vol II date / index
St. Cecilius, A.D. 211. St. Clotildis, or Clotilda, Queen of France, A.D. 545. St. Coemgen, or Keivin, A.D. 618. St. Lifard, Abbot, about the middle of the 6th Cent. St. Genesis, in French, Genes, Bp. about A.D. 662.
1817, June 3, Paris. —Yesterday the ladies of the market of St. Germain, having invited the rector of St. Sulpice to bless their new market-place, that pastor, accompanied by the clergy of the parish, repaired there at five o'clock, and sung the hymn, Veni Creator. A procession took place inside the edifice, and the market was formally blessed. The whole concluded with Domine, Salvum fac Regem. The market was to open the next morning. —Moniteur.
A house of entertainment—in a place
So rural, that it almost doth deface
The lovely scene: for like a beauty-spot,
Upon a charming cheek that needs it not,
So Hornsey Tavern seems to me. And yet,
Tho' nature be forgotten, to forget
The artificial wants of the forgetters,
Is setting up oneself to be their betters.
This is unwise; for they are passing wise,
Who have no eyes for scenery, and despise
Persons like me, who sometimes have sensations
Through too much sight, and fall in contemplations,
Which, as cold waters cramp and drown a swimmer,
Chill and o'erwhelm me. Pleasant is that glimmer,
Whereby trees seem but wood:— The men who know
No qualities but forms and uses, go
Through life for happy people:—they are so.
Hornsey-wood house is beyond the Sluice-house, from whence anglers and other visitors pass to it through an upland meadow, along a straight gravel-path, angle-wise. It is a good, "plain, brown brick," respectable, modern, London looking building. Within the entrance to the left, is a light and spacious room of ample accomodation, and of which more care has been taken, than of its fine leather-folding screen in ruins—an unseemly sight for him, who respects old requisites for their former beauty and convenience. This once partook of both, but disuse hath abused and "time hath written strange defeatures" on its face, which in its early days was handsome. It still bears some remains of a spirited painting, spread all over its leaves, to represent the amusements and humours of a fair in the low countries. At the top of a pole, which may have been the village May-pole, is a monkey with a cat on his back; then there is a sturdy bear-ward, in scarlet, with a wooden leg, exhibiting his bruin; and old woman telling fortunes to the rustics; a showman's drummer on a stage before a booth, beating up for spectators to the performance within, which the show-cloth represents to be a dancer on the tightrope; a well set-out stall of toys, with a woman displaying their attractions; besides other really interesting "bits" of a crowded scene, depicted by no mean hand, especially a group coming from a church in the distance, apparently a wedding procession, the females well-looking and well dressed, bearing ribbons or scarfs below their waists in festoons. The destruction of this really interesting screen by worse than careless keeping, is to be lamented. This ruin of art is within a ruin of nature. Hornsey-tavern and its grounds have displaced a romantic portion of the wood, the remains of which, however, skirt a large and pleasant piece of water, formed at a considerable expense.
Lake of Hornsey-wood House.
To this water, which is well stored with fish, anglers resort with better prospect of success than to the New River; the walk around it, and the prospect, are very agreeable.
The old Hornsey-wood house well became its situation; it was embowered, and seemed a part of the wood. Two sisters, Mrs. Lloyd and Mrs. Collier, kept the house; they were ancient women; large in size, and usually sat before their door, on a seat fixed between two venerable oaks, wherein swarms of bees hived themselves. Here the venerable and cheerful dames tasted many a refreshing cup, with their good-natured customers, and told tales of by-gone days, till, in very old age, one of them passed to her grave, and the other followed in a few months. Each died regretted by the frequenters of the rural dwelling, which was soon afterwards pulled down, and the old oaks felled, to make room for the present roomy and more fashionable building. To those who were acquainted with it in its former rusticity, when it was an unassuming "calm retreat," it is indeed an altered spot. To produce the alteration, a sum of ten thousand pounds was expended by the present proprietor, and Hornsey-wood tavern is now a well-frequented house. The pleasantness of its situation is a great attraction in fine weather.
1802. On the 3d of June, madame Mara, the celebrated singer, took leave of the English public. The Dictionary of Musicians, in recording the performance, observes, that never certainly was such a transcendent exercise of ability as a duet composed to display the mutual accomplishments of madame Mara and Mrs. Billington, which they sung with mutual excitement to the highest pitch of scientific expression.
Madame Mara was born at Cassel, in Germany, in 1750. Her paternal name was Schmelling. Her early years were devoted to the study of the violin, which, as a child, she played in England, but quitted that instrument, and became a singer, by the advice of the English ladies, who dislike a "female fiddler." To this, perhaps, we owe the delight experienced from the various excellencies of the most sublime singer the world ever saw. Her first efforts were in songs of agility, yet her intonation was fixed by the incessant practice of plain notes. To confirm the true foundation of all good singing, by the purest enunciation, and the most precise intonation of the scale, was the study of her life, and the part of her voicing upon which she most valued herself. The late Dr. Arnold saw Mara dance, by way of experiment, and assume the most violent gesticulations, while going up and down the scale; yet such was her power of chest, that the tone was as undisturbed and free as if she had stood in the customary quiet position of the orchestra. The Italians say, that "of the hundred requisites to make a singer, he who has a fine voice has ninety-nine." Mara had certainly the ninety-nine in one. Her voice was in compass from G to E in altissimo, and all its notes were alike even and strong; but she had the hundredth also in a supereminent degree, in the grandest and most sublime conception. At the early age of twenty-four, when she was at Berlin, in the immaturity of her judgment and her voice, the best critics admitted her to have exceeded Cuzzoni, Faustina, and indeed all those who preceded her. Our age has since seen Billington and Catalani, yet in majesty and truth of expression (a term comprehending the most exalted gifts and requisites of vocal science,) Mara retains her superiority. From her we deduce all that has been learned concerning the great style of singing. The memory of her performance of Handel's sublime work, 'I know that my Redeemer liveth,' is immortalized, together with the air itself. Often as we have since heard it, we have never witnessed even an approach to the simple majesty of Mara: it is to this air alone that she owes her highest preeminence; and they who, not having heard her, would picture to themselves a just portraiture of her performance, must image a singer who is fully equal to the truest expression of the inspired words, and the scarcely less inspired music of the loftiest of all possible compositions. She was the child of sensibility: every thing she did was directed to the heart; her tone, in itself pure, sweet, rich, and powerful, took all its various colourings from the passion of the words; and she was not less true to nature and feeling in 'The Soldier tir'd,' and in the more exquisite, 'Hope told a flattering tale,' than in 'I know that my Redeemer liveth.' Her tone, perhaps, was neither so sweet nor so clear as Billington's, nor so rich and powerful as Catalani's, but it was the most touching language of the soul. It was on the mastery of the feelings of her audience that Mara set her claims to fame. She left surprise to others, and was wisely content with an apparently, but not really humbler, style; and she thus chose the part of genuine greatness." Her elocution must be taken rather as universal than as national; for although she passed some time in England when a child, and retained some knowledge of the language, her pronunciation was continually marred by a foreign accent, and those mutilations of our words which are inseparable from the constant use of foreign languages, during a long residence abroad. Notwithstanding this drawback, the impression she made, even upon uneducated persons, always extremely alive to the ridiculous effects of mispronunciation, and upon the unskilled in music, was irresistible. The fire, dignity, and tenderness of her vocal appeal could never be misunderstood; it spoke the language of all nations, for it spoke to the feelings of the human heart. Mrs. Billington, with a modesty becoming her great acquirements, voluntarily declared, that she considered Mara's execution to be superior to her own in genuine effect, though not in extent, compass, rapidity, and complication. Mara's divisions always seemed to convey a meaning; they were vocal, not instrumental; they had light and shade, and variety of tone; they relaxed from or increased upon the time, according to the sentiment of which they always appeared to partake: these attributes were always remarkable in her open, true, and liquid shake, which was certainly full of expression. Neither in ornaments, learned and graceful as they were, nor in her cadences, did she ever lose sight of the appropriate characteristics of the sense of melody. She was, by turns, majestic, tender, pathetic, and elegant, but in the one or the other not a note was breathed in vain. She justly held every species of ornamental execution, to be subordinate to the grand end of uniting the effects of sound sense, in their operations upon the feelings of her hearers. True to this spirit, if any one commended the agility of a singer, Mara would ask, "Can she sing six plain notes?" In majesty and simplicity, in grace, tenderness, and pathos, in the loftiest attributes of art, in the elements of the great style, she far transcended all her competitors in the list of fame. She gave to Handel's compositions their natural graduer and effect, which is, in our minds, the very highest degree of praise that we can bestow. Handel is heavy, say the musical fashion-mongers of the day. Milton would be heavy beyond endurance, from the mouth of a reader of talents even above mediocrity. The fact is, that to wield such arms, demands the strength of giants. Mara possessed this heaven-gifted strength. It was in the performance of Handel that her finer mind fixed its expression, and called to its aid all the powers of her voice, and all the acquisitions of her science. From the time of her retirement from England, Mara chiefly resided in Russia; yet as the conflagration of Moscow destroyed great part of her property, towards the close of the year 1819, or the beginning of 1820, she returned to London, and determined on presenting herself once more to the judgment of the English public, who had reverenced her name so highly and so long. She, consequently, had a concert at the Opera-house, but her powers were so diminished that it proved unsuccessful.
Justice to the channel which supplies these particulars concerning madame Mara requires it to be observed, that they are almost verbatim from a book of great merit and extensive usefulness, The Dictionary of Musicians. Its information obviously results from extensive research concerning the deceased, and personal acquaintance with many of the living individuals whose memoirs it contains. The work has experienced the fate of originality and excellence—it has been pillaged without acknowledgment; and the discovery of an error or two, which the pillagers themselves were too ignorant to detect, have enabled them to abuse it. Although written by scientific hands, it is exempt from the meanness of envy, and honestly renders honour to whom honour is due. It is a book full of facts, with interspersions of anecdote so eloquently related, that it is one of the pleasantest works a lover of literature can take up, and is therefore not only a vluable accession to our biographical collections, but to our stores of amusement.
Rosa de meaux. Rosa provincialis.
Dedicated to St. Cecilius.