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"So fares the follower in the Muses' train,
Corbett transmits his address to the secretary, under cover of a characteristic letter, in which he does not hesitate to give the manager a 'lick with the rough side of his tongue. The reader will note his interrogatory manner, and how he replies, rejoins, confutes, and still confutes, as in the political articles which made his · Register' so famous among the English yeomanry. The letter runs thus :
Sir: To the gewgaw fetters of rhyme, (invented by the monks to enslave the people,) I have a rooted objection. I have therefore written an address for your theatre in plain, homespun, yeoman's prose; in the doing whereof, I hope I am swayed by nothing but an independent wish to open the eyes of this gulled people, to prevent a repetition of the dramatic bamboozling they have hitherto labored under. If you like what I have done, and mean to make use of it, I do n't want any such aristocratic reward as a piece of plate with two griffins sprawling upon it, or a dog and a jackass fighting for a ha’p'orth of gilt gingerbread, or any such Bartholomew Fair nonsense. All I ask is, that the door-keepers of your play-house may take all the sets of my Register, now on hand, and force every body who enters your doors to buy one, giving afterward a debtor and creditor account of what they have received, post-paid, and in due course remitting me the money and unsold Registers, carriage-paid.
I am, etc., The address is to be spoken in the character of a Hampshire Fariner, and bears the following motto, from Ovid :
Rabida qui concitus irâ
• Most THINKING People: When persons address an audience from the stage, it is usual, either in words or gesture, to say, ' Ladies and Gentlemen, your servant.' If I were base enough, mean enough, paltry enough, and brute beast enough, to follow that fashion, I should tell two lies in a breath. In the first place, you are not Ladies and Gentlemen, but I hope something better, that is to say, honest men and women; and in the next place, if you were ever so much ladies, and ever so much gentlemen, I am not, nor ever will be, your humble servant. You see me here, most thinking people, by mere chance. I have not been within the doors of a play-house before for these ten years, nor till that abominable custom of taking money at the doors is discontinued, will I ever sanction a theatre with my presence, The stage door is the only gate of freedom in the whole edifice, and
through that I made my way from Bagshaw's in Brydges-street, to accost you. Look about you. Are you not all comfortable? Nay, never slink, mun; speak out, if you are dissatisfied, and tell me so before I leave town. You are now, (thanks to Mr. Whitbread,) got into a large, comfortable house. Not into a gimcrack palace ; not into a Solomon's Temple; not into a frost-work of Brobdignag filagree; but into a plain, honest, homely, industrious, wholesome, brown, brick play-house. You have been struggling for independence and elbow-room these three years; and who gave it you? Who helped you out of Lilliput? Who routed you from a rat-hole, five inches by four, to perch you in a palace ? Again and again I answer, Mr. Whitbread. You might have sweltered in that place with the Greek name till Doomsday, and neither Lord Castlereagh, Mr. Canning, no, nor the Marquis Wellesley, would have turned a trowel to help you out! Remember that. Never forget that. Read it to your children, and to your children's children! And now, most thinking people, cast your eyes over my head to what the builder, (I beg his pardon, the architect,) calls the proscenium. No motto, no slang, no popish Latin, to keep the people in the dark. No Veluti in Speculum. Nothing in the dead languages, properly so called, for they ought to die, ay, and be damned to boot ! The Covent Garden Manager tried that, and a pretty business he made of it! When a man says Veluti in Speculum, he is called a man of letters. Very well; and is not a man who cries 0. P. a man of letters too? You ran your O. P. against his Veluti in Speculum, and pray which beat ? I prophesied that, though I never told any body.
I take it for granted, that every intelligent man, woman, and child, to whom I address myself, has stood severally and respectively in Little Russel-street, and cast their, bis, her, and its eyes on the outside of this building, before they paid their money to view the inside. Look at the brick work, English Audience! Look at the brick work! All plain and smooth like a quakers' meeting. None of your Egyptian pyramids, to entomb subscribers' capitals. No overgrown colonnades of stone, like an alderman's gouty legs, in white cotton stockings, fit only to use as rammers for paving Tottenham Court Road. This house is neither after the model of a temple in Athens, no, nor a temple in Moorfields, but it is built to act English plays in, and provided you have good scenery, dresses, and decorations, I dare say you would n't break your hearts if the outside were as plain as the pike-staff I used to carry when I was a sergeant. Apropos, as the French valets say, who cut their masters' throats ; apropos, a word about dresses. You must, many of you, have seen what I have read a description of, Kemble and Mrs. Siddons in Macbeth, with more gold and silver plaistered on their doublets, than would have kept an honest family in butchers' meat and flannel from year's end to year's end ! I am informed, now mind, I do not vouch for the fact, but I am informed, that all such extravagant idleness is to be done away with here. Lady Macbeth is to have a plain quilted petticoat, a cotton gown, and a mob cap, (as the court parasites call it; it will be well for them if, one of these days, they do n't wear a mob cap-I mean a white cap, with a mob to look at them ;) and Macbeth is to appear in an honest yeoman's drab coat, and a pair of
black calamanco breeches. Not Sal-amanca ; no, nor Talavera neither, my most Noble Marquis, but plain, honest, black calamanco, stuff breeches. This is right; this is as it should be. Most thinking people, I have heard you much abused. There is not a compound in the language but is strung fifty in a rope, like onions, by the Morning Post, and hurled in your teeth. You are called the mob, and when they have made you out to be the mob, you are called the scum of the people, and the dregs of the people. I should like to know how you can be both.
Take a basin of broth — not cheap soup, Mr. Wilberforce, not soup for the poor at a penny a quart, as your mixture of horse's legs, brick dust, and old shoes was denominated, but plain, wholesome, patriotic beef or mutton broth ; take this, examine it, and you will find — mind, I do n't vouch for the fact, but I am told you will find, the dregs at the bottom, and the scum at the top. I will endeavor to explain this to you : England is a large earthen-ware pipkin. John Bull is the beef thrown into it. Taxes are the hot water he boils in. Rotten boroughs are the fuel that blazes under this same pipkin. Parliament is the ladle that stirs the hodge-podge, and sometimes — but hold, I do n't wish to pay Mr. Newman a second visit. I leave you better off than you have been this many a day. You have a good house over your head; you have beat the French in Spain; the harvest has turned out well; the comet keeps its distance; and red slippers are hawked about in Constantinople for next to nothing; and for all this, again and again I tell you, you are indebted to Mr. Whitebread ! ! !!'
Sir Walter Scott was surely never so closely imitated, in prose or verse, as in the ' Tale of Drury.' It was directed to be spoken by Mr. KEMBLE, in a suit of the Black Prince's armor, borrowed from the Tower. Is there a single reader of • Marmion,' who can resist the admirable wit and spirit of this broad burlesque ? 'SURVEY this shield all bossy bright; And spire and dome, and turret height, These cuisses twain behold;
Appear'd to slumber in the light. Look on my form in armor dight
From Henry's chapel, Rufus' hall, Of steel inlaid with gold.
To Savoy, Temple, and St. Paul, My knees are stiff in iron buckles, From Knightsbridge, Pancras, Camden Suff spikes of steel protect my knuckles ; Town, These once belong'd to sable prince, To Redriff, Shadwoll, Horselydown, Who never did in battle wince;
No voice was heard, no eye unclosed, With valor tart as pungent quince,
But all in deepest sleep reposed: He slew the vaunting Gaul :
They might have thought, who gazed Rest there awhile, my bearded lance,
around, While from green curtain I advance Amid a silence so profound, To yon foot-lights, no trivial dance,
It made the senses thrill, And tell the town what sad mischance That 't was no place inhabited, Did Drury Lane befal.
But some vast city of the dead,
All was so hushed and still.
As chaos which, by heavenly doom, Curling the foliage as it past,
Had slept in everlasting gloom, Which from the moon-tipp'd plumage cast Started with terror and surprise, A spangled light, like dancing spray,
When light first flashed upon her eyes : Then rëassumed its still array:
So London's sons in nighi-cap woke, When as night's lamp unclouded hung, In bed-gown woke her dames ; And down its full effulgence flung, For shouts were heard 'mid fire and smoke, It shed such soft and balmy power, And twice ten hundred voices spoke, That cot and castle, hall and bower,
“The Playhouse is in flames !
And lo! where Catherine-street extends, Whitford and Mitford join'd the train, A fiery tail its lustre lends
Huggins and Muggins from Chick Lane, To every window pane:
And Clutterbuck, who got a sprain Blushes each spout in Martlet Court,
Before the plug was found. And Barbican, moth-eaten fort,
Hobson and Jobson did not sleep,
For both were in the Donjon Keep
E’en Higginbottom now was posed,
Devouring flames resistless glow,
And blazing rafters downward go,
And never halloo "heads below? And Richardson's Hotel.
Nor notice give at all : Nor these alone, but far and wide
The firemen, terrified, are slow
To bid the pumping torrent flow, Across the Thames's gleaming tide,
For fear the roof should fall. To distant fields the blaze was borne,
Back, Robins, back! Crump, stand aloof! And daisy white and hoary thorn
Whitford, keep near the walls ! In borrowed lustre seem'd to sham
Huggins, regard your own behoof, The rose or red sweet Wil-li-am.
For lo ! the blazing rocking roof
Down, down in thunder falls !
An awful pause succeeds the stroke,
And o'er the ruins volumed smoke, Some vast stupendous sacrifice!
Rolling around its pitchy shroud, The summond firemen woke at call,
Conceal'd them from th' astonished crowd. And hied them to their stations all.
At length the mist awhile was clear'd, Starting from short and broken snoose,
When lo ! amid the wreck uprear'd, Each sought his pond'rous hob-naild Gradual a moving head appeard, shoes,
And Eagle firemen knew But first his worsted hosen plied,
'Twas Joseph Muggins, name revered, Plush breeches next in crimson died,
The foreman of their crew. His nether bulk embraced ;
Loud shouted all in signs of wo, Then jacket thick of red or blue,
'A Muggins to the rescue, ho!' Whose massy shoulder gave to view
And pour'd the hissing tide : The badge of each respective crew,
Meanwhile the Muggins fought amain, In tin or copper traced.
And strove and struggled all in vain, The engines thunder'd thro' the street,
For rallying but to fall again,
He tottered, sunk, and died !
Did none attempt, before he fell,
To succor one they loved so well ?
Yes, Higginbottom did aspire
His brother chief to save ;
Served but to share his grave! The belt and oil-skin hat he wore,
Mid blazing beams and scalding streams, The cane he had his men to bang,
Thro' fire and smoke he dauntless broke, Show'd foreman of the British gang.
Where Muggins broke before. His name was Higginbottom; now But sulphury stench and boiling drench, 'Tis meet that I should tell you how Destroying sight, o'erwhelmed him quite, The others came in view:
He sunk to rise no more! The Hand-in-Hand the race begun, Still o'er his head, while Fate he braved, Then came the Phenix and the Sun, His whizzing water-pipe he waved ; Th’ Exchange, where old insurers run, Whitford and Mitford, ply your pumps, The Eagle, where the new;
You, Clutterbuck, come, stir your stumps, With these came Rumford, Bumford, Cole, Why are you in such doleful dumps ? Robins from Hockley in the Hole, A fireman, and afraid of bumps ! Lawson and Dawson, cheek by jowl, What are they fear'd on? fools l'od rot'em!'
Crump from St. Giles's Pound : Were the last words of Higginbottom!
That ancient Cerberus of criticism, Dr. Johnson, figures in all his unwieldliness and prolixity; and his skill in logomachi descends, like a mantle, upon his successor. Mark the pompous truisms, and VOL. XI.
the words of learnéd length and thundering sound.' In the stage directions, we are told : Ghost of Dr. Johnson rises from trapdoor, on one side, and Ghost of Boswell from trap-door on the other. The latter bows respectfully to the house, and obsequiously to the Doctor's Ghost, and retires.' Literary Leviathan, loquitur :
• That which was organized by the moral ability of one, has been executed by the physical effort of many, and Drury LANB THEATRE is now complete. Of that part behind the curtain, which has not yet been destined to glow beneath the brush of the varnisher, or vibrate to the hammer of the carpenter, little is thought by the public, and little need be said by the committee. Truth, however, is not to be sacrificed for the accommodation of either; and he who should pronounce that our edifice has received its final embellishment, would be disseminating falsehood without incurring favor, and risking the disgrace of detection without participating the advantage of success.
* Professions lavishly effused and parsimoniously verified are alike inconsistent with the precepts of innate rectitude and the practice of external policy : let it not then be conjectured, that because we are unassuming, we are imbecile ; that forbearance is any indication of despondency, or humility of demerit. He that is the most assured of success, will make the fewest appeals to favor; and where nothing is claimed that is undue, nothing that is due will be withheld. A swelling opening is too often succeeded by an insignificant conclusion. Partrurient mountains have ere now produced muscipular abortions; and the auditor who compares incipient grandeur with final vulgarity, is reminded of the pious hawkers of Constantinople, who solemnly perambute her streets, exclaiming, 'In the name of the Prophet — figs !'
‘Of many who think themselves wise, and of some who are thought wise by others, the exertions are directed to the revival of mouldering and obscure dramas; to endeavors to exalt that which is now rare, only because it was always worthless, and whose deterioration, while it condemned it to living obscurity, by a strange obliquity of moral perception, constitutes its title to posthumous renown. To embody the flying colors of folly; to arrest evanescence ; to give to bubbles the globular consistency as well as form; to exhibit on the stage the pyebald denizen of the stable, and the half-reasoning parent of combs ; to display the brisk locomotion of Columbine, or the tortuous attitudenizing of Punch; these are the occupations of others, whose ambition, limited to the applause of unintellectual fatuity, is too innocuous for the application of satire, and too humble for the incitement of jealousy.
Our refectory will be found to contain every species of fruit, from the cooling nectarine and luscious peach, to the puny pippin and the noxious nut. There Indolence may repose, and Inebriety revel; and the spruce apprentice, rushing in at second account, may there chatter with impunity, debarred by a barrier of brick and mortar from marring that scenic interest in others, which nature and education have disqualified him from comprehending himself.
*Permanent stage doors we have none. That which is permanent