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I called on a lady in the neighbourhood of Berkeley-square. When I reached the hall, I found a French modiste in position, and who, as the different visiters arrived and traversed it on their way to the drawingroom, ran out her guns and commenced a tirade of invective against « La dame de la maison," which evidently showed that she felt the full force of La Rochefoucauld's maxim, that there is something in the misfortunes of our friends not unpleasing to us. To have expostulated with an infuriated Frenchwoman would have been in vain. I saw that the blockade was only to be raised by an attaque de front. Accordingly I said to the porter, “ Give that woman in charge to the police." Comment donc, Monsieur, comment! Me faire empoigner par un agent de police !” exclaimed the astonished couturière. “Oui, Madame," I coolly rejoined; “ici on ne viole pas avec impunité les convenances." And. observing the porter preparing to obey my injunction, she crowded all sail and made off. However, a few days afterwards she returned to the charge, and carried her point by a coup de main, for, before the porter or the footman was aware of her intention, she darted across the hall, rushed up stairs, and, opening the drawing-room door, compelled the lady, by a well-executed attack, to satisfy her demands. So much for French duns. In the capital of France, so numerous are the seductions hourly held out to the young and inexperienced, that a man is literally never safe; and the mere delay of a remittance from England may expose him to the envenomed fury of these harpies. The strategics, there. fore, under such circumstances, are to mancèuvre upon the line of the English tradespeople, of whom there is so numerous a colony in Paris. These people, deriving as they do their existence from the patronage of the English residents, will be careful how they excite their esprit de corps by unmannered insolence and abuse..
The German duns are likewise furious animals,--and that so many of our countrymen at Manheim and Munich, the head-quarters of the English in that country, have found them so, we doubt not. Their language is so rich in vituperation and invective, that the weight of abuse their batteries can throw is truly terrific. But, on the other hand, so completely is the German under the sedative and narcotic influence of the Meerschaum, that it is seldom his energy is roused; and then, again, he is so ignorant of the details of la petite guerre, that, with a very little tact, he is easily out-manæuvred.
Rousseau compares our modern civilization to a drunken man on horseback, who, as fast as he is set up on one side, falls over on the other. Jean Jacques was right : it possesses the double properties of the lance of Achilles. I have travelled in many countries, taught me many tongues, and have invariably observed that civilization and dunning advance“ passibus æquis.
passibus æquis." In fact, in those countries which we, in the plenitude of our vanity, designate as barbarian, the terrorism of duns is unknown. In those happy lands the schoolmaster still slumbers; trial by jury, and equal rights, and such like vanities, exist but in name, and a man may pursue his mortal course from the cradle to the grave without ever encountering the rascality of a pettifogging attorney, or the brutality of a bullying barrister. Some years ago in South America, I employed a tradesman to do some work for me, which was executed in so bungling a manner that I refused to pay him. One beau matin the fellow called upon me, and, to my utter amazement, proceeded to give tongue.“ Estas loco, amigo? (are you mad, friend,)” I inquired. “No, por Dios, Cavallero.” “Well then, in that case you are very insolent, and must be punished ;” and immediately summoning half a dozen negroes, I consigned the audacious offender to a dark room for forty-eight hours; there to meditate, as it was Lent time, upon the virtues of fasting. In England, this would have been fine work for the gentlemen of the long robe; but in South America, club law usurps the place of litigation,-after all the worst devil of the two.
A cold shudder will, I am aware, come over even lovers of what is called social order on reading this; which will only prove how lamentably we are the creatures of prejudice and of national manners. “ Tout est convention,” said Napoleon, "jusqu' à des sentimens qui sembleraient ne devoir venir que de la nature." What boots it whether a man be despatched, in fact, by the knife of a hired bravo, or by the more lingering torture of the law ? The end is the same, the mode of execution alone differs. In the first instance, you either kill or are killed,
“ Momento cita mors venit, aut victoria læta," as Harac ath it. But in the second, defeat certain : you are first ruined, and then sent to wander pennyless and broken-hearted, through the scenes of former happiness,-cut by your friends,-an outcast from that society in which you once moved an honoured being,—doomed to witness all the luxury and refinement of high-wrought civilization,-to gaze upon
“ the sheen of beauty's cheek,” and to exclaim every hour of the day,
“Non cuivis homini contingit adire Corinthum." In the foregoing treatise I have confined myself solely to strategic precepts, which are founded upon such simple elements that they are easily reducible to rule; but the means of execution,-that is to say, their tactical illustration, depends upon so many circumstances, that it is ütterly impossible to lay down any positive rule for the infinite variety of combinations that may occur. All that I can do, therefore, is to advise my readers to study the campaigns of the great masters of the art :-the careers of many of the illustrious exiles at present at Boulogne and Calais will furnish some splendid examples, the meditation of which I cannot too strenuously recommend.
For myself I candidly confess that, not having based my operations on the fundamental principles of war at the commencement of my career, my own position is desperate ;-cut off from my base, with both flanks en l'air, my ruin appears almost inevitable. Still, confident in my own : resources, I do not despair, but live for revenge;—for to the facilities and seductions of artful and designing tradespeople in the inexperienced hour of youth, I owe my fallen fortunes. "I am, therefore, preparing a plan of campaign that, if successful, will yet retrieve my affairs. But fortune rules in war; and if, like Napoleon at St. Dizier, all my profound combinations should prove abortive, at least I will perish greatly. Like Samson at Gaza, I will drag down ruin upon my enemies ; à wail of loud lament shall run through the ranks of the Philistines of Regent and Bond streets, such as has not been heard since the failure of Watson -T-r, or the flight of W-11-y P-le.
“ It clamor ad alta ;
THE NECESSITY AND THE POWER OF GIVING AN
OPERA TO THE ENGLISH.
No. I. It appears to be conceded, almost without a struggle, that the national temperament of our countrymen is too cold and calculating, too deliberate and reflective, to excel in the fine arts. Foreigners, without hesitation, assume it as a fact; they have dubbed us, on Imperial authority, nation boutiquière; and we ourselves, though neither destitute of pride nor slow to vindicate our rights, if we have not formally acquiesced, have, in some instances, suffered ourselves to be persuaded that our native " valiancie” is indeed and in truth but little softened by the which has civilized the rest of the world. Yet Old England can show, some title to a higher respect-aye, in all the arts—in architecture, in sculpture, in painting, in poetry, and even in music. But whạt skills it? Poor (rich) John Bull is, by universal consent, from St. Petersþurgh to Lisbon, “ written down an ass ;” and what is more, he admits them all to allure him abroad, or to come to London and demonstrate the proposition, by tickling his ears and directing his eyes to their own purposes, while they devour his peck of provender. Truly this is hard usage.
But may it not be shown that the fault lies with ourselves? Talent, if it do not accommodate itself to the law of demand and supply with the acuteness of trade to its own interests, is yet not positively insensible to the impulse. Does, then, the country afford its highest and most stimulating encouragement to native talent?
We shall confine our present inquiry to Music-to one department of it, indeed-namely, to the necessity and the means of giving an Opera, properly so called, to England; and it is a department of the art in which, beyond all question, we stand the lowest. It seems not to be denied that, making the indispensable allowance for the simplicity of our national forms of worship, English composers have rivalled those of Germany and Italy in church music; for our ecclesiastical services are (even our psalmody) simple, solemn, noble, pathetic, and ingenious to a degree not at all exceeded by those of other countries, though unaided by instruments and strictly forbidden by our pure ideas of devotional forms, to employ the free and almost dramatic style which bestows even upon the masses of the Catholic Church (Mozart's “ Requiem cepted) a great portion of their attraction. Our part-songs and our ballads are equally original, and have as much, or even more, beauty, It is then in operas alone that we fail and are inferior ? Granted. And when it is remembered that we know literally nothing of Italian composers but from this source; that the opera is the great centre from whence, nationally speaking, the light dawns and is universally projected aud diffused, to fall below our competitors in this grand respect is to fail in the most important particular: it cannot be denied. We are arrived th at the point;
us endeavour to discover how the genius of foreigners and our own has been excited and encouraged, first by the structure of our opera, and secondly by the law of demand and supply:
We consider the question of the application of music to the drama to be set at rest by the universal adoption of the practice. It is, à priori, absurd for the persons of any action to sing their griefs and sorrows, to wait for symphonies and ritornels, and utterly irreconcilable to reason and to nature. But, nevertheless, inconsistent as it is, it is found, by experience, to be amongst the most direct and easy illusions of the theatre, that the mind overleaps this anomaly, and that our passions sympathize not less readily with the passionate expression of words and music. Melody and harmony, indeed, are additional stimulants to pleasurable sensation. We do not reason, we are satisfied with effects. In the days of Queen Ann, Mr. Addison,* while he admitted that the province of the art is “ to cast soft or noble hints into the soul,” could indeed exert his peculiarly delicate vein of humour upon the absurdities of the Italian stage ; but time has shown with how little success. People now go to the King's Theatre with precisely the same desire to be entertained as to Covent-Garden. They listen to Rubini and Pasta with the same temper of mind that they regard Charles Kemble and his daughter; and they are as deeply touched, though not so universally, perhaps, but exactly by the same means. affections are, however, moved; and since the creation of pleasurable sensation (the truest definition of happiness) is the end, they are little solicitous to inquire how that pleasurable sensation is produced. They tell you at once they love music, and no more needs be said about the matter.
But it is not difficult to show that the musical drama, though it departs so widely from common life, has other and great advantages, in addressing itself to persons eren of the slightest musical temperament. It is the peculiar attribute of the art to multiply associations more widely, and, indeed, indefinitely, than any other source of our ideas. Every trait of melody, every rich or unexpected harmony, every modulation, every change of rhythm or of time, nay, every transition from loud to soft, wafts the fancy into new regions, revives old, or creates new pleasures. The melody frequently paints the sentiment, while the accompaniment is descriptive of natural adjuncts. Above all, it produces an intensity of feeling-an abandonment of ourselves to sensation -which rises with the emotion, until our sympathy carries us into the game high excitement that inflames and exalts the artist, whose power over us is apportioned to this inspiration. These are delights unknown to and above the illusions of any other species of dramatic representation ; while the opera employs all that belongs to the plot, character, incident, passion, poetry, (lyric-dramatic is the most concen
*" The Lion in this opera gave birth to several pleasant papers in the first volume of the Spectator,' particularly No. 13, in which the humour is exquisite. Mr. Addison, who was at this time by no means partial to operas, does justice to · Hydas pes.' It gives me a just indignation,' says he, to see a person, (Signor Nicolini,) whose action gives new majesty to kings, resolution to heroes, and softness to lovers, thus sinking from the greatness of his behaviour, and degraded into the character of the “ London Prentice." I have often wished that our tragedians svould copy after this great master in action. Could they make the same use of their arms and legs, and inform their faces with as significant looks and passions, how glorious would an English tragedy appear with that action which is capable of giving a dignity to the forced thoughts, cold conceits, and unnatural expressions of an Italian opera ! — Burney's History of Music, vol. iv. p. 213.
trated of poetry,) scenery, and costume. Thus, it may successfully be maintained that if the musical drama be not the most in accord with nature and reason, it interests more of our faculties than any other species, as well as refines and elevates them.
This is no exaggerated description of the opera, rightly so called, by which is meant a musical drama, consisting of recitative, air, and concerted pieces* We are then brought to the first step of the superiority foreign nations, the Italians particularly, enjoy over the English. They have a legitimate opera, we a mere jargon of alternate speech and song, outraging probability to a much higher degree, while the course and influence of musical feeling are impeded, and all but extinguished. It is a singular trait that almost the only opera England possesses,
Artaxerxes,” has sufficient beauty and strength to survive all the accidents of time and change, thus yielding a practical assent to the truth that such is the best and most pleasing construction. Is there a new singer whose
* It is curious to trace, in the rise and progress of opera in England, the fact, that musical pleasure has been, from its very origin, the great'end, independent of scenic illusion or dramatic effect. The earliest operas were a heterogeneous compound of both English and Italian, " After the failure of this opera, (Addison's
Rosamond,')” says Dr. Burney, " from the attractions of which such crowded houses were expected, another English opera was brought out at Drury Lane, April 1, called - Thomyris, Queen of Scythia,' written by Motteux, and adjusted, as he tells us in the preface, to airs of Scarlatti and Bononcini. The recitatives and whole accompaniment of this pasticcio were committed to the care of Mr., afterwards Dr. Pepusch. Nine representations of this opera, and eight of · Cas milla,' seem to have supplied the musical wants of this theatre till the 6th of December, when Valentini Urbani, a castrato, and a female singer called the Baroness, arrived, who, with Margarita de l'Epine, were engaged at Drury Lane to sing in the same opera of Camilla ; and, making use of Bononcini's music, performed their parts in Italian ; while Mrs. Tofts, Mrs. Lindley, Mrs. Turner, Ramondon, and Leveridge performed theirs in English; and in this manner it was repeated three several times, the public being always acquainted, in the bills of the day, that the part of Turnus would be performed by Signor Valentini.” This state of things continued during four years, and it was not till 1710 that an entire Italian opera ( Almahide!) was given, and even then intermezzi between the acts were sung in English by Dogget, Mrs. Lindley, and Mrs. Crofts.
It is probable that even the love of music was not a charm strong enough entirely to overcome the absolute ignorance of the subject matter of the drama, and to attract large audiences; the English pieces were an indispensable addition. It is strange, even now, when the knowledge of foreign languages is so general, to find how few there are who really enter into the merits of the scene, compared with the whole audience. The love of music does much-fashion, perhaps, more ; and hence the necessity, in order to advance the art amongst us, to make the English opera a subject of the highest patronage.
No concern in the whole circle of English enterprise and adventure exhibits so much of failure, loss, law, and crime, as has been entailed upon the attempt to plant the Italian opera amongst us. Fifty thousand pounds were lost in the first seven years, and more than sixty thousand by Mr. Ebers in the same period of his management, almost the last seven. Scarcely a single individual, Mr. Taylor ex cepted, who passed a great portion of his life in prison, and who declared it was impossible to manage the King's Theatre when not guarded against the incursions of performers by stone walls, iron bars, and gaolers-scarcely a single individual escaped absolute ruin. The most successful managers were Mrs. Brooks and Mrs. Yates, who had the house in 1774. Benelli is supposed to have left debts, for one season, of at least forty thousand pounds. It appears probable that a sum little short of a million, besides all the subscriptions and door-money, has been sacrificed to the desire of having an Italian opera. The house was destroyed by fire, and a pamphlet was published, but suppressed, which insinuated that the incendiary was suborned to commit the crime, and then poisoned lest the secret should be known.