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prodigious, Verdi himself being crazy on the
subject and doge-cracked.

I try to follow the mysterious intricacies of
that first act, having only these facts to go on
as a basis. How am I to interpret a devout
gentleman in velvet, who kneels to the
footlights and prays, while the sweet voices of
virgins from the church dovetail ingeniously
with his rougher organ, while a fierce-bearded
gentleman, also in velvet, speaks with him
in angry expostulatory manner?—the whole
business of that first part resulting in noisy
procession and ringing of bells, and general
proclamation, out of which I dimly catch a hint
that the devout gentleman has been made a
doge. There are reasonable grounds, also, for
supposing that the devout gentleman is Simon
the Buccaneer, though he looks too good and
respectable for such a calling.

A word, too, "in favior" of the daughter,
suppressed during the first act, who struggled
so miraculously against the infirmities of age
and exhausted energies of sex. It moved both
wonder and pity, that exhibition. Not one of
those cruelly painful acrobatic feats which the
Maestro Verdi forces his disciples to attempt,
not a single rasping fence of that terrible country,
did this spirited sexagenarian flinch from:
the Boccherini, I think she was called. Audience
looked on moodily, and with a certain
tolerance, with not so much as the faintest
ghost of approval. Rumour says that the
Boccherini is forced upon them.

It is about as good as a Palais Royal farce, to
see the raptures of the youthful tenor for this
aged charmer, with his agonies of despair when
the old doge, like these true operatic
curmudgeons, who are all of a piece, steps in and
forbids the banns. Needless to say, that,
according to precedent, the old doge is done
away with, and comes to a violent end at
the hands of the conspirators. Weak but
well-meaning dotard, he dies by poison. His
agonies are frightful; and, curious to say,
as the well-beloved daughter and discarded
lover group themselves about "the dying man,"
and his increasing pains grow, and are but too
vividly depicted on his countenance, inferior
voices, typical of stomachic suffering, seem to
proceed also from the bassoons and bass instruments.
Whether this was intentional on the
part of the gran maestro, I cannot take on me
to say; but as the voices worked up and
strained into an impassioned trio of sorrow, so
worked up the spasms and struggles in the
bassoon interior, reaching at last to such comic
effect, that bursts of profane and irrepressible
laughter issue from one special cell, where were
some lively Inglesi.

But to magnificent Coletti, dramatic artist
unrivalled, save by his brother Ronconi, all
homage! Perhaps a little decadent, and that
full roll of voice worn away. I see him a few
nights later in that other doge piece, The
Foscari, and am "ravished" with his feeling, and
pathos, and overwhelming power. In this same
piece he won his golden spurs, many years back
now, on English boards. Now the autumn, and
perhaps an early winter is drawing on. It is
time to look into the garner and see what is
stored up. His are full to overflowing; he can
sit him down cheerfully and say "Vixi!
Cantavi!" By degrees he has slipped out of the
coursehas fallen away from the hum and
fluster of great cities and Babylonian theatres.
Here in some one of the Roman towns was he
born; and hither he has returned in his prime,
to fall gracefully into the sere and yellow leaf.
It is hard, though, to sacrifice the encouraging
roar of many voices bursting from the parterre,
and to some the footlights are more glorious
than the broad sun at noon. After triumphs of
his order, a fireside may be domestic, but
humdrum. So on this modest stage, among his
own countrymen, he will stimulate himself with
a modest dose of excitement, and glide down
gently into incapability, without cold, unfeeling
voices shrieking it aloud to the four winds. He
has a handsome estate just by, and shall
perhaps be baron and seigneur in his old age. So,
too, is it with ex-tenor Collini, another Roman.
There is something pleasant in this notion, that
those hard-working songsters, who have
delighted us for their life, shall at the end not be
cast out, but subside into quietude and
husbandry, and see a peaceful end to their days.


IN Manhood, in the full accomplished glory
                And ecstasy of life,
Memories of the golden Land of Morning
                Haunt us in peace and strife;

Vague visions of that fresh and happy season,
                The Paradise of youth,
Where earth was one unfading summer landscape,
                And love a blossomed truth.

The pipe of birds, awaking to the sunrise,
                Cool shadows on the lawn,
The solemn mountains fired with eastern splendour,
                The pastoral calm of dawn;

The shining quiet of the Sabbath noontide,
                The musical, fleet brooks,
The evening rest and ever welcome voices
                Of home-returning rooks;

The windy hands, that tapped the frosted casements
                Through the December nights;
Earth ringed with darkness and, above, outshining
                The still, celestial lights;

Remembered echoes of heart-treasured voices,
               The blessing and the prayer,
Gentle good-nights and tender parting kisses,
               And slumbers calm and rare;

Return to us, with one dear recollection,
               Of a sweet mother's face,
Bright with angelic blessedness and quiet,
               And fair domestic grace;

Rise and return from the burial chambers
               Of the mysterious brain,
Till the over-burdened heart and pining spirit
               Are faint with sense of pain.