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ON THE ITALIAN OPERA.
clined to hurry on, without much fore- cordingly, by their means, she altered, thought or deliberation, in the first in a little time, somewhat of her road he met. Wisdom and Virtue manner, and, becoming much more were inseparable ; but Confidence one amiable and engaging, was now called day following his impetuous nature, by the name of Modesty. As ill comadvanced a considerable way before pany has a greater effect than good, his guides and companions; and not Confidence, though more refractory feeling any want of their company, he to counsel and example, degenerated never inquired after them, nor ever so far by the society of Vice and Folmet with them more. In like man- ly, as to pass by the name of Impuner, the other society, though joined dence. Mankind, who saw these soby Jupiter, disagreed and separated. cieties as Jupiter first joined them, As Folly saw very little way before and know nothing of these mutual her, she had nothing to determine dissentions, are led into strange mise concerning the goodness of roads, nor takes by those means; and wherever could give the preference to one above they see Impudence make account of another; and this want of resolution Virtue and Wisdom, and wherever was increased by Diffidence, who, they observe Modesty, call her atwith her doubts and scruples, always tendants Vice and Folly. retarded the journey. This was a great annoyance to Vice, who loved not to hear of difficulties and delays, and was never satisfied without his full career in whatever his inclinations
MR EDITOR, led him to. Folly, he knew, though CONSIDERING the present state of she hearkened to Difficlence, would the public feeling with regard to mu. be easily managed when alone; and, sic-the enthusiasm with which the therefore, as a vicious horse throws impulse given to the study of that bis riiler, he openly beat away this charming science by the late Festicontroller of all his pleasures, and vals has been caught, and the fine proceeded in his journey with Folly, professional talents which they have from whom he is inseparable. Con- brought into view, I think our counfidence and Diffidence being after this trymen are to be admonished to momanner, both thrown loose froin their derate, rather than quicken their zeal respective companies, wandered for for musical pursuits. Like all new some time; till at last, chance led converts, they are apt to make the obthem, at the same time, to one village. ject of their choice that of their pasConfidence went directly up to the sion ; and in music, as in other things, great house, which belonged to where passion begins reason ends. Wealth, the Lord of the village; and It was with considerable apprehens without staying for a porter, intruded sion, therefore, that I saw a faint athimself immediately into the inner- tempt made last year, and repeated at most apartments, where he found the beginning of this winter, to inVice and Folly well received before troduce the Italian opera into Edinhim. He joined the train,-recom- burgh. The time is favourable for mended himself very quickly to his such a project. The northern melandlord, and entered into such fainie tropolis has, indeed, fully vindicated liarity with Vice, that he was enlist- her claim to private juuginent, and ed in the same company along with shown much tenacity of her municiFolly. They were frequent guests pal jurisdiction in matters of taste, by of Wealth, and, from that moment, continuing so long to exclude musical were inseparable. Diffidence, in the entertainments from the list of her meantime, not daring to approach the public amusements, contrary to the great house, accepted of an invitation practice of most neighbouring counfrom Poverty, one of the tenants; and tries. But now that she has once entering the cottage, found Wisdom opened her ears to the Syren's voice, and Virtue, who being repulsed by it may be hard to bind her like Ulysa the landlord, had retired thither. ses to the mast; and she is in as much Virtue took compassion of her, and danger as he was in touching on the Wisdom found from her temper, that same fascinating shore. Besides, she would easily improve; so they there are no longer any patriotio admitted her into their society. Ac- grudges to aid the national taste in re
jecting foreign fashions. It was a plicity of the objects that solicit atBritish sailor who hated the French, tention dissipates it, and their inconbecause they wore wooden shoes. And gruity confounds it. A burletta, for it is not impossible, that to our coun instatice, even to a child, affords much try's characteristie fondness of the less pleasure with its composite bufmode of her southern neighbours, the foonery, than its several parts, as exgentilezze of the Italian opera may hibited separately in a New Year's seem excellent company for a French eve serenadle, or raree-show, or on the head-dress. The Italian language, hustings at Bartholomew. But a setoo, has begun to be studied a good rious opera, composed with such mordeal of late; and this circumstance tal defiance to all the unities, as to affords additional facilities for intro- show a hero acting, and singing, and ducing the contemplated innovation. dancing, and dying, almost in the I was greatly relieved, however, from same breath, must to every reasonable my apprehensions on this head, on being appear monstrous. Although going this winter to the Pantheon, such inconsistency of individual chawhen some scenes in Don Giovan- racter should be avoided ; though the ni were performed; for, making all hero in strutting his hour upon the due allowance for the gratulations of stage, should be decently in training little masters and misses, exhibited for his final catastrophe, by going no doubt for the purpose of showing through the several gradations of make their progress at school, and which ing his last solemn signs, and attunwere most perversely misplaced, and ing his voice and steps to the dead particularly clamorous when the ac- march in Saul; still propriety is viotors pronounced so rapidly as to be lated, -trills always appear impertiutterly unintelligible, -the indiffer- nencies amid sober business, and danence, or impatience of the audience in cing levity, though it be the “ dance general, was undisguised enough; of death.' Besides, it is not the chaand the peals of applause with which racter of one or more personages “ Roy's Wife” was received and en which forms that of the piece. In cored, proved how gladly the most every opera one secs distinct and difsublime passages
in the Don were ex- ferent modes of life and manner in a changed for a simple and intelligible single plot,—or act,-or scene; and Scottish song. Imperfect as this per- whether the actors be one or many, formance was, still I cannot help look- unity of design is equally disregarding on it as an overture preparatory ed, and nature and truth are violated. to more serious attempts; I shall, This is a defect which it is impossible therefore, be excused for saying a for any subject, or any dexterity in word or two on this kind of enter- managing it, to remove. Mythology tainment
has been made use of to do away the Far be it from me to hint, that evil; but in vain. No verisimilitude Scotland is yet prepared to endure the could be given to a scene where Apolpractical defects and absurdities of lo, Satyrs, and Momus united in plythe best operas in Europe. She willing their respective gifts to promote not make the Temple of the Muses some great event; nor could Apollo the sanctuary of intrigue, like the be properly called upon to exert his French, or of licentiousness, like the three divine powers at once. The Italians, or of political cabals, like the truth is, even the gods themselves, in Germans, or (shall I say it?) of dan- their visits to men, were always obliggerous dissipation, like her English ed to conform to the rules of humani. brethren. But even under the best ty, so far as to assume but one form possible regulations, the opera, I ap- at a time ; and whenever they departprehend, is from its nature incapable ed from this practice, they were imof becoming an elegant or rational a- mediately recognized to be beings of musement. It is only necessary to another world. consider the materials of which it is In spite of all its defects, the opera composed, in
der to be convinced of has maintained its popularity on the its faults. Acting, music, and dan- Continent for nearly two centuries, cing, are the ingredients of this olio of and is at this moment one of the fathe fine arts. Such an entertainment vourite amusements of most of the is not more repugnant to good taste nations of Europe. Nor is this cirthan to common sense. The multi- cumstance difficult to be accounted
for. What was at first the attempt Mr Hammer was sent to Constanof a few pedants to restore the ancient tinople in the year 1799, as a memchoral tragedy, and of some noblemen ber of the imperial embassy. And he to combine the display of magnificence received a commission from the then and wealth, with that of taste for the chief minister for foreign affairs, Baron fine arts, and patronage to men of ge- von Thugut, to purchase for him, at nius,-became, from being the nurse any price, a copy of the Thousand and of music and painting in Italy, after- One Nights. His search in Constanwards a sharer in their favour and tinople convinced him that these tales fame :
were unknown there, and only to be
found in Egypt. One result of his Et nunc servat honos sedem . ... 08saque inquiries was, however, the pleasing
nomen, Hesperia in magna-si qua est gloria
discovery of a volume of an Arabian
romance. It was in the possession of There is no doubt that the music
a Mrs Aide, the wife of a merchant, with which the Italians adorned the who, under the name of a British opera, mainly contributed at first to subject, enjoyed at Constantinople all create, and still supports its popularity, the privileges of one. This lady was and will go far to consecrate any thing a native of Halep, had great natural but absolute nonsense. But a just talents for eloquence, an extraordinataste demands music pure and single ry memory, and, like a true Arab, as the sense to which it is addressed loved above every other thing tales -undisturbed by strophes and anti- and poetry. Mr Hammer read this strophes—unmocked by trumpery of book with her, and learnt that it was machinery—undistracted by the tricks only one of the many volumes which of an actor. Let our countrymen, compose the celebrated romance of therefore, content themselves with all Antar. Though most of the coffeethat is graceful or sublime in the har- house orators, both of Egypt and Symony of the orchestra, the concert, ria, take their incidents from this the festival, and the church.
work, it was not to be procured comI am, &c.
plete in Constantinople. A perfect
Phænix, which, according to the Ara.
bic saying, is known by its name, but * Tell your children of the deeds of Antar, is not to be found in the country. they will steel their hearts till they are All Mr Hammer's efforts for more harder than stone."
than two years, to procure a perfect
But, on the The translation of this Romance by British army, which he seems to have Bir Hamilton has attracted a con- accompanied, entering Cairo, he acsiderable portion of attention, and we complished his wishes. He pronised think, therefore, we are doing a ser the sheik of the coffee-house poets a vice to our readers by inserting the purse, or 500 piastres, if he could following notice concerning the origi- procure him a complete copy. In nal work. It is an abridged translit a few days he appeared with two distion of an article which appeared in tinct halves, making the text of the die 6th volume of a German critical whole perfect. One half was of fine journal, entitled Jahrbücher der Li- gold-edged smooth paper, and written terature. It was published at Vienna in the year of the Hegira 871, (1466.) in 1819. The author is the celebrat- The other was of coarse strong paper, ed Mr Joseph von Hammer, one of legibly, but not at all elegantly writthe first oriental scholars of the day. ten, and, perhaps, not hfty years old. And we were partly induced to un- This copy was sent to Vienna. A dertake this translation in order to part of it was lost on the way, which state this gentleman's claims to the was afterwards replaced ; and the Imour of being the first European to whole, which at first consisted of foul and appreciate the value of An- thirty-three thin volumes, is now tar. Britain has literary glory enough bound into six thick folio volumes,
her own, and need not appropriate and one quarto volume. This may the smallest particle which belongs to serve to give our readers some notion vher nations.
of the extent of this bcok of battles
SOXE ACCOUNT OF THE BEDOUIN RO
and heroic deeds. The size of it, as reigns it was written ; Mr Hammer it was at first described to Mr Ham- thinks it was in the reign of Mamun, mer, appeared as romantic as its con- and though his reasons do not appear tents. ""It was said to consist of thirty perfectly satisfactory, they are worth or forty, and even eighty volumes; and stating for the sake of the anecdote the latter number may even be cor- they contain. rect, when it is written in the form of Under the first of these reigns the an octavo volume. Mr Hammer made author must have been a young man, his discovery * of this romance known and a work of such extent is rather to to the learned of Europe, and to the be ascribed to a well ripened genius, travellers who visited Asia. Mr Ha- than to one which is just beginning milton, the brother of the gentleman to blossom. The reign of Mamun who hns translated a portion of it, also, was, especially, the reign of poeafterwards found another copy: Mr try, of elegance, and of fancy. Poets Hammer has made a complete abridg, remained outside of the door of his ment of the whole work, omitting no chamber, ready, at his signal, to drive essential beauty. He has kept it by away his ennui with their tales. Anhim nine years, and he thinks the tar was a real historical personage, translation by Mr Hamilton will not " the father of Arabian poets and be of any prejudice to his labours. knights,” and, therefore, the proper Because, there is more probability that subject of their romances. We do not the whole romance, compressed into think the similarity between his birth half-a-dozen duodecimo volumes, will and that of Mamun's is so decisive a test find readers, than a translation like as Mr Hammer would make it of the that of Mr Hamilton, which, if com- question of the date of the poem. Anpleted according to the manner in tar was the son of a female negro which the first volume is published, slave, and so was Mamun. In Arais likely to extend to twelve quarto or bia, prior to Mahomet, marriage was six folio volumes. The English trans- of three kinds. Ist, The present legal lator and editor of Antar bave not marriage of the Moslems, which lasts told us this, nor have they told us for life, with a power of divorce ; 2d, many little things it seems desirable A man lived with one or more female to know. They seem to have pub- slaves ; and, 3d, One female slave lished one volume without apprising served one or several men.
In this us of the extent of the whole, in order latter case, when a child was born, to feel the taste of the public. The learned physiognomists decided, on criticism of Mr Hammer is principal- inspecting it, who of the several ly intended to supply the omission, men was its father. Antar was the and we shall follow him in stating son of a negress who had many some of these particulars.
lovers, and on bis birth he was ad. According to him there is no doubt judged by these skilful persons to bethat the principal author of this ro- long to the valiant knight Schedad. mance was Assmai, (or Osmai,) one Mamun was the son of the renowned of the most celebrated poets of Ara- Caliph Haroun, by a negress, with bia. He flourished in the reigns of whom he was unwillingly compelled the Caliphs Haroun, Emir, and Ma- to pass the night. Arabian historians mun, and lived at their courts. It is, have related this anecdote very cirhowever, more difficult to decide at cumstantially. Haroun and his bewhat precise period of these three loved wife Sobeide were in the babit
of playing chess together, and they Perhaps the learned author claims agreed one day, in one of those playtoo much when he calls himself the finder fül moods, which seem to have been of Antar. It was known in part to Sir more common in monarchs formerly William Jones, who had read and describes than at present, that the person who a volume of it, as Mr Hammer himself lost the game should perform any acknowledges. He may, however, we think, task the other imposed. Sobeide justly claim the merit of being the first lost the first game, and the Caliph, European to collect a perfect copy, and to who knew her modesty, commanded make it extensively known among the ori.
her to appear
before him naked in the ental scholars of Europe. Mr Hamilton, however, deserves, by his translation, the middle of the day, and so to make
Her praise of having first made it known to the the round of the whole court. general reader.
prayers and entreaties were vain ; the
voluptuous Caliph compelled her to considerable eminence, and the au. obey. He afterwards lost, and Sobeide thor of one of those seven poems took a strange revenge for a female: which are written in parchment with she compelled him to pass the night golden ink, and suspended in the with the most hateful slave that Kaaba, in honour of the divinity. could be found. Haroun, who had Every author who laid claim to this sever bundred beauties of all coun- distinction was obliged to submit his tries waiting his commands, thought work to the judgment of the whole the penance of sleeping with a wood- people, and he who received it, may carrying negress so severe, that he of- surely be classed as one of the first fered Sobeide the half of his treasures to poets of his country. Antar was born let bim escape. She was obstinate, and in the reign of the great Persian moMamun, who was afterwards Caliph, narch, Nushirvan the Just, and died was the fruit of the adventure. The after Mahomet was born, but before only resemblance between Mamun he published his heavenly mission to and Antar, therefore, is, that both the world. He lived for more than a were the children of negro slaves. century, which would probably have And we think the circumstance of se- borne his name, had not Mahomet lecting him for the hero of a romance, appeared. It comprises some of the who was, at the time of Mahomet, the most remarkable events of the history hero of Arabia, is by no means a proof of the period prior to Mahomet, such that it was written in compliment to as the wars of the Arabians with the Mamun. We thank Mr Hammer much Emperors of Persia and Constantifor the anecdote, but doubt if it proves nople,--the battles of the inhabitants the precise time at which the romance of Stony with those of Happy Arabia; of Antar was written. But we will the famous race of the two horses, leave this knotty question to the de- Dahes and Gabra, which occasioned cision of our orientalists, and pass to long wars, and the struggle of the the age in which Antar lived. poets in presence of the whole Arabi
The two most glorious epochs of an people at Mecca, to obtain the hothe Arabian history are the century nours of eloquence and poetry. A immediately prior to the appearance history of Antar must also describe of Mahomet, and the reigns of the the manners of the period immediatefirst seven caliphs of the family of ly prior to the prophet, and ought to Abbas. The former comprises the be an important historical document. best days of Arabian freedom and in- Supposing Assmai to be the author, dependence. In the latter, the em- he lived about two centuries later pire of the Arabs had reached the than Antar, and night therefore be highest point of power and greatness. capable of describing the manners and In both periods, the genius of mental customs of the age in which the hero cultivation had taken an eminent lived. In general, however, the writflight, and has left behind it memo- ings of any author, though bearing rials of an eternal fame. The first the title of descriptions of a previous was the age of eloquence and of poe- period, will rather take the stanıp of try; and it was closed by Mahomet, his own age, than of that which he who was the greatest of Arabian describes. Assmai lived at the magpoets, and was at once the legislator nificent and voluptuous court of Maand the prophet of his countrymen, mun, and he describes a state of so“After me," said he, “ there will ciety different from what he himself come no prophet,” and this is true, it, saw. Admitting that the Arabs were by prophet, poet was ineant. For more polished in his days than in after him, no Arabian, in his writings, those in which Antar lived, they seem ever reached the sublimity of the Ko- even then to have been sufficiently ran. Motenebbi, whose name signifies rude and primitive. This circumhe would be a prophet, failed in his stance must be remembered in readattempt, and only served to convince ing his work. Antar, also, at the the Arabs more firmly of the divinity time the work was written, was beboth of Mahomet and his writings. come a complete historical person, Antar lived in the golden age of Ara- giving his name to cities, hills, and bian poetry, and immediately prior to other places. And we are told that Mahomet." He was himself a poet of Mr Hamilton's translation does not