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Caught in a net, which there Apollo spreads,
Sweet soul, she tries
(That lived so sweetly), dead, so sweet a grave." LADY M. There is certainly a fine old spirit of genuine poetry in these verses ; but they are so long, that Frederic will never print them, and if he does, nobody will read them. But come, let us proceed to another goddess. Do you know, I was somewhat surprised at your quiet acquiescence in my allotment of the apple of harmony. I thought that Miss Stephens had been the favourite with all you men, though, for my part, I never saw any thing so very extraordinary in her. What is your opinion ?
Ed. Br. It grieves me to dissent from your ladyship, but indeed I do see something very extraordinary in Miss Ste. phens,-a freshness, a simplicity, preserved amidst the sully, ing atmosphere of public life, like the drop of pure pellucid water enshrined in the transparent stone that graces your ladyship's finger. When I see her advance to sing, with that sweet deprecating look which at once enlists the heart in her favour, with those large loving eyes that have such an askingness (may I coin a word ?) in them, and that air of unstudied engageingness, (another word !), I forget the singer in admiration of the woman; while, with regard to Mrs. Salmon, I forget the woman in admiration of the singer. The latter takes my heart captive through the ear; the former more than half through the eye. But why is it that
“Who praises Lesbia's form and feature,
Must call her sister awkward creature ?"
The vocal merits of these two sirens lie in such different departments, that there is no need to detract from the one in order to elevate the other. There is perhaps no one song which suits them equally. All my advice is, that one should never encroach on the province of the other. Miss Stephens's rich, low, plaintive notes, are heard to particular advantage in Handel's song of “ Pious Orgies.” I would recommend Mrs. Salmon to concede that song with a good grace, and to Miss Stephens I would suggest, that in Haydn's air of 6. With verdure clad,” Mrs. Salmon's voice is so glidingly soft, so flowingly melodious, that even her sweet tones fail in their wonted effect, when attempting the same song.
LADY M. There is one question I would fain ask, however invidious. Have these cherubic creatures no faults in their singing ?
Ep. B. I am of that happy temperament, that the creaking of Venus's slipper does not in the least discompose me. But, in order to save my credit as a conoscente, I will notice one fault-just one little fault-in each. The pronunciation of Mrs. Salmon is too Italianised, and yet I am told that she does not pronounce Italian itself well. Miss Stephens's defect is a forced manner of— I had almost said pumping out her high notes; but this is only occasionally, for her more subdued high notes are beautiful. If I were asked for one distinguish. ing characteristic of Miss Stephens's voice, I should say that it was pathos. It is this which gives her such a decided superiority over every other singer in the plaintive ballad; and in the national melodies of Scotland, Ireland, and Wales, which have mostly a melancholy character, even when they seem the gayest. It is this which draws tears down many an
66 iron cheek” in “ Auld Robin Gray” and “ Savourneen Deelish.” It is this, I think, more than any particular expression, which she gives to the words themselves; for I own I am of opinion, that a little more soul is required to be thrown into her style of singing to make her perfectly irresistible. Not that Miss Stephens can want soul, but that natural timidity, which is at once the veil and the ornament of her talents, seems ever to throw a tint of coldness over her public performances. In private, indeed, I have heard her sing “ Auld Robin Gray,” without music, in a style that certainly came from the heart, and went at once to the heart. If it were allowable to speak of Miss Stephens in any other than her public capacity, I should launch out into a very warm encomium indeed. I shall never forget seeing her at a private party, where, with the most unaffected good nature, she offered to sing second to a child with a very beautiful voice. “ If I am wanted," she said ; but she did not make the offer until a real difficulty had arisen about the song, so as to make it evident that her only motive was to be of use. There are some songs that Miss Stephens may claim as peculiarly her own, for I really pity that performer who should be rash enough to attempt them
after her. Bishop's “ Echo song" is one of these. That part of the song which is so extraordinary—the echo of her own voice-depends entirely on sufficient contrast being made between what is supposed to be the real voice and its echo. It is in this that Miss Stephens triumphs, for her voice is incomparably the most powerful of any female singer, except Catalani; she has also the power of modulating it, which Catalani now has not; so that all the illusion is produced of the most distant dying echo.
LADY M. Alas, why will young misses, whose echo I have often heard louder than the reality, from the very attempt to make it otherwise, torture one's ears in this song! Why will they scream out any of those songs, which are set in keys adapted only to the finest voices ? Poor “ Bid me discourse, how I have heard you murdered! How often, when girls have been singing, “I will enchant thine ear," I have thought to myself," My ear is any thing but enchanted.”
ED. Br. Your mention of “ Bid me discourse,” reminds me that it is time to pass on to the siren for whom Bishop composed this his best song, which has much of the fine racy flavour of our old masters, -I mean Miss M. Tree.
LADY M. By the by, we seem to have forgotten all about the birds, and indeed I do not remember that you likened Miss Tree to any of the feathered tribe.
Ed. Br. I own that I was puzzled to find a resemblance. I thought of the sky-lark, but that is too exulting,--and yet there is a sort of exuberant freshness in Miss Tree's voice, like the thrilling ecstasy" of the lark. I am a very great admirer of Miss Tree; and her singing, on the whole, gives me more mental pleasure than that of any other performer. Mrs. Salmon
“ Takes the prisoned soul,
I never heard" in any but in Miss M. Tree. Miss Stephens brings tears into my eyes, but Miss Tree " can give thoughts, that do often lie too deep for tears.” Soul is the very characteristic of her singing-fervent, impassioned soul. When she sings those words of Shakspeare,
“ Should he upbraid, I'll own that he prevail,
· words which breathe the very devotion of the female heart,
she seems to be all that she sings of -in Wordsworth's words, (for I am in a quoting humour,)
“A creature not too bright, or good,
For human nature's daily food." In short, no siren, or goddess, or supra-mundane creature, but a woman, ready to share sorrow as well as joy with him, whom she should bless with her love, to make his fire-side happy, and his home home indeed. I said that soul was the characteristic of Miss Tree's singing, I should have said sense, as well as soul. She sings sensibly-a rare perfection. One never hears an important word slurred over, or a subordinate word dwelt upon with emphasis, merely because it suits the sound. Her singing is beautiful elocution. The tone of her voice is delicious. There is a peculiar reediness in its low notes, (one is really obliged to coin words in describing such indescribable things,) which would enable my ear to distinguish it among a thousand others. But the most remarkable part of Miss Tree's singing is its perfect nature; there is nothing professional about it. It seems as natural to her to sing as to speak. There is no distortion of face, no slightest effort perceivable; she has only to open her mouth, and, like the princess in the fairy tale, the flowers and precious gems of sweet song drop from her lips. I can imagine that the first syllables to which her infant lips were framed, were song. Her manners are perfectly simple, and distinguished by a sort of modest confidence, if I may use the expression. When she sings, she seems to think of nothing else, and not to bestow a thought on others, or what others will think of her. Poor girl! it makes me quite unhappy to hear that she has a consumptive tendency, and that her exertions for the support of her family have almost proved fatal to her health.
Now, Lady Mary, may I ask you, who comes next on LADY M. I have not time to tell you now. Positively it is five o'clock, and I have a dozen cards to leave before the dinner hour. As for you, I advise you to go home as fast as you can, and to write down the substance of our dialogue, before it escapes your memory. Perhaps we may talk on the subject at another opportunity. At present, good morning.
ED. BR. I have the honour to wish your ladyship good morning.
REMARKS ON THE ENGLISH CHARACTER.
Addressed by a Foreigner to his Friend in Italy. ! MY DEAR GIULIO,
Since my return to this country, you have repeatedly invited me to impart to you my remarks upon the character and manners of the English. You are sufficiently acquainted, you say, with the outline, but wish to look a little farther into the expression of the moral countenance of this people.
You have given me a delicate task to perform. With regard !. to this nation in particular, I think a foreigner may live half a
century in England, and yet know very little about it. The character, manners, and feelings of the English are so closely connected with their institutions, their history, their local and traditional customs, that a man ought to be thoroughly acquainted with all these, before he can expect to decipher their moral qualities as a people. I think the English are more strongly moulded by their laws and institutions than any other nation with which I am acquainted ; and as this country has not undergone any of those violent and sweeping changes that have occurred in our time in the rest of Europe, the various impressions which the national character has successively received, for centuries past, are still perceptible, and their lines sometimes cross each other, so as to render some of the particular features confused and incongruous. This I believe to be the cause of many peculiarities and apparent contradictions in the English character, which renders them the most eccentric people in Europe. I shall endeavour hastily to sketch and comment upon some of these peculiarities as they occur to me, without any regular plan or order.
You recollect my early partiality for this nation, long before I became acquainted with it. To this day I cannot explain to myself this singularity of my character, upon any other principle than that of hidden sympathy, called forth, perhaps, by political predilections. This partiality, however, being opposed by my friends, and by the circumstances of the times, grew into a real passion, enthusiastic like all youthful feelings. An opportunity at last presented itself for visiting this land of my dreams. I shall not describe to you my feelings during the voyage. I arrived here ; I saw with my own eyes, and brought my ideas to the test of my senses; was I disappointed, or did reality fulfil my expectations? In other cases of a similar nature, the chances would have been against me ;