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of her genius and consummate dramatic skill, while she was on the scene before you."
"But do you rank Malibran with Rachel as a dramatic artist ?" I asked.
"I cannot tell," answered. "But if she had not the studied perfection of Rachel,— which was always the same, and could not be altered without harm,-she had at least a capacity of impulsive self-adaptation about her which made her for the time the character she personated, not always the same, but such as the woman she represented might have been in the shifting phases of the passion that possessed her. And to think that she died at eight and twenty! What might not ten years more have made her!"
"It is odd," I observed, "that her fame should be forever connected with the name she got by her first unlucky marriage in New York; for it was unlucky enough, I believe-was it not?"
"You may say that," responded the Consul, "without fear of denial or qualification. It was disgraceful in its beginning and in its ending. It was a swindle on a large scale; and poor Maria Garcia was the one who suffered the most by the operation."
"I have always heard," said I, "that old Garcia was cheated out of the price for which he had sold his daughter, and that M. Malibran got his wife on false pretences."
"Not altogether so," returned the Consul, "I happen to know all about that matter from the best authority. She was obtained on false pretences, to be sure; but it was not Garcia that suffered by them. M. Malibran, moreover, never paid the price agreed upon, and yet Garcia got it, for all that."
"Indeed!" I exclaimed.
"It must have been a neat operation. I cannot exactly see how the thing was done; but I have no doubt a tale hangs thereby, and a good one. Is it tellable?"
"I see no reason why not," said the Consul. "The sufferer made no secret of it, and I know of no reason why I should. Mynheer Van Holland told me the story himself, in Amsterdam, in the year '35."
"And who was he?" I inquired, "and what had he to do with it?”
"I'll tell you," responded the Consul, filling his glass, and passing the bottle, "if you will have the goodness to shut the window behind. you, and ring for candles; for it gets chilly
here among the mountains as soon as the sun is down."
I beg your pardon—did you make a remark? Oh, what mountains !—You must really pardon me; I cannot give you such a clew as that to the identity of my dear Consul, just now, for excellent and sufficient reasons. But, if you have paid your money for the sight of this Number, you may take your choice of all the mountain-ranges on the continent, from the Rocky to the White, and settle him just where you like. Only you must leave a gap to the westward, through which the river-also anonymous for the present distress-breaks its way, and which gives him half an hour's more sunshine than he would otherwise be entitled to, and slope the fields down to its margin near a mile off, with their native timber thinned so skilfully as to have the effect of the best landscape-gardening. It is a grand and lovely scene; and when I look at it, I do not wonder at one of the Consul's apothegms, namely, that the chief advantage of foreign travel is, that it teaches you that one place is just as good to live in as another. I imagine that the one place he had in his mind at the time was just this one. But that is neither here nor there.
When candles came, we drew our chairs together, and he told me in substance the following story. I will tell it in my own words,-not that they are so good as his, but because they come more readily to the nib of my pen.
New York has grown considerably since she was New Amsterdam, and has almost forgotten her whilom dependence on her first godmother. Indeed, had it not been for the historic industry of the erudite Diedrich Knickerbocker, very few of her sons would know much about the obligations of their nursing mother to their old grandame beyond sea, in the days of the Dutch dynasty. Still, though the old monopoly has been dead these two hundred years, or thereabout, there is I know not how many fold more traffic with her than in the days when it was in full life and force. Doth not that benefactor of his species, Mr. Udolpho Wolfe, derive thence his immortal or immortalizing Schiedam Schnapps, the virtues whereof, according to his advertisements, are fast transferring dramdrinking from the domain of pleasure to that of positive duty? Tobacco-pipes, too, and toys such as the friendly saint, whom Protestant
children have been taught by Dutch tradition to invoke, delights to drop into the votive stocking, they come from the mother-city, where she sits upon the waters, quite as much a Sea-Cybele as Venice herself. And linens, too, fair and fresh and pure as the maidens that weave them, come forth from Dutch looms ready to grace our tables, or to deck our beds. And the mention of these brings me back to my story, though the immediate connection between Holland linen and Malibran's marriage may not at first view be palpable to sight. Still it is a fact that the web of this part of her variegated destiny was spun and woven out of threads of flax that took the substantial shape of fine Hollands; and this is the way in which it came to pass.
Mynheer Van Holland, of whom the Consul spoke just now, you must understand to have been one of the chief merchants of Amsterdam, a city whose merchants are princes, and have been kings. His transactions extended to all parts of the Old World, and did not skip over the New. His ships visited the harbor of New York as well as of London; and, as he died two or three years ago a very rich man, his adventures in general must have been more re