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Now, Madame Malibran changed most single noles into a dozen and even the best things 'she did were not quite free from this blemish. In the trio towards the close of the first act, she evinced much tenderness of expression certainly—but even there the eternal trill came in to spoil it. The best bit she gave in the whole opera, was one stanza of the celebrated song to the harp, in the third. That was very beautiful certainly : but the first stanza, the earlier part of which was touchingly given, had the old fault at the close of it; while the termination of the whole had the great blemish, that the voice did not fade away by degrees, which the sentiment and the music alike demanded-but that, instead, it sprang up into loudness almost approaching to vehemence : we will give the stanza:
Ma stanca alfin di spargere
Mesti sospiri e pianto,
Ahi ! di quel salce accanto !*
It is much more of the former, but certainly goes far higher than is at all usual, for one possessed of such low tones. She reaches, we think, almost the medium notes of an ordinary soprano-but anything beyond that is in falsetto. The chief beauty of her voice seems to us to lie in the sweetness and richness of its middle tone--in those parts of her scale which come within the mezzo soprano—and she also has a remarkable and very pleasing ease and liquidity of transition, which struck us as her most agreeable characteristic. Neither does she want power of voice; but it did not appear to us remarkable, though sufficient.
We need not say that, take the singing alone, we think Pasta has all the superiority that genius possesses over talent:-but take singing and acting together, and the distance is immeasurable. This conjoined inferiority was particularly remarkable in the finale of the first act. Desdemona's supplication to her father was one of the finest of Pasta's bursts, both vocal and dramatic.
We really were very near exclaiming “No, no, send for Pasta.” Madame Malibran is also singularly ungraceful in both movement and attitude ;-she flings her arms upward and her head backward at the same moment, in a manner which produces one of the most awkward effects possible. And Pasta !
It may be thought unfair, that we should have cited Pasta against her—but we did not. · Her friends all round the house were citing her against Pasta. We think it very probable that she is to be made the fashion-but we have reason to believe that this springs just as much from malicious motives towards Pasta, as from kindly ones towards Madame Malibran.-We have no prejudice ; we have spoken as we have felt ; and it will be observed that we have not attributed
* We subjoin the singularly unpoetical English version of the libretto.
But wearied at length of pouring forth
Her sighs and laments,
Breathed her last under that willow !
to her any natural blemish or defect. Nay, we believe very strongly that, young as she is, if she would reform the vices of her style, she would become a really fine singer. But if she listen only to the undistinguishing praises of her devotees, she will never be anything at all deserving that name.
Our fair and unbiassed judgment then of this lady is, that her style is essentially vicious, and that she is far from graceful ;-but we cheerfully admit that her voice is generally pleasing, and has some very eminent qualities. Her acting also is considerably above fear. But as for comparing her to Pasta !--they might as well compare Pompey to Cæsar. -Pompey was a talented person such as appears every generation-mutatis mutandis, so Malibran, so Sontag. But it takes a thousand years to produce a Cæsar, a Siddons, or a Pasta.
The real merit of the evening lay with Signor Donzelli in Otello. His performance of it musically was perfect-his voice seems to us to be richer and fuller than we had originally thought it. At all events nothing could be superior to him on Saturday. He acted also with great vigour and good taste. The only point we should criticise is, that we think he ought not to have hurried away the body of Desdemona so rapidly. Otello would have breathed one sigh over her, even then!
We perceived, in the circle, that a very indecent fashion is increasing of ladies going about with their shoulders naked. We are exceedingly glad of it
, for it will point out at once without further trouble which the indelicate women of your acquaintance are, and it will enable your female relations to shun them accordingly.
" We met but in one giddy dance,
Good night joined hands with greeting,
Before our second meeting."
Good night to thee, lady !-though many
Have joined in the dance of to-night,
Where all was seducing and bright;-
Thy form the most sylph-like of all,
That ere held a partner in thrall.
The waltz—the quadrille,--and the song-
The heartless "adieu" of the throng;
The heart that was throbbing with pleasure,
The eyelid that longed for repose,
The girls that were dreaming of beaux,
The coaches all driving away,–
And many a false one is gay;
Of conquests, as homeward she drives,
And some are gone back to their wives.
Is waiting, the last at the door,
That fell from your wreath, on the floor;
Though withered and faded its hue,
Of England—of Almack's—and you !
Our path be o'er mountain or sea,
When memory ceases to be;
Though toilsome and steep be the way,-
With a light that is dearer than day.
For aye on the lip they may be,-
And thoughts unexpressed—but still free!
And some for a husband too light ;-
Good night to thee, lady! -Good night.
THE EDITOR'S ROOM.
We have scarcely yet got over the nausea of the Catholic Questionand then the wind has been for three weeks in the East. May-day is every year getting more and more unpoetical—and the hawthorn will not blossom, by-and-by, till September, at the least. The world of books is beginning to look up, as the dealers in Muscovadoes say. Polemics are giving place to poetry ;—and twin novels in three volumes are dropping down once more upon us, like manna in the desert. Our taste, however, is satiated; and we must turn to more piquant food. We have three books on the science of eating before us.
The opposite quarters from which mankind have in general derived their viands and their cooks have so long been proverbial, that the apophthegm, though pithy, does not need to be repeated; neither is there any use for an attempt to prove that cooking is the grand characteristic of man,—the invariable stamp of the human race, and a stamp of which none of the other animals have the slightest lineament. Single-handed, and with such weapons as nature has furnished them, there are many animals capable of subduing the heroes of the human race; the dog is often more sagacious than his master, and the elephant than his keeper; and if we were to run over the whole catalogue, down to very minute tribes, we should find, that acting upon some particular instinct, or by some peculiar excellence of mechanical structure, man would be the jackdaw, from which if each of the others pulled its peculiar ornament, he would have small remainder to boast of. Compare his skill in architecture with the ant or the beaver,-his spinning-jennies with those of the spider or the silkworm, and what has he to boast of? Nay, in spite of all his sails and his steam,—in spite of his loadstone and his card, his star-gazing and his steering,-he is a very bungler in navigation. The salmon, after having ranged over hundreds of leagues, returns annually to the same river with unerring certainty, without any assistance of compass or of chart; the whale, despising all sails and all steam, but that which reeks from his own nostrils as he shoots along the deep, could circumnavigate the globe in less time than the swiftest vessel could sail round the island of Great Britain ; and the bee returns to its hive without any visible beacon to guide it along, its pathless course. But man has some superiority still; and that superiority centres in the grand and noble science of cookery.
Your lion is a Nimrod in hunting; but he never has been able to contrive a pasty, or to eat a smoking haunch with sweet sauce. Your fox is an excellent hand at purveying in sheep and poultry, but who ever heard of his cooking a chop, or devilling a drum-stick? Your shark is so fond of fish as to make Lent all the year round; and yet, during the whole six thousand years that he has been at practice, he has never pickled an anchovy, smoked a Finnon haddock, collared an eel, or hinted that his crimped-cod would taste better with oyster-sauce. Your crocodile and your caymen are the very aldermen of the deep in their love of turtle, and their large swallowing of it at a time ; and yet of all they have caught from the creation of the world, they never thought of making one basin of soup, or of washing it down and stilling its internal waves by that most glorious of all accompaniments, the cheering wine-punch.
No, they are gourmis, and in some animals you would imagine there are traits approaching to the genuine gourmandise, -as your weasel enjoys nothing but blood; and your raven and your vulture prefer their game when high: but in all this there is no science; and leaving the choicer engines of ancient or of modern art out of the question, the whole animal creation, man excepted, are not in possession of so much as a gridiron or a saucepani. They want the glorious admixture too. Foliage or fruit, flesh, fowl, or fish, they stick to the vocation of their fathers, with the same dogged and unimproving obstinacy as the Hin
doo sticks to ihe caste and the calling of his; and we do not believe that the animals of the nineteenth century have improved one tittle in their eating, since they were either all in or underneath the ark of the patriarch Noah. Man has the while done wonders; and if he has not absolutely created for himself a new world, he has made ten thousand combinations, the formation of the very simplest of which is above all the powers that nature was ever capable of exerting.
It is true that in all ages there have been persons who have affected to despise this the true glory of man; but there are many persons and things of whom the real merit is most clearly established by the opposition that is made to them. Grapes were not thrown out of cultivation in consequence of the slander of the fox; neither will turtle and champagne by the vituperations of all those lean and hungry persons who cry out against them—because with their utmost exertions they cannot reach so high. Physicians may denounce good cheer from a wholesome and reasonable motive; they know very well that in proportion as they can persuade other people to swallow physic, they themselves will be enabled to swallow food. But when any person out of the profession pronounces the least malediction on the table, you may be sure that it is envy; and that the very desire of that man's heart is an abundant dinner.
Poets have sung and cynics have said (and your poet and your cynic are remarkable for their involuntary abstinence and their vigour of spoon when invited to dinner)--they have sung and said, that “ Friendship is the sweetener of life, and the solder of society.". But no such thing: dining-dining to a proper breadth, and drinking to a proper depth after it—these are the operations that rivet man to man, or rather that weld the whole race, man, woman, and child, into one united and co-operating mass. Have March and April worked you with their east winds, till the blue devils have not left an ounce of flesh about your bones? Go and dine-dine daringly and drink deeply; exit the blues ; and to you the wind is in the softest south, and will lap you into an Elysium of balmy repose, the renovating influence of which would render Pharaoh's lean kine fit for the table of an alderman. Are you crossed in love-a rare occurrence, as the modern fair are seldom cross-but it may happen? Do you see dame and dowry fading away like the last tints of the evening upon an idle cloud ? Dine, we say; and that will be a healing balm for sorrow deeper than yours. Loes the world go ill with you? Do pretended friends deceive, affairs run cross, and sworn brothers, and those whom you have befriended, turn round and persecute? Still dine-dine if you can, for whatever appears on the dinner table is a friend. Be your misery what it may, be your desertion ever so great: let them deprive you of all place and all honour; let them heap upon you every obloquy-never mind, so you can secure to yourself the power of dining. Many maxims have been laid down for the pretended guidance of mankind; but high over thein all there should be inscribed this one, “ Reserve unto yourself the power of dining; for the man who cannot dine is worse than a slave.”
But, if dining be the gem in the business of life, works in which it is treated of must be the gem of its literature. With the matter of a