Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub

Had been my twilight's solitary joy,
Would henceforth be a sweet and breathing bond
Between me and my kind. Orphan unloved,
I had been lonely from my childhood's hour,
Childhood whose very happiness is love:
But that was over now ; my lyre would be
My own heart's true interpreter, and those
To whom my song was dear, would they not bless
The hand that waken’d it? I should be loved
For the so gentle sake of those soft cords
Which mingled others' feelings with mine own.

Vow'd I that song to meek and gentle thoughts, To tales that told of sorrow and of love, To all our nature's finest touches, all That wakens sympathy: and I should be Alone no longer; every wind that bore, And every lip that breath'd one strain of mine, Henceforth partake in all my joy and grief. Oh! glorious is the gifted poet's lot, And touching more than glorious : 'tis to be Companion of the heart's least earthly hour; The voice of love and sadness, calling forth Tears from their silent fountain : 'tis to have Share in all nature's loveliness ; giving flowers A life as sweet, more lasting than their own; And catching from green wood and lofty pine Language mysterious as musical; Making the thoughts, which else had only been Like colours on the morning's earliest hour, Immortal, and worth immortality; Yielding the hero that eternal name For which he fought; making the patriot's deed A stirring record for long after time; Cherishing tender thoughts, which else had pass'd Away like tears ; and saving the loved dead From Death's worst part---its deep forgetfulness.

From the first moment when a falling leaf,
Or opening bud, or streak of rose-touch'd sky,
Waken'd in me the flush and flow of song,
I gave my soul entire unto the gift
I deem'd mine own, direct from heaven; it was
The hope, the bliss, the energy of life;
I had no hope that dwelt not with my lyre,
No bliss whose being grew not from my lyre,
No energy undevoted to my lyre.
It was my other self, that had a power ;
Mine, but o'er which I had not a control.
At times it was not with me, and I felt
A wonder how it ever had been mine :
And then a word, a look of loveliness,
A tone of Music, call'd it into life ;
And song came gushing, like the natural tears,
To check whose current does not rest with us.

Had I lived ever in the savage woods, Or in some distant island, which the sea

To hear the melancholy sounds decay, And think (for thoughts are life's great human links) With wind and wave guards in deep loneliness : Had my eye never on the beauty dwelt Of human face, and my ear never drank The music of a human voice; I feel My spirit would have pour'd itself in song, Have learn'd a language from the rustling leaves, The singing of the birds, and of the tide. Perchance, then, happy had I never known Another thought could be attach'd to song Than of its own delight. Oh ! let me pause Over this earlier period, when my heart Mingled its being with its pleasures, fill'd With rich enthusiasm, which once flung Its purple colouring o'er all things of earth, And without which our utmost power of thought But sharpens arrows that will drink our blood. Like woman's soothing influence o'er man, Enthusiasm is upon the mind; Softening and beautifying that which is Too harsh and sullen in itself. How much I loved the painter's glorious art, which forms A world like, but more beautiful, than this ; Just catching nature in her happiest mood ! How drank I in fine poetry, which makes The hearing passionate, fill’d with memories Which steal from out the past like rays from clouds ! And then the sweet songs of my native vale, Whose sweetness and whose softness call'd to mind The perfume of the flowers, the purity Of the blue sky; oh, how they stirr'd my soul! Amid the many golden gifts which heaven Has left, like portions of its light, on earth, None hath such influence as music bath. The painter's hues stand visible before us In power and beauty; we can trace the thoughts Which are the workings of the poet's mind : But music is a mystery, and viewless Even when present, and is less man's act, And less within bis order; for the hand That can call forth the tones, yet cannot tell Whither they go, or if they live or die, When floated once beyond his feeble ear; And then, as if it were an unreal thing, The wind will sweep from the neglected strings As rich a swell as ever minstrel drew.

A poet's word, a painter's touch, will reach
The innermost recesses of the heart,
Making the pulses throb in unison
With joy or grief, which we can analyze ;
There is the cause for pleasure and for pain :
But music moves us, and we know not why;
We feel the tears, but cannot trace their source.
Is it the language of some other state,
Born of its memory ? For what can wake
The soul's strong instinct of another world,
Like Music ? Well with sadness doth it suit,

And mingle with our feelings, even so
Will the heart's widest pulses sink to rest,

How have I loved, when the red evening fill'd Our temple with its glory, first, to gaze On the strange contrast of the crimson air, Lighted as if with passion, and flung back, From silver vase and tripod rich with gems, To the pale statues round, where human life Was not, but beauty was, which seemed to have Apart existence from humanity : Then, to go forth where the tall waving pines Seem'd as behind them rolld a golden sea, Immortal and eternal; and the boughs, That darkly swept between me and its light, Were fitting emblems of the worldly cares That are the boundary between us and heaven; Meanwhile, the wind, a wilful messenger Lingering amid the flowers on his way, At intervals swept past in melody, The lutes and voices of the choral hymn Contending with the rose-breath on his wing! Perhaps it is these pleasures' chiefest charm, They are so indefinable, so vague. From earliest childhood all too well aware Of the uncertain nature of our joys, It is delicious to enjoy, yet know No after consequence will be to weep. Pride misers with enjoyment, when we have Delight in things that are but of the mind : But half humility when we partake Pleasures that are half wants, the spirit pines And struggles in its fetters, and disdains The low base clay to which it is allied. But here our rapture raises us : we feel What glorious power is given to man, and find Our nature's nobleness and attributes, Whose heaven is intellect; and we are proud To think how we can love those things of earth Which are least earthly; and the soul grows pure In this high communing, and more divine.

This time of dreaming happiness pass'd by, Another spirit was within my heart; I drank the maddening cup of praise, which grew Henceforth the fountain of my life ; I lived Only in others' breath ; a word, a look, Were of all influence on my destiny: If praise they spoke, 'twas sunlight to my soul ; Or censure, it was like the scorpion's sting."

Memoirs of Mrs. Siddons, interspersed with Anecdotes of Authors and

Actors. By James Bouden, Esq. London: Colburn.

[ocr errors]

If we were to look at this work merely in a literary point of view, we should say that a more contemptible production in point of style, description, reasoning or judgment, never issued from the press. The author's defects are glaring in themselves, and are rendered more offensive by the self-conceit which pervades the whole. His mode of stringing sentences together, seem to be formed on the model of the * Biographical Memoir of the late Ackerstone Bownscourt .“ Pip," inserted in one of the recent numbers of the New Monthly Magazine. Take the following as an example :

“ Davies's countenance was Garrick's, with all its fire quenched. His countenance was placid and genteel, and in my youth, I used to call in upon him, and enjoy his kind and communicative spirit, in the small parlour behind his shop in Russell Street, Covent " Garden."

His description of the actors whom he criticizes, are equally involved, and considerably more obscure, so as almost to deprive this, the best portion of the work, of its little merit.

The book, however, will be read for the sake of the individual whose memoirs it purposes to contain; and low as our opinion is of the abilities of the compiler, we are ready to admit, that it is not unamusing from the glimpses it affords us of the manners, and persons, and merits, of the by-gone heroes and heroines of the Drama, and from the notice of plays long since gone “ to the tomb of all “ the Capulets.” If any one expects to find in it an account of Mrs. Siddons's life, with any private anecdotes not generally known, or even a sound and critical examination of her merits, he will be mistaken. Mr. Boaden forgets his heroine in himself; and the work, from the manner in which it is conducted, should have been entitled, “ James Boaden's Recollections of the Drama, and Dramatic Authors “ and Performers, interspersed with allusions to Mrs. Siddons." We really must quit the attempt to review his work, for we find, that the influence of his style communicates itself to us, and makes us dull and bewildered. We shall leave the reader to judge from a few extracts of the merits and demerits.

“ My friend John Bannister gave me the following accurate detail of his own reception by Garrick; and even in the narrative veneration of the actor, the reader may indulge a smile at the vanity of the manager,

I was,' says the admirable comedian,' a Student of Painting in the Royal Academy, when I was introduced to Mr. Garrick---under whose superior genius the British Stage then flourished beyond all former example.

“One morning I was shewn into his dressing-room, when he was before the glass preparing to shave---a white night-cap covered his forehead---his chin and cheeks were enveloped in soap-suds---a razor-cloth was placed upon his left shoulder, and he turned and smoothed the shining blade with so much dexterity, that I longed for a beard, to imitate his incomparable method of handling the razor.

“ Eh! well---what, young man----0---eh! You are still for the stage? Well, now, what character do you, should you like to---eh?'

" I should like to attempt Hamlet, Sir.'
* Eh! what, Hamlet the Dane? Zounds! that's a bold---a---Have you studied

6

6

6

the part ?' 'I have, Sir.' 'Well, don't mind my shaving. Speak your speech, the speech to the Ghost--- I can hear you. Come, let's have a roll and a tumble.' (A phrase of his often used to express a probationary specimen.)

“ After a few hums and haws, and a disposing of my hair, su that it might stand on end, like quills upon the fretful porcupine,' I supposed my father's ghost before me, arm'd cap à piè,' and off I started.' Angels and ministers of grace defend us !

(He wiped the rasor. Be thou a spirit of health or goblin damn'd!

(He strapped it. Bring with thee airs from heav'n, or blasts from hell !

(He shaved on.
Thou com'st in such a questionable shape,
That I will speak to thee. I'll call thee Hamlet !
King, Father, Royal Dane !---0, answer me !
Let me not burst in ignorance.'

(He lathered again. I concluded with the usual

Say, why is this ? wherefore? what should we do ?' but still continued in my attitude, expecting the praise due to an exhibition, which I was booby enough to fancy was only to be equalled by himself. But, to my eternal mortification, he turned quick upon me, brandished the razor in his hand, and thrusting his half-shaved face close up to mine, he made such horrible mouths at me, that I thought he was seized with insanity, and I shewed more natural symptoms of being frightened at him, than at my father's Ghost. • Angels and ministers! yaw! whaw! maw!' However, I soon perceived my vanity by his ridicule. He finished shaving, put on his wig, and, with a smile of good-nature, he took me by the hand... Come,' said he,

young gentleman,---eh, let us see now what we can do. He spoke the speech---hm he spoke it, those who have heard him never can forget. There,' said he, ' young gentleman ; and when you try that speech again, give it more passion, and less mouth.'

• Bannister's reverence for his great master might not lead him to inquire how oj ten this scene had been played in the same place before? But he could hardly fail to perceive that the tutor on the present occasion was at least as fond of exhibition as the pupil."

The following is a favorable specimen of his criticism, in which we entirely coincide, and which we wish managers and actors would attend to :

“ We are so fond of this fancied Acudemus of ours, the play-house, that we have begun to invest the player himself with a sort of philosophic dignity; from one extreme we have passed to another, and as Johnson deemed a player too low to be honourable even with gratitude for the good he had done, so we seem to think him morally too high to be endured in the common disorders of his species. In the case of an actor, whose habits of life were long known to us---when his profligacy could surprise no one, and the other parties were none of the purest, a critic of the new school turns round upon the luckless peripatetic (stroller), and demands in a voice of thunder, how he dares to be a culprit, with the moral sentiments of Shakspeare nightly flowing from his lips? But if the reader will attentively peruse the CLIId sonnet of Shakspeare, and refer its subject to the feelings of some persons alive when he wrote it, he will see that he might turn in this way upon the great moral teacher himself, and ask how he dared to display unblemished purity to the admiration and study of the world ?

He who like Shakspeare embraced the sum of life, and wrote in a manner little artificial and systematic, supplies not the formal but the just demands of every occasion ; he cannot therefore but abound in beauties both moral and descriptive ; some of these, dragged from their proper places, become the favourites of the superficial, and pass as a common coin in conversation. They give an appearance of reading to idleness, and of taste to 'coarse complexions. Their recitation is usually attended by a seeming rush of sensibility, and forms one of the grateful triumphs of affectation over the laborious and unlettered.

“ Even on the stage these beauties sometimes produce a ludicrous effect---ludicrous I mean from the disproportion as to the cause. That part of the audience which has bad

He justitied Savage, because he thought him forsooth a nobleman, for not recording his obligations to Mrs. Oldfield's bounty,

« PředchozíPokračovat »