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tributary princes. This politic measure may, no doubt, be attributed as much to necessity as to a wish to confer a benefit upon the conquered people; for while, on the one hand, the delegation of the regal authority probably arose from the circumstance of the remoteness of the newly-acquired dominions from Wessex, Egbert's head quarters, on the other hand, it must have been more consonant with the feelings of the inhabitants to be governed by a prince of their own choice, rather than by a stranger. But in whatever light we view this proceeding, it unquestionably evinces a liberality of spirit on the part of Egbert seldom exhibited in these dark ages, and indicates that his ambition soared higher than the mere desire of posssessing an extensive kingdom.
Thus after an existence of 245 years (reckoning from the foundation in 582 of Mercia, the last state) the union of the Heptarchy was dissolved—the form of government was annihilated which had been established by the prowess, the bravery, the intelligence of warrior-chieftains, whose blood now flows in the veins of the myriad population of Great Britain. The Saxons had fondly hoped that this system which they introduced would have survived the vicissitudes of centuries, as well as have reflected honour on their name and their country; but the same power that created the fabric destroyed the building. These signal changes were effected by the great abilities, the exalted ambition, and the military talents of Egbert, the illustrious descendant of a Germanic race of nobles— a prince whose early years were spent neither amidst the smiles of sycophant courtiers, nor in the luxurious ease of a courtly life.
The constitution of the Heptarchy involved its downfal. The kingdoms, although contiguous, were in a great measure independent of each other. They were mostly governed by jealous, aspiring, and often incompetent monarchs the most able of whom endeavoured to increase their dominions at the expense of their weaker neighbours; so that a policy, based chiefly on personal aggrandisement, produced a disunion among the several states, and a constant succession of intestine disputes. The extinction, too, in many instances of the royal family, formed a pretext for the intriguing and unscrupulous warrior to aim at the throne, to the exclusion of him whom the general assent of the people might have indicated as its rightful possessor. Indeed, in some of the kingdoms, the Saxon institutions had fallen so much into neglect, that the activity, popularity, and military skill of Egbert, obtained with comparative ease the dominion of the Heptarchy. To him, therefore, was reserved the accomplishment of the mission in which all his predecessors had failed ; many of whom had formed the design partly succeeded in the attempt, but left the unfinished sketch to be completed by a more powerful monarch.
Egbert was now virtually sovereign of England ; and in order to impart due dignity to his administration, he convened, in the year 828, an assembly of the clergymen and noblemen at Winchester. He was then crowned the sole king, and with their consent enacted that all the previously-existing distinctions between the states of the Heptarchy should henceforth cease, and that in future the name of the island should be changed from Britain to England.” But with regard to the last matter, there appears to be considerable doubt, some historians being of opinion that the alteration had been made many years before Egbert's reign. It is worthy of observation that this is the only instance on record in which he summoned a council for the purpose of sanctioning his measures ; he seems to have usually acted almost entirely on his own responsibility, his highest aims and unceasing energies being devoted to the subjugation of England, and its preservation as a united kingdom.
His repose, however, from the recent turmoils of war was destined to be brief; for no sooner had internal peace commenced, than the island was invaded by the Danes, a predatory race of men, whose origin may partly be traced from the celebrated sea-kings of Norway. The large population of Denmark (from which many of them came), the comparatively barren nature of the country, and the stimulus of an adventurous maritime disposition, induced its more enterprising inhabitants to seek new homes on foreign soil. England, France, and the Low Countries were invaded by these bold piratical tribes, but the former especially became the scene of their incursions. They so frequently repeated their visits, exercised such cruelty, obtained so many victories, that they effectually settled on the island, and for a time supplanted the rightful line of sovereigns by Danish kings. At first they committed their depredations in small detachments, but afterwards they combined their forces, equipped large fleets, and, with the sanction of their sovereign (who shared in the booty), laid waste the country far and wide, killed the inhabitants, exhibited every species of barbarity, and generally returned laden with spoils. In the year 789, during the reign of Bertric, they landed at Portland ; in 794 in Northumberland, where they suffered a defeat; in 832 in the Isle of Sheppy, which they ravaged, together with Dorsetshire also, in the following year. Here, however, they were partially repulsed by Egbert, but it needed several defeats to damp their courage, or restrain their roving habits. In 835 they again appeared, their ranks recruited by the West Britons (who, wishing to throw off the English yoke, joined the Danish forces in their invasion of Cornwall); but before they had proceeded far, the British monarch put himself at the head of his troops, and effectually routed the combined army at Hengstone. This decisive victory produced a temporary suspension of hostilities, from the prejudicial results of which the country was just recovering, when death removed the sovereign who alone was capable of guiding the helm of government. Egbert died A.D. 837, after a reign of thirty-seven years and seven months, leaving his son Ethelwulf possessor of the English throne. His body was interred at Winchester, a city often distinguished in the record of history, not less as the crowning-place of kings, than as the cemetery which held all that remained of their exploits in arms or triumphs in peace--of their virtues or their crimes.
Little is known with reference either to Egbert's private life or legislative enactments. The laws of Ina, King of Wessex from 689 to 727, although somewhat modified by the subject of this sketch, continued in force until the reign of Alfred; while Egbert's time and energies, necessarily devoted to the preservation of his dominions, left but scanty leisure to cultivate the arts of civilisation. No sooner had he acquired the entire sovereignty, than the prospect of peace was broken by the Danish invasions, thus completely frustrating his designs for advancing the public weal, and introducing those salutary changes in the constitution which must have arisen from an undisturbed application of his legislative skill. The difficulties, too, he encountered in centralising the regal authority, were of no ordinary character. No effective system of government had been in operation; every measure for improvement had to contend against the prejudice and opposition of ignorance; yet, notwithstanding these circumstances, his administration was vigorous, his actions were generally dictated by wisdom and policy, his military engagements were nearly all successful; he left a throne free from rivals, a country in a state of peace, and in a condition to be renovated and enlightened by the rays of civilisation, which, faint as they were, might even then be discerned glimmering in the distant horizon.
The name of Egbert, therefore, will ever occupy a prominent position on the page of history: and though centuries have since elapsed—though revolution and extended knowledge have changed the features of the English constitution—though the administration of some kings has retarded, while that of others has accelerated the march of improvement, —yet the same system of government still remains, the outline of which, was delineated by the vigorousminded, enterprising Saxon princes; but Egbert finding the system inoperative, annihilated the minor sovereignties, and centralised the regal functions; so that the edifice of British power, whose foundations were thus so wisely planned and securely laid, has by his successors been raised to a height of grandeur and stability which render the name and influence of Britain known and felt throughout the whole habitable world.
DRAMATIC AND MUSICAL
The two great Anglo-Italian Operas have commenced their campaign with no very marked effect. There can be but little question that the generally unsettled state of Europe, and the ultra-excitement produced by the flight of Louis Philippe, and the establishment in France of a republic, have had their share in producing the partial stagnation. Neither of the theatres can have been doing a remunerative business, and up to the present time little of special novelty has been produced. As the old establishment has been by its zealous partisans styled a time-honoured establishment, we necessarily give the first reflection of our lyrical mirror to
HER MAJESTY'S THEATRE. Although but a few weeks have passed since the opening of the theatre, we have had four operas by Verdi. No effort of the management, nor continuous repetition, nor the most gifted interpretation can ever make the works of this composer popular in this country. The true musical feeling is too predominant, and musical knowledge too widely spread amongst the population ever to persuade them to take the glitter and the glare, the riot and the roar, the trite melodies, and unisonous choral effects for true art. Circumstances alone, and not lyrical genius, have placed Verdi on the throne of musical Italy ; Rossini abdicated, Donizetti in a madhouse, and Bellini dead, Verdi has become the one-eyed monarch of the blind—but the ill-placed and unmerited diadem will crumble from his brow, and music will assuredly assert her true regalities. The vocal aspirants of the sunny South, the mother land of song, have no other present resource than the study of his works; and thus the finest voices and the most intellectual means are destroyed ere they attain maturity. True it is that novelty must be had—the old works, however admirable, have been repeated till every bar of their score has become familiar as household words>the melodies are hummed from the palace to the cottage, from the duke to the dustman-and therefore, as in instances either of famine or depletion, the appetite is fain to batten on meaner fare. To the directors of the London Italian Opera houses the operas of Verdi afford advantages with which the general public is not acquainted. It is usual during the vacations for managers to scour the vari. ous cities of Italy in search of new attractions, and classical works not being the fashion, to the younger artistes the works of the older writers are as a sealed bookhence, with the novelty of new artistes, they are shackled with the operas of Verdi. Besides these considerations, the mere music is so facile to study, and the choruses so easily learned, that the difficulty attendant on numerous rehearsals is obviated. An opera of Verdi may be perfectly studied in a month, when a work of Mozart, or Meyerbeer could, with the greatest care, not be properly produced in less than thrice that period. Four of Verdi's operas have already been given, Ernani, I Due Foscari, Attila, and Nino. with one of Rossini's, the immortal Barbiere. But we are hopeful of better things; with Jenny Lind, Tadolini, Madle. Schwartz, of whom fame speaks loudly as a first-rate contralto and a handsome woman; with Lablache the Titan, and Labocetta, the tenor from Berlin, the good works which have beep ruthlessly cast aside will be restored to us. The new engagements, with the exception of Signora Abbadia, whose advent was announced with several flourishes of trumpets, have been very favourable. Signora Cruvelli, who has, up to this, held rank as the principal prima donna, is a native of Germany, youthful, welllooking, energetic, and possessed of a voice of extraordinary power and extent of register, though the middle portion is comparatively weak. She has strong dramatic feeling, but is inclined to exaggeration—the latter vice time and study will ameliorate. The nervous trepidation natural upon her first debût has now entirely vanished. The prevailing error is the desire to exhibit the extent of her vocal power, which, if persisted in, with the fatal effect of the continuous screeching at the top of the compass induced by the de. structive tendency of Verdi's music, her organ will become coarse, her style vulgarised, and all lyrical delicacy destroyed. Her debüt in Elvira, in Ernani, was exceedingly favourable, and her subsequent appearances in the other operas sustained the original good opinion formed of her merits. Signor Belletti, the baritone, has a voice of fine quality, his execution is facile, his style cultivated, and his dramatic talent versatile, and of a high order of merit. His Ruy Gomez was instinct with true Castilian dignity, his Figaro spirited and mercurial, his Attila well considered; and his High Priest in Nino was a worthy companion to the Assyrian king of Coletti. Signor Cuzzani is a mere “pocket tenor," with an obstinate tendency to sing a quarter of a note below the orchestral pitch. Coletti made bis reappearance in the old Doge Foscari, a vocal and dramatic realisation which may bear worthy comparison with any histrionic personation, past or present. The historical character has been deeply studied, and every phase of the part, every shade of passion, is truly reflected; there is dignity, pathos, and passionas a truthful dramatic portraiture, it is equal to the Othello of Kean or the Werner of Macready. Signora Abbadia and Madle. Vera debûted on Saturday in Nino. The former lady completely failed—her style is hard, and her voice unmalleable — the latter debûtante, though suffering from stage fright, will, with practice, prove efficient. A new ballet has been produced, of no remarkable novelty of plot; but the dances are pretty, and the groupings, scenery, and music, graceful and appropriate. Madles. Rosati and Marie Taglioni have been the ruling divinities of the choregraphy.
ROYAL ITALIAN OPERA. Competition is the very soul of enterprise-from this feeling has sprung many of the greatest benefits to mankind. The old days in which monopoly thrived have passed away with the things beyond the flood. Free trade must become the universal watchword of commerce; and if of commerce, how much greater claim have the rights of art to the blessed results of a fair and open competition ? Art has no vested rights-all is free as the air. Intellect is the denizen of every nation, and its passport and its right to trade upon its resources shuuld be ever free and unshackled. Many and various were the arguments raised against the existence of a second Italian Opera House—the reason. ings were multifarious as the views of the reasoners—a spirit of partisanship sprung up, and the rivalries and the ill blood, and the pamphlets and the leading articles, and the paragraphs and the hints, and the inuendoes and the personalities, and the rudeness and the evil passions, fell thick and fast around us. No such feud had existed since the days of the Guelphs and the Ghibbelines, the Capulets and Montagues, the White and Red Roses. Prophecies were promulgated, and those that were blessed with the gift of second sight could see in the distance the fane of Covent Garden crumbled into very small dust, and the prima donnas, tenors, barytones, basses, and chorus-singers, each and all mingling in one vast ruin. In spite of these doubts, dubieties, forewarnings, and foreshadowings, the singers sang their operas, the fiddles squeaked their shrill notes, the basses growled, the flutes blew, the trumpets shouted, the drums beat, and Costa wielded his ivory baton. “ It might do for one season,” exclaimed the Conservatives, “but it will never open again, depend on it!" It has opened again, and with an array of talent, present and prospective, unparalleled in the annals of any opera-house; and if but a portion of the plans be carried out by the new management, a great and abiding success must be the result. The resources of the establishment are “legion"-well directed, they must be triumphant. That the wisest measures depend very frequently upon fortuitous circumstances is an axiom as ancient as the hills; but though success may not be commanded, it may be deserved. The enlarged spirit and unbounded liberality of the present direction must ultimately turn to good account; and when the lyrical forces are marshalled forth in their strong array, they must be resistless. The establishment opened with Rossini's sparkling opera of Tancredi. It was his first serious work ; and no sooner was it heard than its melodies became universal—a new world of song had been discovered. “Di tanti palpiti,” sung by myriad voices, seemed a bright spell-word, to evoke the most exquisite emotions. Tancredi has been sung in every country in which a lyrical theatre exists. Its themas have been variationised for every known instrument; every barrel organ has ground its tunes, and every orchestra played its overture. Its merits, however, are strictly musical ; the book adapted from Voltaire's cele. brated tragedy is poor, and feeble, and puerile, ill-constructed, and undramatic, and without a particle of interest. The characters are without vigour, and their purposes almost aimless; but the pleasure-seeking, sensuous Italians, what care they for the dramatic properties ? The voluptuous sounds enter their souls, and like the opium-eaters of Stamboul, they dream of Paradise and bright-eyed houris. It is the very sloth of pleasure-tne laziness of happiness—the repose of delight—the blissful far niente of their terrestial heaven. Tancredi for many seasons was the favourite character of many of the leading songstresses. It has been enacted by the celebrated Pissa. roni, Belocchi, Pasta, Malibran, and Viardot Garcia. Mezzo-soprani and contralti have essayed it, and hence great were the anticipations of the music-lover upon the announcement that the character was to be delineated by Alboni. The splendour of her voice, the purity of her style, the grace of her execution, and the sudden and richly
deserved popularity she had achieved, were each and all so many baits for hope. Her success in this country was finally stamped by all the best judges in Paris--as in London, she came, saw, and conquered! The prospects which at the “Italiens” had become gloomy and overcast, suddenly became brightened; the subscription, which had been weak, became strengthened ; the boxes, which had been vacated, were filled ; fashion, which had partially imped its wing to other spots, returned to its old haunt, and a new spirit hovered over the lyrical temple. With this knowledge it was natural that expectation should be on tip-toe, and that vocal marvels which the ear never heard were to be poured forth. The reaction of all these visionary hopes was necessarily strong. The Alboni appeared, and sung with all her accustomed beauty, but seemed listless and spirit-crushed. And yet the burst of enthusiasm that hailed her entrance upon the stage should have put to flight not only all fears, but have excited and invigorated any power that might have been dormant. Various reports have been in circulation to account for the cause of the partial non-success of the great contralto; but our mission reaches not beyond the foot-lights-it seeks not information in green-rooms, and eschews the whereabouts of the side scenes. The real truth is, that the register of the music is not adapted to the peculiar voice of Alboni, and that the dramatic character calls for histrionic attributes and mental qualities which lie not within the range or grasp of the distinguished vocalist. But Alboni will soon reconquer the ground she has lost in Tancredi — she will gather new laurels in the field of song, and many crowns will be still woven to be placed upon her brow and at her feet by her thousand devotees. We felt at once that Alboni had missed the right rendering of the part—the first lines, "O Patria !” that fine burst of the Pilgrim Knight touching once again the loved land of his native Sicily, lacked enthusiasm, and the stern feeling which she casts back upon her ungrateful country was “ tender as a maiden's sigh.” Hence the luxury and the tenderness of the subsequent aria fell flat and meaningless, and was divested of contrast and of colour. In the duet she struck a spark of the sacred fire, but it was weak and powerless. The final aria was, however, a triumph of vocalisation, but the public ardour was damped, and their expectations deceived, and no effort could succeed to awaken them from their leaden lethargy. As though tempted to greater efforts by the comparative o laziness of Tancredi Madame Persiani sang with a spirit that seemed indomitableshe soared like a lark into the highest heaven of song-ornament succeeded ornament, interminable in their beauty and their picturesqueness. Her voice seemed to have gained the early freshness of her youth, and the modulations and the intonations, and the quaint graces, and the enhancing tenderness, and the scientific mazes, and the musical truth, conjured up the old memories of early days of victory. It was little to be wondered at, the enthusiasm that followed her brilliant rendering of the charming " Giusto Ciel, che simile adoro.”
Signor Luigi Mei, who made his debât in Argirio, possesses a low tenor voice, descending almost to the quality of a barytone. It has neither high cultivation nor resonance, and his dramatic qualifications, as far as we were enabled to judge from this first essay, do not seem to be remarkable.
A new ballet divertissement, entitled Folette ; or, the Queen of the Fireflies, a graceful composition, is a medium for the introduction of many novel scenic effects and picturesque groupings. The park of a chateau, illuminated for a nocturnal fête, is especially beautiful. Madlle. Fabbri was warmly welcomed, and a new danseuse, Madlle. Leopoldine Brussi, from the Imperial Theatre at Vienna, possesses considerable merit as a danseuse of the second rank.
The Lucia di Lammermoor, the most pathetic inspiration of Donizetti, has been produced with circumstances which naturally increased the interest which this charming opera is wont to produce; an old favourite, Madame Castellan, enacting the ill-fated Scottish maiden; and the celebrated French vocalist and actor, M. Roger, being the representative of Edgardo. It was the debût of Castellan on these boards, and the warm reception of the audience must have convinced her that, in changing from her accustomed scene of her first triumphs, she had not moulted one feather of her well. deserved public favour. It was in the character of Lucia Madame Castellan made her first dra. matic appearance in this country, and her vocal powers and personal appearance are happily adapted to embody the creation of the author and the composer. It is in cha. racters which combine gentleness and pathos that this lady excels. She has returned to us in excellent voice, and the slight tendency to flatness had completely vanished on this occasion.
M. Roger is the established favourite of the Comic Opera at Paris. His debût at this early period of the season was as unexpected as it was agreeable, for though no comparison m be instituted between him and the great Italian illustrators of the lyrical drama, he ligmany and varied qualifications which entitle him to a prominent position