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credence to these anecdotes, and they are undeni. ably authentic, that with this predestinated, incorrigible habit of blundering, Dick is shrewd, correct, and intelligent in all matters where those qualities may be most usefully called into play? It is, however, not quite easy, it must be confessed, to reconcile with any tolerable degree of accuracy of judgment, an unaccountable aberration which Cobb used to relate of him, and which almost reminds one of some of the absurdities collected by Hierocles. Dick one day called at the Secretary's office in the India House upon Cobb, who happened for a few minutes to be absent; but, on returning, who should he see but Dick, earnestly exploring a map of Asia that was suspended on the wall, measuring the scale of it with a pair of compasses that he found on the table, and then applying them to a large tiger, which the artist had introduced to embellish it, as one of the animals of that country.
• By heavens, Cobb,” exclaimed Dick, “ I should never have believed it! Surely, it must be a mistake. Observe now-here," pointing to the tiger, “ here is a tiger that measures two-and
twenty leagues. By G-, it is scarcely credible!”
* * * *
Dick was a member of the celebrated DruryLane Committee, and took his share of that motley theatrical monarchy, which, if it answered no other purpose, at least served to illustrate the misrule and confusion that must always result, when any business is managed by persons who are utterly ignorant of it. It would, however, be but a sorry compliment to Dick, to say that he was as fit for a theatrical legislator as
, or any other person, who, taking measure of his own intellect, and arbitrarily putting upon it his own valuation, imagines that no appeal lies from the decisions of his taste and genius. Had Dick been the sole superintendent of that over-governed concern, I am sure that he would not have crammed down the public throat so much insipid stuff in the shape of new, or revived dramas as was brought out in that interval; much less the ridiculous, abominable imitations of humanity, that, during the period of that dramatic usurpation, crowded the stage in the shape of actors and actresses.
From this animadversion, it behoves me to except Lord Byron, who, with every rightful claim to admonish or regulate, neither advised nor regulated. Yet no one was more sensitively alive to the assumptions of *****, nor saw with a clearer discernment, the thin-spread layer of information, that covered as much intellectual inanity as falls to the lot of man, and much more than his usual allowance of conceit and assurance. “ All ***** goods," said he, "are brought to the shop-window. There is little or nothing in his warehouse, and what there is, is damaged.”
Dick never interfered with theatrical business. The only time he ever exerted any influence in the
green-room was, when he requested them to revive Southern's play of Oronooko, which had delighted him when a boy. This was not quite convenient, but they promised Dick that it should be got up, and played on the Saturday following. On that night, however, they acted Othello, which had been already in preparation; but Dick, who had not seen the bills, attended the performance of his favourite tragedy, and observing a black man on the stage, had no
doubt of its being Oronooko, and went home amused and satisfied.
It was by this means that Wilson was brought into contact with many eminent theatrical characters, whom he frequently invited to his table, and entertained with his accustomed liberality. I had the happiness to meet John Kemble there, and I was highly delighted with my good fortune, and the more so, as I sate next to him. The conversation at first did not seem to interest him. Dick's instinct for inviting bores had not been inactive on this occasion. A Mr. Wkept up a perpetual spluttering, and went on talking, though nobody seemed to listen to him. Kemble was uncommonly silent, and I did what I could, though I trust with no unseemly importunity, but only as much as he would consider complimentary, to get him to converse. A few revolutions of the bottle at length relaxed his taciturnity, and he made some remarks about Shakspeare, that proved how diligently he had read him; and what is most essential to just Shaksperean criticism, how much he had studied the poets and writers that were Shakspeare's con
temporaries. We got upon the historic plays of the great dramatist. Kemble said, that it was not difficult, though it required some attention, to feel one's way through the historical plays; but that a little practice would soon enable a man to distinguish the metal from the clay. This was a subject peculiarly interesting to me, and I called to see him the next morning, when he kindly resumed the subject. He told me, that long before Shakspeare's time, the stage was in possession of a succession of historical dramas, which Shakspeare was employed to alter, and adapt to the more improved taste of a more 'modern audience; that this circumstance would sufficiently account for the evident traces of the elder plays, which a critical eye would easily discern in almost all the historical plays attributed to Shakspeare, with the exception of Richard the Third, and Henry the Eighth, which were unquestionably and exclusively his own. King John, he observed, was a patch-work of this kind, though it contained many scenes scarcely surpassed by the genius of Shakspeare. The greater