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SIZE AND PRICE OF THE COMPANION.

THE major part of our Correspondents this time will find answers on the wrapper which accompanies this number; but having been shorter in it than we supposed, we begin with them here.

Medium and a Well-wisher (both of them very agreeably and sincerely, which is hitting the two points most worthy of each other) object to the small size of the Companion, considering the price. We have had the same objection from several private quarters, and acknowledge that it is well-founded. When we hear of other persons, who object to our price without saying a word of our merits, we, of course, feel all the indifference of wounded authorship; but we like those who tell us, as these our friends do, that they are sorry they come to the end of their reading so soon. The former put us upon the hard task of comparing our little work with those heaps of compilation and common-place with which the economical faculties. of the public have been so long beguiled into heavy dinners; that is to say, a tart, or a cheesecake, compared with the majesty of a peck of dough: which is unfair. Our other admonishers we love and agree with, and could find it in our hearts to give them as many Companions as they chose for nothing. The truth is, our minds misgave us on this point, when we set up the paper; but by universal agreement, we had given the public a former paper, the Indicator, at a price below what it ought to have been; we recollected under what circumstances of trouble and ill-health we wrote those closelyfilled pages, and how little we gained by them; and, in our new publication we allowed ourselves to go to something of the other extreme, till we could see what our head would bear, as well as our pocket. We did not desire to write so little; on the contrary, we have found the space insufficient for what we had to say; and we no sooner found also that we could write thus much more with impunity, than we resolved upon making some addition. It is now in contemplation to double the size of the Companion; but we cannot say at what addition of pence. At all events, we trust we shall do our best to make it worth the enormity. It was not desirable to egin in this manner at once, because diminution would have had an ill look; but addition is another matter; and we are happy in being able to state, that our facts are in accordance with appearances, and that we make the addition not in consequence of failure, but of success.

LONDON:

Published by HUNT and CLARKE, York street, Covent garden; and sold by all Booksellers and Newsvenders in town and country.—Price 3d.

PRINTED BY C. U. REYNELL, BROAD STREET, GOLDEN SQUARE.

THE COMPANION.

No. V. WEDNESDAY, FEB. 6, 1828.

"Something alone yet not alone, to be wished, and only to be found, in a friend."-SIR WILLIAM TEMPLE.

AN OBJECTION TO CONCERTS AND ORATORIOS. THE BEAUTY OF TRUTH, EVEN AS

MADAME PASTA.

AN ACCOMPLISHMENT.

We wish to add something to our last article respecting the truth and beauty of this singer's performance. It has been suggested to us, that Madame Pasta is not so much absorbed as people may think her in the business of the scene; that she finds time, like other singers at the opera, for those little interchanges of bye-jokes and grown-children's play, by which they occasionally refresh themselves from a sense of their duties; and that in a concertroom, or an oratorio, where no illusion is going forward, we should find more defects in her as a singer than we are aware of. Finally, another friend tells us, that we make a good deal of what we see; and in our gratitude for a favourite quality, find more of it to be grateful for, than exists anywhere but in our own imaginations.

We doubt whether we are not committing the dignity of the critical character, in thus admitting that our opinion can be disputed privately. A correspondent is another matter. He approaches his critic with a curtain between; and the latter retreats further into the mystery and multiplicity of his plural "we," leaving his questioner uncertain how many secret faculties and combined resources of experience he may not ave ventured to differ with. But to acknowledge that we are mortal and individual men, "singular good" fellows, who can be disputed with over one's

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VOL. I.

wine and tea, face to face; and be forced to say "I;" and give a reason, with no more privilege to be wrong than any other man's reason; all this would be very frightful to us, if instead of being critics or judges, sitting aloof above sympathy, and periwigged with imposture, we did not profess to be what we really are, nothing but Companions; men, who get from sympathy all they know, and do not care twopence for anything but truth and good-fellowship.

We say then to these our objectors, public or private (for after all there is no difference between them then, except as to the dry matter of fact; we take a real bottle with one, and an imaginary one with the other)—we say, filling our glass, and looking them in the face, with all that bland beatitude of certainty, so convincing in any man, especially if he does not proceed to argue the point (as we have an unfortunate propensity to do)-My dear So-and-so, you are most horribly in the wrong. I wonder at a man of your intelligence. You surprise me. Do you think so indeed? Well, you astonish me. I'm sure, if you would but reflect a little-Well, I never-You are the last man I should have thought capable of using that argument. Nothing will ever persuade me, &c.

These answers ought to be convincing. But as some unreason⚫able persons may remain, who are not so easily convinced, and as we have a conscience that induces us not to leave them out, we shall proceed to observe, that all which is urged against us on the point in question may be very true, and Pasta yet remain just what we have described her. In the first place, it is not necessary to suppose her absorbed in the business of the scene, in order to do it justice. It would be impossible she could do so, if she were. "If a man," said Johnson," really thought himself Richard the Third, he would deserve to be hung." All we contend for is, that Madame Pasta has the power, to a surprising extent, of pitching herself into the character of the person she represents. The greater this power the more suddenly she can exercise it. She touches the amulet of her imagination in an instant, and is the person she wishes to appear. It is a voluntary power of the extremest degree, in one sense; and yet, in another, it is the most involuntary; that is to say, she can abstract herself at a moment's notice from circumstances not belonging to the scene, and yet in the next she is under the influence of the character imagined, as

much as if she were a child. We will venture to illustrate this by a reference to authorship and to ourselves. We shall be talking for instance in the midst of half-a-dozen friends: they shall all be talking with us: and we shall be thinking no more of authorship than of the Emperor Nicholas. On a sudden, it becomes necessary that we should look at our paper, and give a turn to some story or other piece of writing, serious or merry. In a moment, we are as abstracted as if we were a hundred miles off. We hear the conversation no more than people hear the rumbling of the coaches when they are not thinking about them; and with the laugh hardly off our lips, become as grave as the heroine of our story; or, with the tears almost in our eyes, sit down to give the finish to a joke, and tickle ourselves into laughter with the point of it. Now why should we not believe, that what we ourselves can do, others cannot do twenty times as well?

That Madame Pasta should not feel everything just as strongly as she imagines it, and that she should give evidences to near observers that she can occasionally amuse herself, as other favourite performers do, with certain quips and cranks among one another, takes away nothing of the imaginative truth of what she has to do, and only adds to the evidences of the voluntary power. We certainly doubt whether she could do this so well in some characters as in others. We should guess that she was least able to do it much, and most inclined to do it at all, when performing characters that tried her feelings the most severely. There are stories of Garrick's turning round with a comic grin in the thick of the distresses of King Lear; and similar stories have been related of Mr Kean. Believe them, if you will; but do not believe that those great performers felt less the truth of what they were about. Perhaps what they did was necessary, as a relief to their feelings; just as sensitive men will shock company sometimes by cracking jokes upon some topic of distress. It is not because they do not feel it, but because they do, and because some variety of sensation is necessary to enable them to endure their feelings. If an actor were to feel, unmixed, all he seems to feel in such characters as Lear, he would go nigh to lose his senses in good earnest. Tragic actresses, the most eminent, have been known to faint and

go into fits upon the performance of a trying character. Perhaps they would not have done so, had their personal character contained variety and resource enough in it to call in the aid of this occasional volatility. Even Garrick is known to have looked prematurely old. Yet Garrick had everything to support him-fortune, prudence, and a good constitution. When we hear actors, equally great in their way, but less happy in bodily frame, rebuked severely for certain excesses alleged against them, we sometimes think it a pity that the rebukers do not know what it is to go through all that wear and tear of sensation, and to be at a loss how to keep up a proper level of excitement in their general feelings. We are not sure that Madame Pasta does not unconsciously let herself grow fatter than might be wished, out of an uneasy feeling of something to be supported and strengthened in this way; especially when it is considered that persons of her profession lead artificial lives, and cannot so well be kept healthy as others, by good hours, and a life otherwise uninterfered with.

As to a concert-room or an oratorio, it is a dull business compared with singing amidst the feelings of a scene. Such places are fittest for instrumental performances, and for instrument-like singers. In the concert-room, the audience expect little passion, and find it. They are themselves in a dull and formal state; there is often a majority of musicians present, and a majority of musicians cannot be of the first order, nor do they desire anything of the first order in others. They wish the singers to act up simply to their own notions of excellence, which are but a reflection of themselves. All is quiet, mechanical, mediocre. Up gets a lady or gentleman, book in hand, and out of this is to disburse us the proper quantity of notes, checked by that emblem of reference to the dead letter. She does so; is duly delivered of a B, or a D; and everything is "as well as can be expected."

So in an oratorio. The audience are all assembled, as grave as need be; the season, and the usual dull character of oratorios, helps to formalize them; there is a good deal of mourning in the house; and sacred music is to be performed, mixed with a little illegal profane. That is to say, there is nothing real in the business, and nobody can be either properly merry or mournful. Which is just the case. In comes a gentleman dressed in black,

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