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There is delicious jocularity in the next paragraph. The writer argues that Capital Punishment ought not to be inflicted on robbers, and then quotes “ Fielding's Defence of Hanging for Robbery," to prove that we ought to hang murderers. The fun of this is perfectly irresistible.
The cream of the jest, however, is contained in the last paragraph. The humourous joker says, with a witty naivete which is in the highest degree entertaining
“I now lay down my pen; but with the firm determination of wielding it again with all my force and power, if the author of the article in the Magaxine referred to attempts to bring forward arguments derived from religion against this just and lawful punishment.”
We think we never laughed so heartily as we did on reading this : these are anti-cachinnatory times, but we roared outright. The whole fun of the thing rushed upon us; the humour-the wit—the waggery-the facetiousness
-the ludicrous dogmatism—the entertaining blunderings; and then the idea of the author doing it all over again ! repeating the joke-or rather inventing another! writing another pamphlet-giving us another eight pages of fun! We couldn't bear it! we fell into a guffaw from which we have scarcely yet recovered.
But we cannot part from our author like this. We have trifled with him thus far because it was our humour, and because his production deserved no better treatment: but we have one or two serious words to say to him before we quit his company. Whilst his notions were merely foolish, it was our whim to treat him with levity, and to laugh at his folly : but when, find. ing that Truth fails him, he comes gravely to argue, as at page 3, that Revenge is a Christian Virtue, and the principle on which the Almighty deals with man, we must tell him that we will not jest over his profanity, nor allow his impious doctrine to go lightly reproved. We wish not to use harsh words, and none have we used, so long as we considered what was written to be mere thoughtlessness or folly ; but there is something worse than thoughtlessness-something more criminal than folly-in the assertion that God punishes man's vice for retaliation's sake--that Revenge is a passion which no religion can erase--and that the religion which opposes and condemns revenge is unnatural and untrue, and cannot last : we feel it to be our solemn duty, therefore, to say a few brief words upon this point, and to show to the writer the awful error into which he has fallen.
To speak then. The Great Judge punishes vice, not that he may retaliate upon man- the idea is blasphemy!-but that the majesty of Eternal Truth may be asserted and maintained. To say that the Supreme retaliates upon man is to degrade Him to man's level- to invest Him with human passions. Revenge results from man's weakness; it is retaliation for injury received: the Eternal can receive no injury, and therefore cannot need to retaliate. He has instituted Everlasting Laws; if these Laws be infringed, suffering inevitably results to him who breaks them : the Almighty is not wounded by sin, nor is He moved to punish the transgressor by passions or revenge. Misery follows crime as a consequence, not as an act of vengeance.
But the writer says that revenge is natural to man, and therefore not criminal. Why, what a miserable make-shift of an argument is this! Is not vice natural? and is not vice criminal? He dares to tell us, too, that the religion which opposes revenge is a false religion, and must fall. We suppuse we must presume from this that he is an infidel, and would deny the truth of Christianity. What else can we suppose? Christianity condemns revenge, and tells us that, though it is natural, we must weed it from our breasts; of course, therefore, Christianity in this writer's opinion must be a false religion, and must fall. We now know, then, how to estimate his desire and request for a religious discussion on the subject--and we shall be prepared for any sneers that he may cast upon the Holy Word he asks for, but evidently disbelieves.
Here we will leave him. There is ability in his book, but it is grievously misapplied ; and there is eloquence, but it is dangerous, because it is allied to falsehood. We trust that when he redeems his promise of writing again, he will show contrition for the errors, and repentance for the impiety, of which, in his present production, he has been so glaringly guilty.
The Psalmist ; A Collection of Psalm and Hymn Tunes, newly harmonized for
Four Voices : by VINCENT NOVELLO. Part I. Haddon, Castle-street,
Finsbury. The first number of a re-publication of this admirable work is now lying upon our editorial table; and we are glad of the opportunity of introducing it to those of our musical friends who have been so particularly unfortunate as not to have met with this delightful collection of rich, and yet simple, harmonies. We may refer to the tune “ Devizes," as a proof of the skill and taste shown by Mr. Novello in the arrangement of old tunes ; and to “ Clitheroe,” as a sample of the original compositions in this first number.The slurred passage in the third line of “ Devizes” is a fine instance of the splendid effect that may be produced by a judicious use of chromatics. We are sorry that Mr. Novello has adopted the somewhat unscientific plan of giving the tenor part in the treble clef; for although this may make the music much easier, yet, we think that intelligibility is dearly purchased by the sacrifice of accuracy. Nevertheless, we have been highly pleased in the perusal of the work, and cordially recommend it to our fair readers, as one of the best collections published of the sublime and stately inusic of the Church.
Popular Lectures on Man; by John White, M.R.C.S., author of Hints,
Moral and Medical, on Teetotalism, &c. London: Darton and Clark,
Holborn Hill. These Lectures were originally delivered at the Highgate Literary and Scientific Institution, and met with very great success. As their title implies, they are of a popular rather than of an abstruse character, and are exceedingly well calculated for the general reader. The volume opens with a very eloquent summary of the relations of the external world to the moral and physical constitution of man, and then proceeds to direct attention to the anatomy and physiology of man, very clearly and yet very fully considering the subject. In speaking of the muscles, Mr. White offers some excellent advice concerning exercise, to which we beg the attention of all who would have a sound mind in a sound body.
The author next exhibits the use of a knowledge of anatomy and physiology in medicine and surgery, and recommends with considerable force a more general study of these sciences, especially to females. He then describes the vital functions, and eloquently traces the growth, perfection, and decay of the human frame. This gives the writer the opportunity to urge the advantages of temperance, which he does with cbeerfulness and good sense, and in a manner well calculated to impress the lesson he bears.
In the fourth lecture Mr. White speaks of the composition and uses of the atmosphere, and shows its effects on animal and vegetable life. The nervous system next engages his attention, and here he speaks very clearly and excellently on the cultivation of the senses. We highly admire bis remarks on the encouragement of inusic and dancing, which are in most admirable taste, and deserve serious attention.
The author subsequently describes the eye, the brain, and spinal marrow, and then proceeds to consider the doctrine of pbrenology, to which he gives his partial assent, and speaks of the uses to which it may be applied. This leads him to show that, however much we may have recourse to consciousness and reason, we must come at last to Divine revelation (or our knowledge of the mind; and, pointing to the vast domain of metaphysics and religion into which the limits of the subject forbid him to enter, he concludes his interesting work.
With this we take leave of Mr. White, and, thanking him heartily for the pleasure and profit he has afforded us, warmly recommend his book to our readers.
DRURY LANE THEATRE. King John.-It is indeed a theme for gratulation that we have a Theatre where Shakspere is reverenced, where so much talent is ready to do its part in the representation of his plays, where the actors rightly consider that no character in his immortal dramas is unworthy of their study, and where all feelings of professional etiquette, all considerations of self, are merged in the general devotion to the great Poet of Nature. And it is absolutely necessary that this be the case, to ensure anything like a correct performance of Shakspere. Mr. Clarke, in his admirable Lectures on the Minor Characters of Shakspere's Plays, which he has delivered at the City of London Institution, has clearly shown that every character, however apparently insignificant, and at first sight unnecessary to the plot or action of the Drama, is never without its importance and utility in the general plan of these mighty creations-that each bears on its front the seal of God, the attributes of our common humanity, and requires much study to attain a correct conception of its individuality. This it is that gives such reality to the play of “King John," as performed at Drury Lane. Every shade of feeling, every variety of expression, is given with truthfulness and judgment. The mean and cowardly Usurper and the high-souled gallant Faulconbridge--the inconsolable Constance and her oppressed Arthur-the blustering Austrian and the time-serving Philip-the stern Queen Elinor, the soft-hearted Hubert, the proud ecclesiastic Pandulph, the heroic Nobles of Britain, and the honest Citizens of Angiers, all contrast strongly together, and are alike needful to the harmonious and consistent progress of the Drama.
Mr. Macready's King John is well known, and is generally admitted to be one of his most correct personations. “The character of King John," says Hazlitt, “ is kept pretty much in the back ground-it is only marked “ in by comparatively slight indications. The crimes he is tempted to “commit are thrust upon him rather by circumstances and opportunity “ than of his own seeking: he is here represented as more cowardly than “ cruel, and as more contemptible than vdious.” Mr. Macready seeks not to drag the character from its native insignificance, nor to raise it to a dignity which it possesses not. The celebrated scene where he seeks to make Hubert the instrument of Arthur's death is a masterpiece of acting: the crawling sycophant is completely unmasked, and from that moment we lose all sympathy for the miserable wretch. His death, horrible as it is to behold, comes as a relief to our excited feelings, and we seem to breathe more freely when assured that so abominable a creature will no more darken the moral atmosphere. We seek not to compare Mr. Anderson's performance of Faulconbridge with that of actors now off the boards, but leave it to its own independent merits. His sprightliness and rich flow of spirits are most naturally expressed, whilst the more noble traits in the character are brought out with much judgment. That “he hath a trick of Cæur de Lion's face" we are ready to affirm, without having any acquaintance with the features of that respectable individual.
Miss Faucit appears to advantage as Constance ; her dignified unbounded grief seems to win the sympathy of the audience-and a better testimony can scarcely be given to the truthfulness of her acting. The same may be
said of Mr. Phelps' Hubert, and the part of the Infant Prince is wonderfully enacted by Miss Newcome.
Respecting the accessories of the play it is scarcely necessary to say any. thing-we are always certain that these will be perfect under the Drury Lane Management; nothing was wanting to the completeness of the whole. Every action in the Drama is clearly represented, from the shout of the embatiled armies to the unbolting of the gates of Angiers ; and the lovers of the S.age must add another item to their debt of gratitude to the accomplished Manager, for his artistic, and, we are glad to say, successful revival of this play.
KING ARTHUR,—The name of Purcell has been more known amongst us than his music, and approbation has generally been awarded to him as an act of conventional propriety, rather than as proceeding from a genuine appreciation of the productions of the illustrious composer. Mr. Edward Taylor, the Gresham Professor of Music, has laboured hard in his vocation as a public lecturer to direct the current of popular taste to the fountain of Purcell's genius, but little opportunity has been afforded of becoming acquainted with his compositions. The influence of the Purcell Club is confined to its own respectable though limited sphere, and the Choirs of St. Paul's, Westmin. ster Abbey, and the Chapel Royal, have long ceased to possess any power to guide the public taste. The Sacred Harmonic Society has occasionally performed an Anthem of Purcell's, never without having added to the golden opinions which that Society has already won, and the royal and noble Directors of the Ancient Concerts have sometimes condescended to place the name of Henry Purcell on their aristocratic programmes. Nevertheless, the performance of his music is a rare event at our Concerts, and it is a disgrace to our country that this great founder of our National School of Music (if we have a National School, and some ignorant declaimers presume to declare that we have not), it is a disgrace, we say, that he has been allowed to remain so long neglected.
The opera of King Arthur has been put on the stage with the most unprecedented splendour, as regards the scenery and dresses, whilst the performance of the music, and the acting generally, leave nothing to be desired. The plot of Dryden's play is meagre, and can scarcely be called dramatic—this latter quality is given by Purcell's more powerful genius, and we think that the original I lay has been judiciously curtailed, so as to interfere but little with the general effect of the music. The Saxon Oswald, King of Kent, makes war on the Britons, and succeeds by the machinations of the magician Osmond, assisted by the earthy fiead Grimbald in the abduction of the sightless Emmeline, daughter of the Duke of Cornwall and betrothed to Arthur. The Britons are also aided by preternatural powers, and Philidel, an airy spirit, who has seceded from the Saxon cause, puts himself under the guidance of the enchanter Merlin, and ultimately effects the restoration of Emmeline, and a glorious victory for the British arms.
The first scene, representing the Saxons sacrificing to their gods, at once exhibits the strongly-marked peculiarities of Purcell. Notice the eloquence of the Recitatives, and the grandeur of the Chorusses, now in simple counterpoint, now revelling in the fugal and antiphonal labyrinth. The panoramic view of the Battle in the next scene, regarded simply as a work of art, is fine enough, but an appearance of life-like reality is given to it by the action of the minstrels in the foreground, encouraging the victorious Britons by their gestures and voices. The power of enchantment forbids that one success shall suffice, and the fiend Grimbald is busily at work to mislead Arthur. This is opposed by the good spirit Philidel, who is always at hand to disconcert the wily machinations of the fiend. The second act opens with
the songs and dances of Shepherds and hepherdesses near Emmeline's tent. The beautiful madrigal
“ In these delightful pleasant groves," is given with much sweetness of expression. A shriek of terror announces the sudden intrusion of Oswald, Osmond, and others, and the terrified Biitons quickly vanish from the scene, leaving Emmeline and her attendant an easy capture to the Saxons. Ere Arthur can come to their rescue, Osmond raises a magic wood around him, “under each leaf a fiend," so that Arthur cannot penetrate the mystic labyrinth. Sight being restored to Emmeline by the agency of Philidel, the magician Osmond endeavours to obtain her love by affording her the means of gratifying this new sense, and uses his magic power to call up a view of Winter in frozen countries. This introduces the celebrated “frost scene,' and we never heard this music so well performed. The King of Frost, at the command of Cupid, makes his chilly appearance from his bed of snow, and after grunting out his displeasure at being thus disturbed, in an octave of semitones, gradually subsides by the same steps to his wonted inaction. Cupid's dart renews the vigour in his ancient frame, and he, in common with numbers of half-starved shivering men and women, is compelled to declare the power of the mischievous boy. Nature too replies to his influence, and soon changes her mantle of snow for the glowing lints of Summer. We cannot too highly praise the very tasteful and artistic personation of his hoary majesty by Mr. Stretton, the deep tones of whose voice admirably contrast with the gay and sprightly notes of Miss Romer as Cupid. In the third act, the Britons, assured by Merlin of their final success, collect their army together, and this gives the opportunity for the most effective situation in the opera. The assembled Britons are mar. shalled in warlike array on the stage with their King at their head, and give veut to their enthusiasın in the soul-inspiring strain, “ Britons strike home." The effect of this magnificient chorus, uttered by hundreds of well-trained voices, fully justifies the nightly, although oliviously unsuccessful, call for its repetition. Who can doubt the issue of a Battle where there is so much of genuine feeling on one side. The Saxons are vanquished, the King and his myrmidons are taken prisoners, and Emmeline is restored to her victorious lover, whose royal generosity awards freedom to the Saxon King, whilst the stern justice of Merlin consigns the wicked Osmond to torture and death. The opera concludes with an allegorical view of the British Ocean, and Cupid, as tributary to Venus, sings some verses laudatory of our sea-girt land.
We hope that the production of this opera will not only continue to draw crowded audiences to Drury Lane Theatre, but that it will excite the public mind to a deeper study of the works of our great English composers, and a clearer perception of their many and varied beauties.
Institutional Intelligence. Public Quarterly Meeting of the English Elocution Class, City of London Literary
and Scientific Institution, October 29th, 1842. Public Quarterly Meeting of the Elocution Class, Southwark Literary and Scientific
Institution, November 24th, 1842. Public Quarterly Meeting of the Elocution Class, Crosby Hall Literary and Scientific
Institution, December 13th, 1842. Half-Yearly Public Meeting of the City of London Elocution Society, held at the
George Hall, Aldermanbury, November 28th, 1842. Quarterly Meeting of the French Elocution Class, City of London Literary and
Scientific Institution, December 13th, 1842. There can be no doubt that the Literary and Mechanics' Institutions of this country have not answered the expectations of their founders. Unquestionably they