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Mr. Winter was somewhat surprised that his old correspondents no longer transacted business with him.
It was nearly a year from the time Phineas had left, that one morning Arabella observed a handsome chariot stop at her door, and in a few moments “Mr. Unthank ” was announced. Attired in a suit of mourning of the most aristocratic cut, the young Irishman rushed, rather than walked, into the room.
“ Arabella, my darling heart !” he exclaimed,“ do you remember me? why! No longer a friend, but I hope an accepted lover. My worthy old father is no more; he has left me a good fortune, and his permission to withdraw from the firm and the meeting-house. I have been for some months settling his affairs. I am now my own master, with fifteen thousand a-year; say, may I hope ?”
But we will not delay the conclusion of our story by scenes of lovemaking ; suffice it now to say, that, in a few weeks, Arabella became Mrs. Unthank-that, accompanied by Sydney, “ the happy pair" visited Switzerland and Italy, and on their return to town one of the first arrangements made by Phineas was to purchase a private box at Covent Garden Theatre.
Benson E. Hull.
SOME ACCOUNT OF A STAGE DEVIL.
BY HENRY BROWNRIGG, ESQ.
The“ principle of evil,” as commonly embodied in the theatre, has been a sorry affair;—the stage devil, in a word, a shabby person. From the time of the Mysteries at Coventry to the melo-dramas of the phosphoric pen of the blue-fire dramatist, the father of iniquity has made his appearance in a manner more provocative of contempt than of fear; a candidate for our smiles, rather than a thing of terrors : we have chuckled, where we should have shuddered.
That the stage-devil should have been so commonplace an individual, when there were devils innumerable wherefrom an admirable selection of demons might be“ constantly on hand,” made it the more inexcusable on the part of those gentlemen invested with the power of administering to, and in some measure forming, public taste. What a catalogue of devils may be found in the Fathers ! Let us particularise a few from the thousands of demons with which the benevolent imaginations of our ancestors have peopled the air, the earth, and the flood. Poor humanity stands aghast at the fearful odds of spiritual influences arrayed against it; for it is the fixed opinion of Paracelsus, that “the air is not so full of flies in summer, as it is at all times of invisible devils :” whilst another philosopher declares that there is “not so much as an hairbreadth empty in earth or in waters, above or under the earth!" Cornelius Agrippa has carefully classified devils, making them of nine orders. The first are the false gods adored at Delphos and elsewhere in various idols, having for their captain, Beelzebub; the second rank is of “ lyars and equivocators," as Apollo-poor Apollo !-"and the like;" the third are vessels of anger, inventors of all mischief,” and their
prince is Belial; the fourth are malicious, revengeful devils, their chief being Asmodeus; the fifth are cozeners, such as belong to magicians and witches-their prince is Satan; the sixth are those aërial devils that corrupt the air, and cause plagues, thunder, fire, and tempests-Meresin is their prince; the seventh is a destroyer, captain of the Fairies; the eighth is an accusing or calumniating devil; and the ninth are all these in several kinds, their commander being Mammon. Of all these infernal creatures Cornelius Agrippa writes with the confidence and seeming accuracy of a man favoured with their most intimate acquaintance.
In addition to these we have, on the authority of grave philosophers, legions of household devils, from such as “ commonly work by blazing stars,” fire-drakes or ignes fatui, to those who " counterfeit suns and moons, and oftentimes sit on ship masts." Their commonplace of rendezvous, when unemployed, is Mount Hecla. Cardon, with an enviable gravity, declares that “ his father had an aërial devil bound to him for twenty and eight years.” Paracelsus relates many stories, all authenticated, of she-devils “ that have lived and been married to mortal men, and so continued for certain years with them, and after, for some dislike, have forsaken them.” Olaus Magnus-a most delightful liar-has a narrative of“ one Hotheius, a king of Sweden, that having lost his company as he was hunting one day, met with these water-nymphs and fairies, and was feasted by them ;” and Hector Boethius of is Macbeth and Banco, two Scottish lords, that as they were wandering in the woods, had their fortunes told them by three strange women!" For the "good people,” the wood-nymphs, foliots, fairies, they are on the best authority to be seen in many places in Germany," where they do usually walk in little coats some two feet long." Subterranean devils are divided by Olaus Magnus into six companies; they commonly haunt mines ; "and the metal-men in many places account it good luck, a sign of treasure and rich ore when they see them.” Georgius Agricola (de subterraneis animantibus) reckons two more kinds, that are
« clothed after the manner of metal-men, and will do their work.” Their office, according to the shrewd guess of certain philosophers, " is to keep treasure in the earth that it be not all at once revealed.”
On the 20th of June, 1484, it is upon record that the devil appeared " at Hamrud in Saxony,” in the likeness of a field piper, and carried away a hundred and thirty children “ that were never after
I might fill folios with the pranks and malicious mummeries of the evil spirit, all, too, duly attested by the most respectable witnesses; but shall at once leave the demons of the philosophers for the spirits of the playmongers-the devils of the world, for the devils
of the stage.
Why is it that, nine times out of ten, your stage devil is a droll rather than a terrible creature ? I suspect that this arises from the bravado of our innate wickedness. We endeavour to shirk all thoughts, all recollections of his horrible attributes by endowing him with grotesque propensities : we strive to laugh ourselves out of our fears: we make a mountebank of what is in truth our terror, and resolutely strive to grin away our apprehensions. Surely some feeling of this kind must be at the bottom of all our ten thousand jokes at the devil's expense-of the glee and enjoyment with which the devil is received at the theatre; where,
until the appearance of Mr. Wieland, he has been but a commonplace absurdity-a dull repetition of a most dull joke.
Wieland has evidently studied the attributes of the evil principle; with true German profundity he has taken their length, and their depth, and their breadth : he has all the devil at his very finger-ends, and richly deserves the very splendid silver-gilt horns and tail (manufactured by Rundell and Bridges) presented to him a few nights since by the company at the English Opera House; presented, with a speech from the stage-manager, which, or I have been grossly misinformed, drew tears from the eyes of the very scene-shifters.
Can anybody forget Wieland's Devil in the “ Daughter of the Danube ?” Never was there a more dainty bit of infernal nature. It lives in my mind like one of Hoffman's tales ; a realization of the hero of the night-mare-a thing in almost horrible affinity with human passions. How he eyed the Naiades--how he languished, and ogled, and faintingly approached, then wandered round the object of his demoniacal affections! And then how he burst into action! How he sprang, and leapt, and whirled-and, chuckling, at his own invincible nature, spun like a tee-totum at the sword of his baffled assailant! And then his yawn and sneeze! There was absolutely poetry in them—the very highest poetry of the ludicrous: a fine imagination to produce such sounds as part of the strange, wild, grotesque phantom-to give it a voice that, when we heard it, we felt to be the only voice such a thing could have. There is fine truth in the devils of Wieland—we feel that they live and have their being in the realms of fancy; they are not stereotype commonplaces, but most rare and delicate monsters brought from the air, the earth, or the flood; wherever they are from, bearing in them the finest characteristics of their mysterious and fantastic whereabout.
Wieland's last Devil, in an opera bearing his fearful name, is not altogether so dainty a fellow as his elder brother of the Danube ; whose melancholy so endeared him to our sympathies, whose lack-a-daisical demeanor so won upon our human weakness. In “ The Devil's Opera," the hero is more of the pantomimist, than of the thinking creature : he is not contemplative, but all for action : he does not, like the former fiend, retire into the fastnesses of his infernal mind to brood on love and fate, but is incessantly grinning, leaping, tumbling: hence he is less interesting to the meditative part of the audience, though, possibly, more attractive to the majority of play-goers; who seem to take the
evil principle” under their peculiar patronage, laughing, shouting, and hurraing, at every scurvy trick played by it on poor, undefended humanity; though with a bold aim of genius on the part of the author, the Devil, in the opera, is made the ally of love and virtue, against
tyranny and silly superstition. The devil is chained, bound, the bond-slave of the good and respectable part of the dramatis personæ to the confusion of the foolish and the wicked. This is certainly putting the “evil principle” to the very first advantage. The best triumph of the highest benevolence is, undoubtedly, to turn the dominating fiend into the toiling vassal; and in the new opera this glory is most unequivocally achieved.
To Wieland we are greatly indebted for having reformed the “in
fernal powers” of the theatre ; for having rescued the imp of the stage from the vulgar commonplace character in which he has too long disguised himself, or, I ought rather to say exposed himself; for there was no mystery whatever in him : he was a sign-post devil-a miserable daub; with not one of those emanations of profound, unearthly thought-not the slightest approach to that delicacy of colouring, that softening of light into shade, and shade into light, that distinguish the devil of Wieland. No: in him we have the fuul fiend divested of all his vulgar, Bartlemy-fair attributes; his horns and tail, and saucereyes, and fish-hook nails, are the least part of him ; they are the mere accidents of his nature, not his nature itself; we have the devil in the abstract, and are compelled to receive with some consideration the popular and charitable proverb, that declares him to be not quite so black as limners have shadowed him.
By the rarest accident, I have obtained some account of the birth and childhood of Wieland. It appears that he is a German born, being the youngest of six sons of Hans Wieland, a poor and most amiabledoll-maker, a citizen of Hildesheim. When only four years old, the child was lost in the Hartz Mountains, whither his father and several neighbours had resorted to make holiday. The child had from his cradle manifested the greatest propensities towards the ludicrous; it was his delight to place his father's dolls in the most preposterous positions, doing this with a seriousness, a gravity, in strange contrast with his employment. It was plain to Professor Teufelskopf, a frequent visitor at the shop of old Wieland, employed by the professor on toys that are yet to astound the world,-being no other than a man and wife and four children, made entirely out of pear-tree, and yet so exquisitely constructed, as to be enabled to eat and drink, cry, and pay taxes, with a punctuality and propriety not surpassed by many machines of flesh and blood, -I say it was the opinion of Professor Teufelskopf that young Wieland was destined to play a great part among men, an opinion we are happy to say nightly illustrated by the interesting subject of this memoir. We have, however, to speak of his adventures when only four years old in the Hartz Mountains. For a whole month was the child missing, to the agony of his parents, and the deep regret of all the citizens of Hildesheim, with whom little George was an especial favourite. The Mountains were overrun by various parties in search of the unfortunate little
but with no success. It was plain that the boy had been caught away by some spirit of the mines with which the marvellous district abounds, or, it might be, carried to the very height of the Brockenberg, by the king of the mountain, to be his page and cupbearer. The gravest folks of Hildesheim shook their heads, and more than two declared that they never thought George would grow up to a man-he was so odd, so strange, so fantastic; so unlike any other child. The despair of Hans Wieland was fast settling into deep melancholy, and he had almost given up all hope, when, as he sat brooding at his fireside one autumn night, his wife-she had quitted him not a minute to go up stairsmuttered a piercing shriek. Hans rushed from the fireside, and in an instant joined his wife, who, speechless with delight and wonder, pointed to the nook in the chamber where little George was wont to sleep, and where, at the time, but how brought there, was never, never known: the boy lay in the profoundest slum
ber; in all things, the same plump, good-looking child, save that his cheek was more than usually flushed. Hans Wieland and his wife fell upon their knees and sobbed thanksgivings.
I cannot dwell upon the effect produced by this mysterious return of the child
upon the people of Hildesheim. The shop of Hans Wieland was thronged with folks anxious to learn from the child himself a full account of his wanderings-of how he happened to stray away-of what he had seen—and by what means he had been brought back. To all these questions, though on other points a most docile infant, George maintained the most dogged silence. Several of the church authorities, half-a-dozen professors, nay, the great Teufelskopf himself, questioned the child; but all in vain-George was resolutely dumb. It was plain, however, that he had been the playfellow, the pet of supernatural things; and though there can be but little doubt that his fiends and devils as shown upon the stage are no other than faithful copies of the grotesque originals at this moment sporting in the neighbourhood of the Brockenberg, Mr. Wieland, as I am credibly informed, though a gentle and amiable person in every other respect, is apt to be ruffled, nay, violent, if impertinently pressed upon the subject of his early wander. ings. When, however, we reflect upon the great advantages obtained by Mr. Wieland from what is now to be considered the most fortunate accident of his childhood, we must admit that there is somewhat less praise due to him, than if he appeared before us as a great original. Since I commenced this paper I have been informed by Mr. Dullandry, of “The Wet Blanket," that the goblin in “ The Daughter of the Danube," a touch of acting in which Mr. Wieland gathered a wreath of red-hot laurels, is by no means what it was taken for, a piece of fine invention on the part of the actor; but an imitation, a most servile copy of the real spirit that carried George away from his father and friends, tempting the little truant with a handful of most delicious black cherries, and a draught of kirschenwasser. That every gesture, every movement, nay, that the leer of the eye, and the "villanous hanging of the nether lip,” the sneeze, the cough, the sigh-the lightning speed, the
“ Infernal beauty, melancholy grace," all the attributes of mind and body of that most delicate fiend of the Brockenberg, were given in the hobgoblin of the Danube. Hence, if Mr. Wieland be not, as we thought him, a great original, he is most assuredly the first of mimics; and has turned a peril of his childhood to a golden purpose. Dallandry declares upon the best authoritydoubtless his own that the devil of the Brockenberg, when little George cried to go home to his father and mother, his brother and sisters, would solace the child by playing on a diabolic fiddle—the strings of wolf's gut and the bow strung from the snowy hair of the witch of the Alps-dancing the while, and by the devilish magic of the music, bringing from every fissure in the rocks, every cleft in the earth, and from every stream, their supernatural intelligences to caper and make holiday, for the especial delight of the poor, kidnapped son of the doll-maker of Hildesheim. If this be true and when Dullandry speaks, it is hard to doubt, his words being pearls without speck or flaw-if this be true, we here beg leave to inform Mr. Wieland that from this minute we withdraw from him a great part of that admiration