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scarce endure to be transported by hand from this room to the next. Their vigour is as the instant of their birth. Their nutriment for their brief existence is the intellectual atmoshere of the by-standers: or this last is the fine slime of Nilus—the melior butus, whose maternal recipiency is as necessary as the sol pater to their equivocal generation. A pun hath a hearty kind of present earkissing smack with it; you can no more transmit it in its pristine flavour, than you can send a kiss, Have you not tried in some instances to palm off a yesterday's pun upon a gentleman, and has it answered P Not but it was new to his hearing, but it did not seem to come new from you. It did not hitch in. It was like picking up at a village ale-house a two days old newspaper. You have not seen it before, but you resent the stale thing as an affront. This sort of merchandise above all requires a quick return. A pun, and its recognitory laugh, must be coinstantaneous. The one is the brisk lightning, the other the fierce thunder. A moment's interval, and the link is snapped. A pun is reflected from a friend's face as from a mirror. Who would consult his sweet visnomy, if the polished surface were two or three minutes (not to speak of twelve-months, my dear F.) in giving back its copy 2 I cannot image to myself whereabout you are. When I try to fix it, PeterWilkins's island comes across ;:e. Sometimes you seem to be in the Hades of Thieves. I see Diogenes prying among you with his perpetual fruitless lantern. What must you be willing by this time to ive for the sight of an honest man ou must almost have forgotten how we look. And tell me, what your Sydneyites do P are they th”v°ng all day long P Merciful heaven, what property can stand against such a depredation The kangaroos—your Aborigines—do they keep their primitive simplicity un-Europe-tainted, with those little short fore-puds, looking like a lesson framed by nature to the o Marry, for diving into fobs they are rather lamely provided a priori; but if the hue and cry were once up, they would show as fair a pair of hind-shifters as the expertest loco-motor in the colony.−
We hear the most improbable tales at this distance. Pray, is it true that the young Spartans among you are born with six fingers, which spoils their scanning P-It must look very odd; but use reconciles. For their scansion, it is less to be regretted, for if they take it into their heads to be poets, it is odds but they turn out, the greater part of them, vile plagiarists.-Is there much difference to see to between the son of a th”f, and the grandson? or where does the taint stop P Do you bleach in three or in four generations?—I have many questions to Fo but ten Delphic voyages can be made in a shorter time than it will take to satisfy my scruples.—Do you grow your own hemp 2–What is your staple trade, exclusive of the national profession, I mean P Your lock-smiths, I take it, are some of your great capitalists.
I am insensibly chatting to you as familiarly as when we used to exchange good-morrows out of our old contiguous windows, in pump-famed Hare-court in the Temple. Why did you ever leave that quiet corner PWhy did I?—with its complement of four poor elms, from whose smokedyed barks, the theme of jesting ruralists, I picked my first lady-birds ! My heart is as dry as that spring sometimes proves in a thirsty August, when I revert to the space that is between us, a length of passage enough to render obsolete the phrases of our English letters before they can reach you. But while I talk, I think you hear me, thoughts dallying with vain surmise—
Aye me! while thee the seas and sounding shores Hold far away.
Come back, before I am grown into a very old man, so as you shall hardly know me. Come, before Bridget walks on crutches. Girls whom you left children have become sage matrons, while you are tarrying there. The blooming Miss W-r (you remember Sally "...} called upon us yesterday, an aged crome. Folks, whom you knew, die offevery year. Formerly, I thought that death was wearing out, -I stood ramparted about with so many healthy friends. The departure of J. W. two springs back corrected my delusion. Since then the old di
vorcer has been busy. If you do not make haste to return, there will be little left to greet you, of me, or naille. Something of home matters I could add ; but that, with certain remembrances, never to be omitted, I re
serve for the grave postscript to this light epistle; which postscript, for weighty reasons, justificatory in any court of feeling, I think better omitted in this first edition.
Elia. London, March 1, 1822.
ON BLACK CATS.
Sleep thou in peace, my sable Selima, rest and be thankful, for thou wert born in an enlightened age, and in a family of females, and elderly gentlemen. Well is it for thee, that thou wert not cotemporary with the pious Baxter, that detester of superstition ; or the learned Sir Thomas Brown, the exploder of vulgar errors; or the great Sir Matthew Hale, whose wholesome severities against half-starved sorceresses, so aptly illustrated his position, that Christianity is “ parcel of the common law of England.” Rest, I say, and be thankful, for the good old times had been bitter times for thee. Why should colour excite the malignant passions of man? Why will the sole-patentee of reason, the soi disant Lord of Creation, degrade himself to the level of the Turkey-cock, that is filled with rage and terror at a shred of scarlet? What is a hue— an absorbed or reflected ray, or, as other sages tell, a mere extended thought—that we should love or hate it? Yet such is man, with all his boasted wisdom. Ask why the Negro is a slave? He's black, not like a Christian. Why should Bridget's cat be worried? Why, to be sure, she's black, an imp of darkness, the witch's own familiar; nay, perhaps, the witch herself in disguise: a thing most easily put to proof; for if you knock out Grimalkin's eye, Bridget will appear next day with only one: maim the cat, its mistress halts; stab it, she is wounded. Such are the dangers of necromantic masquerading, when the natural body is punished with the stripes inflicted on the assumed one: and this was once religion with royal Chaplains, and philosophy with the Royal Society! These superstitions are gone: this Vol. V
baseless fabric of a vision is dissolved ; I wish that it had left not a wrack behind. But when Satan disappears, an unsavoury scent remains behind him ; and from the carcass of buried absurdity, there often proceeds an odour of prejudice—the more distressing, because we know not whence it comes. Neither elderly ladies nor black cats are now suspected of witchcraft; yet how seldom are they fully restored to their just estimation in the world. Be it perverseness, or be it pity, or be it regard for injured merit, I confess myself an advocate for the human tabbies, so famed for loquacity, and for their poor dumb favourites in black velvet. Whether it be true, that Time, which has such various effects on divers subjects, which is so friendly to wine, and so hostile to small-beer, which turns abuse to right, and usurpation to legitimacy, which improves pictures while it mars their originals, and raises a coin no longer current to a hundred times the value it ever went for; – whether this wonder-working Time be able to deface the loveliness of woman, shall be a subject for future inquiry. But, my pretty Selima; 'thou, that like Solomon's bride, art black, but comely; thee, and thy kind—the sable order of the feline sisterhood, I would gladly vindicate from those aspersions, which take occasion from the blackness of thy coat to blacken thy reputation. Thy hue denotes thee a child of night; Night, the wife of Chaos, and being a female, of course the oldest female in being. How aptly, therefore, dost thou become the favourite of those ladies, who, though not so old as night, are nevertheless in the evening of their days. Thou dost express thy joy at the return of thy mother, even as the statue of Memmon at the approach of her rival, frisking about in thy mourning garb by moonlight, starlight, or no light, an everlasting merry mourner; and yet a mute in dress, and silence too, not belying thy name by volubility. How smooth, how silky soft are thy jetty hairs A peaceful multitude, wherein each knows its place, and none obstructs its neighbours. Thy very paws are velvet, and seem formed to walk on carpets of tissue. What a pretty knowing primness in thy mouth, what quick turns of expression in thy ears, and what maiden dignity in thy whiskers. Were it not for thine emerald eyes, and that one white hair on thy breast, which I abstain from comparing to a single star, in a cloudy sky, or a water lily lying on a black lake, (for, in truth, it is like neither,) I should call thee mature's monochrom. And then the manifold movements of thy tail, that hangs out like a flag of truce, and the graceful sinuosity of thy carriage, all bespeak thee of the gentle kind. False tokens all : thou can'st be furious as a negro despot; thy very hairs, if crossed, flash fire. Thou art an earth-pacing thunder-cloud, a living electric battery, thy back is armed with the wrath of Jove. Hence do thy enemies find occasion to call thee a daughter of darkness, clad in Satan's livery—a patch on the fair face of nature ; and therefore, an unseemly relic of a fashion, not only unbecoming in itself, but often perverted to the purposes of party. Yet, my Selima, if thy tribe have suffered much from the follies of mankind, they have profited by them also. If the dark age looked black upon them ; if the age of black arts, black friars, and black letter set them in its black-book, and delivered over their patronesses to the blackness of darkness; yet time hath been when they partook of the honour and wor
ship paid to all their species, while,
they walked in pride at the base of the pyramids, or secreted their kittens in the windings of the labyrinth. Then was their life pleasant, and their death as a sweet odour. This was, indeed, common to all thy kind, however diversified by
colour, or divided by condition.— Tabby and tortoise-shell, black, white, and grey, tawny and sandy, gib and grimalkin, ye were a sacred race, and the death of one of ye was mourned as a brother's—if natural ; and avenged as a citizen's—if violent: and this in the cradle of the sciences, (so called, I presume, because the sciences were babies there,) and in spite of the 700,000 volumes of Alexandria. Yet I cannot but think that the wise Egyptians distinguished black with peculiar reverence. We know that their religion, like their writing, was hieroglyphical ; that their respect for various animals was merely symbolical ; that under the form of the ox, they gratefully remembered the inventor of agriculture, and adopted a beetle as the representative of the sun. Now, of how many virtues, how many powers, how many mysteries may not a black cat be an emblem P As she is cat, of vigilance; as she is black, of secresy; as both, of treachery, one of the greatest of o virtues, if we judge from the high rewards continually given, and daily advertised for it. Again, we know the annual circle, and the signs by which it was measured, was another object of idolatry; but one ample half of time is typified by a black cat. But should these deep speculations be deemed mystical by the present age, which, if it be an age of light, is certainly an age of lightness, it may, at least, be admitted, that the Egyptians would prefer their own colour, and we are assured by Volney and others, that they were not only black, but literally negroes. As for the esteem they entertained for cats in general, we may account for it on the supposition, that they were delivered, at some period of their history, in an extraordinary manner, from a swarm of rats, either mational or political. And that the agents of this deliverance were represented under the feline figure, which may be plausibly considered as a bodily representative of the spirit of reform. After all, Selima, I doubt whether thou hast lost as much by never being worshipped as thou hast gained by living in a Christian country. State is burdensome, and superstition' is seldom prone to regard its objects with affection. But there is one of thy hues whose condition might have been envied by all the sacred mousers of Egypt.
Well may she be proud and coy, whom fate has appointed, not to be the idol of the children of Ham, but the favourite of the loveliest of the daughters of Britain.
REPORT OF MUSIC.
The Opera, however fashionably it proceeds under the auspices of its noble Committee, languishes in respect to its original and greatest charm – its music. Il Barone di Dolsheim, an Opera, by Signor Giovanni Pacini, is the only novelty that has been brought forward, and its recommendations are so few, as scarcely to entitle it to remembrance. Pacini is an imitator of Rossini, but he appears to miss the leading points of attraction in that composer—animation, and melody. He aims at como and his Opera contains ittle, beside concerted pieces, which render it heavy and tiresome. Signor Cartoni, on this occasion, made his debut. He is a singer of limited powers, and very far below the first class. Both Madame Camporese and Signora Caradori had characters; the former in one affecting scene sustained her reputation ; but time and experiment only lead to the conviction that the powers of the latter are too feeble for the amplitude of space in which they are excited. Signors Curioni, Ambrogetti, and Placci, were also among the dramatis personae. There was little for Curioni to do, but Ambrogetti contrived to render himself as prominent and as high in favour as usual; the whole, however, is tiresome, and the Opera will have but a short life, and by no means “a merry one.”
The Concerts of Ancient Music are commencing under the same list of royal and noble directors, and with nearly the same orchestra, as last year. Indeed, this establishment is one of principles, and these principles are confirmed by the testimony of consenting ages. So long therefore as it exists, and we hope, for the sake of the fine examples it holds forth, it will exist so long as music is known in England, the Concert can undergo little change, although it has the
power to introduce and preserve a succession of style more complete than any more modern accademia. The rule that twenty years must have passed over a composition before it can be heard from this orchestra, demands no more than the consecrating hand of time, while, it gradually opens the same train (at this remove indeed) as is open to other performances, and affords the additional security that the piece will be proved worthy by having been retained so long in recollection. It is certainly highly desirable to hear the splendid and perfect effects roduced by this band—but no room n London is so difficult of access. Surely the noble directors would render an acceptable service to art if they would open some door to those who have earned a title to distinction, and whose taste might be matured by hearing such a Concert. The subject is worthy the consideration of these great conservators and promoters of legitimate science. . . The Oratorios at Covent Garden are this year under the management of Mr. Bochsa, and the conduct of Sir George Smart. The first, which took place on January 30, was a splendid erformance. Part I. consisted of a election from the Messiah; and the second, of a portion of Rossini's Sacred Oratorio, Mose in Egitto. The third was a miscellaneous Act, commencing with Mr. Attwood's Coronation Anthem, and comprehending a motley mixture of sacred and profane, The Heavens are telling, and Quel occhietto coccoletto. These mixtures are a monstrous satire upon the religious observances which assume the necessity of excluding the public from the enjoyments of the theatre, and, at the same time, allow the commingling of the highest mysteries of Christianity with the lowest bufo: of the Italian comic Opera. 2
The orchestra exhibited a grand display of talent; no less than eight of the principal English and Italian female, and twelve male, vocalists of both countries, and of the first class. The instrumental band was equally numerous, and well assimilated in its proportions. The manager, Mr. Bochsa, who of all living artists ossesses the most unbounded fertiity, activity, and facility, accompanied by eminent genius, has himself produced an Oratorio, to be .." The Deluge, to words written by Mr. C. Dibdin, which will very shortly be given under his own direction, and with an orchestra of augmented power. There is, therefore, every appearance of these performances being continued with great ; during the present season. We shall render an important service, both to the public and the profession, if we can impress upon the manager that a very general fault is their enormous length, which fatigues even the gluttons in music, and injures his own interests by sending the hearer away so supersatiated, that his appetite is rarely strong enough to venture upon a second such entertainment, although he cannot find it in his heart to make a timely retreat from the first. The Vocal Concerts, so long a favourite resort of the fashionable world while conducted by Messrs. Greatorex, Bartleman, and the Knyvetts, are no more; but will undergo a transmigration and revival, under the name of Subscription Concerts, to be given by the surviving proprietors, Messrs. Greatorex and W. Knyvett, at the smaller rooms of the Royal Harmonic Institution. The plan is said to be entirely new ; but the difference appears to lie only in the exclusion of chorusses, and the introduction of an instrumental quintette, or quartette. To the honour of English humanity and art, a Subscription Concert for the benefit of the widow and children of Andreas Rombergh, the celebrated composer, was given at the Argyll Rooms, on the 11th of February. Madame Catalani has been at Liverpool, where she was received with the most unbounded delight. This
singer has announced her intention of declining all engagements for a fixed sum, and of giving a few Concerts in London previous to her final retirement. The publications of this month are headed by a third volume of National Airs, from Mr. Moore and Mr. Bishop. The prominent beauties of the first number immediately raised this work to the highest estimation. The second, though it could not boast of single pieces as exquisite as the first, was yet excellent and equal. This number, perhaps, is scarcely so brilliant in its poetry as either of the former; but, upon the whole, is fully upon a par with No. II. Mr. Moore's facility seems less, and his vigour and wantonness are settling down into calmer, more tender, more melancholy sentiments. We too, probably feeling the effects of time, may like his conceits less, and his pensiveness more; such, at least, are our impressions. This number contains additional marks of Mr. Bishop's talent. The symphonies and accompaniments are as felicitous as any part of the work. There is a very elegant publication, The Beauties of Rossini, selected and arranged by Mortellari. This first number contains the best airs, duets, and trios, in Il Barbiere di Siviglia. Much of Rossini's music deserves to live for its vivacity and its melody, and in this form his Operas are stripped of the load of recitative and chorus, and complicated finales, which are rarely pleasurable to general collectors; if then, the publication be rendered at less cost than the foreign scores, it cannot fail to be useful and successful, considering the demand there now is for Italian music. The new Novel of The Pirate has furnished in its poetry themes for musicians. The Serenade, Love wakes and weeps, has been already set by Mr. Banister, Mr. Wilson, and Mr. S. Webbe, Jun. The second has ventured to settle the long disputed point as to the authorship of the Scotch Novels, by assigning peremptorily these words to Sir Walter Scott, in his title: this is the least worth notice of the three; Mr. Banister's is just pretty. Mr. Webbe's has much more pretension, but it is somewhat lowered by being too chromatic. His Farewell to Northmaven is a good imitation of Scotch melody, and is agreeable and expressive; Sir John Stevenson's Soft Breezes Breathing, is a very poor thing indeed. We hope his genius is not on its death bed It begins to “babble of green fields.” Mr. Kiallmark has two really sweet songs: Araby's Daughter, to which he has put symphonies and accompaniments, and Helen's Farewell, an elegant and plaintive melody.