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Among ideas the noblest and the highest-has Mr. Emerson his abiding place; and hence arises his obscurity. The celestial visitants refuse to be confined to the dull earth. Nevertheless, let us gratefully listen to the broken utterances vouchsafed to us; for they may perchance prove oracles. Æsop's Fables, written in Chinese by the learned Mun Moor SEEN-SHANG, and compiled in their present Form (with a free and literal Translation), by his Pupil SLOTH.
Now that a Chinese professorship has actually been established in London, this work may obtain what it deserves-extensive notice. It is published by Robert Thorn, Esq., one of Her Majesty's interpreters in China, under the pseudonyme of Sloth. It supplies what has long been a desideratum in the elementary departments of Chinese literature. In saying that every student of the Chinese language on the Continent, if he but knew where to procure it, would not fail to possess himself of a copy, we only repeat the opinion of M. Stanislas Julien, of Paris, without doubt the first Chinese scholar in Europe. The English Maiden ; her Moral and Domestic Duties. London: George
Bell, 186, Fleet Street. 1841. A very elegant book upon a subject which has lately become intensely interesting. The influence of woman in society has received such increase in our times, that many analyses of it have appeared. The one before us is exceedingly meritorious.
If there be one peculiarity in the character of our neighbours, the French, more predominant than any other, it is that spirit of research and investigation which they bring to their inquiries upon apparently trifling subjects. While every one complained of the nauseous taste of medicine, none but the French thought of concealing or removing that objectionable quality. By dint of perseverance they have succeeded. Their medicines are, to say the least, not disagreeable ; and many of them are actually nice. One we particularly remember as extremely pleasant—the Sirop Orangé Purgatif de Lagrange, an Aperient, intended to supersede the Black Draught, &c.
MUSIC. We have watched for some months past with great interest the philanthropic exertions of M. Mainzer in diffusing gratuitous singing instruction among our workmen. M. Mainzer is well and honourably known both in France and Germany, as a composer, and also for his benevolent personal efforts in spreading gratuitous musical instruction among the Parisian workmen. These efforts were crowned with high success, and thousands of workmen received lessons on this delightful art,-many of them attaining to considerable proficiency. Encouraged by repeated solicitations to extend the benefits of his musical apostolate to this country, he came to London about four months ago; and since that time he has been devoting his time, energy, talent, and means to the extension of this generous project. Convinced that music can be employed as a potent moralizing agent, his ultimate aim is to render it an essential, recognized branch of popular education; and this he bids fair to realize. Already he has established numerous classes in various parts of the metropolis: in the Temperance Hall, Broadway, Westminster; Rockingham Rooms, near the Elephant and Castle; Chelsea Teetotal Hall; Mechanics’ Institution. Southampton Buildings ; Westminster Literary and Scientific Institution, &c. &c. His work, “Singing for the Million," is the manual employed, and the progress of the pupils is strikingly rapid. The elementary course consists of sixteen lessons, at the end of which, although previously altogether ignorant of music, the pupils are enabled to sing from notes, and to execute choruses in parts in a very creditable manuer. After this elementary course, a second or more advanced class is immediately formed to conduct those who may desire to proceed to the higher and more artistic parts of vocal inusic.
We learn with pleasure from the “ National Singing Circular,” the organ of the association for popular instruction, according to the Mainzerian system, that M. Mainzer will not confine bis operations to the metropolis, but intends extending them to all the large manufacturing towns, and, through the aid of professors, universally over the kingdom, so as to ingraft a love for music upon the national character; and through its agency to beget a taste and appreciation of art, the most powerful antidote against the indulgence of low-based sensual gratifications, and a strong incentive to a greater moral developement. In this grand and important design our best wishes are with him. He comes to us a stranger, on a mission of benevolence, not on a trading speculation in the character of an enthusiastic philanthropist, not as a selfish money-getter ; and we heartily trust his success will be commensurate with the goodness and extent of his intention.
THE GREEN ROOM.
MANAGEMENT. The true poet writes according to his mental moods: the pseudoscribe for the occasion : the one is always consulting the market, the other yielding to mysterious impulses. The mind has its ebb and flow, as the sea has; and periods of great excitement will be succeeded by intervals of deepest calm. Some of the most beautiful poems seem to have been composed under such gentle influences, and to be animated with the very inspirations of peace—so soothe they the travailed feelings --so sweetly they lull the wearied spirits. Mr. Knowles's genius, after its sublimer excursion into the heroic field of action, erewhile trodden by the eloquent John of Procida, sought repose among the domestic affections, and sported with the love that delights in maskings, and the condescension that is pleased to lift humble merit to the level where disposition and destiny consort in happy union. In such a tem per of mind, he conceived the subject of the poem, which is now performing at Covent Garden Theatre under the title of Old Maids."
We say, poem : the work before us is eminently a poem ; it is a poem of the best and purest kind. We shall think of it, henceforth, with the Comus of Milton, with 'Shakspere's Midsummer Nights Dream, and Fletcher's Faithful Shepherdess. This is the class of works to which it belongs; though not, like them, invested with supernatural fascinations, yet possessing charms of its own which are of the substantial earth, and felicities which partake the reality of heaven. It is the Wonderful in the Common with which we are here presented, and it is brought out with a delicacy of touch, with a magic intuition, which is as surprising as what it produces. Knowles is the Wordsworth of the Drama.
Some nonsense has lately been written about a new species of drama, wbich is to be, in some unaccountable way, unlike the old. Thus it is that novelty is continually substituted for originality by the pseudocritical mind. Why! this is the newest form of the original-this Wordsworthian-this Goethean feeling for the miraculous in the familiar world with which we are surrounded. The family hearth has revelations uonoted because ouly noticeable there, which are oracles of divinest significance to the kindred spirit that can interpret them. The way-side is full of responses, and the god Pan may be heard in the cricket's chirp in the most ordinary field, and from the rudest hedge that, “ like a limitary cherub," incloses the rural lane.
Though similar to the Elizabethan drama in style, this same poetic play of Knowles is very dissimilar in spirit and execution. The Elizabethan poets went to the distant and antique for their subjects; but bere we are presented with our neighbours, disguised as the preoccupants of London in the olden time : strip them of their masking gear, and we have the faces that we have kissed, and the hearts that we have heard beat, and the hands that we have clasped, for a thousand times.
It is a daring thing for a man, in our day, to put a purely poetic drama on the stage ;-a drama portraying the hidden life of ordinary people. It is still more daring to venture such a play in one of our large theatres. Numerous audiences are little operated upon by mere poetic impulses ; they expect situation, claptrap, and theatrical effect; and if they find not these, they are disappointed. They seem to think themselves defrauded, if deprived of the slightest vulgar enjoyment to which they have been accustomed. But this they must certainly suffer, if our drama is to be redeemed.
To Mr. Knowles, the highest honour is due, for daring to initiate this kind of regeneration. It is worthy of the poet, who is fully entitled to be called the Author of the Chaste English Drama--the special glory of the nineteenth century.
Th, same pure spirit which prompted him in the composition of the play before us, seems also to have guided him in the mode of publication. We open the book and miss the accustomed laudatory advertisement of manager and performer. The poet has dared to infringe on all theatrical rules; and in this particular, as well as in the style of the piece, has courageously asserted the dramatist's independence.
The poem depends on its dialogue, not on its plot. There is, properly speaking, no plot, but a dramatic intention. The poet seeks to prove to such young ladies as affect to be old maids by anticipation, and to despise the opposite sex, the strong necessity of love, as an ontological law, and the consequent fact of their happiness being in reality dependent on their being loved-by a man a piece. Young ladies only dream they should like to die old maids, because their other halves have not yet reached them. They have been wooed perhaps by the wrong swain, and, answering by the mysterious law we wot of, have uttered the negative monosyllable instead of the affirmative. Thus it was with Lady Blanche ;-—Sir Philip Brilliant had wooed her, fancying he loved not loving, and she had, naturally enough, either refused or neglected his suit; and thence too rashly argued that she had no liking for man at all. The contrary to all her psychological appearances however was the fact—the very argument she rashly held arose from the strong interest she took in man. In proof, she had already assumed one of those disguises in which love so much delights, and as a yeoman's daughter had seduced the heart of a young jeweller, whose sudden disappearance from their accustomed haunts, becomes to her a source of mortification, which she would but cannot conceal.
Of course the young jeweller is the true lover. But obstructions to love are motives to yet stronger love; and her heart must be tried that its attachment may be confirmed. Not from any infidelity had the young jeweller removed himself-but circumstances had rapt him thence. Sir Philip Brilliant and he were absent at the same time, on the same errand, and are destined to return together. There is a sympathy between them, too, which only required contact to be cemented, and fate is not slow in contriving some odd chance to work out its purposes. The father of the jeweller had set a gem for Sir Philip, which he in his foppish carelessness had lost, and, from vanity, was desirous of fixing the blame rather on the workman than himself. lt must have been ill-set, forsooth. The son resists this piece of presumption, and excites the baronet's surprise. Though a fop outside, Sir Philip has a man's heart within, and provokes a duel with the boy just to test his spirit, whether of the right sort and due quality. Satisfied with the proof, he then determined on building up the young man's greatness, and is accompanied by him on a military expedition to Ireland, where, by some merit and a little patronage, the quondam jeweller's apprentice rises to the rank of a colonel.
We have said that Sir Philip and his protégé returu together. The latter is introduced by his patron to the Lady Blanche, and her friend Lady Anne. Colonel Thomas Blount (for that is his name) recognizes in Lady Blanche a likeness to the yeoman's maid he had formerly known, but fails in identifying her for the same person, though the lady on her part resorts to all the schemes she can think of to excite the desirable identification. She assumes the dress of a cavalier to tell him with more modesty that Lady Blanche loves him. But he is faithful to the image of the yeoman's maid, and until identified with her, no Lady Blanche for him! This once effected, his course is smooth and plain ; all old feelings return, and his hand is hers. Meantime, by similar, yet different processes, Sir Philip Brilliant has been made to find his proper mistress in the Lady Anne, and thus both old maids are provided with husbands.
Such is the course of true worth and true lovesuch their trials, such their triumphs. But there are shams in the world which serve as a foil to the true. The high-spirited Thomas Blount has a brother John, whose heart is mean and merit little. Having succeeded in supplanting Thomas in his father's business, John soon sells the concern and sets up for gentleman, without any of the qualifications for one, except plenty of money; with this he succeeds in getting acquainted at a race-course with some nobleman's and Sir Philip's servants. They affect their masters' and mistresses' titles, and thus delude the aspiring parvenu into the notion that they can confer such station and honour on him as he may choose. He is accordingly dubbed colonel—for it is towards the army that his aspirations are directed. The sequel may be easily guessed. The daw is stripped of his borrowed feathers, just at the time when, in the false pride of his ungenerous nature, he refuses to see his humble parents. He had also been entrapped into a sham marriage with Lady Blanche's maid, mistaking her for Lady Blanche herself. Lucky for him that the marriage was but a sham. There is now hope, since he has become re-acquainted with his nobler brother, that his mind may receive elevation from the influence of example.
Is not all this exquisitely conceived ? It is as felicitously executed : e.g.
The following is the manner in which Mistress Blount discriminates between her two sons :
“ MISTRESS BLOUNT,