Page images
PDF
EPUB

had been created only in spirit, and spirit not linked to body? And man bewails this high prerogative, that angels might weep for.' Why are we permitted here to feel sorrow and commit sin, but that we may unrestrainedly choose good, and see the effects of evil? Perhaps the latter may be more visible in another state of being, for this can be looked upon but as the soul's school, and where its most important lessons are often imperfectly learned; yet even here, how often do we see the di. vine essence that was breathed into man triumph over the sharpest earthly afflictions; sanctifying sorrows, and converting pain, sickness and be reavements into blessings ; whereby poor, wearied, scarred, many. striped humanity exchanges earthliness for holiness, and despondency for blessedness.

CYRIL.

OH, father, I have indeed thus seen the soul triumph over the body : was it not so with my own poor mother? And those thrilling stories which we read of the departed great; how often has my heart hung pulseless over the noble acts and sublime deaths recorded of philosophers, patriots, and pious martyrs ! I have felt a strength that could conquer death ; a yearning, undying, inbreathed energy - a realization of immortality.

MEDON. My child, these ardent feelings, disciplined by knowledge and subdued by reason, will I hope make you a good and useful man, and secure for you here a happy life, and hereafter a blessed immortality. It is the privilege of youth to repose upon and revel in its own bright and glowing feelings; but man lives in a far sterner and more stirring ele. ment. Action is his sphere; to do or to suffer is the assay stamp that must affix the value of every human being; he must make an actual trial of his strength before he can measure his capacities : a man can never know any thing perfectly in this world until he gains an insight into his own nature, and thoroughly knows himself: this is the com. mencement of all knowledge; the key which turns the lock that discovers the true secret of his existence. Work, struggle, strife, resistance, collision, either with himself, circumstances, or outward nature, are the means whereby mankind has achieved all knowledge and improvement, moral, intellectual, or political. The experience of the past, the guide of the present, and the light of the future, are all made up from these materials. Knowledge may be divided into two parts : first, all that which is beneath man in external nature ; this comprises the arts, sciences and natural history; and is denominated information, because this species of knowledge, after the first discovery is made, or the first invention published, is communicable, and rather attained by studi. ous application, than depending on any innate powers of perception, or active employment of the reason : these are all capable of positive proof, or demonstration to the senses, which must be educated to receive them.

Secondly, the study of human nature, which must rank higher than the preceding, as immortal man is immeasurably above perishable matter, which is modified by his intellect into almost any form that he wishes it to take : this includes ethics, politics, and all that belongs to the moral and spiritual nature of man. This is wisdom, and must be learned

through the feelings and affections, as well as through the understanding: not only a man's mind but his heart must be educated to receive this higher intelligence ; he must love before he can understand, and translate into living sounds, the dumb woes, wants, wishes, fears and hopes, that lie unuttered but deeply felt in the minds and bosoms of his fellow. men. There are two qualities often sneered at and never understood by the flippant and superficial, without a due proportion of which, no man can be wise; I mean faith and reverence: there is not a happi. ness, nor a great undertaking in this world, nor a hope in the next, whose root is not planted in and nourished by faith ; domestic happiness, commercial relations, political associations, all, all are entered into and subsist through faith ; faith in those that you connect yourself with, and faith in the result for mutual benefit. Now since faith must necessarily enter so largely into all human enterprises and engagements, and it is not in these that the foolish or vain usually succeed, we must not suppose, as many do, that it is weak, credulous and easily imposed upon. No, my Cyril, easiness of belief is the opposite of faith; "it is the hold. ing fast what you have proved.' A man must know himself and others ; and from past experience, or a prescience gathered from it, must be able to calculate accurately for the future; this is necessary for a rational and enlightened faith, even in worldly matters. And what is reverence, that crowning virtue, but a juster and higher appreciation of God's goodness; a closer communion with the Great Spirit of all, that infuses into our hearts adoration for Himself, and admiration or love for all that He has created ? And oh, my Cyril! how can a human being withhold faith in the future ; and not bow his head in reverence, when he looks over the earth ; and sees the magnificent buildings, immense cities, wide empires; the fine arts that almost simulate nature; the useful arts and their various applications; the researches of science; a commerce that sweeps the globe ; earth and ocean already tributary? And if, in a few thousand years, his individual existence but a span, man has achieved this, what may we not hope? Almighty God for the workman! the human soul for the material ! with unlimited time, even all eternity, for its improvements! Words and imagination fade before the thought.

[blocks in formation]

ALOrt in grandeur these primeval trees
Heave high the huge mass of their rounded head;
Their vast boughs, like gigantic arms outspread,
Stretch o'er the herds that roam the sunburnt lea's
Cool shade. These are the true Autochthones ;
Who stand enrobed in changeless drapery,
And slow, with weird and solemn majesty,
Wave their long gray-beards in the evening breeze.
A mournful beauty — brother of decay!
Their life-blood this fair parasite enjoys,
And, like the vampyre, pleases yet destroys.
"Tis thus the gathering frost of winters hoary
Saps the full current of our strength away;
Yet round the old man's head is like a crown of glory.

John E. Rubrx.

February, 1845.

[ocr errors]

OY TIZ STEAM-BOAT

TO THE MEMORY OY MRS. CATHERINE T. PARIER, WHO WAS LOST ON THE WREOX

SWALLOW,' ON THN NIGHT OF APRIL 7, 1845.

[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]

In the extracts which we havo heretofore given from the xss. of our Player,' nothing has been said of the writer's opening career upon the stage. The following passages supply this deficiency. and contain beside many entertaining matters, not otherwise accessible. ED. KNICKERBOCKER

In years I was little more than sixteen, in appearance some twenty, when boldly emancipating myself from control, I stepped forth upon the journey of life. With care and thrift, I had made up a purse of some thirty or forty pounds. With this sum I arrived in Bath, that great resort of the gay and of the fashionable ; that active scene for the manœuvres of the sharper and the fortune-hunter.

Mine was not, and is not, the bump of calculation. What has buoyant sixteen to do with financial details ? According to my active imagination, the sum carefully hoarded in my trunk appeared a deposit of inexhaustible resources. I sought no humble inn by the way-side; I boldly took up my quarters at the White Hart, one of the fashionable hotels of this most fashionable of cities : conclusions, drawn from a precedent of a very extraordinary kind, were enough to justify my present confidence: and my future expectations. The Young Roscius,' Master Betty, who held such despotic sway over the whole theatrical world, had retired with a splendid fortune. No words can express the contempt which I felt for an ignorant public, (and heaven knows, their intelligence in matters of taste is not marvellous,) for their mania in running after a mere boy. I plucked up a manly courage. It must not be so. No; these dolts shall see what can be done ; I will turn actor myself.' At the period in question, the Bath Theatre was the school for acting. It had sent forth a Siddons a BENSLEY, an ELLISTON, a DIMOND, an EDWIN, and a MURRAY, to grace the London boards. There was as much difficulty in procuring a début upon that stage as in passing the ante. chamber of a prime minister, and being ushered into the presence.' But · Nil desperandum' - what is impossible to a young and ardent spirit? I was determined upon a course of dramatic studies, and made a point of being at the opening of the pit door, for the purpose of securing the nearest place to the stage; where, unembarrassed by any intervening obstacle, I might hear, see, learn, and inwardly digest. I had heard that the great Dr. Johnson had been in the habit of doing the same. During the better part of the morning I might have been seen lingering near the stage-door, delighted to catch a glance at the favor. ite actor of the day. * To tread in the footsteps of illustrious men' is a figure of speech very familar with every patriotic orator, from the

stump’of the back-woods to the hustings of the capital. But when I state that it was a proud satisfaction to me to do this literally, in respect to the personage above mentioned, I am fully entitled to credence. If this was not the enthusiasm of the devotee, what was it?

6

The luxurious and expensive mode of living at a first-rate hotel, added to the nightly expense of my theatrical course, soon gave me a gentle indication that my means would not last forever; and though the bright and glowing perspective displayed on tissue paper the mark of fifty pounds nightly for my performance, I began to think it would be prudent to realize as well as to idealize, before I had expended the whole of my substance. I therefore looked out for lodgings that took single gentlemen, and found very suitable accommodations in Orange Grove,' a romantic name, which was not without its influence upon me. And this reminds me of Mrs. INCHBALD. She was an eccentric person, and had selected for her lodgings a public house, near Hyde Park, in the Bayswater road, called the Grosvenor Arms.' A friend remonstrated with her on the selection she had made, observing : “My dear Mrs. Inchbald, what could possess you to live at so vulgar a place as a public house ? My dear,' was her reply, 'I thought it such a gen. teel sign!

I was not long in bargaining with my landlady, for I agreed to every thing she asked ; not that her personal attractions in any way influ. enced the matter; although, sooth to say, she was one of the prettiest women I had ever set eyes upon. Beauty is the foster-mother of Jealousy. The lady's husband was a shoe-maker by trade, and in his paroxysm he was wont to leather her with no sparing hand. He was one of those honest souls who are the very pink of social convivi. ality in the tap-room, but who would wax exceedingly wroth in his domestic circle. My temperament had, and I hope has, nothing of ill. humor in it. I therefore contrived to harmonize the jarring elements of this little establishment ; so that at last, things went on agreeably enough ; indeed so much so, that at the end of the first week I paid for my board and lodging ; and afterward, never took a similar liberty, although I remained for two months.

One of my first theatrical acquaintances was Mr. BARTLEY, father of the Mr. BARTLEY so many years a member of Covent Garden and Drury Lane Theatres, and at this present writing, stage-manager of the former establishment. He was box-book keeper and treasurer of the theatre; a most amiable and kind-hearted man, of very venerable appearance. He asked me to his house ; his daughters kept a school, and were (one of them particularly) imbued with a remarkable theatrical taste. What could be more delightful ?? Let others live on cold and sordid feelings; here was the Drama, morning, noon, and night! He at length made inquiries respecting my family; and parricidal wretch that I was ! I destroyed them all at one fell swoop. I was like Risk, when he assumes the character of Solomon Lob, in Love Laughs at Locksmiths.' He had got rid of the whole of his family, and then when asked the fate of a favorite dog, said he was dead too, having swallowed a half penny one day,

• What ! did that kill him ?' Yes,' was the reply; it was such a plaguy bad one.'

At Mr. Bartley's house I met with an actor who had but lately re. tired from the stage, a man named BLISSETT, who had lived in the time of GARRICK, in the golden age of the drama, and was no mean parti. cipator in the provincial triumphs of the day. He was a restless, que.

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »