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libations, meanwhile, having been heavy-in sonorous iambies the decline of the Attic drama ; nothing of the sort, at least that we are aware of, has been handed down to us by any contemporary reporter. Nor is this to be wondered at. In those primitive times the now-honoured names of Bathe and Breach of the London Tavern, and Staples of Aldersgatestreet, were unknown terms—the cuisine of Soyer lay concealed in the womb of the future; and beings, in the guise of men, were found sufficiently barbarous and degraded to feed contentedly on the black bread and stimulating broth of the Spartan table d'hóte. Our refined method of honouring our heroes being thus unknown to them, they devised a plan which has since been, under different auspices, somewhat extensively practised. The ancients canonised their heroes. Not from the feeling immortalised in the pathetic ballad, “ They're too good for this world, it's a pity they're here;” but sincerely believing them to be superior to the common herd, they gave them a helping hand half-way up Olympus, and thus-so to speak—the political career of their remarkable men terminated with a sort of life-peerage in the upper house.
Now, what “hero-worship” was to the ancient Greeks,“ heroineworship” is to certain modern young ladies. Descrying, with the instinct of their sex, in one among them a perfection of character, which they very properly term “angelic"-their idol is straightway hoisted on to a moral pedestal, and worshipped as a heroine accordingly. It may be that this devotional feeling struck its roots during their joint residence with the instructress of their youth, and that the devotee can still recal the proud moment when she concluded at parting that solemo compact to interchange passionately-affectionate, but (must we say it) unintelligiblycrossed letters, with the object of her adoration. What touching specimens of composition these are the caressing epithets--the fond repetition of the word “dear"—the exhaustless supply of notes of admiration -and the expressive underlining of the choice sentences, giving the note a general appearance of an unsteadily scored loin of pork. And then the dreary blank, when the angel has left for the home of her fathers (we need scarcely say that we use the plural poetically—the legal presumption being that the young lady, however highly gifted, would be entitled only to a single male parent), the associations conjured up by a stray bit of ribbon or a disabled lace, and the tender recollections of summer evening walks in that arm-round-the-neck-or-waist communion which raises a strong inclination in the male outsider to try how it feels. Revolving years will chasten the impetuous ardour of youth in most cases, but here the devotion of the maiden knows no abatement with increasing age. Watch their meeting after a long separation-stand aside for a moment, and you will see the bound of the worshipper upon her idol, or, perchance, from some retired pook, a sound like the opening of distant ginger-beer bottles—and a subdued murmur of ecstasy will steal upon your senses, and become so provokingly suggestive as to induce a sudden retreat. Then there is so much to say—so much to shows much to whisper (?), that time fails, and the last lingering moments scarcely admit of the repetition of the ginger-beer bottle performance even in the hall. It may be remarked that in most instances the heroine" preserves her general superiority of character by the calm serenity with which these outbursts of pious affection are received. It is, in fact, of
the very essence of her position that she should not appear to show too much emotion at these demonstrations. If the idol is not generally a favourite with the rougher sex, the reason may probably be traced to this cause, and to the state of mind which the atmosphere produced by the incense usually engenders. But for your life do not dare to hint such a suspicion to the devote, for the meekest of her sex would become dangerously ignited at the slightest whisper against her standard of perfection. Say, however, but a word in her idol's praise-touch but however lightly on this chord, and the rapturous enthusiasm of her eloquence becomes perfectly delicious to listen to. We grieve to add, that you probably retire with the secret conviction that no reality can ever approach the beautiful ideal.
But difficult as it is to sound this feeling to its lowest depths, no one can hope to form anything like a just appreciation of its intensity who has not seen it developed in its various phases on the wedding day of the adored object. Then, indeed, the prostration at the shrine is complete. Wonderful is the complication of feelings with which the bridesmaid expectant looks forward to the eventful morning. An innocent and utter disbelief that any man—be his qualifications what they may--can ever be or hope to be worthy of her idol; a sort of jealous dread (this is rather indistinct) that the temple is being profaned by the introduction of any other form of worship; but above all, the delight of anticipating how beautiful (with a very strong emphasis) her darling will look in the bridal properties-these, and a hundred other thoughts, which she scarcely cares to define, distract the little fluttering heart sadly. Who shall count the restless nights when the appointed day is drawing near (many more, we will venture, than the superior tone of the bride-presumptive permits her to indulge), or the mysterious consultations touching a certain something which is destined before long to sparkle on the fair neck of the elect? At church we have our own suspicions that the slim man with the watery eyes, sanguinary tie, and jaundiced gloves, is not the object of interest to her which he fondly imagines himself to be ; and the little colour she has left comes and goes, in her agitation, when the officiating minister reaches the critical
of the service, with such remarkable effect as to elicit the expression of sympathy from a friendly housemaid who has run in for a moment to an admiring cook, who has also looked in for an equally brief period—“the poor must have been disappointed herself." Then the breakfast! Up to this point she has at least conducted herself with decorum, but now her behaviour generally becomes eccentric. She bows, and says, “With pleasure," when the imperturbable waiter who has officiated at many breakfasts, and knows the speeches—for the third time extends a Berlin glove and its contents, in the feeble hope of attracting her attention to a pâte d'écrevisses en papillote, whilst to the slim man with the watery eyes, who has for the last ten minutes been audibly hoping to have the pleasure of a little champagne with her, she coldly replies, “ Not any, thank you ;” which observation being somewhat in the nature of a damper, reduces the slim man to a state of mind bordering on desperation. But the severest blow of all she reserves for the comic man.
He had anxiously occupied himself during the ceremony in church in elaborating a concerted joke, in which “Blue Bonnets" (our bridesmaid is very fair, and wears blue) " over the Border” and “Gretna
Green" were to take the principal parts. The comic man is on his legs, and has reached his joke. The whole point naturally turns on our bridesmaid looking conscious, and blushing in the most natural way in the world at the proper place. None but those who have experienced the terrible agony of that moment can pieture his dismay, when he perceives her earnest gaze fixed upon the bride, and her evidently utter unconsciousness of the cue. The orator is discomfited; he becomes vague, and indulges in generalities; his discourse grows disconnected and loses point, and at length the observation, in an under tone, which is distinctly heard from the other end of the table, that “ Josh is flat this morning," impels him to sit down, with a feeble smile, amidst ironical applause. But the pathos of the parental speech is fairly too much for her. The brightest of tears has been glistening on her eyelashes, like the early dew, since the morning, and when the hand of a father smites his highlyornamented waistcoat, and he refers in touehing terms to the desolation of his hearth generally, even the graceful composure of the bride is slightly disturbed, and the emotion of our bridesmaid becomes, we are ashamed to say, distinctly audible. But the moment of trial arrives, when, after the temporary eclipse of the idol, she shines forth again with somewhat diminished splendour, to say the parting words. What a struggle then there is to keep down the rising flood, and what a choking and swelling sensation in that white little throat during the contest! Well, Nature will have her way, and, with a passionate burst of tears, she clings round her worshipped “heroine,” to the astonishment of the outsiders, who are unprepared for the display, and wholly unable to understand what it all means. Even the comic man is a second time disconcerted, and forgets a humorous tag, which he had rapidly put together in reference to the old shoe. He is subsequently heard to remark to an intimate friend, in an injured tone, that “it was really lines on a fellow, you know-now, wasn't it?” And now the carriage, with its—to her-precious freight, has rattled off, and whilst the minstrels in the square are still committing the gross anachronism of performing “ Haste to the Wedding” with undiminished vigour but unsteady execution-the latter result being not improbably attributable to the presence on the ground of a brigade of pewters, with a potboy in command (a beautiful and scientific illustration of cause and effect), the slim man, partially recovered, advances, - his watery eyes meanwhile overflowing with sympathy, -and with the best intentions tenders some very diluted consolation to the weeping bridesmaid. Say what you will about the friendship of man surpassing the love of woman, our faith is equally great in the devotion we have attempted to shadow forth. There is a popular and constitutional maxim, touching the infallibility of the Sovereign of this realm, which is brief, but expressive. Borrowing its language, we may shortly sum up their creed thus : “ Our "heroine' can do no wrong.”
RE-OPENING OF HER MAJESTY'S THEATRE.
Ir a French traveller, whose last experience of London was the season of 1852, had been suddenly set down in Pall Mall about a quarter to eight o'clock on the evening of the 10th of last month, he would probably have addressed the first person whom he met somewhat after this fashion : “Pardon, Monsieur ! Dites-moi, s'il vous plaît, pourquoi y a-t-il tant de monde dans les rues ? Cette belle Exposition de Hydes Park, ce joli Palais de Cristal existe-t-il encore ?" The answer would, of course, be in the negative, with this explanation : “ To-night, sir, a great event takes place. Her Majesty's Theatre, the legitimate home of the Opera and the only abode of the Ballet, re-opens after an interval of four years. That is the cause of this stir in the world of fashion.” beau monde a bien raison, Monsieur !” would the Frenchman reply; and 80 the two would part, the Englishman most likely proceeding to the Haymarket, where we will take our seat, invisibly, beside him.
We enter by the Charles-street Arcade, pleased to see the old official faces still smiling politely as of yore, and pleased no less, though more surprised, to find, inside the vast arena, that we had only been taking a rather long nap, without the consequences that befel the slumber of Rip van Winkle. He, on awaking, found everything changed; we, on the contrary, could discover no alteration in the well-remembered scene. There was the same beauty of decoration, the same thronging audience, the same glad hum of expectation : nothing, in short, presented itself to produce the effect that Time had had its hands so full since last we were there. The first thing, however, to remind us that something had come “o'er the spirit of our dream,” was the absence of Mr. Balfe from the orchestra, and the substitution of Signor Bonetti as the conductor ; and let us say, en passant, that the skill and energy which the Italian gentleman has shown since the musical bâton has been thus placed in his hands, leave us no reason to regret the change.
But the curtain rises for the “Cenerentola,” and who greets us on the stage? Alboni, with that rare, unapproachable voice, sweeter than ever; with a style more finished, an execution more perfect, a manner more enchanting than we had supposed it possible to find in one whose merits had been already so fully and widely recognised. There was not a note or phrase throughout the evening's performance that was not eagerly drunk in by every listening ear, and when she sang her final aria of “ Non più mesta,” her triumph was complete. And worthily throughout the performance was she supported by Calzolari, in whose singing this change alone has been wrought since last he was heard here, that what might then have been deemed uncertain,--the possession by him of one of the finest tenor voices on the stage,—is now an ascertained fact. Neither was novelty wanting to add to the pleasure of the representation, Beneventano and Zucconi making their first appearance before an English audience, and each laying the foundation of a reputation that is likely to endure. It seemed hardly possible to make the house seem fuller than it was during the performances of the opera, but certain indications in the large omnibus-boxes told us, as the prelude to “ Les Quatre Saisons" began, that the ballet, as it exists nowhere else,
was now expected. The programme had mentioned four new danseuses, Mesdemoiselles Boschetti, Katrine, Lisereau, and Bellon;' but though it to expect ;
in style, nothing of the surprise that was in store. If beauty of feature, symmetry of form, rapidity of action, precision of movement, and tours de force accomplished without the slightest apparent effort, constitute the perfection of choregraphic art, then Mademoiselle Boschetti is at once entitled to take her place in the foremost rank of its professors. There are some points in her dancing—for instance, that Autter of limbs in the air when her figure is upheld by the lightest touch of her clever supporter Monsieur Vandris—which we have never seen equalled. What time she may have bestowed to acquire her art we know not—it cannot, however, be much, she is still so young; but this we know, that her fame was established at Her Majesty's Theatre in a moment. Mademoiselle Katrine, too, impressed the audience most favourably by a style that was essens tially her own, in which extreme grace and Alexibility mark every slowly measured movement; she, too, has great beauty of face. The vigour and perfect aplomb of Mademoiselle Bellon, and the finish of Mademoiselle Lisereau, reaped for them the most enthusiastic applause.
So much for the opening night, which was not suffered by the audience to pass away without a demand for the appearance of the indefatigable impresario, to whom for so many years the town has been indebted for more enjoyment than it usually falls to the lot of one man to be able to procure for it. If Mr. Lumley has not forgotten his skill, neither have the public lost their recollection of the many claims which he has upon their sympathy and gratitude.
After the repetition of the “Cenerentola" on the succeeding Tuesday, came, on the next night, the ever-charming “Barbiere," with the Rosina of Alboni and the Figaro of Belletti, whose re-appearance was welcomed in the warmest possible manner. In a musical point of view, there was nothing wanting to render the." Barbiere” all that could be wished Alboni again ascended in the scale of public estimation ; Calzolari maintained his position, and Belletti was, what he always has been, without an artistic defect. What has happened since ? Alboni has appeared as Amina in the “Sonnambula,” creating the part anew, by the marvellous capacity with which she achieves all the triumphs of the most, celebrated soprani without sacrificing one iota of her original excellence. It is beyond a question that she is now the queen of the lyrical drama, If these three operas were all that the director of Her Majesty's Theatre could give to the public this season, they would suffice for perfect enjoyment ; but even while we are writing the house is filling to witness the début of Mademoiselle Piccolomini in “La Traviata ;" and there are yet in store Madame Albertini's Leonora in “Il Trovatore," with Alboni's first appearance as Azucena, and the Romeo of Mademoiselle Wagner, known only to a London audience at present by a feud, rivalling in intensity that of the Montagues and Capulets, but happily ended without a tragedy. In the ballet, too, besides “ La Manola," in which 'Mademoiselle Bellon is wonderful, we are to have the superbly mounted “ Corsaire," with Rosalie as the heroine, Medora; and the attraction of Marie Taglioni will be added to complete the brilliant ensemble. We may, indeed, be glad on every account that Her Majesty's Theatre is once more the cynosure of the London season.