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upon it.

that silence is the greatest compliment that can be bestowed

It is now about twenty years since the appearance of the delightful comedy of “the Honey-moon.” The author borrowed freely, and without disguise, from the early dramatists; but his imitations are such as none but a man of genius could have executed. The characters and incidents are familiar to every one acquainted with the works of the fathers of the English drama; but they are invested, by the skill of the adapter, with an air of novelty ; and, in some instances, the imitation seems to be an improvement upon the original. It is stated, in the memoirs of the author by Miss Benger, that this beautiful play was written as an experiment: its success was most complete; and it is fortunate for Tobin's fame that he was induced to make it. The only plays remembered to his honour, are “ The Honey-moon” and “ The Curfew ;” the two which he composed in imitation of the ancient dramatic poets. Had he never produced any thing but his prose comedies, he must have passed for a very ordinary writer indeed.

The triumph of genius and taste, in the popularity of the Honey-moon, was not productive of any permanent advantage to the cause of legitimate comedy. The regular drama seems, from this period, to have been systematically discouraged; the stage has continued to descend in the scale of degradation, and to advance in a constant and steady progression from bad to worse. The miserable compositions which formerly were dignified with the name of Comedies, have given way to productions of a different kind, and of a still lower character. Five Act Farces have had their day, and Melodrame and Mummery now reign with undisputed sovereignty. We hear much of the liberality of managers, and it cannot be denied that they expend money lavishly enough. But how is it expended Upon precocious chi dren, sagacious horses, enlightened dogs, rope dancers, mummers, and merry-andrews; in gorgeous pageantry, to adorn some silly nursery-tale, and stupendous machinery, to effect some childish wonder. If a foreigner, acquainted with the works of our best dramatic writers, were to visit our national theatres, in the hope of witnessing the representation of some of their immortal productions, what is the kind of entertainment which would most probably await him? Horses have now taken such complete possession of the stage, that he would be almost certain, like Irene from the turret, to see them galloping.” It he was dissatisfied with this, and wished for something more intellectual, it is not improbable (particularly if his visit were soon after Christmas,) that he might be gratified by seeing a turnip walk a minuet, or hearing a cauliflower sing a song. He

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might, within the compass of a single evening, be introduced to the seven wonders of the world, and even to an eighth, more wonderful than all the rest; a wonder produced by pouring a few pails of water down a staircase! Such are at present the classical exhibitions of our Theatres Royal; and a stranger in our land must doubtless receive from them a deep impression of the flourishing state of dramatic literature in the country which gave birth to Shakspeare. He must retire with a profound veneration for the judgment, taste, and feeling, of the directors of our public amusements, as well as of those who submit to frequent them.

If it be asked to what cause is the degradation of the stage to be attributed, it may be confidently answered to the ignorance, caprice, and vandalism, of those to whom its superintendance has been entrusted. During the greater part of the year, two theatres only within the metropolis are permitted to supply the demands of the public taste for genuine tragedy and comedy. When this monopoly was granted, it must have been intended that the regular drama should be exhibited in those establishments which were endowed with the exclusive privilege of such exhibition; as, otherwise, it would be

proscribed altogether. Those, however, who have possessed themselves of the management of our Theatres, have banished from them the legitimate offspring of the tragic and comic Muses. They have defeated the intentions of the crown in granting the patents, and of the legislature, which subsequently confirmed the monopoly, by depriving the sovereign of the power of granting any more: and it is fuil time to withdraw an important trust from the hands of those who have abused it; who will neither themselves do that which it is their duty to do, nor suffer others to supply the wants occasioned by their perverseness. Let us not be told that these persons have rights too sacred to be touched. Let us not hear that it would be unjust to interfere with privileges which have existed for so great a length of time. If the patentees have rights, they are also called upon to perform a duty, and the neglect of the duty will justify the forfeiture of the right. It is not to be presumed that the monopoly was granted, or is continued, for the benefit of two or three individuals, without any regard to public accommodation. The East India Company have long possessed an exclusive privilege of importing tea from China into this country; but, if they should determine that they would import no more, is it probable that the legislature would allow those who wished to drink tea to be deprived of this indulgence, by the continuance of the monopoly? Certainly not. If the Company refused to bring

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any more tea, the trade would either be thrown open, or yested in the hands of persons disposed to carry it on. If the proprietors of the existing theatrical patents had employed their exclusive powers in the encouragement and support of dramatic literature, we would have said, let them continue to enjoy them; but, when regardless of the purpose for which those powers were given, they convert their establishments into hippodromes and raree-shows, it becomes necessary, if the regular drama is to exist at all, that some other places should be appropriated to its exhibition. With little reason, indeed, could those complain of the invasion of their privileges, who have evinced so marked a disregard of the privileges of others,-privileges sanctioned by long-established custom, if not by positive law. The proprietors of the Winter Theatres, by the gradual extension of their season, until it now occupies nearly the whole of the year, have contracted the season of the Summer Theatres (formerly consisting of several months) to a very few weeks. It seems, as if to deny the public all theatrical amusement, of an elegant or intellectual nature, at the larger houses, was not sufficient, unless they could be in a great degree, prevented from seeking it elsewhere again. The introduction at the larger houses of those entertainments, formerly peculiar to the minor Theatres, is manifestly unjust and injurious to the latter establishments. If the minor Theatres are to be restrained from the exhibition of the legitimate drama, common fairness requires that the major Theatres should not interfere with those representations which alone are left for them. If Drury Lane and Covent Garden are to monopolize Tragedy and Comedy, surely Pantomime and Spectacle might be left for Sadler's Wells and the, Cobourg. When the proprietors of the privileged Theatres turn Shakspeare and Sheridan out of doors, to make way for the distortions of Melodrame and the nonsense of Harlequinade, the proprietors of the unprivileged Theatres ought to be allowed to take them in, not only in mercy to the poets, but by way of reprisal, for the unjust aggression of the larger houses upon the rights of the smaller ones.

An attempt is sometimes made to apologize for the abuse of managerial power, by saying, that the regular drama does not attract, and that the public taste requires the despicable exhibitions which at present degrade the stage. If this were so, it would not be very extraordinary. It may be, that the regular drama does not attract, and the fact may not involve any impeachment of the public taste. The cupidity of the patentees has induced them to erect Theatres of such gigantic dimensions, that, to a great part of the audience, it is just possible to see the stage, but utterly impossible to hear what

VOL. 1, PART I.

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is said by those who occupy it. Now, as Comedy and Tragedy differ from Spectacle in this, that it is necessary that the actors in the should be audible as well as visible, it is elear that the Brobdignag editices of Covent Garden and Drury Lane, are utterly unfit for their representation. But, Surely it is too much for managers to say to the public, “Our avarice has caused us to build Theatres so large, that the regular Drama cannot be heard; therefore, it shall not be acted in them or in any other place.” Again, if the public taste were as bad as it is represented to be, who but the mapagers are accountable for it? After the extraordinary pains which they have taken to deprave the public appetite, are they the persons to complain, if their exertions should be found to have succeeded? After being for a long series of years deprived of sound and wholesome food, and habituated to nauseous and cloying substitutes, would it be very surprising if the public taste had become, in some degree, impaired, and to a certain extent incapable of appreciating the tone and flavour of dramatic excellence? And, is it to be endured, that those who have caused the infirmity, should revile those who are suffering under it? But the charge is unfounded. The public taste is, perhaps, generally better than it is supposed to be. Men may be content with insipidity and absurdity when nothing better is to be had ; but talent will rarely assert its rights in vain, and the best writers, in every department of literature, are commonly the most popular. The unhealthy progeny of the Minerva Press once furnished the favourite amusement of the ladies; but the Great Unknown arose in the strength of genius to cover them with the mantle of oblivion, and they are now as completely estranged from the toilet of beauty, as they always were from the closet of learning

Where is the evidence to be found of the existence of this imputed depravity of public taste. When, some years since, one of the Theatres was sinking under the pressure of debt and difficulty, was it saved from total ruin by pantomime and spectacle? No! The proprietors were so fortunate as to discover in a remote corner of the country,

A youth to fortune and to fame unknown;" but who burned with the fire of genius, and who seemed born to be a living illustration of the passions, as pourtrayed by Shakspeare. Did the public evince any slowness in discerning the splendid powers of Mr. Kean? When, shortly afterwards, Miss O'Neil, at the rival house, displayed an intensity of pathos, which might almost cause "stones to weep!” did the public exhibit any insensibility to the powers of this “Queen of tears?” When Othello was represented, with the united force of Mr. Kean and Mr. Young, did the treasurer of the Theatre find that his balance was on the wrong side ? Did not the public rush with an unprecedented eagerness to witness the masterpiece of Shakspeare, supported by the talents of the founder of the new school of acting, and the finest remaining specimen of the old one? But is not the patronage bestowed upon what is familiarly called the Little Theatre, in the Haymarket, a convincing proof that the taste for the regular Drama is not lost? Whenever the performances at this Theatre have been supported by a tolerable Company, they have been eminently encouraged; and we cannot help wishing that its season, instead of being confined to two or three months, was extended to eight or nine. We like the house, first, because there is not room for spectacle and pageantry'; secondly, because we can see the actors without a telescope, and hear them without a trumpet.

In turning to the Comedy, the title of which appears at the head of this article, it may not be improper to state, that we have been induced to notice it, partly from its uncommon popularity, and partly from the unusual nature of its pretension; it being an attempt at genuine comedy, after the lapse of the fifth part of a century, from the first performance of the “Honeymoon,” which appeared at about the same distance of time from the production of the “ Heiress.” It seems, therefore, that, as our Theatres are at present conducted, we may expect to be gratified by the appearance of something like Comedy once in twenty years. From the reports of the play-going part of the public, as well as from the poetical talent previously displayed by its reputed author, we sate down to the perusal of “ Pride shall have a Fall,“ with highly excited expectations, which, though not totally unanswered, have yet been disappointed to a very great degree. There is not the probability, consistency, and continuity of plot, the skilful development of character, the wit, nor the poetry, which we had hoped for; but yet the Play is so infinitely superior to any novelty which has been exhibited for many years past, that its success is highly creditable to the publit discrimination, and affords a triumphant refutation of the calumnies of those who, having strenuously laboured to deprave the popular taste, would persuade themselves and others that they have succeeded. There seems to be some. thing in the Spanish and Italian states, peculiarly favourable to Comedy. The old dramatists most frequently selected the southern countries of Europe for the scenes of their Plays, and our author has laid his at Palermo. The characters are, -a certain Count Ventoso and his family, consisting of a

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