Page images
PDF
EPUB

what was right; and that, at any rate, she ought to be championed in following the bent of her humors, whether right or wrong.

Encouraged by such gallant zeal, the duchess suffered herself to be raised from the ground, and related the whole story of her distress. When she concluded, the king remained for some time silent, charmed by the music of her voice. At length: 'As I hope for salvation, most beautiful duchess,' said he, 'were I not a sovereign king, and bound in duty to my kingdom, 1 myself would put lance in rest to vindicate your cause; as it is, I here give full permission to my knights, and promise lists and à fair field, and that the contest shall take place before the walls of Toledo, in presence of my assembled court.'

As soon as the pleasure of the king was known, there was a strife among the cavaliers present, for the honor of the contest. It was decided by lot, and the successful candidates were objects of great envy, for every one was ambitious of finding favor in the eyes of the beautiful widow.

Missives were sent, summoning the nephew and his two uncles to Toledo, to maintain their accusation, and a day was appointed for the combat. When the day arrived, all Toledo was in commotion at an early hour. The lists had been prepared in the usual place, just without the walls, at the foot of the rugged rocks on which the city is built, and on that beautiful meadow along the Tagus, known by the name of the king's garden. The populace had already assembled, each one eager to secure a favorable place; the balconies were soon filled with the ladies of the court, clad in their richest attire, and bands of youthful knights, splendidly arnied, and decorated with their ladies' devices, were managing their superbly-caparisoned steeds about the field. The king at length came forth in state, accompanied by the queen Exilona. They took their seats in a raised balcony, under a canopy of rich damask; and, at sight of them, the people rent the air with acclamations.

The nephew and his uncles now rode into the field, armed cap-a-pie, and followed by a train of eavaliers of their own roystering cast, great swearers and carousers, arrant swashbucklers, that went about with clanking armor and jingling spurs. When the people of Toledo beheld the vaunting and discourteous appearance of these knights, they were more anxious than ever for the success of the gentle duchess; but at the same time, the sturdy and stalwart frames of these warriors, showed that whoever won the victory from them, must do it at the cost of many a bitter blow.

As the nephew and his riotous crew rode in at one side of the field, the fair widow appeared at the other, with her suite of grave gray-headed courtiers, her ancient duennas and dainty demoiselles, and the little dwarf toiling along under the weight of her train. Every one made way for her as she passed, and blessed her beautiful face, and prayed for success to her cause. She took her seat in a lower balcony, not far from the sovereigns; and her pale face, set off by her mourning weeds, was as the moon, shining forth from among the clouds of night.

The trumpets sounded for the combat. The warriors were just entering the lists, when a stranger knight, armed in panoply, and followed by two pages and an esquire, came galloping into the field, and, riding up to the royal balcony, claimed the combat as a matter of right.

In me,' cried he, 'behold the cavalier who had the happiness to rescue the beautiful duchess from the peril of the forest, and the misfortune to bring on her this grievous calumny. It was but recently, in the course of my errantry, that tidings of her wrongs have reached my ears, and I have urged hither at all speed, to stand forth in her vindication.'

No sooner did the duchess hear the accents of the knight, than she recognised his voice, and joined her prayers with his that he might enter the lists. The difficulty was, to determine which of the three champions already appointed should yield his place, each insisting on the honor of the combat. The stranger knight would have gettled the point, by taking the whole contest upon himself; but this the other knights would not permit. It was at length determined, as before, by lot, and the cavalier who lost the chance retired murmuring and disconsolate.

The trumpets again sounded - the lists were opened. The arrogant nephew and his two drawcansir uncles appeared so completely cased in steel, that they and their steeds were like moving masses of iron. When they understood the stranger knight to be the same that had rescued the duchess from her peril, they greeted him with the most boisterous derision :

O ho! sir Knight of the Dragon,' said they; 'you who pretend to champion fair widows in the dark, come on, and vindicate your deeds of darkness in the open day.'

The only reply of the cavalier was, to put lance in rest, and brace himself for the encounter.' Needless is it to relate the particulars of a battle, which was like so many hundred combats that have been said and sung in prose and verse. Who is there but

must have foreseen the event of a contest, where Heaven had to decide on the guilt or innocence of the most beautiful and immaculate of widows?

The sagacious reader, deeply read in this kind of judicial combats, can imagine the encounter of the graceless nephew and the stranger knight. He sees their concussion, man to man, and horse to horse, in mid career, and in that Sir Graceless hurled to the ground, and slain. He will not wonder that the assailants of the brawny uncles were less successful in their rude encounter; but he will picture to himself the stout stranger spurring to their rescue, in the very critical moment; he will see him transfixing one with his lance, and cleaving the other to the chime with a back stroke of his sword, thus leaving the trio of accusers dead upon the field, and establishing the immaculate fidelity of the duchess, and her title to the dukedom, beyond the shadow of a doubt.

The air rang with acclamations; nothing was heard but praises of the beauty and virtue of the duchess, and of the prowess of the stranger knight; but the public joy was still more increased when the champion raised his visor, and revealed the countenance of one of the bravest cavaliers in Spain, renowned for his gallantry in the service of the sex, who had long been absent, in quest of similar adventures.

That worthy knight, however, was severely wounded in the battle, and remained for a long time ill of his wounds. The lovely duchess, grateful for having twice owed her protection to his arm, attended him daily during his illness. A tender passion grew up between them, and she finally rewarded his gallantry by giving him her hand.

The king would fain have had the knight establish his title to such high advancement by farther deeds of arms; but his courtiers declared that he had already merited the lady, by thus vindicating her fame and fortune in a deadly combat to outrance; and the lady herself hinted that she was perfectly satisfied of his prowess in arms, from the proofs she received in his achievement in the forest.

Their nuptials were celebrated with great magnificence. The present husband of the duchess did not pray and fast like his predecessor, Phillibert the wife-ridden; yet he found greater favor in the eyes of Heaven, for their union was blessed with a numerous progeny the daughters chaste and beauteous as their mother; the sons all stout and valiant as their sire, and all renowned, like him, for relieving disconsolate damsels and desolate widows.

The' Magnolia will be published in the course of the ensuing month, and we shall embrace another occasion to allude more specifically to its separate merits.

"Sebago.' – Many of our readers will remember a tale under this title which appeared in the number of this Magazine for July, 1835. We allude to it now, for the purpose of calling public attention to a large and spirited painting from it, which has been executed by Mr. H. THIELCKE, and may be seen at 157 Broadway. The artist — who first saw the tale in a Quebec journal, (into which it had been copied from the Knickerbocker,) and was struck with its susceptibilities — has sketched the scene, as described by the write with signal fidelity.

We subjoin the paragraph which embraces the points contained in the picture :

"The savage, though now unarmed, was of such Herculean proportions, that he seemed an overmatch for the young white, notwithstanding the advantage possessed by the latter in his hunting knife. Trained to ride, to box, to fence - schooled in every manly exercise – there was a skill and quickness in the use of his limbs possessed by Pepperell

, which made him no contemptible antagonist for the most powerful foe. With his eye fixed on the savage, and every muscle summoned to its gward, he advanced boldly toward the Indian. Sebago,' said he, 'you have slain your daughter. There lies your child, murdered by your hand. The only reply of the Indian was a bound at the throat of the young Briton, with the quickness and spite of the mountain cat. he threw out his long arms and grasped at the neck of the white, it seemed that he must succeed in throttling his prey. Suddenly, however, he stepped back the blood sponted from his side. Again he rallied. In this onset, receiving in his body the knife of his antagonist, he succeeded in breaking through his guard, clasped his arms around his body, and bore him to the earth. Yet here the combat continued. The Briton disentangled his knife from the body of the savage, and plunged it to the handle repeatedly

[ocr errors]

in his side. Meanwhile his own throat was seized with the death-like grasp of his foe. He felt the desperate gripe through his whole frame. the knife dropped from his hand, he thought his fate sealed. At this instant another party rushed in to share in the confict, and turn the current of the fight. The dog, which, while the combatants kept their feet, contented himself with springing around them in a circle, and filling the forest with his cries, no sooner saw his master borne down by the savage, than the noble brute rushed to the rescue. He seized the Indian's arm in his mouth, and actually tore away the grasp from his master's throat. Then Aying at the neck of the former, he sunk his long teeth into it, and rolled the heavy mass from his master's body. Breathless, and nearly exhausted, the latter arose. Feeble with the loss of blood, the Indian was now maintaining an unequal struggle to detach the gripe of the dog. 'Henry recovered his knife. He flung himself

upon the Indian, and with repeated plunges buried the deadly instrument in his side. The last stab reached the heart. Every muscle of the victim relaxed — there was a slight shudder crept over his frame - a groan escaped - and he lay a prostrate and powerless corse.'

The picturesque features of the locale, which is previously described, are admirably preserved, while the events above graphically depicted are transferred to the canvass with a truth and force that leave nothing to be desired.

THE

DRAMA. In giving place to the usual communication of our dramatic correspondent, we would not be understood as sanctioning his criticism of Mr. FORREST, in all its bearings. Without being influenced by that gentleman's stern, uncompromising Americanism -- for which we confess we especially admire him – we hold it to be susceptible of proof, by abundant testimony, that no actor of our day has equal power in carrying an audience with him – in causing them to enter, heart and soul, into the scenes he is portraying. If to do this successfully requires not 'force of genius' and 'innate talent,' we confess ourselves ignorant of what constitutes a good actor.

Eps. KNICKERBOCKER.

PARK THEATRE – Mr. FORREST. — We are much inclined to give way to the opinion, that actors, like poets, are more indebted to nature than art for the faculties which they exercise. The cacoethes ludendi, like the spirit which prompts the scribbler to inflict his lucubrations upon the public, is constantly exercising its evil influence upon the lives and fortunes of green boys and greener girls, to the manifest discomfiture of suffering philanthropists, whose susceptibilities, (ever-yearning with the noble desire of fostering 'young genius,' whose eagle-wings may be yet but pin-feathers,) are victimized nightly by some aspiring Roscius. This is not the spirit to which we allude. The genius which dwelt in the soul of Kean, was a deep, rich, and abiding inheritance, which nature and not art gave him. It was his first perception; it grew with his growth, and strengthened with his strength. Art added to its excellence – built upon its foundation — increased its power; but the vital spark which illumined the structure, existed from the first, and doubly repaid its borrowings, by making art appear as lovely and attractive as itself. As an actor, Mr. Forrest is the very antipodes of Kean - and yet, paradoxical as it may seem, he has admirers as enthusiastic in their praise, as any that ever wept at the will of that master of passion. Kean had that innate genius which we say is the inheritance of nature. Forrest has it not. We do not mean to attempt a comparison between the two, if such a thing were possible; to effect it, would, under the circumstances, he an act of injustice to both. We only speak of Kean as an instance in proof of the truth of the assertion that actors are born, not made.' Kean was indebted to nature for the genius of his art — Forrest is under obligations to the same source, but mainly for great physical capacity - for all the externals. That Forrest has of late, in all his conceptions, evinced the possession of mind -- of a knowledge of nature of study — is a truth which no one can deny. That he has displayed, in any of his personations, that deep,

intuitive thought, which fastens itself alike upon the delicate and the bold points of character which searches every feeling, identifies itself with every passion, and paints the expression of each as it is received -- which touches the feelings, and not the senses alone --- is another truth, which even his friends will not be disposed to argue against. We may not be understood, by those who believe that a passion may be truly expressed without a particle of the ingredients which compose the feeling being for the time even in the thought of the artist. Such materialists should build automaton Hamlets, Romeos of bass-wood, and mahogany Othellos. In such parts as require the display of a fine person, a noble bearing, and great physical power, and where the scenes do not call upon the actor for any particular delicacy of expression – where, as in the 'Gladiator,' the play is characterized by nobility of action — by the bold display of daring deeds, more than by any delicate sentiment - such as love in ‘Romeo and Juliet,' or jealousy in 'Othello' -- Mr. Forrest is superior to any actor we have ever witnessed. In 'Othello' he fails in expression; in 'Lear he wants the soul of the character. He has all the wheels of the watch, but the spring is wanting; and yet his Lear was, in the scenes of angry passion, terribly grand. In these Mr. Forrest showed not only his fine voice and muscular strength, but he satisfied all that he had studied, and knew as well the feeling as the words which he expressed. In all his Indian characters, Mr. Forrest is deservedly great. His good sense, study, and his noble person, have made him more than respectable in Damon, and other parts of similar character. Whatever he attempts hereafter will either be as highly approved as the best of his previous characters have been, or they will bear the stamp of respectability. He is not a tragedian who will ever make his audience laugh. His judgment will always command respect, and his great talents, when properly applied, the admiration of the judicious. Mr. Forrest has greatly improved since he left this country, and he will continue to do so. The same perseverance which has brought him to the elevation which he now occupies, will lift him still higher, and make him a yet greater honor to the profession which he now adorns. There is an occasional extravagance in Mr. Forrest's manner, which we hope he will reform altogether :

His action always strong, but sometimes such,

That candor must declare, he acts too much.? This over-acting is the fault of all the pupils of the Forrest school. Imitators generally copy the faults before they do the beauties of their originals. Mr. Forrest is, therefore, especially answerable for the consequences of this defect. Let him entirely do away with the habit of rant, by setting the example to his followers. Let him cultivate a chaste and subdued style, casting away every thing which can possibly be construed into a trap for applause; and what was said of Quin may with better justice be applied to him :

• Where he falls short, 'tis nature's fault alone

Where he succeeds, the merit 's all his own.' Miss Horton. — After the departure of the Woods, we began to fear that we had listened for the last time to English opera at the Park Theatre ; but we have been agreeably disappointed. Miss Horton has appeared : her reception was gracious and just, and her performanccs, through a short engagemen, have been greeted each succeeding night with increased approbation. She possesses a contralto voice of extraor• dinary natural sweetness, and highly cultivated and improved under the efficient instruction of the celebrated BORDOGNI. Miss Horton has not, we understand, been often before the public, previous to this engagement. Her time has been closely devoted to study, for years past; and the effect is, a rich and finished style of singing, wbich has not its equal on the American stage, and, with one or two exceptions, no superior on any other. She does not, however, seem to do herself justice. Her voice is powerful — sufficiently so to fill any theatre; but, from timidity, we presume, she does not always

exercise it in its full capacity. She should not hold hack one strain from the just measure of her powers, nor deprive her audience of a single tone of her rich and beautiful voice. We do not fear a surfeit from a feast so delicate.

MAD’LLE AUGUSTA. – Of this lady, it may for the present suffice to say, that the fame which preceded her in no respect exceeded her merits. She is one of the most graceful artistes, in her department, ever seen on the New-York boards; and she comes among us abundantly accredited, as one sustaining a similar prëeminence abroad. She has, in no country, but one rival near her throne; and to be second only to Taglioni, should not only satisfy Augusta, but all who witness her tasteful exhibitions of the poetry of motion.'

[ocr errors]

The National Theatre. This new establishment — second to none in the Union for the richness, beauty, and comfort of its interior appointments — has won upon the public regard, during the short term in which it has been in operation, to an extent which even the enterprising and skilful managers themselves could scarcely have anticipated. Beside the humorous personations of Mitchell, one of the new and clever English recruits of the establishment, the National has already presented to crowded houses the distinguished performances of Booth, the best actor in America; Miss Clifton, but recently returned from abroad, bearing marks of evident improvement, and more effective than ever; Celeste, whose reputation is too well known to require comment; WALLACK, 'bimself alone' in his line, and always excellent; and Miss Phillips, who has no compeer, now that Fanny Kemble no longer sways the hearts of theatre-goers at her will. Such has been the opening, only, of this new play-house; yet, promising as it has been, there is little doubt that it will continue to realize the favorable anticipalions of its future course naturally awakened in the public mind.

AMERICAN THEATRE, BOWERY. — Beside the attractions of Mr. HAMBLIN, as Othello and Hamlet, and of Miss Cushman, a 'talented débutante, the nautical drama of LAFITTE – prepared for the stage by Miss Medina, from the novel of 'Lafitte, or the Pirate of the Gulf,' by Professor INGRAHAM — has been produced at this theatre with a liberal expenditure of superb scenery, and all the varied machinery and adjuncts of similar pieces. That it has merit and attraction, may be gathered from the fact that it crowds the house nightly, froin pit to ceiling, with admiring audiences; but in what this merit and attraction consist, we have not yet been enabled to experience. As yet, the play is in too much demand to be visited by one who values a comfortable seat in uncomfortable weather.

Every Man's Book. — It is related of BURKE, that being caught one day in a shower, in one of the streets of London, he stepped beneath a temporary shelter, where he encountered a weaver, with whom he soon entered into conversation. When the shower had passed, and the parties separated, a by-stander asked the artisan if he knew who that was with whom he had been conversing. 'Oh, it was some weaver,' was the reply. This circumstance has been often quoted, as an evidence of the familiarity of the great statesman with every species of parctical knowledge. “Every man's Book' is a work calculated to make the reader as wise as Mr. Burke, in relation to all known professions aud trades, of which eighty are briefly but clearly described, and illustrated with a like number of well-designed but frequently very badly-executed engravings. The volume is from the pen of Mr. Edward Hazen, and is beautifully stereotyped by Mr. John Fagan, of Philadelphia. It is designed for the use of schools and families, as well as miscellaneous readers, and is destined to prove a popular additon to the useful literature of the day. VOL. VIII.

64

« PreviousContinue »