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If she had not come up to expectation, La Marchionni would answer : “ Like an imbecile! You had better go and wash dishes ! Don't flatter yourself that people applaud your acting. It is your beauty. Their bravas are worth nothing. I tell you you are an idiot.”
At other times, when satisfied, La Marchionni would hold her arms, and endeavouring to hide her content under a look of assumed displeasure, would mutter, “ I'll have nothing more to do with you. You act too much as I would have
We now find Ristori accepting an engagement as a member of the Ducal Company of Parma. But incessant work had told upon her health, and she was threatened with consumption. She retired to a friend's villa, near Bologna, and did absolutely nothing for four months. By the end of that time, rest and freedom from every species of excitement and annoyance, had restored her completely to health.
She resumed her profession, and in 1842, first began to create. For the six years which followed, she sustained a brilliant reputation as a comedienne and delineator of the romantic drama. But before the six years were expired, she played a part in a little romantic drama of her own in real life. About 1846, in Rome, she met Giuliano del Grillo, a son of the Marchese Capranica, and heir to the Del Grillo estates. A mutual attachment sprung up between the young people; they became everything in the world to each other.
The aristocratic father was of course enraged. Was it not preposterous that a member of one of Rome's oldest ducal families should fall in love with one of humble origin, and worse still, an actress ? The Marchese Capranica did all he could to alienate the affections of his son.
He might have spared his pains. Force of circumstances separated the lovers. Adelaide had to leave Rome in order to fulfil an engagement in Florence. Del Grillo would have accompanied her, but through his father's representations he could not obtain a passport. Even correspondence was rendered a difficult matter; but love is fertile in expedients, and many letters passed between the two, unknown to the spies who surrounded them.
At last, Del Grillo learned that the object of his adoration had been unwell. He tormented himself with anxiety, and grew so unhappy at not seeing her, that he wrote imploring her to meet him at Civita Vecchia, which city, being within the papal jurisdiction, he could visit without a passport.
Ristori received his letter, and, regardless of consequences, set out for the appointed rendezvous. She was accompanied by her father and her maid, and had a rough passage, being very nearly shipwrecked on the way. In the old castle of Santa Severa, which stood lonely and gloomy without the walls of Civita Vecchia, the lovers had a stolen interview.
By means of ingeniously-laid plans, which it is, perhaps, useless to describe, as our readers are never likely to be in equally unfortunate circumstances—at least we
sincerely hope not-Del Grillo managed to accompany Adelaide the greater part of the way back to Florence.
When they arrived at little post-town, the exact locality of which we have not been able to discover, they knew that they must part. The horses were being changed, and there was little time to spare. Priests were saying mass in a church hard by the inn, and into this church the two lovers entered, Adelaide's father accompanying them. They knelt before the altar, and, at the end of the service, in the presence of the priests and the audience, proclaimed themselves man and wife. In the Romagna, we may add, a marriage of this kind is, in default of any other, considered valid.
Ristori now proceeded on her journey to Florence ; Del Grillo betook himself to Cesena. His business there was soon finished, and he determined, in spite of all obstacles, to join his wife. To enter Florence, it was necessary, first of all, to have a passport. He contrived to buy one. Then he had to assume a disguise. He put on the dress of a peasant, and set off in an open mule-cart. The road lay over the Appenines, and was steep and rugged; whilst the winds of the mountain passes were bleak. On entering Florence, Del Grillo trembled lest the custom-house officers should, on opening his trunk, recognize the cipher on his linen. They did not, however, and, chilled and weary, he made his way to Adelaide's apartment. She was absent at the theatre, but soon returned laden with flowers—the trophies of her night's triumphs—to find one who had gone through so much for her sake. From that time forth she and her husband were inseparable.
The interesting incidents of her life were far from being at an end, and the first which happened after her marriage is thus told by an American author, who was personally acquainted with our heroine : -"Being at Bologna, and having purchased a very valuable set of stage jewels from an artiste about to marry Prince Lichtenstein, Ristori became an object of interest to a band of brigands, who, supposing that the jewels were real, determined to capture them. The opportunity for which they waited arrived when Ristori set out for Florence in two coaches-herself, her mother, father, and maid being in one, and her husband and brother in the other. Eleven miles from Bologna, Ristori's carriage, which happened to be some distance in advance, was suddenly stopped by these gentlemanly Fra Diavalos, who demanded their money or their lives, suiting the action to the word by presenting arms. Helping themselves to the contents of Signor Ristori's pockets, they then proceeded to lay violent hands on his wife, whereupon Adelaide poured out the vials of her wrath so fearlessly and with such effect, that the brigands, overcome with surprise at seeing a woman exhibit so much courage under the circumstances, abstained from further spoliation in that direction. Attempting to take Ristori's purse from her, which contained the key of her jewel-box, she resisted in such vigorous Italian that the robbers finally
gave up the effort, and betook themselves to overhauling the baggage. At this, Ristori jumped out of the coach, and running rapidly in the direction of the second carriage, so frightened the brigands by her calls, that they, thinking a strong party might be approaching, fed with comparatively little plunder."
The young couple, not long after this, returned to Rome, but were not received by the Capranicas. It was hoped that, after the birth of their first child, a reconciliation might be effected. But no;
the Marchese would have nothing to say to them. Del Grillo's mother, a good and noble woman, relented, however, and
soon on affectionate terms with her daughter-inlaw.
As some doubt seems to have existed regarding the legality of the union of Ristori and Del Grillo, a second marriage was celebrated, with all due solemnity, in 1847, on the day of the happy saint, Fattibuoni. The Marchese persisted in refusing to recognize what he considered a mésalliance; but, after the death of Ristori's first child and the birth of her second, he suffered himself to be taken to his son's house, when “his indignation melted into a benediction.”
Adelaide Ristori now made a concession to the aristocratic family with which she had allied herself—she retired from the stage. It can hardly be said that she felt it as a sacrifice; she was disgusted at the time with the audiences of Turin, who did not appreciate her.
Her retirement only lasted for a year. She had never lost sight of her old professional comrades, and one day learned that Pisenti, a manager under whom she had served, was in prison for debt. The Marchesa Del Grillo's sympathy was excited, and she resolved to give a representation for his benefit. Crowds besieged the theatre, broke the windows even, in the excitement of trying to find places, and shouted “ Bravo! Bravissima !” till everybody was hoarse. The actress felt her old passion for the stage returning; a year of private life had been more than enough for her. The stern father saw and acknowledged the greatness of his daughter-inlaw, and withdrew his objections to her pursuing a career for which Heaven had evidently destined her. The theatre now became once more the scene of our heroine's triumphs, and not as the Marchesa Del Grillo but as Adelaide Ristori she has endeared herself to every lover of theatrical art in the world.
She was now more earnest and enthusiastic in the pursuit of a great reputation than before her marriage. We find her listening to sensible advice, and resolving to devote herself to the study of high tragedy. She made her debut in the title-rôle of Alfieri's masterpiece of “Myrrha," but at first was not successful. She, however, shortly afterwards resumed the part, and created that “Myrrha " which no other living actress has dared to attempt.
All Italy soon became familiar with her name, and load in expressing admiration of her talents. But there
were worlds beyond Italy to be conquered, and our actress turned her thoughts towards Paris. There lay the Ultima Thule of artistic aspiration. To appear before the critical audiences of that great city was a bold undertaking. The manager of the Royal Sardinian Company, of which Adelaide Ristori was the prima donna, at first refused to go. The prima donna urged and implored, but the timid impressario advocated remaining in Italy, where money was certain and a reputation already secured.
Ristori was resolute: to Paris she would go. She had confidence in the ability of the company, and a national pride in the undertaking. Her husband, the Marchese Del Grillo, shared her feelings. He assumed all risk, and the whole company set out for the French capital.
On the 22nd of May, 1855, when Paris was in all the gaiety of its first Exposition Universelle, the Royal Sardinian Company made its first appearance at the Italian Opera House in Sylvio Pellico's tragedy of “Francesca da Rimini.” Just at this time Rachel the great actress was in the zenith of her fame. The appearance of Ristori was therefore regarded by the Parisians as an open challenge to contest the superiority of their tragic queen. Ristori's audience on her first night was not large, but it was enthusiastic, and brought Francesca back to life by recalling her three times before the curtain.
Fame spreads quickly : before many days were over the theatre was crowded, and the press was unanimous in Ristori's praise. Dumas père made haste to write “ Last night I was at the representation of Francesca da Rimini, at the Salle Ventatour. I looked round the theatre and did not see Rachel. I beg that she will go and observe how the death-scene is performed." Rachel, by the way, would not play in Dumas's pieces, and this must be looked upon as a spiteful suggestion intended to annoy the great tragedienne.
A week after her first appearance Ristori played in “Myrrha.” Francesca was forgotten, powerful though her representation of that character had been. “Ristori," says one writer, “became la sublime actrice, the stage was carpeted with flowers, critics laid their offerings at the shrine of the Italian muse, artists and authors celebrated her triumphs on canvas, in marble, in prose, and in verse.” “Notre langue," Lamartine declared, “est trop pauvre pour exprimer la valeur de cette femme," and, after witnessing her extraordinary performance, the poet addressed some beautiful lines to the heroine of Alfieri's masterpiece. Jules Janin, the celebrated French critic, and member of the Academy, was much struck by her personal appearance, which he thus describes : “Though our professional coquettes will be scandalized, and cry that it is impossible, to Ristori appertains the strange distinction of acting with her fine, if somewhat dark countenance, fresh and adorned with its life and charm, such as her Creator made it. It is herself that stands before you, and for this once alone can you boast of
having seen on the stage a real person. She has not a particle of powder, of white, or carmine. Nothing on her hair, nothing on her eyebrows; those two eyes are literally two black diamonds, which shine and burn, and burn and shine without any charcoal."
Rachel herself went incognito to see her rival. femme me fait mal! Cette femme me fait mal !” she exclaimed, and, greatly excited, left the theatre before the conclusion of the tragedy.
The Italy of 1855 was not the Italy of to-day. It was written of contemptuously by French littérateurs as the land of the dead, so it was with all the greater surprise that the Parisian public listened to our heroine. "Who would have suspected,” exclaimed Alexander Dumas, “ that Italy, which had applauded the scum of our theatres, possessed such actors !” It was difficult, too, for Janin to realize Alfieri's excellence as a dramatic poet. Of Ristori's “Myrrha " there was, much to her surprise, but one opinion. “How very singular," she said one day, “the Parisians spend ten francs a night to see me perform, and even then all cannot obtain admission; while at Turin, where I could be heard in Myrrha' for eighty centimes, no one came."
But the most flattering triumph was yet to come. The French Government made her the most tempting offers in order to attach her to the Théâtre Française. It was a great temptation, and had she loved applause more than art she would have yielded to it. All France was in favour of her accepting, except one critic, who endeavoured to stem the current of popular opinion, and advised her to “leave French tragedy alone, and force Paris to study Italian.”
To her credit Ristori refused to enter on the brilliant position placed at her disposal. “I cannot renounce my nationality,” she said, and then she added, “Paris gladly welcomes Italian singing and dancing ; let the Italian drama enjoy equal privileges. If Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti, and Verdi, can obtain a hearing for six months during the year, surely Paris should accord the rights of citizenship to the master-pieces of the Italian theatre.”
This reasoning had some effect. M. Fould, the Minister of State, who had acted the part of Ambassador, carried the words of the actress to the Emperor, and the very next day she was gratified by receiving an imperial decree authorizing her to give dramatic performances at the Théâtre Italiens during February, March, and April, for three
years. On the 26th of June, Ristori appeared in “ Maria Stuarda," a part in which Rachel was justly celebrated. The criticism with which she was greeted could hardly have been more favourable. Rachel, unwilling that her rival should have all the field to herself, gave one representation of the captive queen, at the Théâtre Française on the same night that Ristori performed the part at the Italiens.
Ristori's first season in Paris ended on the roth of
September, and was found to have realized the round sum of half a million francs. “ Francesca da Rimini.” “Myrrha," “ Maria Stuarda," and "Pia de Tolomei," had created for her a fame by which she could henceforth command audiences throughout the world. “She had given three performances of Francesca,' seventeen of 'Myrrha,' twenty-two of 'Maria Stuarda,' and seven of
Pia.' She had acquired the friendship of such men as Lamartine, Legouvé, and Alfred de Vigny; and on the day of her benefit she had been presented with a medal struck in her honour by the Italian residents of Paris, containing an epigram written by Joseph Montanelli. She had had her portrait painted by Ary Scheffer, and had been the recipient of such imperial approbation as France had extended to no artist since the days of Talma." Through the medium of his private secretary, Napoleon sent her a beautiful bracelet in the form of a serpent, the head sparkling with diamonds, to which a note was attached stating, amongst other compliments, that "in consenting to receive your adieux, the Emperor reckons on a short absence."
In her second Parisian season, M. Legouvé confided to her his “Medea,” which Rachel had refused to play, and which Mortanelli translated for her into Italian. The latter author also wrote for her an original piece, • Camma."
The triumphs of Ristori in France do not seem to have added to the favour which she had enjoyed hitherto in her native land. Her popularity, however, was now European, and she enjoyed in all the capitals of the Continent the applause for which Paris had given the signal. Her first visit to Spain took place in September, 1857, and at Madrid her reception was of the most enthusiastic character. In 1858, she visited Prussia, and the King was so delighted with her noble conception of Mosenthal's
Deborah,” that he decorated her with the Order of Merit-an honour never before accorded to a woman.
During the seasons of 1856, 1857, and 1858, she appeared in London with great success in a round of characters. She assumed, among other parts, Alfieri's “Rosmunda," “La Lecandiera," of Goldoni; “Macbeth,” “Fazio," Phèdre,” “ Adrienne Lecouvreur,” “Ottavia,
Mary Stuart,” and “ Elizabeth.” In 1860, she gave representations in Holland and Russia, and obtained extraordinary success at St. Petersburg in the beginning of 1861. Our actress seems, at this time, to have dabbled a little in politics. Her powers of persuasion, no doubt, made her a very useful political agent. When fulfilling her professional engagement at St. Petersburg, she was entrusted by Count Cavour with a secret diplomatic mission. Several of Cavour's letters to Ristori are to be found in his “ General Correspondence.” In one of them the great statesman refers to this mission : "I applaud in you,” he says, “not only the first artiste in Europe, but the most skilful co-operator in diplomatic negotiations."
She returned to France, and played at the Odéon the
It was per
rôle of “Béatrix in a drama written for her by M. Legouvé. It was the first time that she had played in French, and the task of creating a part in a foreign language was an extremely hazardous one. Gratitude to France for what her alliance had accomplished for Italy in 1859, and friendship for the author of the play, induced Ristori, however, to risk her reputation as an artiste. It was not till the first performance that she fully realized what she was about to do. Then, overcome by the applause which greeted her entrance, and feeling how much was expected of her, stage-fright got the mastery, and she was obliged to sit down in order to gain sufficient self-control to proceed with the part, “ Béatrix ” proved an extraordinary success. formed eighty nights in Paris in 1861, besides meeting with equal favour in the provinces of France. At one time, Adelaide Ristori travelled with two distinct companies, one French and the other Italian, the former being engaged expressly for Legouvé's comedy. In playing in French, it may be observed she has never quite lost the foreign accent.
In 1861, her husband, the Marquise del Grillo, died. The career of the actress, however, soon resumed its usual course.
After having gathered laurels everywhere throughout Europe from Dublin to Moscow, Ristori turned her thoughts to the East. In the autumn of 1864, she sailed for Egypt. “It is no little glory,” says one writer, “ to have carried the Italian drama to the land of the Pharaohs to have spoken Dante's language to the children of the Nile, to have interpreted Alfieri beneath the shadow of the pyramids. What other artist can claim to have held the interest of an Egyptian audience for thirty-seven nights by the charms of pantomime and facial expression alone?"
Additional triumphs were secured at Smyrna and Constantinople, and at Athens her success was immense.
In November of 1865, she gave one performance at Utrecht. On her arrival there, the whole University turned out to meet her; two carriages, drawn by four milk-white horses, were in readiness for her party; a band led the way, and the road was strewn with flowers.
On her return to Paris in 1865, she commenced again to play the role of “Béatrix,” but it was not so successful as formerly: it was performed only for twenty-one nights.
In 1866, she set out with a theatrical company for the United States. There she was warmly welcomed, and an almost fabulous amount of money was made by her in a very short time. After playing in the States, she set out for South America, and gave a series of representations in the chief towns of Brazil, La Plata, and the Argentine Confederation.
She returned to Europe about 1870, and in 1871 we find her revisiting her native land, and appearing at the Apollo Theatre of Rome in the character of Fedra.
Her wonderful impersonation of that character must be added to the long list of triumphs in her dramatic career.
She reappeared in London, after an absence of fifteen years, on the 11th of June, 1873. Her first representation was that of "Medea.” Speaking of it, an able critic remarks, “The prevailing characteristic of Madame Ristori's acting is tenderness. Her behaviour to her children has a weary despondency, quickened at times into a rapture of appeal and supplication. Her hands tremble over them, and her whole frame quivers with apprehension. . . . The facial play was admirable, and the gestures were wildly and incoherently tragic. The whole performance had the statuesque grace, moreover, which is so noteworthy in the representations of Madame Ristori.” She next appeared as Mary Stuart, a part which has always been a favourite with her, and afterwards in several other characters.
In the end of October, she gave her farewell performance in London. On this occasion she favoured the public with a rendering in English of the sleep-walking scene in “ Macbeth." It was a subtle and powerful representation, realistic in accessories and detail, but thoroughly imaginative in general conception. Its effect upon the audience was electrical.
As to her pronunciation, there was very little to show that our heroine was not an Englishwoman.
Madame Ristori took her farewell of the English stage at the Queen's Theatre, Manchester, on the lith of November. In a letter to the manager of the Queen's, she said, “I am very happy to take my farewell of this great country in a city where I have met with one of my most cordial welcomes."
The reader who has not been so fortunate as to see our heroine upon the stage, may be curious to have some particulars as to her appearance. We may well apply to her the words from Joanna Baillie's “ Jane de Montfort," with which Campbell once sketched a portrait of the great actress, Mrs. Siddons :
Lady. How looks her countenance ?
Page. So queenly, so commanding, and so noble, I shrunk at first in awe; but, when she smiled, Methought I could have compassed sea and land To do her bidding.
Lady. Is she young or old ?
Page. Neither, if I right guess; but she is fair, For Time has laid his hand so gently on her As he too had been awed.
Lady. The foolish stripling !
Page. So stately and so graceful is her form,
Ristori the woman, however, is very unlike Ristori the actress. If the reports of biography are to be credited, Mrs. Siddons was always more or less of a tragedy queen. She “stabbed the potatoes," made the boy quake when she called for beer, astounded tradespeople by the majestic tones in which she asked whether material for clothing
would wash, and terrified her dressing-maid by the sepulchral intensity of her exclamations. But “the awe," observes a personal friend of our actress, “which Ristori frequently excites is confined entirely to the theatre. Away from it she is the most human—and humane—the most simple, the most unaffected, the most sympathetic of women. So strongly is the line drawn between reality and fiction, that, in Ristori's presence, it requires a mental effort to recall her histrionic greatness,
though you have a sense of her power, and you feel persuaded that whatever such a woman earnestly willed would be accomplished.”
We must not suppose that in the career of Madame Ristori genius has done everything; far from that, every step upward has been the result of hard work. Incessant study is the foundation on which she has built her success, as indeed it is the foundation on which all lasting triumphs must rest,
THE YOUNG HOUSEKEEPER.
amount of correspondence and controversy to which it has given rise in some of the “ Ladies' papers," is one of the characteristics of the present day. Housekeeping, it must be remembered, is the governing of the "Home,” which to every woman ought to be a sweet and sacred duty, and one worthy of much of her thought and care. Every woman was, or is, or hopes to be," a housekeeper-that is, queen of her own little kingdomwhich it should be her aim to rule with such love and intelligence as to add to the happiness of all under her influence.
Our advanced civilization seems to demand a more perfect and fixed arrangement of our homes than would have been possible forty years ago. The introduction of the sewing-machine has also given more leisure to the female members of the household, thereby leaving them more time for other important branches of domestic utility, as also for the higher development of musical or other talents.
With the increase of refinement and comfort in our homes, there ought to be an advance in the science of domestic cookery, and efforts are being made on all sides to effect an improvement in this very important matter, and the ladies are coming forward, bravely and heartily as pupils. No doubt there is very much to be learned from France ; it is equally true that there is much improvement needed in our ordinary English fare ; to combine the best qualities of both French and English methods should be the aim of those who wish to unite refinement and comfort with economy.
The results will richly reward the effort, for a wellordered home adds to the happiness of every member of it. A wise distribution of time gives a happy leisure, with all its opportunities of mental improvement, cultivation of musical and art tastes, to say nothing of needlework and the charming care of the flower-garden. The proper value of time and the wise use of it must be one of the first principles in a well-managed home. With it, will be found time for everything ; without it,
nothing satisfactory can be accomplished. It is like a fortune, that may be frittered and squandered away without any result but regret in after years. Those women who have in any way distinguished themselves in the work of the world have always known the full value of time, and it is quite certain that no woman has ever been able to manage her house and family well whose time has been wasted in idleness and want of methodical and orderly habits. The evil of this is daily seen in our domestics. A servant with the best will in the world, and even with industry, will not get through her work satisfactorily without method. Having established this as one of the first principles, we must next give our attention to the financial part of our undertaking. We must try and spend our money as wisely as we spend our time, and to do so we must keep a strict watch over our expenditure. Whether we have much or little to spend, the same rule is applicable ; let nothing be spent carelessly. It is very certain that much time is lost without bringing in anything profitable, or even pleasant; so is much money spent thoughtlessly and carelessly, without profit, and equally without pleasure, to any human being
Almost everybody has a " limited income." Certainly there are few whose incomes are limitless. Every wise woman would wish her housekeeping expenses to be “ limited ;
in other words, she must know the exact amount that is to be devoted to her household expenses. This I consider a very important and necessary arrangement. Without this it will be impossible to carry out the system of comfort combined with a wise economy. It will also prevent the vexations and disappointments that young housekeepers suffer before they have quite learned the value of money as applied to housekeeping.
We intend in future articles to enter more fully and in detail on this subject; for the present we must confine ourself to broad outlines.
The subject next in importance to the mistress of a house is practical knowledge of all that concerns its management. It will not be possible for her to know all