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can find no terms of reprobation too severe; the word liberty throws them into a paroxysm of rage and abuse; a free and national government is, with them, synonymous with a frantic mobocracy, and a free press
great enchanter of the North,” as the famous novelist has been called, does not openly and zealously defend these detestable principles; but every now and then a sly hint, or cursory remark lifts up the mask, and discovers the Jacobite spirit of which I have been speaking
These “ paucæ maculæ,” however, will not be perceived by the generality of readers: if this celebrated writer errs, it is the wandering of a great mind dazzled with its own splendours, and which
like the throne of Milton's heaven, dark with excessive bright.”
The ornaments of comedy ought not to be rich and real, but feigned and artificial, like the drama itself. Those who represent and compose it are all instruments of great benefit to the commonwealth, holding, as it were, a looking-glass always before us, in which we see naturally delineated all the actions of life; and no other comparison whatever, represents to us more lively what we are, and what we ought to be, than comedy and ker attendants. Don Quixotte.
Edinburgh, April 17, 1819. I THINK I have before mentioned to you, that Edinburgh is deficient in those elegant
amusements which serve to unbend the mind after application to study and business. There is a pantheon or circus, which is beneath cri. ticism; and there are assembly rooms and a theatre, and Princes' street to display one's finery in, and Calton Hill for a healthful walk, and that's all I have only been once to the pantheon, and was so disgusted at their vulgar pantomimes, rope dancing, horse trotting, jumping over chairs, roaring, &c. that I resolved never to go there again.
The theatre is, from its form and size, well adapted to seeing and hearing; but the building itself would disgrace a country village, and the bad arrangements of the lights destroys the scenic effect. On the whole, the decorations are by no means contemptible, and the comic acting is sometimes very good. One part of the house is destined for that class of women which belongs to none in society: “ Here young-eyed Lewdness walks her midnight rounds."
The first row of boxes alone is filled with people of fashion; that part of the gallery, immediately fronting the stage, is generally crowded with drunken sailors and their dirty drabs; and the pit is preferred by those who go to the theatre to see and hear, rather than to be seen and heard.
Last night I went to see a representation of Rob Roy, which was very amusing. The story of the nuvel is dramatized with much taste. The author has very judiciously adopted the
humorous language and peculiar expressions of the novel, and his songs are not of his own composition; but he has tacitly confessed that Burns and Wordsworth have written better than he could. The interest in this opera is not that suggested by melo-dramatic horrors, which are so certain a mark of bad taste. The scene in the Highlands, when Rob Roy appears just after the jeremiads for his capture, is the most interesting. There was something very fine in the dumb despair of his wife and people for his capture; and this melancholy picture was beautifully contrasted with their enthusiastic and boisterous exultation, when he presents himself to their view.
The part of Frank Osbaldistone was execrably performed by an awkward stick lately imported from one of the minor London theatres. A graceless bumpkin who can do nothing but sing a song, is more unsufferable in my mind, than an actor who can do any thing but sing. The character best performed was that of Baillie Nicol Jarvie, by Mackay. When he talked about "dangling like the sign of the Golden Fleece over the door of a mercer's shop op Ludgate Hill,” I could not help exclaiming my conscience!“ Peter's Letters" contain a very excellent critique on Mackay's performance.
The view of Glasgow Bridge at night had a very fine effect, but not so beautiful as that of Loch Lomond, in the last act. I certainly did not expect to see such beautiful scenery, and
such an accurate display of nature in the Edinburgh theatre.
The famous English Roscius has been here for a few weeks I have seen him in 3 or 4 of his principal characters; but I will defer to an other opportunity any minute details of his peculiarities in acting, and shall content myself, in this letter, with a short criticism of his performance of Orestes in the Distressed Mother. During the first acts, he was rather tame; he appeared to reserve all his powers for the explosion of madness, when the horrors of his fate assail him, and when he seems to abandon himself in dark despair to the wretchedness which closes forever around him. Who that has ever witnessed Kean's performance in that soul-rending scene, in which Orestes laments the bitterness and misery of his dreadful doom, will not feel his spirits chilled, by something like the gloom of misanthropy? No pen can describe that horrid shriek by which he announces the destruction of reason and the agonies of madness; nor the wild and horrifying manner in which he represents Orestes tortur ed by the appalling visions which “sear his eye-balls”--till human nature, exhausted by such distraction, sinks into a calm even more dreadful than the storm which had preceded it
. But how wide the difference between this actor, and the inimitable Talma! Kean's ex. cellencies are confined to certain bursts of sion, but the French Roscius is unrivalled in the minutest details of his performance. No
one ever so completely sustained the character of profound wretchedness, or expressed so truly the influence of present suffering and the despair of settled grief. Talma reminds you of the heart-rending misery he has endured, by the spectacle of an exhausted frame and subdued spirit. The very act of speaking seems an exertion too great for a mind which has been bowed down by a complication of sufferings. Alas! are not the pomp of declamation,
and the aids by which passion is wont to express its miseries and distraction, all disregarded in the intensity of mental agony? In Kean, as I hinted before, the expression of wretchedness and despair seems confined to a few words, to broken sentences and sudden flashes of thought, which do not lay open before you the whole soul of the sufferer, although they afford glimpses of its awful re
With this letter I send you a copy of Mr. Alison's sermons, which are models of exquisite composition. As a preacher, he surpasses any that I have yet heard, except the Abbé Fraissinous. His aspect is rather melancholy;
however it occasionally beams with a noble se: renity, which gives an expression almost an
gelic to his countenance. His large gray eyes glimmer with“ a gentle lambent fire, and his high, pale forehead, sometimes recals to mind that celestial brightness which appeared in the countenances of saints, în moments of inspiration. His voice is the most soft, mellow and