Page images
PDF
EPUB

Gossip with READERS AND CORRESPONDENTS. — ' Expect not, hope not, thou too much,' indulgent reader, of our humble departments, at this present. Believe us, if we are either over dull, desultory, or didactic, there is what the lawyers call a' moving why' for it; an argument peculiar to May-day in Gotham; a period when, as Dickens says, “all the letters of the alphabet are seized with a sudden wish to go out boarding and lodging;' when large houses and small, country houses and town houses, are seeking demand or are demanded; when furniture-carts are traversing the metropolis in every direction, piled to the top with properties 'too numerous to mention ;' when the house-wise pouts and men-folk grumble ; and a chaos, more miscellaneous than that lately described by · Punch,' every where prevails. We have lately been in the midst of great confusion ; seeking a house, and finding none, save such as “extended long and large,' or the reverse, a building sufficiently capacious to enable a small family to get in, but in the construction of which, an occasional inclination to turn round and get out again had not been thought of by the architect. We are moving, moving, MOVING, at length, however, in compliance with a ridiculous custom, which has nothing but age to recommend it; and beyond that fact, have not a word to add in extenuation of any editorial “short-comings' which may be apparent in the present number. •.We must have hit Mr. Hudson, the SHAKSPEARIAN commentator, in the raw,' in the few remarks which we devoted to him in our last number. We are informed that in a lecture the other evening upon Hamlet and the sagacious and well-gloved Editor of the KNICKERBOCKER,' he adverted among other things to his reported opinion touching Lady Macbeth, which he denied, with the gentleman-like exclamation, That's a lie."' «These be parlous words ;' and we merely record them in honor of the courtesy and good taste of their uiterer. In the mean time, lest it might be thought by a few persons that our impressions of Mr. Hudson's style and matériel expressed an individual rather than a general opinion, we invite the reader's attention to the remarks of two or three of our respected contemporaries, touching upon all the points to which we ourselves alluded. The observations of the “ Albion,' a journal distinguished for the candor and discrimination of its criticisms, literary and dramatic, are more severe than any which we thought it expedient to make; although we cannot but admit their justice. The fol. lowing alludes to the lecture on Hamlet:

•Mr. Hudson certainly presented nothing new or original in his attempted analysis of the character of HAMLET; all he said was but a stereotyped view of this mighty creation, familiar to every reader of the critics and annotators of SHAKSPEARE. We felt as we have done in listening to what is termed a new opera, where the melodies and combinations of harmonies prove such fumiliar acquaintances, that we seem to have whistled them all our life. To those who have never studied our great poet, and have neglected an acquaintance with his critics and commentators, Mr. Hudson may be deemed an original genius; an original he certainly is, in more senses than one; for he contrives to make his critical strictures pivots' or organs,' from which he trots out,' to use one of his favorite phrases, some of the most bizarre and eccentric tirades on morals, politics, and religion, that we ever remember to have heard presented to refined or intelligent audiences, and this too, in a manner which absolutely beggars description on paper. We should stamp this as bad taste under any circumstances, but in connection with a serious disquisition on one of the greatest compositions in our language, our condemnation would be doubly severe. SHAKSPEARE with us is but another name for all that is intellectual, noble and elevated in human nature. We would not approach his shrine to desecrate it with buffoonery or the tricks of a mountcbank anxious to excite the risibility of his auditors. Or the style of Mr. Hudson, as a writer, we can but echo the opinion expressed even by his warmest ad. mirers; it is antithetical to an extent that is both tiresome and ridiculous. Of his elocutionary pow. ers we dare not speak as they deserve.' Nothing could be more affected than the manner which he dignifies by characterizing it as 'natural!'

The · Albion' condemns the flippant sarcasm' which Mr. Hudson visited upon Mr. MACREADY for his conception of the scene with Polonius; and has a trenchant hit at the brilliant logic displayed in the sage deduction that the Lord Chamberlain was an entirely selfish person ; an idea inferred from the passage :

• This above all; to thine ounself be true;
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.'

Mr. Hudson, it would seem, construes this advice to mean that Polonius' principle of action was an especial regard for ' number one! Well may the 'Albion' ask : 'Could any thing he more preposterous ? Why, the merest tyro in ethics would confound this learned pundit.' The subjoined is a passage from the review of a subsequent lecture, on MACBETH:

Mr. Hudson is a skilful compiler, and an ingenious adapter of other men's thoughts; he dishes up his cento in choice phraseology, and to give an air of originality to his productions, adopts the antithetical style to an extent that, however it may strike at first, becomes upon acquaintance, tedious, almost to nausea. His elocution, too, is part of the system ;' its oddity begets notoriety, and the lecturer's end is answered. If these were the only faults chargeable on Mr. HUDSON, we should leave him quietly to pursue his vocation. We would not object to any peripatetic lecturer serving up the choice morsels of COLERIDGE, SCHLEGEL, HAZLITT, KNIGHT and VERPLANCK, in a presentable form; there are many who might profit by such a process; and were there even more of these lecture-compilers on the great bard, we believe society might be benefitted. But we must object to Mr. Hudson as an expounder of SHEAKSPEARE. We are not willing to pin our faith on his claims to infallibility. We follow him with some degree of respect, when he skilfully arrays the thoughts of others in a lucid form ; but we become indignant, when he presumptuously attempts to advance opinions on the character of our cherished bard, at variance with all received conceptions, and which are opposed to the letter and spirit of the text on which he attempts to annotate. We last week endeavored to show the absurdity of his attack on the character of Polonius. Jo bis second lecture, be took a bold flight, and absolutely denied to Lady Macbeth the possession of mind or reflection ! Now, did we not conscientiously believe, that these startling attempts at originality of conception formed part of the system to attract notoriety, we should charitably believe them aberrations of mind, or that they arose from inability adequately to analyse the true meaning of language; or to want of perception distinctly to comprehend character.'

These remarks, from the pen of a gentleman who has long been one of the most thorough students of SHAKSPEARE among us, and who is intimately conversant with the writings of his earliest and latest commentators, embrace all the points touched upon in the observations which we deemed it proper to make, in relation to Mr. Hudson. Other publications expressed similar opinions. Our contemporary of the ‘Broadway Journal' pronounced his enunciation the worst provincial drawl that ever wounded a human ear. For ourselves,' added the editor, “we wonder that any body could be induced to listen to Mr. HUDSON a second time: perhaps, if we had survived the first lecture that we attended, we could have gone again, but that was impossible. Such was the peculiar effect of his drawling enunciation upon our nerves, that after sitting fifteen minutes in the sound of his voice, the marrow in our bones began to dissolve, our teeth were set on edge as by the filing of a saw, and chills crept over us like an ague-fit; to have listened a moment longer would have induced a paralysis, or something worse ; and we did not begin to resume our usual serenity until we had been jolted in an omnibus from the Stuyvesant Institute to Bowlinggreen.' Our friend, the associate-editor of the Courier and Enquirer' daily journal, for whose kind commendations of this Magazine we desire to express our sincere gratitude, pronounces our remarks upon Mr. Hudson's lectures unjust and 'unconscientious.' Not so, dear Şir. We went to hear Mr. Hudson twice, at the instance of two or three friends, who then thought him original and striking.' We found him sufficiently striking, as we have said, but far less original. He was bent upon repeating strong things, fine things, good things, wise things, and severe things, all in the same breath. In common with many others, we saw through the adroit disguise of his uncouth manner, which was afterward somewhat subdued, a circumstance brought about by a species of practical admonition which was not to be disregarded. A great poet represents a great portion of mankind; and we believe with the 'Journal' that there are a thousand young men in our city fully as competent to instruct or entertain the public' by SHAKSPEARIAN readings and comments as Mr. HUDSON. Yet it was given out that Mr. Hudson was to take the metropolis by storm. No modern lecturer upon SHAKSPEARE had approached him. From a high intellectual elevation, he 'beheld the distant tops of thoughts which men of common stature never saw.' Boston had crowned him with honors. He had delivered his first lecture to a scattered few, but no man could number the entranced audiences that flocked to hear his closing performances. With this prestige in his favor, we went to hear him. We found him what we endeavored to describe him. We certainly did not use holiday phrases in our hasty limning, but we wrote without ill-nature, and without an unkind feeling

toward Mr. HUDSON, for we did not know and had never before seen him. We adopted his own often-vaunted freedom of speech; for although, like old AsgiLL, ' we can write as softly as other men, 'with submission to better judgments,' and we leave it to you, gentlemen; we are but one, and always distrust ourself; we only hint our thoughts; you will please to consider whether you will not think that it may seem to deserve your consideration,' and the like. This is a taking way of writing; much good may it do them that use it!' Mr. Hudson eschewed this style, and so in his case did we. He should not have been offended thereat. We simply expressed our candid opinions of his matter and manner; opinions, as we have shown, that are shared by our contemporaries. The result of Mr. Hudson's labors is what might have been anticipated. Such sentences as these, in the notices of his successive lectures, tell the whole story : 'a select though not crowded audience;' his hearers were not as numerous as they should have been;' there was more quality than quantity in his audience ;' the fact that his audiences have been small is discreditable to the public,' and so forth. Indeed, Mr. Hudson himself declared, at the close of his last lecture, that he had not succeeded in New-York, (he admits, however, we understand, that there are some good minds' in town!) but he intended to do so, before he died.' We trust he may ; but he must first greatly improve himself; a laudable object, to which we learn he intends to devote the ensuing summer. That Mr. Hudson's audiences were “small by degrees and beautifully less,' in this metropolis, was owing to himself entirely. The 'once-goers, as the Germans phrase it, were subsequently very shy. As Count D'Artois said to STEPHEN KEMBLE, when he asked him to repeat his visit to the Edinburgh theatre, to see him play Falstaff, 'with which he had been so highly pleased:' • Yaas, I was mosh please ; I laugh mosh; yaas, it was good fun; but one soche fun, it is enoff!' And so no more at present,' Mr. HUDSON, ‘from yours' in the bonds of sympathy, * The sagacious and well-gloved Editor of the KNICKERBOCKER.' • . · Weshall be happy to hear from ‘M.' with ‘facts and proofs' touching his mesmeric revelations. That there is a far-seeing discernment in the spirit, which reaches beyond the scope of our incarnate senses, we can well believe; but how? - that is the important question; can our correspondent, or any one else, answer it? We would call the especial attention of our town readers to the course of lectures upon elocution, and the SHAKSPEAREAN readings of Mr. MURDOCH, at the Society Library. The metropolitan journals, we perceive, are unanimous in his praise. We have heard him with unqualified pleasure. He has a pleasant, full voice, an unaffected manner, and possesses an intimate and practical knowledge of his subject and his author. He has attracted large and admiring audiences, who have confirmed the high reputation which preceded his arrival from Boston. · .. THERE was found one morning recently, on the floor of our publication-office, doubtless thrust under the door in the evening, the following communication. It was enveloped, first in a hard parchment-like sheet of dingy foolscap, folded end-wise, and sealed with a huge yellow wafer, and again in a wrapper made of an old newspaper, which was tied irregularly around in a winding way,' with a dirty cotton string. We assure our readers that it is what it purports to be, a veritable production :

MISTER EDITUR: Inclosed you will find a poem, which you are at Liberty to publish, on the sole condition that you will put it in a good place in your Magazin, and not stick it away, in which case your own good Sense will show you niether of us won't be much benefited; and I shall ask no other Recompens for it but a good Consciens -- barely, that you recommend it to the Public, and leave me, say twelve to fifteen copies of the KNICKERBOCKER to the publishing-offis, to send to the friends of the Girl. I send it to you because I am willing to contribute my might and help ou with a Deserving publication; and I have got more of the same stamp; and I assure you, my dear Sir, you shall be thought of fust. I shall publish a volum of Poems, of which this is one. They comprise all subjects, from the Theatrical to the religiously-inclined ; and from the album to the expanded swellings of Oriental beauty. Some are humerous and some are of different metres. Some are of a high grasp, others again are similar if not slightly contrary; and not one I hope which will not contain some wholesom worel — but Transcendentalism I despise. It is that which is breaking the heart of literature of the

present, and ringing tears out of the nostrils of the best spirits of the age. A century ago, if sum of them filosofers had been told of it, they would have said it was a figment; and God help us, if that cloud is to hem up the progress of a national literature, our shipwrek is clus to hand. Excuse me if I speak with too much apparent severity, but not more than they deserve. I shall renew this subject again - and in the meantime I remain, yours,

CHARLES W. GABENHAN.

The poem which was enclosed, was entitled • Sweet Little Susanna,' and ran for a short distance as followeth:

*Lamp of my Love! light of my eye!

My Glory and my banner;
To thee I would take the wings of a dove and fly,
Sweet little SUSANNA!

•My cousin, my rich Lily of the Valley,

í had oughi to extol you in a proper manner, Forgive my enthusiastic muse if it should dally,

Sweet little SUSANNA!

I see you in the town of Jericho last autumin,

'T was but a Glance while the sunbeam was my tannet; I see thee, I did see thee while I was a-sportin,'

Sweet little Susanxa!

• I see you a-passin' by the sparklin' river;

We had hauled our little boat, and was goin' to man her;
Your glance was like a arrow out of a quiver,

Sweet little Susanna!' Here Mr. GREENHAM says: “Turn over; I mean on the other side of the paper, Mr. EDITUR.' Not being a “hint' for a personal movement precisely, we obeyed the direction, and found on a succeeding page much more of the same order of genius, the infliction of which however we withhold for the present. Mr. GREENHAM adds, in a postscript : Your can say sumthin' about the Volum of poems if you think fit in your · Editur's Table.' This is about the poorest of the hul lot, as I did n't want to injur the sale by publishing the best; and I would n't like to have this pirated; so I think if you can take out a copy. right, and give notice underneath in the usual form, it would be good.' Mr. GREENHAM is without a compeer in versification, saving and excepting the composer of the 'Adventures in Michigan,' (for which we are indebted to our friend -W. A. S.,' and concerning which we may have more to say hereafter,) and the writer of the · Valentine,' from which we take these lines:

"I HAVE seen thee in the graceful dance,
And sing, if possible, with still more elegance!
But oh! thy virtues I can trace
In every feature of thy form and face;
Therefore doth all my feelings thus combine,
To you to scod this Valentine.
I am in love with you, dearest -
Tell me what it is you foarest!
Tell me, oh! tell me, if your youthful heart
Reatest with generosity to assuage my smart?
What mean that blush and yonder downcast sigh?
What mean the pearly tears that stud thine eye ?"

and so forth. We have seen as good grammar as the above in many pieces of verse, but we have seldom encountered such • poetry' as these lines contain. But to revert to Mr. GREENHAM: we regret to perceive that he is disposed to disparage Transcendentalism. A plain Eastern gentleman, on being asked what this “new thing' was, replied: 'I have not the dimmest conception or the remotest idea. I have heard of it, have seen it, have even touched it with gloves; but ’pon my soul, I can't ascertain what it is. In my opinion it isn't' A correspondent of the ‘Boston Transcript daily journal has made it obvious to the meanest capacity. Transcendentalism is a state of refined oneness; the glory of gushing dualism, where alway the exalted instincts of our inner nature are kept in view; ever exhibiting existence as it should be, as it may be, as in a few beacon-instances, it is : celestial also,

stalking like a giant of the father-land through the heavens, and making the stars its stepping-stones. “The enlightened student, therefore, discovers transcendentalism to have four phases, and of course to be quarternian and lunar. The first phase is oneness, and this is crescent; the second phase is dualism, and this is semi-circular; the third phase is na. ture, and this is semi-circular plus; the fourth phase is celestial, and this is circular, and of course lunar. Transcendentalism is then the spiritual satellite of man. In the solemn hour of midnight, when the abstract idea holds its dark sway over the sinking-spirit, its silvery light comes with superhuman radiance, and pours floods of intelligence and glory upon the obscure darkness of an unintelligible picture! We trust that Mr. GREENHAM will rest satisfied with this lucid exposition of what has hitherto by many persons been somewhat dimly understood. . . One of the newspapers mentions it as a note-worthy circumstance, that recently at one of the provincial towns in England a "Grand United Funeral Society' celebrated their anniversary with a ball. This is not an usual circumstance. M’lle DESHAYES once danced the Death of Nelson' at the London opera-house, and CRUMMLES' 'infant phenomenon' performed an elegiac-pas with great power and pathos. We have had several communications, evidently from fair correspondents, expressing cordial approbation of the rebuke of Old Bachelorism with which we accompanied the · Poetical Epistle' of our married contributor, in our last number; and we are desired to pursue the subject,' to 'cry aloud and spare not,' and so forth. Perhaps we cannot better subserve the purposes of our fair friends, than by holding up before the unfortunate class whose obduracy we alike deplore, some of the dangers to which they are exposed. In the first place, they are growing old, and their personal attractions are taking wing. By and by they will be frightful. There was a ‘Bachelor's Thermometer once faithfully kept by the author of 'Grimm's Ghost, to portions of which we now proceed to invite the serious attention of our anti-connubial readers. At thirty-six, he discovers his hair to be growing thin. He buys a bottle of · Tricosian Fluid,' but finds it a 'flattering unction.' Thinness of hair increases, awakening serious thoughts of a wig. He meets an old college friend with a 'thatch' that makes him look · like the devil in a bush,' who mystifies him with the remark that he wears well.' About this time he gives up cricket-playing. The air about the grounds is so bad that he can't run in it, without being out of breath! He finds some solace for his mortified vanity in the sight of eighteen bald heads in the pit at the opera. “So much the better; the more the merrier.' By this time too he is growing fat: “Tried on an old great-coat, and found it an old little-one. How cloth shrinks ! *Red face putting on shoes, Bought a shoe-horn. Remember quizzing my uncle for using one ; but was then young and foolish.' A year after, he records : “Several gray hairs in whiskers: all owing to carelessness in manufacture of shaving-soap. Remember thinking my father an old man at thirty-six. The following year he gives up country-dancing : • Money-musk certainly more fatiguing than formerly. Fiddlers play it too quick! Wondered how sober mistresses of families could allow their carpets to be beaten by quadrilles. Met two school-fellows; both fat and red-faced. Used to say at school that they were both of my age : what lies boys tell! A year elapses : ‘Gout again! That disease certainly attacks young people more than formerly! The next entry is : ‘Bought a hunting-belt. Braced myself up till ready to burst. Intestines not to be trifled with: threw it aside. Young men now-a-days much too small in the waist. Read in the Times' an advertisement of pills to prevent corpulency:' bought a box. Never the slimmer, though much the sicker.' A growing dislike to the company of young men, all of whom ‘talk too much or too little,' succeeds; until, at the age of forty-nine, with “top of head quite bald,' he resolves 'never to marry for any thing but money or rank.' A year after, the age of wis. dom,' he marries his cook. Thereafter he employs some of his leisure in setting forth the folly of an old bachelor who 'struggles against fate, and defies the hours:' . Time sometimes makes his chief inroads upon the face, sometimes upon the figure, and sometimes, like bidders at an auction, in two places at once. When he helps us to fat, the face continues to look young and the body gets old. When he helps us to lean, the body continues to VOL. XXV.

60

« PreviousContinue »