Page images

Twas thine to fill each part that gladdens life,

Such as approving angels smile upon,
The faultless daughter, parent, friend and wife,

Virtues short liv'd! they set just as they shone.

Thus in the bosom of some winding grove,

Where oft the pensive melodist retires,
From his sweet instrument the note of love

Charms the rapt ear, but as it charms, expires.

Farewell! pure spirit, o'er thy early grave

Oblivion ne'er shall spread her ivy shade;
Nature shall bid her richest foliage wave,

Where her reposing favourite child is laid.

There widow'd fondness oft, when summers bloom,

Shall with thy infant pledge of love repair,
Oft shall they kneel beside thy mossy tomb,
And tears shall dew the flowers that blossom there.
Totnes, 8th Jan. 1804.




Jan. 28.-Mr. M. G. Lewis's tragedy of Alfonso, King of Castile, produced two seasons ago at Covent-Garden, was acted for the first time at this theatrę. Mr. Pope and Mrs. Powell, announced for the characters of Orsino and Ottilia, being taken suddenly ill, their places were kindly supplied by Mr. H. Siddons and Mrs. Litchfield, from the rival house. Mr. Siddons appeared to very high advantage in Orsino; and Mrs. Litchficld, the original representative of Ottilia, made, if possible, a still stronger impression than usual upon the audience, particularly in her dying scene. Her voice completely fills this capacious theatre, and Mr, Sheridan, who was present the whole evening, complimented her on her performance, in terms of the highest panegyric. Raymond, in Alfonso, was particularly energetic, and Mr. and Mrs. H. Johnson sustain ed their former characters with their accustomed ability. The tragedy was got up with great care, and considerable splendour of decoration,

FEB. 7.—THE SOLDIER'S DAUGHTER----a comedy, by Mr, Cherry, of this theatre, was received with greater and more universal applause, than any


piece that has been produced for some time. It is of the sentimental school, and many of the scenes resemble the Comedie larmoyante, of the French stage; but he has not suffered the interest to languish beneath a weight of woen--he has relieved the serious incidents with several of a gayer nature ; and, by a happy contrast of pathos and humour---of moral sentiment, and sprightly remark, it must be confessed, that he has formed, on the whole, a very agreeable, and by no means uninteresting or uninstructive drama. Neither, however, in the fable, nor the characters, is there much novelty. The widow Cheerly is a rusticated widow Belmour. An affectionate old uncle, alternately disowning and caressing his nephew ; looking upon his conduct, at the same moment, in an unfavourable and amiable light; the good-hearted nephew always getting into a scrape ; and the avaricious Ferret, who betrays his friend, and attempts the destruction of innocence to conceal his villany, are characters among our most familiar acquaintances on the stage. Timothy Quaint, is, perhaps; an original, and he never appears without occasioning infinite merriment. The plot is liable to some critical objections: the end of the third act seems to threaten a premature termination; but other incidents are made to arise, unexpectedly, as it were, out of its ashes. Captain Woodly, the widow's brother, arrives from abroad; Young Heartall imagines him to be a favoured suitor, and this mistake gives rise to a pleasant scene of raillery and equivoque between brother and sister, and lover, which is worked up with great dramatic skill. In the last act, the perfidy and plots of Ferret are laid open by the return of old Malfort. He now resigns his ill-gotten riches, and, after a declamation against the passion of avarice, the parent of all his guilt, he expresses his determination to retire from the world, and endeavour to atone for his crimes by a sincere repentance.

This clenouement is like that of Mr. Holman's Votary of Wealth, who winds up the moral of the comedy with a similar discourse on the detestable passion by which he had been influenced.

But want of originality, in the present state of our acting drama, is a defici'ency rather to be noticed than censured. The Soldier's Daughter, however

slight its pretensions in this respect, will abide the test of more substantial criticism. There is nothing common or course in the dialogue; it is easy, elegant, and in many instances brilliant and captivating. The thoughts are frequently new, and even what are old are turned with such neatness and felicity, as to give them the air and effect of novelty. The interest is always sufficiently strong to keep alive the attention, and the author has successfully avoided that buffoonery which, however it may set on some quantity of barren spectators to laugh, must ever be considered as disgraceful to the stage of an enlightened country. Upon the whole, we are of opinion, that this comedy merits all the success it has experienced; and, considering that it is the first attempt of its author, 'we certainly cannot be too sanguine in our expectations with regard to his future productions,

All the performers exerted themselves with true brotherly zeal. Bannister was excellent in his character throughout, but particularly in the delivery of the pathetic passages. Dowton also, and Collins, Mrs. Young, and Mrs. Jordan deserve the author's best thanks. In the epilogue, which very whimsically described a female army of reserve, there were several happy points, to which Mrs. Jordan gave, and continues to give, the most powerful effect.

BOVENT-GARDEN. Dec. 21.---The Distrest Mother, ---of Philips; a feeble version, or rather imitation of the celebrated Andromache, of Racine, was performed this evening, and received every advantage from the acting of Mr. Kemble in Orestes, Mr. Siddons in Hermione, Mr. C. Kemble in Pyrrhus, and Mrs. Litchfield, who made her first appearance since the opening of the theatre, in Andromache. In the mad scene, Kemble exceeded all praise; he was indeed the furüs agitatus Orestes.

26.--.Harlequin's Races ; or Time beats all.-.---The Christmas pantomine, this year, was inferior, in every respect, to the harlequinades of former seasons at this theatre. The principal scenes and machinery were taken from Harlequin and Oberon, a very excellent pantomime produced in 1796. (see vol. III. p. 54.) but the transposition was not effected with any skill, and the tout ensemble was displeasing even to the eye of childhood. · Jan. 9.---Henry the Fourth,---Part the Second,---advertised for this even. ing, was obliged to be postponed, on account of Mr. Cooke's illness; and the Provoked Husband was substituted in its stead.

11.---Jane Shore. ---An apology was made for the indisposition of Mr. Cory, who was announced for the character of Gloster ; but the services of Mr. Raymond, from Drury-Lane, having been obtained, the audience of course experienced no disappointment. Mrs. Litchfield and Mrs. Siddons, in the finely contrasted characters of Alicia and Jane Shore, never exerted themselves with more effect.

16.---Their Majesties had signified their intention to be present at the theatre this evening ; but the king being slightly indisposed, with a rheumatic affection, (as it was understood,) his physicians thought it not adviseable for him to venture abroad. This circumstance threw a considerable gloom over a crowded audience, assembled to greet the royal visitors.

17.---Henry IV.---Part II.---As an acting drama, this is much inferior to the first part, Excepting the scene between the sick king and the prince, there is nothing in the serious divison of the play that excites much interest. Falstaff is still himself, but we laugh less at him than at the butts upon whom he showers his satirical shafts. The historical events of the play are also less important than those in part 1, for though, as Dr. Johnson observes, “ the fate of kingdoms depends upon them," the archbishop of York and his adherents, have so little dramatic consequence, and their conspiracy is so soon de. feated that the audience feel little or no interest with regard to the result. It any sensation be excited, it is that of indignation at the horrible treachery by which Lancaster gets the rebels in his power ;---and so far the king's cause suffers in the opinion of the audience.

For these reasons, the second part of Henry the Fourth, will, perhaps, never be again, if it ever were, very popular in representation; but its beauties are

yet so numerous, and the opportunities for good acting so striking, that its revi. val, occasionally, cannot fail to be an object of interest to the lovers of Shakes peare, especially when distinguished by the same attention and splendour which have now been bestowed on it by the manager of this theatre. The sick chamber of Henry, with all its appurtenances, the couch, the table, the lighting up, the organ, &c. &c. inspire all requisite awe and solemnity; these, with the majestic figure and countenance of Mr. Kernble, arrayed and prepared according to the exact costume of our fourth Henry, as he is exhibited to us in all the portraits, give the whole scene, às near as possible, the impression of reality. This scene, to which the death of queen Catherine, in Henry VIII. is a noble counterpart, was performed in a style of great excellence by Mr. Kemble. Two things deserve especial remembrance ; the discrimination with which he marked the line “ Set me the crown upon my pillow here,” that crown which he has indirectly obtained, which he is always afraid of losing, and of which so many attempts have been made to divest him.----The tone of mingled majesty and reproof in addressing the Prince of Wales, " Come hither to me, Harry," was likewise remarkably expressive.

Cooke has added greatly to his reputation by his performance of Falstaf; he conceived the character with true Shaksperian spirit, and marked the satirical passages most admirably. Mr. C. Kemble was very happy in the Prince.--Munden's Shalloo vas a very finished piece of acting, and Blanchard's PISTOL went off in a capital style. It is to be lamented, with regard to this play, that Cibber, by transferring the scene between Morton and Northumberland, to Tressel and King Henry, in Richard the Third, has robbed it of one of its chief ornaments. It is also to be lamented that Mr. Kemble, in the alterations he has made, with a view to give more spirit and eclat to the concluding scene, has committed two very glaring offences against character and costume. In the first place, it is absurd to make the Prince, before his coronation, appear in his coronation robes, with the crown upon his head; and in the next, it is shockingly inconsistent for the Prince (Henry V.] to say, " My Lord Chief Justice, speak to that vain man,” [Falstaff) at the time he is supposed to langaish under his highest displeasure, and before the new king had reinstated him in his office. These errors we beg to observe are not Shakspeare's, nor those of any former adapter of his play to the stage.

20.---Othello.---Though the performers were new to each other in their respective parts, their several merits are too well known to need to be pointed out. With Mr. KEMBLE and Mrs. SIDDONS in Othello and Desdemona, and Mr. Cooke and Mrs. LITCHFIELD in Iago and Emilia, the play no doubt held forth a very strong attraction, and a most crowded house was the consequence.--The tragedy had the advantage of new dresses and decorations, and the whole was gotten up, and acted, in a style worthy of so noble a production.

JAN. 8.---King John.---Mr. Kemble, Mr. C. Kemble, and Mrs. Siddons, were particularly noticed on the late revival of this play at Drury-Lane. (See vol. x. p. 394.] Mr. Cooke's Hubert is therefore, in fact, the principal novelty in the performance; and we must say, that we never heard two or three speeches, which have scarcely ever before been noticed, delivered with such prodigious

effect as they produced this evening, through the masterly management of this great actor. 'We allude to his answers to King John, when sounded respecting the murder of Arthur, a character for which Mrs. Creswel's abilities do not seem to be calcnlated.

With all our reverence for Shakspeare, we do think the first act of this play ought to be totally expunged. It is very weak in interest, and presents no beau. ties of style to atone for indecencies which render it almost infamous for a modest family to be present at the performance. We do not want Shakspere to be frittered away, by idle alterations or capricious omissions; but if any of his plays disgrace, by their representation, the morals of the nation, either let the offensive parts be removed, or the production confined altogether to the closet. See a letter from a correspondent in the stage department of the present month, upon this subject.

12.-Hamlet.-Mr. Suett, from Drury-Lane, very obligingly took Munden's character of Polonius, who was prevented, by indisposition, from performing.

23.---Love gives the Alarm.---A comedy by Mr. Holman, met with an unfavorable reception, and has not been repeated. The play appeared to have been written in haste, but there were strong symptoms of party hostility among the audience, to which the condemnation of the comedy may in some degree be attributed.


PARODY. ON Miss BAILEY.-An excellent comedian, in Staffordshire, had played the part of Risk, in “ Love Laughs at Locksmiths,” with much applause; but, a week before his benefit, was arrested for a small sum, which the manager immediately defrayed, and set the Thespian at liberty. On his night, to a very crowded house, he sung the following curious parody on “ Miss Bailey," which was loudly encored.


TuneMiss Bailey.
A player bold in Staffordshire, set in for country quarters,
Perhaps forgot a trifling debt, for guzzle or for garters;
His wicked conscience goaded him, he lost his spirits daily,
He took to drinking Hampton ale, and thought upon the bailey!

O! the bailey, the shoulder-tapping bailey ! &c.

One day, as he was going home, to tea, perhaps to dinner,
Thinks he, though I'm a funny man, yet I'm a wicked sinner,
At ev'ry step he heard behind, his face turn'd rather paley,
When, gruffly at his shoulder, cried a voice" Behold the bailey !”

O ! the bailey, &c.

« PreviousContinue »