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Shakspeare's tragedies, with Macready to personate the chief character, can always charm me; and at such representations I forget my chagrin and myself. I have always had, as you know, an inordinate passion for music ; but it has greatly increased since I have been accustomed to listen to the heart-stirring voice of the inspired Malibran, or the dulcet tones of la Grisi.
The first inimitable songstress draws me continually to Drury Lane, where she is engaged ; and it seems to me, that I listen with increased delight to her the more I become acquainted with the power and pathos of her voice. The low notes of it produce an effect on me that no others ever did. The sound appears to emanate from a soul thrilling with sublime emotions; and its deep harmony causes mine to vibrate. There is something mysterious, something magical, in its influence on me. It haunts me for many succeeding hours ; and seems to me as if it arose from an inspired, passionate, and despairing heart, in an intensely profound consciousness of the insufficiency of mortal powers to satisfy the aspirations of an immortal spirit to a release from its earthly trammels, and to the fulfilment of a wider and nobler destiny.
I have avoided becoming personally acquainted with Malibran, because, I am told, she is the most animated and gay person imaginable, giving utterance to the liveliest sallies, and most naïve observations. For this peculiarity, which draws a flattering homage around her, I shun her society; because I would not have the associations with which she is
mingled in my mind, disturbed by a light word or heartless jest from lips that seem to me only formed for the creation of the most sublime sounds. Those deep eyes of hers, too, have a profound melancholy, even in their flashing lustre ; and I have never so perfect a sympathy with my
compatriots, as when I hear those divine notes of hers followed by the plaudits of hundreds, too enthusiastically expressed to leave a doubt of the sincerity of the heartfelt admiration that excites them.
Malibran, in my opinion, seems to inspire her audience: they are no longer a vast crowd assembled to be amused ; no, they assume a much more imposing aspect. They are carried away by passionate emotion, by generous impulses, and they feel within themselves capabilities, of the existence of which they were previously ignorant. She ceases to be a mere singer, or paid actress, in their eyes ; she becomes an inspired sybil that reveals to them gleams of a purer, brighter world, which they had forgotten, but to which her divine tones summon them to return.
Grisi's voice, charming as it is, produces no such effect on me; it is round, liquid,
limpid, and perfectly harmonious, always creating pleasurable emotions, but rarely sublime
It never awakens an echo in my heart - never lifts my thoughts from earth ; but, like the music of birds, it makes the earth more delightful, and the ear loves to drink in its dulcet tones. The voice of Malibran affects me as does sacred music; and I should dislike hearing it employed in singing light airs, as much as I should hearing a cathedral organ playing a waltz or contre-danse.
Lablache's is also a voice that has great charms for me. It comes pealing forth, grand and powerful as a choir in some lofty temple ; while Rubini's always reminds me of the plaintive, never to be forgotten chant of the Miserere in the Sixtine chapel at Rome, which, though heard while I was yet only a child, I remember as distinctly as if it had been but yesterday.
Who could support the effect of music to which we had last listened in the society of one beloved, if death had snatched for ever from us that object? I, who have, thank Heaven! never known the most bitter of all
that of mourning for a dear friend, yet cannot hear serious music without feeling a profound, but sweet melancholy, that brings unbidden tears to my eyes, and thoughts of another world to my mind. To see people around me smiling, or conversing, while a grave harmony is holding communion with my spirit, seems little short of profanation; and I could never select such soulless beings for my friends.
You, dear Mary, will not smile at my enthusiastic admiration for music, when I tell you, that never is a sense of religion so strongly impressed on me as when I am listening to it. Yet, I fear, you will say, that religion ought not to be a matter of feeling, but a fixed and