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thing like the following arrangement: -The King's Theatre to be appropriated exclusively to Italian operas ;Covent-Garden to be converted into an English Academie de Musique for the encouragement of a grand national Opera and Ballet ;-the internal part of Drury-Lane to be entirely re-modelled, and contracted to a moderate size, and a new Theatre on a similar plan built-these two for the exclusive representation of the legitimate English Drama, including Tragedy, Comedy, and Farce. Perhaps the minor theatres might then safely remain under their present restriction: but we see no very good reason why it would not be for the benefit of all parties that they should be free from any restriction whatever.
With the distant prospect of this change before us, and perhaps with some faint hope of being able to contribute our mite towards bringing it about, we are tempted to continue our Notices of what is going forward in the theatrical world.-But lest our temper should be thought to have been somewhat soured since we at first proposed a little good-natured gossip with the reader, we must fairly confess that we no longer sit down to our task con amore; and that we cannot help every now and then exclaiming to ourselves, "A plague o' both your houses !"
THE first novelty of the season has been a Comedy at this theatre. It is called THE STEWARD; and is said to be "founded on" Holcroft's Deserted Daughter. But it is, in fact, nothing more than a revival of that piece, with some slight and insignificant alterations. This comedy has evidently been brought forward at the present time, not from any intrinsic attractions of its own, but from the accidental circumstance of its containing characters extremely well adapted to display the talents of some favourite performers: principally Mr Macready and Mr W. Farren. Yet the comedy is not without a degree of merit in itself. The character of MORDAUNT (Macready) is drawn with considerable force, truth, and consistency; and that of ITEM (Farren) is finished with great care and skill. There is also a good deal of interest excited during the progress and developement of the plot; and the
dialogue, if it seldom delights, as seldom offends good taste.-There is, however, scarcely any originality in the piece; and it was not at all worth reviving for itself.-Holcroft shewed some skill in the manner in which he availed himself of the materials furnished by previous writers; but he had no creative power of his own. He produced no work that will live, because, though he could dove-tail the dead parts together, he could not infuse a vital principal into them. But the grand fault of this comedy is its extreme seriousness. It has, in fact, no pretensions to the title of a comedy at all. It must be a strange, and not a very "happy alchemy of mind" that can extract mirth from the gloomy invectives of a self-made misanthropeor the misery and remorse of a ruined gamester-or the agonies and despair of a father who believes that he has been instrumental in the seduction of his own child. Yet these are the ingredients of the chief character,Mordaunt.-Neither is there much to compel laughter in the spectacle of a cunning scoundrel successfully plotting the destruction of his benefactor-or the insane curses and imprecations of the same person, when his machinations are laid bare by an accomplice, as great a villain as himself.-Nay, it is quite possible to refrain from smiles even at witnessing the misery of a loving and virtuous wife neglected by her husband; or the sighs and tears of a lovely and innocent daughter, deserted by her parent. In fact, there is nothing less comic than the sufferings even of the wicked, except those of the good: and this comedy consists of little else but one or the other. And yet, notwithstanding this great fault, it has been completely successful : chiefly, as we think, in consequence of the admirable manner in which it is performed throughout. Every character in the piece, without exception or qualification, was played as well as it could be. We are only able to notice, in particular, those of Item and Mordaunt, by Mr W. Farren, and Mr Macready.
Item, the villanous old Steward who gives the title to the play, while tottering on the brink of the grave, is ready to barter his own body and soul, and those of all his kind, to gratify his filthy passion for lucre. He crouches down to the earth, and creeps after his
victims, like a cat following her prey. His features are as hard and as sharp as those of the coin on which he dotes. You can see that money is the means and the end of his existence. He loves it for itself alone. It is his food and raiment-the breath of his life the blood of his heart-the sum of his daily thoughts and his nightly dreams. -He kneels to it when he goes to rest. It is his only hope-his only goodhis only god. And when, at last, all that he possesses of it is suddenly and unexpectedly snatched away from him, he raves and rages about, like a tiger that has lost her young. His teeth grind against each other-his eyes glare, and seem bursting from their sockets-his voice gushes forth at intervals, or is lost in hurried and impotent attempts at expression. Then, for a moment, he drops on his knees, his eyes fill with tears, and his hands are clasped in an agony of supplication. But the next moment, finding that all is in vain, he starts upon his feet again -pours forth a torrent of curses and imprecations—and then rushes away, as if in despairing and hopeless search after his lost idol.
The whole performance, and particularly the last scene, was really fine; and we cannot help noticing that what has always before struck us as a great defect in Mr Farren's acting, was, on the contrary, a beauty in this. We mean the hard and fixed expression of his countenance. In all the early part of the character his features looked as if they were carved out of box-wood, and were only to be moved by stratagem; but, in the last scene, their free, loose, and wild expression formed a natural and admirable contrast to this. We are happy in this opportunity of doing justice to the talents of an actor of whom we have hitherto neglected to speak as he deserves.
We never before saw Mr Macready play so well as in the highly sensitive, yet ruined, guilty, and desperate Mordaunt. It was a very fine perform ance-full of deep pathos, strong pas sion, and exquisite judgment. The scene in which he believes himself to have been instrumental in the ruin of his own child exhibited great power and vehemence, occasionally relieved and heightened by beautifully pathetic and affecting contrasts: and the whole was worthy of the rank which this gentleman is entitled to claim, as the
second actor on the English stage. We think, too, that in this, and in the few other characters of the same class, which Mr Macready has performed, he has shewn that he possesses more of the air and manner of a gentleman than any other actor of this day. Mr Kean has none at all: But then he seldom wants it, and can always afford to do without it. Mr Young is undoubtedly a gentleman: But yet there is a little appearance of self-conceit and affectation about him. He seems to feel himself so much of a gentleman that he need not care to trouble himself about the matter. His gentility sits rather too loosely about him: like a well cut coat that has the fault of being a little too large. But he is a gentleman, nevertheless. Mr C. Kemble, too, can assume the tone and style of good society: But it is generally accompanied by an air of proud self-consciousness, as if he were something above it.
And so he is. When he plays a part that requires this, he seems to do it under an apparent sense of degradation, as if he felt himself to be descending from the regions of Romance and Poetry, to which he more properly belongs. But Mr Macready, in the level part of this character, and in some others, has seemed to us to exhibit that very rare acquirement, a perfectly unconstrained and graceful style of expression, accompanied by a cool, quiet, and unconscious self-possession, in which the manners of a gentleman consist. We do not mean to attach any very high value to this acquirement, in an actor; but if it were more prevalent on the stage, it would sooner than any thing else, contribute to raise the profession to that rank in public estimation, which it might and should hold :-for it is probable that there is more natural intellect, and more acquired information and knowledge of the world, among actors, than would be found in an equal number of the members of any other profession whatever, taken indiscriminately.
Miss Tree, and Mr Phillips.
Two new singers have been engaged at this Theatre: Miss M. Tree from Bath; and Mr Phillips, who sang at the English Opera some years ago.
Of Miss Tree we have seen but little-yet enough to be very much pleased with her. Her voice is not at
all powerful; but it is perfectly clear and sweet in the upper notes, and some of the lower ones have a fine, rich, glowing tone-like the musical murmur of the honey-bee. She has also an extremely good natural taste, and appears to have been well taught. Her powers, to be sure, are very limited,—that is to say, she cannot do what had much better be left undone : She can neither startle nor astonishbut merely communicate delight. Her execution is laboured and difficult to herself and therefore it gives neither pleasure nor surprise. But when she trusts to simplicity and nature, which she really appears to do as much as the present state of musical taste will permit her, there is a purity and sweetness of expression about her singing that is quite delightful. In the Maid of the Mill she introduces Moore's ballad of "Young Love;" and we never remember to have heard any given with more exquisite finish and more delicious effect. There is also something pleasing and lady-like about her person and manners-accompanied, however, by a little stiffness, that will soon wear off: But we like her the better for it at present.
Of Mr Phillips we should be loath to speak at all, unless we were pretty sure that he had rather we should say any thing of him than nothing. As the subject, however, is not a very important one, and as our opinion on it seems to differ in toto from that of the public, we shall not undertake the invidious and useless task of expressing it; but shall substitute our individual feeling in its stead. We must, however, vindicate our good-nature by saying that we do this entirely out of respect to him; and as what he will consider a much less evil than that of passing him over in silence. We do feel, then, that, in the way of amusement, we never yet encountered any thing so disagreeable as Mr Phillips's singing-except his acting. We should actually be tempted to stay away from hearing Miss Tree, when this gentleman performs with her, but that it would be quite unavailing: for his open mouth, like that of a Dutch nutcracker-his "Cupid's two eyes"-his portentous frown-and his perpetual finger-absolutely haunt us.-But it is easy to perceive that Mr Phillips can make himself perfectly happy without our good word-for his audience
seem to consider him as a very accomplished singer, and moreover, a very graceful and agreeable person: and he evidently thinks that it would be a great piece of presumption in him to differ in opinion from so large and enlightened a body.
On Wednesday the 6th an afterpiece called the Gnome King, was produced at this Theatre. It is not a kind of Drama to require much criticism. The story is simply this:-The Princess Stella, a young lady who, as her name indicates, is addicted to star-gazing, and who frequently indulges in moonlight walks at a very late hour of the evening, is, in one of these excursions, seen by a certain Gnome King—a person who is also given to night-wanderings, but who, when at home, resides in the centre of the earth. This monarch of miners straitway falls desperately in love with the lady, and having by a clever stratagem (for all things are fair in love) contrived to get her in his power, he sinks down to his kingdom, and carries her with him.
Immediately the news of this accident transpires, the lady's betrothed husband, Duke Sigismund, goes to consult a cunning man who lives at some distance, in a place similar to that "Where Vulcan forged the bolts of Jove." This person informs the lover of his mistress's unpleasant situation, and the probable means of extricating her from it-and by his direction Sigismund goes in search of her.Arriving at a blasted heath, he boldly though not very prudently commits himself to the guidance of a dove, at whose instigation he throws himselfinto a sort of steam-coach, lighted with gas, which conveys him safely to his journey's end. In the mean time the Gnome King has treated his fair captive in the handsomest possible manner; but not being gifted with such personal attractions as his young rival, she seems determined to reject his addresses-when just at the moment that she is indulging in a little pardonable coquetry with him, and he has rather unadvisedly laid his sceptre, and with it all his supernatural power, at her feet, her favoured lover arrives from outside the earth, snatches up the said sceptre, and by virtue of its power, sends his rival in a very summary, and, considering the polite manner in which he had conducted himself towards the lady, certainly not a very justifiable man
ner, down to sup with Pluto. The lovers then, by their newly acquired power, convey themselves home again, and all is well-The lady, no doubt, effectually cured of her passion for moonlight, and the Gnome King fully convinced of the extreme folly of venturing out of one's element.
We are not at all disposed to quarrel with a piece of this kind, now and then-and the Gnome King is the best of its class we have seen for a long while. The language is rather too ambitious sometimes; and in one part it indulges itself in a very strange, and quite a novel freak: the scene is in Germany; but the characters of course all speak English, except one: The sovereign Duke, Stella's papa, chooses to express himself in the regular stage jargon "appointed to be spoken" by Swiss valets and other German adventurers, when they happen to be engaged in scenes which are laid in England. But probably this arrangement was made for the accommodation of Mr Farley; who, to say the truth, speaks broken English much better than he does sound. There is some pleasant music composed by Mr Bishop; and the plot is sufficiently interesting to keep the attention alive;-but the scenery is, of course, intended to be the chief attraction, and it is truly splendid and beautiful. The first scene, supposed to represent the centre of the earth, and that of the fairy bower prepared by the Gnome King for the reception of his fair captive, are better than any thing of the kind
that we remember to have seen; but they are greatly surpassed by that of the lake with the distant view of the Giant Mountains.-This was really an exquisitely beautiful and correct natural picture.
This piece is said to be written by Mr Reynolds-we suppose, Mr Reynolds the Dramatist. It is but fair to make this distinction-for there is another person of that name-a gay and witty young writer who would probably, on more accounts than one, be very loath to deprive his name-sake of whatever credit may belong to such literary labours as these.
Since the first part of this article was written it appears that Mr Kean is still to form part of the Drury Lane Company, having abandoned his plan of going to America. We hope the talk about it was not coquetry, after all. Such arts are entirely beneath him. Mr Ellison has also announced his intention of, next season, re-modelling the whole internal arrangement of this theatre, and contracting it to a moderate size! So, to this complexion it is come at last! But is this announcement to be taken without qualification? Will he persevere in his plan if the theatre, in its present form, should answer his purposes-that is to say, pay him? We shall see. Until he does, however, we cannot even wish him success-and when he does we can do more than wish, we can promise it to him.
[This little article, which is too lively to be omitted, touches on part of the same ground with the preceding one, and was sent to us in the belief that our dramatic friend had ceased his ingenious lucubrations. EDITOR.] THIS is the famous period, then, when London is dull even to a proverb, and the country is endured for thirty or forty days.
WE-(who are a sort of parodoxical unit of that renowned aggregate body whose ethereal spirits are transmuted once a month into letter-press, in the shape of Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine,) we, in all our anonymous dignity, are now lying stretched out on a chintz-covered sofa in the great city of London. We hearken to messages
and flying news from every quarter where the wild winds blow, and we debate, and, in our wisdom, determine upon the merit or importance of all. If, peradventure, ought of interest occur, straight we pin it down upon our sheet of foolscap, and impress the fugitive into our service.
We have communications from the Stock Exchange and the Fleet; from Slaughter's Coffee-house and Newgate market; from the Traveller's club (where each member must have tr
velled his 500 miles) and the Weaver's company; from Covent Garden, and the west end of the town, and the society for the Suppression of Vice; we lounge through the theatres, and glance somewhat carelessly at the company, and we are admitted to an unmolested view of the great square of Lincoln's Inn, which is usually so full of bustle, but now like
"A world left empty of its throng."
Every thing wears a strange aspect. The hotel-keepers are painting their houses-the jewellers stand invitingly at their thresholds-the milliner has a petition in her face-and the beggar is not to be resisted-the linen-drapers are laying in their stock of winter patterns -the doctor has leave to enjoy himself-the lawyer ceases from his toilthe tailor's measure is an "idle instrument"-and the roll of a carriage is heard no more.
There is something melancholy in all this; the spirit of assimilation carries us back to the past in a moment— to palaces of old, to temples, to towers almost forgotten-to pillars and tombs, and the scite of memorable cities of which now scarcely the dust remains.
There is nothing that induces melancholy contemplation more than the sight of a great city in silence and desertion. A rural scene, however quiet and remote, has charms of earth, and air, and sky, that generate a livelier feeling. The heart expands to take in all its beauties; the eye looks gratefully up to the wide heavens, and the senses are delighted with odours and flowers. We seem to be making acquaintance with nature, and we look forward to changes and improvements-there is a novelty in her shifting charms which amuses the spirit, and there is expectation to prevent it from sinking. But a city in its pillared solitude speaks of nothing but the past. It is the same as ever, or it has even a more mournful face. We never think of the time to come, unless it be to speculate upon probable decay. The seasons seem to have passed. Expectation, and enjoyment, and fear, and dismay, may have been, but they are gone for ever. It is not merely solitude, but it is solitude without novelty, or apprehension, or hope.
And what has this to do with London? Why, in truth, our part (the west) of the town, wears some such an aspect now. Palmyra and Egyp
tian Thebes seem, at times, to have been translated hither by that mighty African magician, so famous a remover of buildings in the time of Aladdin. At other times, while we wander through the more lonely streets, we are tempted to consider ourselves in the marble city discoursed of in oriental story; and when we come upon a human being at a sudden turn, his footstep falls upon our ear like the one solitary voice that broke the silence of that enchanted spot.
But to quit the west end of the town for fresh woods and pastures new." Intelligent reader! shouldest thou chance to arrive in London shortly after thou readest this Magazine, hie thee unto the theatres-there are something still worth thy seeing. There is, first, at
COVENT GARDEN. The Steward. "Mr Mordent," on becoming the husband of a titled lady, disowns the child of a former humble marriage. He runs in extravagance, and is involved, as a matter of course. Honest " Item," his steward, is the person who principally assists him onwards to his ruin. He has a friend too who lends him money, and then requests that he will play the orator for him with a young girl whom he (the friend) wishes to seduce. Mr M. consents to this after the proper allowance of struggles, and the young girl turns out to be his own deserted child. The affair terminates in the usual manner, and reconciliations, and forgiveness, and love, and marriage, and punishment, as the case may be, are distributed among the good, the erring, and the bad. Macready is very great in this play, though, at times, we thought rather too violent; his words are almost lost occasionally in his deep guttural tone. Why does he resort to this trick? The second tragedian on the stage need not do this to render himself conspicuous. We know no one who so well depicts suppressed emotion as he, saving, perhaps, Kean; but Kean's manner (for instance in the trial scene in the Iron Chest) is more in repose and ghastly; Macready is like the storm that mutters before it bursts. Farren, although he does not play Sir Anthony Absolute half, as well as Dowton, is at all times a clever actor, but in " Item," in his pinching avarice and his smiling roguery, and lastly, in the fearful, though almost