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It would be easy, in the present instance, from the abuse to argue against the use of amusement; but does it follow from reason, or the nature of things, or from a negligent and corrupted police, that the avenues of our theatres must, on every side, be surrounded by the noja some dens of prostitution and fraud, where women and wine are employed, by well-known desperadoes and their emissaries, as decoys to the gaming table, whilst plunder and suicide close the dismal scene?.
The same argument might with equal propriety be alleged against kings, because St. James's palace, the residence of a prince exemplary for pure manners and decorous conduct, is almost elbowed by gamblers, pickpochets and impures; and in such nuinbers, that if fire from heaven, as in the days of the patriarchs, should descend and destroy every house of infamy in the royal purlieus, our gracious monarch would almost have a desart around him.
It is not our intention to criticise on the drama, or moralise on its abuses, but to notice the gorgeous decorations and bulky magnificence of our new-built theatres,» which, leaving regal splendour and ecclesiastic grandeur at an humble distance, rival or outstrip the vast dimensions and graceful proportions of ancient art. - The coup d'oil is certainly striking; but, after the stare of wonder and the exclamations of panegyric are satiated and exhausted, when the critic and dramatic amateur are seated in the brilliant magic circle, to enjoy that for which most rational men visit a theatre, they will find, with regret, that comfort, and the pleasure of distinctly hearing what is said on the stage, have been wholly sacrificed to architectural grandeur and vastness of space; a space which the woeful experience of past seasons has feelingly told the managers is never, but on the rare occasion of some temporary stimulants, adequate-, ly occupied.
Proud to catch cold at a Venetian door has repeatedly presented itself to the imagination as well as feelings of many a shivering spectator.
Mr. Sheridan might have been taught, without paying so dearly for his knowledge, and without exhibiting the degrading spectacle of a half-finished building (that unerring symptom of an empty treasury,) he might have been taught, that there is a degree of space, accurately
determined by reason and experience, beyond which the human voice, however artificially assisted or violently strained, cannot with efficacy reach.
The rapture of an immense receipt may seize the imagination or tempt the avarice of a manager, but he ought never to lose sight of the prior claims of the public to comfort and amusement, or he will, as in the case of Drury Lane Theatre, be often obliged to exhibit bis gilded lattices, his stuccoes, his pilasters, his processions, his cavalcades, his laughing tragedies and crying comedies, to empty benches ; whilst the few who are so unlucky as to be entrapped by the gaudy puppet-shew will suffer mischiefs not easily remedied, from damp space unoccupied, and from freezing currents of air; and all they have, in return, is a view of apparently dumb actors, whom they may like to see, but, with the exception of the fiddlers, cannot possibly hear.
The public would have been to the full as well amused, and much better satisfied, had the theatres prepared for their reception been less gaudy and less stupendous, without levying additional contributions on their pockets; contributions which, in the present rage for sumptuous exhibition, they would have paid with less regret, had not the pleasure derived from the drama, and the comfort of hearing a good play, been proportionately diminished, if not almost wholly destroyed. C. P. B.
MACKLIN AND GARRICK. GARRICK and Macklin frequently rode out together, and often baited at some of the public houses on the Richmond road. Upon these occasions, whenever they came to a turnpike, or to settle the account of the luncheon, Garrick either had changed his breeches that inorning, and was without money, or else used to produce a 36s. piece, which made it difficult to change. Upon these occasions, Macklin, to use his own phrase, “ stood Captain Flashman;" that is, paid the charge. This went on for some time, when Macklin, finding that Garrick never took his turn of paying the expenses, or repaying those he had advanced for him, challenged him one day for a debt he owed him, and then pulled out a long slip of paper, in which the several disbursements, were entered according to date, place, and company;
“ which, Sir,” said the veteran, "amounted to between thirty and forty shillings. The little fellow at first seemed surprised, and then would have turned it into a joke: but I was serious, Sir, and he paid me the inoney; and after that we jogged on upon our own sepa- rate accounts.”
Another time Garrick gave a dinner at his lodgings to Harry Fielding, Macklin, Havard, Mrs. Cibber, &c. &c.; and vails to servants being then much the fashion, Macklin, and most of the company, gave Garrick's man (David, a Welchman) something at parting--some a shilling, some half a crown, &c. whilst Fielding, very formally, slipped a piece of paper in his hand, with something folded in the inside. When the company were all gone, David seeming to be in high glee, Garrick asked him how much he got. “ I can't tell you yet, Sir,” said Davy: “ here is half a crown from Mrs. Cibber, Got pless hur-here is a shilling from Mr. Macklin-here is two from Mr. Havard, &c.and here is soinething more from the poet, Got pless his merry heart.” By this time David had unfolded the paper, when, to his great astonishment, he saw it contain no miore than one penny! Garrick felt nettled at this, and next day spoke to Fielding about the impropriety of jesting with a servant. “ Jesting !” said Fielding, with a seeming surprise: “ so far from it, that I meant to do the fellow a real piece of service ; for had I given him a shilling, or half a crown, I knew you would have taken it from him ; but by giving him only a penny, he had a chance of calling it his own."
JOHN HOME, ESQ. (LATELY DECEASED.)
· The high reputation which this gentleman acquired, in being the author of one of the most successful of modern tragedies, must render some account of such an author interesting to our readers. John Home, Esq. was a native of Scotland : he was educated for the ministry, in the kirk of that country, and was esteemed for his literary attainments, and the propriety of his private conduct. Fond, however, of the Muse, and feeling the inspirations of poetry in his mind, he turned his attention towards dramatic composition, and produced his cele
þrated tragedy of Douglas, which he presented to the manager of the Edinburgh theatre. It was received with pleasure by the manager, and with the warmest appl use by the public.
The leading members of the kirk were highly offended with the author, for employing his pen upon a subject which they deemed inconsistent with his clerical function, and they used all the arts of persuasion, and all the force of authority, to prevent hiin from having his tragedy brought into representation. The high opinion, however, which the literary friends of the author had conceived of the work, the desire of poetical distinction natural to the juvenile mind, and perhaps the prospect of pecuniary advantage, rendered him deaf to admonition, and regardless of danger. The consequence was, dismission from his ecclesiasticale mployment, as the elders of the kirk were resolved to maintain the austere dignity of their institution, and not suffer the Muses to sport in a place devoted to religion.
The elders, of course, drew upon themselves much ridicule, for this apparent excess of rigour; but perhaps that ridicule was not properly directed against them. There is much due to old cstablishments, in order to preserve that popular reverence with which they are regarded, and from which the interests of morality and religion may derive considerable support. There is, indeed, no great harm in writing a play, and it seems very fastidious and unreasonable to persecute the author of a moral drama ; but the very circumstance of shewing a strong and decisive reprobation of such an appropriation of talents in any person devoted to a particular ministry may tend to increase its estimation, and confirm its au, thority.
The loss of this situation, however, though at first it seemed to blight all the hopes of Mr. Home, in reality was not of much injury to him; he was taken under the protection of the Earl of Butę, a nobleinan distinguish, ed for his love of literature and science, and who may be considered as having himself suffered too much from persecution, in the rage of political animosity. Mr. Home, through the interest of this nobleman, obtained a pension from his present Majesty, before he ascended that throne which his virtues, as a monarch and a man, so eminently contributed to adorn and dignify.'
The disgrace which Mr. Honne incurred among his
clerical brethren, and the poetical distinction which he acquired, partly in consequence of that disgrace, and partly arising from the merits of his work, constitute the chief feature in his life, was afterwards devoted to the duties of a place which he held under government in Scotland, and to the cultivation of his dramatic powers. He wrote several works for the stage, incited by the success of his Douglas, but none of them have any degree of merit compared to that popular drama.
Having been patronised by Lord Bute, the late Mr. Wilkes directed his pen, occasionally, against our author, and ridiculed, with some success, a passage in the tragedy of Douglas, in which the river is said to “impose silence with a stilly sound.” The idea of a sounding silence is, indeed, ludicrous, and a contradiction in terms; but a man of learning and taste, like Mr. Wilkes, should have looked over such a petty inacuracy in a work of so much merit. The excellence of Douglas, however, chiefly consists in the simplicity of the language, and the pathos of the story; for there is nothing powerful in the sentiment, or very striking in the characters. The catastrophe, we conceive, might have been different, without lessening the proper interest of the drama, though it would not have concluded with the terrible graces of tragedy. There was no reason for killing Douglas, and making his mother, in a state of distraction, rush upon suicide, Glenalvon ouybt to have been destroyed for his villainy, and Lord Randolph might have shared his fate, for attending to the suggestions of an artful villain ; rather than boldly searching into the truth of his allegations, in order to bring the supposed adulteress and her paramour to punishment, if they should have been found to deserve it. Thus would the laws of poetical justice have been preserved, the amiable characters would have obtained the rewards they merited, and only guilt and rash suspicion would have suffered; while the progress of the drama would have afforded a sufficient exercise for the sympathies of humanity,
The rest of Mr. Home's dramatic compositions, which were represented with various success, but none with much effect, are the following tragedies :-Agis, the Siege of Aquileia, the Fatal Discovery, Alonzo, and Alfred,