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Paul and Virginia. Slavery has been condemned by the statesman, the moralist, and the poet. The thunders of the senate have been raised against its monstrous oppression-moral philosophy has stripped it naked and bare, crushing every argument that has been raised in its extenuation-poetry has devoted some of its most inspired moments to advocate the cause of the abject beaten slave and the general voice of mankind has cried aloud for its abolition. If the condition of the negro has of late undergone some amelioration--if the whip and the fetter are less in requisition than when he had no advocate, the light that has been let in upon his mind by the means of instruction bas, by giving him juster views of his nature and condition, only driven the iron still deeper into his soul; and the religious doctrines that we have so strenuously inculcated, by showing the great disparity between our profession and practice, have taught him to regard us with greater suspicion, and to seize more eagerly the readiest means of breaking his chain.
The musical piece of Paul and Virginia is taken from the well-known tale of St. Pierre; which, whether we consider its pathetic interest, its delicate and tender sen. timent, or its simple style, is unrivalled in that species of composition for which the French are so justly cele
brated. This entertainment differs widely from the original story: it ends happily. Paul and Virginia are united, and, as a matter of course, join in the finale. It is a vehicle for some fine music by Mazzinghi. There is a shipwreck for the galleries, with plenty of thunder and lightning, and as many shouts, links, and long poles, as the heart can desire. Cobb was a man of mean talent. With so fine a subject before him, he has produced little else but tame dialogue and doggerel verse. He has had recourse to villainous clap-traps-exhibiting a compassionate planter, and a brutal menial, and contrasting the virtues of the oppressor with the vices of the wretch who is the instrument of his oppression. The first, for the honour of his native land, he has made an Englishmanthe second, a Spaniard. This is excellent, and reminds us of a story, in which a poor negro, being about to be flogged for stealing, asked the magistrate this puzzling question : “Massa, if white man buy tolen goods, you no punish him!" To which the latter, with true official gravity, replied, " That we most certainly do." rejoined the negro, “ Massa buy me, though he know me to be tolen!" Can logic go beyond this? It is as reasonable to pronounce a man honest who buys stolen goods, as to represent a planter compassionate, who traffics in the bones and sinews of his fellow-men.
Alambra, though a slave, inherits the feelings that are common to human nature. He had beheld a helpless sister sink beneath the lash of a cruel menial, whom, in his bitter indignation, he felled to the ground, and then fled, to escape the certain punislıment that awaited so daring, yet justifiable a deed. May every slave who shall be roused by a similar provocation, perform his
duty more effectually than Alambra, and prevent the oppressor from ever striking another blow! In this extremity he seeks the cottage of Virginia; his appeal is heard; he is sheltered and protected; and Paul and Virginia accompany him back to Tropic's plantation, represent his wrongs, intercede in his behalf, and (incredulus odi!) procure him redress. This is one part of the story. The other relates to the mystery attached to the birth and fortunes of Virginia; the fidelity of Dominique; the wreck of the vessel in which Virginia is to be conveyed a prisoner to Spain; the dangers in which the lovers are enveloped; and their subsequent escape and union. A great portion of these events belong as much to the original tale, as to Tom Thumb.
There is, however, one character above mediocritythat of Dominique, the dingy guardian of Virginia. A fellow of his feeling and good humour must be a jewel in an accursed slave island, where men are goaded into rebellion, and punished because they rebel. His merriment may well
“ Make labour light, and teach e'en toil to please;". and we would rather hear him chant his characteristic song, “ When the moon shines o'er the deep,” than listen to the conventicle strains of those pious hypocrites who, while they tell the negro (and tell him truly) that he is the child of one great Parent of the universe, exhort him to endure with patience the lot of the beasts that perish!
“ Patience itself is meanness in a slave!”
Madame Vestris looked the character of Paul admirably: she did ample justice to the fine music, and was content with what the composer had already done, with. out attempting to do anything for the composer; she introduced no foreign ornament, no lengthened quaver, or affected shake. This piece deserves to be popular, did it offer no greater treat than Blanchard's Dominique: his performance was a happy mixture of feeling and mer. riment; he sang, capered, and kissed the dingy beauties, with true alacrity and fun. In this character, and in Mungo, in The Padlock, Blanchard is perfectly unique.