Page images



Sedem eximiam tenentis.

tenor of his life, and gradually lessened the distance of his journey

Christopheri Anstey, Arm.

Alumni Etonensis, through it, without obscuring the EtCollegii Regalis apud Cantabrigienses olim Socit, serenity of the prospect. Unimpeded Literis elegantioribus adprimè ornati, by sickness, and unclouded by sor

Et inter principes Poetarum,

Qui in eodem genere floruerunt, row, or any serious misfortune, his life was a life of temperance, of self

Ille annuin circiter

MDCCLXX. denial, and of moderation in all

Ras suum in agro Cantabrigiensi things; and of great regularity. He

Mutavit Bathonia,

Quem locum ei preter omne dudum arrisisse rose early in the morning, ante diem

Testis est, celeberrimum illud Poema, poscens chartas, and was constant on

Titulo inde ducto insignitum :

Ibi deinceps sex et triginta aunos commoratus, horseback at his usual hour, and in

Obiit A.D. MDCCCV. all seasons. His summers were uni

Et ætatis suæ

Octogesimo primo. formly passed at Cheltenham, with his family, during the latter part of To this there is an encomium his life ; and upon his return to Bath added, which its prolixity hinders in the autumn, he fell habitually me from inserting. into the same unruffled scenes of A painter and a poet were, perdomestic ease and tranquillity, ren- haps, never more similar to each dered every day more joyous and in- other in their talents than the conteresting to him by the increase of temporaries Bunbury and Anstey. his family circle, and the enlarge. There is in both an admirable power ment of his hospitable table; and by of seizing the ludicrous and the many circumstances and occurrences grotesque in their descriptions of connected with the welfare of his persons and incidents in familiar life ; children, which gave him infinite and this accompanied by an elegance delight and satisfaction.”

which might have seemed scarcely At the beginning of 1805, he ex-compatible with that power. There perienced a sudden and general fai- is in both an absence of any extralure of his bodily faculties, and a ordinary elevation or vigour; which correspondent depressure of mind. we do not regret, because we can The little confidence he placed in hardly conceive but that they would the power of medicine made him be less pleasing if they were in reluctantly comply with the wishes any respect different from what of his friends, that he should take the they are. Each possesses a peropinion of Doctor Haygarth. Yet he fect facility and command over his was not without hope of alleviation own peculiar mannery which has to his complaints from change of air; secured him from having any sucand, therefore, removed from Bath to cessful imitator. Yet as they were the house of his son-in-law, Mr. Bo- both employed in representing the sanquet, in Wiltshire. Here, having fortuitous and transient follies, which at first revived a little, he soon re- the face of society had put on in their lapsed, and declining gradually, ex- own day, rather than in portraying pired in the eighty-first year of his the broader and more permanent disage, without apparent suffering, in tinctions of character and manners, it the possession of his intellectual pow. may be questioned whether they can ers, and, according to the tender wish be much relished out of their own of Pindar for one of his patrons country, and whether even there, υιών, Ψαύμι, παρισταμένων,

the effect must not be weakened as

fatuity and absurdity shall discover in the midst of his children.'

new methods of fastening ridicule He was buried in the parish church upon themselves. They border more of Walcot, in the city of Bath, in the nearly on farce than comedy. They same vauit with his fourth daughter have neither of them any thing of the wife of Rear-Admiral Sotheby, fancy, that power which can give a and her two infant children.

new and higher interest to the laughA cenotaph has been erected to able itself, by mingling it with the his memory among the poets of his marvellous, and which has placed country in Westminster Abbey, by Aristophanes so far above all his his eldest son, the Rev. Christopher follower Anstey, with the following inscrip- When Anstey ventures out of his tion:


own walk he does not succeed so ed to his friend Mr. Bamfylde, has well. It is strange that he should more freedom. His scholarship did have attempted a paraphrase of St. him better service when it suggested Paul's eulogium on Charity, after the to him passages in the poets of ansame task had been so ably executed tiquity, which he has parodied with by Prior. If there is anything, how- singular happiness. Such is that ever, that will bear repetition in a imitated in one of Simkin's Letters: variety of forms, it is that passage Do the gods such a noble ambition inspire ? of scripture ; and his verses, though Or a god do we make of each ardent desire ? not equal to Prior’s, may still be from Virgils read with pleasure.

Dine hunc ardorem mentibus addunt, The Farmer's Daughter is a plain Euryale? an sua cuique deus fit dira cupido? and affecting tale. · His Latin verses might well have

a parody that is not the less divertbeen spared. In the translation of ing from its having been before Gray's Elegy there is a more than grarely made by Tasso : usualcrampness; occasioned, perhaps,

O dio l'inspira, by his having rendered into hexame

O l'uom del suo voler suo dio si face. ters the stanzas of four lines, to which On the whole, he has the rare the elegiac measure of the Romans merit of having discovered mode would have been better suited. The of entertaining his readers which beEpistola Poetica Familiaris, address- longs exclusively to himself.



I FORGET who was, that, on be- much labour, stone upon stone, moulholding some stupendous monument dering in decay, and sinking into obof the labour and ingenuity of former livion ; " to see fame," as the Irishtimes, exclaimed, « How much less man said, “ walk away with itself.” durable is man than his own works!” How agonizing the reflection, in his There is much general truth in this own particular case, that "man is remark; yet there is one class of much more durable than his own human labourers so very far without works !These considerations have the pale of its application, as, indeed, operated powerfully on my mind : to form an exemplification of the di- and it is with the humane intention rect reverse of it. The industrious of sparing the élite of our cotempersons to whom I allude are our porary dramatic geniuses a portion living dramatists. By “ living dra- of this moral suffering, that I have matists,” I do not mean Shakspeare, undertaken the task of collecting a Congreve, Farquhar, Sheridan, and few of their scenes, and ensuring others, who, in a higher sense of the them a perpetuity of fame by enphrase, may be su termed; but the shrining them in the pages of the bona fide cating, drinking, walking, London Magazine. (I had nearly said thinking) and But, besides this, I have another scribbling gentlemen, who still go on object in view in this enterprize, one adding to our stock of rationul plea- of more extensive utility, namely, sures; the immortals who serve as a that of assisting the progress of such sort of posterity to themselves, by of the rising generation as may be having, some of them, outlived, by at ambitious of increasing our stock of least ten years, the eternity of fame dramatic literature. Cotemporary they promised themselves twenty or fame is fickle ; the chef-d'auvre that five-and-twenty years ago. To a brings all Lonion together at the bepoet, how frightful is the idea of ginning of the season, is forgotten falling into absolute nothingness, and long before the end of it; and thus leaving “not a rack behind!” Ilow the young aspirant to dramatic homelancholy to behold his own co- nours is lest destitute of the models lumn of renown, erected with so by which alone liis taste ought to be formed, and without which, as his For the same reason that truth is out constant guides, success is hopeless. of fashion with an habitual perverter Would he compose a rural, agricul- of it; that the charms of nature, tural, Sunday-schoolical, farcical, me- fresh green fields, and clear blue lodramatical, comedy, all about love skies, yield no pleasure to a debauchee and murder, in the style of M-rt-n; who has wallowed sixty years of his a naval and military loyal effusion, existence in the vilest dissipation the in five acts, à la D_bd-n; a genteel town affords; or that light delicatecomedy, à la Sk-ff—n; a sweet flavoured Burgundy seems insipid to opera, in the manner of D-m-d; the palate of a dram-drinker. I beor a wonder-stirring melodrama in lieve I make myself intelligible; so all styles, or in no style; which way “ question me no further.” The days shall he look for assistance? The are gone when an English audience glorious models offered for imitation could find delight in five acts comby these worthies, alas! are already posed of nothing better than such abscattered, lost, and forgotten; and surdities as a probable plot, natural he must either follow the impulses of characters, wit, and common sense. his own taste and genius,-write I shall not pretend to decide whether from his own pure inspirations or the public taste is better or worse lean on the arm of Congreve and than it was; I merely assert that Sheridan, now too weak even to sup- it is changed; and that what saport themselves; and neither of these tisfied the audiences of our good old alternatives is likely to prove to his play-writers would not now satisfy advantage in his dramatic career. It the spectutors of our modern playis for this purpose, as well as to save wrights. The public has removed its them from the oblivion in which a seat of judgment from where it was few weeks would otherwise have in- formerly placed, to a point as distant volved them, that I collect together a from it as pole is from pole, though few slips and patterns of the fa- an inch may compass the space bevourites (not of the day, but) of yes- tween-from the ear to the eye. But terday, and deposit them in a mu- I meant to say only a few words as an seum, where the student may, at his introduction to the following scenes, ease, contemplate the finest models, and I am wandering into a preface. in the various branches of dramatic The public taste is such as it is. composition, which modern times Many causes have contributed to have afforded.

make it so; and none more cffectually “ And why not,” (says the first than the genius of our modern draperson that happens to take up this matists. paper) “ why not allow a young I have already stated my motives writer to follow the impulses of his for making the following collection; own taste and genius?” Because, if it would be useless to recapitulate you did, he would exhibit human na

them. The scenes which will be ture as he finds it-ordinary men and given are from original and unpubwomen, of common proportions, hav- lished manuscripts. Each is so deeping neither more nor less than one ly imbued with the peculiarities of head, two arms, and two legs each. its respective author, his beauties, “ Well?”- well; and at Bartholo- and the characteristics of his style, mew fair such beings would not draw that it will be needless to give his a halfpenny ; there you must exhibit name at length—his initials only will giants or "dwarfs, monsters having be added to the title of his work. something extraordinary in their con- I may, perhaps, occasionally subjoin formation--two heads, or eyes in their a note, or short commentary, for the stomachs. “ I am speaking of our purpose of pointing out any latent national, patent, legitimate-drama beauty, or placing it in a more adtheatres; you reply with Bartholo- vantageous light, or exhibiting those mew fair.” _'Tis all one. “ But less obvious peculiarities by which Congreve, Farquhar, Sheridan-why the particular author under connot allow them to

sideration is distinguished from his dels?” Because Congreve, Farquhar, compeers. and Sheridan, are out of fashion. Without further delay, I present “ And why are they out of fashion ?" 'the reader with


serve as


No. I.


A Comedy, in Five Acts, by TM-

Lord Dashtown.

Characters .


Scene. The interior of Farmer Wheatsheaf's cottage. In a corner of the apart-

ment hangs a side of bacon. On a table in front is seen Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, a Cheshire cheese, and a brown jug. Through the opening at the back, a farm-yard, with pig-stye, hen-coop, dunghill, several ploughs,* ploughshares, plough-tails, plough-men, plough-boys, &c.

Enter Farver WHEATSHEAF, followed by Dame WHEATSHEAF. Farmer. I tell 'ee, deame, it be o' noa youse; I wonna do't. + Dame. What! not if my lord do tell 'ee? Farmer. (Firmly.) Noa ; for there be another Lord (pointing upwards) as

. do tell I not.

Dame. Why then, Gaffer, as sure as eggs bean't bacon, you'll be clean out of my lord's books.

Farmer. Books! Lookee, deame; thof I be nought but Gaffer Wheat

A person observing that there was always a deep interest in Mr. M

-n's plays, another replied, “ True ; but it is always the agricultural interest.

† The decline, or, strictly speaking, the fall of the British drama has been attributed to the present uniform state of society. The collision of ranks and interests, it is said, has so smoothened and polished us, and rendered one human being so exactly like another, that the dramatic painter can no longer find prominent and characteristic materials for the employment of his pencil. But I suspect that those who utter this complaint draw their notions of society, not from an observation of society itself, but from the pictures which pass for true representations of it on the stage ; and I am of opinion that som ciety is very little to blame in the matter. There was plenty of character in the year 1500, but there was no MOLIERE. SHAKSPEARE found characters as long as he chose to look for them, so did CONGREVE in his time, so did SHERIDAN much later, so does KENNY now. Even REYNOLDS, who with an extraordinary talent for observation unluckily combined a very coarse taste, exhibited, in his earlier productions, many lively and natural sketches. PICARD, DUVAL, and some other of the best French dramatists, even up to this very moment, occasionally find a character which has escaped the search or observation of former writers, or which, at least, had not been exhibited in all the various points of view of which it was susceptible, and in which a skilful artist might place it. The fact is, that matier is not wanting for those who know where to look for it, or how to use it where they have discovered it, but that I will illustrate what I was going to say by an anecdote. I one day called on a portrait painter, who complained bitterly to me of his want of patronage. “ To be candid with you,” said I, “ you seldom catch a likeness, and never give character to your portraits." " And whose fault is that ?" replied he: “ likenesses now-a-days are damn'd hard to catch-faces are not what they were in Sir Joshua's time.” The truth is, my friend was a bad painter,

But as a compensation for the absence of character (properly so called) from the modern drama, we have dialect. The honour of the invention of this easy and palpable expedient is, I believe, due to the author of “ Virtue's Harvest Home." To hold the mirror up to_Yorkshire, is the precept by which the efforts of this gentleman have been invariably guided. Farmers and clod-hoppers, from the East Riding or the West Riding, from Somersetshire or from Devonshire, are his eternal models. He is the very Shakspeare of the farm-yard. His clod-poles are clod-poles from top to toe. Imitation, however, is dangerous ; and his success in the clod-hopper line has tempted so many unskil. ful adventurers to follow him, that I almost curse the hour when a sentimental ploughþoy, or a pathetic team-driver, was first introduced on the stage.


sheaf, there be one book I do vally more nor ony other. Do thee know, missus, what that book do zay?

Dame. Noa; I can't zay as I do. Farmer. More sheame vor thee, deame, more sheame vor thee, I zay. Then I'll tell 'ee. It do zay- Thou shalt commit no murder.

Dame. Truly and zoa it do, Gaffer, and zoa it do.

Farmer. I ha' gotten a bit o' a notion as how that be plain spoken enough, deame, and I wonna kill him * vor all the lords

Dame. (Greatly agitated.) Kill him ! kill whoa, Gaffer ?

Farmer. (Still more agitated than Dame.) Don't ask I, don't ask I ony thing about it.

Dame. Well, I won't, I won't. (Aside.) Ifackins ! I must know all about it though. But only tell I who is to be killed, Gaffer.

Farmer. (if possible, nore agitated still.) Killed! whoa talked o' killing! Killing be murder, and murder be Dom thee, hold thy tongue, missus; hold thy dom tongue, wool’ee? My brean do turn round, just for all the world like the sails o'yon windmill.

Dame. Be a bit cool, Gaffer; be a bit cool.

Farmer. (Recovering himself:) Lookee, deame, if I were to do zoaI should never be able to do zoa. (Striking his bosom.) +

Dame. No more thee would, Gaffer; no more thee would. Never care what my lord do zay. Come, gi' thy old deame a buss. Farmer. First o’all

, deame, can thee do zoa? (Striking his bosom.) Dame. (Hesitating:). Noa-yes-IFarmer. O deame, deame ! Dime. (Collecting herself.) Yes, Gaffer, thof we be poor I can do zoa. (Striking her bosom.)

Farmer. Then thee beest my old deame after all. (They rush into each other's arms.)

Dame. But here do come my lord.

Farmer. (More agitated than ever.) Do he! do he ! But why do I tremble zoa? I ha' gotten a clear conscience yet o' while. O deame, deame! the clearest pond in my lord's garden be thick and muddy to a clear conscience; and the straightest hop-pole in the whole county be not half so upright as an upright heart. (He removes the side of bacon, and discovers a secret door, through which they pass.) Enter LORD BLUEDEVIL. His countenance is pale and haggard ; he has one

hand in his bosom, the other in his breeches-pocket. Lord B. Yes, it is decided. The hated thing that breaks my rest, and interrupts my feverish and agitated slumbers, must be destroyed. If still this obstinate and headstrong loon refuse to perpetrate the deed, again the hand of Bluedevil, that hand already saturated with the crimson stream of life, must be dipped and stained, nay, plunged and empurpled in gore. But no: Wheatsheaf must be the agent of my vengeance. On earth

* Mr. M-n is often praised for the serious interest he contrives to throw into his comedies ; and the praise bestowed on him is not unmerited; for most of his comedics are as serious as rape, robbery, and murder, can make them. Folly, in all its varieties, the lesser vices, and the comic side of the greater ones, alone employed the pens of our elder writers of comedy; but the MODERN THALIA, with laudable industry, takes cognizance also of high crimes and misdemeanours. The snivelling hussey has had the address to steal her sister's bowl and dagger; and seldom appears in public without a pocket-handkerchief at her nose. For my own part, I like to cry at a comedy; but as there are many persons who still entertain sundry prejudices in favour of old-fashioned definitions, and whose fancy it might be well, and would be easy, to humour, why does not Mr. M-n give his productions the title of Five-act Melodramas ? For (I just whisper it in your ear) such they are.

+ Three gentle taps : not like the pert rat-tat-tat of an apprentice on Sunday, but the signal of a lover at his mistress's window-a sort of passing call, to know whether conscience is at home. This certain test of virtue is very liberally employed in all our author's plays, and never fails of exciting applause.

« PreviousContinue »