Imagens da página
PDF

the prayer they constantly repeat: "Om mani pad me bourn." (Oh, the gem in the lotus, Amen). The meaning of this singular prayer is •aid to be an aspiration after divine perfection. The reward of the just and perfect is believed to be an absorption into the blissful soul of the Deity.

The monasteries of these people differ in some respects from the Catholic establishments of Europe. It cannot be said that the Lamas live in community. You may find among them all the graduated shades of poverty and wealth that you see in mundane cities. Every third month the authorities make a distribution of meal to all the Lamas of the Lamaseries without distinction. The voluntary offerings of the pilgrims to Hounboum come in aid of this donation. Some of these offerings are in money; but generally they consist of a tea-drinking entertainment, to which all the Lamas are invited. These entertainments are very expensive.

A large number of the Lamas gain a livelihood by the ordinary occupations of life; but a certain class devote themselves entirely to study and contemplation. Among the industrial Lamas a number occupy themselves in printing and transcribing the Lamanesque books. The Thibetian writing proceeds horizontally from left to right. Stereotype printing on wood is alone practised, no use being made of movable type. The Thibetian books resemble a large pack of cards, the leaves being movable and printed on both sides. The manuscript editions of the Lamanesque books are enriched with illustrative designs, and the characters are elegantly traced. The Lamas use sized paper and a bamboo pen. Their inkstand is filled with cotton saturated with ink.

In each Lamasery there is a Faculty of Prayers, and the Grand Lama and the students of this department are often appealed to by the government to preserve their locality from calamity. On these occasions, the Lamas ascend to the summits of high mountains, and spend two whole days in praying, exorcising, and in erecting the Pyramid of Peace—a small pyramid of earth whitened with lime; a flag, inscribed with Thibetian characters, floating above.

Each Lamasery has also a Faculty of Medicine. The physicians assign to the human frame four hundred and forty-four maladies. In the medical books the symptoms are described and the remedies stated. Bleeding and cupping are sometimes resorted to. The books contain much quackery, but also a large number of valuable recipes, the benefits of which are confirmed by long experience and observation.

Four great festivals are observed by the Tartars and Thibetians during the year. The most famous of all is the Feast of Flowers, which takes place on the fifteenth day of the first moon. It is celebrated with the greatest magnificence at Hounboum, where, at the appointed time, a vast number of pilgrims congregate. Three months are occupied in preparation, a Council of Fine Arts being appointed to superintend.

The most remarkable achievements are the butter-works —all the Asiatics nations being represented with their peculiar physiognomies and costumes in fresh butter. MM. Uabet and Hue state that this butter-work and the arrangement of the flowers excelled everything they ever beheld as the result of art. At night the exhibition was splendidly illuminated. In front of the principal temple there was a theatre with its performers and decorations, all of butter. The dramatis persona were a foot high, and represented a community of Lamas on their way to solemnize prayer. The Lamas vere moveable puppets. The day after the Feast of Flowers not a trace remains of these splendid works. All are demolished, and the butter thrown to the cows.

The Thibetians have made extensive progress in those arts which are generally considered the flowers of civilization. Their architecture, though somewhat fantastical, often appears grand. Some of their temples are very imposing. Most of the houses at the capital at Lha-Ssa are several stories high, terminating in a terrace, slightly sloped to carry off the water. They are whitewashed all over, except the bordering round the doors and windows, which is painted red or yellow. The people of LhaSsa are in the habit of painting their houses once a year, so that they always seem as if just built. In one of the suburbs the houses are built of the horns of oxen and sheep, and they present a most fantastical appearance. LhaSsa is laid out with broad streets, and surrounded with a beautiful wall of gardens. Besides the taste and architectural skill displayed in the erection of the temples and dwelling-houses of the capital, we find a number of grand mausoleums in various parts of Thibet, which evince a high degree of development in art. The Thibetians are not in the habit of burying their dead. In general, the bodies are left upon the summit of the mountains, or thrown to the dogs, being esteemed but as worthless clods; but mausoleums have been erected in honour of famous Grand Lamas.

The manufactures of the Thibetians are various and valuable. Although the severest labour is performed by the women, the men employ themselves quite profitably, especially in spinning and weaving wool. The stuffs they manufacture, which are called poulon, are of a very close and solid fabric, and surprisingly various in quality, from the coarsest cloths to the finest possible merino. By a rule of reformed Buddhism, every Lama must be attired in red poulon. The consumption of the article in Thibet is very large, and considerable quantities are exported. The pastile-sticks, so celebrated in China, are manufactured at Lha-Ssa, of various aromatic trees, mixed with musk and gold dust. When these sticks are lighted they consume slowly, and diffuse around an exquisite perfume. The Thibetians have no porcelain, but they manufacture all kinds of pottery in great perfection. The only tea-service used throughout Thibet is a wooden cup, which is either carried in the bosom or suspended from the girdle. Some of the most costly cups are said to have the property of neutralizing poisons.

The agricultural productions of the Thibetians are very poor. They cultivate a little wheat and still less rice. The chief production is tsingkon, or black barley, of which is made the tsamba, that basis of the ailment of the entire Thibetian population. All the labour of cultivating the ground is performed by the women. The implements used are of the most primitive description, and the work is wretchedly done.

Thibet is exceedingly rich in metals. Gold and silver are collected there so readily that the common shepherds have become acquainted with the art of purifying these precious metals. Specie is of a low value, and, consequently, goods maintain a high price. The monetary system of the Thibetians consist entirely of silver coins, which are somewhat larger than French francs. On one side they bear an inscription, and upon the other they have a crown of light small flowers. To facilitate commerce, these coins are cut Into pieces, the number of flowers remaining on each piece determining its value—a very simple yet adequate arrangement. In the larger commercial transactions ingots of silver are employed. The Pebouns, or Indians, settled at Lha-Ssa, are the only workers of metal in the capital. In their quarters you may find ironsmiths, braziers, plumbers, tinmen, founders, goldsmiths, jewellers, machinists, and even chemists. There all sorts of vases are manufactured for the use of Lamaseries, and some of them are exquisitely ornamented. While these Indians are the chief 'manufacturers of Thibet, the Katchi, or Mussulmans are the leading merchants. Their religion and their trade are respected by the government.

The greater portion of the wealth of Thibet is the property of the Lamaseries. The people experience all the misery consequent upon the existence of an overpaid church establishment. Yet they are so devoted to their religion that they are never weary of making rich offerings to the Lamas. There are swarms of beggars throughout the country; but it 18 only just to observe that the Thibetians are kind and compassionate, and that those who are blessed with a goodly store give freely.

The condition of woman is always a fair test of progress in civilization. Polygamy prevails, with the sanction of the Lamanesque religion, in Thibet and Tartary. But the first wife is always the mistress of the household, and the most respected in the family. MM. Gabet and Hue thought polygamy a real blessing to the people of those countries. Celibacy being imposed on the Lamas, and the class of those who shave the head and live in Lamaseries being so numerous, it is easy to conceive what disorders would arise from the multiplication of young

women without support, and abandoned to themselves, if girls could not be placed in families in the quality of second wives. Divorce ii frequent, and it takes place without any intervention of civil or ecclesiastical authorities. In Tartary the women lead an independent lift, coming and going at pleasure.

The Thibetian women submit, in their toilet, to a custom or law scarcely credible. Before going out of doors they always rub their faces over with a sort of black glutinous varniib, the object being to render themselves as ugly and hideous as possible. This practice is said to be about two hundred years old, and tradition says that it originated with an austere Lama king, who desired to check licentiousness of manner?. At present, the women who daub their faces the most hideously are esteemed the most pious, The women lead an active and laborious life. Besides fulfilling the various duties of the household, they concentrate in their own hands all the petty trade of the country, whether M hawkers, as stall-keepers in the streets or in the shops, Little or no restraint is imposed upon them. Their general character for morality is good—in fact, if compared with that of other Asiatic women, quite exemplary. They art strictly attentive to their devotions, and will even go beyond the men in deeds of penance and mortification of the body.

We hope we have given a sufficient idea of the recent revelations concerning Thibetian and Tartarian life to awaken an interest in further developments. The discoveries of the French missionaries have but opened the way for others of the highest importance to mankind. From what we have related, it will be inferred that the work of Christianizing Asia will not be so difficult as has hitherto been supposed; that reformed Buddhism is a good preparation of one hundred and seventy millions of people for the reception of those truths which Christians believe to be necessary to the salvation of man; and that we have not false idols to throw dovrn, but to a belief essentially pure, spiritual, and godly, to add that definite knowledge of a nc* dispensation, the universal prevalence of which must banish strife from the face of the earth.

CosiroRT. — The more numerous the comforts viewed as necessaries- by the prent body of the people, and the farther those comforts are removed from grou sensuality, the higher the moral condition of tint people is a principle iu jiolitirs without an eiceptiott. That warm house, the neat furniture, the comforUblf meal, the decent clothing, the well-weeded and flowerdecorated garden, the favourite singing-bird *&i spaniel, and the small but well-chosen collection of books, arc enjoyments beyond the means of the idle, and not the choice of the tavern-hunter.

DOCTOR FAUSTUS.

(musical, Dramatic, And Literary.)

BY E. HISCOCK MALCOLM.

How largely the stage, alike musical and dramatic, derives its aliment from the literature of diablerie may be judged by the most cursory glance at any one of Mr. Lacy's catalogues of modern plays, or Mr. Davidson's Opera Libretti. The Fausts, Mephistopliilcs', Robert-theDevils, Zampas, Don Giovannis, Manfreds, the Devils on Two Sticks, Little Devils, Leviathans, Satans, Belzebubs, Evil Eyes, the Angel and Devils, Olympic Devils, &c, &c, chequer the catalogues of Lacy, Cumberland, and Davidson with a lurid effect of nomenclature which we should feel it unpleasant to contemplate anywhere else than by open daylight, and in a bookseller's shop. The aforesaid theatrical publisher (Mr. Lacy) having, the other day, satisfied our curiosity by affording us the ran of his library of plays (which includes productions in the drama as early as Gammer Gurton's Needle, and as late as the last version of Faust), electrified us by placing in our hands a volume of a most unexpected character; this was nothing less than the "Memoirs of the Devil!"—and the same obligingbibliopolistalso called our attention to proofs of the present popularity of the diabolic drama. He produced a heap of those illuminated scrolls of the drama, commonly called playbills, to show that, while he spoke, there were being played or enacted, contemporaneously, at the several theatres of the town tbe following "stock pieces," developing the devil's character in every phase, and idiosyncrasy; id est — a Faust at Drury Lane, a Der Freischutt, as an opera, at Her Majesty's Theatre; two Der Frieschutz,' as burlesques, at two of the minor theatres; a Don Giovanni as a musical extravaganza, at another minor house; and a Lady and the Devil at the Adelphi. Indubitably, we reflected, there is something fascinating in Satanic subjects for the stage—it must be a vestige of the Old Adamite (and Adullamite) spirit within us, which, cleaving to our poor humanity, fills it with admiration and awe of the supernatural and the terrible!—delights it with the contemplation of the Evil One's attractive but deluding powers—the tempter's subtle character and sardonic intelligence f

We are free to confess that we can comprehend and even admire the terrible grandeur and the scathing intellect of Goethe's Mephistophiles as eliminated by those very matrices or types which were the invention of the devil, or, rather, of one whose intellect he is supposed to have inspired, viz., Doctor Faustus! We love, too, to listen to the mysterious "Faust" music of

Spohr and Gounod. We see in their operas scenes delineative of all that gratifies the senses —scenes of voluptuous enjoyment! earthly pleasures! forbidden and fearful joys! We say we are charmed with the music that illustrates the scenes which the tempter throws in the way of his forever-proscribed pupil. We know the unsubstantial and deceptive character of the meretricious world, conjured up for the behests of the condamne': yet we are not deterred from recognizing the brilliant art which throws around the creations of demon power the graces, refinements, and delights of music! However, there is one thing we never could tolerate in the musical "Faust," and that is the Mephistophiles; he being at all times converted on the stage into such a horrid griffin of a character. Doubtless this defect arises from the usual histrionic deficiencies of the baritone vocalist who plays the part; but it is a blot on Gounod's magnificent opera. Du reste, the opera is charming in its scenery, dreamy and deliciously soft in melody, full of character and couleur locale. The very first scene of all bespeaks for the work the highest kind of interest, by the introduction of such a congeries of fine and noble choruses, the music of which illustrates or pourtrays the successive happy incidents of the German khermis or fair. A chorus of students is followed by one of village maidens, and to the latter succeeds the weird-like chorus of toothless old men. Then comes, if we remember rightly, the military chorus or march; however, the tout ensemble of this remarkable chain-work of choral music remains with us "a memory"—a recollection of delicious melodies and beautiful harmonies that we would not willingly let die! We recall with pleasure, too, the lively German ballad of Margaret at her spinning-wheel, the "King of Thule;" the spirited chorus of Valentine's troop on their return home from the wars; the brilliant concerted music in the " garden scene"; the fine scene in which the lovers, with impassioned expression, plight their troth to each other. We may not dwell longer upon the opera, as we have yet to consider other parts of our subject.

The idea has never been absent from our minds when witnessing the dramatic form of representing the Faust of Goethe, how utterly beyond and aboveall powers of at least histrionic characterisation the work has proved to be. We can suggest an excuse and an apology for the mere playwright who adapts the poem to the stage, by asking, How can the stage and its mimic forces indicate the fancy and the wonderful play of thought which irradiate with meteoric effect scenes and dialogue replete with wit, satire, humour, and sentiment? We ask again, How can the accessories of the mimic scene, mechanical as they necessarily are, evolve the elements of the "divine comedy "— a term that may as reasonably be employed to designate Goethe's Faust, as Dante's masterpiece. Amongst actors who has adequately expressed the demoniac genius of Mephistophiles? That Mr. Phelps skilfully and faithfully represents the mere material character of the demon we grant; but he is called upon to do no more by the dramatist. We submit a succinct epitome of the poem, and leave to the reader to judge how nearly its realisation may be carried out on the stage and by the actors.

"In the first part of the poem or drama, Faust has seen the life of a man. In the second part he is sung to sleep by the fairies on a Swiss grass plot, and awakes at sunrise to a future of hope. Then Mephistophiles is active in a satire of life at the emperor's court, followed by a mask and more satire. Faust calls up Helen of Troy for the Emperor, and causes an explosion by bis rapture at her classical beauty. Then he is in bed in his study, where his old pupil Wagner is great, and, after long search how to make a man, has produced a homunculus—an imp who carries Faust and Mephistophiles to see a classical Walpurgis Night. Then there are Helena, Sparta, Feudal Castle, German Empire, Arcadia, and modern poetry typified in Euphorium, with special reference to Lord Byron. There is discussion on geology; a battle won by magic ; Faust—active in his last days, spectre - haunted — dies strong in his energies. Then there is a strange contest between devils and angels, who carry away with them the immortal part of Faust; a penitent angel, formerly Margaret, asks to be bis teacher, and love leads him onward. In the second part of Faust (utterly unactable, and really without dramatic relation to the first) there is a symbolizing, through Faust, of the German people, and of all German speculations and aspirations."

It is recorded that it was never the wish of Goethe that his chef d'eeuvre, should be converted to the purposes of the theatre. The first performance of Faust as a drama in Germany proved unsatisfactory. The students of Leipsic applauded it on the occasion of its production, but Goethe characterised the experiment as a mistake, saying that" the devil ought not to be painted on the wall." The Dresden Town Council, after its first production, forbad Faust from being acted at Leipsic.

Much praise and compliment have been passed on the "Drury" version of Faust—the romantic drama of Mr. Bernard ; but we have nowhere met with the acknowledgment that there exists in modern poetical literature a very fine translation of Goethe's poem by Mr. Theodore Martin. We believe that without this production the new play would not have been the creditable piece of literary manufacture it is

considered on all hands to be. Moreover, the costumes and poses of Mephistophiles and Faust being adopted from "Redtch's Outlines," are invested with the fine fancy of a most original German artist. Redtch's " studies" of Faust, of Mephistopheles, that mocking spirit of evil, of Margaret, the simple, trustful maiden, " who is wrecked with all her wealth of peace, innocence, and love in the mighty elemental conflict of the powers of good and evil"—have attained by their fancy and suggestiveness a world-wide celebrity; and it was a happy idea that sought them as models of style and character for the stage. Much of this it is beyond, we say, the command of the actors to reflect. Even the simple character (by comparison with Mephistophiles) of the re-habilitated student Faust finds no adequate representative on the stage; surely Mr. Edmund Phelps is not one, that actor not even caring to pourtray the high animal spirits—the elan—that would be manifested by one who has received a new lease of life, and is invested with youth, manly beauty, and all the joyous capacities of the young heart and pristine life, health, wealth, and power.

The general tone of the dialogue of Mr. Bayle Bernard's drama is somewhat monotonous; and the characterisation is, with the exception of Mephistophiles, colourless; but the piece is occasionally lightened by flashes of wit and satire contributed by the Evil One himself; and a vein of fine reflection runs through the parts of Faust, Margaret, and Mephistophiles. The character of Margaret is one of much natural beauty and tenderness: it is really a reminiscence of the Gretchen of Goethe. Mrs. Herman Vezin displays the true genius of the actress in her perfect comprehension and realisation of the part. The simplicity and purity of Margaret in her affections and her love—the remorse with which she contemplates her shame—are depicted by Mrs. Veiin alike with versatility and power. The idiosyncrasy of the actress happens to be exactly adapted to the part she performs in the instance of Margaret.

It is, however, chiefly in the material surroundings of the piece that we recognise its most popular elements. The grand tableaux of the Walpurgis Night realise the scenes of diablerie and faerie life with a supernatural effectiveness that strikes the spectators with terror, and even horror. Indeed the spectacle, scenery, and music of the Drury Lane F<mt are upon so broad a scale as to appear almost to swamp the mere dramatic elements. Weber, Spohr, Mendelssohn, Bishop, Haydn, have all been laid under contribution to supply the Faust music, which is certainly beautiful: particularly so are the choruses. The romantic situations of the drama are produced on the stage of Old Drury with surpassing effectiveness, the scenery fully interpreting the air-built visions of the poet. The Brocken tableaux are grand in their picturesque rendering by BeverleyA sense of the deepest desolation, of the most depressing sadness, is produced by the appearance of Margaret to Faust as a shadow standing on an iaolated peak of the witch-haunted mountain. As Faust pursues the syren who is leading him on to destruction, from crag to crag of the Brocken, we feel that the temptress, with all her voluptuous beauty and fascinations, is, however beautiful, a spirit of evil leading her

victim on to his destiny—perdition! What a desolation is the witches' haunt at one moment— what a scene of weird, supernatural revelry and riot (like the route of Comus) in the next! The apotheosis of Margaret crowns the whole. It is a highly fanciful scene, suggestive of beatification.

OUR PARIS CORRESPONDENT.

My Dbar C ,

Dancing, dining, and singing continue right and left in every nook and corner of our festive capital, and carnival is galloping fast away without leaving us a moment for breathing. Balls at the Tuileries, balls at the Hotel de Ville, balls at all the Ministers of State, at all the grand personages in Paris, both in the real "Monde" and in the "demi Monde." It is a regular whirl of pleasure, and the more our moralists cry out against the pomp and luxury displayed, the more pomp and luxury go ahead and invent new iplendours for our insatiable appetites, until one wonders what fresh magnificence can be invented. And as for masqued balls, it is a complete "furia." Until this season the opera alone opened its doors to this display of human foily; but this winter, every theatre nearly gives a series of masqued balls, and are crowded with company eager for this kind of pleasure. It is really carious to pass in the streets at night, and to see the medley of grotesque and sometimes not very choice costumes paddling through the mud to the rendezvous of wild mirth, and, too frequently, haunts of vice. As usual all kinds of anecdotes, true or imagined, are current on the mishaps of honest women curious to be spectators of these scenes of revelry, and whose hushands refuse to conduct them there. Thus one night two "dominos" were seen hurrying down "rue de Rivoli," closely followed by a man who seemed to annoy them very much, addressing them in the language permitted, it appears, in carnival. In vain the "dominos" cast frightened glances around in search of a cab, the only means of escape; all were full. A gentleman from one, however, seeing their embarrassment, called out to the cabman to stop, and alighting, «ry politely offered his cab to the ladies, "for I see what is the matter," said he, casting a furious look on the fellow behind them. "Oh! Monaieur, how very kind!" "Don't name it, ladies; it is a great pleasure; step in I beg."— And with many bows and smiles our dominos mounted and ordered: "bal de l'Opera!" complimenting themselves on their good luck, and full of gratitude for the very great politeness of the "Monsieur." Ten minutes after the cab stopped at the door of the Opera, the dominos lighted :—" How much, 'oocher?'" Cocher nrewouthjs watch, reckoned a moment—"41

francs, mesdames." "41 francs," cried the dominos, "for bringing us here from rue de Rivoli!" "Yes, and for driving the 'bourgeois' (the gentleman) about all day, besides the 20 francs I lent him because he could not change the 1,000 franc note. Come pay, for you won't hoof me." The dominos had only 25 francs between them. A "sergent de ville" was called. In vain the ladies protested that they did not know the gentleman who had resigned bis cab to them; they were conducted to the "commissaire de police." There they related what had happened, and one lady gave lier name and begged the "commissaire" to send to ber husband, a man occupying an elevated position, and

who was at that momentattbe ambassador's,

at a diplomatic soiree, thinking his wife at home. The commissaire sent to the husband, who, exasperated at what he heard, refused to go and claim his wife, but determined to leave ber a night locked up for punishment. A young man at the ball heard the tale, and very gallantly went to the poor ladies' relief, paid the 41 francs, and set them at liberty. Our dominos' curiosity had received a damper: they immediately returned home, and when Monsieur N., exulting in his barbarity, entered bis bedroom at three in the morning, after the soire'e, he found his wife fast asleep in bed. "Who set you at liberty?" stormed be. The innocent dear opened her eyes in wonder, and burst out laughing when her husband related the message he had received at the soire'e. "It is a carnival hoax, no doubt, dear; some one has been amusing himself at your expense." "Laisse mat dormir, je ('en prie," and the good man took it for granted that he had been hoaxed, and so he had.

There is to be a fancy ball at the Tuileries during the jours gras. The costumes of Henry II.'s time will be imposed. Their Majesties gave a scientific/e/e the other night. Monsieur Leverrier rambled amongst the stars, of course. A few nights after, I/Abbe" Moigno treated of electricity ,and Monsieur Achard explained his electric brake for railroads. It is extraordinary that tbis frein—the best by far of any yet invented, and which stops in less than half the time of any other—has not been adopted on all railroads. The splendid throne-room in the Tuileries was turned into a laboratory, the waxlights were extinguished, and the; electric light

« AnteriorContinuar »