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Henriette Sontag


Memoir of the Countess De Rossi

W HETHER  in rapid memoir or in ponderous biography, the life-sketcher or the chronicler must always fain behold the object before him as a model endowed not only with surpassing moral and physical beauties, but with that individuality of genius, and that peculiar destiny, which separate the few from the crowd. To the readers remains the duty of acting as those did who were wont to attend the triumphs of Roman conquerors, and urge the deduction of their mistakes and misdeeds—or, as the "Satanic advocate" in the process of canonization in the Pope's court, show how much more of a sinner than of a saint was the mortal about to pass into the heaven of human invention. Although, thus, well aware of how much our trifling office here is prone to exaggeration, we feel that there is no fear of transgressing in the present case, and that the readers will rather feel how much below than above the truth we remain.

The Countess Rossi is as clearly fitted to be the heroine of a memoir of real life, as she is of being the heroine of a lyrical drama on the fictive scene. Those who will read this sketch will, we think, behold in her all the characteristics of a special and elevated nature—one marked amongst mankind, framed for its admiration and for its model. We have the striking attributes of a special nature manifest and effulgent even in infancy; we see them defying the obstacles of fortune, and constantly rising in power. We behold them in their utmost effulgence—first on the stage, and next in the highest regions of society, and, ultimately, tried by adversity. From beginning to end, the power and the effulgence remain ever the same, fitted for all positions: wherever it is placed, it continues unsullied and undiminished.

Having set forth our claims to the attention of those to whom we address ourselves, we shall now rapidly trace the outline of the singularly eventful career of Countess Rossi. The interest its moving incidents, so singularly varied, have always inspired, are now increased tenfold by new features, totally unparalleled in the history of the lyrical stage. To behold this distinguished lady return to the stage, after enjoying undisturbed for many years, and in the most exalted rank, the love and esteem of the greatest personages of Europe, is a truly singular and affecting event; but to behold her return, after this lapse of time, with all her powers not only unimpaired, but improved by taste, study, and observation, is an event without an example. If, to take the exact measure of this phenomenon by comparison, we turn to the very few who were her contemporaries on the stage, what do we behold? If asked how so extraordinary a fact happens to exist, those who have had the good fortune to know the Countess Rossi will readily explain it. The first reason and first cause are, that this lady possesses a remarkably well regulated mind—gentle in all things, ever resigned, and possessed of unruffled patience; and her feelings, controlled by the most virtuous sense of right, have never been agitated by those passions which most of all beset stages and courts, and are the most insidious and dangerous assailants of those who are the constant objects of adoration.

To these might be added other aiding causes, but of no little potency. For the sake of brevity, we shall only mention two: the first is, that the Countess Rossi's voice is a pure and perfect soprano, of the highest register, from the first settlement of her voices—it is "to the manner born." Thus she has never been compelled to superadd to her studies of vocal science those efforts by which most of the greatest vocalists have been obliged to transmute their contralto or mezzo soprano tones, to polish their guttural or husky tones, and—almost all of them—extend artificially their register. On the other hand, during her long secession from the stage, the love of musical art has always remained predominant, and its science been constantly cultivated, without the necessity of taxing her powers, without the exhausting exertions of other singers; whilst her style of singing is that of the high classical Italian school, the only one that nurses the voice, whilst it displays all its melodic power. Had not the Countess Rossi yielded up the German school—had she not resorted to the Italian school to modify her singing—as her great countryman Mozart did, to modify the form his inspirations assumed—her voice would no doubt have been injured, and she would have lost that marvellous power of overflowing richness of embellishment, requiring purity of tone, agility, and elegance, in which she is unquestionably unrivalled.

H ENRIETTE  S ONTAG  was born of a respectable family of artists, of limited means, at Coblentz, Kingdom of Prussia. The old saying of the poet, "nascitur, non fit," is singularly applicable to this great vocalist. The strong bent for music which pointed out her ultimate vocation, was observable as early as five years of age. At seven years of age, betwixt her exquisite beauty and her exquisite voice, she was known far and wide in her neighborhood. To gratify the nobility of the district, the authorities of the town, or their friendly neighbors, it was the practice of Henriette Sontag's mother to place her child on the table, and bid her sing.

A distinguished traveller, who afterwards beheld her in all the effulgence of her triumphs, relates having seen her sing in this manner the grand aria of "The Queen of Night," in the Zauberflöte —her arms hanging beside her, her eye following a fly on the window, or a butterfly sporting on the flowers without—her voice, so pure, so penetrating, and of angelic tone, flowing as unconsciously, as effortless, and as sportive as a limpid rill from the mountain side.

The circle of her fame spread gradually wider and wider, and the Impresarii  of Germany were not long in awakening to the importance of securing the assistance of the infant wonder. The consequence was, that at eleven years of age she appeared at Darmstadt, in a part written purposely for her, entitled, The Little Daughter of the Danube. In spite of her extraordinary success at Darmstadt, her wise and conscientious parents, knowing the fate of infant prodigies when their natural powers are allowed an untutored growth under the artificial warmth of injudicious admiration and the heat of theatres, withdrew the young prima donna  from the first scene of her successes, and conveyed her to a very distant spot, the Conservatoire of Prague.

At the Conservatoire of Prague, the little maiden and her relatives  did not cease to be tempted by managers or Impresarii. First attracted by her beauty, they were soon astonished by her aptitude. She successively won the prize of every class of this great school of music, until she earned the highest position; and, placed at the head of the school, she became one of the marvels of the city.

Scarce three years had elapsed since her matriculation at the Conservatoire, and she had hardly attained the age of fourteen, when she saved the fortunes of that great Imperial Opera of Prague, associated with so many glorious memories of music, and which would be immortalized by the fact alone of having been the stage where the Clemenza di Tito  and the Marriage of Figaro  were first produced by Mozart. The favorite prima donna  of this noble theatre was suddenly taken ill, and so seriously, that there was little hope left of her reappearing for some time. The manager, in despair, and at a loss which way to turn, could think of no other resource to retain his audiences than the appearance of the young prodigy of the Conservatoire—little Henriette Sontag. Such was her proficiency in her art, that her parents no longer saw the same danger in allowing their offspring to tread the fictive scene.

If nothing were wanting in courage, natural gifts of voice, and intellectual power on the part of the child, as regards the height of her person there was a mancamento  of several inches. As the French proverb says, "le temps corrige cela ;" but, in the meantime, the stage-manager, a learned Hellenist, was not oblivious of the means by which the Greeks gave altitudes to their scenic heroes and heroines, and the little prima donna, to whom was assigned for her début  the part of the heroine in a translation of the favorite French opera, Jean de Paris, was supplied with enormous cork heels. There was a time, at the court of Louis XV., when an inch and a half of red heel was the distinctive characteristic of a marquis, or of a lady of sufficient quality to be allowed to sit in the presence of royalty. On the occasion of the début  of Henriette Sontag, four inches of vermillion-colored cork foreshadowed the rank of the little lady, destined to become one of the most absolute mimic queens of the lyrical world, and afterwards a real and much respected countess. When the singer who enacted  the pompous seneschal in the opera of Jean de Paris  came forward, and announced, "It is no less a personage than the Princess of Navarre whose arrival I announce!" the applause and laughter were universal. When the little prodigy appeared on her cork pedestal, the house was filled with cheers and acclamations. As the business of the stage proceeded, the auditors found that there was no longer any indulgence necessary on the score of age, but that there were claims on their admiration for a voice which, for its purity, its peculiar flute-like tone, and its agility, has never been surpassed. The celebrated tenor, Gerstener, who enacted Jean de Paris, that night sang better than ever, finding that he had to cope with the attraction of a new melodic power. Many nights successively did she thus sing the Princess of Navarre with increasing success to crowded houses. Her next part was one far more difficult—that of the heroine in Paer's fine opera, Sargin.

The capital of Bohemia was not destined long to retain its chief ornament. Long before the conclusion of the season, the Imperial Court had heard of her extraordinary success, and Henriette Sontag was summoned to Vienna, where she appeared, the very next season, at the German Opera.

In our times we have "Kings of Railways" and "Colossuses of Roads," indebted to good luck for their success. At the time Henriette Sontag debutted  at Vienna there existed in Italy also millionaire Impresarii, only indebted for pre-eminence to the favors of chance. That curious original, Barbaja, the lessee at the same time of the largest German and Italian Theatres, was born under the luckiest of stars. Since his day, his successors in Italy, having found talent becoming daily rarer, have watched every young talent as it rose, taken possession of it, and worked them until the death of their voices, before they had a chance of the maturation of their powers, in singing operas of composers, who strive to conceal their sterility under noise and exaggerations both dramatic and instrumental. In our days, to be a successful lessee, you must be possessed of indefatigable genius, as well as industry; Barbaja, on the contrary, found musical genius of all kinds at his command to speculate upon. Not only were there Catalanis, Pastas, Malibrans, Garcias, Donzellis, Rubinis, Lablaches, &c., in ample number, but all the operas that Paër, Winter, Paesiello, Cimarosa, and Mozart had written, were  fresh in the lyrical répertoire, and composers of equal merit were living, and could be monopolized for money. In the Villa Barbaja, the palace the fortunate impresario  had built for himself on the Possilipo, at Naples, you may, half way up the hill, on the third story, see the room where, in the dog-days, Rossini wrote his Otello, standing at a desk, in the costume of terrestrial paradise, with a Chucharro boy fanning him behind with the back torn from a large music-book. When managers had such slaves responding to their behests, like the genius to the lamp of Aladdin, they might easily live and rule like sultans, with a Mahomet's paradise upon earth. Thus it was with Barbaja. With the assistance of the great alchymist Rossini, who turned so readily "notes into gold," he thought he knew and mostly had secured all the talent available to his theatre that existed in Europe. In those days not only a northern cantatrice  was not dreamt of, but it was thought that the South alone could produce a great singer for the Italian lyrical stage.

When he arrived at Vienna, such was, however, the report of the fame of young Sontag, that the great sybarite of the day condescended at last to visit the German opera, even at the sacrifice of having his ears, accustomed to the melodious "lingua Toscana," torn by the guttural discordance of the Teutonic tongue. On hearing Henriette Sontag sing, Barbaja was overcome with astonishment. To this feeling succeeded dismay, when, having immediately applied to her parents, he found in them a polite but most unquestionable abhorrence for the Italian stage, which they were afraid would lead their daughter to the land of moral laxity, of Cicisbei  and Patiti, of

"Pasteboard triumph, and the cavalcade,
Processions formed for piety and love,
A mistress and a saint in every grove."

In vain he tempted them with an El Dorado  in perspective—the conscientious Germans would not concede, at first, a single iota of his wishes. The world, to whom she has imparted so much pure enjoyment,—and, fortunately, will now impart so much more in time to come—was near never hearing the great vocalist sing in an euphonious language, in that which made her fame universal, and led her to visit England and France.

At last, however, after repeated efforts, some concession was made, although Barbaja's fate was like that of the hero of the classical poet—the gods vouchsafed but half his prayer. Henriette Sontag was allowed to appear at the Italian Opera at Vienna. But she alone, of all the great singers of those days, never visited Italy. Many an evening the good-natured Neapolitan Impresario, a still greater epicure in gastronomy than in music, after enjoying a dinner such as Lucullus was wont to degustate nearly on the same spot, as he walked on his Palace terrace and looked down across the inlet to San Carlo, would grow moody when he thought of what he lost by the rooted aversion of Sontag's parents; and then he would anathematize the Maledetti Tedeschi, the born enemies of his country, with an energy, if not with a poetry, worthy of the patriotic Filicaja —for they, like all the other invaders of Italy, "never gave her anything but blows and slavery, and always took away everything they could, not leaving even an Iron Crown, or a funeral urn to preserve the ashes of past greatness."

The important change for the musical world at large was, however, effected. The next season Henriette Sontag was engaged to sing in Italian at Vienna, and removed to the Carinthia, having for her colleagues vocalists of such a calibre, that one of them, "il buon Rubini," has never been surpassed; whilst all those who have enjoyed the talents of the other, Lablache, feel that not only he has never been, but cannot imagine that he ever will be equalled.

Amongst the company at the Carinthia, there was another exquisite artist, who was destined, as a model of style, to exert a great influence on the career of Sontag, who has now risen so much higher in the world's estimation than her fair predecessor has ever attained, eminent as she was. As soon as the young Sontag, the most conscientious of artists (no slight portion of her success being due to her severity of judgment on herself), had heard Madame Fodor, a new light broke upon her; with tears in her eyes she threw her arms round her mother's neck, conjured her to take her home, and give her a piano. Her wish accomplished, she sat at her piano, working night and day at improving herself, and never leaving her home but when there was a rehearsal for Fodor, when she would hide herself in a corner of the house, and her ears  would drink up with enthusiasm every note that dropped from the great prima donna, who has left a memory still enduring with the old habitués  of Her Majesty's Theatre. Madame Fodor, on the other hand, hearing the young inexperienced prima donna  sing for the first time, exclaimed, "Had I her voice, I should hold the whole world at my feet!"

The Prussian dilettanti  employed every means to bring Henriette Sontag to their capital. At the end of the Italian Opera season at Vienna, she was persuaded to come to Berlin, to support by her attraction the Kœnigstadt Theatre, just opened. There she was joined by distinguished German lyrists, such as Jäger, Wächter, Sager, and Spitzeder. She was obliged to sing the translations of the operas of Rossini and of the French répertoire, then all the fashion at Berlin. Her success, however, was immense. Every seat in the house was taken, in anticipation, long before the days of performance; and we remember well, being there at the time, that the foreigners of rank who arrived in Berlin, finding it impossible to purchase a seat at any price, were obliged to apply to Count de Bruhl, the minister of the "Menus plaisirs du roi," to obtain an obscure seat at the back of the Court, or of the diplomatic box.

M. de Talleyrand used to boast, as one of the brightest diplomatic tricks of his tricksy career, that in the settlement of limits of respective dominions at the Congress of Vienna, he had procured that Ferney should be included in the area of France, which made Voltaire a Frenchman post mortem. On the same principle, the Prussians having recently secured, at the same Congress, the forced allegiance of Sontag's birth-place, Coblentz, added to the admiration which she commanded wherever she went, a feeling of pride at her being their countrywoman. Hence their enthusiasm knew no bounds.

The love as well as admiration excited by Mdlle. Sontag during her residence at Berlin, gave rise to many singular incidents. Not allowed to approach the object of their idolatry, her adorers had recourse to the most eccentric expedients to express their devotion. It is related that a young man of rank was so desperately enamored of her, as to resort to the romantic expedient of hiring himself as a servant in her family, to have the pleasure of constantly seeing  her; nor was the truth suspected by the object of his adoration, or any one else, until the gentleman's own relations discovered him, and removed him from the vicinity of the attraction.

That wise and excellent monarch, the late King of Prussia, heartily joined in the enthusiasm of his subjects; and that he entertained as much esteem as admiration for Madlle. Sontag will be proved in the most signal manner by a circumstance we shall have presently to relate.

Whilst at the Berlin theatre, overtures were made to Mdlle. Sontag from the Italian Opera in Paris—then belonging to the Crown, and under the control of Vicomte Sosthene de la Rochefoucault, who for many years ruled, under the Restoration, the theatres of France, and endeavored, with rather dubious success, to apply the "Maxims" of his witty ancestor to the government of stage affairs. As M. Sosthene had for negotiator in this treaty the great Rossini, who had made Mdlle. Sontag's acquaintance in Vienna, his wishes, amongst the offers made from all quarters, prevailed. Madlle. Sontag made her first appearance in Paris at the beginning of the season. She arrived in Paris at the close of the year 1827, after a triumphal "Progress" through Holland and the Rhenane provinces, in which she gathered abundantly both those crowns which are supposed always to be made of laurel, as well as those which bear the effigies of monarchs. Paris was then the centre of taste and the metropolis of art—the occupation of the whole population the enjoyment of pleasures or the ministering to its desires and caprices. Madlle. Sontag's voice and beauty produced a furore —each note produced a murmur or an acclamation. No feature of hers escaped a sonnet, from her eyebrow to her pretty foot. The ugliest women thought they became handsome by imitating her costume; and venders of articles of luxury and fancy goods found no easier way of getting rid of their wares than by stamping them with her name or with her supposed resemblance.

In this, her first engagement at Paris, she made her début  in Desdemona. She also performed with great success La Donna del Lago, Cenerentola, and other first characters in the first operas of the day. The Italian Opera season ended, she was eagerly engaged for the next season, and her support secured. She then  returned to her engagement at Berlin,—once more at the Kœnigstadt Theatre. Here she was destined to receive, in a very novel form, the greatest compliment she had as yet met with. The Berlinese, who justly deemed her the brightest living ornament of their capital, and considered her as a Prussian, and thus, for two reasons, their property, were indignant that she had left Berlin for Paris, and still more, that she had taken another engagement, and intended to leave them once more. When she appeared for the first time after her return, in the Italiana in Algieri, from all parts of the house there was an explosion of hisses and groans, interspersed with exclamations—"What a shame to leave us!" "Give up your engagement with the hateful French!" "Promise—swear you will remain with us!" &c., &c. The alarm of the manager and of the vocalists engaged in the Italiana  was boundless. The jealous husband of the libretto, the favored cicisbeo, even the erotic sultan and his janissaries fled from the theatre, whilst for twenty minutes the fair vocalist remained alone on the stage, mute and immovable as the statue of some nymph in a garden abiding the pelting of a storm. Vain were the efforts of the audience:—

"Speret—sudet multum, frustraque laboret,"

they could extract no concession from the goddess of their idolatry; their courage to persecute her further failed them; and they determined to enjoy the present moment,—"advienne que pourra!" From that night unto the end of the season, the applause and enthusiasm of the audiences of the Kœnigstadt knew no bounds when the singer they had at first regaled with their fiercest sibillations was on the stage.

Madlle. Sontag returned to Paris for the season. The Italian Opera was then fallen under the rule of M. Laurent. There she found Malibran in the plenitude of her fame and glory. The theatrical gossips, and the Parisian gobemouches, either hoped or expected—all of them predicted—that a war was about to arise betwixt the two stars now forced to move in the same orbit—a war which would eclipse the encounters of Juno and Venus in the days of Paris and the siege of Troy. For once the Greeks of Paris, and the Trojans of the Salle Favart, were disappointed. It  is little to be doubted that the gentle and affectionate nature of Madlle. Sontag, and the generosity which characterized at all times the impetuous Malibran, would, under any circumstances, have united the two great vocalists—and of this supposition the more than probability is established by the fact that all other cantatrici, of equal pretensions, have never failed to be severed by jealousy the moment they have met on the same stage. But long before Madlle. Sontag's arrival in Paris the second time, she had become acquainted with Malibran. Those amongst our readers who have lived in Paris when it was a centre of society, instead of a centre of revolution, cannot fail to have heard, at least, of the Countess Merlin. This Havanese lady, a gifted practical dilettante, with Countess de Sparre (Madlle. Náldi) and her countryman Orfila (no less distinguished as a vocalist than as Dean of the Faculty of Medicine of Paris, and the greatest of toxicologists), were wont to give concerts which were thronged by all the Melomanes  of the French capital. Madame Merlin thus naturally became the "arbiter elegantiarum " of Paris, at least as far as regarded musical taste, and her house the rendezvous of all who aspired to fame on the lyrical stage. Here Madlle. Sontag was frequently invited on her first arrival in Paris. On one occasion, the Countess introduced to her a fair Spaniard, a protégé of hers just arrived from New York. This artist, who had spent some years performing in the inglorious theatres of the New World, was afterwards the celebrated Malibran. Madame Merlin begged Madlle. Sontag to encourage her friend, who, she assured her, had the greatest gifts of voice, by singing with her the duet in Tancredi. Madlle. Sontag cheerfully consented. So astonished, delighted, and overcome were the two fair vocalists at their respective talents, that at the close of the duet, they threw themselves into one another's arms, and from that day began their friendship.

Still the theatrical scandal-mongers did not hesitate for a moment to declare that the two queens of the lyrical stage were devoured by mutual envy and jealousy, and they thought there could not be a doubt of it, from a circumstance which occurred the night Madlle. Sontag sang the Barbière  for the first time since her return. Rossini came in the interval betwixt the acts to tell the Rosina of the night, at that moment surrounded by a crowd of  admirers, that he had left Malibran in tears in her box, in despair at ever attaining such a purity of tone and such a perfection of execution as she had displayed. This was a sincere tribute of admiration, and not of envy, on the part of that lamented vocalist; whose real character, being impressed with the eccentricity which too often besets genius, few could understand, and whose warmth of heart and imagination made her too often the victim of cold-blooded worldliness.

The truth is, that on her arrival in Paris, Malibran received her fair colleague with open arms. Their meeting produced friendly emulation, instead of hostile pique and rivalry, and the two incomparable singers agreed to perform, in turn, the same operas. Thus did they enact, on alternate nights, Desdemona, Rosina, Cenerentola, &c., whilst they performed together such operas as Tancredi, &c. This was the most glorious—the culminating epoch of the Italiens  in Paris. On one occasion, Don Giovanni  was given; Madlle. Sontag performing Donna Anna (perhaps the greatest of her triumphs); Malibran, Zerlina; and Heinfetter, Elvira. On this, one of the coldest nights on record, amongst the most stirring, elbowing their way from without, in the rush of the eager aspirants to seats in the house, were observed at the same time, Rossini, Cherubini, Paër, Meyerbeer, and Auber! Well might the journals of the day observe, that no better criterion was needed of the merits of the performers. No doubt each great maestro  went there revolving in his mind how such voices might be turned to account in his next composition; for then even the authors of Masaniello  and the Philtre, of Il Crociato  and Robert le Diable, had not adopted that style of overwrought harmony, of clamorous choral, and of deafening instrumental combination, from which all pure voices of such quality shrink—despairing to find melodic phrases to be uttered without contention with ophicleides and double-drum.

Such was the sisterly love and confidence which existed betwixt the two marvellous vocalists, then engaged at the Italiens, and which is so powerfully recorded in the letters of the lamented Malibran, that the latter was, for a time, in 1828, the only depositary of Sontag's secret, that amongst the crowd of sighing and adoring swains who followed her respectfully at a distance, tendering their offers  of marriage, there was one on whom she had bestowed her heart, and was about to bestow her hand.

The fortunate object of Madlle. Sontag's choice—and time has proved how well-founded was her judgment—was a member of the diplomatic body then accredited at the Court of the Tuileries. Count de Rossi, although then a very young man, was already, at that critical period of political affairs, Conseiller d'Ambassade  of the Sardinian mission—a sufficient proof of his mental powers. He had the good looks, the elegant manners, the tastes, and the gifts of conversation which distinguish the travelled man and the real homme de qualité—qualities which no adversity can diminish. Fearing the prejudices of his noble relatives and of his royal master, until they could be assuaged, it was determined to conceal the wedding for the time being. It consequently was solemnized with all due form, but in secret, with only two or three intimate friends as witnesses.

A highly interesting circumstance attended this marriage—one perhaps unparalleled.

The late kind-hearted King of Prussia, apprised of the intended marriage, was desirous on the one hand to show his estimation of his fair subject, and on the other to prepare for the prejudices and obstacles this marriage would meet with on the part of the Sardinian Cabinet. Unsolicited, he spontaneously bestowed on Madlle. Sontag, before her marriage, a Patent of Nobility, with every necessary details of Coat of Arms, &c., together with a title, and the name of De Launstein. So singular a circumstance cannot be contemplated without the deepest interest. It appears to us to do as much credit to the feelings of the lamented Sovereign, as it did honor to the character of Madlle. Sontag.

But now the time was arrived when the Countess de Rossi must leave Paris once more. The regret was universal; by this time she had endeared herself to every one that approached her.

If at Paris Madlle. Sontag was admired by the public at large for her talents and her beauty, her gentle and amiable character and her generosity in private life gained her the esteem of all circles of society. One trait, amongst many, may be cited, which adds glory to her character as a woman as well as an artist.

The parents of Madlle. Sontag were, as we have stated, artists, with very limited means. This she never forgot; and her short experience of adversity in her earliest years was sufficient to awaken every sentiment of charity. She was known by all the exiled Germans whom adversity had driven from their native land to seek charity and sympathy in France. One cold night, on leaving the theatre, after a performance of Don Giovanni, Donna Anna, still full of emotion, observed on the step of a door, as she passed, three young girls near their mother, singing lieders  of their Fatherland. Madlle. Sontag recognised the poor mother, who was weeping: she was scarcely thirty years old. She recollected that she had seen her at the theatre at Darmstadt, when she herself had been taken there in the arms of her parents. The Cantatrice  approached the group with trembling steps, and in a voice deeply moved by emotion, asked the mother where she lived—procured an answer—dropped a gold coin—hurried to her carriage, and drove off.

On the same evening, a servant, attired in splendid livery, knocked at the door of a garret of a house in the Fauxbourg du Temple. "Who is there?" was asked by a voice, weakened by poverty and want. "A friend, who brings you good news," was the immediate reply. The door opened. "Here is a letter which I have been requested to deliver to you," said the lacquey. "Read it." The letter was thus couched:—

"On presenting yourself to-morrow at No. 17 Chaussée d'Antin, at Mr. M. B., the banker, you will find a sum of three thousand francs, which I beg you to accept. Return to Darmstadt with your three daughters, whose education I will look after."

"Pray tell me the name of the saviour of myself and children?" "I cannot," was the reply of the messenger; "at Darmstadt only will it be known to you."

The beggar dressed her children in their best attire, and the following morning took the road to Germany. For seven years she regularly received a pension, which enabled her to give her daughters a good education. One of them entered the Conservatoire of Berlin, and has now become one of the most brilliant stars of the German stage. Her name we of course must refrain from mentioning. Only within the last two years has the poor wanderer of  those days discovered the secret author of a deed of such noble charity.

This is but one instance of the many acts of signal charity of the Countess Rossi recorded by the German writers, from whom we have borrowed largely for the uses of this trifling sketch.

It will now be asked, what had the Direction of Her Majesty's Theatre in London been doing during the several years that the great capitals of the Continent had been enjoying the marvellous gifts of Countess Rossi? The fact is, that as regards distant things, no great foresight or vigilance could be expected from those who formerly directed this institution. The engagement of Madlle. Sontag was too far-fetched an effort: whilst she was at Vienna or Berlin, affairs at home absorbing too much of the time and attention of the unfortunate lessee for the time being. Her Majesty's Theatre—specially established by royalty, and the chief amusement of the successive sovereigns and their illustrious guests—liberally supported by the greatest aristocracy in the world—for thirty years presented the most disorderly and disgraceful aspect which ever characterized any theatre of such pretensions. Instead of being governed by general principles of equity, and with a view to general results, it was alternately subjected to the caprice of a coterie, or to the passions of an artist. The stage was looked upon as a resort of gallantry, enlivened by the envies, jealousies, and battles of the prima donna ; and the audience part of the theatre, where the greatest personages of the land habitually appeared, headed by Royalty itself, was frequently turned into a bear-garden, for uncouth exhibitions of temper and unseemly rows. Needless to add what was the fate of the successive lessees—at one moment compelled to live under the foot of a favorite dancer, at another to be at the beck and call of an imperious prima donna ; to pay them whatever they asked, and sacrifice to them whoever or whatever they pleased—"Stet pro ratione voluntas!" was ever the order of the day. Not astonishing, that whoever took the helm—a great and liberal nobleman, like the Earl of Middlesex and other personages, whose mishaps Horace Walpole has so wittily portrayed—a sublime composer, like Handel—a rich banker, like Chambers—a librarian—an Italian impresario, or a clever actor—let the theatre be governed by a single individual, or by a committee —ruin was sure to ensue. To seek a prima donna  of German extraction at Berlin, might, at some moment, when an Italian "assolutissima " was reigning, have been considered as high treason, and exposed the perpetrator to the highest punishment her admirers could inflict. However, when Madlle. Sontag came to the Italiens  in Paris, the lessee might venture, without risk of such dire punishment, to wish to vary and increase the amusement of the public and his own receipts. Mr. Ebers, who has recorded with unanswerable data the absurd caprices and consequent losses of which, under this system, he was for seven years the victim, was then the lessee of Her Majesty's Theatre. Mr. Ebers was naturally anxious to make an engagement with a lady, the renown of whose talents and beauty was the constant theme of conversation amongst the travelled dilettanti. He wrote to her, and offered her an immense sum, but she felt compelled to decline, owing to her engagements on the continent.

Of course, when it was ascertained that Madlle. Sontag could not come, the subscribers, and the public generally, were filled with a headlong desire to behold her. On the principle of omne ignotum pro magnifico, their imaginations were excited in the extreme; for, the "children of a larger growth," like their juniors in petticoats, never cry violently but after what is taken from them, or is beyond their reach. Well we remember how every one inveighed against the want of liberality, or of diplomacy, of the unfortunate lessee—who, after all, had only committed one error, that of allowing the negotiation to be known before he was certain it would succeed. He was, consequently, soon compelled to make another appeal to Madlle. Sontag, and offer that, if she would come, he would pay indemnity for her engagement. But Madlle. Sontag indignantly repudiated the idea of breaking any contract accepted by her.

The successors of Mr. Ebers, Laurent and Laporte, were destined to reap the benefit of these applications. The queens of the lyrical stage, like the heroes and heroines of Shakespeare, come on with tenfold effect when alarums and flourishes are previously sounded. These negotiations had awakened and raised the expectations of the whole musical world of the English metropolis, and, for once, their imaginations were not destined in any respect to be disappointed in the contemplation of the reality. The Duke  of Devonshire, for so many years the liberal and tasteful patron of every kind of art, was the first to make society enjoy the talents of the wonderful artist.

Her début  took place at a concert at Devonshire-house, in the Easter week. Such was her reputation, not only for musical genius, but for beauty, elegance, and fascination of every kind, that the crowds of eager spectators in the streets equalled the throng of nobility, rank, and fashion under the roof of the great dilettante  and patron of art, the Duke of Devonshire. A few days afterwards, she made her first appearance at her Majesty's Theatre, when she more than realized the high expectations which had been raised. Most of the great prime donne  of our times have been compelled, in soprano parts, to compensate by their genius and science for the want of compass in their voices—as, for example, in the case of Pasta, whose natural voice was a rugged mezzo-soprano; and of Malibran, who was a real contralto. In Madame Sontag, the public found a real soprano, "to the manner born," enabling her to perform with certainty of tone, and with exquisite ease, purity, and delicacy, the most intricate passages and original embellishments, whether in full tone or mezzo voce. When she first appeared in Rosina, she revelled and luxuriated in roulades, arpeggios, and fanciful divisions; and, subsequently, in Donna Anna, she proved that she could sing in the chastest classical style, and produce the same effect by pure sentiment and expression, as she had done before by fioriture and staccato passages.

Any further account of the performances of Madlle. Sontag at this period would be supererogatory, that portion of her career being known to our readers either from personal observation or from report. She found herself again with Malibran, and we quote the following anecdote to give another proof of the good understanding which prevailed between Madame de Rossi and Malibran. One day Malibran accidentally met the great tenor, Donzelli, and from his countenance she guessed he was in huge dudgeon at some theatrical affair. "What is the matter with you?" said Malibran. "It is near the end of the season," answered the great tenor, "and I have not been able to fix on an attractive opera for my benefit." "Have you thought of nothing?" "Yes." "Well, what is it?" "I had  thought of the Matrimonio, but Pisaroni says she is quite ugly enough without playing Fidalma; and then you would not be included in the cast, and I don't know what opera to choose in which you would not have the second part to Madlle. Sontag's first—that would not please you, and I'm in despair." "Well," said Malibran, "to please you, and to show you I would play any part with dear Sontag, I'll play Fidalma." "What, old Fidalma? You are joking!" "No, I'm not; and to prove that I'm in earnest, announce it this very day." Donzelli, scarce believing his own good luck, announced the opera. Malibran, dressed in most exquisite caricature, was admirable in this part, and to her we owe the subsequent appearance of great prime donne  in the part. The only performer beneath expectation in this opera was the great tenor himself; accustomed to parts of sublime energy, he roared like a sucking dove.

From England the Countess Rossi went to Prussia. After having sung the usual time at Berlin, she repaired to Warsaw. In the Polish capital she was overtaken by a revolution—source of so many sanguinary conflicts in that unfortunate kingdom. However, this convulsion, so unfortunate for others, only led Madame de Rossi to new and increased triumphs. She removed to St. Petersburg; and there her singing produced unparalleled effect and the most lasting impression. The Emperor and Empress, from that moment, conceived for her the greatest partiality, and she was the object of even more than that delicate, as well as generous liberality, for which the court of the Czar is so justly renowned.

In the mean time, the Count de Rossi had been compelled to separate momentarily from his lady. The aspect of affairs in Belgium demanded that a young and active diplomatist should immediately be dispatched to the court of the King of the Netherlands. The Sardinian Cabinet chose Count Rossi for this office, and he received orders in 1829 immediately to repair to Brussels. There he was still in 1830, when the revolution broke out—in truly lyrical style—after a performance of Masaniello ! From Brussels, like the other members of the diplomatic body accredited at this Court, he went to the Hague, the residence of the King of Holland, still considered as the legitimate King of Belgium as well as Holland, until Talleyrand and his confederates in the Hollando-Belgian Conference  said, like the quack doctor in Molière, "nous avons changé tout celà."

Here began a new phase in the life of the Countess Rossi. The King of Sardinia, cognizant of all the amiable qualities, as well as virtues, which fitted the great vocalist for the most exalted sphere of society, at last authorized the Count Rossi openly to announce his marriage. Madame de Rossi, at St. Petersburg, bid adieu to the stage: and, arriving at the Hague, the Count Rossi presented her to the whole diplomatic body assembled and to the Court. If there had existed the slightest hesitation as to the cordiality with which so bright a character should be received, the first sight, and the first moments spent with Madame de Rossi convinced the most stilted and hypercritical personages that, in her, they beheld one destined to adorn every position in life in which she might be placed, and who, fortunately for them, was about to bring them, whether in their official réunions, or in the private intimacy of life, a great accession of pleasure. Madame de Rossi dropped as naturally into her position, amidst the votaries of court and politics, as she had done into her parts on the stage, with this difference, that here nothing was studied, not even the words she uttered, but she found herself in the natural element of one whose mind and tastes were plainly created for the enjoyment of everything that is tasteful, refined, and truthful. If her reception at first was most kindly courteous, in a very short time it was friendly in the extreme, and she became the idol of the society of the Hague. Nothing could exceed the delight with which the young Countess dropped into the calm mode of life of the small town of the Hague, far removed from the contentions and excitement of operatic life, but also from the turmoils of politics, and the agitations of the great capitals of Europe. Unlike so many other denizens of the stage, in her privacy there never was observed in the manners of Madame de Rossi the slightest trace of her habitual avocations. At the Hague, whether in the intercourse of the courtly personages, or in the calm enjoyment of beautiful scenery and rural diversions, no thought but of the present appeared ever to intrude upon the memory of one, since her earliest years, accustomed to sway the audiences of every capital, as if it were with the wand of an enchanter—the crowds alternately hushed to dead silence—a moment later excited  to the loudest and most enthusiastic applause. But from the moment that Madame de Rossi left the stage, up to the hour when she was compelled to return to it, she ever appeared, like Thomson's Patroness—only

——"fitted or to shine in Courts
With unaffected grace, or walk the plain
With innocence and meditation joined
In soft assemblage."

The Dutch, who dearly love their household gods, are devoted to their language and their country, and religiously cherish the thoughts and habits of their ancestors. Although liberal and cordial in other respects, they do not readily admit foreigners into their privacy. Many an alien, misunderstanding the reason of their exclusion from Dutch society, has left Holland in huge dudgeon, muttering, as Voltaire did, "Canards! Canaux! Canaille!" Under the influence of Madame de Rossi, all these barriers dissolved, and, alone, amongst the foreigners resident at the Hague, she was sought after by the Dutch ladies and their burly consorts, and, up to the hour of her departure, lived in their intimate native circle.

In 1835, the Sardinian cabinet, to reward Count Rossi for his good services, appointed him Envoy and Minister Plenipotentiary to the Confederation of the Rhine, at Frankfort. Here the reputation of Madame Rossi for beauty, goodness, and talent had preceded her. The great diplomatic functionaries at Frankfort hastened to celebrate her arrival with réunions, dinners, and balls. During her residence at Frankfort, her life glided away cheerfully and rapidly amidst general esteem and domestic happiness.

The only event which signalized her residence at Frankfort was a noble act of charity. The overflowing of the Danube had produced desolation at Pesth and Buda, and appeals had been made to all parts of Germany, and particularly to the rich town of Frankfort, the commercial as well as the political capital of the German confederation. Madame de Rossi, amongst other distinguished persons, was appealed to. She at once responded to the calls on her charity, and assembling all the amateur  musicians  and singers, so numerous in every German capital, she gave an oratorio with their assistance, at which she, of course, herself sung, in the cathedral, the Dom, at Frankfort. The receipts of this truly religious concert were even beyond all expectation in amount. The Prince Metternich addressed to the Countess Rossi an autograph letter, thanking her for this great act of charity to the Austrian emperor's subjects.

Whether the rumor was founded, we know not, but it may, perhaps, be remembered, that towards the end of 1837, it was reported in the newspapers that a coolness, arising from an accidental circumstance, had arisen betwixt the Czar and the King of Sardinia. However this may be, what is certain is, that that momentary cloud had blown over very shortly afterwards; for the Sardinian cabinet had resolved to send to St. Petersburg a diplomatic representative of a higher grade, and furnished with ampler means of discharging one of the most agreeable duties of diplomacy, and that which often contributes as much as negotiation towards a good understanding—namely, hospitality. The Sardinian cabinet deemed that the nomination of Count Rossi might be agreeable to the Czar; and that this opinion was well founded was immediately proved, for the Court of St. Petersburg being consulted, according to usage, the Emperor of Russia condescended to express himself in the most flattering terms both towards M. and Madame de Rossi. The Czar has always maintained, and, moreover, proved practically, his opinion, that the essence of the art of reigning, like that of the art of eloquence, consists in action; habitually with his Majesty, the deed immediately follows the word.

On the arrival of M. and Madame de Rossi at St. Petersburg, their reception on the part of the Emperor and Empress was marked by every circumstance which could be most gratifying to their feelings; and for three years that they continued to reside in the imperial capital, they enjoyed unalloyed happiness in a position of special favor.

Shortly after they arrived, that most amiable and august Princess, the Emperor's Consort, became very solicitous to avail herself of Madame de Rossi's admirable gifts at some concerts of sacred music, which her Majesty was desirous to give at the Winter  Palace, and likewise in some operatic performances, with the assistance of the amateurs and dilettanti  of her Court. Madame de Rossi was naturally most anxious to gratify the august lady, as much beloved as she is deeply respected by all, and to whom she bore special gratitude. But that the wife of his representative should never sing in public in any form, was the special injunction of the king of Sardinia, when he consented to the official acknowledgment of Madame de Rossi's marriage, and the latter did not even dare to apply on the subject to head-quarters. Count Nesselrode, the chancellor of the Russian empire, whose ruling occupations and predilections, apart from diplomacy, are the culture of music and that of flowers—the former with enthusiasm—undertook the treaty, and entered into the negotiation with as much zeal as if the question was the cession of a new province to the away of the Czar. The King of Sardinia was too much of a chevalier  not to feel he could refuse nothing to such a negotiator, when the question was to oblige so peerless a lady as the Empress. The whole Court was on the tip-toe of expectation—the delay had added fuel to the general eagerness. Led by Madame de Rossi, the performances at the Emperor's palace formed an epoch in the enjoyments of the Court. This may be easily accounted for. For here Madame de Rossi enacted chosen portions of operas, of which her reading is, in a mere dramatic point of view, the most deeply affecting. The more exalted the auditory, the more fully are its delicate traits understood. The conception is natural, at the same time as refined in the extreme. Not employing any of those outbursts, dramatic over-coloring, and jeux de ficelle, to which most of the lyrical actresses are addicted, there is a continuity and unity, a "oneness," in the elaboration of her parts, which renders the illusion complete, provided the spectator's education be proportioned to the performance. A few years since, Italian singers, ever the models, were the most listless and inanimate of actors; now most of these vocalists, having undergone revolutionary and foreign influence, have gone to the other extreme—their predecessors acted like telegraphs—they, like windmills. Madame de Rossi gives the utmost value to the feeling of the part, without forgetting that the first duty is to give also utmost value to each note, and avoiding the gusty utterance, the spasmodic gesture, and  clap-traps "ad captandum vulgus," her marvellous tones are evolved in all their purity, beauty of modulation, and all-surpassing agility. The spectators do not suffer from the contemplation of those efforts, and that suffusion of the face, that straining of the nerves, blood-vessels, and muscles of the throat, which have degraded tragedy to melo-drama, and which would make one believe the audience had come to behold an execution, not a poetical performance. Such a style, we repeat, as that of Madame de Rossi, is essentially made for the enjoyment of select audiences, such as she found at St. Petersburg, within the precincts of the palace. The impression made was immense, and the effects lasting. To this cause is universally attributed the establishment on a noble scale of the Italian Opera at St. Petersburg, now become, in consequence of revolutions, which have destroyed elsewhere all art and refined industry, the chief resource of Italian artists in the winter. Such was the remembrance of the enjoyment, and such was the void left by the departure of Madame de Rossi, that Rubini was summoned to St. Petersburgh with a company of his own choosing, and at an outlay no other sovereign but the Czar could have borne.

The Russians of every class possess an ear for music; their performances in chorus, their extraordinary morçeaux d'ensemble  of single noted wind instruments, sufficiently prove this assertion. Amongst the higher classes art is a passion; and with such gifts as she possesses, Countess Rossi naturally became the object of the utmost enthusiastic admiration. In the summer season, when St. Petersburg is abandoned, parties were made at country seats, purposely to secure her presence. It was at a princely residence in the country, that the witty author of the popular "Letters from the Baltic," met Countess Rossi, charming and attractive as in the first burst of her popularity.

The following extracts from this gifted lady's account of her meeting with Madame de Rossi, during a villegiatara  at Revel, will be read with interest:—

"And now let me revert more particularly to one of the fairest ornaments, both in mind and person, which our party possesses, whose never-clouded name is such favorite property with the public as to justify me in naming it—I mean the Countess Rossi. The advantages which her peculiar experience and knowledge of  society have afforded her, added to the happiest naturel  that ever fell to human portion, render her exquisite voice and talent, both still in undiminished perfection, by no means her chief attraction in society. Madame Rossi could afford to lose her voice to-morrow, and would be equally sought. True to her nation, she has combined all the Liebenswürdigkeit  of a German with the witchery of every other land. Madame Rossi's biography is one of great interest and instruction, and it is to be hoped will one day appear before the public. It is not generally known that she was ennobled by the King of Prussia, under the title of Mademoiselle de Launstein; and since absolute will, it seems, can bestow the past as well as present and future, with seven Ahnerrn, or forefathers—'or eight,' said the Countess, laughing, 'but I can't quite remember;' and though never disowning the popular name of Sontag, yet, in respect for the donor, her visiting cards when she appears in Prussia are always printed née de Launstein. We were greatly privileged in the enjoyment of her rich and flexible notes in our private circle, and under her auspices an amateur concert was now proposed for the benefit of the poor in Revel.

"The rehearsals were merry meetings, and when our own bawling was over Madame Rossi went through her songs as scrupulously as the rest. I shall never forget the impression she excited one evening. We were all united in the great ball-room at the Governor's castle in Revel, which was partially illuminated for the occasion, and, having wound up our last noisy 'Firmament,' we all retreated to distant parts of the salle, leaving the Countess to rehearse the celebrated Scena from the Freischütz with the instrumental parts. She was seated in the midst, and completely hidden by the figures and desks around her. And now arose a strain of melody and expression which thrills every nerve to recall;—the interest and pathos creeping gradually on through every division of this most noble and passionate of songs,—the gloomy light,—the invisible songstress,—all combining to increase the effect, till the feeling became almost too intense to bear. And then the horn in the distance, and the husky voice of suppressed agony whilst doubt possessed her soul, chilled the blood in our veins, and her final burst, 'Er ist's, Er ist's,' was one of agony to her audience. Tears, real tears, ran  down cheeks, both fair and rough, who knew not and cared not that they were there; and not until the excitement had subsided did I feel that my wrist had been clenched in so convulsive a grasp by my neighbor as to retain marks long after the siren had ceased. I have heard Schröder and Malibran, both grand and true in this composition, but neither searched the depths of its passionate tones, and with it the hearts of the audience, so completely as the matchless Madame Rossi."

Three years thus happily spent, in 1842, Count Rossi obtained leave of absence to visit his family, then residing at Vienna, and the Countess accompanied her husband. Those who visited Vienna before the late revolution, cannot forget the state of society which prevailed in the Austrian capital, the chief abode of taste and pleasure in that quarter of the globe. The circles of society were defined as rigorously and irrevocably as the boundaries of the little principalities on a German map, and with this difference that there was no debatable land. Amidst the nobility itself resident at Vienna, there was an exclusive circle formed, whose exclusiveness was two-fold, being in the ratio not only of rank, but of fashion. This circle, consisting of those who were once the great feudal lords of the overgrown empire, of the mediatized princes, of the nobles who had the highest rank and the greatest power, with a sprinkling of those who had the greatest talent to amuse society—there was formed a crême de la crême —a social oligarchy of exclusiveness, without example in any other capital. Over this Olympus of gods and demi-gods, the Prince Metternich, the greatest diplomatist of the age of Napoleon, and a functionary with all the reality, although without the title of imperial rule, together with his handsome and witty consort, ruled supreme. The frost-work, which excluded so many persons of the highest pretensions, whether travellers or residents, at once dissolved under the gentle influence of Madame de Rossi, as soon as she arrived in Vienna. In the sanctuary of princes and princesses, in the innermost penetralia  of the most mysterious rites of fashion, Madame de Rossi spent the time of her short residence in Vienna, delighting those assemblies she visited by occasional snatches of song, and giving matinées musicales  with amateurs, which were thronged by the highest personages. By her amiability, her  talents, and virtues, she laid at Vienna the foundation of more than one enduring friendship.

Prussia having become the punctum saliens  of diplomacy in the Northern world, the Sardinian Cabinet removed Count Rossi, as its representative, to Berlin, in 1843. At this dilettante  Court, where she was considered in the light of a countrywoman, and one of the boasts of the "Faderland," and in that capital, where, a few years before, she had exacted so often unbounded enthusiasm, Madame de Rossi was received with the warmest welcome. The Berlinese contemplated her noble bearing in her new position with the deepest interest.

From the Court she experienced the highest favor. The present King of Prussia is a great lover of music. It is true that, like almost every German melomane  of the present day, he mistakes entirely the natural boundaries which essentially separate and distinguish from each other the different species of music; he places on the stage music only fitted for cathedrals, where religious fervor upholds and vivifies the ponderous form of massive harmony; and he does not discern that dramatic lyrical music should speak directly to the feelings through the words, the inspiration always melodical, the ruling themes and dramatic objects ever distinct, and not overlaid by science nor drowned by noise, and thus adapted to the enjoyment of the mass of educated men, and not made alone for the few adepts and pedantic lovers of abstruse lore. Still is the Prussian monarch a devoted lover of music; and in his répertoire  he occasionally admits the older composers, those whose strains, like Mozart's and Glück's, required no reasoning, no scientific study, to be felt, but were at once comprehended, and charmed the ear and touched the heart. In the execution of these works, in the private circle of the King and Queen, Madame de Rossi was an immense acquisition. Happy were those who could obtain an entrance into the royal precincts when the Iphigénie en Aulide  of Glück was sung. Nothing can exceed the effect of the noble strains of Piccini's conqueror when interpreted by our great vocalist.

In Berlin, the home of the Countess Rossi was habitually the resort of every personage exalted in rank, as well as of the famosi  of science, art, and literature, such as Humboldt, Mendelssohn, Meyerbeer, &c. The Princess of Prussia, who holds so distinguished a position, by her tastes and her virtues, amongst the princesses of the Continent, honored Madame de Rossi with the most affectionate regard, whilst that illustrious melomane  and excellent prince, the Grand Duke of Mecklenburgh Strelitz, finding so much goodness united with so much talent, treated her almost as a daughter—the Count and Countess passing three months every season at Strelitz.

No traveller distinguished by rank, or illustrious in art or literature, passed through the Prussian capital, without visiting the salons  of the Countess Rossi.

The King of Bavaria, who had heard so much reported of the talents and virtues of Madame de Rossi, visited Berlin in 1846. To gratify his desire to behold and hear her, the Princess of Prussia assembled at her house a réunion  of the élite  of society, and specially invited Madame de Rossi. The King felt deeply the charm of her looks, her manners, and conversation, whilst her singing wound him up to poetical enthusiasm. Under its effect, he wrote the following stanzas, which created an immense sensation at the time. They possess, apart their object, the intrinsic attraction of the highest poetry; but, unfortunately, the language is scarcely translatable, and still less can we do justice in prose to the peculiar German spirit with which the poem is fraught:—

Hoch hat dich der Herr gesegnet,
Gab dir des Gesanges Macht!
Glücklich welcher dir begegnet
In des Zweifels banger Nacht.
Deiner Stimme Silber Laute
Treffen Süss des Hörers Ohr
Dem, der ihnen sich vertraute
Offnest du des Himmels Thor.
Ans der Cherubinen Chöre
Nahmst, du Hohe, deinen Sang;
Seinen Engel Giaubut zu hören
Jeder wohl zu dem er drang.

Aus der reinsten Seele Tiefe
Tönt ein solches Lied allein;
Ist's als wenn der Herr uns riefe
Heilig so wie Er  zu Seyn.
Wenn auch einst dein Lied verklungen
Bleibt sein Segen ewig doch,
Da's in uns den Feind bezwungen
Auferlegt der Liebe Joch.
Wenn ins Reich der Harmonien
Holde, du zurükgekehrt
Wenn der Kraft die dir verliehen
Keinen Erdenschranke wehrt.
Dann wirst in den Engel Schaaren
Singen du an Gottes Thron;
Selig wirst du es erfahren,
Was des Sängers höchster Lohn.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
High was the boon of Heaven, when he gave thee
the mastery of Song. Happy is he that hears it
and ascends to its source in the dreadful Night of Doubts.
For the Argentine sounds of thy voice softly stealing
on the hearer's senses, to him that confides
in them open the portals of Heaven.
Of the choirs sublime of the Cherubim
thou hast borrowed thy strains;
and as he listens, each auditor thinks
it is the voice of his Guardian Angel that speaks.

Only from the depth of the purest
of hearts can such tones arise;
it is as if Heaven summoned
us to partake of its own thoughts.
If some day your voice resound no more,
the blessing will be resumed; and, wrapped in eternity,
it will have destroyed in us the enemy,
and we will remain subject to a power of love and charity.
For through thy beautiful lips Heaven speaks to its children,
and thy voice brings us news from those realms above,
which are the asylum of all.
When thou shalt have returned to the Kingdom of Harmonies,
and no mortal coil shall restrain thy power;
then, amidst the angelic choir, thou shalt sing to the throne supreme,
and blessed! thou shalt receive the highest reward of terrestrial singer!

We have traced here but very imperfectly what we have observed ourselves, heard from travellers, or collected from the many journals and reviews of Germany. What we have recorded is but a very small portion of the sum of constant happiness, of constant triumph, which attended Madame de Rossi since she left the theatrical career. But at last came the fatal year 1848, when a political eruption, unprecedented for magnitude and extent, fell upon the whole fabric of human happiness on the Continent, as unforeseen and as destructive as the volcanic outburst which, in a past age, buried Pompeii. Madame de Rossi's fortune, when the revolution broke out at Berlin, was placed partly with bankers, partly in commercial securities; commerce ceased, public credit was shaken, and private credit lost, and with the latter the fortune of Madame de Rossi. Shortly afterwards followed the events in Sardinia, in its turn deeply affecting the fortunes of her husband, and threatening the Count Rossi with the loss of that office which he had so long and so honorably held. On the first news of the losses experienced by Madame de Rossi, knowing how perfectly she had preserved her voice, the Direction of Her Majesty's Theatre made, in the most delicate manner that could be devised, ample offers to the unfortunate lady, in case she should deem it necessary to return to the scene of her former triumphs. The Count and Countess Rossi did not contemplate then the necessity of so great a sacrifice. Later offers of unlimited temptation were made by other parties, and emissaries sent to Berlin secretly to treat with the great vocalist of the golden age of the opera. But they were at once refused. As events assumed a darker complexion, Madame de Rossi, the most affectionate of mothers, grew more and more anxious for her children, and used every endeavor to prevail on her noble husband to sacrifice the privileges and prejudices of rank, and the sweets of high office, to the future welfare of their children. An artist of European fame, who not only commands admiration by his talents, his conversational powers, his elegant and amiable manners, and his noble and elevated character—M. Thalberg, happened some months since to be in Berlin, and he is said to have seconded Madame de Rossi's efforts to persuade her husband. Communications were resumed with the Direction of Her Majesty's Theatre, although still in a problematical and conditional form, and the Count Rossi repaired to Turin to endeavor to release himself from his duties. After some delay, the Count obtained permission from his sovereign to retire for a time from his career. When it was known later at Turin what was the cause of his retirement, and that it was definitive, letters were written, by order of the sovereign, in the highest degree cordial and flattering, both to M. and Madame de Rossi. From Turin the Count returned to Berlin; there Mr. Lumley had suddenly arrived—every arrangement was made, and a week after he had left Berlin, the Count and Countess Rossi arrived in London in a manner totally unforeseen. In a week more she appeared on the stage, and although, unlike other great singers, she had not, owing to the necessity of secresy, been preceded by those announcements which habitually long beforehand herald forth a prima donna, and work upon public expectation, her reception was one never surpassed in enthusiasm.

When the circumstances in which Madame Sontag has once more appeared on the horizon with undiminished glory are considered, a feeling of something more than admiration takes possession of the observer. To behold beings, of which there are not one in so many millions, whose existence has scarcely been thought of, come in a critical hour, interpose their power, uphold a noble establishment, and at once defeat all the workings of intrigue, envy, and ingratitude, partakes of that providential character of events to which all others are secondary. This is the second time that such an interposition has occurred as regards the greatest theatrical institution of the country. If there existed in reality such a random power as chance, such events could scarcely be reckoned amongst its casualties.

If there could be any one so devoid of love for what is really good and really great, as not to be inspired by interest in the eventful life we have so very superficially sketched, they need only to repair to the theatre where our heroine appears, for them to change their disposition. Nothing ever could resist, off the stage or on it, the sterling merit either of Countess Rossi, or of Madame Sontag.