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Cassio, Mr. Bromley (his first appearance in that character) ; Roderigo, Mr. Russell ; Iago, Junius Brutus Booth ; Leonardo, Mr. Hudson ; Julio, Mr. Raymond; Manco, Mr. Moreton ; Paulo, Mr. Read; Giovanni, Mr. Starmer; Luca, Mr. Randall; Desdemona, Mrs. W. West ; Emilia, Mrs. Egerton.—This theatre overflows every night. The patentees cannot condescend to enter into a competition of scurrility, which is only fitted for minor theatres—what their powers really are, will be, without any public appeal, legally decided in November next, and any gasconade can only be supposed to be caused by cunning or poverty.-After which, the farce of Modern Antiques, &c.
A more impudent puff, and heartless piece of bravado than this, we do not remember to have witnessed. This theatre does not overflow every night. As to the competition of scurrility, which the manager declines, it is he who has commenced it. The minor theatres—that is, one of them to wit, the Lyceum-put forth a very proper and well-grounded remonstrance against this portentous opening of the winter theatre in the middle of the dog-days, to scorch up the dry, meagre, hasty harvest of the summer ones :-at which our mighty manager sets up his back, like the great cat, Rodilardus; scornfully rejects their appeal to the public ; says he will pounce upon them in November with the law in his hands; and that, in the meantime, all they can do to interest the public in their favour by a plain statement of facts, “can only be supposed to be caused by cunning or poverty." This is pretty well for a manager who has been so thanked as Mr. Elliston! His own committee may laud him for bullying other theatres, but the public will have a feeling for his weaker rivals, though the angry comedian “should threaten to swallow them up quick," and vaunt of his action of battery against them, without any public appeal," when wind and rain beat dark November.” This sorry manager, “dressed” (to use the words of the immortal bard, whom he so modestly and liberally patronises) "dressed in a little brief authority, plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven,"not “as make the angels weep,”—but his own candlesnuffers laugh, and his own scene-shifters blush. He ought to be ashamed of himself. Why, what a beggarly account of wretched actors, what an exposure of the nakedness of the land, have we in this very play-bill, which is issued forth with such a mixture of pomp and imbecility! Mr. Kean's name, indeed, stands preeminent in lordly capitals, in defiance of Mr. Dowton's resentment, and Junius Brutus Booth, in his way, scorns to be Mistered! But all the rest are, we suppose
i In Rabelais.
-Mr. Elliston's friends. They are happy in the favour of the manager, and in the total ignorance of the town! Mr. Kean, we grant, is in himself a host; a sturdy column, supporting the tottering, tragic dome of Drury Lane! What will it be when this main, this sole striking pillar is taken away—“ You take my house, when you do take the
house"—when the patentees shall have nothing to look to for salvation but the puffing of the Great Lessee, and his genius for law, which we grant may rival the Widow Blackacre's—and when the cries of Othello, of Macbeth, of Richard, and Sir Giles, in the last agonies of their despair, shall be lost, through all the long winter months, "over a vast and unhearing ocean”? Mr. Elliston, instead of taking so much pains to announce his own approaching dissolution, had better
1 The practice of printing the names of the principal performers in large type had been laid aside for many years, but Elliston revived it this season. Kean's name alone received the distinction.
let Mr. Kean pass in silence, and take his positive departure for America without the pasting of placards, and the dust and clatter of a law-suit in Westminster Hall. It is not becoming in him, R. W. Elliston, Esq., comedian, formerly proprietor of the Surrey and the Olympic, and author of a pamphlet on the unwarrantable encroachments of the Theatres-Royal, now to insult over the plea of self-defence and self-preservation, set up by his brethren of the minor play-houses, as the resource of "poverty and cunning!"-It is not friendly, it is not gentlemanly. The profession, as well as Mr. Arnold, may blame him for it; but the patentees will no doubt thank him at their next quarterly meeting.
EXPLANATIONS–CONVERSATION ON THE
DRAMA WITH COLERIDGE.
London Magazine (No. XII.), December, 1820. IF theatrical criticisms were only written when there is something worth writing about, it would be hard upon us who live by them. Are we not to receive our quarter's salary (like Mr. Croker in the piping time of peace) because Mrs. Siddons has left the stage, and “has not left her peer" ? or because John Kemble will not return to it with renewed health and vigour, to prop a falling house, and falling art? or because Mr. Kean has gone to America ? or because Mr. Wallack has arrived from that country? No; the duller the stage grows, the gayer and more edifying must we become in ourselves : the less we have to say about that, the more room we have to talk about other things. Now would be the time for Mr. Coleridge to turn his talents to account, and write for the stage, when there is no topic to confine his pen,
or "constrain his genius by mastery." "With mighty wings outspread, his imagination might brood over the void and make it pregnant.” Under the assumed head of the Drama, he might unfold the whole mysteries of Swedenborg, or ascend the third heaven of invention with Jacob Behmen: he might write a treatise on all the unknown sciences, and finish the “Encyclopedia Metropolitana" in a pocket form :-nay, he might bring to a satisfactory close his own dissertation on the difference between the Imagination and the Fancy,' before, in all probability, another great actor appears, or another tragedy or comedy is written. He is the man of all others to swim on empty bladders in a sea without shore or soundings: to drive an empty stage-coach without passengers or lading, and arrive behind his time; to write marginal notes without a text; to look into a millstone to foster the rising genius of the age ;
see merit in the chaos of its elements, and discern perfection in the great obscurity of nothing," as his most favourite author, Sir Thomas Brown, has it on another occasion. Alas! we have no such creative talents : we cannot amplify, expand, raise our flimsy discourse, as the gaseous matter fills and lifts the round, glittering, slow-sailing balloon, to "the up-turned eyes of wondering mortals." Here is our bill of fare for the month, or list of memoranda-The French Dancers-Farren's Deaf LoverMacready's Zanga-Mr. Cooper's Romeo. A new farce, not acted a second time— Wallace, a tragedy,—and Mr. Wallack's Hamlet. Who can make anything of such a beggarly account as this ? Not we. Yet, as poets at a
? The Fancy is not used here in the sense of Mr. Peter Corcoran, but in a sense peculiar to Mr. Coleridge, and hitherto undefined by him.W. H. (For Mr. Corcoran, see Mr. Gosse's Gossip in a Library, p. 271,
pinch invoke the Muse, so we, for once, will invoke Mr. Coleridge's better genius, and thus we hear him talk, diverting our attention from the players and the play.
"The French, my dear Hazlitt," would he begin, "are not a people of imagination. They have so little, that you cannot persuade them to conceive it possible that they have none. They have no poetry, no such thing as genius, from the age of Louis XIV. It was that, their boasted Augustan age, which stamped them French, which put the seal upon their character, and from that time nothing has grown up original, or luxuriant, or spontaneous among them ; the whole has been cast in a mould, and that a bad one. Montaigne and Rabelais (their two greatest men, the one for thought, and the other for imaginative humour,-for the distinction between imagination and fancy holds in ludicrous as well as serious composition) I consider as Franks rather than Frenchmen, for in their time the national literature was not set, was neither mounted on stilts, nor buckramed in stays. Wit they had, too, if I could persuade myself that Molière was a genuine Frenchman ; but I cannot help suspecting that his mother played his reputed father false, and that an Englishman begot him. I am sure his genius is English, and his wit not of the Parisian cut. As a proof of this, see how his most extravagant farces, the Mock-doctor, Barnaby Brittle, &c., take with us. What can be more to the taste of our bourgeoisie, more adapted to our native tooth, than his Country Wife, which Wycherly did little else than translate into English? What success a translator of Racine into our vernacular tongue would meet with, I leave you to guess.
Adaptations of Le Médecin Malgré lui and George Dandin.