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(See Engraving.) BY I1EDEEIKA BBEMER.
TnEKE was once a poor and plain little girl, dwelling in a little room, in Stockholm, the capital of Sweden. She was a poor little girl indeed then; she was lonely and neglected, and would have been very unhappy, deprived of the kindness and care so necessary to a child, if it had not been for a peculiar gift. The little girl had a fine voice, and in her loneliness, in trouble or in sorrow, she consoled herself by singing. In fact, she sung to all she did; at her work, at her play, running or resting, she always sang.
The woman who had her in care went out to work during the day, and used to lock in the little girl, who had nothing to enliven her solitude but the company of a cat. The little girl played with her cat, and sang. Once she sat by the open window and stroked her cat and— sang, when a lady passed by. She heard the voice, and looked up and saw the little singer. She asked the child several questions, went away, and came back several days later, followed by an old music-master, whose name was Crelius. He tried the little girl's musical ear and voice, and was astonished. He took her to the director of the Royal Opera at Stockholm, then a Count Puhe, whose truly generous and kind heart was concealed by a rough speech and a morbid temper. Crelius introduced his little pupil to the Count, and asked him to engage her as "e'lfive" for the opera. "You ask a foolish thing!" said the Count gruffly, looking disdainfully down on the poor little girl. "What shall we do with that ugly thing? See what feet she has! And then her face! She will never be presentable. No, we cannot take her! Away with her!"
The music-master insisted, almost indignantly. "Well," exclaimed he at last, "if you will not take her, poor as I am, I will take her myself, and have her educated for the scene; then such another ear as she has for music is not to be found in the world."
The Count relented. The little girl was at last admitted into the school for 61eves at the opera, and with some difficulty a simple gown of black bombasin was procured for her. The care of her musical education was left to an able master, Mr. Albert Berg, director of the song-school of the opera.
Some years later, at a comedy given by the Vol. vi. 29
Sieves of the theatre, several persons were struck by the spirit and life with which a very young clove acted the part of a beggar girl in the play. Lovers of genial nature were charmed, pedants almost frightened. It was our poor little girl, who had made her first appearance, now about fourteen years of age, frolicsome and full of fun as a child.
A few years still later, a young debutante was to sing for the first time before the public in Weber's Freischotz. At the rehearsal preceding the representation of the evening, she sang in a manner which made the members of the orchestra once, as by common accord, lay down their instruments to clap their hands in rapturous applause. It was our poor, plain little girl here again, who now had grown np and was to appear before the public in the role of Agatha. I saw her at the evening representation. She was then in the prime of youth, fresh, bright and serene as a morning in May, perfect in form—her hands and arms peculiarly graceful—and lovely in her whole appearance through the expression of her countenance, and the noble simplicity and calmness of her manners. In fact she was charming. We saw not an actress, but a young girl full of natural geniality and grace. She seemed to move, speak, and sing without effort or art. All was nature and harmony. Her song was distinguished especially by its purity, and the power of soul which seemed to swell her tones. Her "mezzo voce" was delightful. In the night scene where Agatha, seeing her lover come, breathes out her joy in a rapturous song, our young singer, on turning from the window, at the back of the theatre to the spectators again, was pale for joy. And in that pale joyousness she sang with a burst of outflowing love and life that called forth not the mirth but the tears of the auditors.
From that time she was the declared favouriteof the Swedish publie, whose musical taste an't knowledge are said to be surpassed nowhere. And year after year she continued so, though after a time, her voice, being overstrained, lost somewhat of its freshness, and the publie, being satiated, no more crowded the house when she was singing. Still, at that time, she could be heard singing and playing more delightfally than ever in Pamina (in Zauberflotc) or in Anna Bolena, though the opera was almost deserted. (It was then late in the spring, and the beautiful weather called the people out to nature's plays.) She evidently sang for the pleasure of the song.
By that time she went to take lessons of Garcia, in Paris, and so give the finishing touch to her musical education. There she acquired that warble in which she is said to have been equalled by no singer, and which could be compared only to that of the soaring and warbling lark, if the lark had a soul.
And then the young girl went abroad and sang on foreign shores and to foreign peoples. She charmed Denmark, she charmed Germany, she charmed England. She was caressed and courted everywhere, even to adulation. At the courts of kings, at the houses of the great and noble, she was feasted as one of the grandees of nature and art. She was covered with laurels and jewels. But friends wrote of her, "In the midst of these splendours she only thinks of her Sweden, and yearns for her friends and her people."
One dusky October night, crowds of people (the most part, by their dress, seeming to belong to the upper classes of society) thronged on the shore of the Baltic-harbour at Stockholm. All looked toward the sea. There was a rumour of expectance and pleasure. Hours passed away and the crowds still gathered and waited and looked out eagerly toward the sea. At length a brilliant rocket rose joyfully, far out at the entrance of the harbour and was greeted by a general buzz on the shore. "There she comes! there she is!" A large steamer now came thundering on, making its triumphant way through the flocks of ships and boats lying in the harbour, towards the shore of the "Skeppsbro." Flashing rockets marked its way in the dark as it advanced. The crowds on the shore pressed forward as if to meet it. Now the leviathan of the waters was heard thundering nearer and nearer, now it relented, now again pushed on, foaming and splashing, now it lay still. And there, on the front of the deck, was seen by the light of lamps and rockets, a pale, graceful young woman, with eyes brilliant with tears, and lips radiant with
smiles, waving her handkerchief to her friends and countrymen on the shore.
It was she again,—our poor, plain, neglected little girl of former days—who now came back in triumph to her fatherland. But no more poor, no more plain, no more neglected. She had become rich; she had become celebrated; and she had in her slender person the power to charm and inspire multitudes.
Some days later, we read in the papers of Stockholm, an address to the public written by the beloved singer, stating with noble simplicity that, "as she once more had the happiness to be in her native land, she would be glad to sing again to her countrymen, and that the income of the operas in which she was this season to appear, would be devoted to raise a fund for a school where lSieves for the theatre would be educated to virtue and knowledge." The intelligence was received as it deserved, and of course the opera house was crowded every time the beloved singer sang there. The first time she again appeared in the "Sonnambula" (one of her favourite roles), the public, after the curtain was dropped, called her back with great enthusiasm, and received her, when she appeared, with a roar of "hurrahs." In the midst of the burst of applause a clear, melodious warbling was heard. The hurrahs were hushed instantly. And we saw the lovely singer standing with her arms slightly extended, somewhat bowing forward, graceful as a bird on its branch, warbling, warbling as no bird ever did, from note to note—and on every one a clear, strong, soaring warble—until she fell into the retournelle of her last song, and again sang that joyful and touching strain: "No thought can conceive how I feel at my heart."
She has now accomplished the good work to which her latest songs in Sweden have been devoted, and she is again to leave her native land to sing to a far remote people. She is expected this year in the United States of America, and her arrival is weleomed with a general feeling of joy. All have heard of her whose history we have now slightly shadowed out;—the expected guest, the poor little girl, of former days, the celebrated singer of nowa-days, the genial child of Nature and Art is— Jknny Lind!
BY THOMAS BUCHANAN READ.
Though others know thee by a fonder name, I, in my heart, have christened thee anew; And though thy beauty in its native hue, Shedding the radiance of whence it came, May not bequeath to language its high claim, Thy smiling presence like an angel's wing, Fans all my soul of poesy to flame,
Till even in remembering I must sing:
I! MBS. C. M.
A Pabulous mist has so long enveloped the character and pretensions of the great Arabian prophet and conqueror, that the familiar and vrauemblable view given of him by Mr. Irvingv reads like an historical novel, in which, while the leading incidents are founded on fact, the filling up is pure fiction. But we are assured that, while the taking grace of the narrative is to be credited to Mr. Irving, the facts are drawn from the best sources, and particularly from the volumes of the Arab historian Abulfeda, found in the convent of St. Isidro, at Madrid. In addition to these we have the legends and traditions connected with the Prophet's name in the whole circle of oriental literature—a wide field, and one which Mr. Irving's taste has led him to explore with due diligence. A very readable book is the result, from which we shall make a slight sketch of the principal features of Mahomet's life and character.
Tradition surrounds the birth of the Prophet of Islam with those portents and wonders with which superstition loves to dignify the objects of its reverence. Heaven and earth trembled as he came into the world; the Tigris burst its banks and flooded the adjacent country, while Lake Sawa forsook its bed. The sacred fire of Zoroaster, eternally tended by the Magi and watched by hosts of devoted Ghebers, was suddenly extinguished, and all the idols of the children of men fell to the earth. An astrologer cast the nativity of the new-born, and predicted that he would establish a new faith among men. Wonders accompanied him through the period of infancy, if his foster-mother is to be believed. Angels watched his footsteps in childhood, and, to prepare him for his destined ministry, wrung out of his heart "the black and bitter drops of original sin inherited from our forefather Adam," and replaced them by faith, knowledge, and prophetic light, impressing at the same time the seal of his commission in a bodily mark between his shoulders, which, however, to unbelieving eyes wore always the appearance of a large mole.
Undenied by either faithful or unbeliever is, nevertheless, the fact that Mahomet early evinced an intelligence beyond his years. At twelve years of age he attracted the attention
* Mahomet and his Sucecasors, by Washington Irving. Now York; Oeo. P. Putnam.
of a Nestorian monk, to whose acquaintance he was introduced by his uncle, in the course of a journey across the desert from Mecca to Syria, and who was anxious to convert him to Christianity. The effect of his teachings upon a mind already stored with Arabian legends and poetic traditions, may be discerned in the Koran, and in the traditional sentiments of Mahomet.
At sixteen, arms rather than religion seem to have formed his occupation, and he acted as armour-bearer to his uncle, in one of the wars of his tribe. After this he went as agent or factor in caravan journeys, ever adding to his knowledge of affairs, and increasing his insight into the characters of men. These journeys led him also to fairs, or public meetings whose object was not purely one of traffie, but also of poetic competition between rival tribes. At these fairs were recited the poetic legends of Arabia, especially those which have a religious bearing; and in all there was instruction for a noble and aspiring mind like that of the young merchant.
That he did become noted for a wisdom unusual at his time of life is proved by his having been selected, through the recommendation of a young man with whom he had become acquainted during these caravan ,r»urneys, to settle the affairs of a rich widow of Mecca, whose husband, a merchant of extensive connexions, had left his business ^natters in some confusion. This lady, whose name was Kadijah, employed Mahomet, at double wages, to conduct a caravan to Syria, and so well was she satisfied with his ability and integrity on this occasion, that she even doubled the stipulated price, and afterwards made use of his services on several similar expeditions.
Kadijah was forty years of age, and is called by historians "a prudent woman;" but the good qualities of her youthful agent seem to have awakened in her mature bosom a feeling which is not always sure to result, whether in young or old, in that kind of circumspection which the world agrees to call prudence. It cleared her sight at least in one direction, however, for it is recorded that being at the hour of noon with her damsels on the terraced roof of her house, watching the approach of a caravan commanded by the handsome young agent, she exclaimed—"Behold the beloved of Allah, who sends two angels to watch over him!" at the same time declaring that the heavenly visitants were visible to her mortal eyes, as they spread their wings to shield the youthful supercargo from the sun. Eyes which are thus endowed at times are not, perhaps, very uncommon, for love deals in the supernatural. The next day a faithful slave of Kadijah waited on Mahomet with a proposition of marriage on the part of his mistress. No nosegay of speaking flowers, no silkeu bag containing a pebble, a nutmeg, or a bud of oassia opened the negotiation. "Mahomet," said the messenger, "why dost thou not marry f" The pride of the young man spoke. "I have not the means," said he, for success and approbation had made him aspiring. "But if a wealthy dame should offer thee her hand— one who is handsome and of high birth—" '' Who is she?" said the youth, breathlessly enough, we may suppose, for who believes that Mahomet had had, up to this hour, no secret suspicion of his favour in the eyes of his mistress? "Kadijah!"
The wedding was not long in coming off, and on the occasion Mahomet sent to the desert for his dear nurse Halema, who had supplied the place of a mother to him, and presented her with a flock of forty sheep, which she took back to her native valley—one of many proofs of his native goodness of heart. The marriage, strange as it may seem, proved happy, in spite of wise prognostics, and Mahomet never ceased to bless the day that gave him to Kadijah. Some kinds of nobleness in both may hence be supposed; and one is tempted to make some sage reflections for the benefit of the young and giddy, touching the uses of respect and esteem in love. If not the essential foundations, they at least make most substantial buttresses for an edifice not a little apt to get out of the perpendicular under certain variations of atmosphere.
The view given of Mahomet's character by his historians is remarkable as differing very much from the accounts put forth by enthusiastic followers of common heroes. Nothing is so much dwelt on as his moral worth, his good judgment, his remarkable prudence and steadiness, and his great skill in affairs. "Allah," says the historian Abulfeda, "had endowed him with every gift necessary to accomplish and endow an honest man; he wns so pure and sincere, so free from every evil thought, that he was commonly known by the name of Al Amin, or "The Faithful."
The wealth of Kadijah having placed her husband above the necessity of toil, his active and enthusiastic mind had leisure to indulge its natural taste for religious speculations. The Caaba was now filled with idols, the gross superstition and ignorance of the age and
country having turned even Abraham and Moses into objects of stupid idolatry, as "givers of rain," etc., although the Jews, who possessed the Hebrew Scriptures, were still numerous in Arabia, with a record or tradition for every valley and mountain. Out of the fragments of Judaism and Paganism had grown up an empty and debasing worship, which was odious to the superior mind of Mahomet; and his thoughts were gradually turned, and at last irrevocably fixed, on the idea of a great religious reform. The recognition and worship of one only God, creator and governor of the universe, delighting in goodness and purity, and severely averse to evil in all forms, he perceived to lie at the base of whatever religion could do for the human heart; and he considered Noah and Abraham, Moses and Jesus Christ, to have been divinely appointed messengers, sent from time to time by God's fatherly love to recall the world to a knowledge of this great truth. He especially venerated Abraham, as the father of Ishmael, from whom his people, the Arabs, drew their origin. The corruption and idolatry about him seemed to intimate that the time for another prophet had arrived, and the operation of this thought, which he dwelt upon incessantly, in his daily walks, and in the mountain solitude near Mecca to which he was fond of retiring, resulted in the belief that he himself was this prophet.
Intense meditation on this great theme affected his whole being. He withdrew himself more and more from society, and at times endured no companionship but that of Kadijah, whose anxieties for him were incessant, and who never willingly quitted his side. Dreams, ecstasies, and trances ensued, and he would at times fall on the ground and remain unconscious of all around him. In short his health suffered from the highly excited state of his mind, and epilepsy or some disease akin to it appears to have been the result. This is of course denied by his followers, who hold the suggestion impious, and believe his paroxysms to have been evidences of heavenly possession. At length a decisive vision confirmed his belief in his own mission, and caused his wife and her cousin Waraka, a translator of part of both the Old and New Testaments into Arabie, to acknowledge him a prophet. After a month of fasting and prayer on Mount Hara, as Mahomet lay wrapped in his mantle, he heard a voice calling to him. Uncovering his head, he found himself surrounded by such splendour of light that he fell into a swoon, on recovering from which an angel appeared to him, bearing a silken cloth covered with writing, which he commanded the shrinking prophet to read. "I know not how to read," was the reply, but the angel reiterated the command, with a promise of divine assistance. Thus emboldened, Mahomet found himself able to read what appeared on the sacred cloth,—the decrees of God, as afterwards promulgated in the Koran. In the coolness of the morning he doubted the correctness of his own impressions, and went trembling to Kadijah to seek her counsel. "Joyful tidings dost thou bring," said the true wife and enthusiastic woman; "by him in whose hand is the soul of Kadijah, I will henceforth regard thee as the prophet of our nation. Rejoice! Allah will not suffer thee to fall to shame; hast thou not been loving to thy kinsfolk, kind to thy neighbours, charitable to the poor, hospitable to the stranger, faithful to thy word, and ever a defender of the truth?" This enumeration of the grounds of her own belief in the supernatural distinction vouchsafed to her husband speaks volumes for them both. Indeed there is abundant reason to believe that throughout this early and difficult stage of Hib career, while his claims brought him nothing better than losses, injury and insult, he was most sincere and earnest in his pretensions, bent on the extermination of the debasing idolatries of his nation, and on establishing the worship of the God whom he had learned from Jews and Christians to revere. Spite of the acknowledged excellence of his character up to this period, his friends deserted him, he was the butt of poets and jesters, and his own tribe, the Koreishites, stung by the disgrace which they conceived to have been brought upon them by the defection of one of their heads, after seeking in vain to silence him, threatened his life. His uncle, Abu Taleb, hastened to inform Mahomet of these deadly menaces. "0 my uncle!" exclaimed the enthusiast, "though they should array the sun against me on my right hand, and the moon on my left, yet, until God should command me, or should take me hence, I will not relinquish my purpose." Personal violence soon ensued; Mahomet's family and the few converts he had yet been able to make fled into Abyssinia, and a law was passed banishing all who should embrace the new faith. Mahomet himself took hiding in Mount Safa with one of his converts, but was drawn thence by the conversion of Omar, a powerful warrior, once his fiercest enemy, ever after his most faithful and powerful champion.
From this time the number of converts increased, though not very rapidly, the certain loss of worldly position and all else that worldly men most prize being the only prospect of those who embraced the doctrines of Islamism. Mahomet's visions grew more and more frequent and astonishing, appearing always when they were most needed for the encouragement of followers or the discomfiture of enemies—a peculiarity which perhaps the highly excitable
temperament of the prophet may account for, without suspecting intentional deception on his part. During all this time he was receiving revelations of the different portions of the Koran, which, being repeated to his secretaries or disciples, were by them taken down on parchment, on palm-leaves, or on the shoulder-blades of sheep; thrown promiscuously into a chest, and there left at the mercy of accident, and with no attempt at order or arrangement. These revelations bear trace of the instruction Mahomet had gathered from the Christian scriptures. They are in general of a pure and elevated character, and if they are in some respects wild and even corrupt, it must be recollected that the channel through which they came to the young enthusiast during his sojourn in the Nestorian convent, was none of the clearest or most direct, and that the digest he made of the ideas then imbibed was perhaps quite as near the purity of Christian law as the precepts and practices of so-called Christians about him. He inculcated in various forms the rule which lies at the foundation of Christian ethics. "He who is not affectionate to God's creatures and to his own children, God will not be affectionate to him. Every Moslem who clothes the naked of his faith, will be clothed by Allah in the green robes of Paradise." "Every good act," he would say, "is charity. Your smiling in your brother's face is charity: an exhortation of your fellow-man to virtuous deeds is equal to alms-giving; your putting a wanderer in the right road is charity; your assisting the blind is charity; your removing stones and thorns and other obstructions from the road is charity; your giving water to the thirsty is charity." "A man's true wealth hereafter is the good he does in this world to his fellow-man. When he dies, people will say, how much property has he left behind him? But the angels who examine him in the grave will ask, 'What good deeds hast thou sent before thee?'"
After the death of Kadijah and other of his devoted adherents, the fortunes of Mahomet at Mecca assumed a still darker hue, and after many escapes and deliverances he resolved upon his flight to Medina, a movement so momentous in its consequences that his followers date from it as we from the Christian era. He left Mecca before the dawn in company with Abu Beker, who, though a brave man, quaked with fear as the sound of fierce pursuit reached their ears. "Our pursuers," said he, "are many, while we are but two." "Nay," replied Mahomet, "there is a third; God is with us!" A beautiful legend says that at this moment of peril, when the fugitives reached a cave in which they sought shelter, an acacia tree had sprung up before the entrance, a pigeon made