Imagens das páginas



metropolis was concerned. "Auld tion-the one swinging in chains Clootie," clapped his wings, and crowing out, "Long live the system,' soon soared above the spires of Dublin. As he rose into the elements, a laugh that seemed upborne upon a cloud of whiskey almost stunned and stupefied his faculties; it was from the Beefsteak Club in full chorus-one-half were bowing the Viceroy out of the room, and the rest were toasting "the exports of Ireland." Now these men were the magnates of the land, yet the "eloquent cup" only inspired them into discord-music, which has power to "soften rocks," has none over the savage breast" of faction.

A mere point of time sufficed to exhibit the whole country to one whose " passage of a hemisphere was but as the waving of a wing." It lay outspread beneath him, and so far as nature was concerned, a beautiful picture it was. Hill and dale covered with a carpet of verdurerivers without number fit for all the purposes of navigation-mountains of rifted rock that seemed to rise above the landscape, but to heighten its sweetness by the contrast--lakes of such extent that old Neptune would have seemed to claim dominion within the very bosom of the land, was it not that earth redeemed her empire by the little tufted islets that embellished them-such was the scene which the first morning's eye beheld in Ireland. Man, nature's last, and in that country, her worst production, had not yet defiled it. *


[ocr errors]

It was strange to observe, as it were in a bird's-eye view, the varied population which deformed that surface-there was every form and grade of human wretchedness, from the slave, who shivered in the breeze without a rag to cover him, up to the petty despot, who heartlessly despoiled him of all he had left to give the pittance of his labour. Each were pitiable, and it was hard to say which was most so, the plunderer, or the plundered-the one suffering from the penalty inflicted, the other from the anticipated reprisal. Though this outcast people are among the most patient that crawl under the canopy of heaven, still that reprisal, at times, has taken place terrible to both, and difficult of elec

upon his gibbet, the other lying
murdered in his shroud of silk.
fault of this is laid, and most un-
justly, upon the savage disposition of
the lower orders of the people. The
Irish peasant is truly a maligned and
misrepresented character. Described
to strangers as naturally vicious, he
is, in fact, only the victim of a system
which is so. By nature, he is a ge-
nerous, and even a noble creature-
his errors are conventional, forced
on him by a policy as unwise as it is
unfeeling; and then, by an argument
as untrue as it is illogical-he is ar-
raigned as the cause of evils, of
which, in reality, he is but the effect.
Driven by despair to deeds of horror,
he is accused of cruelty-dishearten-
ed from industry by the denial of its
rewards, he is accused of indolence--
living in a country which he hears is
free, he finds himself the bondsman
of some hereditary absentee-belong-
ing to a community which boasts it-
self Christian, he knows there is a
penalty attached to his creed-he is
condemned to hopeless misery in this
world, and then impeded in securing
a reversionary reparation in the next.
Heaven is obscured to him, and earth
is made a purgatory. If the Irish
peasant ventures upon a little farm,
it is instantly visited by worse than
the plagues of Egypt-the non-re-
sident landlord overloads it with rent

his pettyfogging agent requires a perquisite for forbearance-the Protestant parson takes its heterodox. tithe-the Catholic priest gleans next in the name of God—and, last of all, comes some locust of taxation to lay it bare of every living thing, except the litter of children who howl the mountain echoes into hoarseness! What can be expected from such extremity of suffering? Nothing, except what actually does take place


periodical visitations of rape, massacre, and famine, succeeded by the stillness, not of peace, but of desolation. It so happened that, when Satan was in the midst of his survey, he had a refreshing view of a practical part of the systemtwelve fathers of families dragged along to the shore, chained together, for instant transportation, followed by the cries of their widows and their orphans-never again, perhaps, were they to be


hold the face of friend or kindred: -but who can say they did not deserve the deprivation?-they had dared to take a walk in the open air for half an hour after sunset, without being able to account satisfactorily for the excursion.-Alas! alas! is there not in that Arab tribe of legislators, whose restless humanity roves across the ocean to convert the Hindoo and redeem the Hottentot-is there not one whose sympathy can postpone its travels to act for a moment the Samaritan at home? Is the fellow-subject less deserving than the foreigner -the white man than the negrothe christian than the infidel? Away with that vagabond spirit of philanthropy which strides over the prostrate body of its neighbour to roam around the world in search of exotic calamities. If the Christian religion be their stimulus, or its spirit their incentive, the very next scene was one by which their morals, their humanity, and their faith should be equally embarrassed-it was sufficient to make nature shudder and Christianity ashamed-the devil bappened to look down upon a churchyard, as by law established'-a crowd of mourning friends and kindred were about to bid a last farewell to one they loved and honoured, and the pastor of their faith knelt down to offer over the grave his parting benediction. At the very moment when every heart was bowed and every eye was dimmed, another pastor a Christian pastort-entered at the head of an armed soldiery to drive heterodox affliction from the freehold of the church!!-As the military rushed across the grave, a few loose stones falling on the coffin seemed to speak the awful reproach of another world-it was echoed by

the chuckle of the triumphant pluralist, whose very nose gave token of " the glorious memory," and before whose vision a mitre danced in the perspective! Three cheers from the soldiery completed the glories of the church militant, and the devil rebellowed them as far upward as he could, lest heaven should not hear them.-Soaring along he cursed Tom Paine and his labours, and wished within his heart the Turks would become such Christians as the Irish.

Elated with what he saw, Satam cast a farewell glance over the island, and departed. He felt that whatever appearances it might assume, it was his, and for ever-he felt that whatever green spots or peaceful in→ tervals there might arise within it, still it was only a political volcano, filled with internal fire, and ready for a fresh eruption. A popula tion, uneducated, impoverished, and oppressed-a government vacillating and divided-an establishment gorgeously provided for the few, by the reluctant privations of the many -a system of rackrent, tithing, and taxation almost without equivalent, and apparently without end- a clergy preaching lowliness and professing poverty, yet wallowing in wealth and shouting ascendancy-an absentee aristocracy, without either sympathy or pity, through the veins of whose tenantry the blood of the land is sucked-power struggling for the retention of its monopoly-superstition burning for its revenge and its ag grandisement-a selfish spirit of dissension in all, with scarce a redeeming quality of patriotism in anythese were the materials on which Satan built the foundation of his empire, and on these he relied, defying Prince Hohenlohe and all his works.

* See the accounts under the insurrection act in the south.
+ See the recent occurrences in some parts of Ireland.

OBSERVATIONS ON "THE GHOST-PLAYER'S GUIDE," And on the invariable Tendency to Corpulence in Shakspeare's Ghosts:



MR. UMBRA, who has written so elaborately in favour of half-starved spirits, in the last number of the LONDON MAGAZINE, has clearly paid much attention to the condition

in which the paunches of ghosts should be, when they visit the glimpses of the moon to hunt for glow-worms (a foolish light, by the way, to hunt by !) And, certes, he

has chalked out the path which ghosts should walk, as strictly as though they were about to do some spiritual-Barclay match of 1000 miles in 1000 hours;-but, having myself devoted much time and thought to Shakspeare's ghosts, and finding my conclusions to differ materially from those of Mr. Umbra, I am tempted to examine his essay in several of its parts, and to offer my simple notions on the sort of bodies which ghosts ought to be. Mr. Umbra would have them poor, airified, thin things, seen at a distance, and gliding to and fro on feet which "prate not of their whereabout;"-he would shoe them with felt, dress them in an atmosphere of blue gauze, and send them about, with nothing but the wind on their stomachs, to walk the night. I am not with Mr. Umbra, and, respectfully be it spoken, I think Shakspeare himself would protest (could he be consulted) he intended the senior Mr. Hamlet, the defunct Mr. J. Cæsar, Henry and Company at Bosworth, and Banquo at the banquet, to be all solid, substantial, positive people,-spirits in good case,-not exactly Lamberts of the air, but "the substantials, Sir Giles, the substantials;" certainly not a set of whining vaporous Master Slenders and Master Silences, sneaking about the earth as though they were after henroosts and orchards. 1 am of Shakspeare's opinion; and therefore let good-man Umbra look to his Essay! I shall not only entirely overthrow all his rules for famished ghosts, but shall show how incorrect he is in his ideas of spiritual attire. If indeed there is any thing on earth I understand, it is ghostly tailorship! Oh! I could devise such a pair of breeches for a spirit, as Banquo would jump at: they should be made of a stuff to wear well-everlasting, cut by the shears of Fate!

I have little to say in reply to the question of which character in Shakspeare is most difficult to play?" The Fool in Lear would puzzle the Fool in Life, but a sensible man might make something of the part: Hamlet, played "as he ought to be, not as he is," might perhaps be an answer to the question. The ghosts I think, enacted according to my infallible rules, are perhaps the easiest

of adequate representation. At any rate there are a hundred characters more difficult ;—Puck, Titania, Mustard-seed, Macbeth, Pease-blossom, Coriolanus, the Witches, &c. Mr. Umbra would except from the liability to answer the question, several of these characters as utterly unrepresentable; but surely it is not more difficult for Ariel to take a ground floor in a cowslip, than for the Ghost in Hamlet to sink in the earth, or to smell the morning air. "The King" is supposed to smell the morning air; and, Ariel may be supposed to sneak into a flower. Ör proper cowslips for the occasion can be had at Covent-Garden;-cowslips as capacious as cabriolets: or indeed very little creatures may be hired for Ariels. If fit bodies could not easily be obtained for certain characters, Romeo and Juliet could not be performed for want of an Apothecary; neither could Macbeth proceed in the paucity of a Fleance. But to the business in hand.

I pass over the general remarks on the poetical beauty of the Ghost in Hamlet,-which I believe no reader can deny; and come to the rules which Mr. Umbra lays down for all future Ghost-players, and which rules I shall take leave to demolish one by one, and with little remorse,--for can there be a more heinous sin than to erect a lying direction-post in our spiritual paths. Mr. Umbra's first rule is as follows:

In the first place: under the present regime, the ghost marches in a mathematical right line across the stage, within trunthis is about as ill-judged a proceeding as cheon's length of the foot-lights. Now it is an unnecessary one. By this means, whatever unhappy defects the body corporal of the ghost may labour under, whether it be redundant in point of flesh, or curtailed in point of stature, whether it be supported on pins or pillars,-whatever be its defects, they are sure to be glaringly exhibited, while thus paraded before the audience, wantonly paraded, in the full blaze of the burners, and for the whole breadth of the stage. Besides, any lapse in the gait, a trip or a faux-pas, any flaw or fissure in the panoply, an ill-fitting greave, or or a basin-shaped helmet, nay the very crackling of the buckram, can be recognized with the utmost facility, whilst the Apparition thus stalks, upon the very brow, I may say, of the orchestra, near enough to shake hands if he chose it, with his sub

lunary acquaintances in the pit, and at a pace funereal, as if to invite an inquisition which he is seldom prepared to defy. Now there is not the smallest necessity that the Ghost should expose himself, with so much danger to the solemnity of the scene, in this barefaced manner; there is nothing in the part which calls upon him to display his person and accoutrements (both of which are generally of such a description as should court the shade) like a peripatetic_brother at Bartholomew Fair. The first rule, then, to be observed by the judicious Ghostplayer, is,-never to let his desire for admiration tempt him to the front of the stage, unless the mechanism of the piece compel him to transgress this salutary pre cept. Let the ghost always appear in the back ground; or, if necessary, let him walk down the stage by the side scenes, disappearing as distantly from the proscenium as possible. In short,-let him always be at the most distant point of visibility, and be as dim, as shadowy, and indefinite, as is compatible with being seen.

Now in my first place, why should not ghosts march in a mathematical right line across the front of the stage? or rather what could justify the ghost in glimmering indistinctly in at the back. He cannot indeed approach too near the foot lights, which are the only things that could supply the glow-worm's place or warrant the allusion to it; and as to his dress crackling, or his foot catching, the apprehension is wholly idle and groundless. The armour or clothing of a ghost is not necessarily ethereal -" in complete steel," that is the phrase; now I put it to any reasonable man to say whether a creature so habited is bound to walk as if he were in wool? Then the allusion to stumbling is beneath my notice; and even if a false step were come mitted, could that be improper in a fallen spirit, who clearly must have been accustomed to it?-Mr. Umbra would keep the ghost ever in the background, or set him sneaking down the side scenes on tiptoe, like a cat after a tomtit, as though forsooth the business of the scene would admit of it, or the speeches of the haunted warrant it for instance, Horatio in the first scene says, "I'll cross it, though it blast me.' And Marcellus anou exclaims "shall I strike at it with my partizan!" Now how could Horatio intercept a ghost at a distance, or Marcellus strike at a thing out of all reach. Horatio too,

[ocr errors]
[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]


By their oppress'd and fear-surprized eyes,
Within his truncheon's length !

There is in truth no one passage which warrants the ghost in being kept in the back-ground. He is a stately, solemn, well-informed personage that does not blink the question (except when too rudely put by Horatio); but, haying to out with a murder to his son, appears in his armour and original figure, and uses no disguise. What therefore becomes of the direction of Umbra, that he be always "at the most distant point of visibility, and be as dim, as shadowy and indefinite, as is compatible with being seen.

In the second place: our Ghost-players, instead of sweeping over the stage in a suit comporting with the dignity and darkness of the scene, generally choose to flaunt it in

a crimson scarf, or a blanket-cloak tastily
suspended from the shoulder after the man-
ner of an hussar's hanging-jacket, or fall-
ing over the corslet like a waggoner's
smock-frock. I speak of such ghosts as I
have lately seen at our two great houses:
if others of the fraternity show a better
judgment in the choice of their wardrobe,
they are to consider themselves as not af
fected by this criticism. But as for those
gentlemen-ghosts who dress themselves out
as if they were going to a masque or a
fancy-ball, in garments foreign to their
character, it is proper that I should inform
them, they quite mistake the matter. The
second rule, promulgated by the Ghost-
player's Guide, in allusion to this circum-
stance, is this, videlicet: that a ghost
should wear no flaring colours whatever,
but (if he must wear clothes at all), be as
dark and as dismal as an alchemist or an
undertaker, as muffled and mysterious as a
This hint should be
monk or a mourner.
directed perhaps rather to the managers
than to the performers, as it is not always
in the power of a ghost to choose his own
clothes. And I would earnestly beseech
the managers of the two houses aforesaid,
to convert a little of the superfluous bul-
lion which blazes upon their scenery, and
flickers upon the tops, tails, and toes, of
their dancers, into a suit of apparel fit for a
gentleman-ghost to appear in.

The Ghost ought to appear in a complete suit of armour: I should not contend that it be "steel," though the text so advises us, because this would be perhaps super fluous on account of the distance; but it should be a splendid and entire suit of warlike panoply,-burnished tin we will say. The effect might be heightened, if necessary, by a thin, gauzy, sombre raiment thrown over the armour, which would give a cloudy, indefined appearance to the figure; but by attending to the first rule of always keeping in the back ground, this part of the paraphernalia might be dispensed with. A crest of black and waving plumes would confer altitude and majesty where these qualifications rarely exist, scilicet, in the persons of ghost-players in general, who are for the most part fat little fellows of about five feet and an inch, with Canopus bellies and bandy legs.

Here Mr. Umbra is throughout quite at fault, and I must take the liberty of proving him to be so. But to the last sentence in the extract I must first reply, as it clearly proves that the author's notion of the Ghost is not such as a sensible man should

[ocr errors]

entertain; it is to my understanding a covert objection to the comfortable and reasonable corpulence of the spirit, an objection which I will oppose so long as I have an ounce of flesh on my bones. I do solemnly assert that the Ghost in Hamlet ought to be fat, weighty, and impressive-not a thing to ride feather weight for a silver cup, but a person that might go to scale," and not be found wanting in the lists: a substantial, good, ghost! In the first place, to go back to the ghost's original, it is very clear from evidence on record that Hamlet's father was a man of rather a corpulent turn. His habits bespeak it. He describes himself as having been sleeping in his orchard-" his custom always of an afternoon,"-now we all know that men who sleep after dinner, are not your puny, wiry fellows, but rogues that run to belly,-varlets that have considerable linings to their waistcoats. Old Mr. Hamlet was just one of these. His son, in referring to his picture, exclaims, "Could you on this fair mountain leave," &c. This mountain could have but one explanation! Besides, Hamlet himself, who may be expected to take after his father, is mentioned as being "fat and scant of breath," that is, pursy, like his parent;-full, and puffy at a little

" I

exertion. Having thus proved the ghost's original to have been, in existence, a gentleman of aldermanic person and propensities, I come to justify a transfer of the suet to his ethereal image. The ghost is de scribed to Hamlet as 66 a figure like your father"-Horatio says, knew your father; these hands are not more like;" and, on its first appearance, Marcellus asks of Horatio the reply is "as thou art to thy"Is it not like the King?" to which self!" Hamlet knows his parent the moment the Ghost enters-and could be borne, if a poor silent withered all these speeches and confirmations anatomy of a man were to glide in "no more like my father, than I to is not to be endured. It is monHercules!" The idea of a thin ghost strous !

bra in his mode of apparelling our I agree not either with Mr. Umspirit. Why should "a ghost wear no flaring colours whatever" ?-SupPose the old King Hamlet in his scarf, or to have been partial to a life-time to have admired a crimson loose cloak; would it be reasonable or fair in us to have expected his spirit to forsake a favourite colour or jacket? Oh no!" Let him, says Mr. dark and as dismal as an alchemist Umbra, meaning the Ghost, "be as or an undertaker." Zounds! (for I get nearly out of patience) Zounds!


rit have been known as the King?
say, how would such a dowdy spi-
What a pretty figure would such a
long stick of slate pencil cut before
the following description of his late
lamented Majesty.

See, what a grace was seated on this brow,
Hyperion's curls, the front of Jove himself;
An eye like Mars to threaten and com-

A station like the Herald Mercury
New lighted on a Heaven-kissing hill;
Where every God did seem to set his seal,
A combination, and a form indeed,
To give the world assurance of a man.

ed, to be libelled by a gloomy old
Is a King, thus admirably fashion-
endeavour to make him? I do agree,
pope of a ghost, as Mr. Umbra would
I admit, with Mr. Umbra in this, that
the dress ought to be armour-but I
protest against its brightness being
rendered sombre by gauze,—or the
warlike panoply being "read at a

« AnteriorContinuar »