Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

government concern, and the receipts have never been equal to the expenditure. We do not know the actual amount either of the one or the other, but no such sum as that which the London Opera obtains can be received or expended. We find that the tax of one decime in a franc of all the receipts at all the theatres in Paris, which they pay as an oblation to the poor, amounted in 1816, (the highest year of seven) to no more than 452,635 francs, wbich makes the total and entire receipt of the eleven theatres of Paris, eight of which are open every night, Sundays not excepted, no more than about eighteen thousand eight hundred pounds. The difference between this and the sums paid by subscriptions and at the door of our houses, is not less extraordinary than important.

The facts we have enumerated are sufficient to prove that the expenses attendant on the payment of charges properly belonging to the capital necessary to be employed in the theatre, in the engagement of the finest possible company, and in the charges incident to thie conduct of the house, ought not, by any mode of fair computation, to reach any thing like the amount of the annual receipts at the King's Theatre; nor do we mean to reduce the cost price to the Parisian estimate. The necessaries of life in this country, imposing a greater expenditure upon individuals, will enforce a considerable advance upon the several heads of disbursement, but even with this admission the sum is extravagantly too large. The inference in favour of the public is obvious; at the same time we can but repeat that the proprietor is rather an object of pity than of censure.There is, it should seem, an abyss still open from the effects of former pecuniary mismanagement and from present legal litigation, wbich is neither to be fathomed nor filled. The proprietor may toil and the subscribers may assemble, but neither the labours of the one nor the resolutions of the other can reconcile contraries or make extremes meet. We are inclined to give the proprietor the fullest credit for intention and ability, not technical (for to knowledge of such a kind he disclaims all pretensions), but for general business-talent. Taking, lowever, the fairest view of the complex combination of conflicting rights, in which lies the solution of the inain difficulty independently of the details respecting foreign engagements, it is to be feared that it may not be very easy for any personal exertions on his part to bring the arrangements of the opera w such a scale as will satisfy the equity of the case, in so far as the

public is concerned. Perhaps it may be in the power of the proprietors of boxes, &c. to render the service required by a different direction of the controul they are desirous of exercising. It strikes us, as not impossible, thạt High Personages, (a sort of arned neue trality,) arbitrators on the part of the public, might succeed where even the decrees of a court have fallen short of the objects. The public have their claims as well as M1. TAYLOR and Mr. Waters, and their claims, like those of the contending suitors, are bottomed upon the quid pro quo, upon the value they give and receive.

It is essential not only to the amusement of the subscribers and of the public at large, but to the interests of science in this country, that the opera establishment should be of the very first kind. The introduction of foreign music (for we may not now confine the term to Italian) and with it our knowledge of the advances made by other countries in composition, but more particularly in practice, both vocal and instrumental, rests upon the engagements of the King's Theatre. The Opera House is the grand reservoir where the waters of science are gathered together, and whence the thousand rills which nourish our English soil, are poured forth. It not only affords the example of its own particular excellence, but it excites that lauda, ble eraulation that sends our native artists to foreign academies for -improvement, and that stimulates the managers of other musical en: tertainments to a competition beneficial to public taste and general knowledge For these reasons it is most important, that persons of judgment should pay a ștern regard to the arrangements, and it is not less consequential, that the price of the entertainment should be so regulated, that the public purse is not vexatiously drained, but that the advantages may be as extensively enjoyed as is consistently pos, sible. Such a surveillance is doubly necessary since competition is shut out. There cannot rest a doubt on the mind of any one that. the real impediments reside in the disputes to which the concern is and has been exposed. Let the noble persons then, who have property in the house, and who entertain so justą view of the rights of the public, turn their attention for a moment to this the previous question, and it may not be perhaps less within their competency to compel a due respect to that public in the inatter of law, than in the matter of management. Interposition with respect to the latter appears hopeless indeed, unless it can be accompanied with the redress of the grievances which have sprung, and are still freshly springing out of the neyer-dying roots of the former.

A Selection of Irish Melodies, with Symphonies and Accompaniments,

by Sir John STEVENSON, Mus. Doc. and characteristic Words by Thomas MOORE, Esq. Seventh Number. London. Power.

Few collections of songs have risen to more celebrity or enjoyed more extensive circulation than the volumes which have preceded the publication which stands at the head of this article. Three circumstances have contributed to bring them into notice--(1.) light and agreeable melodies, easy of execution, and almost certain in their effect—(2.) captivating poetry, and (3.) national self love. The idea of preserving the common ballads of a people was not entirely new, but in this instance it has been very happily executed with a view to give them fresh scope and popularity. Their ancient and more vulgar garb was changed to suit the growing intellectual habits of the classes to which they were now to ascend. They received also a sort of decorative habiliment in the accompaniments of Sir John Stevenson. Thus the original airs remained in the place of the naturally homely viand which furnishes the basis of a modern fricandeau. It gives perhaps the name to the dish, and all the real nourishment it contains, but the flavour and the poignancy which most relish upon the palate, are derived from the superadded ingredients. Plain wholesome food may be at the bottom, but it becomes a la mode or a lu braise, in the process of cooking, and without the sauce piquant it would have probably continued to be thought fit for none but the coarser appetites of the multitude.

Mr. Moore is undoubtedly entitled to the rank and estimation of one of the classics in our language. He is indeed the Anacreon of his age; and if the grape does not prove as fatal to him as to his original, his poetry and his practice do not agree. But with this allowance of authority to his writings, we hold, that in the instance before

us, he has somewhat stooped the chastity of a classical taste to the popularity of bis work, or suffered it to melt away before the glowing heat of bis imagination. The design of perpetuating the native airs of his country in their pristine purity would have been more perfectly completed, had he conveyed to posterity the original sentiments with which the music was associated and which either inspired or were inspired by it. In some instances this would have been impracticable; but it was due to the genius of

[ocr errors]

Ireland to have pursued the principle as far as it could have been carried, and such notices as could have been added concerning the authors and the time of their production, should have been given. By such a method the genuine and original impress of thic individual as well as the national feeling, would have been set upon the airs, and the generations to come would have been made acquainted with all that they could possibly have wished to learn concerning their construction.

As it is, Mr. Moore ląs undoubtedly sent forth to the world a publication comprising in itself much of the remains of national męlody that is valuable. He has united this melody with “ thoughts that breathe and words that burn,” but the sentiments are of a dife ferent age, are in fact his own, and this objection bears with a good deal of strength upon the political character he has invested some of them withal. It is true bis axioms are usually given in general terms, but they still have the unsavoury odour of politics about them, and Mr. Moore will be obnoxious to the charge that he

To party gave up what was meant for mankind,” so long as his opinions are neither those of all Ireland, nor even of the majority of his warm-hearted countrymen. We could neither open nor close the volume before us without this reflection, for the first and last airs are both ta inted by words that forcc it upon us.

These observations will, however, apply, and may be taken to the account of the entire work, for the seventh number is, we think, upon the whole, the best which has appeared. In our review of the new publication of national airs which Mr. Moore has so siccessfully begun, we imagined a subdued fire in his manner, and that his thoughts were suggested from past rather than by present or anticipated joys. There is in this number an instance which so completely yet so beautifully confirms our supposition, that we are tempted to quote the entire song as containing the sweetest verses we remember from the poet's hand, with the exception only of " Lines wrillen at sea."

In the morning of life, when its cares are unknown,
And its pleasures in all their new lustre begin,
When we live in a bright beaming world of our own,
And the light that surrounds us is all from within ;
Oh'tis not, believe me, in that happy time
We can love, as in hours of less transport we may;
Of our smiles, of our hopes 'tis the gay sunny prime,
But affection is warmest when these fade away.

When we see the first charm of our youth pass us by,
Like a leaf on the stream, that will never return;
When our cup which had sparkled with pleasure so high,
Now tastes of the other, the dark flowing urn;
Then, then is the moment affection can sway
With a depth and a tenderness joy never knew;
Love nurs d among pleasures, is faithless as they,
But the love born of sorrow, like sorrow is true!

In climes full of sunshine, tho' splendid their dycs,
Yet faint is the odour the flow'rs shed about,
'Tis the clouds and the mists of our own weeping skies,
That call their full spirit of fragancy out.
So the wild glow of passion may kindle from mirth,
But 'tis only in grief true affection appears ;
To the magic of smiles it may first owe its birth,
But the soul of its sweetness is drawn out by tears.

There is a depth and concentration of feeling in these stanzas, that will have way. Nor is the number wanting in lines of the brightest hue.” If thou'll be minehas all the freshness and the fragrance of the breath of love and youth, while “ To ladies eyes a round boys" is among the most inspiring, most piquant, most gallant songs for the table (before the ladies have left it,) that we can call to mind. Capt. Morris's “ My spirits are mounting," and " The tear that bedews sensibility's shrine," certainly exceed it in the high and rich tone of their sentiment. But they are both compounds of mirth and melancholy. “To ladies eyes” is unmixed, is sparkling, brilliant, and joyous as the theme itself, and bas too the very cast of exquisite archness, that could alone inspire the second stanza.

Thus we think the poetry superior as a whole as well as in parts to any preceding volume, while the airs are certainly not below the former standard. Sir J. Stevenson has scarcely at all disturbed their native simplicity and expression, and our most insurmountable objection rests against the repetition of them in duetts and glees. We should have preferred to have seen more from that store in reserve which the preface promises in continuation. Their natural beauty is certainly not exalted by the addition of parts. They have an intrinsic character which appears to us to be always either weakened or lost in the complication. By the way one of the strongest peculiarities will be found in the uniformity of the closes. Though Mr. Moore at the outset spoke of the “minor third and the flat seventh which intrude into the liveliest strains,

« AnteriorContinuar »