Page images
PDF
EPUB

Wbate'er the scene, let this advice have weight: To skilful writers it will much import, (court; Adapt your language to your hero's state.

Whence spring their scenos, from common life or At times Melpomene forgets to groan,

Whether they seek applause by smile or tear, And brisk Thalia takes a serious tone;

To draw a “Lying Valet,” or a “Lear," Nor unregarded will the act pass by

A sage, or rakish youngster wild from school, Where angry Townly (1) lifts his voice on high. A wandering “Peregrine,” or plain “John Bull;" Again, our Shakspeare limits verse to kings, All persons please when nature's voice prevails, When common prose will serve for common things; Scottish or Irish, born in Wilts or Wales. And lively Hal resigns heroic ire To “hallooing Hotspur (2)” and the sceptred sire. Who cares if mimic heroes lived or not?

Or follow common fame, or forge a plot: 'Tis not enough, ye bards, with all your art, One precept serves to regulate the scene:To polish poems ;-they must touch the heart.

Make it appear as if it might have been. Where'er the scene be laid, whate'er the song,

If some Drawcansir (3) you aspire to draw, Still let it bear the hearer's soul along;

Present him raving, and above all law : Command your audience or to smile or weep,

If female furies in your scheme are plannid, Whiche'er may please you—any thing but sleep.

Macbeth's fierce dame is ready to your hand; The poet claims our tears; but, by his leave,

For tears and treachery, for good or evil, Before I shed them, let me see him grieve.

Constance, King Richard, Hamlet, and the Devil! If banish'd Romeo feign'd nor sigh nor tear, But if a new design you

dare

essay, Lull’d by his languor, I should sleep or sneer. And freely wander from the beaten way, Sad words, no doubt, become a serious face,

True to your characters, till all be past,
And men look angry in the proper place.

Preserve consistency from first to last.
At double meanings folks seem wondrous sly,
And sentiment prescribes a pensive eye;

'Tis hard to venture where our betters fail, For nature form'd at first the inward man,

Or lend fresh interest to a twice-told tale; And actors copy nature-when they can.

And yet, perchance, 't is wiser to prefer She bids the bcating heart with rapture bound,

A hackney'd plot, than choose a new, and err;

Yet Raised to the stars, or levell’d with the ground;

copy not too closely, but record, And for expression's aid, 't is said, or sung,

More justly, thought for thought than word for She gave our mind's interpreler—the tongue,

word; Who, worn with use, of late would fain dispense

Nor trace your prototype through narrow ways, (At least in theatres) with common sense ;

But only follow where he merits praise. O'erwhelin with sound the boxes, gallery, pit, For you, young bard! whom luckless fate may lead And raise a laugh with any thing—but wit. To tremble on the nod of all who read,

Versibus exponi tragicis res comica non vult;
Indignatur item privatis, ac prope socco
Digois carminibus narrari cæna Thyestæ.
Singula quæque locum teneant sortita decenter.
Interdum tamen et vocem comedia tollit,
Jratusque Chremes tumido deliligat ore:
Et tragicus plerumque dolet sermone pedestri.
Telephus et Peleus, cum pauper et exul, uterque
Projicit ampullas, et sesquipedalia verba;
Si curat cor spectantis tetigisse querela.

Non satis est pulchra esse poemata; dulcia sunto,
Et quocunque voleni, animum auditoris agunto.
Ut ridentibus arrident, ita flentibus adflent
Humani vultus. Si vis me flere, dolendum est
Primum ipsi tibi; tunc tua me infortunia lædent
Telephe, yel Peleu : male si mandata loqueris,
Aut dormitabo, aut ridebo: tristia mæstum
Vultum verba decent; iratum, plena minarum;
Ludedlem, lasciva; severum, seria dictu.
Format enim natura prius nos intus ad omnem
Fortunarum habitum: juvat, aut impellit ad iram;
Aut ad humum merore gravi deducit, et angit;
Post effert animi motus interprele lingua.
Si dicentis erunt fortunis absona dicta,

Romani tollent equites peditesque cachinnum.

Intererit multum, Davusne loquatur, an Heros;
Maturusne senex, an adhuc florente juventa
Fervidus; an måtrona potens, ap sedula nutrix;
Mercatorne vagus, cultorne virentis agelli;
Colchus an Assyrius; Thebis nutritus, an Argis.

Aut famam sequere, aut sibi convenientia finge,
Scriptor. Honoratum si forte reponis Achillem;
Impiger, iracundus, inexorabilis, acer,
Jura neget sibi nata, nibil non arroget armis.
Sit Medea serox invictaque; Nebilis Ino;
Perlidus Ixion; lo vaga; tristis Orestes.

Si quid inexpertum scenæ commiltis, et audes
Personam formare novam, servetur ad imum
Qualis ab incepto processerit, et sibi constet.

Disficile est proprie communia dicere; (4) tuque
Rectius Iliacum carmen deducis in actus,
Quam si proferres ignota indictaque primus.
Publica materies privati juris erit, si
Nec circa vilem patulumque moraberis orbem;
Nec verbum verbo curabis reddere fidus
Interpres, nec desilies imitalor in arclum,
Unde pedem proferre pudor vetel, aul operis lex.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

(1) In Vanbrugh's comedy of the Provoked Hushand.-E.
e) - And in his ear I'll halloo, Mortimer!"-1 Henry IV.
(3) See the Rehearsal:-
"Johnson. Pray, Mr. Bayes, who is that Drawcansir?

"Bayes. Why, sir, a great hero, that frights his mistress, snubs up kings, baffles armies, and does what he will, without regard lo numbers, good sense, or justice.”—E.

(4) “ Difficile est proprie communia dicere.”—Madame Dacier.

Ere your first score of cantos time unrolls, He sinks to Southey's level in a trice,
Beware--for God's sake, don't begin like Bowles!(1) Whose epic mountains never fail in mice!
“Awake a louder and a loftier strain,"

Not so of yore awoke your mighty sire
And pray, what follows from his boiling brain ?- The temper'd warblings of his master-lyre;

Nec sic incipies, ut scriptor Cyclicus olim:
“Fortunam Priami cantabo, et nobile bellum."

Quid dignum tanto ferét hic promissor hiatu?
Parturient montes : nascetur ridiculus mus.

Madame de Sévigné, Boileau, and others, have len their dispulo translation is precisely that of this “ fidus interpres." — E.] on the meaning of this passage in a tract considerably longer (1) About two years ago a young man, named Townsend, was than the poem of Horace. It is printed at the close of the eleventh announced by Mr. Cumberland* in a review * since deceased) as volume of Madame de Sévignė's Lellers, edited by Grouvelle, being engaged in an epic poem to be entitled Armageddon. The Paris, 1806. Presuming that all who can construe may venture plan and the specimen promise much; but I hope neither to ofan opinion on such subjects, particularly as so many who can not send Mr. Townsend, nor his friends, by recommending to his have taken the same liberty, I should have held my “farthing attention the lines of Horace to which these rhymes allude. If candle" as awkwardly as another, had not my respect for the wils Mr. Townsend sueceeds in his undertaking, as there is reason of Louis the Fourteenth's Augustan siècle induced me to subjoin to hope, how much will the world be indebled to Mr. Cumberland these illustrious authorities. Isi, Boileau : “Il est difficile de for bringing bim before the public! But, till that eventful day trailer des sujets qui sont à la portée tout le monde, d'une ma- arrives, it may be doubted whether the premature display of his nière qui vous les rende propres, ce qui s'appelle s'approprier un plan (sublime as the ideas consessedly are) has nol,-by raising sujet par le lour qu'on y donne.” 2dly, Batteux:"Mais il est bien expectation loo high, or diminishing curiosity, by developing bis disticile de donner des traits propres et individuels aux étres pure- argument,-ralher incurred the hazard of injuring Mr. Towa. ment possibles.” 3dly, Dacier :“Il est diflicile de trailer conve- send's future prospects. Mr. Cumberland (whose talents I sball nablement ces caractères que tout le monde peut inventer.” not depreciate by the humble tribute of my praise) and Mr. TownMde. de Sévigné's opinion and translation, consisting of some send must not suppose me acluated by unworthy molives in this thirty pages, I omit, particularly as M. Grouvelle observes, "La suggestion. I wish the author all the success he can wish himself, chose est bien remarquable, aucune de ces diverses interpre- and shall be truly happy to see epic poetry weighed up from the lations ne parait etre la véritable.” But, by way of comfort, il bathos where it lies sunken with Southey, Coltle, Cowley (M58. seems, finly years afterwards, “Le lumineux Dumarsais” made his or Abraham), Ogilvy, Wilkie, Pye, and all the "dull of past and appearance, lo set Horace on bis legs again, “dissiper lous les present days.” Even if he is not a Millon, he may be beller than nuages, el concilier tous les dissentimens ;” and some fifty years Blackmore; il not a llomer, 'an Anlimachus. I should deco hence, somebody, still more luminous, will doubtless start up and myself presumpluous, as a young man, in offering advice, were il demolish Dumarsais and bis system on this weighly affair, as if he not addressed to one still younger. Mr. Townsend has the greatwere no better than Plolemy and Tycho, or his comments of no est difficulties to encounter: but in conquering them he will god more consequence than astronomical calculations on the present employment; in having conquered them, his reward. I know too comel. I am happy to say, “la longueur de la dissertation" of well “the scribbler's scoff, the critic's contumely;" and I am M. D. prevents M. G. from saying any more on the maller. A afraid time will teach Mr. Townsend to know them better. Those better poet ihan Boileau, and at least as good a scholar as Sévi- who succeed, and those who do not, must bear this alike, and it gné, has said,

is hard to say which have most of it. I trust Mr. Towasend's

share will be from envy; - he will soon know mankind well “ A little learning is a dangerous hing."

enough not to attribute this expression to malice.-(This was perAnd, by this comparison of comments, it may be perceived how ned at Athens. On bis return to England Lord B. wrote to a friend: a good deal may be rendered as perilous 10 the proprietors.--"There is a sucking epic poet al Granta, a Mr. Townsend, (Dr. Johnson gave the interpretation thus :-" He means that it protége of the lale Cumberland. Did you ever hear of him and is difticult to appropriate to particular persons qualities which his Armageddon? I think his plan (the man I don't know) borders are common to all mankind, as Homer bas done.”—“It seems to on the sublime; though, perhaps, the anticipation of the Last result from the whole discussion,” says Mr. Croker, “chat, in the Day' is a liule too daring: at least, it looks like telling tbe Alordinary meaning of the words, the passage is obscure, and that, mighty what he is to do; and might remind an ill-natured person to make sense, we must either alter the words, or assign to them of the linean unusual interpretation. All commentators are agreed, by the

• And fools rush in where angels fear to tread.' help of the context, what the general meaning must be; but no But I don't mean to cavil-only other folks will; and he may bring one seems able 'verbum verbo reddere fidus interpres.'” (Bos- all the lambs of Jacob Behmen about his ears. However, I hope well, vol. iii. p. 438.) But, in our humble opinion, Boileau's be will bring it to a conclusion, though Millon is in his way.”

*On the original MS. we find, -" This note was written "fat All Lord Byron's anticipations, with regard to this poem, were Athens ) " before the author was apprised of Mr. Cumberland's realised to the very letter. To gratify the curiosity which bad death." The old littérateur died in May 1811, and had the honour been excited Mr. Townsend, in 1815, was induced to publish eight to be buried in Westminster Abbey, and lo Le eulogised, while the out of the lwelve books of wbich it was lo consist. “In the benecompany stuod round the grave, inibe following manly style by the tben Dean, Dr. Vinceni, his schoolfellow, and through life bis

friend volence of his heart, Mr. Cumberland,” he says, “ bestowed praise -"Good people! the person you see now deposited is Richard Cum on me, certainly too abundantly and prematurely; but I hope that berland, an author of no small merit: his writings were chiefly for any deficiency on my part may be imputed to the true cause-my the stagt, but of strict moral tendency: they were not without faults, own inability to support a subject, under which the greatest menbut they were not gross, abounding with oaths and libidinous expressions, as, I am shocked to observe, is the case of many of the tal powers must inevitably sink. My talents were neither equal present day. He wrote as much as any one : few wrole better; and to my own ambition, nor his zeal to serve me.”—E.] his works will be held in the highest estimation, as long as the English language will be understood. He considered the theatre a in the prospectus, about the distinguishing feature of the journal, school for moral improvement, and his remains are truly worthy o viz. lis having the writer's name affixed to the articles. This plan mingling with the illustrious dead which surround us. Read his has succeeded pretty well both in France and Germany, but has prose subjects on divinity! there you will find the true Christian failed utterly as often as it has been tried in this country. It is spirit of the man who Irusted in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. needless, however, to go into any speculation on the principle here, Vay God forgive him his sins; and, at the resurrection of the just, for the London Neview, whether sent into the world, with or without receive him into everlasting glory!"-E.

names, must soon bave died of the original disease dulness. + The London Review, set up in 1803, under Mr. Cumberland's E. editorial care, did not ouilive many numbers. He spoke great things

Soft as the gentler breathing of the lute,

Rough with his elders, with his equals rash, Of man's first disobedience and the fruit,” Civil to sharpers, prodigal of cash; He speaks, but, as his subject swells along, Constant to nought--save hazard and a whore, Earth, heaven, and Hades echo with the song. (1) Yet cursing both,—for both have made him sore; Still to the midst of things he bastens on,

Unread (unless, since books beguile disease, As if we witness'd all already done;

The p-x becomes his passage to degrees); Leaves on his path whatever seems too mean Fool'd, pillaged, dunn'd, he wastes his term away, To raise the subject, or adorn the scene;

And, unexpellid, perhaps retires M. A.; Gives, as each page improves upon the sight,(light; Master of arts ! as hells and clubs (6) proclaim, Not smoke from brightness, but from darkness- Where scarce a blackleg bears a brighter name! And truth and fiction with such art compounds, Launch'd into life, extinct his early fire, We know not where to fix their several bounds.

He apes the selfish prudence of his sire; If you would please the public, deign to hear Marries for money, chooses friends for rank, What soothes the many-headed monster's ear; Buys land, and shrewdly trusts not to the Bank; If your heart triumph when the hands of all Sits in the Senate; gels a son and heir; Applaud in thunder at the curtain's fall,

Sends him to Harrow, for himself was there. Deserve those plaudits-study nature's page, Mute though he votes, unless when called to cheer, And sketch the striking traits of every age;

His son 's so sharp—he 'll see the dog a peer! While varying man and varying years

unfold

Manhood declines-age palsies every limb; Life's little tale, so oft, so vainly told.

He quits the scene—or else the scene quits him; Observe his simple childhood's dawning days,

Scrapes wealth, o'er each departing penny grieves, His pranks, his prate, bis playmates, and his plays; And avarice seizes all ambition leaves; Till time at length the mannish tyro weans, Counts cent. per cent., and smiles, or vainly frels, And prurient vice outstrips his tardy teens! O'er hoards diminish'd by young Hopeful's debts;

Bebold him Freshman! forced no more to groan Weighs well and wisely what to sell or buy, O'er Virgil's (2) devilish verses and-bis own; Complete in all life's lessons—but to die; Prayers are too tedious, lectures too abstruse, Peevish and spiteful, doting, hard to please, He flies from Tavell's frown to “Fordham's Mews;" Commending every time, save times like these; Unlucky Tavell!(3) doom'd to daily cares

Crazed, querulous, forsaken, half forgot, By pugilistic pupils, and by bears :)(4)

Expires unwept-is buried—let him rot! Fines, tutors, tasks, conventions threat in vain, But from the Drama let me not digress, Before hounds, hunters, and Newmarket plain. Nor spare my precepts, though they please you less. Quanto reclius hic, qui nil molitur ineple!

Colligit ac ponit lemere, et mutatur in horas. "Dic mihi, Musa, virum, captæ post tempora Trofæ,

Imberbis juvenis, tandem custode remoto, Qui mores bominum multorum vidit, et urbes."

Gaudet equis canibusque, et aprici gramine campi; Non fumum ex fulgore, sed ex fumo dare lucem

Cereus in vitium lecti, monitoribus asper Cogitat, ut speciosa dehinc miracula promal,

Utilium tardus provisor, prodigus æris, Aptipbalen, Scyllamque, et cum Cyclope Charybdin

Sublimis, cupidusque, et aniala relinquere pernix. Kec reditum Diomedis ab interilu Meleagri,

Conversis studiis, alas animusque virilis Nec gemino bellum Trojanum orditur ab ovo.

Quæril opés et amicitias inservit honori; Semper ad eventum festinat, et in medias res

Commisisse cavet quod mox mulare laborel. Non secus ac nolas, anditorem rapit; et quæ

Mulla senem circumveniunt incommoda; vel quod Desperat tractata nitescere posse, relinquit:

Quæril, et inventis miser abstinct, ac timet uti; Atque ita mentitur, sic veris falsa remiscel,

Vel quod res omnes limide gelideque ministrat, Primo ne medium, medio ne discrepet imum.

Dilator, spe longus, iners, avidusque suturi; Tu quid ego, et populus mecum desiderel, audi

Dillicitis, querulus, laudator temporis acli S plausoris eges aulæa manentis, et usque

Se puero, censor castigatorque minorum. Sessuri, donec cantor, “Vos plaudite," dicat;

Multa serunt anni venientes commoda secum, Ælatis cujusque notandi sunt libi mores,

Multa recedentes adimunt. Ne forle seniles Mobilibusque decor naturis dandus et annis.

Mandenlur juveni partes, pueroque viriles, Reddere qui voces jam scit puer, et pede certo

Semper in adjunctis ævoque mirabimur aptis. Signal humum; gestil paribus colludere, et iram

Aut agitur res in scenis, aut acta refertur.

(1) “There is more of poetry in these verses upon Milion than (3) "Infandum. regina, subes renovare dolorem." I dare say Dany other passage throughout the paraphrase.” Moore.-E. Mr. Tavell (lo whom I mean no affront) will understand me; and !

2) Barvey, the circulator of the circulation of the blood, used nis no maller whether any one else does or no.- To the above ! fling away Virgil in his ecstasy of admiration, and say, "the events, “Quæque ipse miserrima vidi, el quorum pars magna book bad a devil.” Now, sucb a character as I am copying would fui,” all times and ternas bear testimony. probably fling it away al so, but rather wish that the devil had the (4) The Rev. G. F. Tavell was a fellow and tutor of Trinity book; not from dislike to the poet, but a well-founded horror of College, Cambridge, during Lord Byron's residence, and owed sesamelers. Indeed, the public school penance of “Long and this notice to the zeal with which he had protested against some Short” is enough to beget an antipathy to poetry for the residue or juvenile vagaries, sufficiently explained in Mr. Moore's Life. - E. a nad's life, and, perhaps, so far may be an advantage.

(5) “Hell,” a gaming house so called, where you risk lillle, and

Though woman weep, and hardest hearts are stirr'd, Nor call a ghost, unless some cursed scrape
When what is done is rather seen than heard, Must open ten trap-doors for your escape.
Yet many deeds preserved in history's page Of all the monstrous things I'd fain forbid,
Are better told than acted on the stage;

I loathe an opera worse than Dennis did ;(3)
The ear sustains what shocks the timid eye, Where good and evil persons, right or wrong,
And horror thus subsides to sympathy.

Rage, love, and aught but moralise, in song. True Briton all beside, I here am French

Hail, last memorial of our foreign friends Bloodshed 't is surely better to retrench;

Which Gaul allows, and still Hesperia lends! The gladiatorial gore we teach to flow

Napoleon's edicts no embargo lay In tragic scene disgusts, though but in show; On whores, spies, singers wisely shipp'd away. We hate the carnage while we see the trick, Our giant capital, whose squares are spread And find small sympathy in being sick.

Where rustics earn'd, and now may beg, their bread, Not on the stage the regicide Macbeth

In all iniquity is grown so nice, Appals an audience with a monarch’s death; It scorns amusements which are not of price. when sable Hubert threats to sear

Hence the pert shopkeeper, whose throbbing ear Young Arthur's eyes, can ours or nature bear? Aches with orchestras which he pays to hear, A halter'd heroine (1) Johnson sought to slay Whom shame, not sympathy, forbids to snore, We saved Irene, but half damn'd the play, His anguish doubling by his own “encore ;" And (Heaven be praised !) our tolerating times Squeezed in “Fop's Alley," jostled by the beaux, Stint metamorphoses to pantomimes;

Teased with his hat, and trembling for his toes; And Lewis' self, with all his sprites, would quake Scarce wrestles through the night, nor lastes of To change Earl Osmond's negro to a snake! Because, in scenes exciting joy or grief,

Till the dropp'd curtain gives a glad release: We loathe the action which exceeds belief:

Why this, and more, he suffers-can ye guess ?-And yet, God knows! what may not authors do, Because it costs him dear, and makes him dress! Whose postscripts prate of dyeing “heroines blue?" (2)

So prosper eunuchs from Etruscan schools;

Give us but fiddlers, and they 'ere sure of fools! Above all things, Dan Poet, if you can,

Erescenes were play'd by many a reverend clerk (4) Eke out your acts, I pray, with mortal man; (What barm, if David danced before the ark ?)(5)

To gaze

ease

Segnius irritant animos demissa per aurem
Quam quæ sunt oculis subjecta fidelibus, et qua
Ipse sibi tradit spectator. Non tamen intus
Digna geri promes in scenam; multaquo tolles
Ex oculis, quæ mox narret facundia præseos.
Nec pueros coram populo Medea trucidet;
Aut humaga palam coqual esla nefarius Alreus;

Aut in avem Progne vertatur, Cadmus in anguem.
Quodcunque ostendis mibi sic, incredulus odi.

Neve minor, neu sit quinto productior actu
Fabula, quæ posci valt, et spectata reponi.
Nec Deus intersil, nisi dignus vindice nodus
Inciderit :

are cheated a good deal. “Club," a pleasant purgatory, where usually Adam, Paler Cælestis, Faith, Vice,” etc. etc.-See Waryou lose more, and are not supposed to be chcaled at all. lon's History of English Poelry. (These, to modern eyes, wid,

(1) “Irene had to speak two lines with the bowstring round her uncouth, and generally profane performances, were thought to neck; but the audience cried out“Murder !' and she was obliged contribute so much to the information and instruction of the to go off the stage alive.” Boswell's Johnson. These iwo lines people, that one of the popes granted a pardon of one thousand were afterwards struck out, and Irene was carried off, lo be put days to every person who resorted peaceably 10 thc plays acted to death behind the scenes. “This shows,” says Mr. Malone, in the Whitsun-week at Chester, beginning with the Creativn, “how ready modern audiences are lo condemn, in a new play, and ending with the General Judgment. These were perwhat they have frequently endured very quietly in an old one. formed at the expense of the different trading companies of Rowe has made Moneses, in Tamerlane, die by the bowstring that city. The creation was performed by the Drapers; the without offence." Davies assures us, in his Life of Garrick, thal Deluge by the dyers; Abraham, Melchisedec, and Lot by the the strangling Irene, contrary lo Horace's rule coram populo, barbers, the Purification by the blacks.nitbs; the Last Supper was suggested by Garrick. See Croker's Boswell.-E.

by the bakers; the Resurrection by the skinners; and the As(2) In the postscript to the Castle Spectre, Mr. Lewis lells us, cension by the tailors. In Mr. Payne Collier's recent work va that though blacks were unknown in England at the period of his English Dramatic Poetry, the reader will find an abstract of the action, yet he has made the anachronism to set off the scene: and several collections of these mystery-plays, which is not only interif he could have produced the effect “ by making his heroine esting for the light it throws on the early days of our drama, bus blue,"-1 quole him-"blue he would have made her !”

instructive and valuable for the curious information it preserves (3) In 1706, Dennis, the critic, wrote an Essay on the Operas with respect to the strangely debased notions of Scriplure history afler the Italian manner, which are about to be established on that prevailed, almost universally, before translations of the Bible the English Stage; in which he endeavours to show, that it is a were in common use. See also the Quarterly Review, vol. alvi. diversion of more pernicious consequence than the most licen- p. 477.-E.) Lious play that ever appeared upon the slage.- E.

(3) Here follows in the original MS.(1) “ The first theatrical representations, entitled “Mysleries and Moralities,' were generally enacted at Christmas, by monks

• Who did what Vestris-yet, at least, cannot, (as the only persons wbo could read), and lallerly by the clergy

And cut bis kingly capers sans culoite."- E. and students of the universities. The dramatis personæ were

In Christmas revels, simple country folks (jokes. When “Chrononhotonthologos must die,"
Were pleased with morrice-mummery and coarse And Arthur struls in mimic majesty.
Improving years, with things no longer known,

Moschus! with whom once more I hope to sit Produced blithe Punch and merry Madame Joan,

And smile at folly, if we can't at wit; Who still frisk on with feast so lewdly low, Yes, friend! for thee I 'll quit my cynic cell, 'T is strange Benvolio (1) suffers such a show; (2)

And hear Swift's motlo, “Vive la bagatelle!” Suppressing peer! to whom each vice gives place,

Which charm'd our days in each Ægean clime, Oaths, boxing, begging,_all, save rout and race.

As oft at home, with revelry and rhyme. (3) Farce follow'd Comedy, and reach'd her prime Then may Euphrosyne, who sped the past, In ever-laughing Foote's fantastic time:

Soothe thy life's scenes, nor leave thee in the last; Mad wag! who pardon'd none, nor spared the best, But find in thine, like pagan Plato's bed, (4) And turp'd some very serious things to jest. Some merry manuscript of mimes, when dead. Nor church nor state escaped his public sneers, Now to the Drama let us bend our eyes, Arms nor the gown, priests, lawyers, volunteers :

Where fetter'd by whig Walpole low she lies; (5) " Alas, poor Yorick!” now for ever mute!

Corruption foil'd her, for she fear'd her glance; Whoever loves a laugh must sigh for Foote. Decorum left her for an opera dance!

We smile, perforce, when histrionic scenes Yet Chesterfield, (6) whose polish'd pen inveighs Ape the swoln dialogue of kings and queens, 'Gainst laughter fought for freedom to our plays;

(U) Benvolio does not bel; but every man who maintains race- bort did not fail to seize. The manager of Goodman's Fields horses is a promoter of all the concomitant evils of the turs. Theatre baving brought to him a farce called The Golden Avoiding to bel is a little pharisaical. Is il an exculpation ! Rump, which had been proffered for exbibition, the minister paid I think not. I never yet heard a bawd praised for chastity be- the profils which might have accrued from the performance, and cause she herself did not commit fornication.

detained the copy. He then made extracts of the most excep(2) For Benvolio we have, in the original MS., "Earl Gros tionable passages, abounding in profaneness, sedition, and blas. renur;" and for the next couplet :

phemy, read them to the House, and obtained leave lo bring in a " Suppressing peer! to whom each vice gives place,

bill to limit the number of playhouses; to subject all dramatic Save gambling-for his Lordship loves a race.

writings lo the inspection of the Lord Chamberlain; and to compel Bul ve cannol trace the exact propriety of the allusions. Lord the proprietors to take out a license for every production before Grosvenor, now Marquis of Westminster, no doubt distinguished il could appear on the stage.-E. bimself by some altack on the Sunday newspapers, or the like, a

(6) His speech on the Licensing Acl is one of his most eloquent the same time that he was known to keep a stud at Newmarkel- efforts.—(Though the Playhouse Bill is generally said to have but why a long note on a subject certainly insignificant and been warmly opposed in both Houses, this speech of the Earl of perhaps mislaken ?-E.

Chesterfield is the only trace of that opposition to be found in the (5) lo dedicating the fourth canto of Childe Harold to his periodical publications of the times. The following passage, which fellow-traveller, Lord Byron describes him as “one to whom he relates to the powers of the Lord Chamberlain, will show the style

Fas indebted for the social advantages of enlightened friendship; of the oration :-“The bill is not only an encroachment upon one whom he had long known, and accompanied (ar, whom he liberty, but it is likewise an encroachment on property. Wil, had found wakesul over his sickness and kind in his sorrow, glad my Lords, is a sort of property: it is the property of those who

in bis prosperity and firm in his adversity, true in counsel and have it, and too often the only properly they have to depend on. trasty in peril :"-wbile Mr. lobhouse, in describing a short Tbank Godl my Lords, we have a dependence of another kind:

tour to Negropont, in which his noble friend was unable to accom we have a much less precarious support, and therefore cannot paoy him, regrels the absence of a companion, “who, lo quick feel the inconveniences of the bill now before us : but it is our ness of observation and ingenuity of remark, united that gay duty to encourage and prolect wit, whosesoever's property it good humour which keeps alive the attention under the pressure may be. Those gentlemen wbo have any such properly are all, of fatigue, and softens the aspect of every difficulty and danger." I hope, our friends : do not let us subject them to any unnecessary -E.

or arbitrary restraint. I must own, I cannot easily agree to the (Under Plato's pillow a volume of the Mimes of Sophron laying of any tax upon wit; but by this bill it is to be beavily was found the day he died. Vide Barthélémi, De Pauw, or Dio laxed, it is to be excised : for, if this bill passes, it cannot be regenes Laërtius, if agreeable. De Pauw calls it a jost-book. Cum-tailed in a proper way without a permit; and the Lord Chamberlain berland, in bis Observer, terms it moral, like the sayings of is to have the honour of being chief guager, supervisor, commisPablius Syrus.

sioner, judge and jury. But, what is still more hard, though the (5) The following is a brief sketch of the origin of the Play- poor author,-the proprietor, I should say, cannot, perhaps, house Bil:-In 1735, Sir John Barnard brought in a bill “to dine till he has found out and agreed with a purchaser, yet, before restrain the number of houses for playing of interludos, and for he can propose to seek for a purchaser, he must patiently submit the better regulating of common players." The minister, Sir lo have his goods rummaged at this new excise-oftice; where they Robert Walpole, conceiving this to be a favourable opportunity may be detained for fourteen days, and even then he may find of checking the abuse of theatrical representation, proposed to them returned as prohibited goods, by which his chief and best insert a clause to ratify and confirm, is not enlarge, the power of market will be for ever shut against him, without tbe least shadow the Lord Chamberlain in licensing plays; and al the same time of reason, either from the laws of his country or the laws of the insinuated, that unless this addition was made the king would not slage. These hardships, this hazard, which every gentleman will pass it. But Sir John Barnard strongly objected to this clause; be exposed to who wriles any thing for the stage, must certainly contending that the power of that officer was already loo great, prevent every man of a generous and free spirit from attempting and had been often wanlonly exercised. He therefore withdrew any thing in that way; and as the stage bas always been the proper his bill, rather than establish by law a power in a single officer channel for wit and humour, therefore, my Lords, when I speak 50 much under the direction of the crown. In the course, how- against this bill, I must think I plead the cause of wit, I plead the wer, of the session of 1737, an opportunity offered, wbich Sir Ro cause of humour, I plead the cause of the British stage, and of

« PreviousContinue »