Page images
PDF
EPUB

at him. Have mercy, I pray thee, dear Mr. Harlequin! Indulge your facetious personalities

upon

the lean ones, who have room enough to expand in, and who can afford to split their sides a-laughing. But cast none of your ill-timed fooleries in that quarter. I doubt if he will hold together as it is, but if you throw at him the joke direct, Wild Harry is a dead man !

Are there any in the whole area who will experience more genuine satisfaction, than the descendants of Ham? They are huddled together in one corner, dark, cloud-like, a distinct people. How will smiles and pleasantry be diffused over their features, like light bursting from the darkness! How will the whites of those eyes be uprolled in extacy, those even teeth glisten like ivory, and laughter break forth from the bottom of their souls, every laugh being worth a dollar! There, there! — listen to that shout! An unfortunate cur, who has strayed inside by accident, has got his toes severely trampled upon, and lamentably yelping, and running the gauntlet, is kicked out of doors. It is high time that the performances commenced. Music! music!shout the crowd ; and the orchestra without more ado plays a national air. Another piece is performed, and the tramping of horses is heard without.

Do you remember the feelings which possessed you, so charmingly described in one of the essays of Elia, when, a child, you were taken for the first time to the theatre; when the green curtain was drawn, and the tardy musicians crept one by one from some subterraneous place into the orchestra, and at last the overture was over, and the bell rang, and the risen foot-lights burst upon the scene of enchantment ? Such feelings of intense anticipation pervade the rural audi

For now all things are ready, the passage is cleared, and silence reigns within the pavilion. The horses are coming! *Heavens ! look at that white-haired, cat-eyed boy, on the very edge of the ring! He will certainly be run over.'

Leave him alone, leave him alone. He will take care of himself, I warrant you. Nought is never in danger. Tramp, tramp, tramp! There they come. Observe the grand entrée, by four-and-twenty Arabian horses, while the rustic mother claps her infant to her breast, scared by these terrible sports. At the first irruption of the cavalcade, the audience are bewildered with the general splendor of the scene. The horses, beautifully marked and caparisoned, are obedient to the slightest will of the rider, and yet by their proud looks and haughty bearing, seem conscious of their lineage; while the equestrians vie with each other in rich costume, and their plumes dropping softly over their painted faces, make them as bright as Lucifer, in the eyes of the crowd. They ride gracefully, displaying to advantage their elastic forms, swollen into full proportion by exercise and training. As soon as the audience is sufficiently recovered to particularize the different members of the troop, they are attracted by the grotesque behaviour of the clown, who has got upon his horse the wrong way, and sits preposterously facing the tail. In this manner he slips on and off, encouraged with immense laughter. Next the remarks go round, and every one praises to his neighbor the remarkable lightness and agility of a juvenile equestrian. He has not yet completed his eleventh

ence.

summer, and not a horseman in the troop can vie with him in daring. The ladies who adorn the dress circle, regard him with smiles and approbation. 0! pulchrum puerum! What a fair boy! How his ringlets flutter over

his brow, in beautiful dishevelment, fanned by the wanton breeze. They could almost pluck him from his flying steed, and arrest his course with kisses. So light and agile is he, that he appears not human, but, as he flies round the ring with a daring rapidity, and his snow-white trowsers and gemmed vest mingle their colors, and become indistinct, he seems like an apple-blossom floating on the air. But look! look! What the devil is that fellow at, disrobing himself ? He has kicked himself out of his pantaloons, and thrown away his coat, his horse flying all the while. Angels and ministers of grace defend us !' he is plucking off his very

shirt ! Nay, nay, do not be so alarmed, nor turn away your heads, ye fair ones, timidly blushing. Look again, and behold a metamorphosis more wonderful than any in Ovid; for lo! he pursues his swift career in the flowing robes of a woman! And now the pony is to perform a no less wonderful exploit, and leap through a balloon on fire. But why should I enumerate all the feats of this wild crew ? What with riding, leaping, vaulting, and the most astonishing pirouettes, the first part of the diversions is enacted in a charming style. Who can say that he is not satisfied thus far, or has not got the worth of his money? Not that jolly butcher, not that farmer, not that sedentary schoolman, who has materially assisted his digestion by laughing. There is no medicine so good as the genuine ha! ha!'

To me, who am a genuine lover of human nature, and who sit curtained round in a stage-box, as it were, unnoticed by every one, and noticing every one, there is a chuckling delight in looking, not upon the actors of the scene, but on the motley crowd, and listening to such speeches as are naturally drawn from the occasion.

*I'll tell you one thing, and that aint two,' remarks a spectator to his neighbor, that the hoy is wonderful, but if the clown is n't the old one, he is a nigh kin to him.

• That's a fact.'
“He can twist himself wrong side out, he can.

Ay, ay, you 're right there, and he can tie himself into a bow knot.

* These fellows,' says another, “have n't got no bones into their bodies; they are made of Ingen rubber.'

Bill,' remarks the ostler to his bare-footed companion, usually yclept Villiam Viggins, a very bad boy,' fine sort of life, eh, Bill ? What say to try fortunes with 'em? Jeffries, the head man, gin me a fair offer this mornin' to go along with him, and see a little of the world, what I've always had a great hankerin' for, and the great folks of the world, and a sight of things that I and you never dreamed of, and wont never dream of, if we stay here from now to never.

I

say, Bill, I've a mighty great notion of it, and should be glad of you for your company. You are prudenter than I be, by a good sight; contrariwise I am a better bruiser than you be, though I say it. We should pull together han’somely, and make our fortunes. It 's a-high time, Bill, that we should 'stablish a ch'racter. But what takes my eye, these circus-actors live like gentlemen. They crack their jokes, they

do, drink their wine, and live on the fat o' the land. Why can't we do the same, Bill? I can't see what's to perwent it.

There's no two ways about it, and if it is not all true, just what I tell you,

then your name 's not Villiam Viggins. And then it must be mighty agreeable to be dressed in such fine clothes, and to ride on such flashy horses, and to have nothin' to do but to be looked at, and to be laughed at, and to go a-larkin' and a travellin', and seein' all the world, and to be admired at by all the girls in the country. I say, Bill, the notion takes you, you dog; I see it does. And now come let's go out, and have a glass o' beer, and a long nine betwixt us, and talk the matter over a little, afore the entertainments begin ag'in.'

* In the country where I was fetched up,' said the son of Anak, 'no such doings as these is permitted. Two years ago, come next May, a company of circus-actors crossed over the Sound, and come to Bozrah. They sot themselves down, but did n't stay long, I guess, before they were attackted by the town-officers, and sent packing. They pulled up stakes, and took away their duds, and never come back, as I know on. For the people sot their faces like a flint agin 'em. Some few was for letting them act, but Deacon Giles opposed the motion, and carried his p’int, and on the Sabbath followin' stopped a load of hay on full drive through the town of Bozrah.'

In such conversation and exchange of sentiments, the interval · between the acts' is wiled away. The second part of the diversions is a fescennine dialogue, made up of alternate strokes of rude raillery, interspersed with songs and merriment, affording as keen a relish as the best Attic salt.

'De gustibus non disputandum.' Last of all, comes · Billy BUTTON, OR THE HUNTED Tailor. I forget the plot of this piece, exactly, which is yearly enacted with much acceptation in every considerable village in the country. There are some very good points about it, that never come amiss to a rural audience, as when the perverse pony shakes off the cabbaging tailor from his back, not allowing him to mount, or, dangerously

acting on the offensive, chases him around the ring. And now the entertainments are about to conclude, let us indulge a wish that the ladies who have been seated near the crevices in the awning, may not catch their death a-cold, and that no evil whatever may result from the occasion. The clown bounces into the arena with a bow; doffs his harlequin aspect, and assumes the serious air of an every-day man. • Ladies and gentlemen, the entertainments of the evening are concluded. We thank you for your polite attendance.' In a twinkling the canvass is rent down over your heads, the lights are extinguished, and while the equestrians are already preparing to depart to the next village, the motley assemblage moves homeward through the dark night, yelping like savages.

COMPENSATION.
THOSE that on Fancy's pinion soar triumphant o'er their kind,
Oft to that yenturous pennon join a judgment weak or blind;
Like those seraphic forms that stand before the King of kings,
So these, whene'er on Truth they gaze, their eyes veil with their wings.

[blocks in formation]

LITERARY NOTICES.

1

FOUR YEARS IN PARAGUAY. BY J. P. AND W. P. ROBERTSON. In two volumes. Pp.

456. Philadelphia : E. L. CAREY AND A. Hart.

PARAGUAY is less known to the English and American reader, than any other part of the world, into which European civilization has been introduced. At the same time, with all this indefiniteness in our knowledge of this part of South America, a train of singular circumstances, connected with its peculiar government, has created the most eager curiosity among us, to become acquainted with its civil and political history; and this curiosity has been increased by the system of non-intercourse established by the remarkable individual who has controlled its destinies for the last twenty-five years. The Messrs. ROBERTSON, the authors of this work, are two brothers, of whom the elder went to Buenos Ayres, and subsequently to Paraguay, about the time of the unsuccessful attack of General WHITELOCKE on the former place, in 1807, and the younger joined his brother in Paraguay, many years after. The earlier chapters of the first volume are filled with an account of the disaffections and revolts of the provinces of South America from the mother country. To this introductory portion succeeds a description of the scenes through which the elder Robertson passed, upon his journey from Buenos Ayres to Assumpcion, the capital of Paraguay, interspersed with many interesting anecdotes, and portraits of distinguished persons. Several chapters are devoted to the Jesuits, giving an account of their rise, gradual extension, and final expulsion from their favorite Paraguay. The authors being in the city of Assumpcion, at the period of the revolution by means of which the celebrated Dr. Francia obtained the ascendancy, and remaining several years under his domination, beside enjoying the peculiar advantages of personal intimacy with him, may be supposed to possess the means of fully enlightening the world as to the character and policy of that extraordinary man. We are sorry to say, however, that this part of the work is very unsatisfactory. It ends at the very epoch, after which we looked for the most information, the accession of Dr. Francia to the dictatorship. The authors, however, apologize for this sudden termination of the work, because of the loss of an important manuscript, and promise to conclude the subject in a new series.

The volumes are written in a very inartificial, homely style, while the awkward arrangement of the different matters, and the frequent repetitions, show the writers to be little conversant with the art of book-making. The following anecdote of the dictator, and brief sketch of his character, are interesting, and present a fair specimen of the work:

'From this moment Francia became de facto the absolute and undisputed despot. Yet did he not institute his system of terror all at once. It was by gradual process and slow degrees that his heart got chilled, and that his measures, first characterized by callousness, became at length stained with blood. As he advanced to the plenitude of his power, and as his fear of impunity diminished, his character, naturally stern, waxed ferocious. No 'compunctious visitings of nature stopped the cruelty of his course ;

[ocr errors][ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »