Page images
PDF
EPUB

66

was roused by the clattering of the hoofs of the Princess of Mingrelia's Palfry-you may judge I was, during the rest of the representation of Timour, kept broad awake, by the bray of kettle-drums, the galloping of horses, and the clangor of trumpets-this greatly shocked and surprised me who remembered Garrick's time, when a fine tragedy was succeeded by an entertaining farce, and the audience dispersed, not merely amused, but I verily believe, improved, by the night's entertainment ;-but I will confess to you, what still more than the mummery astonished me, was, to behold the shouting and delirious acclamation that prevailed, and my hearing many grave men and women exclaim, Delightful! charming! wonderful!" and, in a word, curvet round the whole circus of superlatives with as much alacrity as Bluebeard's charger. This, I own, puzzled me-I went home to my coffee-house, took a tumbler of brandy and water, and still could not solve this phenomenon of bad taste.. After a night's rather disturbed rest, in the morning at breakfast, a sort of solution of the difficulty occurred to me, which I beg permission to communicate to you-We are becoming a warlike people, Mr. Editor. We had wars in Queen Anne's time; but then we fought by a sort of proxy; but at present the case is different, and the military spirit is diffused from the cot to the throne. Thanks to Buonaparte's threats of invasion, every man now is a soldier, and therefore naturally becomes enamoured of the "pomp, pride, and circumstance of glorious war;" and among them "the neighing steed," of course, holds a conspicuous place in his affections-the field of battle is become familiar to his thoughts ;" and from what before he would have turned in disgust, he now contemplates with pleasure. It was just so in Rome-it was not till after the time of Terence, who was the friend of Scipio and Lælius, that the Romans took so

violently

violently to gladiatorial exhibitions; nor did they prem fer them to his comedies, till, like us, they were at war with the whole world. Cæsar, in the true feeling of a martial critic, blames Terence for his want of spirit, and adds a wish, in which, I am sure, as ap plied to our modern dramatists, every playgoer of the present day heartily joins:

Lenibus atque utinam scriptis, adjuncta foret vis comica. This spirit-stirring observation of Cæsar's is, I am certain, the opinion of every militia and volunteer colonel throughout the nation- no wonder then that a body of such weight should have an influence in turné ing the scale of national taste.

.

I

There is another, and a very strong concurring cause for this partiality towards equestrian performers; need say that I allude to that respectable fraternity called the Four-in-hand Club; who, with a laudable veneration for antiquity, are trying, as far as in them lies, to revive the glories of the Olympic Games in the exalted characters of mail coachmen: excellent members, not merely of the community, but of Parliament, they are preparing themselves to superintend the great scheme of the Post-office conveyances (invented by Mr. Palmer, who, unfortunately for himself, did not, like Lord Liverpool, make his bargain sure), and to obtain a personal knowledge of all the turnpike and bye roads in the kingdom.

Go on, brave youths, till, in some future age,
Whips shall become the senatorial badge;,
And England see her thronging senators,
Meet all at Westminster in boots and spurs ;
Of bets and taxes learnedly debate,

And guide, with equal reins, a steed or state.

Yes, Mr. Editor, it is to the prevalence of the military. spirit and the four-in-hand that I ascribe this passion. for equestrian mummery; and while I hail the cause, I cannot 1.20ouli

K 5

I cannot but say I am heartily grieved at the effects.
But I have already trespassed too long on your time.
I must now take my leave, and subscribe myself,
Your obedient servant,

OLIVER OLD TIMES.

THE AGE.

[From the same, May 3.]

HOW
[OW arts improve in this aspiring age!

Peers mount the box, and horses mount the stage;
While waltzing females, with unblushing face,
Disdain to dance but in a man's embrace.
How arts improve, when modesty is dead,
And sense and taste are, like our bullion, fled!

EPIGRAM,

ON THE VOTE OF THE FREEDOM OF THE CITY OF LONDON TO THE PRINCE REGENT IN A WOODEN BOX.

[From the Morning Post, May 6.]

TO Princely George they give a box of wood,
Knowing his loyal virtues are not sold;
But thought a golden one for W―e good;

For well they knew-the patriot's price was gold.
OWEN AP HOEL.

THE PETITION OF THE ANCIENT AND COMICAL CORPORATION OF FARCES TO THE BRITISH PUBLIC,

HUMBLY SHOWETH,

THAT your Petitioners have a prescriptive right to the occupation of the stage next in order to the higher and more honourable denominations of the dramatic art, Tragedies, Comedies, and Operas.

That, in consequence of this prescription, your Pe

titioners

[ocr errors]

titioners did, for many years, enjoy the said privileges unmolested, until the period of the governments of the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, under R. B. Sheridan, who did thereon tolerate certain Bulls; and of Covent Garden, under Harris and Kemble, who bave far exceeded the misdoings of the said Drury Lane; and have most mummingly and mountebankly introduced divers horses, tumblers, rope-dancers, and fireeaters, on the stage, against the statute of decorum in that case made and provided.

That, in consequence of such introduction, your Petitioners have, for weeks and months together, been deprived of their just privilege of amusing the public, while, for a series of forty, and sometimes fifty, nights, the same despicable display of equestrian abomination has been palmed upon the public, to their great detriment, and to the utter destruction, of your Petitioners.

That your Petitioners, the legitimate offspring of the brains of the best writers this country ever produced, feel themselves especially aggrieved, inasmuch as they considered themselves the means, delectando pariterque monendo, of correcting those levities and follies which were beneath the notice of their respected relations, Thalia and Melpomene; and that they thus acted as gleaners in the fields of absurdity, leaving no head of human absurdity unculled; and that this their appropriate and essential use is annulled and rendered utterly abortive, by the perseverance of the above Harris and Kemble, in sanctioning, continuing, nay, it would appear perpetuating, the prancing of horses on the boards of a regular theatre, to the utter exclusion of your Petitioners.

That your Petitioners have heard, with sincere satisfaction, of the intended motion of Mr. Taylor for a Select Committee, to inquire into the relative advantages and disadvantages of a dramatiz monopoly, K 6

in

in the hands of Patentees who so utterly misconduct their concerns; and look to the meeting at the Thatched House, lately held to determine upon the erection of a new Theatre, with well-founded hopes, that, through the intervention of persons of real taste, spirit, and talents, your Petitioners may be recalled from their present exile, and restored to their ancient rights.

Your Petitioners beg leave to say, as for the abovementioned Sheridan, that, in consideration of his having done credit to their order, by the production of certain most ingenious and amusing afterpieces, they have pardoned, excused, and forgiven him, on the express condition that he never more repeats the above-mentioned enormity of bulls: but that Harris and Kemble having, in the utter barrenness of their brains, no atonement to offer for their most unprovoked and gothic attack upon our rights and privileges, we do most cordially and solemnly condemn the said Harris and Kemble as recreants to true dramatic dignity, taste, and feeling, and do esteem them no longer in the illustrious rank of our progenitors, Garrick, Foote, Murphy, and Colman, but consign them to the class of jockies, stable-keepers, mountebanks, and buffcons.

That your Petitioners, though they suffered materially by the O. P. war, lament that public indignation wasted itself on an object so comparatively trifling as the occupation of a few private boxes by a certain description of wealthy idlers, esteeming that mischief, great as it was, infinitely inferior to the present endured by your Petitioners, who are, with our excellent and esteemed representatives, Liston, Munden, and other our well-beloved coadjutors, absolutely shut out from the performance of what is not less our pleasure than our imperative duty.

That, under these circumstances, your Petitioners do humbly expect that you will, in your wisdom and

humanity,

« PreviousContinue »