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Title: The Mirror of Taste, and Dramatic Censor
       Volume I, Number 1

Author: Stephen Cullen Carpenter

Release Date: September 2, 2007 [EBook #22488]

Language: English

Character set encoding: UTF-8


Produced by Louise Hope, Barbara Tozier, Bill Tozier and
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Typographical errors are marked with mouse-hover popups. Spellings were changed only when there was an unambiguous error, or the word occurred elsewhere with the expected spelling. No attempt was made to regularize the use of quotation marks. The form “melo-drame” is standard in the text. A few missing or incorrect punctuation marks in the Index and the Foundling were silently regularized.

Index to Volume I
The Foundling of the Forest





Neque mala vel bona quæ vulgus putet.—Tacitus.


The advantages of a correct judgment and refined taste in all matters connected with literature, are much greater than men in general imagine. The hateful passions have no greater enemies than a delicate taste and a discerning judgment, which give the possessor an interest in the virtues and perfections of others, and prompt him to admire, to cherish, and make them known to the world. Criticism, the parent of these qualities, therefore, mends the heart, while it improves the understanding. The influence of critical knowledge is felt in every department of social life, as it supplies elegant subjects for conversation, and enlarges the scope, and extends the duration of intellectual enjoyment. Without it, the pleasures we derive from the fine arts would be transient and imperfect; and poetry, painting, music, and that admirable epitome of life, the stage, would afford nothing more than a fugitive, useless, pastime, if not aided by the interposition of the judgment, and sent home, by the delightful process of criticism, to the memory, there to exercise 2 the mind to the last of life, to be the amusement of our declining years, and, when all the other faculties for receiving pleasure are impaired by old age and infirmity, to cast the sunshine of delight over the last moments of our existence.

In no age or country has the improvement of the intellectual powers of man made a larger share of the business of life than in these in which we live. In the promotion of this spirit the stage has been an instrument of considerable efficacy, and, as such, lays claim to a full share of critical examination; yet, owing to some cause, which it seems impossible to discover, that very important subject has been little attended to in this great commonwealth; and in Philadelphia, the principal city of the union, has been almost totally neglected. No apology, therefore, can be thought necessary for offering the present work to the public.

The utility of miscellanies of this kind has been sometimes called in question; nor are those wanting who condemn the whole tribe of light periodical productions, as detrimental to the advancement of solid science and erudition: yet, in the most learned and enlightened nations of Europe, magazines and periodical compilations have, for more than a century, been circulated with vast success, and, within the last twenty years, increased in price as well as number, to an extent that shows how essentially the public opinion, in that quarter of the world differs from that of the persons who condemn them.

Taking that decision as a decree without appeal, in favour of such works, the editors think themselves authorized in offering the present without any formal apology. If the perusal of such productions had a tendency to prevent the youth of the country from aspiring to deep and solid erudition, or to divert men of talents from the prosecution of more important studies, the editors would be among the last to make any addition to the stock already in circulation; but, convinced that, on the contrary, works of that kind promote the advancement of general knowledge, they have no 3 scruple whatever in offering this to the American people; and so firm do they feel in the conviction of its utility, that they let it go into the world, unaided by any of those arts, or specious professions which are sometimes employed, in similar cases, to excite the attention, enlist the partialities, and seduce the judgment of the public.

Of those who possess at once the talents, the leisure, and the inclination to hunt erudition into its deepest recesses, the number must ever be inconsiderable; and of that number the portion must be small indeed, who could be diverted from that pursuit by the casual perusal of light fugitive pieces. On the other hand, the great majority of mankind would be left without inducement to read, if they were not supplied, by publications of the kind proposed, with matter adapted to their circumstances, to their capacities, and their various turns of fancy; matter accessible to them by its conciseness and perspicuity, attractive by its variety and lightness, and useful by its easy adaptation to the familiar intercourse of life, and its fitness to enter into the conversation of rational society. Men whose time and labour are chiefly engrossed by the common occupations of life, have little leisure to read, none for what is called study. In books they do not search for deep learning, but for amusement accompanied with information on general topics, conveyed with brevity; happy if, in seeking relaxation from the drudgery of business, they can pick up some new particles of knowledge. For this most useful and numerous portion of society, some adequate intellectual provision ought to be made. Nor should it be imagined that, in supplying them, the general interests of literature are deserted. The frequent perusal of well collated miscellanies imparts to youth an appetite for diligent reading; by slow but certain gradation, stores the young mind with valuable ideas; accumulates in it a large stock of useful knowledge; and imperceptibly insinuates a correct and refined taste. Nor is this all. It may serve, as it often has, to rouse the indolent from the gratification of complexional sloth, and 4 recall the unthinking and irregular from the haunts of dissipation and vice to the blessings of serious reflection.

Few things have more tended to inflame the general passion for literature in Great Britain than the practice of uniting the plan of the reviews with that of the magazines, and making them jointly vehicles of dramatic criticism. Multitudes at this day know the character of books, and form a general conception of their subjects, who, but for the light periodical publications, would never have known that such books existed: many who would not otherwise have extended their reading beyond the columns of a newspaper, are led by the pleasures of a represented play, to read the critic’s strictures upon it, and thence, by a natural transition, to peruse attentively the various other subjects which surround those strictures in the magazines. This is the reason why hundreds read the Monthly Mirror and similar productions of London, for one who reads the Rambler.

For the passionate love of books, and the rapid advancement of literature which distinguish her from all young countries, America is greatly indebted to her periodical publications. Those, though small in number, and, unfortunately, too often shortlived, have been read in their respective times and circles with great avidity, and produced a correspondent effect. The Port Folio alone raised, long ago, a spirit in the country which malicious Dulness itself will never be able to lay. Yet the disproportion in number of those miscellanies which have succeeded in America, to those which enrich the republic of letters in England, is astonishing, considering the comparative population of the two countries. London boasts of several periodical publications founded on the DRAMA alone; and though the other magazines occasionally contain short strictures on that subject, those have the greatest circulation which are most exclusively devoted to the stage.


In America there has not yet been one of that description.

To supply this defect, and raise the United States one step higher in laudable emulation with Great Britain, the editors have planned the present work, of which, (though not to the total exclusion of other matter) the basis will be


The first and by far the larger share will be allotted to the stage, and dramatic productions. The residue to miscellaneous articles, most of them connected with the fashionable amusements, and designed to correct the abuses, which intemperate ignorance, and Licentiousness, running riot for want of critical control, have introduced into the public diversions of this opulent and luxurious city.

In the composition of the several parts of this work, care will be taken to furnish the public with new and interesting matter, and to select from the current productions of the British metropolis such topics as will best tend to promote the cultivation of an elegant taste for knowledge and letters, and, at the same time, repay the reader for the trouble of perusal, with amusement and delight. Abstracts from the most popular publications will be given, accompanied with short critical remarks upon them, and, whatever appears most interesting in the periodical productions of Great Britain will be transferred into this; pruned if they be prolix, and illustrated by explanatory notes, whenever they may be found obscured by local or personal allusion.

As the leading object of the work is, not to infuse a passion, but to inculcate a just and sober taste for dramatic poetry and acting, the editors propose to give, seriatim, a history of the drama from its origin, with strictures on dramatic poesy, and portraits of the best dramatic poets of antiquity. To this will succeed the history of the British stage, with portraits of the most celebrated poets, authors, and actors who have flourished on it, and strictures on the professional 6 talents of the latter, illustrated by parallels and comparisons with those who have been most noted for excellence on the American boards.

From that history the reader will be able to deduce a proper conviction of the advantages of the stage, and the importance, if not the necessity, of putting the actors and the audience on a more proper footing with each other than that in which they now stand. Actors must lay their account with being told their faults. They owe their whole industry and attention to those who attend their performance; but the editors hold that critic to have forfeited his right to correct the stage, and to be much more deserving of reprehension than those he censures, who, in the discharge of his duty, forgets that the actor has his rights and privileges also; that he has the same rights which every other gentleman possesses, and of which his profession has not even the remotest tendency to deprive him, to be treated with politeness and respect; that he has the same right as every other man in society, as the merchant, the mechanic, or the farmer, to prosecute his business unmolested; shielded by the same laws which protect them from the attacks of malicious libellers out of the theatre, and the insults of capricious Ignorance or stupid Malevolence within. “Reproof,” says Dr. Johnson, “should not exhaust its power upon petty failings;” and “the care of the critic should be to distinguish error from inability, faults of inexperience from defects of nature. On this principle the editors will unalterably act. And, since they have cited the great moralist’s maxim as a direction for critics, they, even in this their first step into public view, beg leave to offer a few sentiments from the same high source, for the guidance of AUDITORS. “He that applauds him who does not deserve praise is endeavouring to deceive the public; he that hisses in malice or in sport is an oppressor and a robber.1


This work, therefore, will contain a regular journal of all, worthy of notice, that passes in the theatre of Philadelphia, and an account of each night’s performances, accompanied with a critical analysis of the play and after-piece, and remarks upon the merits of the actors. Nor shall the management of the stage, in any particular, escape observation. Thus the public will know what they owe to the manager and to the leader of each department, and those again what they owe to the public. To make The Mirror of Taste and Dramatic Censor, as far as possible a general national work, measures have been taken to obtain from the capital cities, of the other states, a regular account of their theatrical transactions. To this will be added a register of the other public exhibitions, and, in general, of all the fashionable amusements of this city, and, from time to time, the sporting intelligence of the new and old country.

To the first part, which will be entitled “The Domestic Dramatic Censor,” will succeed the “Foreign Dramatic Censor.” This will contain a general account of all that passes in the theatres of Great Britain, likely to interest the fashionable world and amateurs of America, viz. the new pieces, whether play, farce, or interlude, with their prologues and epilogues, together with their character and reception there, and critiques on the acting, collected from the various opinions of the best critics, together with the amusing occurrences, anecdotes, bon-mots, and greenroom chitchat, scattered through the various periodical publications of England, Ireland, and Scotland.

The next head will be Stage Biography, under which the reader will find the lives and characters of the leading actors of both countries.

These will be followed by a miscellany collated from the foreign productions, catalogues of the best books and best compositions in music, published or preparing for publication in Europe or America, with concise reviews of such as have already appeared.


Poetry, of course, will be introduced; not, as usual, under one head, but scattered in detached pieces through the whole.



The price of the Mirror will be eight dollars per annum, payable on the delivery of the sixth number.

A number will be issued every month, forming two volumes in the year.

To each number will be added, by way of appendix, an entire play or after-piece, printed in a small elegant type, and paged so as to be collected, at the end of each year, into a separate volume.

The work will be embellished with elegant engravings by the first artists.





Vol. I. JANUARY 1810. No. 1.


Segnius irritant animos demissa per aurem

Quam quæ sunt oculis subjecta fidelibus, et quæ

Ipse sibi tradit spectator.2   Hor. de Arte Poetica.


That amusement is necessary to man, the most superficial observation of his conduct and pursuits may convince us. The Creator never implanted in the hearts of all his intelligent creatures one common universal appetite without some corresponding necessity; and that he has given them an instinctive appetite for amusements as strong as any other which we labour to gratify, may be clearly perceived in the efforts of infancy, in the exertions of youth, in the pursuits of manhood, in the feeble endeavours of old age, and in the pastimes which human creatures, even the uninstructed savage nations themselves, have invented for their relaxation and delight. This appetite evinces a necessity for its gratification as much as hunger, thirst, and weariness, intimate the necessity of bodily refection by eating, drinking, and 10 sleeping; and not to yield obedience to that necessity, would be to counteract the intentions of Providence, who would not have furnished us so bountifully as he has with faculties for the perception of pleasure, if he had not intended us to enjoy it. Had the Creator so willed it, the process necessary to the support of existence here below might have been carried on without the least enjoyment on our part: the daily waste of the body might be repaired without the sweet sensations which attend eating and drinking; we might have had the sense of hearing without the delight we derive from sweet sounds; and that of smelling without the capability of enjoying the fragrance of the rose: but He whose wisdom and beneficence are above all comprehension, has ordained in another and a better manner, and annexed the most lively sensations of pleasure to every operation he has made necessary to our support, thereby making the enjoyment of pleasure one of the conditions of our existence. This is an unanswerable refutation of one of the most abominable doctrines of the atheists—the overbalance of evil; and as such, that wise and amiable divine, doctor Paley, has made use of it in his Natural Theology. It is true, that yielding to the tendency of our frail, overweening nature to push enjoyment of every kind to its utmost verge, men too often overshoot the mark, and frustrate the object they have most at heart, by eagerness to accomplish it. For though to a reasonable extent and in certain circumstances, all enjoyments are harmless, they degenerate into crimes, when excessively indulged, and particularly when the imagination is overstrained to improve their zest, or to refine or exalt them beyond the limits which Nature and sobriety prescribe. But this can no more be alledged as a reason for renouncing the moderate use of the enjoyment, than the excesses of the drunkard or glutton for the rejection of food and drink.

That man must have amusement of some kind, “Nature speaks aloud.” He, therefore, who supplies society with entertainment unadulterated by vice, who contributes to the 11 pleasure without impairing the innocence of his fellow-beings, and above all, who instructs while he delights, may justly be ranked among the benefactors of mankind, and lays claim to the gratitude and respect of the society he serves. To that gratitude and respect the dramatic poet, and those who contribute to give effect to his works, are richly entitled. Accordingly history informs us that in all recorded ages theatrical exhibitions have been not only held in high estimation by the most wise, learned, and virtuous men, but sedulously cultivated and encouraged by legislators as matters of high public importance, particularly in those nations that have been most renowned for freedom and science.

In the multitude and diversity of conflicting opinions which divide mankind upon all, even the most manifest truths, we find some upon this subject. Many well-meaning, sincere christians have waged war against the enjoyment of pleasure, as if it were the will of God that we should go weeping and sorrowing through life. The learned bishop of Rochester, speaking of a religious sect which carries this principle as far as it will go, says: “their error is not heterodoxy, but excessive, overheated zeal.” Thus we find that the stage has ever been with many well-meaning though mistaken men, a constant object of censure. Of those, a vast number express themselves with the sober, calm tenderness which comports with the character of christians, while others again have so far lost their temper as to discard in a great measure from their hearts the first of all christian attributes—charity. We hope, for the honour of christianity, that there are but few of the latter description. There are men however of a very different mould—men respectable for piety and for learning, who have suffered themselves to be betrayed into opinions hostile to the drama upon other grounds: these will even read plays, and profess to admire the poetry, the language, and the genius of the dramatic poet; but still make war upon scenic representations, considering them as stimulants to vice—as a kind of moral cantharides which 12 serves to inflame the passions and break down the ramparts behind which religion and prudence entrench the human heart. Some there are again, who entertain scruples of a different kind, and turn from a play because it is a fiction; while there are others, and they are most worthy of argument, who think that theatres add more than their share to the aggregate mass of luxury, voluptuousness, and dissipation, which brings nations to vitious refinement, enervation and decay.

In all reasoning of this kind, authority goes a great way, and therefore before we proceed any further, we will enrol under the banners of our argument a few high personages, whose names on such an occasion are of weight to stand against the world, and enumerate some great nations who reverenced and systematically encouraged the drama. If it can be shown that some of the most exalted men that ever lived—men eminent for virtue, high in power and distinction, and illustrious for talents, in different countries and at different times, have countenanced the stage and even written for it; nay, that some of that description have themselves been actors, further argument may well be thought superfluous: yet we will not rest the matter there, but taking those along with us as authorities, go on and probe the error to which we allude, even to the very bone.

It might not be difficult to prove by inference from a multitude of facts scattered through the history of the world, that a passion for the dramatic art is inherent in the nature of man. How else should it happen that in every age and nation of the world, vestiges remain of something resembling theatrical amusements. It is asserted that the people of China full three thousand years ago had something of the kind and presented on a public stage, in spectacle, dialogue and action, living pictures of men and manners, for the suppression of vice, and the circulation of virtue and morality. Even the Gymnosophists, severe as they were, encouraged dramatic representation. The Bramins, whose austerity in religious 13 and moral concerns almost surpasses belief, were in the constant habit of enforcing religious truths by dramatic fictions represented in public. The great and good Pilpay the fabulist, is said to have used that kind of exhibition as a medium for conveying political instruction to a despotic prince, his master, to whom he dared not to utter the dictates of truth, in any other garb. In the obscurity of those remote ages, the evidences of particular facts are too faintly discernible to be relied upon: All that can be assumed as certain, therefore, is that the elementary parts of the dramatic art had then been conceived and rudely practised. But the first regular play was produced in Greece, where the great Eschylus, whose works are handed down to us, flourished not only as a dramatist, but as an illustrious statesman and warrior.

Without dwelling on the many other examples afforded by Greece, we proceed to as high authority as can be found among men: we mean Roscius the Roman actor. That extraordinary man’s name is immortalized by Cicero, who has in various parts of his works panegyrized him no less for his virtues than for his talents. Of him, that great orator, philosopher and moralist has recorded, that he was a being so perfect that any person who excelled in any art was usually called a Roscius—that he knew better than any other man how to inculcate virtue, and that he was more pure in his private life than any man in Rome.

In the Roman catholic countries the priesthood shut out as far as they could from the people the instruction of the stage. For ages the fire of the HOLY inquisition kept works of genius of every kind in suppression all over the south of Europe. In France the monarch supported the stage against its enemies; but though he was able to support the actors in life, he had not power or influence sufficient to obtain for them consolation in death; the rights of the church and christian burial being refused to them by the clergy.


In England, where the clouds of religious intolerance were first broken and dispersed by the reformation, the stage has flourished, and exhibited a mass of excellence and a constellation of genius unparalleled in the annals of the world. There it has been encouraged and admired by men whose authority, as persons deeply versed in christian theology and learned as it is given to human creatures to be, we do not scruple to prefer to that of the persons who raise their voices against the stage. Milton, Pope, Addison, Johnson, Warburton, bishop of Gloucester, and many others have given their labours to the stage. In many of his elegant periodical papers Mr. Addison has left testimonies of his veneration for it, and of his personal respect for players; nay, he wrote several pieces for the stage, in comedy as well as tragedy; yet we believe it will not be doubted that he was an orthodox christian. The illustrious Pope, in a prologue which he wrote for one of Mr. Addison’s plays—the tragedy of Cato—speaks his opinion of the stage in the following lines:

To wake the soul by tender strokes of art,

To raise the genius, and to mend the heart,

To make mankind in conscious virtue bold,

Live o’er each scene, and be what they behold:

For this the tragic Muse first trod the stage,

Commanding tears to stream through every age.

Tyrants no more their savage nature kept,

And foes to virtue wondered how they wept.

Warburton, the friend of Pope, a divine of the highest rank, wrote notes to Shakspeare. And an infinite number of the christian clergy of as orthodox piety as any that ever lived, have admired and loved plays and players. If in religion doctor Johnson had a fault, it certainly was excessive zeal—and assuredly his morality cannot be called in question. What his idea of the stage was, may be inferred from his labours, and from his private friendships. His preface to Shakspeare—his illustrations and characters of the bard’s plays—his tragedy of Irene, of which he diligently superintended 15 the rehearsal and representation—his friendship for Garrick and for Murphy—his letters in the Idler and Rambler, from one of which we have taken our motto for the Dramatic Censor, and his constant attendance on the theatre, loudly proclaim his opinion of the stage. To him who would persist to think sinful that which the scrupulous Johnson constantly did, we can only say in the words of one of Shakspeare’s clowns—“God comfort thy capacity.”

One example more. Whatever his political errors may have been, the present old king of England can never be suspected of coldness in matters of divinity, or of heterodoxy in religion. His fault in that way leans to the other side—for it is doubted by the most intelligent men in England whether his zeal does not border on excess. He has all his life too taken counsel from those he thought the best divines; yet he has done much to encourage the stage, and greatly delighted in scenic representations—particularly in comedy. But as a much stronger proof of his esteem for the drama, we will barely mention one fact: When his majesty first read Arthur Murphy’s tragedy of the Orphan of China, he sent the poet a present of a thousand guineas.

The notion that the theatre should be avoided as a stimulant to the passions deserves some respect on account of its antiquity; for it is as old as the great grand-mother of the oldest man living. In good times of yore, when ladies were not so squeamish as they are now about words, because they did not know their meaning, but were more cautious of facts, because the meaning of facts cannot be misunderstood, young men had a refuge from the temptations of the stage in the reserved deportment and full clothing of domestic society, we cannot wonder that the good old ladies who abhorred the slightest immodesty in dress little, if at all less than they abhorred actual vice, should urge to their sons the necessity of keeping aloof from the allurements of the theatre. If at that time the costume of the stage differed essentially from that of private life, and was the reverse of modest, or if the actresses indulged in meretricious airs 16 which dared not be shown in domestic society, there was a very just pretence, or rather indeed there was the most cogent reason for preaching against the theatre. But at this day, no hypothesis of the kind can be allowed. That beautiful young women ornamented with every decoration which art can lend to enhance their charms will perhaps excite admiration and licentious desires, is true; but that those arts are more generally practised, or those incitements more strongly or frequently played off on the boards of the theatre than in respectable private life, our eyes forbid us to believe. He who looks from the ladies on the stage to those seated on the benches, and compares their dress and artificial allurements must have either very strong nerves or very bad sight, if he persist in saying that there is more danger to be apprehended from the former than the latter. He knows very little of modern manners and must be a very suckling in the ways of the world who imagines that a young man has any thing to fear from the actresses on the stage, who has gone through the ordeal of a common ball-room, or even walked of a fine day through our streets. The ladies of London, Dublin, New-York, Philadelphia and Baltimore, have thrown those of the stage quite into the back ground in the arts of the toilet. Nor is this qualification confined to those of the haut-ton, but has descended to tradesmen’s wives and daughters; to chambermaids, laundresses, and wenches of the kitchen white, yellow, and black, coloured and uncoloured.

Familiarity with impressive objects soon robs them of their influence; and if our natural disgust and anger at the shameful innovations in the female costume for which Great Britain and America stand indebted to the virtues of France, be blunted by the constant obtrusion of them on our sight, it is to be hoped that the pernicious influence of them upon public morals will be diminished also. In those regions where a tropical sun renders clothing cumbersome, and the costume of the ladies of necessity exceeds a little that of ears in transparency and scantiness, familiarity renders it 17 harmless; little or nothing is left for the imagination to feed upon; cheapened by their obviousness, the female charms are rejected by the fancy which loves to dwell on what it only guesses at, or has but rarely seen, and the youthful heart finds its ultimate safety in the apparent excess of its danger. Thus the stage, if it ever possessed, has lost its vitious allurements, as a bucket of water is lost in the ocean. To test this reasoning by matter of fact we appeal to the general feeling, and have no fear of being contradicted when we assert that, with reference to their comparative numbers, more mischievous throbs have been excited in every theatre in London, New-York, and Philadelphia for some years past before, than behind the curtain.

We are aware that there are some who will object, as a thing taken for granted, the greater licentiousness of a player’s life; but this, before it can be admitted in argument, must be proved, and the proof of it would be very difficult indeed. From a long and attentive consideration of the subject, founded upon a perfect knowledge of the private characters of the stage, and the general complexion of society off of it, we are persuaded that in point of intrinsic virtue the players stand exactly on a par with the general mass of society. That there are offenders against the laws of morality and religion among them is certain; but it must be remembered that they labour in this respect under great disadvantages, from the publicity of their situation. There, they stand exhibited to public view, every turn of their conduct, private and public, becomes a subject of general scrutiny. Ten thousand eyes are rivetted upon them, for one that is fixed upon individuals in private life. And though it often happens that some of them are suspected whose lives are perfectly pure, none who have deviated from the paths of virtue can long keep their fall concealed. Can the same be said of the other departments of life? No. Now and then indiscretion, accident, or a total abandonment of decency brings to light the misconduct of an individual; but in general 18 the irregularities of private life either escape detection or are hushed up by pride. Sometimes indeed one vitious purpose occasions the detection of another, and family disgrace is revealed to pave the way to a divorce, with a view to another marriage, and perhaps to another divorce. Were the private conduct of individuals in other stations as well known as that of the people of the stage, the former would have no cause to exult at the superiority of their morals; and in truth if a candid review be taken individually of the actresses of the English stage, by which we mean every stage where the English language is spoken, it will appear that, with few exceptions, they stand highly respectable for private worth and pure moral character. In England, Scotland and still more in Ireland, an unblemished reputation is necessary to a lady’s success on the stage. In some instances, the greatest favourites of the public have been driven for a time from the stage, for trespasses upon virtue, and when permitted to return were never after much more than endured. To these instances we shall have occasion to advert in the course of this work.

While we assert, on the best grounds, that the theatre may be made, by proper established regulations, a school of virtue and manners, we do not wish to conceal our persuasion that there is nothing more potent to debase and corrupt the minds of a people than a licentious stage. But it may be averred with equal truth, that the abuses of every other institution are fraught with no less mischief to the public. At this very moment the abuse of the pulpit is the parent of more public mischief in Great Britain and America than the stage ever produced in its most prolific days of vice; and it is deplorable to reflect that the former is rapidly increasing, while the vitiation of the latter has been for a century on the decline. The licentiousness of the stage in the reign of Charles II was enormous: but it was a licentiousness which the theatre in common with the whole nation derived from the court, and from a most flagitious monarch 19 whose example made vice fashionable. In servile compliance with the reigning taste, the greatest poets of the day abandoned true fame, and discarded much of their literary merit: Otway and Dryden sunk into the most mean and criminal slavery to it—the former with the greatest powers for the pathetic ever possessed by any man, Shakspeare excepted, has left behind him plays which in an almost equal degree excite our admiration and contempt, our indignation and our pity. It is charitable to suppose that “his poverty and not his will consented.” But Dryden had no such excuse to plead for his base subserviency to pecuniary advantage, or for the detestable licentiousness of his comedies. He who will take the pains to turn to that admirable tragedy, Venice Preserved, by Otway, will find in the scenes between Aquileia and the old senator Antonio enough to disgust the taste of any one not callous to all sense of delicacy. But had Juvenal lived at that period, he would have scourged Dryden out of society. To those we might add Wycherly. Congreve and other cotemporary authors succeeded: but the offences committed by those men can no more be alleged as a ground of general condemnation of the stage, than the works of lord Rochester can be set up as a reason for condemning Milton, Pope, Thomson, Goldsmith, and all our other poets, or the innumerable murders committed by unprincipled quacks, be alleged as a cause for abolishing the whole practice of medicine.

Exasperated by the outrages of the dramatic poets, on virtue and decency, Jeremy Collier, a non-juring clergyman, attacked the stage. His charge against the authors was unquestionably right; but his attack upon the stage itself, exhibited a disposition splenetic almost to misanthropy, and an austerity of principle urged to unsocial ferocity. In his fury he renounced the idea of reforming the stage; he was for abolishing it entirely. He attacked the poets with “unconquerable pertinacity, with wit in the highest degree keen and sarcastic, and with all those powers exalted and invigorated 20 by just confidence in his cause.”3 Thus arose a controversy which lasted ten years, during which time authors found it necessary to become more discreet. “Comedy (says Dr. Johnson) grew more modest; and Collier lived to see the reformation of the stage.” Colley Cibber, who was one of those whose plays Collier attacked, candidly says, “It must be granted that his calling our dramatic writers to this account had a very wholesome effect upon those who writ after his time. Indecencies were no longer wit; and by degrees the fair sex came again to fill the boxes on the first day of a new comedy, without fear or censure.”

Such a licentious stage as is here described well deserved the severest attacks: but what is there to justify severity now? at this day not only the success of every new play so much depends upon its purity, but so scrupulously correct in that particular is the public taste, and so abstinent from every the slightest indelicacy are the authors of plays and even farces, that not a word is uttered upon the stage from which the most timid real modesty would shrink. In conformity to this happy state of the general taste and morals, all the old plays that retain possession of the stage, have been cleared of their pollution, and all the offensive passages in them have been expunged; some have been entirely thrown out as incapable of amendment, and in truth, purity of sentiment, and delicacy of expression, have become so prevalent, that it is very much to be doubted whether if it were proposed to act one of Wycherly’s, Dryden’s, or Otway’s offensive plays in its original state, a set of players could be found who would prostitute themselves so far as to perform it.

From the offences of mankind arise despotic restrictions and penal laws of every kind. From the licentiousness of the stage in England, arose the licensing law which still continues to hold a heavy hand over all the dramatic productions that are acted; and which has too often been perverted to corrupt purposes.


But if the abuses of the stage in the times alluded to, serve to show its power to do mischief, the general reformation in the public taste, which followed that of the dramatic writings, equally show its competency to effectuate good. Rousseau, who had little less dislike to plays and players than Jeremy Collier, says, in a letter to D’Alembert, “Let us not attribute to the stage the power of changing opinions or manners, when it has only that of following and heightening them. An author who offends the general taste may as well cease to write, for nobody will read his works. When Moliere reformed the stage he attacked modes and ridiculous customs, but he did not insult the public taste; he either followed or explained it.” So far Rousseau was right. It is the public that gives the stage its bias—necessarily preceding it in taste and opinion, and pointing out the direction to its object. In return the stage gives the public a stronger impulse in morals and manners. Wherever the stage is found corrupted with bad morals, it may be taken for granted that the nation has been corrupted before it; when it labours under the evils of a bad taste, it may safely be concluded that that of the public has been previously vitiated. The truth is evident in the wretched state of dramatic taste in England at this moment, where, corrupted by the spectacles and mummery of the Italian opera, by the rage for preternatural agency acquired from the reading of ghost novels and romances, and by the introduction of German plays or translations, the people can relish nothing but melo-drame, show, extravagant incident, stage effect and situation—goblins, demons, fiddling, capering and pantomime, and the managers, in order to live, are compelled to gratify the deluded tasteless multitude at an incalculable expense.

What the advantages are which could be derived from abolishing the stage can only be judged from a view of the moral state of those countries in which the drama has been for ages discouraged and held in disrepute, compared with that of countries where it has been supported and cultivated. 22 Spain comes nearest to a total want of a regular drama of any Christian country in Europe; and if there be any person who prefers the moral state of that country to the moral state of Great Britain or America, we wish him joy of his opinion, and assure him that we admire neither his taste, his argument, nor his inference.

We have thus far entered into a vindication of the stage, not with the slightest hope of changing the opinion of its enemies, nor with the least desire to increase the admiration of its friends; but to awaken public opinion to a sense of its vast importance, and of the advantages which society may derive from giving full and salutary effect to its agency, by generous encouragement, and vigilant control—by directing its operations into proper channels, and fostering it by approbation in every thing that has a tendency to promote virtue, to improve the intellectual powers, and to correct and refine the taste, and the manners of society. This desirable end can only be attained by making it respectable, and sheltering its professors from the insult and oppression of the ignorant, the base-minded, and the illiberal. None will profit by the precepts of those whom they contemn; and the youth of the country will be very unlikely to yield to the authority of the instructor whom they see subjected to the sneers and affronts of the very rabble they themselves despise. Besides, if actors were to be treated with injustice and contumely, young gentlemen of talents and virtue would be deterred from entering into the profession; and the stage would soon become as bad as it is falsely described to be by fanatics—a sink of vice and corruption: but the wisdom and liberality of the British nation, after the example of old Rome, having, on the contrary, given to the gentlemen of the stage their merited rank in society, and raised actors and actresses of irreproachable private character, to associate with the families of peers, statesmen, legislators, and men of the highest rank in the nation, the profession is filled with persons eminently respectable for talents, learning and morals, and estimable as 23 those of other classes in social life—estimable as husbands, fathers, children, friends and companions. But in Great Britain, they have a twofold protection—that of the audience and that of the law—from the insults and injustice of capricious, saucy, or malignant individuals. There, the line that separates the rights of the actor from those of the auditor has been exactly defined by the highest judicial authority.4 And if an individual assaults a performer by hissing5 without carrying the audience, or a large majority of it, along with him, the performer has his action against his malicious assailant, and is adjudged damages as certainly as persons of any of the other professions or trades recover for an assault, a calumny, or a libel. Hence the stage is looked up to as a great school, and the eminent actors are universally looked to as the best instructors in action, elocution, orthoepy, and the component parts of oratory. By following the same liberal and wise system with respect to OUR stage, we may reasonably hope soon to bring it to a reputable state of competition with that of Great Britain, and in that as in most other parts of the elegancies of life, not very long hence, to place the new on a complete footing with the old country.


The passion for inquiring into the lives of conspicuous men is so universally felt, that we cannot help indulging it in cases where not only the person is unknown, but where his actions are so remote, that we can neither form a picture of the one, nor any possible way be affected by the other. The delight with which children themselves read the histories of remarkable characters, and the avidity with which, at every period of life, we read biography, are proofs that this passion has it source in nature, abstracted from any connexion imagined to exist between the object and our own heart. It is, however, more lively when the object lives in our time, and when his actions are the subject of daily conversation in our hearing, or when we have ourselves been witnesses of them; and still more so, when the person being still in existence has found means by the force of his talents to agitate a whole people, to rouse general curiosity and admiration, and to form, as it were, a landmark in any interesting department of civilized life.

That mankind, in general, derive greater pleasure from biography than from most other kinds of writing is universally acknowledged. One of the greatest moral philosophers of Britain justly observes, that of all the various kinds of narrative writing, that which is read with the greatest eagerness, and may with the greatest facility and effect be applied to the purposes of life is biography; and the accomplished and sagacious Montaigne, speaking in raptures, upon the same subject, says “Plutarch is the writer after my own heart, and Suetonius is another, the like of whom we shall never see.”

As a master key to the study of the human heart, the biographical account of particular individuals is infinitely superior to history. History, in fact, is not a just picture of man and nature, but a registry of prominent actions which derive conspicuity from their name, place, and date, while the inward nature of the agent, the secret springs, the slow 25 and silent causes of those actions, being left unnoticed and undistinguished, remain forever unknown. The man himself is seen only here and there, and now and then, and lies hidden from view, except in those points in which his conduct is connected with those actions. But biography follows him from his public exhibition into his private retreat, haunts him in his closet concealments, accompanies him through his house, where his desires, passions, irregularities, vices, virtues, foibles, and follies take their full swing—sits by his fireside—watches for his unsuspecting, unguarded moments,—catches and lays up all the ebullitions of his heart, when it is freed from all restraint by domestic confidence—scans all his expressions when he is mixing in free social converse with his friends and family, and thus penetrates into his heart—detects every secret emotion of the man’s soul, even when he thinks himself most effectually concealed, and in every glance of his eye, every whisper, every unpremeditated act and expression, dives to the very bottom of his designs and brings up his real character.

In the regulation of life, therefore, or the improvement of moral sentiment, little benefit is to be derived from a knowledge of the events of history, the subjects of which are so far removed from the ordinary business of the world, that they seldom address a salutary example to the heart or understanding—seldom present an action in any way applicable to the ordinary transactions of the world, or which men in general can hope or wish to imitate, and which are therefore read with comparative indifference, and passed by without improvement, while biography conveys the best instruction for the conduct of life, by a happy mixture of precept and example.

Doctor Johnson has, in some of his writings, given it as his opinion that “a life has rarely passed, of which a judicious and faithful narrative would not be useful; for not only, says he, every man has, in the mighty mass of the world, great numbers in the same condition with himself, to whom his mistakes and miscarriages, escapes and expedients would be of immediate and apparent use; but there is such a uniformity 26 in the state of man considered apart from adventitious and separable decoration and disguises, that there is scarce any possibility of good or ill but is common to human kind.” How much more beneficial as a mass of precept and example, and how much more captivating as a narrative must be the biography of any person who has held a conspicuous place for any length of time in the eye of the world, particularly if, by the industrious exercise of vigorous or brilliant talents, he has contributed more than his share to the happiness, the improvement, or the innocent pleasure of society. In that case a mixed sentiment of admiration and gratitude insensibly fills the public mind, from which there arises a lively interest in all that concerns the person and an eager curiosity to learn his origin, his early education, private opinions and habits, the fortunes and incidents of his life, and, above all, the singularities of his temper, and the peculiarities of his manners and deportment. Few men in society stand so much in the public eye, or have such opportunities to engage popular interest and personal admiration as celebrated actors. In the general account current of life, casting up the debtor and creditor between individual and individual, the balance between the auditor and actor will be found largely in favour of the latter. There are few, we know, to whom this assertion will not appear paradoxical, because few have given themselves time to consider that there is no place where a person, having an hour or two to bestow on relaxation, can obtain so much delight and improvement with so little concurrence of his own efforts as at the theatre. “At all other assemblies,” says Dr. Johnson, “he that comes to receive delight will be expected to give it; but in the theatre nothing is necessary to the amusement of two hours but to sit down and be willing to be pleased.” Where the private deportment and moral character of a celebrated actor, therefore, are not at great variance with the general feelings, he becomes by the very nature of his profession and talents an object of general interest, and his life, character, and every circumstance belonging 27 to him are inquired into with earnest curiosity and solicitude.

He who fairly considers the requisites indispensable to a tolerable actor, will allow that the professors of that art must be persons of intellectual capacity and personal endowments much superior to the common herd of mankind. The vivid intelligence, the high animal spirits, the aspiring temper, and the resolute intrepidity, which impel them to the stage and support them under its difficulties, are generally associated with an eccentricity of character and a giddy disregard of prudential considerations, which generate adventure and chequer their lives with a greater variety of incidents and whimsical intercourse with the world than falls to the lot of men of other professions. Hence it follows that the stage presents the most ample field for the biographer; and that whether he writes for the instruction or the entertainment of his readers, he will not be able to find in any other department of society men whose lives comprise such an interesting variety as the actors.

In selecting the persons with whose lives it is intended to enrich this work, the editors find it necessary in the very first instance to depart from the rule which their original purpose and strict justice, as well as a due regard to priority, had prescribed to them. The biography of the deceased Mr. Hallam, as the father of the American stage, no doubt lays claim to the first place. There were others too, whose priority to Mr. Cooper cannot be contested; but, as the materials were not to be immediately had they have been obliged to postpone them.


Mr. Thomas Abthorpe Cooper is the descendant of a very respectable Irish family, though he was, himself, born in England. His father, doctor Cooper—a gentleman universally known, and not more known than beloved and respected by all who have had any intercourse with East Indian affairs, was a native of Ireland, and after having served his time to one of the most eminent surgeons in that kingdom, with the reputation of a young man of genius and great promise, went over to England, in order to acquire, in the London hospitals, more perfect practical skill in his business, and to avail himself of the lectures of the principal professors of surgery and medicine in that metropolis; intending to return to his native country again, and there practise for life. It happened with the doctor however, precisely as it does with the greater part of young Irish gentlemen, who have their fortunes to raise chiefly by their own efforts. London gradually unfolded to his view all her irresistible charms; the ligaments which tied him to his native home, grew every day more and more slender and weak: the dictates of common sense and prudence, in this one instance at least enforced by the attractions of pleasure, pointed out the vast superiority of England to the oppressed, impoverished country which he had left, as a field for genius and industry to work upon. Having a prepossessing face and person, and manners frank, conciliating and firm, he soon extended his acquaintance to a wide circle of friends, whose advice conspired with his own taste to bring him to a determination, in consequence of which he settled near the metropolis, and became a practitioner in surgery and physic. While he was successfully engaged in this career, he was introduced to some of the great men of Leadenhall-street, by whom he was appointed to the lucrative office of inspecting-surgeon of the recruits destined for the service of the East India Company. In the discharge of this duty it fell to his share to visit the ships preparing for 29 a voyage to India, and of course to mingle with the company’s servants of all ranks and conditions, by whom he was in no common degree beloved and respected—by the higher order for his agreeable and manly deportment—by the lower for his tenderness and humanity. Though he lived in England, he viewed his own country with a laudable fond partiality; and being constitutionally benevolent, and having a heart “open to melting Charity,” and a hand prompt to indulge it, it may reasonably be conjectured that in his office of inspecting-surgeon he was exposed to many sharp attacks upon his feelings; the far greater part of the recruits who came under his inspection being unfortunate Irish youths who had thrown themselves upon a strange world, destitute of every thing but health, youth, and bodily vigor. By such objects, the sympathy of such a warm heart as that which beat in doctor Cooper’s bosom, could not fail to be strongly excited, and it was pretty generally believed that his family had less reason than his unfortunate countrymen to exult at the goodness of his nature. Nor was his philanthropy confined to those wretched children of misfortune, the recruits; many young Irish gentlemen who were going to India as cadets, experienced his kindness also, but in another form. He had many friends, and considering his rank, very extraordinary interest with the high officers and commanders in the company’s service. This he never failed to exert in favour of such of his young countrymen as he considered deserving of it: and in short strained his powers in every way to increase their comfort and accommodation during that trying ordeal, their passage to India, and to procure them friends when they got there.

His son Thomas, the subject of this paper, was born in the year 1777, and received an early liberal education. As doctor Cooper’s interest lay wholly with the East India company, his children were sent to that emporium of wealth, Bengal, as soon as their ages fitted them for admission into the world. Had he lived till our hero was of a suitable age the probability is that the American stage would at this day want one of its 30 greatest ornaments; and that the hand which now wields the truncheon of Macbeth, Richard, and Coriolanus on the American boards, would be grasping a sword or driving a quill in the service of the East India company in Bengal, whither doctor Cooper at last went himself, being promoted to a respectable rank on the medical staff of that settlement, and where at length he died to the deep regret of all who knew him, and to the irretrievable loss of an amiable family. To the last will and testament of the generous man there is seldom any great trouble in administering—doctor Cooper made a great deal of money; but retained little of it. We do not mention this as a feature in that worthy man’s character to be imitated. On the contrary we wish it, so far as it goes, to operate as a warning against the indulgence of a spirit, which, though it be a virtue of the highest order when kept under the control of discretion, does, like every other virtue, degenerate into a foible, when carried to excess. Fortunately for that member of doctor Cooper’s family of whom we are writing, he found, when his youth wanted it, a sincere friend. Mr. Godwin, whose name is well known in the republic of letters, particularly as the author of a work the name of which we will not put upon the same page with this honourable instance of posthumous friendship to doctor Cooper, took the youth to his own care; adopted, educated, and, as some say, intended him for an author; a scheme too absurd in our opinion, to be meditated by a person of Mr. Godwin’s sagacity, who would at least postpone such a project till the genius of the young man should unfold itself in full maturity. Such, however, is said to have been the plan, which, whether the story be true or false, there is cause to rejoice was frustrated. At this distance it would be hopeless, if indeed it were very desirable, to trace that strange report to its origin, but we think it not at all a forced conclusion that it arose from the nature of the education which Mr. Godwin bestowed upon the youth. Hence without knowing the amount of Mr. Cooper’s literary attainments, we think it may be fairly inferred from the existence 31 of such a report, that his education was a learned one, and that he was early grounded in the dead as well as the most useful modern languages. Mr. Godwin cannot be suspected of intending for an author by trade, a youth from whom he had withheld the Greek and Latin classics.

It is not necessary to recur to the instructions of Mr. Godwin for the fervid partiality which Mr. Cooper early disclosed for the French revolution. In that feeling he partook in common with men who as radically, substantially, and essentially differed in principle from Mr. Godwin, as light from darkness, or heat from cold. Several high statesmen in England, who afterwards deplored it, at first viewed that extraordinary event with a favourable eye, as likely to better the condition of twenty millions of people. So, Mr. Dundas, now lord Melville, for himself and his colleague Pitt, openly avowed in parliament. And even Burke himself, whose penetrating eye discerned from the outset, and foretold all the mischiefs that lurked under that event, complimented a young Irish gentleman of reputable birth, upon his having fought as a volunteer with Dumourier, at the battle of Jamappe; adding, that he gloried in every instance in which he found his young countrymen disclosing an enthusiastic love of freedom. Nay, he did not scruple to declare very frequently that, considering the plausible appearance of the revolution, he should entertain but a very poor opinion of a youth who was not enamoured with it. With such an authority to warrant us, we feel no hesitation in stating it as an honourable trait in the character of Mr. Cooper, that he was delighted with the French revolution, and that in his enthusiastic admiration of that event, he resolved to abandon his literary pursuits to give his young arm (he being then not above seventeen years of age) to the defence of the new republic and, as he thought, the cause of liberty. He had scarcely taken this resolution, and made preparations to go to the continent and join the army of the French republic, when the war broke out between England 32 and France, and totally overset his purpose and his hopes of military promotion, rendering that which before would have been lawful if not laudable, an act of treason to his country, of the bare contemplation of which, it is fair to believe, he was incapable.

It was on occasion of this disappointment and check to his military ambition, that Mr. Cooper turned his thoughts to the stage. Young as he was, he made a full and accurate estimate of his situation. Too proud by nature to be dependant, his feelings suggested the necessity of immediately doing something for his own support and advancement. He boldly resolved to be the architect of his own fame and fortune, and it is probable had too much common sense to take the author’s pen either as a material or an instrument in constructing the edifice. Having made up his mind to try his fortune on the stage, he imparted his intention to Mr. Godwin, who received the communication with deep regret, and encountered it with the most decided disapprobation, and with every argument and dissuasive which ingenuity and a perfect knowledge of the subject could lend to friendship. It was in vain every topic was urged which could serve to dissuade, to deter, or to disgust: Mr. Cooper firmly adhered to his purpose, and Mr. Godwin perceiving him immovable, yielded to what he could not overcome, and resolved, since he could not divert him from the stage, to do all he could to set him forward on it to the best advantage. To this end, Mr. Holcroft, the friend of Mr. Godwin, was called in; and he gave the young man some preparatory lessons, a task for which he was exceedingly well qualified uniting in himself the several talents of actor, author, and critic.

To procure admission on the stage in England is not always an easy task. In the present instance it seemed to Mr. Holcroft and Mr. Godwin a matter of serious consideration to whom an application should be made for the purpose, and what theatre would be most likely to receive him with least disadvantage. At length application being made 33 to Mr. Stephen Kemble he agreed, without seeing the young gentleman, to take him under his auspices; and to that end Mr. Cooper repaired to Edinburgh. Of his reception by Mr. Kemble the most ludicrous description has been given; a description, which, as biographers, we should not think of introducing on the present occasion, if it had not already appeared in public, accompanied with an assertion that it came from Mr. Cooper himself. “The writer of this sketch (says the publisher of that account) has heard Cooper himself describe with great pleasantry his first interview with the Scotch manager; he was at that time a raw country youth of seventeen. On his arrival in Edinburgh, little conscious of his appearance and incompetency, he waited on Mr. Kemble, made up in the extreme of rustic foppery, proud of his talents, and little doubting his success. When he mentioned his name and errand, Mr. Kemble’s countenance changed from a polite smile to a stare of disappointment: Cooper had been prepared for young Norval; but he was obliged to exchange all his expected eclat for a few cold excuses from the manager, and the chagrin of seeing some nights after, his part filled by an old man and a bad player. During the remainder of the season he continued with Stephen Kemble, without at all appearing on the stage. From Edinburgh he went with the company to Newcastle-upon-Tyne, there he lived as dependent, inactive, and undistinguished as before, till, owing to the want of a person to fill the part of Malcolm in Macbeth, he was cast to that humble character. In so inferior a sphere did he begin to move who is now become one of the brightest luminaries of the theatrical hemisphere. His debut was even less flattering than his reception from the manager had been. Till the last scene he passed through tolerably well, but when he came to the lines which conclude the play—

“So thanks to all at once, and to each one,

Whom we invite to see us crown’d at Scone.”


After stretching out his hands and assuming the attitude and smile of thankfulness, a slight embarrassment checked him, and he paused, still keeping his posture and his look—the prompter made himself heard by every one but the bewildered Malcolm, who still continued mute, every instant of his silence naturally increasing ten-fold his perplexity—Macduff whispered the words in his ear—Macbeth who lay slaughtered at his feet, broke the bonds of death to assist his dumb successor, the prompter spoke almost to vociferation. Each thane dead or alive joined his voice—but this was only “confusion worse confounded”—if he could have spoken the amazed prince might with great justice have said, “So thanks to all at once”—but his utterance was gone “vox faucibus hæsit”—a hiss presently broke out in the pit, the clamor soon became general, and the curtain went down, amid a universal condemnation.”

No part of biography is so interesting, or affecting as that which brings before us the struggles of unassisted vigour and genius with the obstructions which accident, or the ignorance or malice of vulgar souls throw in their way, and their ultimate triumph over adversity. Few men have enjoyed that triumph more than Mr. Cooper, for few have in their outset met with a more mortifying repulse, or more discouraging difficulties. There are not many whose resolution could have outlived such a cruel discomfiture as that at Edinburgh: but on him it seemed to have the happy effect of steeling his natural fortitude, and sending his spirit forward in its career with increased impetuosity.

Disappointed and chagrined, but not humiliated, he returned back to London, more determinately than ever resolved to persevere till he had mastered fortune and established a footing on the stage—exhibiting a degree of confidence which generally inheres in genius, and which his ultimate success well justified. Far from being depressed or obscured by his Edinburgh adventure, his talents had so much unfolded themselves and been so visibly improved, that his friends Godwin and Holcroft felt convinced he had 35 not mistaken or overrated his powers; but, on the contrary, possessed qualifications, which, if diligently and judiciously cultivated, would raise him to a rank with the most eminent actors then living. The great bar to his advancement was that diffidence which occasioned his discomfiture in Edinburgh: but his friends knew enough of the human heart and powers to be assured that that very diffidence is so universally the concomitant of sterling merit, that where it superabounds wise men give credit for much excellence, and bestow their partiality with a liberal hand; while the want of it is generally suspected of denoting a great deficiency in merit: and they were right; for the young person who wants modesty wants every thing. Fraught with these considerations, those discerning men and steady friends thought that they would best consult their protegé’s interest by putting him into training in some obscure company, and took measures to introduce him into a routine of acting in the country theatres, from which novitiate they expected he would soon emerge well practised in stage business, and fully qualified to give out the whole force of his natural powers on some of the stages of the metropolis.

The country managers, however, seemed to think very differently from Messrs. Godwin and Holcroft of Mr. Cooper’s capabilities. If they had not the genius, the discernment, or the “spirits learned in human dealings” of our hero’s patrons, they had self-sufficiency and obstinacy in abundance, and what was more unfortunate, they had the power in their hands; a power which in such persons is rarely softened in its exercise by liberality or candor. These, notwithstanding the authority of Godwin and Holcroft’s opinion, considered or affected to consider Mr. Cooper as a poor juvenile adventurer, who had no one requisite for the profession. “Their hands, they said, were already full—(of trash no doubt they were) every character even the lowest was engaged. To show their deference, however, to the high opinion of the young man’s friends, they would endeavour to think of something for him to perform.” 36 In conformity to the dictates of this generous spirit, they vouchsafed him some inferior parts: but every one knows, who knows any thing at all of theatrical affairs, that the coldness of a manager to a young performer, creates at least, distrust in the audience—that the young candidate who is set forward in humiliation, is forbidden to rise; as he who is thrust into characters far beyond the reach of his powers will, for a time, get credit for talents which he does not possess: for discerning and despotic as the multitude think themselves, they are still the dupes or the submissive slaves of dexterous leaders in every department of life. By the error, the ignorance, or the churlishness of the country managers, Mr. Cooper was excluded from any fair opportunity to redeem the credit he had lost in Edinburgh—they considered, or affected to consider him as wholly incompetent to any character of consequence: those which were vouchsafed him were of so inferior a rank that they denied scope to the exercise of his yet latent powers; for such a genius as that of Cooper could no more dilate in a meagre character, than Eclipse or Flying Childers could lay themselves out at full speed in a city building lot; and it is reasonable to suppose that, notwithstanding all his fortitude, the spirits of the youth were depressed, and his faculties chilled by such humiliating neglect, and such reiterated disappointments. Who is he that would not, under such circumstances, sink into languor? It cannot be doubted that dejection every day detracted from his powers, and that by a kind of irresistible gravitation, he descended like a falling body in the physical world, with accelerated velocity, till at last he reached the very bottom of the profession. Reader, behold—and refrain from regret if you can—behold Cooper, on whom crowded theatres have since gazed with astonishment and delight, reduced to the condition of a mere deliverer of letters and messages upon the stage of a low country theatre. The writer of this cannot help picturing to himself the feelings of a multitude of great and worthy personages in Great Britain and India, and particularly the feelings of 37 a sister, the lovely inheritress of her family’s virtues, if they had known at the time, that which our hero’s manly pride concealed, that the son of doctor Cooper, whose goodness of heart had often been the refuge of the distressed, was for months languishing under the chill of public neglect, and dragging on existence upon a miserable pittance which scarcely afforded him physical support; or if they had seen him in his unaccommodated removal from that situation, walking on foot to the metropolis.

The repulses of a mistaken and unworthy few, and the neglect of a world very little better, had no other effect upon Mr. Cooper’s friends Godwin and Holcroft, than to quicken their sensibility and inflame their ardour to serve him. It is more than probable those mortifications tended to increase the conviction of the former that his eleve had made a deplorable choice of profession, but did not at all shake the opinion which both, and particularly the latter, entertained that he had great capabilities for the profession. The youth had now waded in so far, that to go back might be worse than to go forward; Mr. Holcroft therefore again took him in hand; read Shakspeare with him, and accompanied their reading with practical commentaries upon the force of that author’s meaning, marked out to him those parts where the character was to depend for its interest and impression, on the actor’s exertions; heard him over and over again repeat the most difficult speeches, and instructed him how to adapt his action, looks, and utterance to the passion which the author designed to exhibit, so as to excite appropriate feelings in the auditor. Though Shakspeare is above all others the poet of Nature, his meaning frequently eludes the dim or vulgar mind, and to be intelligibly elicited from the stiffness and obscurity which sometimes injures his language, requires profound consideration. For the minute investigation requisite for this purpose few men were better qualified than Mr. Holcroft—few men much more equal to the task of bringing forth from the rich mine where they lay and purify of their dross the talents of Mr. Cooper. With an earnestness and indefatigable zeal proportioned to 38 the object, and which nothing but the most generous friendship could impel him to employ, Mr. Holcroft gave those powers to the instruction of our hero, and with such speedy and felicitous effect, that the young gentleman was, in the course of a few months, considered by his two friends as perfectly qualified to appear before a London audience in some of Shakspeare’s most important characters. Having been for some time a successful dramatic writer, Mr. H. enjoyed the ear and confidence of the managers, and arranged with those of Covent Garden for his pupil’s appearance on that stage. And now the time arrived when his fortitude was to be rewarded, his sufferings compensated, and his talents to find their proper levels. His first appearance was in Hamlet, in which he received unbounded applause. In two or three nights after he performed the very arduous part of Macbeth to a house so very full as to occasion an overflow. It is but justice to the Edinburgh and other provincial managers to observe, that when Mr. Cooper appeared on the London boards he was greatly improved in his externals. His person had grown more into masculine bulk and manly shape; his face had become more marked and expressive, and his voice had swelled into a more full deep tenor.

The friendship of Mr. Holcroft caused Mr. Cooper to be universally misjudged. The opposition prints represented him in the most extravagant terms of eulogy. The government prints ran into the opposite extreme, and he became at once the idol and the victim of party spirit. Yet such a reception, by a London audience, was a sufficient pledge of future success. He was still young, had much to learn in order to reach the first rank of that profession, and if a real, well-grounded, just fame had been his object, he ought to have felt that it could only be attained by perseverance, and by the customary natural gradations. The London managers offered him an engagement, which, though allowed to have been liberal, seems not to have come up to his own estimate of his deserts. Playing two or three 39 or four characters well is a very different thing from sustaining a whole line of acting, to which long practice and great constitutional force are as necessary as any other requisite. In this view of the matter, as well as because managers neither desire nor will be permitted in England to supersede established favourite servants of the public, it will not appear surprising that the first rate rank of characters to which Mr. Cooper aspired, was refused to him by the managers, who thought that they better consulted the public feeling, their own interest, and even the young gentleman’s fame and ultimate prosperity, by placing him in a secondary general line, in which he might improve himself by playing with and observing the best models, and in regular gradation make his way to the first, as Kemble, Cooke, and others had done before him. This however was too unpalatable for his ambition to swallow. The first he would be, or none. There is not a sentiment of Julius Cæsar’s that is thought so censurable and unworthy of his great mind as that which he uttered when, pointing to a small town, he said, “I would rather be the first man in that village than the second in Rome.” This has been justly called perverted ambition, and Milton stamped it with terrible condemnation when he put into the mouth of his arch fiend the sentiment—“better to reign in hell than serve in heaven.” The passions of youth extenuate those errors which in ripened manhood are criminal; and it is not improbable that Mr. Cooper’s own opinion at this day concurs with ours when we say that his refusal of the manager’s offer seems to us to have been very injudicious. From Plautus, with whom we dare say he had long before had an intimacy, he might have taken this profitable lesson,

Viam qui nescit quâ deveniat ad mare

Eum oportet amnem quærere comitem sibi.

Had he not rejected that offer he would long ere this have had permanent possession of the rank to which he too prematurely aspired. His refusal was followed by a retreat into the country, where, with the perseverance of Demosthenes, he laboured 40 in fitting himself for a more successful effort; resolved to force his way if possible to the high object of his ambition.

During his retirement intimations of his success crossed the Atlantic. Mr. Tyler, some time since the manager of the New-York theatre, received the intelligence from a friend in England: “Prepare yourself for astonishment,” said his correspondent, “that identical Mr. Cooper who, a few months ago, was playing the very underling characters at our theatre, and who appeared so extremely incompetent, is now performing Hamlet with applause in London.” Sometime after this the agent of the Philadelphia manager in England made proposals to Mr. Cooper, who exulting in the thoughts of obtaining in America that rank which he was refused in London, closed with the offer, and soon after passed over to America. In Philadelphia, however, he found that his object was not altogether so attainable as he imagined. In no place does favouritism flourish with much more rank luxuriance than in that city—in no place do personal prepossessions more frequently operate to the overthrow of judgment, to the exclusion of merit, and to the fostering of incapacity. The multitude had their favourites whose merit touched the highest standard of their conceptions—any thing beyond that was hid in an intellectual mist. The taste of the many was formed upon the kind of merit which they so much admired in their favourites, and little did it relish that of Mr. Cooper. It is astonishing how constantly fond overweening prejudice deceives itself. The philosopher who told the powerful despot, his sovereign, that there was no royal way to mathematics, was believed, because the despot had common sense—but a headstrong multitude can never be persuaded that a person can be incompetent to any one thing, if they only will him to be great in it: and thus it has happened not infrequently, in all cities as well as Philadelphia, that splendid talents have stood behind as lackeys, while doleful incapacity has feasted upon public favour.

The abilities of Mr. Cooper gave great uneasiness, for they every day forced a passage for themselves to some share of approbation, 41 in the very teeth of favouritism and prejudice. Some there were who could discern no merit at all in him; some who industriously employed themselves in depreciating and denying the little which others allowed him. At last his vigorous struggles made it necessary to call in a corps de reserve which he little suspected; his private life was impeached, and the careless, irregular habits of youth—habits, by the by, in which no youth indulge more than our own, were arrayed against him. Unjust as this was, it produced the desired effect; for when his benefit was announced, very few seats were taken in the boxes. And here we have to record a feature in that gentleman’s character which marks his honest pride and magnanimity in deep impression. The manager was bound by his contract to make up to a certain stated amount, the proceeds of Mr. C.’s benefit. To such an advantage Mr. C. disdained to have recourse. At the same time his pride shrunk from the thoughts of playing to empty boxes at his benefit. He resolved to have a full house, and hit upon an expedient which showed that, young as he was, he knew something of the human heart, and that, though a stranger, he had made a very shrewd estimate of the public taste, for which he had the skill to cater more appropriately and successfully than he could by merely dishing up a play of Shakspeare’s in his own rough cookery. Fortunately for his purpose there had lately arrived in Philadelphia an actor of great weight and merit, a native of India, of whose immense and popular talents he resolved to avail himself; this was an elephant, which for the trifling douceur of sixty dollars, that is, near twice as much as the best actor in the city now gets for one week’s labour, he prevailed upon to press the boards of the theatre for that one time only, and be the chief performer and great attraction of the night. This was what a seaman would call hitting the public between wind and water: Mr. Cooper therefore poured in a whole broadside of printed notices, which were put into every hand, and a huge playbill, which glared at the corner of every street in letters of elephantine size, informing the public that the distinguished 42 performer already mentioned, had kindly consented to act a principal part in the entertainment of the evening. No sooner was this announced than the whole city was in one hubbub of curiosity—one twitter of delight; and Mr. Cooper had so many friends who were all at once intent upon giving him their dollar at his benefit, that the house was crammed, and there was as great an overflow from every part of it as if the renowned master Betty himself were to have occupied the place of the elephant.

Very different was Mr. Cooper’s reception at New-York, whither he went when the theatre of Philadelphia closed for the season. On his very first appearance he established himself in the public opinion as a first rate actor. The New-York stage might about that time vie for actors in number and quality with the best provincial company that ever played in England. Hodgkinson, Cooper, Fennell, Jefferson, Harwood, Bernard, Mrs. Morris, and Mrs. Hodgkinson, besides two or three admirable comedians. Pierre is well adapted to Mr. Cooper’s talents and style of acting, and he evinced his judgment in selecting it for his first appearance. Through the whole play the ball was well tossed to him by the other actors; the consequence was that the impression he made has never been erased. The opinion entertained of him was more substantially evinced than by mere applause. There was a unanimous desire that he should leave the Philadelphia theatre and engage at New-York; but to this it was objected, that he was bound by his contract with the manager of the former, to play for a certain time under a penalty of two thousand dollars; this objection, however, was soon superseded by a subscription raised among the gentlemen of New-York to pay off that sum if the manager should be able to enforce it. Thus honourably was Mr. Cooper planted in the city which he contrived to make his head-quarters till the beginning of the year 1803, when he passed over to England. During that period he paid a professional visit to Philadelphia, where he was so justly appreciated that he had no further occasion for the aid of the elephant.


It happened that Mr. John Kemble the chief actor, and once the acting manager of Drury Lane theatre, had in the year 1802, a misunderstanding with the proprietors, in consequence of which he left it, and visited the continent, leaving the first line of character very inadequately filled. Intelligence of this secession having reached America in the latter end of 1802, Mr. Cooper, who was invited, as it is said, by the proprietors of Drury Lane, to take Mr. Kemble’s place, if his reception by the town would warrant them in retaining him, crossed the Atlantic, and once more appeared in London. His success was by no means equal to the expectations of his New-York friends. Those however who were better acquainted with the general subject and the state of the stage in England, who were aware how much actors of the greatest talents profit by constantly playing with men of equal standing with themselves, and how much they lose by the want of great models either to emulate or follow, were far from being so sanguine in their expectations. By the London audience he was handsomely received, and greeted with the applause and kindness due to a stranger of respectable powers: but in efficient benefit to the house and to himself he failed; wherefore, passing on to Liverpool, he played a few nights in that town with great applause, then took shipping and returned to America, where he was received with open arms.

After his departure the theatre of New-York fell into a state of decline for want of a proper manager and proper company. The deceased Hodgkinson having been joined in the management of the Charleston theatre, and brought along with him some of the best performers, it was resolved by the proprietors of the New-York theatre, to give it upon encouraging terms to a manager of sufficient qualifications to conduct the business of it successfully. Hodgkinson was elected to the management of it almost unanimously; but soon after died of the yellow fever. Mr. Cooper then undertook it—bought the theatre at a vast expense—improved and embellished the house, and was amply remunerated by 44 the immense receipts of the first season; at the end of which he sold out his property in it to another gentleman, who we believe now owns and manages it.

No actor ever made so much money in America as Mr. Cooper. By a skilful distribution of his time and exertions, he takes care never to stay so long in one place as to satiate the public appetite. Regardless of the fatigues of travelling, and always supplied with the best cattle, he flies from city to city over this extended union, like a comet; one day he is seen at New-York, the very next he performs in Philadelphia. A few days after, we have an account of his playing at Boston, and perhaps before a month elapses we again have intelligence of his acting at Charleston, (S.C.) in each of which places he receives an enormous salary, and always has a full benefit. Thus if he possesses the gift of retention as he does that of gaining, he must necessarily become very rich. There are modes of getting rid of money, however, to which gossip Fame, we regret to say it, whispers he is much addicted. That he may be more extravagant than he ought to be, we can suppose without injury to his moral character. Whether he be so or not is not our business to discuss—but it is our duty to relate those things which may be set down as a counterpoise to the blamable disregard of economy of which he is impeached by many who are perhaps little capable of estimating his means or his motives. He is one of the most dutiful and generous of sons to an amiable mother, whose old age he cheers with punctual bounty, and by the most constant and pious filial reverence and affection.

Mr. Cooper has a sister, or at least had one, a lady of high personal endowments and great goodness. She was early married to Mr. Perreau of Calcutta, a gentleman who stands as high in the opinion of the world as any man in India.

Of the merit of Mr. Cooper as an actor we shall have occasion to speak in another part of this work.


Mr. Edward Alleyn, who though an actor, is ranked among “the British Worthies,” was born in London in 1566, and trained at an early period to the stage, for which he was naturally qualified by a stately port and aspect, corporal agility, flexible genius, lively temper, retentive memory, and fluent elocution. Before the year 1592 he seems to have acquired a very considerable degree of popularity in his profession; he was one of the original actors in the plays of Shakespeare, and a principal performer in some of those of Jonson; but it does not now appear what were the characters which he personated. They were probably the most dignified and majestic, for to these the portly and graceful figure of his person was well adapted. At length he became master of a company of players, and the proprietor of a playhouse called the Fortune, which he erected at his own expense, near Whitecross-street; and he was also joint proprietor and master of the Royal Bear-Garden, on the Bank side, in Southwark. By the profits accruing from these occupations, added to his paternal inheritance, and to the dowries of his two wives, by whom he had no children, he amassed a considerable property, which he bestowed in a manner that has redounded more to his honour than his professional merit. The wealth thus acquired enabled him to lay the foundation of a college, for the maintenance of aged people, and the education of children, at Dulwich in Surrey, which institution, called “The College of God’s Gift,” subsists at this time in an improved and prosperous state. The liberal founder, before he was forty-eight years of age, began this building after the design, and under the direction of Inigo Jones: and it is presumed that he expended eight or ten thousand pounds upon the college, chapel, &c. before the buildings and gardens were finished, which was about the year 1617.

Alleyn had long been regarded by all the great and good people of England, including the sovereign Elizabeth, with admiration and respect. This charitable endowment presented 46 him to the world in a new and grander attitude. But still as he was a player, the vulgar and superstitious were unable to account for this act which would have done honour to a king or a saint, by any other than diabolical influence. It was therefore reported, and by the ignorant multitude was believed, that Mr. Alleyn, “playing a demon with six others in one of Shakspeare’s plays, was in the midst of the play surprised by the apparition of the devil, which so worked on his fancy, that he made a vow, which he performed at this place.” This most laughable story is handed down seriously in a book written by a person of the name of Aubrey. Tradition says that it was from Alleyn’s acting and conversation Shakspeare wrote his admirable instructions to players which he has put into the mouth of Hamlet.

After the founder had built this college, he met with difficulties in obtaining a charter for settling his lands in mortmain, that he might endow it, as he proposed, with 800l. per annum, for the support and maintenance of one master, one warden, and four fellows, three of whom were to be ecclesiastics, and the other a skilful organist; also six poor children, as many women, and twelve poor boys, who were to be maintained and educated till the age of fourteen or sixteen years, and then put out to honest trades and callings. The master and warden were to be unmarried, and always to be of the name of Allen or Alleyn. At length the opposition of the lord chancellor Bacon was overcome, and Alleyn’s benefaction obtained the royal license, and he had full power granted him to establish his foundation, by his majesty’s letters patent under the great seal, bearing date June 21, 1619. When the college was finished, the founder and his wife resided in it and conformed in every respect to the regulations established for the government of his almoners. Having by his will liberally provided for his widow, and for founding twenty almshouses, ten in the parish of St. Botolp, without Bishopgate, in which he was born, and ten in St. Saviour’s parish, Southwark, and bequeathed several small legacies to his relations and friends, he appropriated the residue 47 of his property to the use of the college. He died in 1626, in the sixty-first year of his age, and was buried in the chapel of his own college. The chapel, master’s apartments, &c. are in the front of this building, and the lodgings of the other inhabitants, &c. in the two wings, of which that on the east side was handsomely new built, in 1739, at the expense of the college. They have a small library of books and a gallery of pictures with that of the founder at full length. The inscription over the door concludes with these words: abi tu et fac similiter—go thou and do likewise.





I have always considered those combinations which are formed in the playhouse as acts of fraud or cruelty: He that applauds him who does not deserve praise, is endeavouring to deceive the public; He that hisses in malice or sport is an oppressor and a robber.

Dr. Johnson’s Idler, No. 25.

The establishment of a regular and permanent work of dramatic criticism, and of censorship upon the public amusements of this city has often been attempted. The uniform failure of these efforts renders it natural to apprehend that the proposition now submitted to the public will incur the charge of presumption, and perhaps experience, for a time, the coldness and discouragement with which the majority of mankind are always inclined to treat even laudable exertions, if they in any degree militate against the dictates of common prudence, and are not recommended by a certainty of public approbation. Taking their auspices of the present undertaking from the fate of those hasty productions on the same subject, which have been brought forth and expired within the compass of their short season, there are too many, who, instead of applauding the hazardous boldness of the measure, and for the sake of its public utility standing forward in its encouragement and support, will endeavour to damp it by premature censure, ascribe the undertaking to vanity, or unworthiness, and if it should fail, be ready to 50 aggravate the disappointment of the projectors with the galling imputation of temerity, impudence, or overweening self-conceit. The sympathy which mankind in general think it handsome to feel for unassuming merit, stumbling in its way through life by incautiously venturing upon ground untrodden before, will be gladly withheld from persons who are supposed wilfully to rush forward into error, with the warning monitions of example before their eyes—who obstinately persist in an unadvised and hopeless enterprise, in defiance of manifold and recent experience, and whom the imprudence and misfortunes of others have been incapable of rendering cautious or discreet.

With encountering these, and many other objections (the offspring of indistinct conception and cold hearts) the projectors of the present work lay their account; yet, since nothing honourable or arduous would ever be accomplished, if hope were to be extinguished by partial defeat, and a generous enterprise were to be abandoned, because it had before been tried without success, the work now proposed is undertaken, with the most firm conviction of its utility and the most unequivocal confidence of success. Let their difficulties be what they may, however, the editors are prepared to meet them, not only without fear, but with satisfaction; since they know that nothing but impossibility will be refused to undismayed perseverance and unremitting industry, and that in the work they are entering upon, they labour for the promotion of a purpose which, whatever the amount of their pecuniary advantage may be, will entitle them to public respect and to the gratitude of the rising generation. Before such proud hopes, all the little obstructions they anticipate—the cavils of the scrupulous, the doubts of the sceptical, the reluctance of the timid, the resistance of the refractory and incorrigible, and the sneers, the censures, and the sarcasms of the curious and the malignant vanish, as the gloomy chills and shades of the night recede before the glorious luminary of the morning.


That the drama is a most powerful moral agent in society has been admitted by men of learning and wisdom in all ages of its existence. Whether its effects be, on the whole, injurious or not, will long be a subject of contest; but be they what they may, it can have very little influence of any kind beyond that of harmless amusement, on the wise, the pious, the learned and the experienced. Were those alone to visit theatres and be exposed to its allurements, the task of the dramatic censor might without injury be dispensed with: but since it is the young, the idle, the thoughtless, and the ignorant, on whom the drama can be supposed to operate as a lesson for conduct, an aid to experience and a guide through life, and since such persons are generally unfurnished with ideas and undefended by principles, prompt to receive first impressions, and easily susceptible of false opinions and pernicious sentiments, it becomes a matter of great importance to the commonwealth that this very powerful engine, (acting as it does upon our youth through the delightful medium of amusement, and by the instrumentality of every circumstance that can lay hold of the fancy, and through the senses fascinate the heart) should be kept under the control of a systematic, a vigilant and a severe, but a just criticism.

To the formation of that rare compound “a finished man” there belong, besides the higher requisites of moral character, an infinite number of minor accomplishments, which are materially affected either for the better or the worse, by a frequent and studious attendance on dramatic representations. Manners, which constitute so important a part of the character of every people, are considerably fashioned by a constant observation of the pictures of human life exhibited in the theatre: on the action, the utterance and the general deportment, the effects of the stage have ever been materially felt and are unequivocally acknowledged. The most eloquent men of antiquity, and the most eloquent men in England, have owned themselves indebted to actors for perfecting them in oratory. Roscius, 52 the actor of Rome, is immortalized by Cicero, and Garrick by lord Chatham and Edmund Burke. If then the stage has been felt to produce such weighty effects in the more arduous part of human improvement, how ponderous in its operation must it not of necessity be, on the other hand, in the promotion of evil, if it exhibit to the growing generation corrupt examples and defective models, not only unrestrained and uncensured, but sanctioned with the applause of an uninstructed and misjudging multitude. Every plaudit which a vitious play, or a bad actor receives is a blow to the public morals, and the public taste. Man is an imitative animal, and insensibly conforms to the models and examples before him. Young men who excessively admire a favourite actor, will insensibly imitate him, without scanning the man’s merits or defects; and without ever reflecting upon the ultimate influence which their partiality, if it should be misplaced, may have upon their lives, fortunes and characters, will adopt his manner, his action, his enunciation, nay, his worst defects, and in short every thing that is imitable about him.

Those who dissent from us on other propositions, will agree with us at least in this, that the highest degree of attention ought to be paid to the morals, the manners, the address and the language of youth; and that nothing which has a tendency to mislead them, in any of those essentials, should be submitted to their eyes or ears; but that on the contrary, every thing should be done, as a great moral philosopher has instructed us, “to secure them from unjust prejudices, from perverse opinions, and from incongruous combinations of images.” Let it be kept in mind that we are not now discussing the question whether the stage be beneficial to society or not. Though it be a fair subject of inquiry, and will hereafter engage a share of our attention, we have no use for it, at present; since be our opinions or those of our readers what they may, the stage exists, and will continue to exist and attract the regards of mankind. The true point of consideration, therefore, is, not how far it is beneficial 53 or how far injurious; but in what way its benefits may be enhanced, and its mischiefs, if any, be abated. He who should demonstrate that it has a pernicious tendency, would but the more strongly enforce our propositions; since he would thereby show the expediency of diminishing that tendency and of mitigating that evil which the public will forbids to be entirely prevented.

It is not merely on account of its effects upon the audience, but on that of the actors themselves, that the theatre calls loudly for a strict critical regimen. An actor resigned to his own opinion, and committed to the unrestrained licentious exercise of his own judgment, if he be not one in a million, sinks into negligence, becomes wilful, and if, as is nine times in ten the case, he should obtain the casual applause of a few stupid and injudicious spectators, becomes headstrong, refractory, and incorrigibly hardened in error. If by means of the oversight of critical judges, or the false adjudication of applause, an actor insensibly slides into popularity, he is erected into a standard of taste, by those who have not seen better; instead of being himself tested by sound principles of criticism and estimated by comparison, with the best models, he becomes gradually absolved from submission to all authority, is held up as a criterion for determining the merit of other actors, and dubbed the Roscius of his little theatre by a number of confident pretenders who know just as much about dramatic character and acting, and on the very same grounds too, as the poor islander of St. Kilda did of architecture, when he sagaciously concluded that the great church of Glasgow was excavated out of a rock, because he had never before seen an edifice made of hewn stone and mortar. Thus not only a false taste is circulated among the youth at large, but the very fountain of taste is itself polluted. This is an evil which nothing but a well-regulated body of competent critical authority can prevent. In the prosecution of the intended work, an occasion will occur of pointing out eras during which, even in the great metropolitan seat of the English 54 drama, the public taste suffered years of vitiation from defective models being at the head of the stage. Till Garrick, led on by Nature herself, introduced her school, the theatre presented a stage on which scarce a vestige of the human character as it really existed, was to be seen. But pompous monotony of speech held the highest praise, and “Declamation roared while Passion slept.”

Hitherto the theatre of Philadelphia has been too much resigned to the licentiousness of bold, and blind opinion. Men of letters, with which the city abounds, and who in every society are the natural guardians of the public taste and morals, seem to have deserted this important trust. Applause which ought to be measured out with scrupulous justice, correctness and precision, has been by admiring ignorance, poured forth in a torrent roar of uncouth and obstreperous glee on the buffoon, “the clown that says more than is set down for him,” and on “the robustious perriwig-pated fellow, who tears a passion all to rags,” while chaste merit and propriety have often gone unrewarded by a smile.

If critical judgment were a matter of physical force or numerical calculation, then indeed the roar of the multitude would be as conclusive in reason, as it too often is in practical effect; but criticism is a matter of intellectual estimate; and many acquirements go to the composition of a well-qualified dramatic critic, to any one of which, but a small number of the auditors of a play can, in the nature of things, have the smallest pretensions. If indeed any man under the assumption of the critic’s name should attempt dogmatically to impose his dictum as a law upon the public, he would deserve to be repelled with indignity and rebuke. All the genuine critic will attempt to do, is to hold out those lights, with which his own study, experience, and observation have supplied him, in order to enable the public to discern more clearly what in the play or the actor is worthy of censure or applause—of rejection or adoption. In the common operations of human life, every man is compelled by the necessity of his nature to take succedaneous aid from others. 55 The mechanic in erecting the poorest building, or forming the most simple machine, is indebted for his means to the practical geometrician, and instrument maker, and the latter again, to the master of the science of mathematics. The practical surveyor or navigator finds it his interest to be governed by rules supplied by those whom study has furnished with the great elementary principles of science, and is contented to stand indebted to them for his means of determining, the area of his land, or the latitude and longitude at sea, without impugning the rights of those studious men who have given him the compendious rules and the tables by which he works. It is so with dramatic criticism. The legitimate source of judgment lies with those who have by deep study made themselves masters of the first principles of the science; and from them the people at large, who are too much otherwise and certainly better employed, to learn those principles, must be content to take the rules and laws by which they judge. The most infatuated self-devotee would be ashamed to contest this point, if he were at all apprised of the various acquirements requisite for forming an accurate judgment of the business of the theatre, interwoven, as the dramatic art is, with some of the highest departments of literature, and the multifarious operations of the human heart. The vainest being who cajoles himself into the notion that a man either unlettered or inexperienced can form a just judgment of a play and actors, must at once be convinced of his error by reflecting that “the drama is an exhibition of the real state of sublunary nature;” and that “to instruct life, and for that purpose to copy what passes in it, is the business of the stage.”6 To understand this well, demands not only some book-learning, but that experience which, though books improve, they cannot impart, and which never can be attained by seclusion or solitary study, but must be derived from intercourse with 56 men in all their forms of conduct, from converse with society, and from an attentive and accurate examination of that complex miscellany, the living world. To know the drama we must know men; and “if we would know men (says Rousseau) it is necessary that we should see them act.” It is equally necessary too that we should lift the veil which time has thrown over the past, and see how men have thought and acted through the lapse of ages upon the uniform principles of human passion, which ever have been and ever will be the same, and by that means distinguish that which is natural, innate and permanent in man, from that which is adventitious and acquired. He whose knowledge of the world is circumscribed within the narrow limits of one generation or one society can know man only as he appears in the superficial colouring and peculiar modification of personal habit, derived from the fashions, the modes, and the capricious changes of that time, and that society, while the great body of human nature remains buried from his sight. “The accidental compositions of heterogeneous modes (says the gigantic critic Johnson) are dissolved by the chance which combined them, but the uniform simplicity of primitive qualities neither admits increase nor suffers decay.” And assuredly there was never an age in which man so masked his nature under modish innovations as he does in the present.

The works of the ancients, says a great writer, are the mines from which alone the treasures of true criticism are to be dug up—the pure sources of that penetration which enables us to distinguish legitimate excellence from spurious pretensions to it. He, therefore, who would get at the true principles of dramatic criticism ought to read the poetry and criticism of the two great ancient languages, and to have formed some acquaintance with those authors, whether ancient or modern, who have furnished the world with the great leading principles upon which dramatic poetry is constructed. Doctor Johnson has informed us that before the time of Dryden, the structure of dramatic poetry 57 was not generally understood; and what was the consequence? “AUDIENCES,” continues the doctor, “APPLAUDED BY INSTINCT, AND POETS OFTEN PLEASED BY CHANCE.”7

Without calling in the aid of such high authority, no risk of contradiction can be incurred by asserting that he must be radically deficient in the requisites of a dramatic critic, who is not sufficiently versed in philological literature to discriminate between the various qualities of diction—to distinguish the language of the schools from that of the multitude—the polished diction of refinement from the coarse style of household colloquy—the splendid, figurative, and impressive combination of terms adapted to poetry, from those plain and familiar expressions suited to the sobriety of prose; and finally, to form a just estimate of a poet’s pretensions to that delicacy in the selection of words which constitutes what is called beauty in style. Nor is this all, he should be perfectly competent to form a judgment of the fable and its contrivance, to determine according to the canons of criticism laid down by the greatest professors of the art, whether the scheme of a piece be obscured by unnatural complexity or rendered jejune and uninteresting by extreme simplicity, and familiarity of design—whether description be bloated, or overcharged, or imagery misplaced or extravagant; and lastly, whether the performance be on the whole deficient in, or replete with moral institution.

The editors are free to confess that while they enumerate the requisites necessary to a critic, they tremble for their own incompetency. Labour however shall not be spared—-and they cherish the most sanguine hopes of supplying their general deficiency by candour and integrity; being determined while they endeavour with encouragement and applause to foster the rising genius and growing merit of the stage, to rescue it from the encroachment of sturdy incapacity, and while they sit in judgment for the security of the public taste, to be as far as the canons of dramatic criticism will 58 allow, the strenuous advocates of the valuable man and unassuming actor—still keeping in sight that impressive truth contained in the motto: “He that applauds him who does not deserve praise, is endeavouring to deceive the public; he that hisses in malice or in sport is an oppressor and a robber.”

The editors have said thus much merely to explain their motives, and to smooth their way to the discharge of a task, in the performance of which they will necessarily be exposed to many invidious remarks from the misconceptions of presumptuous ignorance. Having done so they fearlessly commit the subject to the public judgment, and proceed to the execution of their duty.




The Philadelphia Theatre opened on Monday the 20th of November, with


It has been said by a great moral philosopher that fashion supplies the place of reason. On superficial consideration the assertion will appear paradoxical; but there is much truth in it, and much biting satire too, upon the absurdities of the world. Fashion could not supply the place of reason, if reason were not absent; and most irrational and unaccountable indeed are all her ladyship’s ways. Her capriciousness is proverbial, and her agency is generally illustrated by comparison with the most unsteady elements of the physical world. We say “Fashion that fluctuating lady,” alluding to the ebbing and flowing of the tide—and “Fashion that weathercock,” implying that she veers about with every puff of wind. There are some few cases, however, on the other hand, in which she may be compared to a rock, because she stands immovably fixt to her seat; supplying, according to the idea of the philosopher abovementioned, the place of reason, who stands self-exiled forever. It would seem as if fashion never could take repose but in supreme irrationality. There and there alone she is firm. Whoever will take the trouble (or rather the pleasure) to read “Browne’s Vulgar Errors,” will see how much deeper 60 root absurd notions strike in “the brain of this foolish compounded clay man,” than those that belong to sound sense and reason. The insignia of fashion, therefore, may be considered in relation to the human head, as the notification on the door of an empty house, signifying that the family has removed to another tenement. Hence no one of common sense expects any caprice of that lady to be accounted for on rational grounds. There is one of her freaks, however, which we have endeavoured to trace to its source in the wilds of luxuriant absurdity, and have never been able to succeed. Nay, we venture to affirm that if the most sagacious man in America were asked, why it was considered a violation of the laws of fashion for a lady to attend the theatre on the opening night of a season, he would be puzzled for any other reply than that it was permanently fashionable, because it was prodigiously absurd. On the opening of our theatre this season the house was full of MEN. The audience presented one dark tissue of drab and brown, and black and blue woolen drapery, with here and there a solitary exception of cheering female attire. Had there been a heavy fall of snow, the ladies would have been sleighing—had there been a public ball the darkness of the streets would have been broken by multitudes of attractive meteors in muslin, either “hanging on the cheek of night,” or hurried along like gossamer through the air. But fashion has so ordained it: and a good play and after-piece were well represented to a house which, from the little intermixture of the lovely sex, somewhat resembled the auditory of a surgeon’s dissecting theatre.

Mr. Morton’s comedy “A Cure for the Heart Ach,” is by this time so well known that to relate the fable of it here, would be uselessly to encumber the work. Of the quality of this production it would be difficult for criticism to speak candidly, without adverting to the present miserable state of dramatic poetry in England, which from the days of Sam Foote has been gradually descending to its present deplorable condition. The body of dramatic writers of the 61 last thirty years first corrupted the public taste, and now thrive by that corruption. By hasty sketches, not of Nature as she appears in all times and places, but of particular and eccentric manners and characters, the excressences of overloaded society, they have made a short cut to the favour of the public, and inundated the stage with a torrent of ephemeral productions, to the depravation of public taste, and in defiance of classical criticism: their highest praise that they do no moral mischief, and that if they possess not the bold outline and faithful colouring of nature which distinguished the productions of their mighty predecessors, they are no less exempt from the obscenity and immoral effects of those authors. As bad writing is infinitely easier than good, the pens of our living dramatic writers in general teem with an inconceivable fertility—and the purlieus of London are beat over in every direction to hunt up game suitable to the genius of their weak-winged muse; in short, to find out new modifications of character, attractive not by its consonance to man’s general nature, but by its eccentricity and departure from the ordinary tracks of human conduct.

Having thus insulated this class of comedies, and put them apart from the old stock, to which, with the exception of the Honey Moon, there is no modern production comparable, criticism may weigh the merits of each piece as compared with its class, and perhaps find something to praise. We consider some of the comedies of Mr. Morton, however, as raised high above the throng. The Cure for the Heart Ach has much in it to commend. The moral tendency of many parts of it is good, while the incidents are exceedingly laughable. Old Rapid continually betraying his trade by stuffing his conversation with the technical terms of the taylor—his son’s distress at it—the honest rusticity of Frank Oatland—the baseness, vanity and folly of Vortex the nabob—the insolence and amorousness of Miss Vortex his daughter, and the whimsical incidents arising from their various designs, mistakes, detections and disappointments, form altogether a melange of pleasantry 62 highly provocative of laughter, yet by no means so low as to reduce the piece to the rank of farce, which some austere critics in London have assigned it.

Of the performance generally, we repeat that it was good. Young Rapid afforded criticism much satisfaction in the person of Mr. Wood, who in many parts persuaded us that he had seen Mr. Lewis in that character, and seen him with profit. Mr. Wood’s walk is not unlike that of the great original in London—a nasal tone of voice too is common to both. These, if they did not create, certainly increased the resemblance between those two gentlemen, which, however remote, was yet discernible. In Sir Hubert Stanley, as in every other character in which we have seen him, Mr. M‘Kenzie deserved warm applause—he was dignified, pathetic and interesting. Mr. Francis gave a strong colouring to Vortex; and to say that Frank Oatland was all that the author could wish, we need only to state that he fell to the share of Mr. Jefferson. After all, we are doubtful whether old Rapid was not as well off in the hands of Mr. Warren as any other character in the play.

We were greatly interested and indeed delighted by Mrs. Wood in Jesse Oatland. Mrs. Francis was abundantly droll in Mrs. Vortex; and Mrs. Seymour was entitled to the marks of approbation she received.

November 22.

Pizarro and the Review composed the bill of fare for this evening. Although in the attack and defence of Pizarro criticism has worn down the edges of its weapons to very dulness, we cannot forbear taking this opportunity of recording our opinions of that extraordinary production.

No play that has appeared during the last century, possesses the power of agitating the passions, and interesting the feelings in an equal degree to Pizarro. From a child of the brain of Kotzebue, trained and corrected by Sheridan, 63 much might be expected. And the piece before us is worthy of the talents of such men.

In any contest between oppressed and oppressors the heart takes in an instant, a decided and a warm part. If the crime of oppression is aggravated by other guilt in the oppressor, and the object of it is rendered more lovely and respectable by the most exalted virtues, pity for the one rises to respect and affection—indignation against the other becomes exasperated to hatred, to abhorrence, and disgust; without the intervention of the will, but merely from the spontaneous movements of the heart, we sympathise, we silently pray for the one—we recoil from, we execrate the other. We are pressed by our very nature into the service of virtue; our souls are up in arms against vice and improbity, and thus we receive lasting impressions, which, when our hearts are not very corrupt, must forever after have a favourable influence on our moral conduct.

To elucidate and confirm our opinions on this subject, we beg leave to ask, what is that play in which there is such a mass of virtue and simplicity, and such a number of amiable personages, opposed to such a mass of villany, subtlety, fraudful avarice, and sensual vice, as in Pizarro? Not one. The lofty moral sentiments of Rolla, his exquisite feelings and exalted notions as the patriot, the friend, the lover, are unequalled. He exists out of himself, and lives but for others: for his country, his king, his friend, and the dearest object of his love, of whom being bereft by that very friend, he becomes their brother—their protector—devotes his life to death to save the man—escaping that, devotes it again to save their offspring. How much worse, if worse could be, than a satanic soul must that man have, who could be insensible to such a character! Who is there whose heart beats in harmony with heroic virtue and humanity, that would not accept such a death, to have lived such a life? Need we say more then of Pizarro than to contrast him with such a character. The only gleam of light that breaks in upon that black Erebus, his heart, is his conduct 64 to Rolla when the latter throws aside his dagger; and this the poet (Sheridan) has artfully contrived for the purpose of heightening the lustre of such virtue, by showing that even that monster could not be insensible to it.

Let us add that in the true liberal spirit of Christian piety, tolerance and humanity displayed by Las Casas, a popish Spanish priest; in the noble indignation, the inflexible fortitude, and the intrepid patriotism and virtue of Orozimbo; in the valour, the beneficent wisdom, and the, ardent connubial fidelity and affection of the young Alonzo, in the tenderness, the simplicity, the conjugal and maternal virtues of Cora, and in the artless display of vivid patriotism in the old blind man and his boy—there is, exclusive of Rolla’s glorious qualities, a mass of excellence sufficient to make the character of any two plays, and put each out of the reach of competition with any other that we can immediately think of.

Such as we have described are the emotions which are always produced by the play now under consideration, when it happens to be properly represented. Fortunately or unfortunately as it may happen, the play is so constructed that almost every part in it contributes largely, according to its kind, to the interest of the piece. Every person of the oppressed—the Peruvians, even down to the blind man and the little boy, are made by the poet to produce a large share of the general effect. For this reason it is a piece which taxes a manager highly, calling for a variety of excellent talents in the actors. It is not one of those plays which satisfy the mind and from which we come home contented, if two or three characters are well done. The play of Pizarro is a lifeless body when compared with what it ought to be, if all the high Peruvians at least, are not well performed. In the movement of a watch every small wheel and every little rivet is as necessary to the general effect as the mainspring. So Las Casas, Orozimbo, the blind man, and the blind man’s boy, are as necessary not perhaps to the mean progress of the fable (but to that effect, that necromantic influence upon the feelings, that penetrating moral which alone 65 can render a play useful as well as delightful) as is the character of Rolla.

It may appear a singular avowal, yet being truth we will not withhold it, that having witnessed the performance of this play many times in England and America, we have never yet seen it performed to our perfect satisfaction. Kemble was great in Rolla, but the feebleness of his voice was severely felt by the audience in the celebrated speech of the Peruvian to his soldiers. That speech has been the stumbling block of most actors we have seen. Hodgkinson, who in other respects was unexceptionable, rather failed in it. Throughout the whole character, Mr. Wood preserved a very equable tenor of acting. He had neither the rich beauties nor the striking defects of others. He evinced considerable judgment, but at times powers were evidently wanting.

Mr. M‘Kenzie supported Pizarro well, and showed that he possesses abilities to support it better. It appears to us that this gentleman’s physical powers are sometimes subdued by an over-scrupulous chasteness. In his answers to Elvira’s solicitations on behalf of the unhappy Alonzo, he did not, we think, sufficiently mark all the feeling and emotions of the tyrant. Pizarro is stung with jealousy as well as rage; not so much the jealousy of love as of infernal pride; but both rage and jealousy are mastered by triumphant insolence and contempt. The utterance therefore of his laconic decisive sentence, “He dies,” should be marked with a triumphant sneer as well as malice.

Mr. Warren did ample justice to the venerable Las Casas.

Mr. Cone who, though labouring under the disadvantages of a voice radically, and we fear, incurably monotonous, gives promise of being a useful actor, displayed considerable spirit in Alonzo. To the praise of diligence and attention to his business Mr. C. is entitled, and those rarely fail in any department to insure respectability and success. Mr. Cone’s personal appearance is very much in his favour.

The only part in the play on which we can justly bestow unqualified applause was Mr. Jefferson’s Orozimbo. It is 66 seldom that criticism has such a repast, a repast in which there was no fault but that of the poet in making it too short.

Elvira is not one of the characters in which Mrs. Barret appears to advantage.

Had Mrs. Wood the requisite talent of singing, we should have been much pleased with her Cora. Certainly so far as that lady was able to go, we know no person on this stage who could be substituted in her place with advantage to the character. But the omission of Cora’s exquisitely beautiful, wild, and pathetic song, was a great drawback from the effect of the part.

December 21.Town and Country, by Morton—Village Lawyer. Some of the British critics rank Mr. Morton with the farce-writers of the day, others again pronounce his comedies to be the best which the age has produced, and say that they will be selected by posterity from the perishable trash of the day. We agree with neither, thinking it likely they may remain for a few years among the stock of acting plays. To say that they will be admired by posterity is praise as hyperbolical and unjust, as ranking them in farce is calumnious and untrue.

The comedy before us is a very pleasing production. The plot is well imagined, and the author has contrived to condense into it more bustle and incident than can readily be found in a piece of the same length. Reuben Gleuroy, the hero, is a noble character, possessed of the most exalted virtues, which are continually brought into active exercise for the good of his fellow beings. He preaches little and does a great deal, and displays a generosity and greatness of mind touching, as the world now goes, upon the chivalrous. But that which makes him more conspicuously amiable and interesting is that while he takes the most ardent and active concern in the happiness of mankind, he is himself reduced by the wickedness of others to a state of misery almost of distraction, which awakens the most poignant sympathy for his situation. Deserted, as he imagines, by the object of his dearest affections, Rosalie Summers, who is supposed to have 67 eloped with a villain of high rank of the name of Plastic, he goes to London and finds his brother in the last stage of ruin and despair by gambling, and stops his hand just at the moment he is attempting suicide. In the end he reforms the brother, discovers his Rosalie, and finds that she is innocent and faithful; and by a series of those events, which whether likely or not, modern dramatists without scruple press into their service, is made perfectly happy. The colouring of this admirable portrait is not a little heightened in its effect by a tinge of eccentricity caught from a life of rural retirement in the romantic mountainous country of Wales. On this character and that of old Mr. Cosey, a philanthropic, wealthy, and munificent stock-broker, whose cash, always at the disposal of his friends, enables Reuben to accomplish his purposes, the author seems to have dwelt con amore. The comic dialogue of the piece arises chiefly from the contrasted feelings of Mr. Cosey and Mr. Trot. Cosey admires the city, and is miserable in Wales, while Trot, a wealthy cotton-spinner, rejoices at the loss of a large share of his property because it furnishes him with a pretext for returning to the country and leaving the abominable city to which he was hurried away by the vanity of his wife.

Mr. Wood displayed in Reuben, much ability, sound sense, and fine feeling. No person that we know on the stage discloses in his performances so little of the mere actor. That indefinable something, which though obvious to perception cannot be described, but is understood by the term “plain gentleman,” tinctures all he says and does upon the stage. Whether this be detrimental to him as a general actor, we have not yet seen this gentleman often enough to determine: but this we will say, that while it stands a perpetual security against his being positively disagreeable in any character he may be obliged to act, it throws a charm over all those for which he is best fitted by nature.

The amiable, the inimitable Cosey, never was, nor ever can be more perfectly at home than in the person of Mr. Jefferson. Were the author to see the performance and to observe the correspondence of the actor’s physiognomy as 68 well as action and utterance, with the sentiments of the character, he would from his heart exclaim in the words of Cosey himself, “NOW THIS IS WHAT I CALL COMFORTABLE.”

It would be great injustice not to acknowledge the pleasure we received from Mr. Francis in the character of Trot, which he conceived and executed with great humour and spirit.

A Mr. West from the southward made his appearance in the Yorkshire rustic Hawbuck. His face and person are well adapted to a certain class of low comedy; his voice still more so. If he will but avoid that bane of comedians, the effort to raise laughter by spurious humour and low trick, he will thrive in his department.

In the drawing of the female parts there is nothing sufficiently striking to call forth the powers of an actress. What was to be done was sufficiently well done by Mrs. Wood and Mrs. Wilmot. But, were they well cast? or, should they not change sides?


November 20. Of age tomorrow.

Every character tolerably well played.

November 22. Wags of Windsor.

Hardinge, an old favourite of the town in Irish characters, appeared the first time for four years in Looney M‘Twoulter. His return to this stage was hailed with thunders of applause; and all his songs were encored.—We have not seen Caleb Quotem better performed in England, nor so well by a great deal in America as this night by Jefferson.—Wilmot is a true child of nature and simplicity in all such characters as John Lump.

November 24. Village Lawyer.

We abhor this farce. Scout, from whom it takes its name, is too detestable a picture of human meanness and depravity 69 to be fit for farce, the proper effects of which, however nonsensical it may be, ought to be to enliven and not create disgust. We cannot bear to see a respectable actor in it. Blisset, a favourite son of Momus, played the Sheepstealer. Mr. West, whom we have mentioned in Hawbuck, played Old Snarl with great humour, which his audience, and indeed himself, seemed heartily to enjoy. In characters of low humour, particularly crabbed old men, Mr. West would be very pleasing, if he would aim less at raising gallery laughter by spurious means. And all that could be done for Mrs. Scout was done by Mrs. Francis.

November 27.


Ella Rozenberg, a melo-drame, by Mr. Kenny, was brought out for the first time at Drury Lane in 1807, and has ever since maintained its ground in the public opinion. It is extremely interesting, and though there is nothing new or singular in the plot or incidents is calculated to lay fast hold on the imagination and feelings. At the opening of the piece, the scene of which is laid near a Prussian camp, the heroine Ella Rosenberg reduced by the disappearance of her husband to a state of poverty, is living under the protection of captain Storm, a crippled old officer of invalids, and the friend of her deceased father. Here she has concealed herself for two years, when she is discovered by colonel Mountfort, who having conceived a criminal passion for her, had in order to gratify that passion, purposely provoked her husband to draw his sword upon him, in consequence of which apprehending the severity of the military law, the latter had set off to the capital to appeal to the electoral prince, but was no more heard of. The colonel, who is a finished master of intrigue, enters Storm’s house in disguise, and attempts with the help of a band of his soldiers to carry off Ella by force. In this he is opposed by the good and gallant old officer, who, sword in hand, beats 70 off the soldiers, tears the colonel’s sash from him, and in a rage tramples it under foot, in consequence of which Storm is made prisoner, and Ella left unprotected, is borne away by the soldiers. The elector, who has just returned victorious from the war, appears considering a petition from old Storm on behalf of Ella, which interests him so much, that he resolves to visit her incognito. Mountfort, who is a favourite of the elector’s and has just arrived to congratulate him, is alarmed, endeavours to dissuade him from going to Ella, and in the meantime to secure himself from detection orders the immediate trial of Storm, who is found guilty and sentenced to die. Ella escapes and reaches Storm, her old protector, just as he is on his way to execution. He does all he can to keep his fate concealed from her; but it being betrayed, she is torn from him in a state of distraction and anguish, and being consigned by her generous protector to the care of a brother officer who commands the guard, is conducted to a solitary inn by a soldier. The elector appears at night passing in disguise to visit the cottage of Storm, and is encountered by Rosenberg, who appears in the most wretched state, flying from his pursuers, and supplicates him for the means to procure shelter. Without disclosing who he is, Rosenberg informs the elector that he (Rosenberg) has been secretly and violently imprisoned. The elector directs him to the house to which Ella is carried by the soldiers, and promises to meet him there in the morning and assist him. Rosenberg reaches the inn whither Ella too is brought in a state of insensibility, and placed in a separate apartment. Mountfort arrives alone, and not knowing Rosenberg engages him to guard Ella, while he goes to seek a conveyance for her. Rosenberg now finds the cause of his imprisonment—an interesting discovery takes place between him and Ella—but he is detected by one of his pursuers, and is again in the hands of his enemies, when the elector enters, and obtaining the most perfect conviction of the villany of Mountfort, disgraces him, restores 71 the young couple to rank and happiness, and the brave and virtuous old Storm to life, liberty and joy.

The plot of this melo-drame is wrought up with uncommon skill: the interest rising by a progressive climax which keeps the heart in a warm glow of feeling from the first scene to the last. Old Storm is worth a whole army of what are called heroes, and the elector is a model of justice and humanity for princes to imitate.

According to the London casting Rosenberg would have fallen to the share of the first player in the house: but we had no reason to complain of Mr. Cone. Mr. Warren discharged the high office of elector with dignity; and Mr. M‘Kenzie was an excellent representative of the old cut-and-thrust-colonel. Such characters as Ella are always interesting when played by Mrs. Wood.

The tasteful amateur must have been roused and delighted by the music, particularly the overture.

Ella Rosenberg was followed by one of the most monstrous productions, the mind of man ever groaned withal. Never did melancholy madman labouring under the horrors of an inflammation of the brain—never did a wretch fevered with gluttony and intemperance, and writhing under the pressure of the night-mare, dream of more horrible circumstances than those which Mr. Lewis has offered in this prodigious melo-drame, for the ENTERTAINMENT of the British nation. Where will the taste of England stop in its descent? Where will the impositions on it by bastard genius end? Yet since this monster has produced a powerful effect, and is managed with such perverted skill as to excite a strong interest, and since whole audiences condescend to club tastes with the scarecrow old women of the heath and the mountain, and to play “look at the bugabow,” with the nurselings of the lap, we should be sorry to be deficient in curtesy, or when so many good and wise people drivel not to drivel a little too; we bend therefore with stiff and 72 painful obedience to our duty, and offer our readers a short summary of the fable.

To clear the way then, be it in the first place known, that Mr. Matthew Lewis has found out a new kind of infernal agent—a demon who delights in human sacrifices, and lives in the woods. Perhaps it is because we are poorly versed in demonology that we do not recollect to have heard of this particular infernal before. Be that as it may, Count Hardyknute of Holstein, having been sent into the world deformed in person and poor in circumstances, and being resolved to sell his soul to damnation for the bettering of his body, makes a contract with the demon, in condition of his being made handsome and powerful, to sacrifice to him a human victim on a particular day in each year; in failure of which he is to become the prey of the demon, who is very handsomely named Sangrida. The count has sacrificed nine victims before the opening of the piece, and is meditating with himself with what fat offering he shall next glut the maw of Sangrida, in anniversary punctuality. Leolyn, a dumb boy, the rightful heir of the estate and title which Hardyknute had usurped, has been secretly bred up by Clotilda as her own, but Hardyknute discovers him by the mark of a bloody arrow on his wrist, and determines to help Sangrida to his little body. Una, a beautiful young lady, to whom the count pays his addresses, is selected by the guardian spirit of Holstein to be the preserver of the intended victim. The time approaches for the fulfilment of the agreement. By a process of the most horrible kind of enchantment Una is enabled to remove the boy so as to elude the count, and gets possession of the key of an enchanted place on which the boy is chained. She gets him down from it—the clock is seen just near the stroke of one—she resolves to push the hand forward—Hardyknute seizes and is about despatching her, when Leolyn with difficulty mounts to the clock, pushes forward the hand and it strikes one—the demon appears, seizes the count in his claws—the earth opens, and the demon carries him down, in the same manner 73 that an alligator or shark carries down a puppy dog, to devour him in comfort.

Such is the piece, and such the depravity of a nation’s taste. It is no wonder that the tasteful, the learned and the judicious, should wage an open war of wit and satire upon such things. On this subject we refer our readers to a piece signed Theobaldus Secundus, which will appear in our next number.


November 29. Reconciliation, or Fraternal Discord, with False and True.

It would be superfluous to say any thing of a play so well known and so justly admired.

December 1. Abaellino, or the Great Bandit, with the Lady of the Rock.

The Great Bandit is one of those extraordinary productions which distinguish the present dramatic writers of Germany from those of all ages and all countries. There are but few topics connected with the stage which deserve more serious discussion than this of the German drama. A proper investigation of it would require more room than we can at present spare: but we shall not so far desert our duty as to decline it when we can devote to it the deliberation it deserves. A future, and not far distant number will contain such reflections as occur to us on the subject.

December 2. Road to Ruin—Don Juan.

Mr. Wood in Harry Dornton was very successful. It is a line of acting for which he is well calculated. The character of Goldfinch was better performed by Mr. Jefferson than it could be in any other person in this theatre. But we received less pleasure from it than from any other we have seen him play, Scout excepted.


The Wood Demon, though used as an after-piece, demanded observation of a more serious kind than is due to farce, and has therefore received it in pages 71 and 72.

The farce of “False and True” is a wretched thing. To speak Johnsonically it is a congeries of inexplicable nonsense. An Irishman, who, after having committed the very probable blunder of going to Naples instead of Dublin, mistakes Vesuvius for the hill of Hoath, is the most laughable character of the piece. What could be done for it Hardinge did. A song of his was spoiled by the neglect of the band, whose conduct deserved reprehension from the manager.

The Lady of the Rock is the production of Holcroft. Had he not himself given it to the world as his own, we should have thought it a libel upon his understanding to ascribe it to his pen.

No pantomime has ever made so deep and so universal an impression as Don Juan. The merit of the original belongs to the celebrated Moliere. Averse on principle to pantomime, we have often felt ourselves indebted to it for relief from the drowsiness induced by some modern plays; but that perhaps was more owing to the badness of the play than the value of the pantomime. Of all pantomimes Don Juan is the most blamable. It is good in its kind, but the kind is bad.



The comedy of Speed the Plough is deservedly reckoned among the best of the modern stock, and considered as reflecting great credit upon the muse of Mr. Morton. The plot is very skilfully mixed up, notwithstanding the difficulty that always must attend carrying on, in connection with each other, 75 two interests of a totally distinct and opposite nature, connecting two contradictory agencies without either encroaching on the other, and conducting an alternation of serious and comic scenes to one end, without making them clash. This Mr. Morton has, to a considerable degree, successfully accomplished; making that which occasions the difficulty subservient to one of the most desirable but arduous ends in dramatic writing, that of concealing the final unravelling or denouement, as it is called, of the plot.

A striking beauty in this play, and the more striking because seldom met with, is the fidelity with which some of the characters are drawn from life; not as it is found in a solitary individual, but as it appears in a whole numerous class. Such is farmer Ashfield—such is dame Ashfield. Yet the characters in general are not very impressive, and there are some inconsistencies in them as well as in the arrangement of the incidents. A young lady’s suddenly, and at first sight, falling in love with a peasant boy, though it may have happened, is an occurrence too singular to be perfectly natural; and as a dramatic incident, it is a coarseness which cannot well be reconciled to the characteristic delicacy of such a young lady, even by the ex post facto discovery that the object of her love was in reality a person of condition. We do not think that love at first sight, which is in reality nothing more than Forwardness indulging itself in the airs of Romance, and Prurience calling in Fate to sanction its indelicacy, ought to be clothed in such a respectable and captivating dress as our author has bestowed upon it in this play.

Yet with these defects to counterbalance them, Speed the Plough is replete with beauties—the dialogue is neat, spirited, and forcible; and there are many delicate touches of the pathetic, and much excellent moral sentiment to recommend it.

The best character, beyond all comparison, is that of Farmer Ashfield. It is a picture of real life, originals of which are found in multitudes in England—plain, honest, benevolent, and under a rustic garb, possessing a heart alive to the noblest feelings. No man that we know in this country 76 possesses such happy requisites for exhibiting the farmer in the true colours of nature as Mr. Jefferson. In the rustic deportment and dialect—in the artless effusions of benignity and undisguised truth—and in those masterly strokes of pathos and simplicity with which the author has finished this inimitable picture Mr. Jefferson showed uniform excellence: and as in the humorous parts his comic powers produced their customary effect on our risibility, so in the serious overflowings of the farmer’s honest nature the mellow, deep, impressive tone of the actor’s voice vibrated to the heart, and excited the most exquisite sensations.

Mr. Wood performed Bob Handy. He was given out in the bills for sir Philip Blandford; but was, by a casualty, obliged to take the part of Bob: a change which, on more accounts than one, the audience had no cause to regret. Nor in our opinion, had either Bob or sir Philip any cause to lament it. Mr. Wood is at home in light comedy, while Mr. M‘Kenzie, whose merits seem not to be sufficiently appreciated, is well calculated for such characters as Philip Blandford.

The judgment of Mr. Warren enables him to perform any character he undertakes with propriety—but there are some parts in comedy for which he seems admirably qualified by nature and knowledge of stage business. We could enumerate several; but this is not the place for doing so—his representation of sir Abel Handy was uncommonly humorous and appropriate.

Mr. Cone’s Henry was pleasing. This young actor promises well. Though, to adopt the cant of the turf, he will never be first, there is no fear of his being distanced, unless he carries too great weight.

Dame Ashfield in the performance of Mrs. Francis would be admired by Mrs. Grundy herself; and to express our opinion of Mrs. Wood’s Susan would be only to repeat what we have already said of her on more occasions than one.

It gives us infinite regret to be compelled, just as we put our foot upon the threshold of the critic’s office, to animadvert 77 upon some errors and defects in pronunciation, of which we could not have imagined the persons concerned to be capable. Our purpose is to persuade the people to encourage the stage upon principles honourable to it; not as a place of mere barren pastime; but as a school of improvement. But how shall we be able to bring the public mind to that habitual respect for the stage without which it must lose all useful effect, if the actors show themselves unfit for conveying instruction. Were this to be the case, and were mere pastime the object of theatres, Astley’s horse-riders, the tumblers and rope-dancers of Sadlers-Wells, nay, the Punch of a puppet-show, would be as useful and respectable as Garrick, Barry, Cooke, or Kemble, and the circus might successfully batter its head against the walls of that building in Chesnut-street which the sculptor has enriched with the wooden proxies of Melpomene and Thalia. But criticism will not allow this. For the sake of the stage it will exert all its might to support the actors—and for the sake of the stage it will hold them in admonition. If the established principles of literature be violated by the actors, the very ground upon which the critic would support them, is blown up by a mine of their own construction, and not only they must sink, but the critic must, for the maintenance of a just cause, put his hand to their heads and give them a lanch. The theatre is a school for elocution or it is nothing. In Great Britain it has time immemorial been attended to, not as authority for innovations, but as an organ of conveyance of the authorised pronunciation, to which the growing youth of the country were to look for accurate information of what was correct, as settled and considered by their superiors, that is, by high learned men and statesmen. If the actors, therefore, run counter to authority, and thereby endanger the cause which they are presumed to aid, the mischief is too general and extensive in its operation to be neglected or endured. There is nothing belonging to the stage which demands such strict discipline as its orthoepy, because there is 78 none in which it can so immediately and powerfully affect the public. On this point therefore we are determined to sacrifice nothing to ceremony; being convinced that debasing the language is essentially as injurious, though legally not so punishable, as defacing the current coin of a country.

Without pointing to individuals by name, we request the ladies and gentlemen of the green-room to consult all the acknowledged authorities for the pronunciation of the words: true, rude, brute, shrewd, rule, in which the u is by some of them sounded very improperly; true so as to rhyme to few, new, &c. rule as if it were to rhyme to mule, and so on; whereas true ought to be pronounced as if it were spelled troo, and rhymed to do; rule as if spelled rool, and so on; and thus they will find them in the dictionaries of acknowledged authority.

Since we are on the subject we will now advert to some other words which are often most lamentably mispronounced, not only contrary to the pronunciation established by all learned men and orators in Great Britain, but exactly in that way in which skilful actors often pronounce them in Europe when they wish to mimic the most low and ignorant classes of society. Of this description is the pronunciation of the word “sacrifice.” For these words we refer all whom it may concern to the dictionaries of the best orthoepists, by which they will be instructed that it is not pronounced say-crifice but sac-rifize. If the former be really the pronunciation, the old ladies who smoke short pipes in the chimney corners of English and Irish cottages, are right, and Burke, Fox, Pitt, Windham, Curran, Grattan, Sheridan, and in short every man who speaks in a public assembly in England or Ireland, are wrong. We are not sure whether Mr. Kemble, who, as an excellent critic has observed, is always seeking for novelty and always running into error, may not lately have added that patch to his motley garb of new readings; but his authority is disallowed. Even Garrick, whose claims were of a very superior kind, when he attempted to render the English language, already too unstable, 79 more so, by his innovations, was repelled with helpless contempt.

This is a point to which it is the manager’s duty to attend, because it is not a matter of doubt, nor subject to discretionary opinion. What must that part of our youth who attend to these things from a laudable desire for improvement, think, when they hear the same word differently pronounced in the same scene by different actors. Upon one night particularly, Mr. M‘Kenzie several times returned the mispronounced word, pronounced as it should be, with an emphasis which could not be misunderstood: yet the mispronunciation was persisted in.

Before we drop this subject we must observe that the pronunciation of the last syllable of the word sacrifice is sometimes as erroneously pronounced as the first, indeed worse, as the sound given to it approximates to one which conveys an offensive idea. Properly pronounced it rhymes to the verbs advise, rise, and not to mice, spice, &c.

Having brought our critical journal up to the appearance of that phenomenon of the stage of this new world, Master Payne, we find ourselves constrained, by the limits of this number, to postpone our observations upon the plays in which that extraordinary boy, for so many nights, astonished and delighted crowded houses, and far beyond our expectations, made good his title to the partiality of every city in which he has performed.


This production which we have annexed to our first number, not on account of its superior merit, but because it was the most recently published of any that has yet come to our hands, will, on the most superficial reading, be discerned to be of the true German cast. The old trick of grouping the characters at the end of a scene, and dropping the curtain upon them, by way of leaving it to the general conception of the audience to guess the rest, as is done in the Stranger, and all others of that breed, is here twice put in practice. Those who like such drugs mixed up with a quantum sufficit of horror, and all the tenterhook interest, hair-breadth escapes, and incident so forced as to stagger belief, which make up the hotchpotch romances whether narrative or dramatic of the present day, will like this. Mr. Dimond has in this piece certainly shown great skill in working up that kind of materials to the production of stage effect; since to those who can be interested or affected by the marvellous and mysterious, and who love to step for amusement out of the precincts of nature, and the conduct of “the folks of the world” the Foundling of the Forest will be interesting and affecting. Viewing it with a strict critical eye, not only the plot is faulty, but the composition is in many places extremely bad. If the production of original character was the author’s design, he has succeeded to his heart’s content in that of Florian, which we believe has never had a prototype in this world. In this hero who is sometimes as bombastical as ancient Pistol, and sometimes as ridiculous as a buffoon, the author attempts to be droll, and

Aims at wit—but levell’d in the dark,

The random arrow never hits the mark.

A London critic remarking with just severity upon the strange way in which the divinity is addressed in this piece, 81 says, “This blot defaces almost all the modern things called dramas or plays. In the farcical comedies we have low vulgar swearing unworthy even the refuse of society; while in the comedies larmoyantes (weeping comedies) and tragedies, we have eternal imprecations of the deity, indicative only of madness in literature.” To this observation as well as that which follows from the same critic we heartily subscribe. “It is interspersed with songs, to one of which we direct8 the reader, to remind the author of what Pope says:

Want of decency shows want of sense.

“Among soi-disant jolly fellows revelling in senseless ribaldry and inebriety (continues the reviewer) this song might be deemed very fine; but we shrewdly suspect that if the lines had been spoken at the theatre instead of being sung, the audience would have resented the insult.”

It would be injustice not to add that the concluding speech of count Valmont, and many other parts scattered through the piece, must be admired as specimens of very fine composition.



The lovers of poetry and music have lately been highly gratified by the publication of “A Selection of Irish Melodies, with Symphonies and Accompaniments, by Sir John Stevenson, Doctor of Music, and Characteristic Words, by Thomas Moore, Esq. the first number of which was published in London and Dublin in the month of February of 82 the last year, the reviewers spoke with decided approbation. To the second number, published in April, they are no less favourable. These melodies have been for some time anxiously expected—it being pretty generally understood that that fascinating poet, Moore, was employed in the pursuit of them. He had promised them for sometime. “It is intended, says the editor, to form a collection of the best Irish melodies, with characteristic symphonies and accompaniments, and with words containing as frequently as possible, allusions to the manners and history of the country;” and in a letter of Mr. Moore’s which appears in the publication, he says, “I feel very anxious that a work of this kind should be undertaken. We have too long neglected the only talent for which our English neighbours ever deign to allow us any credit. While the composers of the continent have enriched their operas and sonatas with melodies borrowed from Ireland, very often without even the honesty of acknowledgment, we have left these treasures in a great degree unclaimed and fugitive. Thus our airs, like too many of our countrymen, for want of protection at home, have passed into the service of foreigners. But we are come I hope to a better period both of politics and music: and how much they are connected, in Ireland at least, appears too plainly in the tone of sorrow and depression which characterizes most of our early songs. The task which you propose to me of adapting words to these airs, is by no means easy. The poet who would follow the various sentiments which they express, must feel and understand that rapid fluctuation of spirits, that unaccountable mixture of gloom and levity which composes the character of my countrymen, and has deeply tinged their music. Even in their liveliest strains we find some melancholy note inhere, some minor third or flat seventh which throws its shade as it passes, and makes even mirth interesting. If Burns had been an Irishman (and I would willingly give up all our claims upon Ossian for him) his heart would have been proud of such music, and his genius would have made it immortal.”


A London reviewer speaking of the first number, says, “the idea is excellent, and the twelve vocal airs which this first number of the work contains, are tastefully arrayed by sir John Stevenson, and happily provided with language by Mr. Moore.

“We are happy (continues the reviewer) to find that even where Mr. Moore’s subject is amatory, his poetry is very little in the style of those baneful effusions which are undergoing so rigorous an examination. His verse is here fanciful and gentlemanly, full of his subject, and, as far as our English souls can judge, faithfully expressing it. Nothing can be more pathetic than “Oh! breathe not his name;” nothing more brilliant than “Fly not yet, ’tis just the hour;” and nothing more poetical than “As a beam o’er the face of the waters may glow.” We must be indulged in quoting one of those effusions of Mr. Moore’s genius; and we can find none more elegant or natural than the following:


Oh! think not my spirits are always as light,

And as free from a pang as they seem to you now,

Nor expect that the heart-beaming smile of tonight,

Will return with tomorrow to brighten my brow.

No, Life is a waste of wearisome flowers,

Which seldom the rose of enjoyment adorns;

And the heart that is soonest awake to the flowers,

Is always the first to be touch’d by the thorns.

But send round the bowl, and be happy awhile;

May we never meet worse in our pilgrimage here

Than the tear that Enjoyment can gild with a smile,

And the smile that Compassion can turn to a tear.

The thread of our life would be dark, heaven knows!

If it were not with friendship and love intertwined;

And I care not how soon I may sink to repose,

When these blessings shall cease to be dear to my mind!


But they who have lov’d the fondest, the purest,

Too often have wept o’er the dream they’ve believed;

And the heart that has slumber’d in friendship securest,

Is happy indeed if ’twas never deceiv’d.

But send round the bowl; while a relic of truth

Is in man or in woman, this pray’r shall be mine,

That the sunshine of love may illumine our youth,

And the moonlight of friendship console our decline.

“The airs of the first number are excessively beautiful in themselves—particularly those of the well known “Gramachree,” “Plausty Kelly,” and the “Summer is Coming,” and the duets of “The Maid of the Valley,” and the “Brown Maid,” are very delightful. “The latter (says the London reviewer) is a perfect specimen of the genius of duet, each part taking up the other alternately. The publication of these Irish airs fully discovers the source of Mr. Moore’s musical compositions.”

Speaking of the second number, the reviewer says it is by no means inferior to the first either in music or in poetry. The air “Oh! weep for the hour” (“The Pretty Girl of Derby O!”) is harmonized in a style of great elegance; and that, and “The Red Fox,” “The Black Joke,” and “My Lodging is on the Cold Ground,” have particularly pleased us in their arrangement. The song which Mr. Moore has written to “The Black Joke,” is both poetical and political, and though the affairs of Spain have now rendered it, as to that country, an old newspaper, yet it is still good in the cause of Ireland.”



The coterie of old ladies in the British parliament, the chairwoman of which was the late sir Richard Hill, have failed in all their attempts to tie up the hands of the people from their old sports. They have declaimed in parliament, and they have declaimed in print, against all the gymnastic exercises which time immemorial have been the pride and the pastime of the hardy natives of the British islands. Never did Robespierre weep such unfeigned tears over “sweet bleeding humanity,” as those good souls have shed over the broken heads, and black eyes, and bloody noses of the Bull family, who, obstinate dogs, will still go on and laugh at their ladyships. Indeed Bonaparte himself, whose interest it really is, could not more anxiously desire the abolition of those gymnastic exercises.

The sports of England are horse-racing; fox, hare, and stag-hunting; coursing with greyhounds; shooting, fishing, bull-baiting, wrestling, single stick, pugilism, pedestrianism, cricket, &c. These are practised by all ranks and on national accounts, are encouraged by all the wise and patriotic men of the country; some few, and those mostly fanaticks, excepted. To those games they add, in Ireland, the noble sport of hurling, in which that vigorous race exhibit such prodigies of strength and activity as induced the celebrated Arthur Young to speak to this effect in his Tour through Ireland: “In their hurlings, which I would call the cricket of savages, they perform feats of agility that would not do discredit to Sadler’s Wells.”

The gymnastic games have been long carried on so systematically that they make as regular a part of the public intelligence as any that finds its way into the public papers, and have, like the theatre, their appropriated periodical publications.9 On this subject we would say much more, as we mean to present our readers with such things as appear curious or extraordinary in those publications; but by way of a 86 beginning, and to pave the road for the reception of this part of our work by the public, we beg leave to offer, not to their hasty perusal, but their profound consideration, the following defence of pugilism, written, it is said, by that profound statesman, patriot, and scholar, William Windham, whose eloquence and wit caused sir R. Hill’s bull-baiting bill to be laughed out of the House of Commons.

“I lay it down as a principle, that in every state of society, men, particularly those of the lower ranks, will ever require some means of venting their passions and redressing personal affronts, independently of those which the laws of their country might afford them; and that it is of more benefit to the community that these personal contests should be under such regulations as place bounds to resentment, than that they should be left to the unrestrained indulgence of revenge and ferocity. In most countries on the northern continent of Europe, bodily strength exclusively decides the contest; hands, feet, teeth, and nails are all employed, and the strongest gratifies his resentment by biting, kicking, and trampling upon his prostrate adversary.10 In the south the appeal is usually to the stiletto, and a colpo dicoltello is so common at Naples, that there is hardly a lazarone who has not the marks of it on some parts of his body; not a year passes in which there are not hundreds of assassinations in this city. Now, observe the different effects of a different principle: A sailor, some time since, at Nottingham, lent an aeronaut his assistance in preparing the ascent of his balloon; when receiving a blow from one of the by-standers while he held a knife in his hand—“You scoundrel,” exclaims the tar, “you have taken the advantage by striking me because you knew that, as I held a knife I could not strike you again.” Under similar circumstances, what would have been the conduct of a Genoese or a Neapolitan?


Boxing, as it is conducted in this country, is a remnant of the ancient tilt and tournament, conducted on the principles of honour and equity; a contest of courage, strength, and dexterity, where every thing like an unfair and ungenerous advantage, is proscribed and abhorred. It is a custom peculiarly our own, and to which probably we are not only indebted for the infrequency of murder and assassination, but also for the victories of Maida, and Trafalgar.

Some persons are willing to allow these effects, provided the practice was confined to casual contests, and not extended to public combats and stage fights. These, they say, induce the laborious men to quit their occupations, and serve as a rendezvous for the disorderly and the profligate; but is not the same objection to be made to all amusements in which the lower orders are peculiarly interested, and where else would men of this description practically learn, that the gratification of their personal resentments must be limited by the laws of honour and forbearance? Had Crib struck Gregson after the decision of the contest in his favour, what would have been the indignant feelings of the surrounding multitude, and what would he not have experienced from their resentment? And are these feelings not worth inculcating? will they not characterise a nation, and are they not the genuine sources of generosity and honour? If it be admitted, which I think cannot be denied, that any advantage be derived to society from individuals in these combats being restrained from giving full scope to ferocity and revenge, these advantages must be exclusively ascribed to the custom of public exhibitions. It is from these that all regulations and restrictions originate—it is from these they are propagated, and with these they will be extinguished.

“I am not without apprehension, that from abhorrence of what some call brutal and vulgar pursuits, the noble science of attack and defence should be in future proscribed at the seminaries of Eton, Winchester, and Westminster, and that little master should be enjoined by his mama, in case of an affront, to resort to his master for redress and protection. 88 To the custom, indeed, as it now prevails, the English youth are, in a great measure indebted for their nobleness and manliness of character. Two boys quarrel, they agree to box it out—they begin and they end by shaking hands; the enmity terminates with the contest—And what is this but a lesson of courage, magnanimity, and forgiveness? the principles of which are thus indelibly impressed on the mind of the boy, and must ever after influence the character of the man.

“Away then with this effeminate cant about maintaining order and decorum, by the suppression of the public exhibitions of manly exercises. To them the individual Englishman owes his superiority to the individual of every other country, in courage, strength, and agility: and as a country is composed of individuals, to what other causes can England more reasonably impute her proud preeminence among nations which she now enjoys, and which she will ever maintain till this spirit is tamed into servility, under the pretence of applying salutary restrictions to the licentiousness of the people.”

After the foregoing essay, a parallel drawn between English men and English mastiffs by the celebrated cardinal Ximenes comes not unappropriately in this place.

The cardinal, who was minister to one of the French monarchs, observed that the English, like their native mastiffs, lived in a state of internal hostility. “The cause,” said he, “which creates a canine uproar, every one knows, is a bone; whence among the English, every statistical elevation, as well as other causes of contest, is called A BONE OF CONTENTION. During the time of profound peace, these island dogs are always growling, snapping at, and tearing each other; but the moment the barking of foreign dogs is heard, the contention about bones ceases, the whole species become friends, and with one heart and mind they join their teeth to defend their kennels against foreign enemies.”


The following extraordinary circumstances are selected from the British sporting intelligence of the last year.

A herdsman lately met a fox in the morning, on a mountain in the neighbourhood of Ballycastle (Ireland). On his approach, the animal did not offer to avoid him, but allowed him to come close up, when he struck it with a stick and killed it. On examination the fox was found to be completely destitute of teeth, and is supposed to have been blind with age.

A fox lately turned out at Fisherwick-park, the hunting seat of the marquis of Donnegal, being hard pressed, forced his way into the window of a farm house, and took shelter under the bed of the farmer’s wife who had not an hour before lain in. The feelings of all parties may easier be imagined than described. The good woman, however, suffered no material injury by Reynard’s unexpected visit, who was taken and reserved for the sport of another day.

On Wednesday last, about six o’clock, a covey of partridges were seen to pitch in the middle of the CIRCUS, Bath, supposed to have taken refuge there, after having escaped from the aim of some distant gunner. Under the effects of fright and fatigue six were easily caught by three servants, and strange as it may appear the three servants of three eminent physicians who reside in that elegant pile. Doctor F.’s man secured three; doctor P.’s two, and doctor G.’s the other bird. A consultation afterwards took place respecting the fate of these poor tremblers, when it was humanely determined that they should be taken in a basket to some distance, and liberated, which was accordingly done. A keen sportsman would not approve of this forbearance; but perhaps none of the doctors had taken out a license to kill—GAME.


A male and female hare were put together by lord Ribblesdale for one year, when the offspring amounted to sixty-eight. A pair of rabbits inclosed for the same time produced above three hundred. The value of rabbits’ wool used annually in the manufacture of hats in England is two hundred and fifty thousand pounds.

A few days ago a hare was observed lying before a door in Manchester-street, London. The poor animal was immediately pursued, and in less than a minute the street was crowded: she succeeded in making her way down through Duke-street, followed by an immense mob. The novelty of a hunt in such a place caused every person in the surrounding streets to join in the chase. Notwithstanding her numerous pursuers she made her way down Oxford-street and into Stratford-place, where she got into the corner next to the duke of St. Alban’s house, and remained quietly until she was taken alive by the duke’s porter in the presence of an immense concourse of spectators.

On the twenty-ninth of October last, in the afternoon, a fox was seen crossing the fields of Camptown in Bedfordshire, followed by a shepherd’s dog. The fox first made his way into the grounds of the reverend Mr. Davies’s boarding-school, at Campton, where the boys were at play. Reynard was no sooner in the midst of this juvenile assembly than a tumultuous uproar assailed him, from which he fled with all speed through a border plantation into the road, and crossing to the house of the reverend Mr. Williamson the minister of the parish, he bolted through the glass into the library. Here a female servant was cleaning the room, who by the sudden and unexpected appearance of this new visitor was thrown into fits. The family running into the apartment found the fox skulking in a corner, and the poor girl lying extended on the floor. With some difficulty she was recovered, and master Reynard was bagged for a future chase. Nobody can tell where the chase commenced, but 91 the dog is known to belong to a shepherd at Meppershall, the adjoining parish to Campton.

The Cranborne chase pack had one of the finest runs ever known in the western part of the kingdom. They unkennelled at Punpernwood, four miles east of Blandford. The fox went off immediately for “the chase,” and having taken a round in the West-walk, broke off over Iwern hills, and entered the vale of Blackmore, leaving the parish of Shooten to the left, making his play towards Duncliffwood near Shaston; but having been headed, he bent his course to the river Stow, which he boldly crossed in defiance of the flood, and after running the vale many miles passed through Piddleswood towards Okeford, Fitzpaine, but the hounds pressing him hard he was obliged to return to the cover, where having taken a turn or two he broke on the opposite side near the town of Shirminster, and crossed the commons to Mr. Brunes’s seat at Plumber, where he entered a summer-house, passed through the chimney flue, and entered a drain, whence being bolted, he was run into and killed at Fifehide Neville, fourteen miles straight from the place where he was found, after a chase of two hours and ten minutes.


It appears from the glossary to the Welch Laws that the game of backgammon was invented in Wales, sometime before the reign of Canute the Great, and that it derived its name from Back, which in the welch language meant little, and Cammon, which in the same language signified Bottle.

A blacksmith of Winchester in Hampshire, undertook, for a wager, to shoe six horses, and make the shoes and nails himself complete in seven hours. He accomplished it in twenty-five minutes less than the time.

Mr. Brewer of the Crown inn, Nothingham, undertook for a wager of forty guineas to go with a mare belonging 92 to him in a cart, to Newark and back again, being a distance of forty miles, in four hours. He performed it in twelve minutes less than the given time. Considerable bets were laid against the performance. The mare is under fourteen hands high.


A poor fellow, half an ideot, has by his singularity got himself so noticed by the sporting gentlemen at Newmarket, that his picture has been painted by Mr. Chalon, and engravings from it have been published. He was intended for a blacksmith, but being untractable, was allowed to follow his own inclination. Being always fond of hunting he soon attracted the attention of the gentlemen of the chase, and never failed joining the hounds whenever they made their appearance. Dick is such an amazing swift runner that he keeps in with the hounds for many miles together, to the surprise of all the gentlemen, who confess him to be a very useful man among them, as he instantly discovers the track of a fox, and is very clever at finding a hare sitting, and who therefore support him. He never goes out without carrying a knife, a fork, a spoon and a spur, which are all of his own making, a performance that shows him not to be destitute of ingenuity, as they are not separately made, but contained in one, and with these he is at once equipped either for sporting or eating. The spur he uses for pricking himself, which he fancies enables him to keep up with the hounds. He frequently uses it to the no small amusement of the spectators. His dress is quite as singular as his mode of life, for he always wears a long surtout coat, a hunting-cap, a boot on one leg and a shoe on the foot of the other—and thus equipped he runs with the speed of a hunting-horse, clearing with ease all the ditches and fences the riders do.

One of the best packs of hounds in England was most completely beat lately by a fox. The latter was turned out before them near Wold Newton, in Yorkshire, and after 93 running rings for sometime, went off for Scarborough, near which place the hounds were so completely knocked up that he beat them in view, for the huntsman could not get them a yard further—a number of riders lost their horses in the cars, and were seen wading up to their necks to catch them again. The fox ran upwards of twenty miles.

In the discussions which have arisen in and out of parliament in England about the abolition of the Briton’s old favourite sports, it was conceded by all but a few, that from the custom of boxing, singlestick and backsword playing, wrestling, &c. arose the good temper which distinguishes that people—Englishmen being less subject to violent fits of anger than the people of any other nation in the world. In the compass of eighteen pages of a work now before us we have details of no less than two grand matches of singlestick, one Wiltshire against Somersetshire, and the other Somersetshire against all England, for large purses. In both cases the champions of Somerset county beat; and what must astonish those who hear it, the victors (though men in the lowest classes of life in one case) shared the prize with the vanquished. In the former, Somerset gave nine broken heads and received seven—in the latter, gave eight and received six. The Wiltshire men went to Trowbridge in Somersetshire, the appointed place of meeting, attended by some of the leading gentry of Wiltshire, and the gentleman who was appointed by them to preside, bore public testimony to the liberal and kind treatment his countrymen experienced.

“Any person who has seen the farce of Hob in the Well, performed, will remember to have seen a specimen of this kind of prize fighting, for which as well as wrestling, the people of Somersetshire have for ages been renowned. In Scotland they excel at the backsword—the Irish too are admirable hands—but neither have the temper of the English; “Oppression makes a wise man mad;” what should it do then with a poor peasantry? The tempers of the English have not had that to irritate them. We will close this subject 94 with a letter from an intelligent Londoner, who was travelling through Hampshire.

Passing, sometime since, through Rapley Dean, Hants, my attention being attracted by a crowd of rustics on a little green near the road I turned my horse thither, and arrived in the time when a lame elderly man, who I afterwards found was the knight marshal of the field, from the middle of a ring made by ropes, proclaimed, that “a hat worth one guinea was to be played for at backsword; the breaker of most heads to bear away the hat and honour,” and inviting the youth there to contend for it. A little after, a young fellow threw his hat into the ring and followed, when the lame umpire called out “a challenge,” and proceeded to equip the challenger for the game. His coat and waiscoat were taken off, his left hand tied by a handkerchief to his left thigh, and a stick, with basket hilt, put into his hand; he then walked round the ring till a second hat was thrown in, and the umpire called out, “the challenge is answered.”

“As soon as prepared, the knights met, measured weapons, shook hands, walked once round, turned and began the contest. In about a minute, the umpire called out “About,” when they dropped the points of their weapons and walked round, and this calling I observed, was repeated as often as the umpire judged either distressed. After some twenty minutes play, some blood trickled down the challenger’s head; the umpire called “Blood;” and declared the other to have won a head.

“When both left the ring another hat was thrown in, and the challenge again accepted, and played off in the like manner, till the umpire announced there were four winners of heads, and proceeded to call the ties, that is, he called on the winners of the first two heads to play together, and afterwards on the winners of the third and fourth heads; after which the winners of two heads each played for the hat, and the proud victor (Morgan) thus to earn it, broke three heads. I was much struck with the amazing temper 95 with which the game was played: not a particle of ill-will was shown, two young fellows, who played together forty-five minutes, and in the course of it gave each other many severe blows, one alone of which would have satisfied the most unconscionable taylor or man-milliner breathing, drank frequently together between the bouts, shaking hands as often as the weight of the blows given seemed to require it of their good-nature. Indeed it appeared to be a rule with each pair that played, to drink together after the contest, and a general spirit of harmony seemed to prevail. This game is certainly of great antiquity, and the only relick (with the exception of wrestling) of the ancient tournament. The knight defied with throwing down his hat or gauntlet—the rustic gamester does the same, and is equally courteous with the knight towards his opponent: nor were there in this instance village dames or damsels wanting, to animate the prowess of the youth.

“It has been asserted, that these exhibitions engender a ferocious spirit; but were I to judge from what I saw, and from the inquiries I made into the characters of the players at Ropley Dean, from the farmers on my right and left, I should pronounce quite the contrary; and think that as long as the sword is used by our cavalry and navy, and as long as we wish to entertain in the nation a fearless, generous, martial spirit, we should encourage the like pastimes at our fairs and revels.”


A general sense seems to pervade all the most intelligent men of Great Britain that a reformation is wanting in almost every department of life in that country. The corruption of public taste in dramatic literature and acting, and in most of the fashionable amusements of the high flyers cries aloud, no less than that of the state, for a heavy-handed scourge and receives it. Among other things, the musico-mania is attacked as having reached the highest acmé of absurdity. The Covent Garden proprietors are very roughly handled, but not more roughly than they deserve, for hiring Madam Catalani at the enormous salary of four thousand pounds sterling and a free benefit for the season, with a provision annexed, which is thought insolent, degrading, and unjust; no less than that of her French husband putting what fiddlers he pleases into the orchestra. The public prints are filled with remonstrances to the people, whose attention is directed to the storm which was raised on a similar occasion in 1755 and 1756, and which burst with such tremendous mischief on the head of Garrick. One writer thus vehemently expresses himself: “Shall a judge of the land be required to exercise the faculties of his vigorous mind, which have been cultivated and matured by an expensive education and the most laborious study; shall he be continually employed in discriminating between right and wrong, in the adjustment of individual differences, and in protecting the persons and properties of the honest and peaceable part of his majesty’s subjects from the assaults of violence and the stratagems of fraud; shall his sensibility be wounded, and his heart pierced by the painful necessity to which he is frequently reduced of passing on his fellow-man those awful sentences which the nature of their crimes, and the voice of Justice imperiously demand; shall he, in short, be compelled to discharge the duties of an office which necessarily renders his nights anxious and restless, and subjects him in the day to the most irksome fatigue—and shall he, for all this fatigue of body and unremitting solicitude of mind, receive a salary 97 scarcely exceeding half the sum given to an Italian cantatrice for the display of her vocal powers for a few nights?”

The fact is that the robust and vigorous appetite of the English has been worn down by the intemperate use of German dramas, and is so vitiated and enfeebled that it can swallow nothing but hot spiced trash, or water gruel spoon-meat. Are the French wrong in calling John Bull stupide barbare when they see him pouring thousands into the laps of foreign singers—and for what?—why, to sing such songs as this:

Tom Gobble was a grocer’s son,

Heigho! says Gobble;

He gave a ven’son dinner for fun,

And he had a belly as big as a tun,

With his handy dandy, bacon and gravy,

Ah, hah, says alderman Gobble.

The servants ushered the company in,

Heigho! says Gobble;

The dinner is ready, quoth Tom, with a grin,

So he tucked a napkin under his chin,

With his handy dandy, bacon and gravy,

Ah, hah, says alderman Gobble,

Then Betty the cook-maid she gave a squall,

Heigho! says Gobble;

Poor John the footman has had a fall,

And down stairs tumbled, ven’son and all,

With his handy dandy, bacon and gravy,

Alas! says alderman Gobble.

So down the alderman ran in a fright,

Heigho! says Gobble;

And there sat John in a terrible plight

Astride on the ven’son bolt upright,

With his handy dandy, bacon and gravy,

Dear me! says alderman Gobble.

Was ever man so cruelly put on,

Heigho! says Gobble;

Get off the meat you rascally glutton,

You’ve made my ven’son a saddle of mutton,


With your handy dandy, bacon and gravy,

Good lack, says alderman Gobble.

Lord, sir, says Betty, what a splash,

Heigho! says Gobble;

’Tis a monstrous bad rumbistical crash,

But tomorrow I’ll tickle it up in a hash,

With your handy dandy, bacon and gravy,

Ay, do! says alderman Gobble.

This vile, low, degrading farrago is taken from an opera called the Russian Impostor, or Siege of Sloremskho.

After such trash it will be delightful to turn to some lines, written by lord Byron on this general subject of complaint. They are extracted from an excellent poem entitled “English Bards and Scotch Reviewers, a Satire,” with notes by the author.

Now to the Drama turn—oh, motley sight!

What precious scenes the wondering eyes invite!

Puns, and a prince within a barrel pent,11

And Dibdin’s nonsense yield complete content.

Though now, thank heaven! the Roscio mania’s o’er,

And full-grown actors are endured once more;

Yet, what avails their vain attempts to please,

While British critics suffer scenes like these;

While Reynolds vents his ‘dammes, poohsandzounds12

And common place, and common sense confounds?

While Kenny’s World just suffered to proceed,

Proclaims the audience very kind indeed?

And Beaumont’s pilfer’d Caratach affords

A tragedy complete in all but words?13

Who but must mourn while these are all the rage,

The degradation of our vaunted stage?


Heavens! is all sense of shame and talent gone?

Have we no living bard of merit?—none?

Awake, George Colman!—Cumberland, awake!

Ring the alarum bell, let Folly quake!

Oh, Sheridan! if aught can move thy pen,

Let Comedy resume her throne again,

Abjure the mummery of German schools,

Leave new Pizarros to translating fools;

Give, as thy last memorial to the age,

One classic drama, and reform the stage.

Gods! o’er those boards shall Folly rear her head,

Where Garrick trod, and Kemble lives to tread?

On those shall Farce display Buffoonery’s mask,

And Hook conceal his heroes in a cask?

Shall sapient managers new scenes produce

From Cherry, Skeffington, and Mother Goose?

While Shakspeare, Otway, Massinger, forgot,

On stalls must moulder, or in closets rot?

Lo! with what pomp the daily prints proclaim,

The rival candidates for attic fame!

In grim array though Lewis’14 spectres rise,


Still Skeffington and Goose divide the prize.

And sure great Skeffington must claim our praise,

For skirtless coats and skeletons of plays

Renowned alike; whose Genius ne’er confines

Her flight to garnish Greenwood’s gay designs;15

Nor sleeps with ‘Sleeping Beauties,’ but anon

In five facetious acts comes thundering on,16

While poor John Bull, bewildered with the scene,

Keeps wondering what the devil it can mean;

But as some hands applaud, a venal few!

Rather than sleep, why John applauds it too.

Such are we now, ah! wherefore should we turn

To what our fathers were, unless to mourn?

Degenerate Britons! are ye dead to shame,

Or, kind to dulness, do you fear to blame?

Well may the Nobles of our present race

Watch each distortion of a Naldi’s face;

Well may they smile on Italy’s buffoons,

And worship Catalani’s pantaloons,17

Since their own drama yields no fairer trace

Of wit than puns, of humour than grimace.

Then let Ausonia, skill’d in ev’ry art

To soften manners, but corrupt the heart,

Pour her exotic follies o’er the town,

To sanction Vice and hunt Decorum down:

Let wedded strumpets languish o’er Deshayes,

And bless the promise which his form displays;

While Gayton bounds before the enraptured looks

Of hoary marquises and stripling dukes:

Let high-born lechers eye the lively Presle

Twirl her light limbs that spurn the needless veil;

Let Angiolini bare her breast of snow,

Wave the white arm and point the pliant toe;


Collini trill her love-inspiring song,

Strain her fair neck and charm the listening throng!

A London critic adds the following pertinent observations: “Thus far our author concerning the stage, to which we add an observation or two of our own. We certainly think the barrel a curious asylum for a distressed prince; but when we reflect on what kind of princes and heroes the modern stage and modern authors exhibit, (the seige of St. Quintin for instance, by the same author, Mr. Hook) we cannot help exclaiming (no plagiarism, we hope)

We with the sentence are indeed content,

To see such princes in such barrels pent.

And as a barrel is described by our best lexicographers to be “any thing hollow,” what vehicle more appropriate could be found? The ingenious author, was surely a favourite of the barrel, and well acquainted with the virtues of a cask; although according to sir Walter Raleigh, “some are so ill-seasoned and conditioned that a great part of the contents is ever lost and cast away.”

Respecting Mr. Reynolds’s indulgence of himself, in perpetual repetition of his vocables,18 we should be glad to have it in our power to affirm that the beef and mutton19 author was the only one who disgraced himself by such contemptible degradation; but, alas! the pages of our work have too often exhibited similar complaints against the majority of our great playwrights—many of these gentlemen being reduced to silence, without their auxiliary dammes!

We differ widely from our author respecting Mr. T. Sheridan’s stripping of Bonduca—for we really think it worthy the son of that poet, who, neglecting his own genius and 102 the duties of a regular practitioner, condescends to turn quack, and bedizen that high German doctor Pizarro, in an English dress!!

Apropos of awaking George Colman!—We beg the noble lord’s pardon; but we are not in such a violent hurry to disturb this gentleman; for if, when awake, he should not acquit himself better than in his last production of the Africans, we think the sounder he sleeps the more solid will be his reputation. Therefore,

Sleep on, George Colman! prithee, don’t awake!

Nor let the alarum bell thy slumbers shake!

Lest jokes like Mugg’s20 should make our senses quake!

Why our author has coupled John Kemble’s name with that of Garrick we cannot conceive; but that there appears more rhyme than reason in it, we can safely aver. We have somewhere heard that “a live ass is better than a dead lion,” which we quote, not as individually applicable, but as a general adage; for we disclaim personalities, and well know that J. K. is an eminent actor, and one whom we have not niggardly praised. Yet we will not disparage departed excellence for any person existing; and therefore cannot avoid wishing our young author had seen Garrick, and bearing in his “mind’s eye” his natural acting of Lear, Hamlet, Macbeth, Richard, &c.—he might then go and witness the performances of Mr. Kemble—and judge!



The conductors of the Mirror of Taste, and Dramatic Censor, have already to make acknowledgments to correspondents. Scarcely had their intention been promulgated 103 when they were favoured with a letter, which, in less than a week afterwards was followed by two more, all of them upon the same subject, though evidently written by different persons. It had before been the intention of the conductors to call the public attention very soon to that very point to which these letters are intended to direct them; and conceiving that a fairer occasion for doing so can hardly occur than these letters afford them, they hasten to lay the contents of them before the public.

“To the Conductors of the Dramatic Work to be published by Messrs. Bradford and Inskeep.

November 27.


From what I can learn about your intended publication I like the idea, and have no doubt it may be of great use. I have often said that such a thing was much wanting, for I look upon a playhouse to be a very good thing, often keeping young men from worse places, and young women from worse employment. But if our playhouse goes on as it does, it will soon be a worse place to go to than any I allude to. Last evening I brought my family to see the play, and I assure you, I often wished we were all away again, the scandalous talk in the gallery was so bad. The noise was so great that there was no hearing any thing else. The players’ voices were ten or a dozen times interrupted so that they could not be heard, and two or three fellows in the gallery were particularly scandalous. Above all the rest there was one, a finished vagabond, who spoke smut and roared it out loud, directing it to the ladies in the boxes. If any of you was there, gentlemen, you must have noticed it; if not, I can’t write such filthy words as was spoken the whole evening. My wife begged me to come away on our little girl’s account who was with us. It is not the players you ought to criticise, they behave themselves—but it is those vagabonds that think they have a right to disturb the house because they 104 pay their half dollar a piece. I think it your duty to take notice of this, and I beg you will.


N.B. They in the pit were bad enough, and so was some in the boxes.

To the Editors of the Mirror, &c.


As your intended publication is to come out monthly, I am doubtful whether I should trouble you on the present occasion; more particularly as you may probably think of the matter yourselves without a hint from me. Besides, I am not sure whether it is not the duty of the editors of the daily papers rather than yours. For my part, I think it is the duty of all people who regard the credit of the city, or tender the peaceableness and comfort of society. Our theatre, gentlemen, has sunk to the worst state imaginable of licentiousness and savage riot. Don’t mistake me—I don’t mean behind the curtain; but before it. While we hold ourselves so proudly to the world, what must those foreigners think of us who visit our theatre. From a place of rational recreation, and improvement, it has become a mere bear-garden. The play is interrupted, and all enjoyment, save that of riot and brawling, killed in various ways. The very boxes themselves are no sanctuary from ruffianish incivility; while the ears are stunned, and the cheek of Decency crimsoned with the profaneness, obscenity, and senseless brawl of barbarians in the gallery, the sight is intercepted, and all comfort destroyed by the unmannerly and unjust conduct of intruders in the boxes and pit, who think they have a right to push in and even stand up before another who has been previously seated, provided they have bodily strength to make good their violence. I say, gentlemen, this ought to be stopped. The spirit of the manager at New-York, backed by the laws, has put an end 105 to it there, so far, that no theatre in Europe precedes it in order and decency. The same power exists here and ought to be exercised. These things disgrace the city as well as annoy our audiences, and I think our daily editors on both sides would evince their regard for the public by giving a few lines every day to the reform of this evil till it shall be abated. The proprietors and manager ought to call a meeting, invoke the aid of the magistrates and the people, and come to some decisive resolutions on the subject.



For the Mirror, &c.

The manager, or the magistrates, or somebody is greatly to blame about the playhouse. I brought my family to the pit to see that great actor, Cooper, play Zanga. We sat in the pit the whole time the blackguards were throwing down various kinds of things upon our heads. Scraps of apples, nutshells in handfulls, and what is worse something I can’t well name—some about me said that brandy or strong grog was thrown down—it might be so once;—but it was not exactly that which fell on me and my family. Since then, I went to see him in Macbeth, and left my wife and daughter at home for fear; and the fellows above were as bad as before—and had not I luckily kept my hat on I should once have got my head broke with a hard heavy hiccory-nut that was thrown with all the force and spitefulness as if the person wanted to hurt somebody very severely.”

We agree with our correspondents that some prompt and effectual remedy ought to be applied to the evils of which they complain: and we are surprised it has not yet been done, because every person with whom any of us converses, makes pretty nearly the same complaint, and expresses the very same wish.


In every country there exist multitudes as well disposed as those now alluded to, to disturb the playhouse, and bring brutal riot within its walls—but they will not be allowed. Any one who reads Colquhoun’s account of London and its rabble, will perceive that there are people enough there ready to do offensive offices for the pure sake of offence and savageness; but not only the magistrates, but the audience themselves will not put up with it. The latter generally abate the nuisance in a summary way—they turn out the offender; and the law warrants, and if necessary aids them. If our audience suffer these encroachments what will be the fair conclusion, but that they concur with the offenders.

It was but a few nights ago, a company (of perhaps ten,) converted the boxes into a grog shop—brought jug and bottle, and glass, and tumbler into the front seats, and there caroused, laughing, talking aloud, and swearing aloud, even during the performance. On the night the Revenge was performed, even while Mr. Cooper was engaged in a most interesting scene, a boy, not in mean clothes either, stood up at the front corner of the gallery, roaring out and speaking as loud as he could to some one on the opposite side. Yet this, were it not for the time it happened, was to the surrounding tumult, as a dying sigh to the roar of a northwester.

It cannot be doubted that in a civilized society like this, some legal means must exist to put an end to these grievances. There are other grievances, however, that cannot be so immediately made the subject of redress by the magistrate, but which, nevertheless, require correction, and would never occur if every one who can afford to wear such a coat as gentlemen wear, could imitate the manners of gentlemen as well as they can ape their dress. By a number of well-coated persons of this kind, the time immemorial privileges of the theatre are violated, and its customary rights denied. Provided they think themselves able to scuffle it out by bodily strength they will indulge themselves at the expense of 107 others—one of those will sit before a lady and refuse to take off his hat—another coming late will force his way contrary to all right and usage, before a person who has an hour before taken his seat—and if spoken to, utter surly defiance. Against every such unmannered intruder, the whole audience ought, for the establishment of the general right and the good old custom, to make common cause, and thrust him out by force. No doubt there are drawcansirs enough to push this offence as far as it will go. Let them know that there have been and still are drawcansirs in England, Ireland and Scotland—that Dublin particularly was once full of them; but that they were soon brought to manners by the just resentment of the audience—the gripe of the constable, and the contempt of every body.



1. Johnson’s Idler, No. 25.


     What we hear

With weaker passion will affect the heart

Than when the faithful eye beholds the part. —Francis.

3. Dr. Johnson.

4. By Lord Mansfield in the King’s Bench, in the case of Macklin against Sparks, Miles, Reddish, and others.

5. The audience, whenever an individual hisses against the sense of the house, always silence the offender by crying, “there’s a goose in the pit (or wherever it is) turn him out,” and if he persists they expel him by force. It is to be hoped our audiences would follow the example. It is frequently necessary.

6. Dr. Johnson.

7. See Johnson’s Life of Dryden.

8. See the Duett between Rosabelle and L’Eclair, Act. III, scene I, page 16.

9. The Sporting Magazine for one.

10. He might have added gouging, as practised in the southern States of this Union.

11. In the melo-drama of Tekeli, that heroic prince is clapt into a barrel on the stage: a new asylum for distressed heroes!

12. All these are favourite expressions of Mr. R. and prominent in his comedies, living and defunct.

13. Mr. T. Sheridan, the new manager of Drury Lane Theatre, stripped the tragedy of Bonduca of the Dialogue, and exhibited the scenes as the spectacle of Caractacus. Was this worthy of his sire, or of himself?


Oh, wonder-working Lewis! monk, or bard,

Who fain would make Parnassus a church-yard!

Lo! wreaths of yew, not laurel, bind thy brow,

Thy Muse a sprite, Apollo’s sexton thou!

Whether on ancient tombs thou tak’st thy stand,

By gibbering spectres hail’d, thy kindred band;

Or tracest chaste descriptions on thy page,

To please the females of our modest age.

All hail, M. P.!A from whose infernal brain

Thin sheeted phantoms glide, a grisly train;

At whose command, “grim women” throng in crowds,

And kings of fire, of water, and of clouds,

With “small gray men,” “wild yagers,” and what not,

To crown with honour thee and Walter Scott:

Again, all hail! if tales like thine may please,

BSt. Luke’s alone can vanquish the disease;

Even Satan’s self with thee might dread to dwell,

And in thy skull discern a deeper hell.

A. See a poem to Mr. Lewis, in the Statesman, supposed to be written by Mr. Jekyll.

B. St. Luke’s is an hospital for lunatics in London. Editor of the Mirror.

15. Mr. Greenwood is, we believe, scene-painter to Drury Lane Theatre—as such, Mr. S. is much indebted to him.

16. Mr. S. is the illustrious author of the “Sleeping Beauty” and some Comedies, particularly “Maids and Bachelors.” Baculaurii Baculo magis quam lauro digni.

17. Naldi and Catalani require little notice—for the visage of the one and the salary of the other, will enable us long to recollect these amusing vagabonds; besides, we are still black and blue from the squeeze on the first night of the lady’s appearance in trowsers.

18. Damme, pooh, zounds, &c.

19. “Authors have lived and still live who write for what they call fame!—For my part I write for more substantial food—beef and mutton are the objects of my ambition.”—Reynold’s Preface to Begone Dull Care.

20. One of Mr. Colman’s witty characters in the Africans.

The printed book contained the six Numbers of Volume I with their appended plays. The Index (unpaginated) originally appeared at the beginning of the volume. Pages 1-108 refer to the present Number; index references are linked to the appropriate page. Other Numbers (in preparation as of September 2007) cover the remaining pages:

Volume I, Number 2: pp. 109-188
I.3: pp. 189-268
I.4: pp. 269-348
I.5: pp. 349-430
I.6: pp. 431-510

The six plays were printed as a group and are not included in this pagination.




Actors, animadversion on


in Rapid, 62

Rolla, 65

Reuben Glenroy, 67

Harry Dornton, 73

Bob Handy, 76

Alonzo, 229, 337

Jaffier, 337

Copper Captain, 339

Prince of Wales, 339.


Alonzo, 65

Henry, 76.


Las Casas, 65

Abel Handy, 76

Falstaff, 344

Cacafogo, 344.


Frank Oatland, 62

Orozimbo, 65

Cosey, 67

Goldfinch, 73

Farmer Ashfield, 75.


Sir Hubert Stanley, 62

Pizarro, 65

Old Norval, 155.


Vortex, 62

Trot, 68.

Mrs. Wood,

Jessy Oatland, 62

Cora, 66.

Mrs. Francis,

Mrs. Vortex, 62

Dame Ashfield, 76.

Mrs. Seymour, 62.


in Douglas, 145

Octavian, 220

Frederick, 221

Zaphna and Selim, 222

Tancred, 222

Romeo, 223.


Othello, 225

Zanga, 227

Richard, 230

Pierre, 230

Hamlet, 231

Macbeth, 231

Hotspur, 234

Michael Ducas, 234

Alexander, 422

Antony, Jul. Cæs. 420.

West, 68, bis.


Belcour, 425

Tangent, 427

Ranger, 427

Vapid, 427

Liar, 427

Rapid, 427

Sir Charles Racket, 427.

Advice to conductors of magazines, 402

Æschylus, 114, 189

Alleyn, the player, account of, 45

Anecdotes and good things

Dick the Hunter, 92

Dr. Young, 181

Othello burlesqued, 181

Voltaire, 184

Louis XIV. 184

Mara and Florio, 185

Macklin, 247, 248, 397, 408, 409

Mozart, the composer, 257

Old Wignell, 343

Macklin and Foote, 397

Impertinent Petit Maitre, 406

Curious Slip Slop, 406

Specific for blindness, 407

Kemble and a stage tyro, 407

Kemble’s bon mot on Sydney playhouse, 407

Irish forgery, 407

Woman and country magistrate, 408

French dramatic, 481

Bacon and cabbage, 485.

Apparition, sable or mysterious bell-rope, 325

Aristophanes, 269

Authors’ benefits

see Southern, 502


Barry, the great player, account of, 298

Bedford, duke of, monument, 317

Betterton, the great actor, 133, 213

Biography, 24, 118, 202, 357

Bull, a dramatic one, 505


Carlisle, countess of, opinion of drama, 398

Catalani, madam, 96

Cibber, Colley, his merit, 506

Coffee and Chocolate, account of, 311

Cone, see actors

Cooper, life of, 28

Cooper, see actors

Cooper, account of his acting, 223


on abuses of the Theatre, 103, 104

——, from Baltimore on Theatricals, 157

——, from New-York, ditto, 414


Dramatic Censor, 49, 141, 220, 337, 414

Drama, Grecian, 109, 189, 269, 350

——, lady Carlisle’s opinion on, 398

Dwyer, actor, 235

——, see actors.

Dramaticus, 251, 328, 502

Dungannon, famous horse, 500


Edenhall, luck of, old ballad, 487

Edward and Eleonora, remarks on, 502

English, parallel between English men and English mastiffs, by cardinal Ximenes, 88

Epilogues, humorous ones after tragedies censured, 400

Euripides, 195


Francis, see actors

——, Mrs., ibid.

Fullerton, actor, driven to suicide, 504


German Theatre, vindication of, by Dramaticus, 251

Gifford, Wm. life of, 357, 447

Greek drama, 109, 189, 269, 350


History of the stage, 9, 109, 189, 269, 350, 431

High Life below Stairs, account of, 506

Hodgkinson, biography of, 202, 283, 368, 457


Irish bulls, specimen of, 455

Jefferson, see actors


Lear, essay on the alterations of it, 391

Le Kain, the French actor, account of, 438


Lewis, his retirement from the stage, 185

Literary World, what is it? 406

Longevity, instance of, 496

Lover general, a rhapsody, 399


Macklin checked practice of hissing, 504

Man and Wife, a comedy, 188

Menander, 350

Metayer Henry, anecdote of with Theobald, 503

M‘Kenzie, see actors

Milton and Shakspeare, comparison between, 248

Miscellany, 96, 173, 241, 307, 384, 467

Music, 81, 257

——, Oh think not my spirits are always as light, a song by Anacreon Moore, 83

——, Irish, 161

Musical performance, expectation of a grand one, 428


New-York reviewers impeached, 505

Nokes, comedian, 381


O’Kelly’s horse Dungannon, 500

Originality in writing, Voltaire’s idea of, 184

Otway, observations on, 502


Payne, American young Roscius, criticised on, 141, 220, 241

——, see actors

Pedestrianism, humorous essay on, 262

Players celebrated compared with celebrated painters, 387

Plays, names of, attached to each No.

Foundling of the Forest, No. I

Man and Wife, No. II

Venoni, No. III

New Way to pay Old Debts, No. IV

Alfonso, king of Castile, No. V

The Free Knights, No. VI.

Plays criticised in the Censor

Cure for the Heart-ach, 59

Pizarro, 62

Town and Country, 66

Ella Rosenberg, 69

Wood Demon, 71

Abaellino, 73

Road to Ruin, 73

Speed the Plough, 74

Man and Wife, 188

Foundling of the Forest, 80, 345

Africans, 418.


Tom Gobble, 97

English bards and Scotch reviewers, extract from, 98

Occasional prologue on the first appearance of Miss Brunton, afterwards Merry and Warren, at Bath, 121

Latin verses on do. and translation, 124

Prologue on first appearance, of the same lady in London, by A. Murphy, 126

Duck shooting, 172

A true story, 183

Lewis’s address on taking leave of Ireland, 187

On the death of Mrs. Warren, 246

Descent into Elisium, 253

Gracy Nugent, by Carolan, 261

O never let us marry, 324

Epilogue by Sheridan, censuring humourous ones after tragedies, 401

Logical poem on chesnut horse and horse chesnut, 404

Quin, an anecdote in verse, 409

Luck of Edenhall, 487

The parson and the nose, 495

Solitude, advantages of for study, 495

Soldier to his horse, 499.

Prospectus, 1


Reviews of New-York impeached, 505


Seymour, Mrs. see actors

She would and she would not, merit of, 506

Southern, 502

Socrates, death of, 280

Sophocles, 189

Sporting, 85, 164, 262, 410, 499

Spain, divertissements in, 495

Strolling Player, a week’s journal of, 396

Stage, history of, 8, 9, 109, 189, 269, 350


Taylor, Billy, critique on ballad, 467

Thespis, account of, 113

Theobaldus Secundus, 173, 241, 307, 384

Theatre, misbehaviour there, 267

Theobald, his theft from Metayer, 503

Theatrical contest, Barry and Garrick, in Romeo, 507

Thornton, Col. his removal from York to Wilts, 164


Voltaire, his idea of originality in writing, 184


Warren, Mrs. life of, 118

Warren, actor, see actors

West, see actors

Wit, pedigree of, by Addison, 406

Wife, essay on the choice of, 477

Wood, actor, see actors

——, Mrs., ibid.


Young, celebrated actor, 236


Zengis, so unintelligible audience not understand it, 507







“And yet poor Edwin was no vulgar boy.” Beattie.







Count De Valmont.

Baron Longueville.

Florian, a foundling adopted by De Valmont.

Bertrand, valet to Longueville.

L’Eclair, valet to Florian.

Gaspard, an old domestic.

Geraldine, niece to De Valmont.

Rosabelle, her woman.

Monica, an old woman.

Unknown Female.


bravoes in the pay of Longueville.

Domestics, Peasants, Dancers, &c. &c.

SCENE—The Chateau de Valmont and its environs, situate in the upper Alsace, near the River Rhine.


SCENE I.A hall in the Chateau de Valmont.

Enter Bertrand, in agitation, followed by Longueville.

Ber. Forbear, my lord! to urge me further.—Would you tempt me to insure perdition?—my soul is heavy enough with weight of crimes already.

Long. Hypocrite! You, whom I have known in childhood—a villain, even from the cradle—committing crimes as pastimes—has your hand been exercised thus long in blood, to shake with conscience, and desert me now?

Ber. I have, indeed, deserved reproaches, but not from your lips, my lord! Remember, for you it was this hand was first defiled with blood—remember, too—

Long. Yes, villain! I do remember, that my misplaced bounty once gave you back a forfeit life. Twenty years past, when, as a deserter, you were sentenced, by the regiment under my command, to death, your fate was inevitable, had not I vouchsafed a pardon. Traitor! you, too, had best remember a solemn oath at that same period passed your lips, which bound you, soul and body, to my service ever—unscrupling to perform my pleasures, whether good or ill, and still to hold my secrets fast from earthly ears, though unabsolving priests renounced you on the death-bed.

Ber. (shuddering) Ay! ay! it was an oath of horror, and if you command, it must be kept. Well, then—the young, the brave, the good, kindhearted Florian—yes—he dies!

Long. Then only may your master be esteemed to live.

Ber. But whence this hatred to an unoffending youth?—one, whose form delights all eyes, and whose virtues are the theme of every tongue?

Long. Fool! that person and those virtues of which you vaunt, are with me his worst offences—they have undone my love and marred my fortunes—the easy heart of Geraldine is captivated by the stripling’s specious outside, while his talents and achievements secure him with the uncle undivided favour.

Bert. Can nothing but his blood appease your enmity?

Long. Nothing—for now my worst suspicions stand confirmed. I have declared to De Valmont my passion for his niece, and the sullen visionary has denied my suit—nay, insolently told me “Geraldine’s affections are another’s right.”—Curses on that minion’s head!—’tis for Florian De Valmont’s heiress is reserved—and shall I suffer this vile foundling, this child of charity, to lord it over those estates, for which my impatient soul 3 has paid a dreadful earnest! No, by heavens! never!

Bert. Fatal avarice! already have we bartered for those curst estates our everlasting peace!—for those did midnight flames surprise the sleep of innocence—for those did the sacrificed Eugenia with her shrieking babe—

Long. Wretch! dare not repeat those names! Now, mark me: this night Florian returns a triumpher from his campaign—two of my trusty blood-hounds watch the road to give me timely note of his approach. One only follower attends the youth. In the thick woods ’twixt the chateau and Huningen, an ambush safely laid, may end my rival and my fears forever. In the west avenue, at sunset, I command your presence. Mark me! I command you by your oath. Exit.

Bert. Miserable man! I am indeed a slave, soul and body—both are in the thrall! I know the fiend I serve. If I attempt to fly, his vengeful agency pursues me to the world’s limit. No—my doom is fixed—I must remain the very wretch I am for life—and after life—Oh! let me not think of that!

Enter Rosabelle behind, who taps his shoulder.

Ros. Talking to yourself, Mr. Bertrand? that’s not polite in a lady’s company.

Bert. (starting) Ah! Rosabelle—good lass!—how art, Rosabelle?

Ros. Why, Mr. Bertrand, how pale you look, and your limbs quite tremble—I fear me you are ill.

Bert. Oh, no—I am well—quite well—never better.

Ros. Then you are out of spirits.

Bert. You mistake—I am all happiness—ha! ha!—all joy!

Ros. What! because the wars are over, and chevalier Florian returns to us?—’tis a blest hearing, truly—after all the hardships and dangers he has passed to see him once again in safety—

Bert. (involuntarily) Ah! would to heaven we might!

Ros. Can there be any doubt? He reaches the chateau this night—will he not be in safety then?

Bert. Yes, yes, with this night every danger certainly will cease.

Ros. Bertrand! why do you rub your hand before your eyes?—surely you are weeping.

Bert. No, ’tis a momentary pain that—but ’twill leave me soon. At night, Rosabelle, you shall see me jovial—joyous!—we’ll dance together, wench—ay, and sing—then—ha! ha! ha!—then who so mirthful, who so mad, as Bertrand. Exit.

Ros. What new spleen has bewitched the man? he is ever in some sullen mood, with scowling 4 brows, or else in a cross-arm’d fit of melancholy; but I never marked such wildness in his looks and words before.

Geraldine speaks without.

Ger. Rosabelle.

Ros. Here, my lady, in the hall.

Enter Geraldine.

Ger. Girl! I have cause to chide you; my toilette must be changed—you have dressed me vilely—here! remove these knots—I hate their fashion.

Ros. Yet they are the same your ladyship commended yesterday.

Ger. Then ’tis the colour of my robe offends me—these ornaments are a false match to it—either all the mirrors in the house have warped since yesterday, or never did I look so ill before.

Ros. Now, in my poor judgment, you rarely have looked better.

Ger. Out! fool; you have no judgment.

Ros. Well, fool or not, there’s one upon the road who holds faith with me, or I’m a heretic. Your charms will shine bright enough, lady, to dazzle a soldier’s eye.

Ger. Ah! no, Rosabelle—you would deceive your mistress. Florian returns not as he left us; his travelled eyes have gazed on beauties of the polished court—and now he will despise the wild untutored Geraldine.

Ros. Will he? Let him beware he shows not his contempt before me. What! my own beautiful and high-born mistress; the greatest heiress in all Alsace; to be despised by a foundling, picked up in a forest, and reared upon her uncle’s charity?

Ger. Hush!—the mystery of my Florian’s birth is his misfortune, but cannot be his reproach. Our countrymen may dispute his title to command, but our enemies have confessed his power to conquer; and trust me, girl, the brave man’s laurel blooms with as fresh an honour in the poor peasant’s cap as when it circles princely brows; nay, Justice deems it of a nobler growth, for Flattery often twines the laurel round a coronet, but Truth alone bestows it on the unknown head.

Ros. I confess the Chevalier is a proper gallant for any woman. Ay, and so is the Chevalier’s man. I warrant me, that knave, L’Eclair, when he returns, will follow me about, wheedling and whining, to recollect certain promises. Well, well, let but the soldiers return with whole hearts from the war, and your ladyship and myself know how to reward fidelity. In sooth, the chateau has been but a doleful residence in their absence; the count never suffered his dwelling to be a merry one; but of late his strange humours have so increased, that the household might as well have lodged in purgatory.

Ger. Hold! I must not hear my uncle’s name pronounced with levity. An angel at his birth, mingled the divine spirit with less than human frailty; but fiends have since defaced the noble work with more than human trials. That fatal night, when the fierce Huguenots fired his castle, and buried both his wife and infant in the blazing ruin; that night of horrors has to his shocked and shrinking fancy still been ever present; there still it broods—settled, perpetual and alone! Ah! Rosabelle! the petulancies of misfortune claim our pity, not resentment. My dear uncle is a recluse, but not a misanthrope; he rejects the society of mankind, yet is he solicitous for their happiness; and while his own heart breaks in silence under a weight of undivided sorrows, does he not seek incessantly to alleviate the burthen of his complaining brethren?

Ros. I know the count has an excellent heart; but surely his temper has its flaws.

Ger. And shall we deem the sun that cheers 4 the season less gracious in its course, because a cloud at intervals may hide or chill its beams? (A bell rings). Hark! ’tis the bell of his chamber. Perhaps he will admit me now; for four days past I have applied at the door in vain. Ah me!—these constant growing maladies sometimes make me tremble for his life. Girl! if from the turret-top at distance you espy the hastening travellers, turn, swift as thought, and call me to partake your watch! Exit.

Ros. If they arrive before sun-set, I’m sure I shall know L’Eclair a mile off by the saucy toss of his head: before that rogue went on the campaign, he certainly extorted some awkward kind of promises from me. As a woman of honour, I’m afraid it must be kept; I don’t want a husband—oh! no, positively—to be sure, winter is coming on, my chamber faces the north, and when the nights are long, and dark, and cold, when the wind blusters, and the hail patters at the casement, then a solitary woman is apt to have strange fancies, and sometimes to wish that—well, well, my promise must be kept at all events.


Oh! come away! my soldier boy,

From war to peace incline thee;

Thy laurel, Time shall ne’er destroy.

But Love with roses twine thee.

Come, come away,

Love chides thy stay,

Oh! prithee come my soldier!

Let fife and drum preserve their place,

While softer sounds delight thee;

The fiddle shall our wedding grace,

But horns shall never fright thee.

Come, come away,

Love chides thy stay,

Oh! prithee come my soldier!


SCENE II.A saloon: a large window is open and discovers the gardens: the noise of song and dance is heard immediately below the window.

Sing farewell labour,

Blow pipe and beat tabor,

Fly care far away;

In light band advancing,

Let music and dancing

Proclaim holyday.

De Valmont opens the door of an inner chamber, and crosses the stage with a quick petulant step, to ring a bell in the saloon: no answer is immediately given, and he repeats the ring with increased fretfulness.

Enter Gaspard.

De Val. So! am I heard! old man! to what strange dwelling have I been borne while sleeping? and who is your new master?

Gas. Alack! your lordship is in your own fair castle, nor other master than yourself do I, or any of my fellows serve—a kind and noble master.

De Val. You tell me wonders; I thought the master in his house had borne command among his people, but here it seems, each groom is more absolute in his humours than the lord; how is’t? do I clothe and feed a pampered herd, but to increase my torments? when I would muse in privacy, must I be baited still, and stunned with crowds and clamours? knave! drive the rabble from my gate, and rid my ears of discord.

Gas. Well-a-day! who could have foreseen this anger? my good lord ’tis but your tenantry rejoicing: this morning, I distributed your lordship’s bounty among them to celebrate chevalier Florian’s return; and now the honest grateful 5 souls would fain thank their benefactor by the song that tells him they are happy.

De Val. Their thanks are hateful to me; ungenerous wretches! is it not enough that they are happy whilst I am miserable, but they must mock my anguish by a saucy pageant of their joys, and force my shrinking senses more keenly to remark the contrast of our fates? (Tabors, &c. without.) Quick! quick! begone and drive them from my gate (stamps imperatively).

Gas. (frighted) I am gone, my lord!—I am gone.

De Val. Hold! another word—perhaps the unthinking creatures might design this torture kindly, and I would not punish the mistakes of ignorance. Do not dismiss them harshly—I would have them indulge their gayety, but I cannot bear to be a witness of it. Gaspard, this house is Melancholy’s chosen home; and its devoted master’s heart, like a night-bird that abhors the animating sun, has been so long familiarized to misery, it sickens and recoils at the approach of mirth.

Gas. (pressing his hand) My kind, unfortunate, my beloved master!

De Val. (snatching it from him) Pshaw! I loathe pity—(shouts)—hark! again! go, go, send them from the gate, but not harshly.

Exit Gaspard.

De Val. All hearts rejoicing; mine only miserable! every peasant yielding to delight, their lord alone devoted to despair; a subtle, slow despair that, drop by drop, congeals the blood of life, yet will not bid the creeping current quite forbear to flow; that has borne its victim just to the sepulchre ’s tempting edge, but holds him there to envy, not partake its slumbers. Well, well, your own appointed hour, just heavens!—if it be the infirmity of man to repine here, it is the Christian’s hope to rejoice hereafter.

Re-enter Gaspard.

Gas. I’ve sent them hence; they’ll not be heard again; but since they may not thank, they are gone to pray for you—Mass! I had nigh forgotten—young Madam Geraldine is in the anti-room, and waits to see your lordship.

De Val. Admit her! (Exit Gaspard) My gentle one! my desolate, orphan maid, if any softening drop were yet permitted in my cup of bitters, I think the affectionate hand of Geraldine would mingle and prepare it for my lip.

Enter Geraldine.

Ger. (Tenderly embracing him) Ah! my dear, dear uncle! how am I rejoiced by a permission to visit you again; for four long days you have secluded yourself, and indeed I have been so distressed—but I will not speak of past anxieties now; war restores its hero to our vows; Florian returns to us—are not you quite happy, uncle?

De Val. Happy? I? my good child—do not mock me.

Ger. Nay, could I intend—

De Val. Well! let it pass; you it seems, my Geraldine, are really happy; your lips confess much, but your eyes still betray more—niece, you love my adopted Florian.

Ger. Love! fy, uncle—Oh yes, yes, I do certainly love him like a brother.

De Val. Something better.—Suppose I should offer this Florian to you as a husband

Ger. (looking down demurely.) I never presume to dispute my dear uncle’s commands.

De Val. Little equivocator! answer me strictly: do you not wish to become his wife?

Ger. Indeed, I never yet have asked my heart that question.

De Val. But if Florian married any other woman, would you not hate the object of his preference?


Ger. (throwing herself upon his neck.) Ah! uncle, you have my secret: no, I would not hate my fortunate rival—I would pray for her happiness, but my heart would break while it breathed that prayer!

De Val. My excellent ingenuous child, indulge the virtuous emotions of your heart without disguise—Florian and Geraldine are destined for each other.

Ger. Generous benefactor! what delightful dazzling visions your words conjure up to my imagination; the universe will concentrate within the fairy circle of our hearth; a waking consciousness of bliss will ever freshly dress our day in flowers, and at nights, fancy will gild our pillow with the dream that merrily anticipates the future.

De Val. Enthusiast! you contemplate the ocean in a calm, nor dream how frightfully a tempest may reverse the picture.

Ger. Ambitious pride may tremble at the storm, but true love, uncle, never can be wrecked; its constancy is strengthened, not impaired by trials, and when adversity divorces us from common friendships, the chosen partners of each other’s hearts a second time are married, and with dearer rites.

De Val. (averting his face with a look of anguish) Girl!

Ger. (unnoticing his emotion) Then if they have children, how surpassing is the bliss, while their own gay prime is mellowly subsiding into age, to trace the features and the virtues they adored in youth, renewed before their eyes, and feel themselves the proud and grateful authors of each other’s joy—Ah! trust me, uncle! such a destiny is beyond the reach of fortune’s malice; ’tis the anti-type of heaven.

De Val. (Grasping her hand suddenly, convulsed with agitation.) ’Tis the distracting mockery of hell that cheats us with an hour’s ecstatic dream to torture us eternally: girl! girl! wouldst thou find happiness, die! seek it in the grave, only in the grave—a watchful fiend destroys it upon earth! Prat’st thou of love? Connubial and parental love? Ah! dear-lov’d objects of my soul! what are ye now—ashes, ashes, darkly scattering to the midnight winds. God! the flames yet blaze—here, here—my brain’s on fire! Rushes out.

Ger. Uncle! listen to your Geraldine!—Ah! ingrate that I am! the vulture that gnaws his generous heart, had slumbered for a moment, and I have waked it to renew its cruelty! my fault was unawares, yet I could chide it like a crime; my mounting spirits fall from their giddy height at once. Oh! uncle! noble, suffering uncle! would that my tears could wash away the recollection of my words. Weeps.

De Valmont suddenly returns and embraces Geraldine.

De Val. Geraldine! dear child, forgive me! my violence has terrified your gentle nature. I would not pain you, love, for worlds; but I am not always master of myself, and my passions will sometimes break forth rebellious to my reason; pity and forgive the infirmities of grief.

Ger. Ah! Sir. (Attempts to kneel.)

De Val. (Preventing her, and kissing her forehead.) Bless you, my good and innocent child; nay, do not speak to me, my happiness is lost forever, but I can pray for yours. Bless you, my child! bless you ever. Breaks from her, and exit.

Ger. My happiness! ah! if the exalted virtues of a soul like yours, my uncle, despair of the capricious boon, how shall the undeserving Geraldine presume to hope?

Enter Rosabelle.

Ros. Oh! my lady, such news, he’s arrived, he’s in the hall.


Ger. My Florian?

Ros. No, lady, not your Florian, but my L’Eclair, not quite so great a hero as his master to be sure, but yet a real, proper, mettlesome soldier every inch; he looks about him among the men so fierce and so warlike; then with the women, he’s so impudent, and so audacious;—oh! he’s a special fellow.

L’Eclair speaks without.

L’Ec. Here’s a set of rascals! no discipline? no subordination in the house! eh! look to the baggage, curry down my charger! hem! ha!

Enter L’Eclair.

Your ladyship’s devoted servant, ever in the foremost rank! never did a nine-pounder traverse the enemy’s line with more promptitude than I, Phillippe L’Eclair, unworthy private of the fifth hussars, now fly to cast my poor person at your ladyship’s gracious feet.

Ger. You are very welcome from the wars, L’Eclair, Fame has spoken of you in your absence.

L’Ec. Fy! my lady, you disorder me at the first charge,—a pestilence now upon that wicked, impertinent gossip, Fame,—will not her everlasting tongue suffer even so poor a fellow as L’Eclair, to escape? ’tis insufferable; may I presume to inquire then, what rumours have reached your ladyship’s ear?

Ger. To a soldier’s credit, trust me.—But your master, L’Eclair, where is he?

L’Ec. Ah! poor gentleman, he’s in the rearguard, I left him four leagues off, at the fortress of Huningen, unexpectedly confined by——

Ger. Confined! heavens! by what complaint?

L’Ec. Only the complaint of old age; the general commissioned my master upon his route to deliver some instructions to the superannuated commandant of the fortress; now the old gentleman proving somewhat dull of apprehension, my master though dying of impatience, was constrained to a delay of some extra hours, despatching me, his humble ambassador, forward, to prevent alarms, and promise his arrival at the chateau before midnight.

Ger. Midnight! so late?—four leagues to travel—alone—his road through an intricate forest, and the sky already seeming to predict a tempest.

L’Ec. Why, as your ladyship remarks, the clouds seem making a sort of forced march over our heads; but a storm is the mere trifling of nature in a soldier’s estimation; my master and his humble servant have faced a cannon-ball too frequently, to be disconcerted by a hail-stone.

Ger. Then you have often been employed upon dangerous service, L’Eclair?

L’Ec. Hay, I protest, your ladyship must excuse me there; a man has so much the appearance of boasting, when he becomes the reporter of his own achievements; I beg leave to refer your ladyship to the gazettes, though I confess the gazettes do but afford a soup-maigre, whip-syllabub sort of narrative, accurate enough, perhaps in the main, but plaguily incommunicative of particulars: for instance, in the recent affair at Nordlingen, I can defy you to find any mention in the gazette, that the chevalier Florian charged through a whole regiment of the enemy’s grenadiers, drawn up in a hollow square, that Phillipe L’Eclair, singly followed the chevalier, and rode over all those his master had not time to decapitate, how a masked battery suddenly opened with twelve pieces of heavy ordnance, firing red-hot balls; how the chevalier’s horse reared; how L’Eclair’s neighed; but how both officer and private, neither a whit discouraged at this dilemma, galloped their chargers gracefully up to the flaming mouth of the danger; cleared a chevaux de frise of fifteen feet 6 at a flying leap; then dismounting; carried the battery by a coup de main; spiked the guns; muzzled the gunners with their own linstocks; and, finally compelled the principal engineer to turn cook, and grill a calf’s head at his own furnace, for the dinner of his conquerors! Now this affair which had no small influence in determining the fortune of the day, with many parallel traits, our gazetteers have unaccountably neglected to publish. My memory, perhaps, might remedy their deficiencies to any curious ear, but alas! an insurmountable modesty renders the task so painful, that I cast myself upon your ladyship’s compassion, and beseech you to forbear from further inquiry.

Ger. Ha! ha! your sensitive delicacy shall be respected L’Eclair; Rosabelle, be it your care to make the defender of his country welcome—at midnight then.—Oh! hasten on your flight, dark-wing’d hours! through your close shadows once disclose my Florian, then if ye list, be motionless, and still retard the day. Exit.

L’Ec. There, you hear young woman!—you are to make the defender of his country welcome.

Ros. I’ll do my best towards your pleasure,—what service can I lend you first.

L’Ec. Dress my wounds.

Ros. Wounds! gramercy! I never should have guessed you had any.

L’Ec. Deep, dangerous, desperate,—here! (affectedly pressing his heart) here, Rosabelle! here’s the malady; ’tis an old hurt, I took it ’ere I went on my campaign; time and absence had clapped an awkward sort of plaster on’t; but now—oh! those eyes!—the wound breaks out afresh;—must I expire?—Rosabelle! prithee, be my surgeon.

Ros. I have not the skill to prescribe, but I could administer a remedy by directions; what salve will you try first.

L’Ec. Lip-salve, you gipsy! (Kisses her furiously.)

Ros. Now, shame upon your manners, master soldier, was this a trick taught you by the wars?

L’Ec. Yes, faith! saluting is one of the first lessons in a soldier’s trade, so my dear, tempting, provoking. (Catches her round.)

Ros. Hay, keep your hands off, you have taught me enough of the manual exercise already; but say now, were you indeed so great a hero in the battle as you told my lady?

L’Ec. Pshaw! I didn’t tell her half, my modesty forbade, but for thee, my pretty Rosabelle—

Ros. Ay, with me, I’m certain your modesty will be no obstacle.

L’Ec. None, for while I gaze upon the face of an angel, the devil himself can’t put me out of countenance.

DUETTO.—Rosabelle and L’Eclair.

Ros. Tell, soldier, tell! and mark you tell me truly,

How oft in battle have you slain a foe?

L’Ec. Go, count the leaves when winds are heard unruly,

In autumn that from mighty forests blow.

Ros. Did e’er a captain, worth a costly ransom,

Own you his conqueror in the deadly broil?

L’Ec. I’ve twigg’d field-marshals, pickings snug and handsome,

Twelve waggons now are loaded with my spoil.

Both. Oh! loudly, proudly, sound the soldier’s fame!

Oh! flashy, dashy, flaunt the soldier’s dame!

Ros. Tell, soldier, tell! and mark, you tell me truly,


Did foreign maids ne’er win your roving vow?

L’Ec. O! blood and fire!—I swear I can’t speak coolly,

By Mars! to you, and only you, I bow.

Ros. Say, shall love’s chain of blossoms hold for ever?

Nor time, nor absence, bid its bloom depart?

L’Ec. Not sword, or gun, such magic links can sever,

Or rend from Rosabelle her hero’s heart.

Both. O! loudly, proudly, &c.

SCENE III.A front wood, stage very dark, thunder and lightning.

Enter Longueville and Bertrand, the latter disguised and masqued.

Long. Come, sir, to your post! what! a coward even to the last? you tremble.

Bert. I do indeed, the storm is terrible, it seems as if heaven’s own voice were clamoring to forbid the deed.


Long. This tumult of the night assists our enterprise; its thunders will drown your victim’s dying groan. Where have you placed the bravoes?

Bert. Hard by—just where the horse-road sinks into a hollow dell, and over-spreading branches almost choke the pass, there we may rush upon the wretched youth securely, and there our poniards—

Long. Hush!—a footstep!—who passes there?

Enter 1st Bravo.

1st. Br. Sanguine!

Long. Wherefore are you here, and parted from your fellow?

1st. Br. I left him lurking in the hollow, while I sought you out to ask advice. Just now, a horse without a rider, burst furiously through the thicket where we lay; the lightning flashed brightly at the time, and I plainly marked the steed to be the very same young Florian rode, when we dogged him from the last inn, at sunset.

Bert. (involuntarily) merciful God! then thou hast preserved him.

Long. Villain! you may find your transports premature; perchance he has dismounted to seek on foot some shelter from the increasing fury of the storm; but ’tis impossible he should escape; one only path conducts to the chateau. Quick! bestow yourselves on either side, and your victim’s fate is certain. I must return to avoid suspicion.

Bert. (catching his arm.) Yet, my lord, once more reflect.

Long. (throwing him off.) Recollect your oath.

Bert. (desperately.) Yes, yes, it must be written on my memory in characters of blood.

Exeunt separately.

SCENE IV.Another part of the forest more entangled and intricate, the tempest becomes violent, and the stage appears alternately illumined by the lightning, and enveloped in utter darkness. Florian is seen advancing cautiously through the thickets from a distance.

Flor. A plague upon all dark nights, foul ways, and runaway horses! a mettlesome madcap, to start at the lightning and plunge with me head over heels in the brushwood; in scrambling out of that thicket, I certainly turned wrong, and have missed my road—how to regain it? ’sdeath! I could as soon compose an almanac as and a clue to this puzzle. Well, I was found in a wood when a baby, and have just lived to years 7 of discretion to be lost in a wood again! Fortune! Fortune! thou spiteful gipsy! was this an honest trick to pass upon a faithful servant, who has worn thy livery from his cradle, and taken off thy hands a thousand knocks and buffetings without a murmur? Just at this moment too, when hope and fancy were dancing merrily, and had made the prettiest ball-room of my heart—just too when the image of my Geraldine—(rain, storm increases) but a truce with meditation, this pelting shower rather advises action—(turns to an opening)—No; that can’t be the path; which ever way I turn I may only get farther entangled; then there are pit-falls, wolves, bears—yes! I’ve the prospect of a delectable night before me; what if I exercise my lungs and call for help? oh! there’s scarcely a chance of being heard; well, ’tis my forlorn hope and shall e’en have a trial. Holloa! Holloa! Holloa! a whistle answers from the right Huzza! somebody whistles from the right! kind lady Fortune! never will I call thee names again. another whistle from the opposite side. Ha! answered from the left too!—Lucky fellow!—where are you my dear boys—where are you?

Florian runs toward the right—a very vivid flash of lightning at that instant gleams upon the path before him, and displays the figure of a masqued bravo, Sanguine, with an unsheathed poniard advancing between the trees, Florian recoils.

Flor. Ha! a man armed and masqued!—perhaps some ruffian!—’sdeath! I am defenceless, my pistols were left in the saddle!

Sanguine. (advancing) Who called?

Flor. If I return no answer in the darkness I may retreat unseen.

He creeps silently to the left as the bravo advances.

San. Speak! where are you?

2d bravo emerges from the gloom and directly crosses the path by which Florian is about to escape.

Len. Here!


Florian at the second voice discovers himself to be exactly between the ruffians, and stops.

Flor. God!

He recedes a single step, and strikes his hand against a tree immediately behind him, the trunk of which is hollowed by time, and open towards the audience.

Ha! a tree!

By his touch he discovers the aperture, and glides into the hollow, at the very instant the two bravoes stepping forward quickly from either side of the tree, encounter each other’s extended hands in front.

San. (raising his poniard) Die!

Len. Hold! ’tis I—your comrade!

San. Why did you not answer before, I took you for—hark?

Bertrand comes through the trees from the top of the stage.

Bert. Hist! Sanguine?—Lenoire?

San. Here!—both of us.

Bert. (coming forward) Why did you whistle?

San. In answer to your call—you hallooed to us.

Bert. When?

San. But now—a minute back.

Bert. I never spoke.

San. I’ll swear I heard a voice—no doubt then but ’twas he that—

Bert. From what quarter did the cry proceed?

San. I thought it sounded hereabouts, but the storm kept such a confounded patter at the time—

Bert. Well—let us take the left-hand path; and if we hear the call repeated—

San. Ay!—our daggers meet all questions with a keen reply.

Exeunt to the left.


Flor. (extricating himself cautiously from the tree.) Eternal Providence, what have I heard! Murderers then are upon the watch for me! no, no—not for me. I cannot be the destined victim. I never yet offended a human being, and fiends themselves would not destroy without a cause for hatred. Heaven guard the threatened one, whoe’er he be! Well, Prudence at least admonishes me to avoid the left-hand path; faith any turn but that must prove the right for me. Ha! unless my eyes are cheated by a Will-o’-th’-Wisp, a friendly light now peeps out through yonder coppice. (looking out) Perhaps some woodman’s hut, with a fresh faggot just crackling on the hearth. Oh, for a seat in such a chimney corner. (Whistle again at a distance) I hear you, gentlemen, a pleasant ramble to you. Adieu, Messieurs! space be between us! yours is a left-handed destiny; I’ll seek mine to the right. Exit.

SCENE V.The outside of a cottage in the wood; a light burning in a casement.

Enter Monica, supporting herself on a crutch, and carrying a basket of flax.

Mon. Praise to the virgin! my old limbs have reached their resting place at last: what a tempest! my new cardinal is quite drenched. Well, I’ve kept the flax dry, however, that’s some comfort, (strikes against the door.) Ho, there, within—open quickly.

The door opens, and a female wildly dressed, appears; she catches Monica’s hand with affection, and kisses it.

Mon. Ah, my poor Silence! thou hast watched and fretted for me preciously, I’ll warrant: but the road from Brisac is long, and this rough night half crippled me.

The female feels her damp garments, and seems with quick tenderness to invite her into the house.

Well, well, never fright thyself, if I shiver now, a cup of warm Rhenish will soon make me glow again: ’faith I am weary though; wilt lend an arm to an old woman?

The female embraces and supports her.

Ah, there’s my kind Silence.

Exeunt into the cottage.

Enter Florian running and out of breath, from the left hand.

Flor. I’m right, by all the household gods! ’Twas no goblin of the fen that twinkled to deceive, but a real substantial weatherproof tenement shining with invitation to benighted travellers. Oh, blessings on its hospitable threshold; my heart luxuriates already by anticipation, and pants for a fireside, a supper, and a bed. Hold though—just now I was on the point of shaking hands with a cutthroat; who knows but here I may introduce myself upon visiting terms with his family? ’faith I’ll reconnoitre the position before I establish my quarters. This casement is commodiously low. (Steps to the casement on tiptoe.) I protest, a vastly neat, creditable sort of mansion! Yes—it will do! on one side blazes an excellent fire; in the middle stands a table ready covered; that’s for supper: then just opposite is a door left ajar; ay, that must lead to a bed. Ha! now the door opens; who comes forward? by all my hopes a woman! Enough; here will I pitch my tent. Whenever doubts and fears perplex a man, the form of woman strikes upon his troubled spirit like the rainbow stealing out of clouds—the type of beauty and the sign of hope! (he knocks) Now Venus send her with a kindly smile!—she comes—she comes.

The female opens the door, but on seeing Florian recoils with trepidation—he catches her hand, and forcibly detains her.

Flor. My dear madam! no alarm, for Heaven’s sake. You have thieves in your neighbourhood, 8 but, upon my soul, I don’t belong to their fraternity. No, madam, I’m an unlucky fellow, but with the best morals in the world: the fact is, I have lost myself in the forest; the storm rages—and as I am no knight-errant to court unnecessary hardships, respectfully I entreat the hospitality of this roof for the remainder of the night.

The female surveys his figure with suspicion and timidity.

Flor. I fear ’tis my misfortune to be disbelieved; nay then, let my dress declare my character! (he releases her hand to throw open his riding-cloak, and discovers the regimental under it.) Behold! I am a soldier.

The female shrieks violently; for an instant she covers her eyes with both hands shudderingly, and then with the look and action of sudden insanity, darts away into the thicket of the wood.

Flor. (calling after her.) Madam! my dear madam! only hear me, madam! she’s gone! absolutely vanished! I wish I had a looking-glass; certainly I must have changed my face when I lost my road—no scare-crow could have terrified the poor woman more. What’s to be done? If I follow her, I shall but increase her terrors and my own difficulties. Shall I enter the cottage and wait her return? the door stands most invitingly open, and to a wet and weary wanderer, that fire sparkles so provokingly—’faith, I can’t resist the temptation—Adventure seems the goddess of the night, and I’ll e’en worship the divinity at a blazing shrine! Exit into the house.

SCENE VI.The interior of the cottage—the entrance, door, and casements are on one side—opposite is the fireplace—and a staircase in the back scene conducts to an upper chamber—a table with a lamp burning, and a frugal supper stands in the middle of the stage.—Florian is discovered when the scene draws, kneeling at the hearth and chaffing his hands before the fire.

Flor. Eternal praise to the architect who first invented chimney-corners? the man who built the pyramids was a dunce by comparison. rises and looks round him. All solitary and silent: faith, my situation here is somewhat whimsical. Well, I am left in undisturbed possession, and that’s a title in law, if not in equity. he takes off his cloak and hangs it on a chair Yes, this shall be my barrack for the night. What an unsocial spirit must the fair mistress of this cottage possess. Egad, she seemed to think it necessary, like the man and woman in the weather-house, that one sex should turn forth into the storm, so soon as the other sought a shelter from its peltings: a plague on such punctilio.

Monica enters down the staircase from her chamber.

Mon. speaking as she descends. There, my garments are changed, and we may now enjoy our supper.

Flor. Ha! another woman! but old, by the mother of the Graces!

Mon. A stranger!

Flor. Not an impertinent one, I trust. One, who in the darkness of the storm has missed his road, despairs of regaining it till morning, and craves of your benevolence a shelter for the night. You shall be soon convinced I am no dangerous guest.

Mon. with a voluble civility. Nay, young gentleman, never trouble yourself to inform me of your rank; you have told me your necessity, and that’s a sufficient claim to every comfort my little cabin can afford; pray, sir, take a seat: I am much honoured by your presence: we have a little supper toward; you must partake it, sir: here! my good Silence! come hither. Ah! I do not see— looking anxiously round the cottage.

Flor. I am afraid, my good madam, you miss 9 one of your family.

Mon. I do, indeed, sir; and—

Flo. It was my misfortune to drive a female out of your house at the moment I entered it.

Mon. Sir!

Flor. But not intentionally, I protest. The fact is, though I have always esteemed myself as a well-manufactured person, yet something in my appearance so terrified the lady that—

Mon. Ah, I comprehend; you wear the habit of a soldier, sir, and my poor Silence never can abide to look upon that dress.

Flor. Indeed! that’s rather a singular antipathy for a female. May I inquire—is she a daughter of yours?

Mon. Not by blood, sir; but she is the child of misfortune, and as such may claim a parent in every heart that has itself experienced sorrow; but come, sir, take a seat, I beseech you; my alarm ceases now I know the cause of her absence. She is accustomed to wander in the woods by night when any thing disturbs her mind. She’ll return to me anon calm and passive as before: I have known it with her often thus. You look fatigued, sir; let me recommend this flask of Rhenish: pray drink, sir; it will do you good; it always does me good.

Flor. Madam, since you are so pressing, my best services to you—a very companionable sort of old gentlewoman this (aside); I protest, madam, I feel myself interested for this unfortunate under your protection; there was a wild and melancholy sweetness in her eye that touched me at our first exchange of looks with awe and pity; is her history a secret?

Mon. Oh, no—not a secret, but quite a mystery, you know nearly as much of it as I do; but since we are on the subject—another draught of wine, sir!

Flor. Madam, you will pledge me. And now for the mystery.

Mon. Well, sir, about sixteen years ago when I lived in Languedoc, for you must know I am but newly settled here, a stranger in Alsace, ay! about sixteen or seventeen years ago, there came a rumour to our village, of a wild woman, that had been caught by some peasants in the woods near Albi, following quite a savage and unchristian life; gathering fruits and berries for her food by day, and sleeping in the mossy hollows of a rock at night. She was brought round the country as a show. All the world in our parts went to look upon the prodigy, and you may be sure I made one among the crowd. Well, sir, this wild woman was the very creature you beheld but now. At that time she was in truth a piteous object; her form was meagre and wasted, and her wretched garment hung over it in filthy tatters; her fine hair fell in matted heaps, and the sun and the wind together had changed her skin like an Indian’s. Yet even in the midst of all this misery, there was a something so noble and so gentle in her air, that the moment I looked upon her, my curiosity was lost at once in pity and respect. The people by whom she was surrounded, were stunning her with coarse and vulgar questions, but never an answer did she deign to give, though some wheedled and some threatened; still ’twas to all alike: so most persons concluded she was dumb.

Flor. And a very natural conclusion it was, when a female remained silent, who had so excellent an opportunity of exercising her tongue.

Mon. Well, Sir, presently my turn came to approach her, when somehow my heart swelled quite painfully, to see the gracious image of our Maker degraded, and one’s own fellow creature treated like the brutes of the field, so, that when I touched her, my tears started unawares and fell upon her trembling hand. Would you believe it, sir? the poor desolate statue felt the trickling drops, and reason was rekindled by the warmth of pity. Suddenly her eyes, so lately dull and vacant, flashed with recovered brightness. She cast herself at my feet—clasped my knees—and cried out, in tones that might have moved a heart of rock—“Angel of compassion! save me from disgrace?” All present started as if a miracle were worked. “Will you preserve me?” cried the suppliant. I was a widowed and a childless woman; in an instant I raised the forlorn one to my arms, as a companion, as an adopted daughter. Her keepers were ignorant men, but not cruel; their hearts were softened by the scene, and they yielded their claims to my entreaties. I led the unfortune to my dwelling; from that moment, she has shared my mat and partaken of my morsel. I love her with the affection of a real parent, and were I now to lose her, I think my heart would break upon the grave that robbed it of its darling.

Flor. By heavens, I reverence your feelings! in truth ’tis a melancholy story.

Mon. Yes, sir; and melancholy stories make people dry, so let me recommend another cup of wine.

Flor. Madam, I can’t refuse the challenge—(aside) the old lady certainly designs to send me under the table. But pray, madam, have you never discovered the cause of that distress, from which you first relieved this suffering woman?

Mon. Never. On the subject of her early adventures she remains inflexibly silent. I have often tried to win the secret from her, but though she is mild and rational enough upon all other themes, yet, let but a hint remind her of her former wretchedness, her wits directly start into disorder, and for whole hours, nay, sometimes days together, she remains a lunatic. I do not even know her name, but call her Silence, because her voice is heard so very rarely. I think her dejection has increased since we quitted Languedoc, for about two months since, a kinsman of mine died, and bequeathed me this cottage with some land here in Alsace; ’tis a lone house, and the thick woods about I fear remind my poor Silence too much of her former way of life, sometimes she wanders in them half the night.

Flo. Are you not fearful of her safety? these woods are full of danger; within this half hour, I myself have encountered three ruffians lurking for their prey.

Mon. Ruffians! young gentleman. Blessed Mary save us!—’tis true, I am a stranger in these parts, but never did I hear of such neighbours. Well, well, I fear not for my child, she has no wealth to tempt a plunderer. Poverty is the mother of ills, but her offspring generally respect each other. Come, sir, finish the flask; and now let me prepare your chamber for the night. (rises.)

Flor. Kind hostess! I am bounden to you ever. (rises and fills his glass) Here’s woman! beauteous, generous woman! admired when we are happy, but in our adversity adored! (drinks.)

Mon. (curtseying) Sweet sir, down to the very ground I return your gallantry.

Flor. Hist!—don’t I hear footsteps in the wood?

Mon. (listening) Ah, yes, perhaps my child returns to us.

The casement is thrust open, and Bertrand with the two bravoes look into the cottage.

Mon. Ah! men in masks!

Bert.’Tis he! (they disappear from the casement.)

Flor. Swift! help me swift to bar the door!

Mon. Ah! ’tis forced already! (noise at door.)

The door is burst, the two bravoes instantly spring upon Florian and grapple with him. Bertrand seizes the woman.

Mon. Murder! murder!


Bert. Silence, or you die!

Florian struggles towards the centre of the stage in front, and is there forced down upon one knee.

Flo. Is it plunder that you seek? what is your purpose with me? speak!

San. Learn it by this! (raises his dagger.)

Bert. Hold! not here, drag him into the wood, despatch him there!

Flo. Inhuman villains! by your soul’s best hope—I charge you—I implore you—

Bert. (stamping furiously, and casting Monica from him) Toward the wood!—Follow me!

Bertrand turns to the door, and the bravoes struggle to force Florian after him, at that instant, the unknown female enters from the wood, and pauses in the door-way exactly opposite to Bertrand, his advanced arm falls back nerveless by his side, his limbs shake with strong convulsion, and he reels backwards.

Bert. Support me, ah! save me, or I die!

The bravoes release Florian to fly towards Bertrand, who sinks in their arms. The female, with a light and rapid step crosses in front of the group to the middle of the stage where Florian remains kneeling, she spreads her wild drapery before the victim, and places herself between him and the ruffians in the attitude of protection.

Bert. (pursuing her with his eye deliriously) Look! look! she rises from the grave! she blasts me with her frown! away! away! heaven itself forbids the deed!

The ruffians rush forth into the wood again. Florian and Monica catch the hands of the unknown to their lips in transport, and the curtain falls suddenly upon the scene.

End of act I.


SCENE I.A gallery in the chateau.

Enter Longueville and Bertrand.

Long. Traitor! infamous, unblushing traitor! Florian has arrived, arrived in safety: every way I have been betrayed; and now to screen your perfidy from punishment, you dare insult my ear with forgeries too monstrous and too gross for patience.

Bert. Hear me, my lord! as I have life, as I have a soul, so have I spoken truly, the grave yawned asunder to forbid the blow, it was no vision of my cowardice—I saw—distinctly saw-it was Eugenia! as in her days of nature, entire and undecayed, the spectre-form stood terribly before me, it moved—it gazed—it frowned me into madness!

Long. Villain! still would you deceive me!

Bert. Ah, my lord, you would deceive yourself. I swear it was Eugenia, her shadowy arms were stretched between the lifted dagger and the prostrate youth; while her swift dark eye flashed on mine with brightness insupportable: such was her dreadful look, when, with her bleeding infant clinging to her breast, she sprang into the flames, and—

Long. Hush! the doors of an inner chamber open, and De Valmont appears conversing with Florian and Geraldine. We are interrupted; quick! change those ruffled features into smiles, quick! mark me, wretch!

De Val. (coming forward) My boy, your preservation was indeed a miracle. Ascribe not to the vague results of chance, that which belongs to Providence alone. Ah, here is my kinsman—one, whose anxious fears on your account, have held him a sleepless watcher through the night.

Long. (with affected fervency) Florian! a thousand welcomes: the return of friends at all times is a joy, but when they come through dangers to our arms, there’s transport in the meeting. Tell me—what strange tale is this I catch imperfectly from every lip? can it be possible you were assailed last night by ruffians in the wood?

Flor. Yes, my dear baron, yes! but morning has chased away night, and I am out of the wood now; therefore let us banish gloomy retrospections, and yield the present hour to bliss without alloy.

De Val. Not so: in this your friends must claim an interest dearer than your own: these men of blood shall be pursued to justice, if Alsace yet hold them.

Long. Be that my task. (to Flor.) Should you recognize their persons?

Flo. Positively no—their disguises were impenetrable.

Ger. But their voices, Florian, you heard them speak?

Flo. True, sweet Geraldine, a few broken sentences; but their accents were not framed like thine, to touch the ear but once, yet vibrate on the memory forever.

Long. Indulge my curiosity, how were you preserved?

Flo. Well, baron, since you will force me to act the hero in my own drama, thus runs my story: I was defenceless, helpless, hopeless: two sturdy knaves had mastered my struggling arms, and the dagger of a third gleamed against my throat, when suddenly a female form appeared before us; in an instant, as if by magic, the murderers relaxed their hold, shuddered, recoiled, uttered cries, and fled the spot, the female mute and motionless remained.

Bert. (aside to Longueville.) You mark.

Long. (repulsing him.) Silence!

Flo. Cowardice is ever found the mate of Cruelty: this stranger was doubtless regarded by the villains as a preternatural agent, she proved however, a mere mortal, frail and palpable as ourselves.

Bert. (listening with tremulous attention.) God! living!

Long. (not regarding Bertrand, who has drawn behind.) Whence came this woman? What was she?

Flo. Alas! the most pitiable object in nature—an unhappy maniac; she resides at the same cottage where I found shelter from the storm.

Bert. (as if electrified by a sudden thought.) Direct me, heaven!

He glides silently out of the gallery unobserved by all.

Long. Were not any other circumstances linked with this adventure?

Flo. None of consequence: but I suspect one of the ruffians was known to this wretched woman; her incoherent words implied that she recognized in him an ancient enemy; but her frail remains of intellect, were, for a time, quite unsettled by the terror of the scene; she fled from me to her chamber in dismay, and at daybreak I left the cottage without a second interview.

Long. Florian! it is necessary this woman should be interrogated further—(with much emotion) not a moment must be lost—dear count, excuse me for an hour, my anxiety admits not of delay. I will myself visit this cottage instantly. Exit.

Ger. (half aside to De Valmont) Uncle, if the baron tarries beyond the hour, we must not wait for his return, recollect it is to be at noon exactly.

Flo. (overhearing.) And what at noon, dear Geraldine?


De Val. (smiling) Florian, you are destined to be our hero in peace as well as war—my niece has planned a little fête in compliment to the conquerors of Nordlingen.

Ger. Fy, uncle, Florian was not to have known of it till the moment, you have betrayed my secret, now as a due punishment for the treason, I impose upon you to appear at our fête in person.

De Val. What a demand!—I, who never—

Ger. Nay, if it be only for a minute, positively you must come among us—nay, I will not be denied.

De Val. Well, you reign a fairy sovereign for the day, and if it be your will to play the despot, your subjects, though they murmur, must obey.

Ger. (embracing him) There’s my kindest uncle! thanks! Florian I warn you not to stir towards the terrace till I summon you, beware of disobedience, I have the power to punish.

Flor. And to reward also.

Ger. Ah! at least I have the inclination, it will be your own fault if ever my actions and my wishes dissociate, or Geraldine refuse a boon when Florian is the suitor. Exit.

Flor. (looking after her) Geraldine! too kind, too lovely Geraldine, ah! sir, is she not admirable?

De Val. She has been accounted so by many in your absence. I cannot estimate her beauty, but I know her virtue; and the last fond wish left clinging to this heart is Geraldine’s felicity. I shall endeavour to secure it, by uniting her in marriage with a worthy object.

Flor. Sir!—marriage did you say? Gracious heaven! Marriage!

De Val. What is it that surprizes you? I can assure you, Geraldine already has been addressed by lovers.

Flor. To doubt it were a blasphemy against perfection. Oh! Sir, it is not that—oh! no.

De Val. Wherefore, my dear Florian, so much emotion? Does the idea of Geraldine’s marriage afflict you?

Flor. I am not such an ingrate—her happiness is the prayer of my soul to heaven, and I would perish to insure it.

De Val. (after a pause, during which he regards the agitated Florian with tender earnestness.) Young man, I have long since determined to address you with a brief recital of circumstances necessary to your future decisions in life. Every word of that recital must draw with it a life-drop from my heart, for I shall speak to you of the past, and recollection to me is agony. The trial we once have considered as inevitable, it is fruitless to defer. Draw yourself a seat, and afford me for a few minutes your fixt attention.

Florian presents a chair to the Count, and then seats himself.

De Val. Florian, you now behold me, such as I have seemed, even from your infancy—a suffering, querulous, cheerless, hopeless, broken-hearted man—one who has buried all the energies of his nature, and only preserves a few of its charities tremblingly alive. It was not with me always thus—I once possessed a mind and a body vigorously moulded, a heart for enterprize, and an arm for achievement. Grief, not time, has palsied those endowments. Born to exalted rank, and luxuriously bread, like the new-fledged eaglet rushing from his nest at once against the sun, eager, elate, and confident, I entered upon life.

Flor. Ah! that malignant clouds should obscure so bright a dawn!

De Val. My spirit panted for a career of arms—civil war then desolated France, and, at the age of twenty, I embraced the cause of my religion and my king. Fortune, prodigal of her flatteries, twined my brow with clustering laurels, and at the close of my first campaign, my sovereign’s favor and the people’s love already hailed me by a hero’s title. Fatigued with glory—then—ah! Florian! then it was I welcom’d love!—a first, a last, an only and eternal passion! (Pauses with emotion.)

Flor. Nay, sir, desist—these recollections shake your mind too strongly.

De Val. No, no—let me proceed. I can command myself—Florian! I wooed and won an angel for my bride—my expression is not a lover’s rhapsody—at this distant period, seriously I pronounce it—Eugenia approached as closely to perfection as the Creator has permitted to his creature! Such as she was, to say I loved her were imperfect phrase! my passion was enthusiasm—was idolatry! Our marriage-bed was early blessed with increase—and as my lip greeted with a father’s kiss the infant, my heart bounded with a new transport towards its mother.—My felicity seemed perfect! Now, Florian, mark! My country a second time called me to her battles; I left my kinsman, Longueville, to guard the dear-ones of my soul at home, then sped to join our army in a distant province. I was wounded and made prisoner by the enemy. When I recovered health and liberty, I found a rumour of my death had in the interval prevailed through France. I trembled lest Eugenia should receive the tale, and flew in person to prevent her terrors. It was evening when I reached the hills of Languedoc, and looked impatiently towards my cheerful home beneath. I looked—the last sunbeam glared redly upon smoking ruins! Oh! oh! the blood now chills and curdles round my heart—the wolves of war had rushed by night upon my slumbering fold—fire and sword had desolated all. I called upon my wife and my infant. I trembled on their ashes while I called! (he sinks back exhausted in his chair.)

Flo. Tremendous hour! so dire a shock might well have paralized a Roman firmness.

De Val. (resuming faintly.) Florian, there is a grief that never found its image yet in words. I prayed for death—nay, madness! but heaven, for its own best purposes, denied me either boon. I was ordained still to live, and still be conscious of my misery. For many weeks I wandered through the country, silent, sullen, stupified! My people watched, but dared not comfort me. Abjuring social life, I plunged into the deepest solitudes, to shun all commerce with my kind. ’Twas at the close of a sultry day, the last of August, that I entered a forest at the foot of the Cevennes, and worn with long fatigue and misery, stretched myself upon the moss for momentary rest. On the sudden, a faint and feeble moan pierced my ear; instinctively I moved the branches at my side, and at the foot of a rude stone-cross beheld a desolate infant, unnaturally left to perish in the wilderness! It was famishing—expiring. I raised it to my breast, and its little arms twined feebly round my neck Florian! thou wert heaven’s gracious instrument to reclaim a truant to his duties! Welcome! I cried to thee, young brother in adversity!—“thou art deserted by thy mortal parents, and my heavenly father has forsaken me!” From that moment I felt I had a motive left to cherish life, since my existence could be useful to a fellow-being—my wanderings finished, and I settled in Alsace. Eighteen years have followed that event; but I shall not comment on their course.

Flor. (with energy.) Yet, sir, those years must not, shall not pass forgotten. Deeds of generous charity have made them sacred, and an orphan’s blessing wafts their eulogy to heaven—he casts himself at De Valmont’s feet). Friend! protector! more than parent! the beings who had called me into life denied my claim, and you performed 12 the duties nature had renounced. Ah! sir, I am thoughtless, volatile, my manners wild—but, from my inmost soul, I love, I reverence, I bless my benefactor!

De Val. Rise young man! your virtues have repaid my cares. Here let us dismiss the past, and advert to the future. Geraldine is my heiress; my niece and my vassals must receive the same master: both are objects of my care, and I would confide them only to a man of honor. Florian! let Geraldine become your wife—be you hereafter the protector of my people.

Flor. Merciful powers! what is it that I hear? I?—the child of accident and mystery: a wretched foundling: I?

De Val. Young man, your sentiments and your actions have proved themselves the legitimate offspring of honor, and I require no pedigree for limbs and features. Fortune forbade you to inherit a name, but she has granted you a prouder boast: you have founded one. Common men vaunt of the actions of their forefathers, but the superior spirit declares his own! Nay, no reply—I never form or break a resolution lightly. I know your heart: I am acquainted with Geraldine’s; they beat responsive to each other—your passion has my consent: your marriage shall receive my blessing. Farewell.

He exits suddenly, and prevents Florian by his action from any reply.

Flor. Heard I aright? Yes, he pronounced it—“Geraldine is thine.” Earth’s gross substantial touch is felt no more: I mount in air, and rest on sunbeams! Oh! if I dream now—royal Mab! abuse me ever with thy dear deceits; for in serious wakeful hours, truth ne’er can touch my senses with a joy so bright. O! I could sing, dance, laugh, shout; and yet methinks, had I a woman’s privilege, I’d rather weep; for tears are pleasure’s oracles as well as grief’s.

Enter L’Eclair.

L’Ec. So, Captain! you are well encountered. I have sad forebodings that our shining course of arms is threatened with eclipse. If I may use the boldness to advise, we shall strike our tents, and file off in quick march without beat of drum. Our laurels are in more danger here than in the midst of the enemy’s lines.

Flor. How now! my doughty ’squire: what may be our present jeopardy?

L’Ec. Ah! captain, the sex—the dear seductive sex; this house is the modern Capua, and we are the Hannibals of France, toying away our severe virtues amid its voluptuousness. One damsel throws forward the prettiest ancle in anatomy, and cries, “Mr. L’Eclair, I’m your’s for a Waltz”: a second languishes upon me from large blue melting eyes, and whispers, “Mr. L’Eclair, will you take a stroll by moonlight in the grove?” while a third, in all the ripe round plumpness of uneasy health, calls the modest blood to my fingers’ ends, by requesting me “to adjust some error in the pinning of her ’kerchief.” O! captain, captain, heros are but men, men but flesh, and flesh is but weakness; therefore, let us briefly put on a Parthian valor, and strive to conquer by a flight!

Flor. Knave! prate of deserting these dear precious scenes again, and I’ll finish your career myself by a coup-de-main. No, no; change churlish dreams and braving trumpets to mellifluous flutes. I am to be married. Varlet, wish me joy.

L’Ec. Certainly, captain, I do wish you joy; when a man has once determined upon matrimony he acts wisely to collect the congratulations of his friends beforehand, for heaven only knows, whether there may be any opportunity for them afterwards. May I take the freedom to inquire the lady?

Flor. ’Tis she—L’Eclair, ’tis she, the only she, the peerless, priceless Geraldine.

L’Ec.Peerless” I grant the lady, but as to her being “priceless,” I should think for my own poor particular, that when I bartered my liberty for a comely bedfellow, I was paying full value for my goods, besides a swinging overcharge for the fashion of the make.

Flor. Tush! man, ’tis not by form or feature I compute my prize. Geraldine’s mind, not her beauty, is the magnet of my love. The graces are the fugitive handmaids of youth, and dress their charge with flowers as fleeting as they are fair; but the virtues faithfully o’erwatch the couch of age, and when the flaunting rose has wither’d, twine the cheerful evergreen, crowning true lovers freshly to the last! Exit.

L’Ec. “True lovers!” well, now I love Love, myself, particularly when ’tis mix’d with brandy! like the loves of the landlady of Lisle, and the bandy-legg’d captain.*


A landlady of France, she loved an officer, ’tis said,

And this officer he dearly loved her brandy, oh!

Sigh’d she, “I love this officer, although his nose is red,

And his legs are what his regiment call bandy, oh!”


But when the bandy officer was order’d to the coast;

How she tore her lovely locks that look’d so sandy, oh!

“Adieu my soul!” said she, “if you write, pray pay the post,

But before we part, let’s take a drop of brandy, oh!”


She fill’d him out a bumper, just before he left the town,

And another for herself, so neat and handy, oh!

So they kept their spirits up, by their pouring spirits down,

For love is, like the cholic, cured with brandy, oh!


“Take a bottle on’t,” said she, “for you’re going into camp;

In your tent, you know, my love, ’twill be the dandy, oh!”

“You’re right,” says he, “my life! for a tent is very damp;

And ’tis better, with my tent, to take some brandy, oh!”

* For this speech, and the song that follows, the author is indebted to the pen of George Colman, Esq.

SCENE II.The Cottage.

Enter Monica and Bertrand.

Mon. In truth, sir, I have told you every circumstance I know concerning my poor lodger. But wherefore so particular in your inquiries?

Bert. Trust me, I have important motives for my curiosity. Seventeen years ago, I think you said: and in the woods near Albi?

Mon. Ay, ay, I was accurate both in time and place.

Bert. Every incident concurs. Gracious heaven! should it prove—my good woman, I suspect this unfortunate person is known to me; bring me directly to the sight of her!

Mon. Hold! sir, I must know you better first. I fear me, this poor creature has been hardly dealt with; who knows, but you may be her enemy?


Bert. No, no, her friend; her firm and faithful friend: suspence distracts me: lead me to her presence instantly!

Mon. Well, well, truly, sir! you look and speak like an honest gentleman; but tho’ I consent, I doubt whether my lodger will receive you; her mind is ill at ease for visitors. All last night I overheard her pacing up and down her chamber, moaning piteously and talking to herself; towards day-break, all became quiet, then I peeped thro’ the crevice of her door and saw that she was writing. I never knew her write before, I knocked for admittance, but she prayed me not to interrupt her for another hour.

Bert. Does she still keep her chamber?

Mon. She has not quitted it this morning—hark! I think I hear her stir, (goes to the stair-foot and looks up) ay! her door now stands open, place yourself just here, and you may view her plainly without being seen yourself; her face is turned towards us, but her eyes are fixed upon a writing in her hands.

Bertrand looks for a moment to satisfy his doubts, then rushes forward and casts himself upon his knee transportedly.

Bert. She lives! Eternal mercy! thanks! thanks!

Mon. Holy St. Dennis! the sight of her has strangely moved you: collect yourself, I pray, she comes towards us.

Bert. Oh! let me cast myself before her feet!

Mon. (restraining him) Hold, sir! whatever be your business, I beseech you to refrain a little, I must prepare her for your appearance, her spirits cannot brook surprise, back! back!

Bertrand withdraws, and Eugenia descends the stair with a folded paper in her hand—she appears to struggle with emotion, and running towards Monica, casts her arms passionately around her.

Eug. My kind mother! this is perhaps our last embrace; we must part.

Mon. Part! my child! what mean you?

Eug. Ah! it is my fate, my cruel unrelenting fate that drives me from you, from the last shelter and the only friend I yet retain on earth.

Mon. Explain yourself; I cannot comprehend.

Eug. Mother! I have an enemy, a dreadful one. Seventeen years have veil’d me from his hate in vain: those years have wasted the victim’s form, but the persecutor’s heart remains unchanged: my retreat is discovered: the wretches who were here last night too surely recognized me; soon they may return, and force me; oh! thought of horror. No, no, here I dare not stay.

Mon. My poor innocent! whither would you go?

Eug. To the woods and caves from which you rescued me. Mother, the wilderness must be my home again. I fly to wolves and vultures to escape from man! Receive this paper, ’tis the written memoir of my wretched life; read it when I am gone: my head burned and my hand trembled while I traced those characters: yet ’tis a faithful history. Mother! I dare not thank your charity, but heaven will remember it hereafter: bestow upon me one embrace, and then let me depart in silence.

Monica gives a sign to Bertrand to advance.

Mon. Yet hold some moments; a stranger has been inquiring here this morning who describes himself your friend.

Eug. Ah! no, no: the tomb long since has covered all my friends; ’tis some wily agent of my foe! Ah! forbid him mother; let him not approach me.

Mon. ’Tis too late; he is already in the house.

Eug. Where?

Monica points, and Eugenia’s eyes following her direction, rest upon the prostrate figure of Bertrand, who has placed himself in a posture of supplication, and concealed his face with his hands.

Eug. (gazing intensely with apprehension.) Speak! you kneel and still are silent. Ah! what would you require of me?

Bert. (uncovering his face without raising his eyes) Pardon! pardon!

Eug. (shrieking and flying) Ah! Bertrand.

Bert. (catching her mantle) Stay! angel of mercy, stay and hear me. He that was your scourge now yields himself your slave: a wretched penitent despairing man lies humbled in the dust before you, and implores for pardon.

Eug. (pauses—presses her crucifix to her lips, and then replies with fervor.) Yes! charity and peace to all! Nay, heaven forgive thee, sinful man, I never will accuse thee at its bar.

Bert. Angel! my actions better than my prayers may plead with heaven for mercy: the cruel wrongs that I have offered, yet in part may be atoned—lady, I come to serve and save you.

Eug. Ah! to what fresh terrors am I yet devoted?

Bert. Might we converse without a witness? in your ear only dare I breathe my purpose.

Mon. Nay, I will not be an eaves-dropper: my child you do not fear this person now? I’ll leave you with him—nay, ’tis best—perchance he comes indeed with service. My blessings go with you, stranger, if you mean her fairly, but if you wrong or play her false, a widow’s curse fall heavy on your death-bed.

Exit up the staircase.

A pause of mutual agitation.

Eug. Speak! man of terrors—say what has the persecuted and undone Eugenia yet to dread?

Bert. The baron Longueville—

Eug. That fiend!

Bert. He now is in the neighbourhood; as yet he dreams not that you live: but accident this very hour might betray you to his knowledge. Lady! I possess the means. O blessed chance! to shield you from his malice.

Eug. And wilt thou; O! wilt thou, Bertrand, at last extend a pitying arm to raise the wretch, thy former hate had stricken to the ground? I have been despoiled of fortune, fame, and health: my brain has been distracted by thy cruelty: yet now preserve me from this worst extreme of fate: let me not die the slave of Longueville, all my injuries, all my sufferings are forgotten, and this one gracious act shall win thy pardon for a thousand sins.

Bert. Lady! my o’er weighed conscience heaves impatiently to cast its load. (sinks on his knee) Lo! at your injured feet I kneel, and solemnly pronounce a vow, the tyrant Longueville shall mar your peace no more.

The cottage-door silently opens, and Sanguine looks in—he makes a sign to Longueville who follows, and they glide to the further end of the cottage unperceived; where they remain in anxious observation of the characters in front.

Eug. Rise! your penitence wears nature’s stamp, and I believe it honest.

Bert. Oh! lady, your words redeem me from despair: but say, to ease a heart that aches with wonder: say, by what prodigy you ’scaped the flames of that tremendous night, when all believed you perished?

Eug. (shuddering.) Ah! what hast thou said? my dream of confidence dissolves, and now I turn from thee again with horror! Again I view thy murderous poniard reared to strike! Again my wounded infant shrieks upon my bosom, and the fiery gulf yawns redly at my feet! begone? begone! for now I hate thee!


Bert. Ah, not to me—to Longueville ascribe the horrors of that night. (Aside) What shall I say? I dare not own to her that De Valmont lives. Hear me, lady; scarce was your lord’s untimely fall reported, when the cruel Longueville in secret plotted to remove his infant heir, the only bar that held him from a rich succession; by hellish means he won me to his cause: his hand it was that oped the castle gates at midnight to the foe, and when the fierce Huguenots rushed shouting through the halls, still his hand it was that fired the chamber where you slept in peace: to save your child you rushed distracted to the rampart’s edge; just as I followed to complete my prey, a falling turret crossed my path, and presently the general fabric sank in ruin.

Eug. A wayward destiny that night was mine; at once both saved and lost! a hidden passage dug beneath the rampart, twining through many a cavern’d maze, at distance opened to the woods. I reached the secret entrance of that pass, just as the turret fell and screened me from pursuit. Concealing darkness wrapt my flying steps: the roar of death sank far behind, and ere the dawn, in safety with my child, I gained the forest.

Bert. Your child! eternal powers! the infant then escaped my blow.

Eug. Thy dagger’s point twice scarred his innocent hand, but failed to reach the life. (Bertrand gesticulates his transport) A sanguine cross indelibly remained; but nature and his mother’s tears assuaged the pain. Charitable foresters, ignorant of our rank, relieved our wants and changed our robes for rustic weeds; thus disguised, my infant in my arms, on foot I travelled far and long, seeking ever by the loneliest paths, to reach my sovereign’s court, and at the throne of power implore for justice.

Bert. O! does the infant yet survive? Speak, lady! bless me with those words—he lives.

Eug. No, Bertrand, no; fortune but mocked me with a moment’s hope to curse me deeper still through ages of despair. In vain I snatched my darling boy from poniard and from flame: when way-lost in the wilderness, but for a moment did I quit my treasure, the mazes of the wood ensnared my step: the fever of my body rushed upon my brain: I wandered, never to return; while my forsaken infant—he perished, Bertrand. Ah! my brain begins to burn afresh! mark me, he perished terribly: inquire not further.

Bert. (deeply affected.) Thou suffering excellence! be witness heaven! the monster that I was, no longer has a life; thy tears have drowned it quite, and now it strangely melts in pity and remorse. Come, lady, let me bestow thee in a safe retreat: the hoarded wages of my sinful youth, I’ll use as offerings to redeem thy peace: far hence in foreign lands a certain refuge waits our flight, and there secure from Longueville—

The Baron suddenly stands before them in the centre: Eugenia shrieks and Bertrand stands aghast and trembles.

Bert. Undone forever?

Long. (furiously to Sanguine) Guard well the door—let not a creature enter or depart.

Sanguine advances by his direction. Eugenia flies by the stairs to the upper chamber. Longueville, after a short pause of indecisive passion, draws a poniard and seizes upon Bertrand.

Long. Wretch!

Bert. Strike! yes, deep in this guilty bosom, strike at once, and rid me of despair.

Long. Thou double traitor! thy perjuries now meet their just reward. Tremble at impending death.

Bert. No; I have not feared to live in vice, and will not shrink at least to die for virtue.

Long. (throwing him off.) No; I will not take the wretched forfeit: thou’rt spared from hate, not pity; I gave thee back thy life, but I will study punishments, to make the boon a curse unutterable.

Bert. Tyrant, I defy thy vengeance to increase my torments; the innocent, I pledged myself to save, already stands devoted to destruction, and the measure of my anguish and despair is full.

Long. (to Sanguine) Sanguine, ascend the stair, and force that wretched woman to my presence.

Bert. Hold, hold, my lord! recal those threatning words. O God! what damning crime is in your thoughts? pause—yet for a moment, pause, ere you barter to the fiend your soul for ages. Omnipotence hath interposed with miracles and still preserved you from the guilt you sought, your conscience yet is undefiled with blood.

Long. Away! my purpose is resolved.

Bert. Will you then reject the mercy Heaven extends? (kneels and catching his cloak.) Hear me, my lord; nay, for your own eternal being, hear me; as you now deal with this afflicted innocent, even so, hereafter, shall the God of judgment deal with you.

Long. I brave the peril, (call aloud) hasten, Sanguine, produce my victim.

Bert. (Desperately.) Cover me mountains! hide me from the sun! (He casts himself upon the ground.)

Sanguine returns precipitately from above.

Sang. My lord, one fatal moment has undone your scheme, the female has escaped.

Long. Villain! escaped.

Bert. (raising himself in frantic joy.) Ha!

Sang. I found the casement of the upper chamber open, some twisted linen fastened to the bar, nearly reached to the ground without, and proved the method of her flight; a beldame who must have aided her escape, remains alone above, (turning towards the window,) ha! I catch a female figure darting through the trees at a distance; she runs with lightning speed,—now—she turns towards the castle.

Long. Distraction! if she gains the castle, I am lost forever; pursue! pursue!

Longueville and Sanguine rush out.

Bert. (Vehemently.) Guardians of innocence, direct her steps! He follows them.

SCENE III.A Gallery in the Chateau.

Enter Rosabelle followed by Gaspard.

Gasp. Ha! young mistress Rosabelle, whither so fast I pray? ’faith, damsel, you are fleet of foot.

Ros. Yet my steps are heavier than my heart, for that’s all feather, ready for any flight in fancy’s hemisphere; give thought but breath, and ’twere blown in a second to the moon or the antipodes, wilt along with me, Gaspard?

Gasp. What, to the moon or the antipodes? Alack! damsel, I should prove but a sorry travelling companion upon either road; no, no, youth is for night; but age for falls.

Ros. Wilt turn a waltz anon, and be my partner in the dance?

Gasp. Hey! madcap, have we dances toward?

Ros. Ay! upon the terrace presently, all the world will assemble there; the lady Geraldine and myself for beauty; and then for rank, we shall have the count himself, and the baron, and the chevalier, and—

Gasp. Out upon you, magpie; would you delude the old man with fables? his lordship, the count, among revellers! truly a pleasant jest; I have been his watchful servant these twenty years, and never knew him to abide the sight or sound of pleasures.


Ros. Then I can acquaint you, he proposes on this day to regale both his eyes and his ears with a novelty; I heard him promise lady Geraldine to join the pastimes on the terrace.

Gasp. Oh! the blest tidings: damsel, thy tongue has made a boy of me again.

Ros. Now charity forefend, for so should I bring thee to thy second childhood.

Gasp. Ah! would you fleer me! his lordship among revellers! oh! the blest prodigy! well, well, I give no promise, mark; but should a certain damsel lack a partner, adod. I know not—sixty-live shows with an ill-grace in a rigadoon, but for a minuet: well, well, St. Vitus strengthen me, and I accept thy challenge. Exit.

Ros. Go thy ways, thou antique gallantry; thy pledge shall never be endangered by my claim; I’m for a brisker partner in every dance through life, I promise thee.


On the banks of the Rhine, at the sun-setting hour,

Oh! meet me, and greet me, my true love, I pray!

Or feasting, or sleeping, in hall, or in bower,

To the Rhine-bank, oh! true love, rise up and away!

On that bank, an old willow dejectedly grieves

And drops from each leaf, for love’s falsehoods, a tear;

Go! rivals, and gather the willow’s pale leaves,

For falsehood ne’er cross’d between me and my dear.


SCENE IV.The Castle Gardens decorated for a Fête, and crowded with Dancers and Musicians: a lofty Terrace crosses the extremity of the Stage, from which Village-Girls advance, scattering flowers before Geraldine, who is led by Florian to an open Temple between the Side-scenes, containing three Seats.

Ger. (Pointing to the centre seat) There is our hero’s seat of triumph: nay, my commands are absolute, and you have no appeal, I reserve this for my uncle, he will join us presently.

They seat themselves—a ballet immediately commences—boys, habited as warriors, pay homage before Florian, and hang military trophies round his seat. Girls enter, as wood-nymphs, &c. who surprise and disarm the warriors, then remove the trophies, and replace them with garlands. The warriors and nymphs join in a general dance—Suddenly a piercing shriek is heard: the action of the scene abruptly stops, and Eugenia, entering from the top of the stage, rushes distractedly between the groups of dancers, and casts herself at the feet of Geraldine.

Eug. Save me! save me!

Ger. Ah! what wretched supplicant is this?

Flor. By heavens! the very woman who yesternight preserved my life.

Longueville enters in pursuit.

Long. (Advancing rapidly, with instant self-command) Dear friends! Heaven has this hour appointed me the agent of its grace. I have discovered in this wretched woman, the long-lost wife of an ancient friend, at Baden; lend your assistance to secure her person ’till I can apprise the husband of this unexpected meeting.

Eug. No, no, I have no husband—they have murdered him; he would betray—destroy me. (catching Geraldine’s robe) Oh! you, whose looks are heavenly-soft, to you I plead: protect me from this fiend.

Ger. How earnestly she grasps my hand, indeed—indeed her agony seems genuine.

Long. You are deceived, she utters nought but madness, her mind has been for years incurably diseased; come, away! away!

He seizes violently upon Eugenia to force her with him, she clings to Geraldine in anguish.

Eug. Forsake me not! I have no protector to invoke but you.

Ger. Forbear, my lord, I cannot find that wildness you proclaim; forbear, and recollect the rights of hospitality never yet were violated at my uncle’s gate. Lady, dismiss your fears, here sorrow ever meets a ready shelter, for here resides the Count De Valmont.

Eug. Who?

Ger. The excellent, the suffering Count De Valmont.

Eug. (starting up with recurring insanity.) Ha! ha! ha! come to the altar,—my love waits for me, weave me a bridal crown!

Long. (triumphantly.) Behold! can you doubt me now?

Ger. Too painfully I am convinced; miserable being! Ah! remove her hence, before my uncle joins us; so terrible an object would inexpressibly afflict him.

Flor. Yes, yes; remove her hence! but O! I charge you treat her with the tenderest care.

Long. (eagerly to his people.) Advance! bear her to my pavilion! mark! to my pavilion on the river-bank!

The men seize upon Eugenia—the Count appears at the same moment advancing from the extremity of the Terrace.

De Val. My friends! I come to join your pleasures.

Eug. (struggling violently.) Hark! he calls me to his arms—unhand me! nay, then oh! cruel, cruel, cruel.

Overcome by her exertions, she sinks into a swoon and falls in the arms of the two men. Longueville rapidly draw her veil across to conceal her features from the Count as he advances.

Long. Away with her this instant!

He turns quickly toward the Terrace and catches De Valmont’s arm as he descends to prevent his approach—then turns imperatively to the men.

Long. Quick! Quick! away!

De Valmont pauses in surprize: Longueville maintains his restraining attitude. Florian and Geraldine join to arrest his steps: the bravos withdraw the insensible and unresisting Eugenia upon the opposite side: The various characters dispose themselves into a picture, and the curtain falls upon the Scene.

End of act II.


SCENE I.The Steward’s Room, Gaspard and L’Eclair discovered drinking, the latter half-intoxicated.

Gas. Adod! a very masterpiece of the military art? Why this Turenne must be a famous captain. I’ll drink his health, (drinks) Odso! where did we leave the enemy? Oh! the Bavarians were just driven across the Neckar, and had destroyed the bridge. Well, and then what did our troops?


L’Ecl. They clashed after them thro’ the river like a pack of otters.

Gasp. Hold; you said just now the river wasn’t fordable.

L’Ecl. Did I? Pshaw, I only meant, it wasn’t fordable to the enemy: no, poor devils! they couldn’t ford it certainly; but as to our hussars: whew! such fellows as they would get thro’ any thing, were it ever so deep to the bottom. (takes the flask from Gaspard and drinks).

Gasp. O! the rare hussars! Now this is a conversation just to my heart’s content. I dearly love to hear of battles and sieges. The household are all retired to rest, and my room is private; so here we may sit peaceably, and talk about war for the remainder of the night.

L’Ec. Bravo! agreed: we’ll make a night of it; but harkye, is not this room of yours built in a queer sort of a circular shape?

Gasp. No; a most perfect square.

L’Ec. Well, I never studied mathematics; but, for a perfect square, methinks it has the oddest trick of turning round with its company I ever witnessed.

Enter Rosabelle.

Ros. Here’s a display of profligacy! So, gentlemen, are these your morals? Methinks you place a special example before the household; drinking and carousing thus after midnight, when all decent persons ought to be at rest within their beds.

Gasp. Marry now, my malapert lady! How comes it you are found abroad at these wild hours?

Ros. I have always important motives for my conduct. A strange female waits at the castle-gate, who clamors for admittance; she seems in deep distress, refuses to accept denial or excuse, and demands to speak with the person of first consequence in the family. Now, Mr. Gaspard, as you happen to be steward—

Gasp. (rises pompously) I am of course the personage required. You say a female?

Ros. Yes; she waits for you in heavy trouble at the gate.

Gasp. I fly. Gallantry invites, and I obey the call. Good Mr. L’Eclair, I cast myself upon your courtesy for this abrupt departure:

’Tis woman tempts from friendship, war, and wine—

My fault is human—my excuse divine! Exit.

Ros. In sooth, the old gentleman has not forgotten his manners in his cups; but as to you, sir, (to L’Eclair) how stupidly you sit—have you nothing to say for yourself?

L’Ec. (rising and reeling towards her). Much, very much—love—midnight—all snug and private.

Ros. Mercy O me! the wretch is certainly intoxicated; how wickedly his eyes begin to twinkle. Why, Scapegrace, I’m sure you’re not sober.

L’Ec. Don’t say so, pray don’t, you wound my delicacy. O! Rosabelle! beautiful but misjudging Rosabelle! I am unfortunate, but not criminal. This morning I beheld only one Rosabelle, and yet I was undone; now I seem to behold two Rosabelles; ergo, I either see double, or am doubly undone. There’s logic for you. Now, could a man who wasn’t sober, talk logic? only answer me that.

Ros. What shall I do with him? If I leave him here, he’ll drink himself into a fever. I must e’en coax him. L’Eclair, come, come, my dear L’Eclair, let me prevail upon you to go to bed; I’m going to bed myself.

L’Ec. O! fy, that’s too broad; I blush for you; would you delude my innocence?

Ros. The profligate monster! I delude!

L’Ec. Well, I yield to fate: stars! veil your chaste heads, and thou. O! little candle, hide thy wick! behold the lamb submitting to the sacrifice. (Reels to embrace her.)

Ros. Why, you heathen monster! how dare you talk to me about lambs and sacrifices? ah! if you stir another step, I’ll alarm the family! I can scream, sir!

L’Ec. I know you can; but pray, don’t, somebody might hear you, and that would be very disappointing, recollect I have a character to lose.

Ros. And have not I a character too, Sir?

L’Ec. Hush! hush! Let’s drops the subject.

Ros. How now, sirrah! have you any thing to say against my character?

L’Ec. Oh! no, I never speak ill of the dead.

Ros. Why, you vile insinuating, but I shall preserve my temper though you have lost your manners: well, assuredly of all objects in creation, the most pitiable is a man in liquor.

L’Ec. There’s an exception—a man in love.

DUETT.—Rosabelle and L’Eclair.

Ros. The precept of Bacchus to man proves a curse,

The head it confounds, and the heart it bewitches.

L’Ec. I’m sure, the example of Cupid is worse,

For he walks abroad without shirt, drawers, or breeches.

Ros. Pshaw! Cupid, you dolt, has rich garments enough.

L’Ec. Nay, his wardrobe’s confin’d to a plain suit of buff.

Ros. ’Twas Bacchus taught men to drown reason in cans.

L’Ec. ’Twas Cupid taught ladies the first use of fans.

Ros. How diff’rent the garland, their votaries twine,—

How genteel is the myrtle—how vulgar the vine!

L’Ec. Of myrtle or vine I pretend not to know,

But a fig-leaf I think would be most apropos: Exeunt.

SCENE II.The Count’s Chamber—De Valmont is discovered gazing in profound meditation upon a miniature picture.

De Val. Eugenia!

Now of the angel race, and hous’d in Heaven!

Forgive, dear saint! these blameful eyes that flow

With human love, and mourn thy blessedness.

O! ye strange powers! with what excelling truth

Has Art’s small hand here mimic’d mightiest Nature!

What cheeks are these! could Death e’er crop such roses?

Eyes! star-bright twins! fair glasses to fair thoughts,

Where, as by truest oracles confest,

The godlike soul reveals itself in glory.

Your glances thrill me! amber-twinkling threads!

Half bound by grace, half loos’d by winds, how strays

This shining ringlet o’er this clear white breast!

Like the pale sunshine streaking wintry snows!

These lips have life—yea! very breath; a sweet

Warm spirit stirs thru’ the cleft ruby now!

They move—they smile—they speak. Soft! soft! sweet heavens!

I’ll gaze no more; there’s witchcraft in this skill,

And my abus’d weak brain may madden soon! conceals the picture in his bosom

The spell is hidden, still th’ illusion works:

O! in my heart Eugenia art thou trac’d—

There—there—thou livest—speakest—yet art mortal.


Strong memory triumphs over death and time,

In all my circling blood—each vein—each pulse

Wherever life is, ever there art thou.

Gaspard speaks without.

Gasp. Go, go; his lordship may not be disturb’d.

Mon. (without) Away! I have a cause that must be heard.

De Val. How now! voices in the anti-room! Ho!

Enter Gaspard.

Gasp. Alack! that folk will be so troublesome: my good lord! here’s a strange woman; truly a most obstinate spirit, who craves vehemently to be heard, on matters (so she reports) of much importance to your lordship.

De Val. Nay, in the morning be it; not at this hour.

Gasp. I told her so; my very words; but truly, her grief seems to have craz’d her reason.

De Val. How! is she unhappy then? her sorrows be her passport here; admit her instantly: where should the afflicted heart prefer a prayer, if kindred wretchedness deny its sympathy?

Gaspard introduces Monica.

Mon. So! you are seen at last, my lord! men say your heart is good; grant Heaven! I find it so; but ah! perhaps it is too late. Yes, yes; I fear it: the dove is in the vulture’s grip already.

De Val. Woman! what strange distraction’s this? Give me a knowledge of your griefs with method.

Mon. I will, I will, but anguish stifles me; O! my lord, my lord, this is your castle, and here she fled for shelter, yet cruel hearts refused her prayer. I have been told by your people that the baron’s pavilion on the river-bank is made her prison; she will be murdered there: oh! my lord, gracious lord, save her, save her!

She throws herself passionately at his feet.

De Val. Rise; attempt composure, your words are riddles to me.

Gasp. My lord! ’tis of the poor lunatic she speaks; she whom the baron has confined: this woman claims her as her charge.

De Val.I saw the person not, but heard in brief her story from the baron; rest, good woman, rest; my kinsman is her friend.

Mon. No, no, he is a monster thirsting for her blood: here, here, I have read his character.

Producing Eugenia’s MSS.

De Val. Beware! you offend me; grief yields no privilege to slander.

Mon. I am not a slanderer, indeed, indeed, I am not; here are proofs: your lordship, I find, is called the Count De Valmont; had you not once a relation of the same title, who fell in battle with the Huguenots eighteen years ago!

De Val. Never.

Mon. Yet ’twas the same title: ay, here ’tis written: “in forcing the passage of the Durance.”

De Val. How! ’tis of myself assuredly you read; I was reported falsely in that very action to have fallen; and for a time my death was credited through France.

Mon. Ah! my lord! my lord! O! it rushes on my heart—nay, give but a moment; speak; were you once wedded to a lady named Eugenia?

De Val. Woman! ah, name beloved!—wherefore that torturing question?

Mon. Yes, yes; it is—it must be so—I cannot, here—read—this!—(giving the scroll).

De Val. Eternal Powers! Eugenia’s well-known character! when and whence did you procure this writing?

Mon. This very morning, from her own hand, my lord, Eugenia lives to bless and to be blessed again.

De Valmont starts as if stricken to the center, for a moment his features express amazement, then incredulity, and lastly indignation

De Val. Begone! thou wretched woman, lest I forget thy sex, and kill thee for thy cruelty.

Mon. Nay, let me die, but not be doubted: read, read, and let your eyes assure your soul of joy!

The Count faintly staggers back into a seat, and then fastens his eyes upon the scroll with a frenzied earnestness.

Gasp. Woman! if you have spoken falsely, my noble master’s heart will break at once.

Mon. By the great issue, let my words be judged!

De Val. (reading) “The chamber burst in flames, I snatched my infant from its slumber, I heard the voice of Longueville direct our murder, ruffians rushed towards us to perform his bidding.” (starting forward with uncontrolable fury) Oh! God of wrath and vengeance! hear thou a husband’s and a father’s prayer! strike the pale villain! oh! with thy hottest lightning blast him dead! a curse, a tenfold curse o’erwhelm his death-bed! Traitor! thou shalt not ’scape, this hand shall rend thy heart-strings, I’ll smite thee home.

In the delirium of his passion he draws his sword, and strikes with it as at an ideal combatant, his bodily powers forsake him in the effort, he reels, and falls convulsed into Gaspard’s arms.

Gasp. Help! help! death is on him, help there swiftly!

Geraldine rushes in, followed by domestics.

Ger. Whence these cries? ah Heavens! what killing sight is this? uncle, uncle, speak to me, ’tis Geraldine that calls.

Enter Florian from the opposite side.

Flor. My patron! ha! convulsed! dying. Eternal Mercy spare his sacred life!

Ger. Nay, bend him forward, his eyes unclose again—he sees—he knows us.

The Count in silence draws a hand from Geraldine and Florian within his own, and presses them together to his heart.

Flor. How fares it, sir? bless us with your voice.

De Val. Ah! Ah! (he grasps the scroll and points to it emphatically, but cannot articulate.)

Flor. O! for a knowledge of your gracious pleasure, speak sir, pronounce one word.

De Val. (very faintly and with effort.) Longueville: ah fly, preserve—(again his accents fail him, he seems to collect all his remaining strength for one short effort, and a second time just articulates— Longueville! (he relapses into insensibility.)

Flor. Enough! I comprehend your will; nay, bear him gently in, I’ll to the river-bank and seek the Baron!

Geraldine, &c. bear the count off on one side, Florian rushes away by the opposite.

SCENE III.A rugged Cliff that overhangs the River.

Enter Longueville and Sanguine.

Long. Tardy, neglectful slave! still does he loiter?

Sang. Nay, return to the pavilion; the signal soon must greet us: you bade Lenoire to sound his bugle when he reached the bank.

Long. Ay, thrice the blast should be repeated; still must I listen for those notes of destiny in vain? hark! here you nothing now?

Sang. Only the rising tide that murmurs hoarsly as it frets and chafes against the bank below us.

Long. Is midnight passed?

Sang. Long since: just as we crossed the glen the monastery chime swang heavy with the knell of yesterday.


Long. A guiltless end that flighted yesterday hath reached. O! that the morrow found as clear a tomb! When the next midnight tolls, Eugenia, thou wilt rest in blessedness, whilst thy murderer—Ah! what charmed couch shall bring the sweet forgetful slumber at that hour to me? Midnight, the welcome sabbath of unstained souls, O, to the murderer thou art terrible—silence and darkness that with the innocent make blessed time, to him bring curses, for then through sealed ears and close-veiled eyes, strange sounds and sights will steal their way, that in the hum and glare of day-light dare not stir: then o’er the wretch’s forehead ooze cold beads of dew—-in feverish, brain-sick dreams, with starts and groans: on beds of seeming down he feels the griding rack, and finds himself a hell more fierce, than fiends can show hereafter.

Sang. How now, my lord? unmanned by conscience? Nay, then, let Eugenia live.

Long. Not for an angel’s birthright! think’st thou I would deign to breathe on wretched sufferance? No, no; her death is necessary to my honor and my peace. Come on! my hand may falter, but my heart’s resolved; ’tis sworn, inexorably sworn: Eugenia dies.


SCENE IV.The river-bank—the Rhine flows across the stage at distance—on one side a pavilion extends obliquely, through the lower windows of which lights appear—nearly opposite is a small bower of lattice-work.—The moon at full, has just risen above the German bank, and pours its radiance upon the water. Bertrand is discovered watching the pavilion.

Bert. I watch in vain; all means of access to the prisoner are debarred: her chamber now is dark and silent: still tapers glare and voices murmur from the hall beneath: the baron and Sanguine are there: ’tis against life these midnight plotters stir. Oh! that this heart might bleed to its last guilty drop in ransom for Eugenia! Soft! does not the dashing of a distant oar disturb the silence of the tide? Yes; just where the moonlight gleams a boat now crosses rapidly; it rows towards this bank; it pauses now in stillness—what may this mean? the hour so late, the spot so unfrequented and remote. (A bugle is sounded three times) Ha! a bugle sounded thrice! too sure the omen of some fatal deed. I will not quit this spot—no, Eugenia, I will preserve or perish with thee! Soft, the pavilion opens. Bower, receive me to thy friendly shades! watch with me blessed spirits.

He retires into the bower fronting the pavilion. Longueville advances cautiously from the pavilion.

Long. ’Twas the signal! the boat has reached the bank, Ho! Lenoire! advance: no eye observes thy step.

Enter Lenoire along the bank by an entrance between the bower and the river.

Len. All is prepared: your orders are fulfilled.

Long. Laggard! too many precious moments have been wasted in their execution: the moon has risen high, and casts a brightness round scarce feebler than the day: your course may be observed.

Len. Dismiss that fear: nothing that lives hath voice or motion: now, not e’en the solitary fisher spreads his nets upon the stream.

Long. Where have you left the boat?

Len. Under the bank in shade, fastened to the roots of yon tall willow.

Long. Sanguine shall accompany you; then when you reach the middle of the current—

Len. Ay, where it flows deep and strong; Eugenia’s funeral rites are few and brief.

Long. To-morrow, I shall report she has been conveyed in safety to her friends upon the German bank—thus all inquiry stands forever barred.

Bertrand, who watches from the bower, clasps his hands in despair and groans aloud.

Long. Ha! what sound was that?

Len. (looking cautiously round.) Some tree moaning to the blast—no more.

Long. Now then! yet hold! wherefore come you not masked? some of the peasantry may chance to stir ere you return, and I should wish your persons were unmarked by any.

Len. I left a mask within the boat; this flowing mantle will conceal my dress—trust me both form and feature shall effectually be hid.

Bertrand makes a gesticulation of hope towards the pavilion, then glides silently round the angle of the bower, and starts along the bank.

Long. ’Tis well! (to the pavilion.) Ho! Sanguine! lead forth your charge: despatch, Lenoire! return to the boat, and row it swiftly hither! Away!

Exit Lenoire.

She comes! Ill-starred Eugenia! fate chides the lingering echo of thy step, yet but a moment and ’tis hushed forever.

Sanguine leads Eugenia from the pavilion.

Eug. Ah! whither do you lead me? Speak, in pity—nay, nay, I prithee force me not; this is a savage hour, and I must fear your purpose, speak, whither would you hurry me? Ah! Longueville! now then I read my answer—’tis to death—to murder!

Long. Lady, you misjudge my purpose—true, that once I proved myself your foe, perhaps a kindless one; time and pity have extinguished hate. Across the Rhine, upon the German bank, a safe asylum is provided, where peace shall gild the evening of your life, and cure the memory of its early woes; ’tis necessary you should cross the river before dawn; a boat is now in readiness to bear you over.

Eug. No, no, I find a language in your eye more certain than your lip—murder—midnight murder is its direful theme. Thou wretched man! rather for thee than for myself I kneel. Pause, Longueville! raise but thine eye to yon clear world, thick-sown with shining wonders—think, that throughout the boundless beauteous space, an omnipresent, and all-conscious spirit is; think, that within his awful eye-beam, now thy actions pass, and presently before his throne must wait for judgment; think, that whene’er he touched the veriest worm, that crawls on this base sphere, with life, mighty his will encompassed it with safety! then, tremble, creature as thou art, to spurn his law by whom thou wert created, nor quench with impious hand, that gifted spark Omnipotence hath once ordained to glow.

Long. Lady, already I have said, your auguries wrong me (the noise of a combat sounds from the bank.) Ha! the crash of swords! Sanguine! fly to the spot. Lenoire, I fear me, is in danger.

Exit Sanguine.

Confusion to my hopes! what ill-beamed planet rules the hour? Eugenia, return to the pavilion.

Eug. Not, while succour seems so nigh, help! help!

Long. Dare but repeat that cry, by heavens! this very moment is your last. (draws a dagger.) Nay, nay, you strive in vain,—away!

Longueville forces Eugenia into the pavilion, then drags a bar across the door.

What cursed step has wandered on these banks to thwart my ripe design? Perdition to the meddling slave! his life shall pay the forfeit of his rashness.


Re-enter Sanguine.

Sang. My lord, the combatants, whoe’er they were, had vanished ere I reached the spot; close to the water’s edge the turf was stained with blood, and already to a distance from the bank, Lenoire had rowed away the boat; I called aloud, but he increased his speed, and gave no answer.

Lon. ’Sdeath! some prying hind has stolen on our plans; doubtless Lenoire has been assailed and for a while avoids the bank, fearful of further ambush; follow me to search yon winding path; if the villian have received a wound, traces of blood will guide us to his haunt,—vengeance direct our steps! Exit, with Sanguine.

Eugenia appears at the lower windows through a grating.

Eug. Fond, trusting heart! art thou again deceived? does the great thunder sleep, and are the heavens still patient of a murderer’s crimes; yes, yes, the sounds have ceased, and now a dreadful stillness sits upon the night; the tomb seems imaged in the hour. Hope in the breathless pause forsakes my breast forever.

Enter Florian.

Flor. Ha! lights still burning—fortunately then he has not retired to rest,—baron! baron!

Runs to the door.

Eug. (Shrieks.) Ah! the voice of succour—turn, turn in pity—snatch me from despair—preserve me from the grave.

Flor. Heavens!

Involuntarily he withdraws the bar, and Eugenia darting forth, clings wildly round him.

Flor. Unhappy woman! whence these transports?

Eug. Swear to preserve me, swear not to yield me to the murderer’s dagger; no, no, you have a human heart; am I not safe with you?

Flor. My honor and my manhood both are pledges for your safety: but who is the enemy you dread!

Eug. Longueville; he seeks my life: nay, nay, I am not mad, indeed I am not; turn not from me: look with compassion on a desolate, devoted creature, whom man conspires to wrong, and Heaven forgets to aid.

Flor. Appease these agonies; by my eternal hope, I swear, whatever the danger, or the foe that threatens, I will defend you with my life from injury.

Eug. A wretch’s blessing crown thee for the generous vow! oh! let my soul dissolve and gush in tears upon this gracious hand!

Eugenia enthusiastically clasps Florian’s hand, and covers it with tears and caresses; suddenly a new impulse appears to direct her actions: she rubs the back of the hand she has seized with strange earnestness, and a tremor pervades her entire frame.

Flor. Why do you fasten thus your looks upon my hand: what moves your wonder?

Eug. (tremblingly.) This scar, this deep, deep scar, that with a crimson cross o’erseams your hand; speak, how gained you first this dreadful mark?

Flor. From infancy I recollect the stamp, its cause remains unknown.

Eug. Who were your parents?

Flor. Alas! that knowledge never blessed my heart. I am a foundling: eighteen years since, in a forest at the foot of the Cevennes—

Eug. Ah! did watchful angels then—yes, yes, twice the dagger struck! ’tis nature’s holy proof!

Flor. Merciful heavens! you then possess the secret of my birth: woman! woman! pronounce my parents’ name, and I will worship you.

Eug. Your parents! ah! they were, ah! ah!

She attempts to enfold him with her arms, but faints as he receives the embrace.

Flor. Speak! I conjure you, speak! breathe but their sacred name! she hears me not, and nature struggles at my heart in vain!

Enter Longueville and Sanguine at distance.

Long. The lurking knave, whate’er his aim, has fled beyond our search, and all is now secure. Has Lenoire return’d your signal to approach the bank?

Sang. He rows towards us now—nay, look—the boat draws close.

Long. Then to our last decisive deed!

Passing to the pavilion he beholds the characters in front, and starts.

Ha! confusion and despair! Eugenia rescued, and in Florian’s arms!

Flor. Help, baron!—swiftly help!—aid me to preserve a dying woman!

Long. Florian! by what wild chance at such unwonted hour I find you on this spot, admits not of inquiry now—but for this fair impostor, resign her to my care—with me her safety is at once assured.

Flor. Pardon me, Longueville; whate’er the laws of courtesy demand, I yield—but to this female’s fate my soul is newly bound by ties so strange and strong, that even your displeasure must not part us.

The alarum-bell tolls from the castle.

Long. Ha! the castle is alarmed—look out, Sanguine:—what means this tumult?

Sang. My lord! the glare of numerous torches wavers through the grove—this way the crowd directs its course.

Long. Distraction!—Florian, beware my just resentment, and instantly resign this woman(Attempting to force her from him.)

Flor. Never!—my word stands pledged for her protection, and only with my life will I desert my honor.

Long. Hell!—ho! Lenoire!—Lenoire!

He rushes furiously to the bank, and motions to the boat.

Eug. (just recovering.) Stay, blessed vision!—(recognizing Florian) ah! ’twas real—I fold him to my heart, and am blessed at last.

The boat, rowed by a man enveloped in a mantle and a masque, at that instant gains the bank.

Long. (triumphantly) Ha! the boat arrives!—now then presumptuous boy! receive the chastisement you dare provoke.

He draws and rushes upon Florian, who disengages himself from Eugenia and stands upon the defence.

Flor. In the just cause I would not shrink before a giant’s arm! (they engage.)

Eug. (frantic) Inhuman Longueville!—forbear! forbear!

While Florian encounters Longueville, Sanguine suddenly darts upon Eugenia, who is too enfeebled to resist; by the action of a moment he transports her from her protector’s side to the Baron’s. Florian’s position is next to the audience, so that Longueville’s sword now equally intercepts him from Eugenia and from the river.

Long. (Perceiving his advantage) Away!—drag—her to the boat—be mine the task to curb her champion’s valor.

Flor. Hold! dastard—unless thou art dead to every sense of manhood—hold!

Long. Boy! I triumph, and deride thy baffled spleen.

Sanguine lifts Eugenia into the boat, and the masque receives her.

Eug. (from the boat) Great nature! speed my dying words!—Thou dear-lov’d youth! thy mother blesses thee—long-lost—late-found—behold! she struggles now to bless her child—and now she dies content!


Flor. Eternal Providence! what words were those?—Longueville!—Barbarian!—Fiend!

He rushes madly upon the Baron, who parries the assault; then in an agony casts himself before his feet.

Oh! if thou art human, hold!—I kneel—I fall thy slave—spurn me—trample on my neck—take my life—but O! respect and spare my parent!

Sang. (from the boat) Decide, my lord; the crowd approach, already they o’erlook the bank.

Long. ’Twere vain to pause—I founder upon either course—nay then, revenge shall brighten ruin; swift! plunge your poniards in Eugenia’s bosom! let me behold my victim perish, and then commit me to my fate!

Flor. (starting up in desperation) Monster!

Long. They come—obey me, slaves!

Sanguine draws Eugenia back, and the Masque lifts a dagger over her.

Sang. We are prepared.

Long. Now.

Sang. Comrade! strike!

Masque. Ay! to the heart!

The Masque rapidly darts his arm across Eugenia’s figure and plunges the dagger into Sanguine, who reels beneath the blow and falls into the stream.

(triumphantly) Eugenia is preserved!

With one arm he supports the lady, and with the other snatches away the masque and discovers the features of Bertrand.

Long. Bertrand—perfidious slave! eternal palsies strike thy arm!

Gaspard, Monica, Domestics, &c. with torches, enter at the moment and surround the baron, whose surprise bereaves him of power to resist.

Flor. Secure the villain, yet forbear his life—Mother! Mysterious blessing—ah! yield her to my arms—my heart!

Bertrand resigns Eugenia to Florian’s embrace.

Eug. My boy, my only one—Bertrand! life is thy gift, and now indeed I bless thee for the boon.

Bert. I swore to save you, I have kept my oath, unseen I watched, unknown I ventured in your cause—your forgiveness half relieves my soul, and now I dare to pray for heaven’s!

Enter De Valmont, supported by Geraldine and Domestics.

De Val. Ah! ’tis she, dear worshipp’d form; she lives—she lives.

Eug. Ah! shield me—Florian, yon phantom shape—death surely hovers near—

De Val. Nay, fly me not, Eugenia! tis thy lord, thy living lord, thy once beloved De Valmont calls: thou dear divorced-one bless these outstretch’d arms—I kneel and woo thee for my bride again!

Florian leads Eugenia trembling and uncertain to the Count, he catches her irresolute hand.

Eug. Indeed, my wedded lord!—I wept for a dear warrior once; and did the sword forbear so just a heart?—ah! chide not love, joy kills as well as grief—

She sinks gradually into his embrace, and he supports her on his breast in speechless tenderness.

Long. Detested sight! well, well, curses are weak revenge, and I’ll disdain their use.

Flor. Remove the monster to some sure confinement. The Count hereafter shall pronounce his punishment.

Long. Already I endure my heaviest curse. I view the objects of my hatred crown’d with joy. Come! to a dungeon!—darkness is welcome, since it hides me from exulting foes! Exit.

Ger. (advancing with tenderness.) Florian!—friend—ah! yet a dearer name—you rob me of a birth-right, still I must greet my new-found kinsman.

Flor. Geraldine! what means my love?

De Val. Florian! Heaven mysteriously o’er-watch’d thy hour of peril, and led a father through the desert, unconsciously to succour and redeem his child.

Flor. Ha! De Valmont’s glorious blood then circles in these veins!—My parent, my preserver! Ha! twice has existence been my father’s gift.

De Val. My pride thus long in humbleness!—my forest-prize! my foundling boy!—thou had’st my blessing ere I knew thy claim. Eugenia, greet our mutual image. Ah! wilt thou weep, sweet love. Thou bendest o’er his forehead e’en as a lily, brimming with clear dews, that stoops in beauteous sorrow to embathe its neighbouring bud. Thro’ many a storm of perilous and marring cares o’erborne, our long-benighted loves at last encounter on a sun-bright course, and reach the haven of domestic peace.

Thus Judah’s pilgrim—one whose steps in vain

Climb sky-crown’d rocks—o’erpace the burning plain,

Just when his soul despairs—his spirits faint,

Achieves the threshold of his long-sought Saint:

The desert’s danger—storms and ruffian-bands—

All sink forgotten as the shrine expands—

Feet cure their toil that touch the hallow’d floors—

He rests his staff—kneels, trembles, and adores!

Exeunt Omnes.

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