« PreviousContinue »
EDITORS' DRAWER. — 'Without overflowing, full,' has been the condition of our drawer,' for some time past ; but it is now overrunning; and to the exclusion of not a few matters of our own, we hasten to relieve it of a portion of its contents, reserving the remainder for future consideration. We shall commence our selections with the annexed admirable sketch, from a facile pen, which will hereafter often minister to the enjoyment of our readers.
PAGANINI AND BERLIOZ. There are certain features of Europe seldom recognised by the tourist, and which it is the privilege of the quiet spectator of human affairs to study and to admire; I mean its dramatic aspect. The Old World, from my peaceful library, seems a vast theatre, where illustrations of human glory succeed ihuse of human weakness, and na. tions, like individuals, enact the mutable drama of desiiny. And I can conceive that they who, from the suminit of a calm philosophy, conteinplate the endless curtain. rising and scene-shifting, require no other zest to existence. "To-day a war, lo-morrow a peace; bere a revolution, there a national jubilee; in every direction, are unfolded new scenes, physiognomies, costumes; and kings and princes, statesmen and dema. gogues, appear, decree, proclaim, and perorate; while, like the Greek chorus of old, the populace murmurs or chants, inaudibly or vehemently, the strophe and antistrophe of Faie.
"These reflections came over me, a day or two since, while looking through my French files, to keep even with the rapid and perpetual current of Parisian events. It is no trifling task. The stream of time seems to gather fresh volume and impetuosity, when it pours its waters through the Great Metropolis, and carries down io the cataract, over which the present precipit ates the past, a thousand varied objects and deeds of human love, or of human hate; of man's adoration or of his pity. There are days when the accumulation appals me; there are others in which I welcome it, and dash into the motley crowd, in pursuit of a hero or a circumstance. The quest is never unrewarded; the field rarely barren; here and there a sameness of character or direction contrasis, during a short period, with the variety of multiplied incidents; and then, new forms start up in the tumult, thus investing the game of actualities with all the mystery and motley adventure of romance. If one does not grow wiser in thus watching the changing physiognomy of the age, he learns, amidsi the mingled gran. deurs and frivolities of the present, to respect yesterday, and to revere to-morrow.
The words PAGANINI and Berlioz caught my eye, among the notices of new plays, of new books, of new drugs, music, celebrities, and infamies. I never see the great virtuoso's name, without a thrill, a shiver of the chord he first, and last, and alone, set vibrating in the warp of my sensibilities; and I hastily sought to learn by what caprice or glory his name had been brought anew before the Parisian public. It is a strange and interesting anecdote ; a new trait in the singular nature of this remarkable being; one which allies him unexpectedly to mortality. But I am anticipating.
Paris, the city of pleasure, the temple of science, is above all the capital of art. The French public, generally profound in its discriminations, and correct in its taste, is at times capricious, and can scarcely account for its own humor. The tendency is to exalt every thing national, but never at the expense of foreign excellence, which consequently finds no where in this narrow world so sure an appreciation. Even the German has to come thither from Vienna and Berlin, would he hear Beethoven interpreted ; and hardly has Italy, with its enthusiasm, and suave taste, formed a prima donna, ere she obeys the beckoning finger of the Parisian, and leaves her sunny skies, and poetic land; leaves the home of her youth, the shrine of her heart; bids the blessed virgin adieu, and casts upon her patron saint the last imploring gaze of her liquid eye, to wend her way to the frigid north, where the metropolis of France rears in mid-winier its scarred brow of glory.
Hectua Berlioz was the brightest ornament of the 'Conserrative Royale de Mue sique ;' and the gray masters of the gai science who watched his youthful efforts, predicied for him a brilliant career in the path BEETHOVEN and Mozart have cut in the adamantine rock of fame. France was at last to have her composer, her illustration; Lully, and Gluck, and Piccisi, a worthy successor; MEYERBEER and Rossini a rival. The young man's geniuş grew, and wandered after its own fashion. It was way ward and fantastic; always gloomy, and ofumes grand. His friends and admirers waited in patience. At lasi, he produced a work, the Overture to Roh Roy,' a wild and incomprehensible begiuning, which had no end. There were parts which all admired; there were others which no one understood. But it evinced abundant calent.
Thus solitary, and watched even by friendship, do not believe it easy for genius 10 expand, in durable forms. It is impatient of observation, galled by control, and frets even under the rein which would guide it to the goal. Thus Berlioz consumed his strength in plans; glorious edifices never constructed; musical chateaux en Espagne;
overtures, embodying many a glorious but incomplete conception. I well remember listening to his 'Symphonie Fantastique,' a page of transcendentalism, and like most transcendentalism, not wholly destitute of poetry, although impalpable. After years of this pagabondage, a sudden inspiration seized bim one day, and filed him with the energy to elaborate an opera. There is something fascinating in the character of BenVENUTO CELLINI. He seems to my eye an emblem of his variegated age of piety and crime; of art defiled, and of art glorified. So thought Berlioz, and he resolved to make the Florentine sculpior the hero of a musical drama.
Alas! it often requires two to consummate an enterprise in this nether world. Most things are accomplished by alliance, by the union of powers or of attributes. But it is especially in an opera, that two heads are better than one, and the mäestro is not a little at the mercy of the author. Whatever may have been the genius employed and developed, in the partition of Benvenuto Cellini,' certain it is, that the libretto was worthless; the plot trivial, and deg. titute of incidents; and the dénouement unworthy of the Academie Royale de Musique,' on the classic boards of which this creation of BERLIOZ was unfolded. It fell through ; and the lyric genius of France hid her head in sorrow, when a child of such promise retired from the world, disgusted, and buried himself in retirement. It was impog. sible to draw Berlioz out from his seclusion. He led the glooniy existence of brooding disappointment, within the walls of the humble dwelling, where the cnly rays of gladness were 'the light of stars' that beamed from the eyes of his wife and her child.
Suspecting his purse to be low, his friends devised two concerts, in which his favorito and best-known creations should be given to a public, prodigal in its admiration of genius, but which, though well aware of the value of its applause, seems unconscious of the effects of its silence. Accordingly, the festivals were proclaimed, and the first was attended by the throng. Imagine how deep must have been his despondency, when Berlioz, he for whose benefit it was conceived, and whom that crowd was assembled to honor, absented himself from his own triumph.
This success cheered the melancholy composer; and on the night of the second con. cert, he was there; leading the orchestra, guiding the idea thai serpentined through his deep and expansive harmonies, and watching, with love, its graceful wreathings amidst the sounds which lent it life and elasticity. They were playing his ‘March to Execution'- whose blood does not tremble at this significant title?- and Berlioz himself was yielding to the sway of the deep, thrilling tones of sorrow and despair he has thrown into thai master-piece of harmonic eloquence, when lo! in a dark corner of the spacious orchestra, he saw a man of marble, weeping. Tears coursed down the pale cheek of PAGANINI — the man of ice, whose cold ironic smile had frozen the audiences his magic bow had warmed with its glowing voice! Yes! PAGANINI, the immovable, the impenetrable, wept like a child; and as the muffled drum of this funeral march of life ceased beating, and all hearts were gathered by the solemn pause, which signified eternity, the great virtuose stepped forward, and knelt before Berlioz, in presence of the astonished crowd, and kissed bis hand in token of homage!
The clouds that yet hung over the brow of the poor composer, were dispersed by this radiant sunshine of triumph; and the audience signified, by a thunder-burst of approbation, its sense of the beauty and grandeur of this spectacle, and its sympathy with him whom it suddenly raised from despair to joy. And on the morrow, Hector BERLioz, hardly realizing ihis unexpected revolution in his destiny, received the following
"My Dear Friend: Beethoven dead, Berlioz alone can revive him; and I, who have enjoyed your divine compositions, worthy of a genius like you, I esteem it my duty to beg your acceptance, as a testimony of my homage, of twenty thousand francs, which M. LE BARON DE ROTHSCHILD will pay you, on presentation of the enclosed draft.
Ever your affectionate friend,
Nicolo PAGANINI.' And the grateful composer has by this time embarked for Italy, where, after three years of study and repose, he will doubtless do honor to the munificence of his extraordinary patron.
We have before us the 'Revue et Gazette Musicale de Paris,' of the twenty-fifth of December, with a supplement in lithograph, containing fac similes of the corresponde ence between PAGANINI and BerliOZ. The annexed is the original of the note quoted above :
MIO CARO AMICO: Beethoven estinto, non c'era che Berlioz che potesse far lo revivero ; ed io che ho gustato le vostre diviue composizioni; degne di on genio qual siete, credo mio dovere di pregarvi a voller accettare in segno del mio omaggio veuti mila franchi i quali vi saranno rimessi dal signor baron de Rothschild, dopo che gli avrete pre entato l'acclusa. Credete mi sempro,
Il vostro affectionatissimo amico,
Nicolo PAGANINI. Parigi, le 18 Decembre, 1838.
In reply, Berlioz says, that although by no means rich, yet the praise of such an artist as PAGANINI, filled his heart with a thousand times more joy, than the royal generosity of his present.
This anecdote of PAGANINI is in strong contrast with his liberality in London, where, we remember, while rolling in wealth, he refused a donation of a pound or two, to a poor woman in a hospital, into which he had been admitted, for the professional purpose of imitating, with his violin, the groans of agony that were extorted from her, during a painful surgical operation. What a comment is this contrast, upon the power of music!
The second of the subjoined stanzas occupies 'middle ground in the piece itself, but if merit established precedence, it should have had the first place. It strikes as figura. tive, and beautiful exceedingly:
There's a time in the first rosy spring-tide of youth,
When the lonely heart pines, like a dove for its mate;
As might well turn to azure the storm-clouds of fate.
There's a time which to me is far dearer than this;
While care dims the loveliest roses of bliss.
There's an hour when the heart, like a bark o'er the waves,
Seems nearing the port so long anxiously sought,
And life's gales from the soul a sweet odor have caught;
And the port prove a cloud, or a desolate isle ;
May to-morrow have lost both their hope and their smilo,
Oh! the love I would die for, or live but to prize,
Is that which throngh seasons of sorrow hath passed;
Shines on through our lives, but grows loveliest at last;
Enraptured to beat, or united to cling,
O'er those whose affections have blunted grief's sting.
L. A. N.
We must make room for a Texian correspondent, who is quite right in suspecting, 'that many of the more authentic, curious, and inieresting details, that float in conver. sation, concerning the 'republic' and her history, never appear in print;' narratives of adventure, reminiscences, general intelligence, anecdotes, etc., which,' he writes, 'need only to be percolated and crystalized, by such pens as those of your correspondents Irving and Cooper, to attract universal attention.' Perhaps so; but be that as it may, there are certainly new facts and interesting, in the annexed little sketch:
THE RED ROVER S.
Dr. S—, of Courtland, Alabama, a native of Virginia, raised a company of eighty young men, who were called the 'Red Rovers,' from the color of the blanket greatcoats which they wore. In this company were a son and a nephew of the captain. Dr. S. with his 'Red Rovers,' was with Fanning when he surrendered ; and in common with the other officers, he strongly opposed the surrender, having no confidence in the Mexican faith. But Fanning was resolved; and when he made known his decision, the captain and one or two other officers shed tears. Their fate is well known. They were marched out from a fort, where they were confined, under various pretexts; now they were to be taken to Copanò, a neighboring sea-port, to be shipped back home to the United States;' and again they were 'sent out to drive in catile to the fort.' They had not proceeded far, however, before they were ordered to halt, and next 10 wheel to the right about, so as to stand with their backs to the Mexican line. The orders were given in Spanish. The number of the Texian volunteers was about four hundred, and
of the Mexicans, about the same. The two lines stood about three feet aparı, there being only a brush fence between them. Nearly all the prisoners were massacred; a few made their escape. Among the victims of this slaughier, were the Red Rovers, and among them the son of the commander, who was himself spared, probably for the sake of his professional services; and his nephew owed his escape to sickness, which prevented his marching, although he was anxious to accompany them, supposing they were about to return home. Fanning, poor fellow! received the melancholy distinction, as commander, of being shot alone. He was a brave man, and died like a soldier, merely requesting not to have his eyes bandaged, and desiring his watch and miniature to be given to his mother. He was a graduate of Princeton College. There was a jealousy subsisting between Fanning and Houston, and a want of concert. Houston repeatedly sent word to him to join him ; but he refused, declaring that he wished to fight on his own hook.' This was the grand faux pas in Texas. The scattered parties ought to have concentrated under Houston; they did not, and were cut off singulatim.'
I was walking the streets of Tuscumbia, shortly after the massacre of Copand, when I saw a dense crowd of people around a young man, one of the 'Red Rovers, who had escaped. He had lost a brother in the massacre, and spoke with great bitterness of the Mexicans. He gave some account of his adventures, and answered divers questions that were propounded to him. He owed his safety to the fact, that he belonged to the van-guard of Fanning's corps, consisting of some twenty or thirty who were separated from the main body, at the time of the surrender. I met, on the same occasion, another Texian volunteer, who had also belonged to the advance guard, whom I recognised as a former acquaintance. He was a native of South Carolina; but at the time the Texian fever was at its height, he quitted school, bought a rifle, and marched with the 'Red Rovers,' in search of land and glory! His brother who went out with him, had also escaped, with two wounds. He was among the massacred, but being only slightly wounded, ran; he was pursued by a Mexican soldier, who was fast gaining on him, when he threw down his gold watch, which the Mexican, with characteristic gold-greediness, stopped to pick up, and he succeeded in making his way to the tall grass, that effectually concealed him. After enduring many hardships, he at length effected his return to the United States.
I subsequently saw Dr. S— at Tuscumbia, on his return. He had had a hard time of it. He looked pale and emaciated, and bore the marks of the galling fetters he had worn on his ankles. The people of the town flocked around, to shake hands with him, and welcome his return. It was deemed certain that he had shared the fate of his com panions in arms, and he was regarded as one risen from the dead. He was spared on account of his being a surgeon, aided by a little finesse on his part. 'He was travelling in Texas,' he said, 'merely to look at the country, when he was pressed into the service, in the capacity of surgeon!' The Mexican commandant, at ihe fort where he was confined, promised to discharge him on parole; but when applied to for a passport, put him off, from time to time. At length, he sent the commandant word : 'If you will not grant the passport, then let me be taken out and shot. I had rather you would do this, than detain me here any longer in suspense. You are welcome to all the credit you may gain by either course. This produced a favorable effect on the officer, who at once agreed to furnish him with a passport to some town in the interior ; one, however, which it was impossible to reach, without great risk from the Indians on the way.
At this conjuncture, suddenly came news of the battle of San Jacinto. Reader, you have seen a pebble hurled by some mischievous school-boy into the centre of a hornets' nest, dependent from the bough of some tall pine? Such was the panic among the Mexicans. The fort was quickly evacuated, only a small garrison being left with the wounded and prisoners. Our captain then formed, with a fellow physician and prisoner, a plan of escape. They armed themselves.cap-å-pie,' with arms belonging to officers of the fort, each bearing a rifle, a brace of pistols, and a Bowie-knife. They borrowed two fine horses, ready caparisoned from the stables, mounted them, and fed. They lay concealed in the woods, or in the tall grass of the prairie, during the day, travelling in the night; and thus, after suffering many privations and dangers, they at last entered the happy limits of their own country. Shortly after his arrival in Tuscumbia, the drum was heard, and a party of the military assembled to accompany him home. A cannon was mounted on a car, and fired every mile, to his residence, twenty-two miles distant. When he arrived, the whole population came out to meet him, and among them his wife and children. He bore the whole scene with composure, until a little son came up and grasped him by the knee. At this he shed tears. Painful return! Of his 'Red Rovers,' few survived. Nearly all, and among them his son, were sacrificed. They had not died amid the 'shouts of battle, and the shock of arms;' they were slaughtered, like cattle; immolated in a Mexican hecatomb!
We must close our selections, for the present, with the following spirited stanzas upon the late unprecedented storm. They will bear more than one perusal; and the
more the reader sees of them, the better he will like them. The author is a young gen. tleman, who requires but study and time, to ripen his literary repute into fame:
*T is the sounding of the niglit-storm! - upon the mountain's height
Amid the white sierras, the mountain-winds are yelling;
Hark! ocean's mighty orchestra its overture is sounding!
To-night, the storm holds carnival upon the boiling main!
To-night the breakers will be fed that line the treacherous shore,
Hark! hark! the flood is rising, the loud waves fill the vale,
Loud roars the answering ocean, and through night's grand dominion,
We shall embrace an early occasion to renew and conclude an examination of the drawer.' Several articles, in prose and verse, among them “The Origin of the SnowDrop,'' Mind,' etc., although in type, are unavoidably postponed to another number.
BATTLE OF Long Island. — We would invite the reader's attention to the leading paper in the present number. It is the result of much personal examination and research ; while the map which accompanies it, is accurately engraved from recent surveys of the whole ground, made at the expense of not a little time and money, expressly for the writer's purpose,