« ForrigeFortsæt »
judge from the Number of the specimen before us (103, Feb. 17), must have been in existence about a year. Casting a glance over its contents, which are, of course, miscellaneous, embracing every sort of topic and subject, we perceive one short article, which invites us to transcribe it, as having claims both to general and particular interest ; and being a matter of scientific importance, as such it ought to have found a place in our Journal of Facts :
“ THE THEATRE.- A just subject of complaint among the visitors to the Hamburg theatre, has for a long time been the very imperfect manner in which the house has been warmed, and more particularly the disagreeable current of air which was felt on the rising of the curtain. The effect of this has been most severely felt during the course of the present season, when the cold has been as low as 170 Réaumur (6° below zero Fahrenheit); but the recurrence of any similar subject of complaint seems likely to be effectually prevented for the future. By means of an ingenious apparatus, invented by Mr. Sylvester, of London, and applied by Mr. Stedman Whitwell, an English engineer, whose name the present arrangement is likely to introduce in a very favourable manner in Germany, the whole of the interior of the theatre, comprising a space of nearly a million of cubic feet, was yesterday evening effectually maintained at a temperature of from 10 to 15° Réaumur (55 to 66° Fahrenheit), and the current of air so justly complained of, completely disappeared. This is the first time, we believe, that a similar achievement has been effected in any country; and so far from any danger of fire being connected with the arrangement, an additional security has been effected; for the temperature at which the interior of the house will constantly be kept, will prevent the possibility, even in the severest winter, of the reservoirs and water-pipes freezing, as has already been repeatedly the case in the course of the present season. The strictest inquiries of the police have been made to ascertain the perfect safety of the apparatus ; and it was only after a satisfactory result had been obtained to these inquiries, that its present application was authorized."
The performance of French plays in London must have a considerable influence in promoting the acquisition of the French language and literature ; and in this respect particularly, we have to thank M. Gombert for the publication of “ The French Drama.” The best plays of Racine, Corneille, and Moliere, may now be had separately, with excellent notes on the phraseology of the French language, and the English interpretation of the different passages. Besides schools (for which this publication is chiefly intended), the frequenters of the French theatre will find it extremely useful whenever any of the chefs-d'ouvre of that stage, above mentioned, are performed.
BERNAYS' GERMAN POETICAL ANTHOLOGY, This is a book, by a foreigner, that will well bear to be recommended. In the first place, a good publication of the kind was wanted by the students of German language and literature, the number of whom, as we believe, is fast increasing amongst usy
although the proportion of those who judge and talk of the latter, from translated works, is still far too great. The collection consists of Odes and other short pieces of almost every description of metrical composition in the German tongue. These are prefaced by a short, but instructive outline, of the history of German poetry; and with brief notices of the authors from whose pages the compiler has made his extracts. The selections, as well as regards the merit in composition, as attention to the choice of pieces calculated for readers of all ages, have been made with great judgment. The arrangement of the pieces according to the scale of their increasing difficulty, if it pretend not to the praise of novelty, deserves, at any rate, to be commended for its utility,
From foreign books we naturally turn to foreign lands. Were we about to start on a tour to the countries of classical recollections (and can we help envying the man engaged in preparing for such an undertaking?), we should certainly take the dimensions, in length and breadth, of the Eton COMPARATIVE ATLAS OF ANCIENT AND MODERN GEOGRAPHY, by Arrowsmith, to our trunk-maker. It is a most admirable article in the equipment of a traveller; and we are only astonished how such a work can have been dispensed with for such a length of time since “ the Continent has been opened.” Like most other modest works, this also abounds in merit. While it professes to be for the use of the Eton School, the greatest explorer in or out of the Travellers' Club (against which, by-the-bye, complaints of dandy propensities have been loud and deep for some time past) might derive instruction from it. The work contains twenty-six pair of comparative maps (the one ancient, and the other modern, of each pair), and a single map of the Western Hemisphere. The latest discoveries, and the best-substantiated opinions, have been adopted ; the delineation and etching are remarkable for their clearness and beauty. The Atlas itself, moreover, is of the exact size which admits of its combining portability with the greatest distinctness ; the maps given most in detail—the most interesting, those of Greece and Italy, are so given-are on a scale varying, in different plates, between twelve and twenty geographical miles to the inch. For the exercise of learners, a set of blank maps, in outline, to be filled in by the student, accompanies the Atlas.
We often hear it said that there is no encouragement to the aspirants in the walks of poetry—that the public will not purchase the commodity—that booksellers turn up their noses at two thousand lines, as if there were no mind and oil expended on their production. We know not how this matter is; but, certainly, if the demand be small there is no falling off in the supply.
We have ten goodly volumes of verse at this moment on our table. Mr. Bayly has printed “Fifty Lyrical Ballads,” and we are indebted to him for a private copy. We could add nothing to their popularity by reprinting any one of these agreeable productions. “ The Harp of Inisfail," dedicated to Mr. O'Connell, must be a very satisfactory production to the friends of the harper. “ The Sorrows of Rosalie” have been praised to the echo, and they deserve it for the beauty of some of the
the story might have been better chosen. “ Scenes of War” are not very striking-yet quite enough so to make us sick of war. The author, in one of his minor poems, says “ there's nothing true but love." That is a mistake. It is true that war is the most stupid and brutal propensity of civilized man. “ Montmorency” is a tragic drama—" the first of a series.” The dialogue is conducted in the following succinct and explicit manner :
Chat. By whom were these reports ?
A friend from Paris.
“ I stir him to some deed of perdition.” The “ Dews of Castalie” are full of sighs and tears, put together in the most enlivening and natural manner in the world. For instance :
The HARP OF TEARS.
Was amid the Nine bright Sisters' choir,
It fell on the strings of a Muse's lyre.
But the warm drop gave them a heart beside ;
Ever since it was wet by his tearful bride. “ The Opening of the Sixth Seal,” and “Poetical Sketches from the Historical Books of the Old Testament," are poems on Sacred Subjects, of which, as it appears to us, the success might have been as safely predicated, as of Mr. Montgomery's “ Omnipresence.”“ Belgic Pastorals," by Francis Glasse, Esq., is a glorious book. How shall we repay Mr. G. for the delight he has afforded us! The truth, the nature of the poem, constitute its great charm. The Belgic shepherds talk as charmingly as the shepherds of most pastorals ; and really they are most innocent and virtuous personages. The very arguments of the pastorals (turn to that of the fifth as a specimen) share the beautiful simplicity that pervades the whole work. The smaller poems of Mr.Glasse's collection are equally interesting :
Which I, in my boyhood enjoy'd;
I find that I cannot avoid.
Those innocent pleasures do seek;
Who's honest, contented, and meek.
Nor envy, nor strife, stings his heart;
As fate to this swain does impart.
For princes their favours do show;
The day, that a court I first knew.
If fate will those pleasures restore,
Which I, in my boyhood enjoy'd,
'Tis princes and courts I'll avoid ! Who would trouble “the sweet shady side of Pall-Mall” after this Mr. Glasse is not, however, uniformly excellent. He has condescended to copy inferior authors, instead of drawing upon the richness of his own original thoughts, and most felicitous modes of expression. For example :
“ Silence is the best of lovers,
Be my love by actions known ;
All the influence of your own." The words in Italics are in Voltaire's Lines to Lady Hervey. How easy is it to perceive the difference between such hackneyed scribblers as Voltaire, and fresh and vigorous poets, such as Mr. Glasse
But we turn to inore sober matters.
A SECOND JUDGMENT OF BABYLON THE GREAT. The celebrity of the first series of this work, under the title of
Babylon the Great, or Men and Things in the British Capital," relieves us of the necessity of furnishing the present volumes with a formal introduction to our readers. Few of those readers, we think, will be so partial and unjust as to refuse the cadet (really a deserving stripling) a place at table with the frère ainé.-It cannot be denied that the family resemblance is strong, and from the topics on which both elder and younger delight to entertain their company, no less than the stern, serious, and inspiring manner in which they discuss the subjects on which they animadvert, it is evident that the minds of the two were cast in the same mould.
But to facts. The principal subjects which, in the two new volumes, fall under the lash of the satirist, if any picture so devoid of caricature and ridicule---so closely adhering to the truth-50 faithful to the nature of the abuses held up to view in all their naked ugliness, can be called satire-are the following :--the operation of our law practices, whether in matters of civil process, or in criminal affairs, or in police transactions [Mr. Hume will do well to recommend the first chapter of the first volume of his countryman's second series of lucubrations to the attention of his hearers in the legislature]—the Babylonian system of banking, a monster of deformities—hells and theatres--Sunday occupations-[items all affording abundant matter for the censor]; and, lastly, three chapters of miscellaneous iniquities, in learned subdivisions of Iniquities Alpha, Iniquities Beta, and Iniquities Gamma [Iniquities Omega alas ! we look for in vain].
With regard to the execution, we have already hinted at the severity of tone which pervades the work. The descriptions of the popular abuses and vices of our overgrown capital cannot be certainly termed lively; but they are just—they shock without going so far as to disgust--they excite abhorrence of the practices they expose MARCH, 1819.
without so far mortifying as to cause us to turn from the mirror. The forte of the author is clearly that of dissertation rather than of description, and hence his work is less amusing than it might have been. This bent also leads him into occasional paradoxes, and hence in his resolution to keep the dark side of the picture ever before him, he sometimes draws conclusions not quite authorized by his premises. On the whole however, the work will be read with interest and in many respects is calculated to do much good. The observations on the state of the theatres we recommend to the serious attention of all whom it may concern—the lovers of the drama more especially.
The following is but too faithful a picture of a crying evil.
Unless the individual, or the party, engage a whole box, they may, for the whole evening, be compelled to hear language, and see gestures, which even ordinary delicacy cannot endure; and when the hour of half-price lets loose the thoughtless and untutored youth of the Babylon, the scene becomes loose beyond description. This half-price is, indeed, the grand curse of ihe theatres, the fertile cause of the profits of the depraved, both without and within the theatre. Giddy youths who have just left the comparative purity of the country, or shaken off the control of their parents, bands of persons who have quaffed themselves into a ripeness for being vicious, with those who hope to profit by these, throng into all parts of the house, and, by the irregularity of their conduct, sometimes render it altogether impossible to attend to the play. In some rare instances, when it proceeds to an outrageous height, the parties are turned out of the theatre, or taken into custody by the constables and officers; but in these cases, there is some danger that the cure shall be worse than the disease; for the ejection, or the capture, occasions a disturbance, the very thing which the thieves want, and they fail not to make use of it to the cost of the unsuspecting.
It would, perhaps, be illiberal to the public, and it would certainly be injurious to the treasuries of the theatres, as these establishments are now conducted, to abolish this cheap admission, at an hour, and for purposes, when, and for which, morality and good taste equally forbid admission ; but, really, while it is continued, it would be too much to hope for any thing like a respectable drama, either as to audience, or as to acting. One cannot attend without being compelled to notice vice in the most broad, open, and unblushing character, apparently encouraged as a thriving and regular part of the establishment; and therefore it becomes impossible to think of the theatre, without associating with it this accompaniment. Nor can there be any doubt that this has caused the drama to be deserted by the really respectable part of the British nation; and this being the case, the managers have been compelled to lower the taste of the entertainments to that of the audience. Refined sentiment, elegant language, and chaste and graceful attitudes and gestures, would not be relished by the ladies of the saloons and the loungers in the lobbies. These have humours and tastes of their own; and as they are the “nature" to which “ the mirror is held up,” the mirror would be deserted if it did not show their own features.
They manage these things better in France. The whole continent, indeed, proves that decency of demeanor may be insisted on without undue infringement of the liberty of the subject. We choose the following extract as forcibly illustrating a subject of which we have before treated, and which cannot possibly go on long without reformarion--that of crime and police :
Notwithstanding the dismal stories of “holes in the wall," “ pitfalls in the pavement," and all the horrible things which appear so formidiable in