« ZurückWeiter »
It was at Manchester that I beheld, for the first time, the new-risen star of the harmonic world, Mara. Her fires are very dazzling, it must be confessed. She has, however, some harsh notes in the lower part of her voice, when she throws it out fortissimo; and the excursive cadences she uses are too gay ornaments for the mourning robes of Handel's solemn songs.
Her Italian pathetic songs are enchanting ;her bravura ones stupendous ;—but those violent efforts, though miraculously successful, were as unpleasing to my ear, as they were visibly painful to the Syren who hazarded them. Ah! it was not tones in such supernatural altitudes that made Ulysses struggle in his voluntary chains.
Certainly, however, Mara is a glorious singer. It is the false taste of the multitude which tempts her to aim at astonishing her audience, rather than affecting their passions.
The winds of autumn are beginning to blow hollow and winterly, and to mourn around these bowers; and her umbrage is changing its varied and mellow tints, for the dim green and sickly yellow. How partial is nature to that last named colour it is the first hue of her flowers, and the last of her leaves. But how different the golden glow of her crocus-borders, in the infancy of the year, to the wan lemon-tint upon the leaf that clings trembling to the naked spray, and quivers in the bleak gale!
Lichfield has lost many of those inhabitants whose society used to gild the gloom of the
approaching season; but a few are yet within her mansions,
6 Who, when it falls, and when the wind and rain
Beat dark December, can right well discourse
The freezing hours away.” Adieu.
William HAYLEY, Esg.
Lichfield, Dec. 23, 1785. I TAKE up my pen to you on the eve of a wintry excursion over roads white with
and in defiance of the keen Eurus. My purposed visit is to Mr Dewes, at his seat in Warwickshire. Of his talents and worth I have before spoken to you. His lovely sister, Mrs Granville, meets me there. Though an esquire and a justice, he little resembles his brethren of that tribe. Last summer, he told me, he had danced up to town, in a herd of
them, to the Handelian commemoration, like the brutes after Orpheus.
My dear father's health seems to have recruited much since his last paralytic seizure, six weeks ago. I impute the precious amendment to more submission to restraint in his diet, and to more care in avoiding the inclement gales. It encourages me to make this kindly solicited visit, in despite of the rigours of the season, and its landscape devastation,
Dim winter's naked hedge, and plashy field.”
I go where it is well understood how to cheer the sullen day.
I am gratified by your praise of my translation of the two odes of Horace*.
You seem to prefer the ode addressed to Melpomene. My favourite is that which recommends a frugal sacrifice; it appears to me more pleasing, though perhaps less sublime.
Scarce an hour has past since Mr Saville brought me, with all the triumph of poetic taste in his eyes, what he justly called an high treat,
* They will be found in the author's Poetic Miscellany, together with many other translations or paraphrases from the Horatian lyrics.
« I have
fresh imported from Aoniap bowers. tasted," said he,“ just sipt, and found its flavour delicious; if you are not charmed with the opening of this new poem, the Task, I shall resign my pretences to know what will please you.” He began with those harmonious tones, that spirit, that variety of cadence, which makes poetry poetry indeed,
“ I sing the sofa-I who lately sung
Faith, hope, and charity, and touch'd with awe
We had only time for the gay exordium, which traces the progress of chairs from the rude-invention of the three-footed-stool, which received the royal weight of the immortal Alfred, to the luxurious sofa of the present day. On my
life this seems a spirited bard; his description paints admirably; it makes me see, with my mind's eye, the old-fashioned worked chairs, which, in former days, I have observed in Gothic mansions ; observed them with a smile
which expressed the contempt inspired by the re• finement of modern days, and the progress of the
arts. Exactly does the author bring back those venerable chairs, with their disproportioned imitations and faded gaudiness :
“ Their peony spread wide ;
Few are the employments which, without being absolutely indispensable, could have drawn 'me from a poem of such lively exordium; yet it would be strange. if writing to Mr Hayley had not been one of those few.
With Mr Saville's I join my acknowledgments for your goodness to his Elizabeth, and for the warm interest
take in her welfare. She meets with kind encouragement at the Bath concerts this winter from the company, and every indulgent attention from her amiable preceptor, Mr Rauzzini. The letters she has written to her father on these occasions, are master-pieces of simple pathos. A warm and guileless heart, softened by much timid sensibility, has, on having been called, by unforeseen circumstances, into public exertions, for which she had not been educated, given unconscious oratory to an artless pen. I am tempted to transcribe the letter which describes her first vocal attempt in the Bath concert-room,
“ Yes it is over--the trying evening is over ; and more happily than I could hope, or expect. I am all gratitude to my audience for their in