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bling mime- these are faint shadows of what I have undergone from a series of the ablest-executed pieces of this empty instrumental music.
I deny not that, in the opening of a concert, I have experienced something vastly lulling and agreeable; afterwards followeth the languor and the oppression. Like that disappointing book in Patmos, or like the comings on of melancholy described by Burton, doth Music make her first insinuating approaches: "Most pleasant it is to such as are melancholy given to walk alone in some solitary grove, betwixt wood and water, by some brook-side, and to meditate upon some delightsome and pleasant subject, which shall affect him most, amabilis insania and mentis gratissimus error. A most incomparable delight to build castles in the air, to go smiling to themselves, acting an infinite variety of parts, which they suppose, and strongly imagine, they act, or that they see done. So delightsome these toys at first, they could spend whole days and nights without sleep, even whole years in such contemplations and fantastical meditations, which are like so many dreams, and will hardly be drawn from them winding and unwinding themselves as so many clocks, and still pleasing their humors, until at the last the SCENE TURNS UPON A SUDDEN, and they being now habituated to such meditations and solitary places, can endure no company, can think of nothing but harsh and distasteful subjects. Fear, sorrow, suspicion, subrusticus pudor, discontent, cares, and weariness of life, surprise them on a sudden, and they can think of nothing else; continually suspecting, no sooner are their eyes open, but this infernal plague of melancholy seizeth on them, and terrifies their souls, representing some dismal object to their minds, which now, by no means, no labor, no persuasions, they can avoid, they cannot be rid of, they cannot resist."
Something like this "SCENE TURNING" I have experienced at the evening parties at the house of my good Catholic friend Nov-, who, by the aid of a capital organ, himself the most finished of players, converts his drawing-room into a chapel, his week-days into Sundays, and these latter into minor heaven.
When my friend commences upon one of those solemn anthems, which peradventure struck upon my heedless ear rambling in the side aisles of the dim Abbey some five-andthirty years since, waking a new sense, and putting a soul of old religion into my young apprehension — (whether it be that, in which the Psalmist, weary of the persecutions of bad men,
wisheth to himself dove's wings, or that other, which, with a like measure of sobriety and pathos, inquireth by what means the young man shall best cleanse his mind) - a holy calm pervadeth me. I am for the time
-Rapt above earth,
And possess joys not promised at my birth.
But when this master of the spell, not content to have laid a soul prostrate, goes on, in his power, to inflict more bliss than lies in her capacity to receive, - impatient to overcome her "earthly" with his "heavenly," - still pouring in, for protracted hours, fresh waves and fresh from the sea of sound, or from that unexhausted German Ocean, above which, in triumphant progress, dolphin-seated, ride those Arions Haydn and Mozart, with their attendant Tritons, Bach, Beethoven, and a countless tribe, whom to attempt to reckon up would but plunge me again in the deeps, —I stagger under the weight of harmony, reeling to and fro at my wit's end;- clouds, as of frankincense, oppress me priests, altars, censers, dazzle before me the genius of his religion hath me in her toils — a shadowy triple tiara invests the brow of my friend, late so naked, so ingenuous- he is Pope, and by him sits, like as in the anomaly of dreams, a she-Pope too, tri-coroneted like himself! I am converted, and yet a Protestant; at once malleus hereticorum, and myself grand heresiarch: or three heresies center in my person:- I am Marcion, Ebion, and Cerinthus Gog and Magog -what not? till the coming in of the friendly supper-tray dissipates the figment, and a draught of true Lutheran beer (in which chiefly my friend shows himself no bigot) at once reconciles me to the rationalities of a purer faith; and restores to me the genuine unterrifying aspects of my pleasant-countenanced host and hostess.
POSTSCRIPT FROM "LONDON MAGAZINE," 1821.
A WRITER, whose real name it seems is Boldero, but who has been entertaining the town for the last twelve months with some very pleasant lucubrations, under the assumed signature of Leigh Hunt, in his "Indicator" of the 31st January last has thought fit to insinuate that I, Elia, do not write the little sketches which bear my signature in this magazine, but that
the true author of them is a Mr. L-b. Observe the critical period at which he has chosen to impute the calumny, — on the very eve of the publication of our last number, affording no scope for explanation for a full month, during which time I must lie writhing and tossing under the cruel imputation of nonenity. Good Heavens! that a plain man must not be allowed to be
They call this an age of personality; but surely this spirit of anti-personality (if I may so express it) is something worse.
Take away my moral reputation, I may live to discredit that calumny; injure my literary fame, I may write that up again; but when a gentleman is robbed of his identity, where is he?
Other murderers stab but at our existence, a frail and perishing trifle at the best; but here is an assassin who aims at our very essence; who not only forbids us to be any longer, but to have been at all. Let our ancestors look to it.
Is the parish register nothing? Is the house in Princes Street, Cavendish Square, where we saw the light six-and-forty years ago, nothing? Were our progenitors from stately Genoa, where we flourished four centuries back, before the barbarous name of Boldero was known to a European mouth, nothing? Was the goodly scion of our name, transplanted into England in the reign of the seventh Henry, nothing? Are the archives of the steelyard, in succeeding reigns (if haply they survive the fury of our envious enemies), showing that we flourished in prime repute, as merchants, down to the period of the Commonwealth, nothing?
Why, then the world, and all that's in't, is nothing;
I am ashamed that this trifling writer should have power to
move me so.
ON THE ARTIFICIAL COMEDY OF THE LAST CENTURY.
THE artificial comedy, or comedy of manners, is quite extinct on our stage. Congreve and Farquhar show their heads once in seven years, only to be exploded and put down instantly. The times cannot bear them. Is it for a few wild speeches, an occasional license of dialogue? I think not altogether. The business of their dramatic characters will not stand the moral test. We screw everything up to that. Idle gallantry in a
fiction, a dream, the passing pageant of an evening, startles us in the same way as the alarming indications of profligacy in a son or ward in real life should startle the parent or guardian. We have no such middle emotions as dramatic interests left. We see a stage libertine playing his loose pranks of two hours' duration, and of no after consequence, with the severe eyes which inspect real vices with their bearings upon two worlds. We are spectators to a plot or intrigue (not reducible in life to the point of strict morality), and take it all for truth. We substitute a real for a dramatic person, and judge him accordingly. We try him in our courts, from which there is no appeal to the dramatis persona, his peers. We have been spoiled with -not sentimental comedy-but a tyrant far more pernicious to our pleasures which has succeeded to it- the exclusive and all-devouring drama of common life, where the moral point is everything, where, instead of the fictitious half-believed personages of the stage (the phantoms of old comedy), we recognize ourselves, our brothers, aunts, kinsfolk, allies, patrons, enemies, the same as in life, with an interest in what is going on so hearty and substantial, that we cannot afford our moral judgment in its deepest and most vital results to compromise or slumber for a moment. What is there transacting by no modification is made to affect us in any other manner than the same events or characters would do in our relationships of life. We carry our fireside concerns to the theater with us. We do not go thither, like our ancestors, to escape from the pressure of reality, so much as to confirm our experience of it; to make assurance double, and take a bond of fate. We must live our toilsome lives twice over, as it was the mournful privilege of Ulysses to descend twice to the shades. All that neutral ground of character which stood between vice and virtue, or which, in fact, was indifferent to neither, where neither properly was called in question, that happy breathing-place from the burthen of a perpetual moral questioning, the sanctuary and quiet Alsatia of hunted casuistry, is broken up and disfranchised as injurious to the interests of society. The privileges of the place are taken away by law. We dare not dally with images or names of wrong. We bark like foolish dogs at shadows. We dread infection from the scenic representation of disorder and fear a painted pustule. In our anxiety that our morality should not take cold, we wrap it up in a great blanket surtout of precaution against the breeze and sunshine.
I confess for myself that (with no great delinquencies to answer for) I am glad for a season to take an airing beyond the diocese of the strict conscience, not to live always in the precincts of the law courts, but now and then, for a dream-while or so, to imagine a world with no meddling restrictions, to get into recesses whither the hunter cannot follow me
Of woody Ida's inmost grove,
While yet there was no fear of Jove.
I come back to my cage and my restraint the fresher and more healthy for it. I wear my shackles more contentedly for having respired the breath of an imaginary freedom. I do not know how it is with others, but I feel the better always for the perusal of one of Congreve's-nay, why should I not add even of Wycherley's comedies. I am the gayer at least for it; and I could never connect those sports of a witty fancy in any shape with any result to be drawn from them to imitation in real life. They are a world of themselves almost as much as fairyland. Take one of their characters, male or female (with few exceptions they are alike), and place it in a modern play, and my virtuous indignation shall rise against the profligate wretch as warmly as the Catos of the pit could desire, because in a modern play I am to judge of the right and the wrong. The standard of police is the measure of political justice. The atmosphere will blight it; it cannot live here. It has got into a moral world, where it has no business, from which it must needs fall headlong; as dizzy and incapable of making a stand as a Swedenborgian bad spirit that has wandered unawares into the sphere of one of his good men or angels. But in its own world do we feel the creature is so very bad? The Fainalls and the Mirabells, the Dorimants and the Lady Touchwoods, in their own sphere, do not offend my moral sense; in fact, they do not appeal to it at all. They seem engaged in their proper element. They break through no laws or conscientious restraints. They know of none. They have got out of Christendom into the land—what shall I call it? of cuckoldry— the Utopia of gallantry, where pleasure is duty and the manners perfect freedom. It is altogether a speculative scene of things, which has no reference whatever to the world that is. No good person can be justly offended as a spectator, because no good person suffers on the stage. Judged morally, every character in these