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up beautiful, grave, and full of pity, to rebuke the Pharisaic questioning of many generations, "Who hath sinned-this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"
Miss Heron, uniting a thoroughly western audacity and aplomb to the closest study of the French dramatic realists, charmed New York at once by the combination of her native truth to herself with her acquired truth to actual life. It was equally amazing for us to see an actress who dared trust her own theories and her own capacity to the uttermost, and to witness the absolute reproduction of the looks, and tones, and gestures of actual life upon the boards of the theatre. It seemed at first to be as true of Miss Heron's acting as it is of the performances at the Parisian theatres, that, in looking at her, you were committing the indiscretion of watching a private person engaged in private matters, and so of playing the Asmodeus without a warrant.
As we grew familiar with the startling novelty, however, we began to discern in Miss Heron the imperfection of an unfinished dramatic education, and a partly undeveloped artistic nature. Her realisms, we began to see, were somewhat too real, her audacious bearing sometimes verged upon the slovenly and the careless. Of course it was necessary to make all due allowance for the circumstances in which we saw her. The performers by whom she was supported were unfamiliar with the school of acting to which she belongs, and, though by no means wanting in cleverness, they contrived to damage the effect of some of her best scenes by the introduction of the old conventionalities and impossibilities. A most remarkable instance of this was afforded in the play of Camille by the performance of the supper-scene. The stage in this scene is supposed to represent a supper-room, enlivened by the presence of a party of young Parisians, more gay, indeed, than respectable, but still Parisians, and Parisians of the demimonde, which, of the two halves that go to make up the whole of the monde, preserves the hemisphere of manners while it throws away the hemisphere of decorum. As represented on the stage of "Wallack's," this Parisian orgie was vulgarized into a most preposterous spree-the poignant text
of the younger Dumas being cut away to make room for all sorts of antiquated and commonplace jokes, of the dismal kind well known upon our stage under the name of "gags." Such irresistible facetia as the drinking off of a celery glass full of champagne, and the cating up of six quails by an elderly lady, are substituted for the witty repartee and the sparkling jest of the original; and the whole tone of the performance is so lowered-to borrow the appropriate phrase of the painters-s0 “degraded," that the idea of the play immediately suffers in consequence, and the heroine begins to sink before us from the atmosphere of the "Dame aux Camelias " into that of the "Grisette de la Chaumière."
And we must, in frankness, say that Miss Heron did not repel with sufficient force this attempted subjugation of her rôle. From the beginning to the end of the play, she accepted a less refined conception of the character than the author had offered her, and wasted her intense verisimilitudes upon the execution of this unworthy conception. Had her ideal of this part been as high as her rendering was truthful, we could have found little fault with her for believing it her most brilliant triumph.
In fact, however, we preferred ber "Bianca" to any of the rôles which we have seen her fill. For the character of Bianca, in Dean Milman's play of Fazio, is a possible and womanly character. It is a character compact of tenderness and of passion-a character unperverted by falsehood or by personal degradation. Miss Heron did not render this part as we could wish to see it rendered, nor as we believe that she is capable of rendering it, but she did render it with an occasional grace and delicacy of feeling which prove her capable of higher things than she has yet attained. She has gone now, but only to come back to us. And if she do not return to us, as she certainly did not leave us, the greatest actress of the age, let her understand, at least, that we recognize in her, very fine and very forcible qualities of dramatic genius, a remarkable capacity of realization, a subtle and appreciative apprehension, and, above all, an earnest and resolute ambition, and that we, consequently, expect from her a very brilliant future.
A Magazine of Literature, Science, and Art.
VOL. IX.-JUNE, 1857.-NO. LIV.
NOT far from the little village of Millwood,
in the Shenandoah Valley, stands an ancient mansion of peculiar interest. It is plainly a relic of the remote past-and the tall locusts, waving their broad boughs over the low roof, seem to murmur some inaudible history.
This ancient mansion was once the home of a nobleman who only chanced to live in Virginia, and did not directly influence in any considerable measure the events of the period in which he lived. And what, it may be asked, had Thomas, Lord Fairfax, Baron of Ca
meron, the Sixth of the name, of Greenway Court, in the Shenandoah Valley, to do with the history of his era ?-what did he perform? and why is a place demanded for him in our annals? The answer is not difficult. With this nobleman who has passed to his long rest, and sleeps, nearly forgotten, in the old church at Winchester, is connected a name which will never be forgotten-it was his to shape in no small measure the immense strength of George Washington; his band pointed attention to the rising planet of this great life, and opened its career toward the zenith. It shines now, the polar star of our liberties-set in the stormy skies of the revolution, it is the unchangeable guide of all who look toward it-no man now can obscure it, or increase its brilliance-as no cloud can dim it and yet once it was unknown and needed assistance-an assistance which Lord Fairfax afforded.
Any account of the youth of Washington must involve no small reference to the old fox-hunting nobleman, who took a fancy to him, when he was a boy of sixteen, and aided in developing his character. Fairfax not only thus shaped by his counsels the unfolding mind of the young man-he also placed the future leader of the American Revolution in the career which hardened his muscles, "toughened his manhood," and gave him that military repute in the public eye, which secured for him, at a comparatively early age, the appointment of Commander-in-chief over all competitors. First and last, Fairfax was the friend of Washington, and not even the struggle of the Revolution, in which they espoused hostile sides, operated to weaken this regard.
Of this old nobleman, whose life has been little considered by the general reader, we propose to present an out line, involving some personal details, collected from books, and the traditions of the neighborhood in which he lived. We shall endeavor to give, however briefly, as faithful a sketch of him as the scattered records which remain will enable us and also to refer to some interesting events in the history of his family.
Let us look at this house, in which Thomas Lord Fairfax, the Sixth of the name, and Baron of Cameron, in the kingdom of Scotland, spent about thirty years of his life. In London, as will be seen, he was a fine gentleman-some
thing even resembling what we now call a "dandy"-and the edifice which we now gaze upon, "beyond the Blue Ridge of Mountains in North America," would no doubt have afforded a spectacle of the deepest interest to the pretty fellows and roystering "Mohocks" with whom his lordship associated in his early days-as well as to Mr. Joseph Addison, the writer of that entertaining series, "The Spectator," to which his friend Lord Fairfax contributed a paper or two. The fine gentlemen, the great writer, and the nobleman are all gonebut his house, "Greenway Court," remains for us.
It stands before us, on a green knoll, over whose soft turf droop the boughs of lofty locusts, and oak-trees-the former in the spring time almost hiding the low roof with fragrant masses of delicate pink blossoms. It is a long building, constructed of the limestone of the region-but a single story in height, with dormer windows, however, projecting far out from the roof, serving to light a second range of apartments. This roof slopes down into a long species of veranda, extending the whole length of the building, after the fashion of those old Virginia farm-houses, now so often met with on the roadsides, and employed for tavern-purposes. each end of the mansion is a chimney, studded with coops, around which swarm swallows and martins-and two wooden belfries are situate midway between-constructed probably by the original owner, to give the alarm in case of an inroad of the savages. The old bells ring no more-they are so old now, that their tongues are silent-but if they rang again, how strange would the chimes sound! how like the garrulous and cracked voices of age, telling of other days, and scenes that have passed!
Not many paces from the old mansion is a small wooden house, in which the eccentric Fairfax slept, surrounded by his dogs, of whom he was passionately fond-the larger edifice being given up to his steward. A small cabin of stone, near the north end of the house, was his office; and here he transacted all the business of his vast possessions, embracing nearly one-fourth of the present state of Virginia, giving quitrents, signing deeds, and holding audience, to adjust claims and boundary lines. Scattered about the knoll were⚫
"quarters" for his many servants-and here, in the midst of dogs and horses, backwoodsmen, Indians, half-breeds, and squatters, who feasted daily at his profuse board, the fine gentleman of Pall-mall, the friend of Mr. Joseph Addison, spent more than a quarter of a century.
Having glanced, thus, at the mansion, let us turn to the inmate, from whose residence within its walls proceeds that interest which the locality excites. Who was this man who had experienced so singular a mutation of fortunewhat were his antecedents, as the phrase of the day has it?
Sir Thomas Fairfax, Knight of Denton, in Yorkshire, flourished in the times of Queen Elizabeth; his knighthood having been conferred on him before the city of Rouen for chivalrous conduct. Sir Thomas was, however, more noted for prudence than for the reckless dare-devilism which characterized his celebrated grandson. He laid up his money, ruled his family quietly, and, when the time came, as quietly purchased the barony of Cameron in Scotland, for which he paid the sum of £1,500,"driving a hard bargain," says the family chronicle. This old princeps of the house was a frugal patriarch, but loved his blood-entertaining, in
deed, under his roof at Denton, three generations of Fairfaxes, with their children.
His son Charles was a prudent man like himself, and, joining General Monk in the civil war at the proper moment, was duly made Governor of Hull, with a pension of £100 by the merry monarch Charles II. The elder brother of Charles, Ferdinando, a weak and irresolute man, was the father of the celebrated "Tom Fairfax," Generalissimo of the parliamentary army, and commander, therefore, of the soldiers who escorted Charles I. to the scaffold.
In the fiery temper, mingled with irresolution, of General Tom Fairfax, the cool old grandfather, Sir Thomas, foresaw the downfall of his family, and the overthrow of all his schemes for the aggrandizement of his house. Of this foresight a singular proof is given in a paper found in an old oak chest, at Leeds Castle, afterwards the property of the Fairfaxes. This paper was in the handwriting of Charles Fairfax, and the following is a portion of it:
"Having made some few entries of the most remarkable of the family that have come to my view or certain knowledge, I am now, for a sad epilogue, enforced to insert the passages of a dis
course between my dear father, Thomas, first Earl of Fairfax, and myself, which I dare not omit, by reason of a solemn engagement imposed upon me by him, with a quadruple charge, as 'tis hereafter specified, not many months before his death, the substance whereof, with some of the circumstances, was to this effect:
“He, walking in his great parlor at Denton, I only then present, did seem much perplexed and troubled in his mind, but after a few turns broke out into these or the like expressions:
"Charles, I am thinking what will become of my family when I am gone. I have added a little to the heir-male of my house, and shall leave a competent estate to support it. Ferdinando will keep it, and leave it to his sonbut such is Tom's* pride, led much by his wife, that he, not contented to live in our rank, will destroy his house.'
"I then offered something in the vindication of both, and told him what was not only my own thought, but the general hopes of all who knew them; yet notwithstanding he solemnly charged me to make known what he had told me, when I saw a probability it might so fall out; and added a charge upon his blessing (which I received with a sad heart and tears) that I would do it. He then, it seems doubt ing my performance, superadded as his last and great charge, that I should not fail, as I should answer him at the dreadful day of judgment, when I must give an account. This he twice repeated. Then after some years, when I was informed that the now Lord Thomast had cut off the entail, (made by his father and grandfather, ull. mens., 13 Carolus,) for the settlement of the estate on the heir-male, charging the land for a complete provision for a daughter or daughters-he, the now Lord Fairfax, being then at Denton, in the very same room where I received my charge, I faithfully acquainted him with the passages as above said. He gave me my liberty without words of impertinency, or any appearance of distaste, and made me (then) more than verbal expression of a kind acceptance. "Now, in testimony that this is (in substance) the very truth, I being on the very brink of eternity, and ready to embrace and shake hands with death,
*The Parliamentary General.
Poor old Sir Thomas! "Walking in his great parlor at Denton.... much perplexed and troubled in his mind!" It is easy to understand why the prudent old gentleman was anxious-and the circumstances of the case remove from his prophecy much of its singularity. Tom," the Parliamentary General, had married the daughter of Lord Vere, and, being "much led by his wife," would most probably not be content to " live in the rank" he was born in. The sagacious old gentleman saw that; but his prophecy was based upon a stronger foundation still-the character of " Tom." He was headlong, rash, utterly reckless, indeed, and seemed at times possessed almost by a devil. His fiery temper brooked no opposition, and, at the head of Cromwell's armies, he went through the stormy scenes of the Civil War like a thunderbolt, pausing for nothing-at the bidding of no peril. Haughty, obstinate, utterly headstrong, General Tom was not a man after his good grandfather's heart-that honest old man, who had labored so "to add a little to the heir-male of his house." The violent and furious general commenced by superseding his own father, rose rapidly in the estimation of the country, and, at the time of Charles the First's execution, was Commander-inchief of the Roundhead forces. would not, however, be present at the trial-and the incident connected with his wife is well known. When the name of Fairfax was called among those of the other military judges, a woman's voice in the gallery cried out that "Fairfax had too much wit to be there" adding, "Cromwell, thou art a traitor !" Her sex alone protected the courageous woman. The name of General Fairfax was at the head of the whole proceeding, however, though he declared that he regarded the trial" with abhorrence." What seems to the reader of his history, at the present day, an evidence that there was good in the general, was considered by the inexorable Cromwell only a weakness-an exhibition of cowardice. He never forgave Fairfax, and contemptuously dismissed him, as a tool