIAL EMPIRE, GENERAL SANTA ANA AND NAPOLEON BONAPARTE!!
BORNE UPON A PALANQUIN!!
DUKE OF WELLINGTON AND MARSHAL NEY!!
GRAND DU KE OF AUSTRIA !!
IN HIGHLAND COSTUME !
Fought at Blenheim!! His train borne by
His Royal Highness the
OF SABLES, AS
DRESSED IN A SUPERB SUIT
All of which, ladies and gentlemen, is most respectfully submitted, by your ardent admirer,
Editors' DRAWER. — Again does our drawer demand a 'searching operation, and the scores of friends, who have waited so long and patiently in the ante-chamber, claim audience with our readers. 'One at a time, gentlemen-one at a time.' Do not get ruffled. Where do we not see the struggle for precedence !
The author of 'Landscape Gardening’ is first in order. His words are words of wisdom, and we hope his counsels will be heeded. Every tasteful American, who sojourns for never so brief a space in England, returns with enthusiastic admiration of the perfection to which this delightful art is carried in that country, and full of regret that more attention is not paid to it in our own:
LANDSCAPE GARDENING. Among the liberal sciences which have sprung up beneath the patronage of the nobility in Great Britain, that of Landscape Gardening holds a prominent place. In such an atmosphere of art, and of literary refinement, it was impossible that genius should forever remain content with the lifeless representation of nature, or not perceive that those principles, whose guidance was sought in arranging the attitudes of the human figure, or in disposing the constituent part of the pictured landscape, would prëeminently hold true in the living beauty of natural scenery. Of course, those leading principles in landscape gardening, also, as a practical science, are the same. It could not remain long unperceived, that its influence would become materially cooperative with that of a national literature, and be regarded as a conspicuous evidence of great national refinement. It accordingly became the object of their standard authors, and of those who interested themselves in matters of taste, to invite to this art the attention of their countrymen : and at the same time to endeavor to correct the errors of that vitiated taste, which was too prevalent in their day. The principles and theory of landscape gardening, as we have before mentioned, are essentially the same as those of the other fine arts, and have been established from a searching and discriminating observation of Nature, in all her different forms and variations of beauty; thus has it received that true purpose and bent which must insure its continuance and prosperity. To lay out a park or garden in lines or figures of mathematical proportion, to cut the foliage of the tree into forms grotesque or unnatural, is as foreign to, and unconnected with, the science, as it is in direct violation of every known principle of taste. On the contrary, it is its object to catch and multiply whatever is delightful in Nature, and in not deviating from what is natural, to give that appearance to the cultivated landscape which may perchance be seen in the wildest and most uncultivated scenes. It strives not exclusively to affect with the mild and the poetic, but aims also at whatever may be solemn or even sublime, to the contemplation. Such being its designs, and such its principles, we may say it is impossible that it should ever be forgotten, or want the encouragement of a nation which boasts the early refinement of its people. Until painting, sculpture, and architecture shall cease to be numbered among those studies which enlist the feelings and the interests of human ambition, so long must the cultivation and the study of nature be viewed as holding an important control over the movements of mental enterprise. It will direct those movements to the advantage of the liberal arts.
Where nature was barren or rude, the hand of English taste has spread a thousand waving beauties over the scene. The rill that flows beneath dark rocks, and in the melancholy shade of the forest, turns from its course, winds through verdant meadows, swells into the artificial lake, or 'slumbers upon the plain.' Where late the forest closed all view, may now be caught the blue haze of a distant mountain, the glimmer of a rivulet, a white sail, or perchance some ivy-grown tower. Time may improve, but scarce possesses the power to obliterate, entirely, the fascinations of artificial scenery. The tree may grow to its giant size and crumble away- the winding road may again become turfed with green, and its meanderings be lost but still there is something left that is melancholy and pleasing. As in a picture rendered faint by age and neglect, we can still perceive the touches of the hand that pencilled it with softness and with ease: so amid the desolation and the mouldering wreck of artificial scenery, the scrutinizing eye can still discern that elegance which must have stamped its features in the year of its perfection.
The proper disposition of the parts of the artificial landscape, in accordance with those principles to which we have referred, requires a deep and frequent study of nature. The landscape gardener, with the critical eye of an enthusiast, watches hier in every change. When the chill of autumn has burnished anew the foliage of his forest trees, he has so disposed them as to preserve even then the gradation and the harmony of color.
Thus as we go farther and farther into an examination of this intellectual science, we find new objects of interest at every step. One leads still to another, until we are surprised at the 'curious pleasures of an art which we may have regarded as merely of trivial interest. It remains yet to be seen, whether, in our own country, where the kindred fine arts are gaining strength with the encouragements of wealth, this will be utterly neglected. We are unwilling to suppose that a people who have sent forth a West, a Leslie, a Newton, a Trumbull, and a Cole, to do honor to their country in the eyes of Briush taste, will neglect, eventually, to accord to this new object of interest and study, that attention to which it is most assuredly entitled.
'The Hopes of Life' is objectionable, from its character of unmixed gloom. Why should we lament, because the world is not all flowers and sunshine ? - or mourn, as those without hope, over the changes of years ? Our too sombre correspondent should remember the beautiful sentiment of one to whose ever-prevailing and rational philosophy we commend him:
. Time steals away the rose,
't is true, But then the thorns are blunted, too.'
The following, (from the same hand, if we mistake not the chirography,) is more to our
'Look how the world's poor people are amazed
At apparitions, signs, and prodigies!' So sings the swan of Avon, somewhere in one of his poems. There is enough of superstitious influences, even in our day; and occurrences in this enlightened country, within a very few years, not to say months, have left us little to boast, over the 'superstitious, idle-headed eld.' The subjoined brief collegiate exercise, from an unpractised pen, will possess interest to many minds:
OPINIONUM commentadelet dies, naturæ judicia confirmat.'
Nothing more strongly attests the weakness of the human intellect, than diversified forms of mythology, and prevailing systems of superstition, among beings created by the same divinity, and looking with the same eye upon the stupendous manifestations of His power. They have, however, left their features on every age and nation. They have imparted coloring to character, and given direction to conduct. They have controlled the current of human action, and governed the tide of human destiny. While monuments of material grandeur proclaim their power in the darker places of the earth, the light of reason has not yet revealed all their odiousness in the more enlightened lands of wisdom and learning.
We should search in vain for the origin of superstition in any age or in any country: Although it first assumed a systematic form in Egypt, it was because the human mind there made its first advancement in intellectual cultivation, and was first capable of embodying its absurdities into a written language; we find it existing, however, in the earliest periods of every nation. So that we must seek its origin in the first dawnings of mind - in the natural feelings of the human heart. It doubtless arises from that glorious aspiration after an intelligent first cause, which is among the earliest breathings of the soul — from that instinctive belief in the immortal principal within us, which proclaims our triumph over the grave, and the correspondent beautiful conception, that disembodied spirits hover around us, and, with the sacred guardianship of angels, watch over our destinies. The imagination of an ignorant age has modified these sublime conceptions into the various forms of popular superstition. Ignorance is always dangerous. The relations of nature can be understood, only by rigid and careful investigation. By neglecting to trace eflects to their true causes, and by considering only the relation of proximity of time, men have been led to the most startling errors, and glaring absurdities. Such has always been the case in barbarous and uncivilized nations.
Imagination, lending its assistance to ignorance, forms the wildest and sometimes the most fantastical associations. The white vestment of the ghost, contrasted with the darkness of midnight, has struck terror even to the soul of the brave, and the chirping of the cricket has changed the plans of the statesman.
of the dangerous tendency of ill-regulated imagination, its influence over enlightened minds affords striking illustration. It has even been regarded as the most incontrolable of the faculties, and hence required the most philosophical discipline. When subjected to the dominion of the judgment, its influence is salutary; but when allowed to usurp the throne of reason, how disastrous the results!
There is also, especially in the infancy of society, when all the phenomena of nature are new to the observer, a period of peculiar sensibility of character. The imagination, dazzled by novelty, associates every change with the operation of invisible agency. The solitude of the forest and the darkness of the grove teem with swarming diversities.