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were present at Covent Garden Theatre on the first night of the Vespers of Palermo; if we had waited until the second night, or had, anticipating a run, waited even until the fifth, we should never have heard a line of Mrs. Hemans's verses breathed over the pit: But we had (we are ashamed to own it) a nasty notion in our heads that the vesper-bell would toll but once-no grand peal of triple sires was to be rung upon Mrs. Hemans's metal, by Mr. Young, Mr. C. Kemble, and the rest of the college youths! We feared she would fail, and therefore we were among the select few who saw the play. The early scenes, indeed, showed as though they " meant mischief," but towards the close, the audience, very much "wrung in the withers," interfered, after the fashion of old Mr.
Hamlet (frater to the ghost) and put a much better end to the piece than the authoress had succeeded in doing. They were suddenly awoke out of their sleep, we suppose, for certes they started up in the most uncouth and unquiet manner. They did not wish to hear a tragedy repeated perhaps. They thought five acts of gentle interlocution a leetle too much-perhaps they wished to monopolize: Be the cause what it might, they kept the tragedy to themselves-they soothed it-silenced it-hushed it-in short, they damned it!
Here we might perchance be expected to terminate our remarks, having brought them to something like a crisis; but poets and dramatists are often allowed to talk of the damned, and why may not we? Let us be permitted therefore to "take the dead into the market-place," and, like Marc Anthony, turn it to account. Be it ours to speak in the order of its funeral, and point out the virtues and the merits of the deceased. We have already said that Cæsar had its faults.
The plot is told in the title: History has told it well in the olden times. We wish we had a newspaper by us to cut an abridgment out; for those weekly critics tell you a tragedy in little, in a way to shame us monthly men. The characters are indisputable, and by no means unprecedented. There is a patriotic father —a loving son, but not towards him,
ously attractive, a villain, ("Well," -a lady of the other faction, ruininterrupts Miss Higginbottom, "how could tragedy do without one?”)—a monk,-("Well," again exclaims Miss Higginbottom, like Mrs. Malaracter")-a lady in the heroic line, prop, you need not repeat the chaproud, matronly, and amorous; and these are the company that ring the Vespers of Palermo. The poetry was what would have been called was not dramatic, but, in a poem, it melodious and sweet: Indeed, some of the lines were extremely musical, and proved the authoress to be a lady of a refined taste and talent. It is but fair that we should give an instance:
Ans. Ay, thus doth sensitive conscience quicken thought,
Lending reproachful voices to a breeze,
Keen lightning to a look.
Is't not enough that I should have a sense
And of unearthly whispers, haunting me
Old man, should gall me too?-Must all
Against me?-Oh! thou beautiful spirit!
Where art thou vanish'd ?-Was it not the
Of thee which urged me to the fearful task,
The shadowy wonds again, for there, perchance,
Still may thy voice be in my twilightpaths;
-Here I but meet despair!
These are beautiful lines, and of boast--but beautiful lines would such the tragedy had plentifully to damn any tragedy. talks like his neighbour; and, from Every character the King down to the poorest courtier in the company-" gentle Sicily" is talk like the grave-digger, but Mrs. on every tongue. Hamlet does not Hemans would have made them alike musical and polished—and have poetical! even rendered poor simple Audrey
in a way worthy of a better, cause. The performers exerted themselves Mr. Young had great difficulty in escaping the cold, but at times when
he had to talk of liberty, he set to work manfully, as you see a labourer flap his arms in a frosty morning. This seemed to circulate his blood and certainly did him good. Mr. C. Kemble played the son and lover with great zeal and spirit—but he can be entrusted with poetry more safely than any other performer. The loose white sleeves of his dress (to speak of a trifle) were very unseemly, and appeared to be always waving before the eye. Mr. Bennet was too stormy-we, in the pit, were almost afraid he would break from his moorings, and run down us lightermen. The Lady Vittoria, the heroine of the drama, was well recited by Mrs. Bartley-but the great defect of this actress is, that she never escapes from recitation, she always reminds us of Enfield's Speaker. We know the tone that will convey every lineand we are quite sure that such a style is out of nature. Yates acted tolerably well, and seemed to be within bow shot of modesty, which is a change for the better.
A word or two about Miss F. H. Kelly, to whom the audience acted with a brutality utterly disgraceful. She performed some of the early scenes cleverly but indecisively, as though she were trying her powers; -but one or two sentences spoken in the too-familiar style, set a few of the audience against her-and thenceforth she was never heard but with laughter, hissings, or yelling. The papers have said, that she was not well at the time, and certainly her brutal reception had an evident effect upon her spirits and her strength. She seemed to have lost all controul over her tones in the third and fourth acts-and to be near sinking down upon the stage; -but the audience relaxed not a whit in their malice. Why was this? -What could induce men thus mentally to strike a woman?-The public had literally encouraged this young actress in the familiar style, and on this night, when, perhaps, she thought her triumph was at handthey crushed her. We may, perhaps, be thought to have been somewhat unkind towards Mrs. Hemans, and to have made her our Miss F. H. Kelly; but we here protest that we have a sincere respect for her talents as a writer of many interesting works,
and that in speaking of her failure as a dramatist, we consider it no drawback upon her fame, inasmuch as she only failed where none of her sex has ever yet succeeded.
The scenery was not new-but there was a magnificent banquetscene in which the following glee, beautifully set, was beautifully sung. We cannot make Mrs. Hemans better amends for our evil speaking, than by closing our remarks with extracting it.
(One of the Masquers sings.)
With their vineyards, laugh in light; From the marble cities of her plains
Glad voices mingling swell; -But with yet more loud and lofty strains, They shall hail the Vesper-bell!
Their cadence wafts afar,
As they gleam to the first pale star!
In the sound of the Vesper-bell!
There has been no other novelty than the tragedy of which we have been just writing, at Covent-garden theatre:-and at Drury-lane the Cataract has carried all before it, and still pours its ell-wide fall before the eyes of hundreds. The water has certainly had a run.
The Horses still muster their forces and Kean, who has played Richard the Third, bawls for a beast in the very thick of them. We are not very much opposed to the cattle in an afterpiece,-though we still do not envy the leader of the band-and certainly the two double-drums seem very inviting steps for some mad wag of a charger-who may choose one night to take a full plunge at half-price-and trample down the "many-headed beast.' We have touched on this subject before-but the Pittites cannot too often be cautioned on this head.
His Majesty King George the Fourth has visited the theatres twice during the last month, and gratified the eyes of his perspiring subjects. We saw him at Covent-garden in all his glory:-and he looked not merely
well-but surpassing well. To those readers who live in the out-skirts of the kingdom we beg, in the way of information, to say, that His Majesty hath a comely person-broad-wellshaped-and manly:-That he is a gracious person,-kind in his look and in his manner !-It is impossible for any one, that has not witnessed the scene, to have an idea of the magnificent effect of a people hailing its King in a splendid theatre-while the great national song is overflowing the house. We wish he would only appear oftener, for his own sake.
We had closed our Drama here, when we were just informed that Grimaldi was no longer to illuminate the world of Pantomime with his annual light. Grimaldi retired! Well! "It is growing dark! - Boys, you may go!"
Grimaldi gone!-we scarcely know where we are; we scarcely know how to write! He was so entirely rich! There was his first distorted escape out of his disguise-his cavern
of a mouth-his thievish eye-his supple limb-and most undoubted laugh-What decay on earth can have mastered all these?-Go to!He is not retired!-We will not believe it. Yet, alack! his name is not in the bills- Clown, Mr. J. S. Grimaldi." Oh villainous J. S.! It should be "Clown, Mr. Grimaldi," -or Pantomime should betake itself to its weeds-and pine in perfect widowhood. We will say, without a fear of contradiction, that there not only never was such a clown, but that there never will be such another!
Grimaldi requires rest;-that must be all,-and that we can imagine to be possible. No doubt, instead of pulling on his motley inexpressibles,
-and preparing his large lucky bag of a pocket, he is now sitting by a cozey fire, with a spoonful of Madeira in his eye, and J. S. (good in his way, but no Joe) listening to the clownish reminiscences of his inimitable papa: perhaps he speaketh thus -but one should see him speak!
How children shriek'd to see me eat!-How I
Be wise, (that's foolish)-tumblesome! be richAnd oh, J. S. to every fancy stoop!
Carry a ponderous pocket at thy breech,
And roll thine eye, as thou wouldst roll a hoop.
Hand Columbine about with nimble hand,
Let thy legs prove themselves bone of my bone.
Cuff Pantaloon, be sure-forget not this:
As thou beat'st him, thou'rt poor, J. S. or funny! And wear a deal of paint upon thy phiz,
It doth boys good, and draws in gallery money.
Lastly, be jolly! be alive! be light!
Twitch, flirt, and caper, tumble, fall, and throw! Grow up right ugly in thy father's sight! And be an "absolute Joseph," like old Joe!
REPORT OF MUSIC.
MUSIC, like money, appears to possess a reproductive power, if we may judge from its effects in the provinces, for the love of it seems to be augmented by its frequent enjoyment, as if "increase of appetite did grow by what it fed on.' So soon after the York festival as December there were concerts at Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, and Hull; at which Mrs. Salmon, Messrs. Mori and Hawes, assisted; and the speed with which they succeeded each other gives a memorable proof of the extraordinary physical power which that distinguished female possesses. These performers were at Manchester on the Wednesday, at Leeds on the Thursday, at Sheffield on the Friday, and at Hull (a distance of 70 miles) on the Saturday. This, however, is not quite equal to Mrs. Salmon's famous week, in which she appeared on the Monday in London, Tuesday at Oxford, Wednesday in London, Thursday at Oxford, Friday in London, and on the Saturday at Bath. We have always entertained a belief, that great vocal ability demonstrates great constitutional strength; and this, with a thousand other tests, which resistance of catarrhal diseases, the most prevailing evil in this country, presents, is a
proof that such is the fact. Amateurs are always taking cold;" professors very rarely indeed; although exposed to the night air in hurrying from concert to concert, to extreme differences of temperature, and perpetual currents of cold air, with all the dangers attendant on thin clothing. But to our subject. The York meeting has given such universal satisfaction, that some of the first nobility are desirous of a repetition next year, or the year after at latest.
Music is growing into the universal agent of charity. At Warminster, there was a festival for the benefit of the aged poor at the end of November, when very numerous audiences were collected. The sacred performance at the church in the morning was very crowded, as was a concert at the Assembly Rooms in the evening. The Marquis of Bath (Patron) and his family were present, with many others of distinction, and so full were the rooms that many could not obtain admission. The principal performers were Miss Wood, Messrs. Garbett, Manners, and Rolle. Mr. Teltham, the organist, conducted, and Mr. Verstein from Bath led.
The Italian Operas at the last named city have succeeded complete
ly. The stage department was under the direction of Signor de Begnis, and his little troop consisted of Madame Ronzi de Begnis, Signors Begrez and Placci, Miss Noel, and Mr. Phillips, a young and rising bass singer. Such a junction reminds us of the earliest operas in London, when Margaretta de l'Epine (whom John Bull familiarly denominated Greber's Peg) was Prima Donna, and when a portion of the pieces was represented in Italian, and a part (in consideration of the English assistants) in English. Not that this was the case at Bath. Native and untravelled Englishmen and Englishwomen can now be found, who are quite capable of sustaining Italian characters with force and effect, even by the side of Italians. Sir George Smart conducted, and Mr. Loder led the band. Il Barbiere di Seviglia was the piece selected. The opera, exhibiting only a transfer of performers from the King's Theatre to Bath, must of course present few new features in the representation, but as a novel experiment in the provinces, it affords matter of curious record. Scenes have been given before, and even, we believe, entire acts, when Ambrogetti, the Corris, and some others, made a tour to the west and north; but never within our recollection was an entire opera performed. It is, however, an example which will probably be followed elsewhere, and will tend to introduce a better understanding of legitimate opera than now prevails in England; and at the same time, diffuse a still stronger passion for the language and the music of the country which bears the exalted title of " the Nurse of Art."
Sir George Smart's and Mr. Loder's concerts at Bath, this season, are conducted even upon a more grand scale than that which was so successful last year. An organ (built by Flight and Robson) is to be erected at the room, and some of the concerts are to be choral.
Mr. H. and Miss Field made their debût at the first concert of the Harmonic Society of Exeter, held on the 27th of November. Mr. Field's abilities as a pianoforte player we have before referred to. He takes rank with the highest of his class.
The Triennial Meeting of the three
choirs will be held next year at Worcester. The performances are announced to commence on the 15th of September.
The Grand Musical Festival at Norwich, for the benefit of the Norfolk and Norwich hospitals, is decided upon, and will take place (unless any unforeseen circumstances interfere) in the third week of September, 1824. A committee of management has been formed, and the scale is to be very splendid. Sir George Smart's appointment as conductor has been confirmed by a general meeting of the governors of the hospital, at which the Hon. Col. Wodehouse, Lord Lieutenant of the county, presided.
The opera circular has been sent out. Signor Benelli is the ostensible director, and he has been to the Continent to engage performers. The interior of the theatre has been newly decorated, and the following is the list of the vocal strength:-Madame Ronzi de Begnis; Madame Colbran Rossini, from Bologna (her first appearance in this country); Madame Pasta, from the Opera Buffa, Paris (her first appearance in this country these seven years); Madame Vestris; Signor Benelli is in treaty with Madame Catalani for a limited number of nights; Madame Caradori; Madame Graziani; Madame Biagioli; Signor Garcia; Signor Curioni; Signor Franceschi (his first appearance in this country); Signor Remorini, Primo Buffo Cantante, Barcelona (his first appearance in this country); Signor De Begnis; Signors Porto, Benetti, and Rosichi (their first appearance in this country); composer and conductor, Signor Coccia; leader of the band, Signor Spagnoletti.
Rossini is engaged as composer and director of the music. He opens with his Zelmira, and is to produce, it is said, two new operas of his own writing. He arrived in London a few days ago, and an endeavour has been set on foot to give him a public dinner; but with what success we have not heard. The notice originated with a foreign professor, and has not been much relished, we believe, by many of the English musicians of eminence, on the ground that such an honour has no precedent, and is not warranted by their estimation of