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public, nor efforts commensurate to its importance been attempted to change it.
I write this with no knowledge of any manager personally, and with no wish to exalt the manager of Drury-lane above his merits. He has effected much for the public gratification, but much yet remains to be done. It is still farther in his favour, that he has shewn his willingness to give a fair trial to the production of every author that has apparently any chance of success. This is praiseworthy, and adds another laurel to his theatrical crown; but he must leave the author to his own judgment, and not shackle him by restraints. A practice has lately arisen of writing for an actor, and getting a play up with a character purposely drawn for him to sustain. Such a production never can be a happy one either for author or manager, and can only be of temporary interest. It is the actor's place to study the poet, not the poet the actor. In late times, among other strange things, we have seen most extraordinary acknowledgments put forth by authors to performers, indicating that the latter have, occasionally at least, pretensions humiliating to the pride of authorship, which the world would never have guessed, but for the confession--a confession no less novel and astounding to contemporaries than to ourselves. We are gravely told of an actor (Mr. Macready), in the dedication of “ Julian," lately performed at Covent-garden, that his powers have inspired, and his taste “ has fostered the tragic dramatists of the age !!" A piece of information, then first communicated to them, of which they had lived in unfelicitous ignorance, and would have so continued to live but for this important disclosure. Elegance and luxuriance of praise" are revived from old Dryden's days, this is to the full as bad as “ your Lordship in satire and Shakspeare in tragedy!"
I fear I have occupied more space than I ought in thus noticing, in a desultory way, subjects which would seem to demand more methodic details. Those, however, who love the theatre, will agree in thinking that what remains to be done is so obvious, that the task of execution is alone wanting, and that this rests with the manager
who possesses sufficient originality of mind to act by the rules of good taste alone in the improvement of our dramatic entertainments.*
INVOCATION TO THE CUCK00.
O PURSUIVANT and Herald of the Spring !
Whether thou still dost dwell
In some rose-laurell’d dell
Woods, winds, and waves,
Until he broke the spell
O hither, hither fleet,
Upon the south wind sweet,
* As one step, let the text of Shakspeare be forth with restored in his plays, and the interpolated traslı rejected which has so long disgraced the representation of some of his best works.
Or whether to the redolent Azores,
Amid whose tufted sheaves
The floral Goddess weaves
Truant! thou dost repair :-
Where myriad piping throats
Rival the warbler's notes,
O hither, hither wing
Of plantain, cocoa, palm,
And that red tree whose balm Fumed in the holocausts of Israel ;
Beneath Banana shades,
Guava, and fig-tree glades,
Thrown from the heron blue,
O let the perfumed breeze
From those Hesperides
As if they tried their wings,
While the bee's trumpet brings
Blue-bells, yellow-cups, jonquils,
Lilies wild and daffodils,
The sun enamour'd lies,
Watching the violet's eyes
With open lips the thorn
Proclaims that May is born, And darest thou, bird of Spring, that summons scorn? Cuckoo! Cuckoo! O welcome, welcome notes !
Fields, woods, and waves rejoice
In that recover'd voice,
At that elixir strain,
My youth resumes its reign,
O wondrous bird ! if thus
Thy voice miraculous
Nor thou, my Muse, forbear
That ecstasy to share,
THE VILLAGE BELLS.
Monkish Inscriptions on Bells. I had wandered for a long time, one summer's morning, through the successive copses and thinly-wooded glades that constitute the remains of Sherwood Forest, pondering upon the days of old, when their deeper and more extensive shades echoed to the horn of Robin Hood, and that romantic outlaw might have started from the thickets through which I was strolling, clad in Lincoln green and accoutred with bow and arrow, to challenge me for intruding upon his leafy haunts, when I observed that the trees growing gradually thinner opened at length upon a small lawn, in the centre of which was a piece of water, dotted along its banks with a few straggling oaks. Throwing myself down upon its margin, I was struck with the marvellous transparency of the limpid element, which resembled a mirror spread out upon the
grass, reflecting every object of this sequestered nook with a precision that actually confused apprehension by its very clearness. Never was so perfect a piece of mimicry. The blue depths of heaven, with the rich colours and majestic motion of the slowly-sailing clouds, were not only copied in the hemisphere beneath me, but a goat, that had climbed an overhanging crag by my side, saw himself so perfectly represented below that he made every demonstration of attack with his butting head, as if preparing to leap down upon his shadowy opponent. A squirrel seemed to be running up to me out of the water upon the trunk of a reflected tree, upon whose extreme branches a thrush sat piping, as if singing to me from the bottom of the little lake. Other tenants of the air, as they fluttered above, were seen reflected in the wave beneath, while fishes now and then darted like meteors athwart these commingled birds and boughs and skies, as if the elements and their respective inhabitants were all confused together. As I perused this cross-reading of Nature with a complacent admiration, the rising breeze wafted towards me from a neighbouring village the melodious chime of its bells, with the echoes of which I had not only been familiar in my boyish days, but had often stolen into the belfry to awaken them myself, though I never merited the appellation of a scientific ringer. I turned my listless steps towards the church, as the sound died away upon the wind, and again at intervals threw its music upon the air, musing upon the almost-forgotten feelings with which I had listened to the same mellow tones in my childhood, anticipating the period, now rapidly approaching, when I should lie in the earth beneath them, deaf to their loudest peals—and whispering to myself in the beautiful words of Moore
" That other bards would walk these dells,
And listen to the evening bells ;" — when I fell into a train of thought upon the great sympathy and connexion that exists between these sonorous chroniclers and the public
history of the country, as well as the successive stages and leading incidents of every man's private life.
In the absence of any other national music, let us not disdain to appropriate to ourselves that which is undoubtedly our exclusive
property—the art of ringing changes upon church bells, whence England has been sometimes termed “the ringing island." Although it be simply a melody, the construction of regular peals is susceptible of considerable science in the variety of interchange, and the diversified succession of consonances in the sounds produced. Many of them bear the names of their composers, who thus bid fair to be rung down to the latest posterity ; and that the exercise of taking part in a peal has never been deemed an ignoble amusement, is attested by the fact, that we have several respectable associations for practising and perpetuating the art, particularly one known by the name of the College Youths, of which Sir Matthew Hale, Lord Chief Justice of the King's Bench, was, in his youthful days, a member. Exclusively of the delight arising from the melody itself as it floats along, gladdening hill and dale, tower and hamlet, what can be sweeter or more soothing than all the associations of thought connected with a merry peal of village bells ? Announcing the Sabbath-morning--the common day of rest, when we all cease from our toils, they remind us that the humblest of those whose lot is labour, will now betake themselves in decent garb and with cheerful looks to the Temple, where all the children of the Great Parent, without distinction of rank, assemble together to offer up their general thanksgivings. Nothing can be more natural than the words which Cowper has put into the mouth of Alexander Selkirk, to express the desolation and solitude of the uninhabited island on which he had been cast.
“ The sound of the church-going bell,
These valleys and rocks never heard;
Or smiled when a Sabbath appear’d.” Of all the public duties which bells are called upon to perform, the most puzzling and embarrassing must be the due apportionment of their fealty to the old and new monarch, when the former-dies, we were going to say, but kings never die ;-when he ceases to reign, and is under the necessity of laying in the dust the head which has worn a crown. Death is sad radical: Horace assures us, that even in his days it was a matter of perfect indifference to the ghastly destroyer whether he aimed his dart at the towers of kings, or the hovels of the peasantry; and in these revolutionary times we may be sure that he has lost nothing of his Carbonari spirit. Bells, however, acknowledge the authority of the powers that be; their suffrages obey the influence of the clergy, tolerably shrewd calculators of the most beneficial chances of loyalty, and yet the brazen mourners must sometimes be in a sad dilemma between their sorrow for the loss of the old, and their joy at the accession of the new king. Like Garrick between Tragedy and Comedy, we may imagine them quite at a loss which expression to assume, whether to toll a knell or ring a peal, or strike a serio-comic chord between the two. Affection for the dead might be construed
into disaffection for the living, but a reigning sovereign has so much more power of patronage than a defunct one, that they generally obey the injunction of the royal Henry to his impatient heir,
" Go, bid the merry bells ring to thine ear
That thou art crowned, not that I am dead." Could the bells of even this sequestered village church, said I to myself, recall to us with their iron tongues the various and often contradictory occasions, when the passions of man have called forth their echoes, what a humiliating record of human nature would they present ! Accession of king after king, public tumult and struggle, curfew and tocsin, civil and foreign war, victories and peace, generation upon generation knelled into the church-yard, and again a new king or a new war, and fresh victories and another peace, forming but a recommencement of the old circle of events, ever new and yet the same, ever passing away and recurring, in which Nature perpetually moves ! Like all other public history, they would announce to us little but suffering and crime ; for tranquillity, happiness, and virtue seek not to be trumpeted forth by their brazen clarion : and even if they unfolded to us the annals of private life, how often would they have to tell us of fleeting joys and enduring sorrow, of sanguine hopes and bitter disappointment I
Reaching the gate of the church-yard, as this reflection passed through my mind, the first monument I encountered was that of my relative Sir Ralph Wyvill. How well do I remember the morning of his marriage! The ringers loved him, for he would sometimes mingle in their sport. They pulled the ropes with the lusty and willing arms of men who had quaffed his ale and pocketed his money; the bells threw their wide mouths up into the air, and as they roared the glad tidings to the earth, till every hill-top echoed back the sound, they seemed to cry out to the Heavens
Ring out ye, crystal spheres,
And let the base of Heaven's deep organ blow.” From every octagon brick chimney of the ancient hall, wreaths of smoke streaked the clear sunshine,-cheerful evidence of the old English hospitality and the extensive preparations for the marriage-feast that were operating within :- friends and relatives were seen interchanging shakes of the hand and cordial congratulations ; servants were bustling about in new liveries and huge nosegays ;—the smart postilions, with white favours in their caps, were cracking their whips and their jokes at the gate ;-the train of carriages with be-ribboned and be-flowered coachmen, made a goodly and glittering show ;-gossips and rustics, in their holiday-clothes, clustered about the church-doors and windows ;
Quips and cranks and wanton wiles,
Nods and becks and wreathed smiles," flickered upon every countenance; and every tongue prophesied that the happy couple would be permanently blessed, for the bridegroom was young and rich, the maiden fond and fair. Such, however, are