Page images
PDF
EPUB

found sufficient for operatic performances, and it is really ridiculous to expect that in New-York, where musical taste is less disseminated, where the population and wealth are on a much smaller scale, that five or six representations could be productive. Besides, the personnel of Mr. Fry's troupe is not large enough to persist in so ill-advised an attempt without fatiguing his artistes, till they are finally hors du combat. There are but one class of opera frequenters in New York, and they are present on subscription nights. The effort to force in a transient public by an entertainment superior to that got up for his regular patrons, is only to offend his best customers and to precipitate his failure. If Mr. Fry can succeed by good management in filling his house three times a week, be Bhould

pay
his

expenses, and realize good profit. If three good houses will not suffice, he had better bring his expenditures within that limit, or prepare for insolvency. If Mr. Fry knew how to employ his resources advantageously, he might, by an occasional Extra Night, and Concert at the Tabernacle, enrich his exchequer without prejudice to his artistes, or his regular public.

The cor.. position of the troupe this year is much weaker than last. We must really applaud the self-confidence of Mr. Fry who begins an Italian Opera season in New York without a contralto, or a baritone ; to say nothing of other serious deficiencies. He must consider us poor New-Yorkers as very ignorant or good-natured to suffer such liberties with our tempers and pockets. We are willing to make some allowance for Afr. Fry's reported endeavors to supply these glaring vacancies, but why did he childishly quarrel with Mad. l'ico, and break her engagement until he had secured a substitute. He may, for all we know, have been justified in his conduct towards Mad. Pico, but what right has he, or any manager to make the public pay for his private grievances. With Pico we might have counted on Semiramide, as certain, and Mr. Fry would have netted enough out of this incomparable opera to have restored the luckless Rosina to his puissant favor. We are astonished to detect symptoms on the part of Mr. Fry to play the petty tyrant with his female artistes, which in an American is, to say the least, very rare.

It is always a foolish undertaking in any body in this community, for to our honor, be it said, a woman right or wrong, native or foreign, is never in waut of a defender against abuse and persecution. It is one thing in Mr. Fry to maintain order in his theatrical domain, to require the punctual fulfilment of contracts, and it is quite another thing his employment of underhand means, as has been asserted on authority, to gratify his dislike for particular artistes. In the case of Mad. Truffi the attempt of her assailants, we cannot believe M:. Fry was amougst them, failed signally. Her worth and popularity carried her through triumphantly.

We have said enough on this occasion to show Mr. Fry we will not neglect our duty to the public to tickle his pretensions. All we fear is, that the indiscriminate approval of the press will turn his head and urge him to commit follies that will end in his ruin. Our purpose now is not to praise him-he has had, we say, too much of that--but with close attention to his business, and a disposition to learn what experience teaches, he may become, what we earnestly hope, the founder of the Italian Opera in New-York. Ils existence so far is only provisional. Mr. Fry has energy, taste, and ambition—these are all valuable qualities. We hope he may employ them judiciously.

We have left ourselves no space to speak of the performances of the month. They have been a repetition the operas of last year. La Borgia, by Truffi, Benedetti, and Rossi, is a feast that New-Yorkers never tire of. The enthusiasm which greeted the entrée of these favorite and accomplished artistes conveyed the esteem in which their high merits are held.

Mad. Laborde, a French singer of some reputation, has been interpolated into the Italian Company, together with her husband, M. Laborde, and M. Dubreuil. This is certainly a novel and rather Irish mode of producing Italian representations in New York, but we are promised substitutes of the Italian school when they can be found. Mad. Laborde

is a goud vocalist, and some of her ornamental singing is very pleasing and effective. Flourishes of the voice, however skilful or marvellous, are but an unsatisfactory pretext for soul and sentiment, of which Mad. Laborde is totally innocent, and in wbich Mad. Truffi overflows to thrilling excess. Though we prefer a thousand-fold la Truffi. yet we admire Laborde, and think her, all French as her singing is, an acquisition to the opera. We shall have an eye on the management for the coming month, and hope to have some thing more agreeable to say of Mr. Fry in our next number. Meanwhile, we wish him all speed.

Park Theatre.-Old Drury gives weekly signs of activity to which it has long been unaccustomed. Attraction succeeds attraction, novelty precedes novelty, and if the same energy endures, the end will be that the Park will finally outrun all competition, and secure the public preference. Mr. Hamblin has always displayed great talents in his direction, but he has given proof of a vigor and versatility we hardly expected. We shall speak of him more fully as his new career unfolds.

That universal favorite, Mrs. Shaw, has returned to the scene of her former triumphs, and with unabated popularity and success. She has begun her engagement in a new part from Dicken's popular novel. She plays it, of course, with charmning effect, but yet we think it below the true level of her powers. Her Ion, Imogen, and Queen Catharine, are more to our taste, and we attend with impatience her appearance in these noble assumptions.

NOTICES OF NEW BOOKS.

The ARCHITECT: Vol. 2, Nos. 1–4. By W. H. Raulett. New York, 1848.

The design of the Architect is a most praiseworthy one; and the manner in which the author has carried it out, so far as we have seen, is in the highest degree commendable. It is the object of Mr. Raulett to furnish a series of plans, accompanied by drawings and specifications, for country residences of all kinds, from the plain farmer's bonse to the elegant suburban mansion and extensive farm villa. The designs comprise a very great number of styles, and display a wonderful versa:ility of invention. Among them are houses in the Gothic. Saracenic. Old French, Old English, Venetian and Anglo Italian styles; but they are all adapted with great ingenuity to the exigencies of our climate, and with wonderui appreciation of the demands of moderu refinement to our habits of cogvenient luxury. It is one of the strongest evidences to our own mind of the appropriate ness of Mr. Ranlett's designs, that we are sure to like the last one published the best of all. There one particnlar in which the “ Architect" excels all other publications of the kind that we have seen, which is the correctness and fulness of the specification; they are made out with such exactness and clearness of detail that the merest novice in building could not miscalculate by following his directions. The letter press, although rather scanty in amount, is by no means il:e least valuable part of the work; it abounds in most excellent Architectural maxims, and is so condensed in style, that a much greater amount of information is conveyed than cowd be reasonably expected. Reader! walk up at once, (it will soon be too late,) and buy at a perfectly ruinous rate.

A FABLE FOR Critics ; or, better-a glance at a few of our literary progenies, (Mrs. Malaprop's work,) from the tub of Diogenes; that is, a series of jokes by a wonderful Quiz, who accompanies himself with a rub-a-dub-dub, full of spirit and grace, on the top of his tub. G. P. Putnam, 155 Broadway.

This very pleasant fable, produced by one who appeare perfectly at ease with himself and his readers, has created considerable surprise and much talk in the town. The Yankee poets are “ pitched into" in a manner at once so clever and just, as, like a well-delir. ered sermon in a village church, to set each wondering how the other will “ take that to himself;" but it also causes all to wonder whence it proceeded. Numberless and many have been the surmises as to the authority for this high-handed dealing with “ American Literature;" many names have been propounded, but as often rejecied, and as yet the bold author remains undetected. Others squirm at the tone of this singular fable, and affirm that some lawyers will call it a libel; but the chief number are those who, eschew.

ing the sheriff, are content to regard it as the effect of the tarift. Under high duties none fabricate merchandise so well as in the diligent clattering city of Lowell, where cotton is turued into shirts when protected; though these may be scarce with the poets dissected. Be that as it may, the author has, in his own clever way, succeeded in sketching poetisal merit, in a manner distinguished for humor and spirit. The Women or THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION. By Elizabeth F. Ellet. New-York: Ba

ker & Scribner.

Mrs. Ellet should have called her new book “Small talk about the Revolution." It is rather a series of sketches concerning events in general, and some ladies who lived during that period, than what its title would seem to announce. In good sooth, the interest with which we perused this agreeable production, was not unmingled with disappointment. We had expected to read less of the fine ladies who received company and lived in style, but more of the heroic matrons who tended the wounded, or took down the rifle from the wall to arm a son or a husband for the battle. We had hoped to gain such an insight of the mysteries of humble life at that important period, as would bear out Mrs. Ellet's somewhat ambitious announcement, that Patriotic mothers nursed the infancy of freedom." Not that we doubt the truth of her statement; on the contrary, we had hoped that she would have adduced more facts in support of it.

Yet, a glance at the real difficulties of the undertaking. will more than exculpate Mrs. Ellet from the sin of omission on this score. When we consider the lapse of years, the defect of chronicles, and the few opportunities which the actresses in that drama enjoyed or improved to speak for themselves. we should rather wonder at the persevering industry which has enabled Mrs. Ellet to collect so much useful information. The style of this writer is vigorous—we had well-nigh said masculine, yet flexible and elastic, and always adapted to the various nature of her topics. We trust the fair authoress will pardon us for venturing an opinion that, while her book rather sharpens than satisfies our curiosity, in regard to the interior life and domestic trials of our respected grandmothers, it contains much matter which we consider somewhat irrelevant. In fact although we must award due praise to her laborious search for materials, we question whether she has displayed snfficient care in the arrangement of her compilation. We are delighted to find such instances as the following brought to light:

Passing through a wild, grand and picturesque country, they (the baroness of Reidesel and her captive husband.) at length arrived in Virginia. “At a day's distance from the place of destination, their little stock of provisious gave out. At noon they reached a house and begged for some dinner; but all assistance was denied them, with many imprecations npon the royalists. “Seizing some maize, I begged our hostess to give me some of it to make a little bread. She replied that she needed il for her black people. They work for us, she added, and you come to kill us.' Captain Edmonston offered to pay her one or two guineas for a little wheat. But she answered, “you shall not bave it even for hundreds of guineas.''

Snch was the spirit of the women of the Revolution; and we are giad to find these obscure instances of it placed upon lasting record. But we are free to confess that we feel but little sympathy for the baroness and her trials. We are generously disposed towards a loyal and conscientious enemy, but we entertain the utmost contempt for the hireling condottieri, who, like the Baron de Riedesel, sold the blood of their soldiers to the highest bidder, waging a ferocious war, not for a principle, however mistaken, but for money. If the delicate baron caught a coup de soleil, we cannot state that we entertain any pity for his case, but rather wonder that the sun of a free country did not frown to the same effect upon all the mercenary followers of the German leader.

We read with keen interest the adventures of Hannah Israel and other women of that stamp, who periled their lives and fortues to aid the cause of liberty. We are proud of the feat of Miss Mary Jackson, who " kicked a tory down the steps;” and of the exploit of the two heroines of South Carolina, who attacked three British officers on the road, disarmed them and took their despatches. But we do not care to know what butterfly of the drawing-room flirted with La Fayette, or how Rebecca Franks astonished Sir Henry Clinton, and won the heart of Sir Henry Johnson by her witticisms. Nor do we think the present compilation the legitimate opportunity of claiming our sympathy for the trials of Lady Ashland. We do not take a very lively interest in the details of the hospitality tendered to Burgoyne and his officers by the daughter of the Patroon of Greenbush.

We regret to be compelled to say, that many of these biographical sketches contain repetitions ; but this was almost unavoidable, owing to the nature of the subject, and must always occur in a collection of notices of contemporary individuals. Perhaps we might also complain, that too large a portion of the work has been devoted to a particular section of the country; but we are little disposed to find faults in a production which

44

has given us much entertainment as well as information. It abounds in anecdotes, many of which had never before been brought before the public. There are incidents for all tastes. Here is a sample : Mary Slocumb, anxious for her husband's fate, repairs to the battle-field, and stops on her way to dress the wounds of some bleeding patriots. Richard Caswell comes up and she enquires:

“Where is my husband ?" “Where be ought to be, madam; in pursuit of the enemy." “But pray,” said he, “how came you here ?"

“Oh, I thought you would need nurses as well as soldiers. See! I have already dressed many of these good fellows, and here is one "-going to Frank and lifting him up with my arm under his head, so that he could drink some more water-" would bare died before any of you men could have helped him."

“ I believe you," said Frank. Just then I looked up, and my husband, as bloody as a butcher and as muddy as a ditcher, stood before us.

" Why, Mary!" he exclaimed, " what are you doing there ? Hugging Frank Codgell, the greatest reprobate in the army ?"

“ I don't care," I cried ; " Frank is a brave fellow-a good soldier, and a true friend to Congress."

" True, true! every word of it!" said Caswell.

Wecopy this incident, because we consider it strongly descriptive of the manners of the day, and of the genuine heroism of the real Women of the Revolution," -affectionate wives and devoted mothers, who hesitated not to buckle on the armor of their husbands and their sons.

“ I have eight children,” says one of these matrons to a British officer, “ and seven of them are engaged in the service of their country.”

Really, madam," observed the oificer, sneeringly; “you have enough of them." “No sir,” said the matron, proudly, “I wish I had fitty."

“Go, boys," says a heroic mother, taking leave of her sons, “ go, boys, and fight to the death. Would to heaven I were a man, so that I might go with you."

Such were the real Women of the Revolution,” not the simpering belles to whom General Wayne alluded, when he wrote: “ Tell those Philadelphia ladies, who attended Howe's assemblies and levees, that the heavenly, sweet, preity red-coats--the accom. plished gentlemen of the guards and grenadiers, have been humbled on the plains of Monmouth. The knights of the Blended Roses, and of the Burning Mount, have resigned their laurels to rebel officers, who will lay them at the feet of those virtuous daughters of America, who cheerfully gave up ease and afluence in a city, for liberty and peace of mind in a cottage."

Of those ladies who smiled upon the "sweet, heavenly red-coats," we, in charity. wish to hear no more, although their wealthy relatives and descendants may feel fialtered to see their ancient names figure in a book of history."

It is a useful feature of Mrs. Ellet's work, that ihé necessity of her subject has often compelled her, as it were, to relate upon the best anthority, many iostances of British cruelty. These incidents have more impressive influence thau a volume of rhetoric expended on the subject. We might sit patiently and hear a speaker expatiate for hours upon the barbarity of a ruthless toe; but our blood boils within our veins when, in ibe pages of Mrs. Ellet, we meet with some single circumstantial account, related in the homely phrase of an humble eye-witness perhaps, of an instance to the point. Who can read unmoved, how Mrs. Richardson pleaded and begged in vain, for the life of a poor youth, whose only crime was fighting for his country. “They hanged bim on a walnut tree, only a few paces from her door, and compelled her to witness the revolting spectacle! When she complained with tears of anguish of this cruelty to herself, they jeeringly told her they would soon have her husband also, and then she should see him kick like that fellow."

Such incidents abound in the text before us; and, did it boast no other merit, we would for that reason alone urge its perusal upon our readers. For when the great day of retribution shall come, it may chance that Mrs. Ellet, in disclosing the sanguinary mysteries of the past, will have sharpened many a sword in behalf of her country. AN AMERICAN DictionARY OF THE English LANGUAGE, &c. By Noah Webster, L.L. D.

Revised and enlarged, by Chauncey A. Goodrich. New-York: Harper & Brothers, Publishers, 1848. We had hitherto entertained, personally, a feeling of demi-hostility against Webster's Dictionary. This feeling was founded partly on piejudice, we freely confess, but principally on a rational attachment to the old orthodoxy of spelling, and on a natural jealousy of arbitrary reform. But, on looking over and consulting the new revised edition wbich Messrs. Harper have lately issued, we find in it a spirit of compromise, a liberal attempt

Jittle way.

at conciliation, and a yielding to counter-revolutionary principles, that have won our critical heart. We recant-we descend from the conservative platform, we fold “the Dictionary” to our bosom, (figuratively.) Nay, more, we profess to be a convert to a degree; we solemnly pledge ourself hereafter to write center, theater and meter, though our rebellious goose-quill sprain its indignaut nib in a spasmodic endeavor to relapse. We likewise promise to spell defense, offense, and pretense with an s instead of c, whenever we shall thiuk of it; but, shade of the lexicographer, take no offence, if we blindly persevere in writing connexion with an x. We defer to counselor with one l only; nor will counselors complain: they are accustomed to retrenchment; and after all, the Dictionary is more liberal than the new fee hills. We consent to sacrifice one l on all the woollen over which we may have control; and although we do not clearly see why, if the latin cancellarius saves the chancellor from being clipped, the French conseiller might not prove equally useful to counsellor. Yet, so biased (with one 8,) do we acknowledge ourselves to be in favor of the new revised system, that we are content to bow, a silent worshiper, before the marvelous genius of the Luther of Orthography.

In making his conciliatory advances to the old established spelling, the Editor of the Revised Edition, lias only carried out the design of the illustrious Lexicographer himself. Indeed, Dr. Webster was obliged to recede in many respects from the high revolutionary ground which he had formerly taken. He found that there was an immense difference between being strictly in the right, and inducing the world to acknowledge it. In vain was his advent hailed as an epoch in language; in vain uid British and American critics unite in declaring this the best, the only English dictionary. The public lauded Webster, praised his research, his industry, the clearness of his definitions, the usefuluess even as well as the reasonableness of his proposed innovations-they praised all these ; but went op spelling in the old way.

Twelve years did Dr. Webster nervously watch the success of his experiment; and at last seeing that the world was getting no more phonographic than before, he retracted iu despair, and yielded a great many of his articles of faith. In this he showed practical wisdom. He saw that in remaining so far beyond the age, he impeded his own usefulness; so he stepped back, and, taking the world by the hand, actually made it advance a

For men are slow in adopting any thorough reform of language, especially the bull-headed men who speak the English tongue. Had any such renovation been attempted with us as that which the Academy of Madrid accomplished with their unsupported ipsi dixerunt, however salutary the proposed measure, it would never have established itself. It is now half a century since that acute philologist, Walker, advocated certain improvements in spelling, which are now just beginning to obtain general sanction. Dr. Webster, therefore, erred most unaccountably, if he hoped to force his canons upon the literary world of his own time. Not it on the verge of matrimony, would we consent to be termed a bridegoom; not if groaning under the weight of Cooper's and James' accumulated novels, could we be induced to say that they were light as a fether.

From many of his bolder positions, Dr. Webster lived to recede ; but his reviser has done more.

In all the cases when the proposed innovations are not irretrievably established, he gives us choice between the old and new spellings, and bearing in view the great American critic's leading principle, that “ the tendencies of our language towards greater simplicity and broader analogies, ought to be watched and cherished with the utmost care,”—he is content to foster those tendencies and nurse them tenderly without risking their ultimate development by an attempt to urge them to a premature growth. Sho:ild our grand-children hereafier see fit to write the English language on principles even purely phopographic, we hereby will, devise and bequeath them our consent. But the present generation will accept only slow and partial reform in spelling. Of this fact, Mr. Goodrich appears to be perfectly aware, and he has given us the great American Dictionary, with all the luminous definitions, and the really useful improvements of its laborions origiuator; but without the more obnoxious of his neological experiments. The present edition, the result of long and tedious labor and research, is also desirable, because it is compressed into a more convenient form. THE IMAGE OF his Father: A tale of a Young Monkey. By the Brothers Mayhewi

with Illustrations. New-York: Harper Brothers.

We hardly know whether to refer this novel to the Dickens School. It resembles it in the choice of the subject, as it brinys low English characters into play. This circumstance is an obstacle in the way of an American reviewer. We are no more qualified to pass judgment as to the orthoepy of Loudon slang, than we are to parse a sentence in Hindos

We can no more decide whether the Jarvys and 'bus drivers of the Brothers Mayhew utter, in its purity, the Cockney vernacular, than criticise, such remarks as "o tum sawàr," which Major Burgoyne sees fit to address to Ramjan Khan, bis domestic.

The plot is to the following effect. Two British officers in the East Indies, Brigadier Farquhar, and Major Burgoyne, send their sons to England at an early age, for the benefit

tanese.

« EelmineJätka »