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MR. AND MRS. THEODORE MARTIN…

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MR. AND MRS. THEODORE MARTIN AT HOME. At Braich-y- Gwynt-the elbow of the wind,' a spur of Bryn-Tysilioâthe nest of the Martins, as their many friends love to call it, clings to the hill- side amid ashes and other shrubs of constitution robust enough to withstand the wind aforesaid, which, when in the humour, roars lustily round the pretty house built in defiance of it, and, as if to show what it could do if it liked, lifts a few standard rose-trees out of the ground, and whisks them away towards Llangollen, or over the hill to Capt. Best's garden at Plas-yn-Vivod, or down to the abbey of Valle Crucis, or into the Dee itself, rushing past with angry hiss as Bala Lake pours its mass of waters into its narrow and rocky bed. Pretty, with its verandahs overhung with rose and jasmine, clematis and honeysuckle, Braich-y-Gwynt is one of those modest structures which conceal, behind the pretence of a cottage, the substantial comfort and elegance of a country house. From the velvet lawn, spread before the principal front, a magnificent scene is beheld. On every side rise great hills, wooded at the base, clothed with rough pasture at a higher level, and capped with purple heather. Climbing to the brown herbage are huge patches of golden gorse; above drift the ever- changing cloud and mist which give the charm of variety to Welsh scenery; below, the eye plunges into the well-wooded gorge of the Dee, with its quiet canal jogging along, cheek by jowl, with it, like plodding merit by the side of brilliant uselessness. It is now several years since the famous colleague of Professor Aytoun discovered, in the course of his professional experience, the upper valley of the Dee, and pitched upon Braich-y-Gwynt as the perfection of a summer residence. Be it well understood that, when we speak of professional experience, we refer not to the profession of literature. Concerned in fighting railway and other cases-first as a solicitor at Edinburgh, and then before Committees of the House of Commons âMr. Theodore Martin is one of those fortunate authors who have used the pen rather as a wand to charm than a staff to lean upon, and is thankful that his fate has been as it is. His numerous and admirable works in prose and verse have been written, as the late Sir Arthur Helps somewhat unnecessarily said of his own essays, in the intervals of business.' Whatever rank may be assigned by posterity to the smooth, sparkling, original verse of Theodore Martin, and his truthful and musical rendering of Goethe and Schiller, Horace, Catullus, and, last of all, Heine, nothing is more certain than that work of this kind is really relaxation to him after a hard fight at Westminster. Some of his best translations, such as the Fight with the Dragon,' were struck off at a heat, finished, and sent away in one evening. He has a theory that verse composition should be done in this way that the writer should master his subject, and decide upon his treatment, and that then the production should be both easy and rapid. At an early age he displayed that inventive faculty which makes literature possible as amusement rather than drudgery. After some preliminary skirmishing in various magazines, he shared with the late Professor Aytoun the glory of the < Glenmutchkin Railway.' It is at least possible that he supplied Aytoun with the backbone of his extraordinary lampoom but it is certain that he invented the curious list of dramatis personwâthe Factor of Glentumblers, the Captain McAlcohol, and the rest, which remain in the memory when the details of the Glenmutchkin speculation have passed away. About the same time he collaborated with Aytoun in the production of the famous ballads since collected and republished under the name of Bon Gaultier.' There are incidents in the history of these ballads not undeserving a place in literary archives. Among the most successful of the series were the so-called American ballads, including the Lay of Mr. Colt,' the Alabama Duel,' the Scene in Congress,' and the American's Apostrophe to Boz.' With that generous freedom in dealing with other people's property for which American publishers are celebrated, these ballads went the round,' as it is called, of the American press (of course without acknowledgment), as they appeared in Bentley's Miscellany from time to time. When they were collected and republished as Bon Gaultier's Booh of Ballads, sundry not very well-informed American scribes denounced John Bull as a plagiarist in culling the choicest flowers of Transatlantic humour. Nothing funnier than this can be found in the CnriosiUcs of Literature. Of this (the Edinburgh) part of his career, before Mr. Martin decided to burn his ships and plunge into the greater world of London,he always speaks with the utmost tenderness. He is never tired of singing the praises of Professor Wilson, as he appeared in his real flesh and spirit, as distinguished from the fantastic reveller, on paper, called Christopher North. Nor are his recollections of Aytoun less tinged with that feeling which springs from reverence for intellectual qualities and personal affection. In explanation of his dual existence, legal and literary, Mr. Theodore Martin ascribes his ability to make a fortune at one and achieve fame with the other to his habit of never wasting any time. Whether in Onslow-square or at Braich-y-Gwynt, he is awake and at work by six in the morning. In his Welsh home his own" den" is a compound of bedroom, sitting-room, and library-a spacious apartment looking on the great purple hills, and fitted within with a small artillery train of books of reference. In one corner is a fine old desk, inlaid with various woods, an escritoire, retained rather for intrinsic beauty than use, the actual work-table being in the centre of the room-a flat writing table encumbered with a mass of papers of all kinds, and just now with every kind of work bearing, directly or indirectly, upon the career of the late Prince Consort, whose life Mr. Martin is engaged in writing. Opposite the armchair of the author is a fine impression of Hogarth's portrait of himself, and on an elegant side table stands another curiosity, a mirror with silver frame and stand, once the property of Lola Montez. Side by side are ranged tin boxes filled with the correspondence of the Prince Consort with kings and kaisers, princes and potentates, friends and confidential advisers. It is well-known that in writing the Life of Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha the first object of the author, after accepting an at first by no means welcome task, was to obtain permission to allow as long a period as might be to elapse before the appearance of the first volume. Only undertaken at the express command of the Queen, the work of arranging and extracting the essence from the enormous mass of manuscript and printed matter placed in his hands has been made pleasant by the freedom allowed him in dealing with it. Still the difficulty of treating of events in which hundreds of living persons have been actively concerned is great, and has retarded the completion of the work very considerably. The freedom to express unreservedly his own opinion also, while raising the author to the position of an historian as distinguished from that of a court historiographer, has materially increased his responsibility. By dint of severe application Mr. Theodore Martin hopes to complete his thorny task very shortly; but whether one or two volumes will be required can hardly be calculated at present. From six in the morning till four in the afternoon he works resolutely away, allowing himself but a short interval for breakfast and none for luncheon, holding the latter to be a treacherous meal, wasting much time in itself, and involving further waste afterwards.' At four o'clock the working day is over, and Mr. Theodore Martin seizes his stick and walks over the hills at a good smart pace for two or three hours; after which a dawdle and chat on the lawn, the favourite resort of wild-birds and squirrels, which are as stringently preserved as furred and feathered game on larger estates than the mountain-home of the Martins. As the master of the house walks with quick firm step up and down the gravel walk between the rosebushes, his long hair and velvet jacket blown hither and thither by the wind, there appears suddenly a lady, tall and graceful, with features concealed by a blue veil depending from a very wind-defying looking hat. Arrayed for a mountain stroll, in a quaint,simple country dress,Mrs. Theodore Martin hardly recalls the elegant hostess of Onslow-square, whose toilettes excite other feelings than love and sympathy in the average feminine bosom. But there is no doubt about the voice, the organ of extreme sweetness and marvellous penetrating power with which Helen Faucit held her audience spellbound. The Alpine stick is the staff of Rosalind after all, the voice is the voice of Imogen, the manner is that combination of perfect sweetness and self-possession which made Helen Faucit the cynosure of the brilliant society which clustered round kindly old Sir Archibald Alison. Mrs. Theodore Martin is eloquent in praise of the land of Jenny Jones for whom she evidently cares more than for the celebrated ladies of Llangollen,' who were hardly prophetesses in their own valley. It need hardly be said that Mrs. Theodore Martin is beloved and appreciated far beyond the breezy range of Bryn-Tysilio and that when she gives her annual reading for the local hospital, all persons having the slightest pretence to culture, and dwelling within a radius of twenty miles, crowd to Llangollen to enjoy one of those renderings of Shakespeare which present the net result of severe thought, wide reading, scholarly appreciativeness, and dramatic experience, tempered by a certain tender womanliness of infinite charm. When in the height of her brilliant and, for the public and the best interests of the drama, far too short professional career, Helen Faucit set a notable example to her colleagues. Far from confining her attention to the part which she was to enact, she invariably studied the whole play, and made herself mistress of all the shades of character portrayed by the author. So perfect was and is her knowledge of several of Shakespeare's dramas, notably As You Like It and Cymbeline, that a provincial company acting with her for a few days became inspired with new life. She still continues her study of Shakespeare, reading and thinking constantly in the endeavour to grasp every subtle train of thought. Her husband and friends naturally ask her to put the result of her Shakespearian studies upon paper, and give the world the benefit of them. The answer is that the art dramatic, by which alone the more delicate shades of feeling can be rendered, cannot be taught by book, that the role of the instructress is not exactly that of the writer. Without precisely striving to prevent his wife from either acting, teaching, or*writing, Mr. Theodore Martin deprecates extraordinary exertion on her part. Of the true emotional fibre of which great actresses are made, and which is revealed in every tone of the vibrating voice that, without apparent effort, fills every part of a great theatre by virtue of its quality, Mrs. Theodore Martin cannot act or even read without passing through a phase of excitement which at times affects her health seriously. Macready, an old actor saturated with tradition, was horrified at the spontaneity of Helen Faucit's acting, and told her, in pretty round terms too, not to commit the blunder of becoming excited, and forgetting her own individuality in that of the personage she represented. It was all in vain the sympathetic nature, like the voice, vibrated with passion, and affected English audiences as they have never been affected since. Mrs. Theodore Martin is especially fond of Braich-y-Gwynt, and insists that Welsh weather is unjustly given a bad name that rain is rare, as it should be, in the 'wind's elbow;' that Welsh scenery is more beautiful, that Welsh grouse are heavier, than any other. It is this preponderance of properly-tempered enthusiasm which gives Mrs. Martin's character its peculiar charm. Entirely sympathetic, ever ready to enter at any moment into the hopes and fears, aspirations and dis- appointments of others, there is in her finely-strung temperament no tendency either to what is vulgarly called' gush' on the one hand, or affected indifference on the other. In her surroundings her worship of the beautiful is agreeably apparent. Braich-y- Gwynt, outside a cottage with bushy creepers and avalanches of blossoms, is within an Italian house, deliciously cool in disposition and decoration. The central hall, in which the ceremony of kettledrum is usually performed, is beautifully light and airy in its scheme of colour, the motive of which is carried through the entire building. Neither few nor far between are disposed gems of art. In the hall is a copy of Foley's bust of Miss Helen Faucit, decked every day with the rose which forms the solitary floral ornament of the living model. In the cottage morning-room are two groups, modelled by the same sculptor, as they came from his hand-one of Lear and Cordelia, the other of Prospero and Miranda. This pleasant apartment is also decked with a charming picture by Caffieri of a girl in a studio; with an engraving by Hall of Lehmann's portrait of the hostess, the original of which is at Onslow-square with drawings by Williamson, and others by Cotman. In the little library hard by -furnished with a marvellously-selected store of books, and which serves as a writing-room for studious guests-hang rare engravings, drawn from copious portfolios, portraits of Machiavelli, Petrarch, Michelangelo, a fine Milton cut from his History of England, and a beautiful Erasmus. In the drawing and dining-rooms are beautiful pedestals of satin- wood, exquisitely painted-in medallions, and, so far as the painting is concerned, as fresh as if they had left the atelier yesterday, while the wood has the beautiful tone only acquired by age. On the airy stair-case, decorated in cool half-tones, are busts by Flaxman, and two wonderful Gudins-one all sun and light, and the other all wind and storm, with a wreck wildly tossed in the ocean caldron. Mrs. Theodore Martin's own rooms are also decked with dainty gems of painting and engraving a delicious portrait of Madame Vigee Lebrun, the female analogue of Greuze-the artist-wife of a ruthless husband,as he was the artist-husband of a treacherous and troublesome but jolie pa?fumeu.se. In a favourite nook-like unto Thackeray's corner' at Onslow-squareâare the choice gems of painting beloved by the great satirist, the work of Duverger. Mrs. Theodore Martin reveres everything connected with the memory of Thackeray, of whom she possesses several memorials but of all the treasures in her possession, few excite more jealousy than the costly jewels presented her by the Queen, and more than these a certain Birthday Book, also the gift of her Majesty, and inscribed with the authographs of her children and grandchildren- roundhand signatures written by chubby baby- hands. Braich-y-Gwynt-filled with an atmosphere of culture and refinement, and famous for its elegant hospitality-is never without guests, literary, artistic, and scientific. Of the latter world great luminaries are not unfrequent; and it is pleasant to hear Professor Adams tell how, when the Queen expressed her delight at Alice in Wonderland, and hoped she might have any other books written by the same delightful author,' Mr. Dodson (Lewis Carroll), an eminent mathematician, hastened to submit to her Majesty his standard work, Dodson on Determinants.

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PARLIAMENT.

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1THE AFGHAN' WAR.

TESTING THE NEW STEAM FIRE…

ATTEMPTED MURDER AND ROBBERY…

TRADE GRIEVANCES.

AN ATTACK ON MR. GLADSTONE.

LLANGOLLEN ADVERTISER OFFICE,…

THE MARKETS.

Family Notices

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