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If we shall not have this year to re- and a gentleman not altogether cord the revival of dramatic genius in to the art of writing for the s England, the events, of which it'will The first nodus in the plot ol be our duty to give the history, are piece, the incident of chal perhaps more important, as they fur. children," is as old as the oldest nish indications of the national mind, in the British Museum, and th not only such as a theatre never gave cond is literally copied from the birth to before, but such as were ne car of Wakefield : nor does the ver before believed to be in the pow- racter of the play put the plot : er of a place of amusement to engen- blush. Helen Worrit
, the be der. The deplorable catastrophe of is a most unnatural delineation Drury-Lane Theatre, which at once
calls for the louder exposure, wrecked the hopes and fortunes of so much as the author has evident many unfortunate sufferers, consti- boured it and thought much of tutes a prominent æra in our record; did perhaps its personator, Mr but still more interesting are the events dan, through whose iriterest the which took place in the sister esta was commended to the stage. blishment; so that it is difficult to de- character of Helen is perhap cide, whether the destruction of Dru. most incongruous compound the ry-Lane, or the resurrection of Co ever exhibited on our motleys vent-Garden, fill the mind with the The young lady is partly a bo most painful reflections. Compared partly a shrew, partly a child a o with these, uninteresting indeed must ture, and partly a malapert. be the little every-day journal of first fact seems to be, that Mr A appearances and new pieces, which, in has found a flippant kind of i point of chronology, take the prece- dence a more obedient spirit dence of these more important events, wit, and his delineation would and which we shall therefore dispatch been very accurate, had he inte as concisely as possible.
to expose the mistake in Helen DRURY-LANE THEATRE.
rit; but she is evidently intende
the author for a real wit, ani Resuming our chronicle of the puny attempts are intended to theatrical season 1808-9, from the every effect of the purest
, kes commencement of the latter of those and most fanciful satire. years, the first novelty we have to re The dialogue of this play is cord at this theatre is the comedy of the most part, insipid ; and, whi Man and Wife, or More Secrets does attempt to soar above its ! than One, by Mr Arnold, the son of level, it as often mistakes bluster the doctor of music of that name, dignity as it does flippancy for
Its happiest recourse is to clap-trap, for emphasis ; and was reduced to by giving almost every speaker some the necessity of forcing out all his thing generous, or something loyal, words, like successive guns in a fer. to say, and thus begging the ques- de-joye. Mr Wright's appearance tion of the audience, who, in a play was, we believe, a mere experiment, like the present, are willing to be as he has since retired to his original careless whether such sentiments are profession of a lecturer. in character or not. Mr Arnold ge On the 9th of the month, was pronerally contrives that his performers duced the Unconscious Counterfeit, shall make their exits with aclap-trap, a new “comedy in two acts," as it a point, or a pun; and he has been was called, from the pen of Mr Gre. behind the scenes long enough to es. fullhe, one of the translators of the timate the effect of this recipe. The Portrait of Cervantes, and the same merit of the piece chiefly consists in gentleman who but two days before a little dramatic skill exhibited in had been fortunate enough to prothe arrangement of the scenes, and cure the performance of another the conduct of the play. We have farce of his by the rival company, been credibly informed that the scene called, Is he á Prince ? Mr Grein which the loyal sailor is introdu- fullhe we understand to be a young ced, was inserted by Mr Sheridan. foreigner of very considerable proIf this be true,
perty, who has settled in this coun*0 what a noble mind is here o'er- try. thrown!"
This farce was well received, but The run of the comedy of Man and it bears a considerable family resem. Wife was interrupted on the 1st of blance to Mr Grefullhe's twin proFebruary, for the purpose of intro- duction. The character of the Baia ducing to a London stage, in the cha- liff, Twitcher, is copied from his tacter of Cato, Mr Wright, lately a namesake, Twitch, in the Good-naprofessor of elocution at Edinburgh, tured Man; but is nevertheless drawn and a performer in Mr Beaumont's by no vulgar hand, or rather by a company at Aberdeen. Elocution hand that has nicely copied vulgarity. is all that can be looked for in such It was dressed, looked, and played by
character as Cato ; but, however Mr G. Smith with matchless slang. excellent Mr Wright's theory may The character of Dashport afforded be, his practice is laboured and stiff, Mr Elliston one of the best displays His personal drawbacks are heavy of his dry humour and grave impuand various; his voice is harsh, his dence we ever witnessed. action ungainly, and his countenance On the 14th February, “A Mono.
susceptible of little expression : he dy on the Death of Sir John Moore,” 3 has a perverse bend of the wrist, and from the pen of Mr M. G. Lewis,
throws out his arms either horizon- was spoken by Mrs Powell. There tally with his shoulders, like a cruci was nothing very remarkable in the fix, or behind his back, like Catalani composition ; but after having been of Collini, when they are driving repeated once or twice, it was supsome terrified opera lover before them pressed by order of the Lord Chamwith the climax of a bravura. He berlain, and was published accordingwas so loud in his general declama. ly with that recommendation. tion, that he left his voice no room We are now drawing towards the
distressing catastrophe, which may be the burning of the Covent-Garden truly said to have “ eclipsed the ga. house, the whole of the magnificent iety of the nation, and diminished the pile of Drury-Lane Theatre was ut. stock of harmless amusement.” On terly destroyed by fire. About half the 23d of February was produced, past ten o'clock at night, an appear. from the pen of Mr Ward, the secre ance of fire was perceived at a wintary to the board of management, and dow on the second story of the theafrom the piano-forte of Mr Bishop, tre, facing Russell-street, which cona new opera, in three acts, called the tinued some time without exciting Circassian Bride.
any suspicion; but in less than : The action is occasioned by the quarter of an hour the fire spread in wars of the Tartars and the Circas. one unbroken flame over the whole of sians, in which, by a new sort of the immense pile, extending from “ modo me Thebis,” three English Brydges street to Drury Lane ; $0 persons are made to interfere. For that the pillar of fire was not less than the purpose of extorting applause 450 feet in breadth. In a very fer from the national feeling, instead of minutes all that part of the theatre, the national taste, two of these are together with the front row of boxesy sailors, who were made to give us fre was on fire, and the rapidity of the quent assurances by their words of flames was such, that before twelve that courage which we know English o'clock the whole interior of the sailors to possess only by their deeds. house was one blaze. The theatre Mr Mathews's first song, “ In Eng- was at this time left to its fate, and land they tell us,” is an easy and hu- the appearance was awfully and tre morous versification of Phædrus’s mendously grand. Never before did fable, “ Repente Calvus," by Mr we behold so immense a body of fame James Smith; Mr Mathews's second and the occasional explosions that song was from the pen of Mr Theo. took place were sublime beyond de dore Hook. The former of these scription. About thirty minutes after songs was saved from the general the commencemement of the conflac wreck of the opera, and has since gration, the statue of Apollo, which formed one of the main planks of Mr surmounted the building, fell into Arnold's opera of the Maniac. The the pit ; and soon afterwards the music of the Circassian Bride has been whole of the roof fell in also. The published, and is in many places ori. reservoir of water on the top of the ginal and beautiful in the highest de- theatre was like a bucket-full to the gree. There is a quintette in the se volume of fire upon which it fell, and cond act of the greatest merit ; and had no visible effect in allaying the Mr Braham and Miss Lyon's first fury of the rival element. When duet is not only excellent in itself, but the leaden cistern fell in, it produced admirably adapted to-the style of its a violent concussion, and the burning singers." We trust that Mr Bishop matter which it forced up into the will hereafter find a better vehicle air resembled a shower of rockets. than the Circassian Bride for such As for the iron curtain, which was valuable compositions:
intended to save at least one half of On the evening of Friday the 24th the theatre, it had been long ago of February, a period of little more found so infirm and intractable, that than five months having elapsed since it was removed. The interior was
completely destroyed byone o'clock; hurt, and, but for the injudicious at three o'clock the flames had near- zeal of some of the assistants, in oply subsided, and the once magnifi- position to the better judginent of cent structure of Drury-Lane Thea- Mr Peake, the treasurer, none of the tre presented to the view nothing but books or papers would have been an immense heap of ruins. At five o'. lost. Few persons entered the theaclock the flames had completely spent tre after the fire had broken out ; themselves. The multitude assem- but by those few Mrs Jordan's dressbled to view the spectacle amounted ing-room was broken open, and her to at least a hundred thousand per- bureau, looking-glasses, &c. stolen, sons; and, as far as it was possible to Fortunately not a single life was lost, detach the mind of the spectators The burning of Drury-Lane Theafrom the terrible calamity in view, tre left every onein despair of seeing it the appearance of the metropolis was replaced; nor, even at the moment we in the highest degree striking and are now writing, is there any certain magnificent. There was no part of hope that it will be rebuilt. The London in which the effect of the poverty of the concern, and the nafire was not visible ; and every street, ture of the management, presented a for a mile round the theatre, was as hopeless prospect to the actors, who brilliantly illuminated as the streets held several meetings of council, of London are upon the occasion of which were also attended by Mr a general illumination. The tops Sheridan. Nothing, however, was of the houses, in all directions, were fivally settled until the 1st of March, covered with people, and those who when Mr Sheridan agreed to resign stood
upon any house, from which a all controul over the actors and acview of Westminster or Blackfriars tresses of the establis ent, and to bridges could be seen, might perceive leave them to their fortune. Shortly every passenger upon them, and dis- afterwards, however, he changed his tinctly count the ballustrades. The mind, and informed them that they reflection of the conflagration on the must provide for himself and his son, Thames was another striking fea. They at first endeavoured to obtain ture in the general splendour of the the Lord Chamberlain's licence to scene : the water appeared like a perform, independently of the pasheet of fire. The burning of Co- tent; but Mr Sheridan was before. vent-Garden Theatre cannot be com- hand with them in their application pared in terrific grandeur with this to his lordship; and they were fain mighty conflagration. The building to put up with a temporary licence of this theatre cost 200,000l. Of the “ for three nights only" for their immense property of all sorts, scenery, own particular emolument. Housemachinery, dresses, decorations, mu room, and the assistance of the whole sic, instruments, manuscripts, &c. of corps de ballet of the King's Thea. which nothing was saved, we can tre, was “gratuitously" furnished form no estimate. It was insured them, at 1001. per night, by Mr for only 35,0001., and the whole of Taylor of the Opera House ; and on this money was immediately attached the 16th, 20th, and 23d of March, by his Grace the Duke of Bedford, blank nights of the Italian opera,
the the ground landlord. The treasury, Drury-Lane company played, to having a party-wall, stood alone un crowded houses, at the followivg
VOL. II. PART II.
temporary prices of admission-boxes tuitously presented to the burnt-out 7s. pit 5s. and gallery 3s. 6d. An company by Mr Leigh, a gentleman occasional address, written by Mr of property, residing at Bexley in Eyre of the company, was delivered Kent ; and this word gratuitously by Mr Elliston. The proprietors of we are taught not to understand in the opera-boxes liberally' forewent the sense in which it is used by Ms their claims to them in favour of the Taylor of the Opera House. The public, and the company cleared 22001. plot of this piece is by many degrees In the mean time, the actors had too complex, and the story is of too been more successful in their applica- serious a cast for comedy. It shews tion to the Lord Chamberlain for a the more so, too, by the side of the lasting licence to play at the Lyceum comic scenes of the play, which, on Theatre, in the Strand, which they the other hand, are too farcical. It accordingly hired, and immediately had a tolerable run, and, with the set about fitting up. They conceal- exception of a little farce, was the ed all this from the public, however, only novelty of the remainder of the and, Passion-week being at an end, season.
The farce to which we al. took their advanced prices for play- lude was called Temper, or the Doing “three nights more" at the Ope- mestic Tyrant, and was translated ra-House, commencing with the at- by Mr M. G. Lewis from Le Grontraction of Mrs Siddons, and closing deur of Brueys and Palaprat, and prewith that of Madame Catalani. On sented as a gift to the company, who the last of these evenings, the crowd played it for the first time on the 1st was perfectly unprecedented; the of May. The opening of the plot is company, as Mr Elliston stated to detailed by a servant,(Mr Bannister,) the audience in his speech of thanks, who, without having heard a word of grew rich enough “ to pay the whole the parties' conversation, pretends of the salaries up to that period.” perfectly to understand what they For his “ gratuitous” loan of the meant by their actions, which he very Opera House, Mr Taylor received drolly and effectively repeats and in7001.
terprets. Mr Lewis has made as From the 11th of April, the com much of this excellent idea as could pany, with the exception of Mrs Jur- be done, in his tale of “ My Uncle's dan, who seccded from them, played Garret Window." The dialogue beregularly, at the usual prices of ad- tween the master and his servant in mission, at the Lyceum Theatre in the first act was well translated, and the Strand, which is a slight and in- could not fail to produce effect in the commodious building, having all the hands of Mr Dowton; but, however aspect
of a provincial theatre. It is highly we think of Mr Lewis's incapacious enough, however, to hold vention in other respects, he certainfrom 2501. to 3001. ; and is more ly did not betray wit and humour central in its situation than the Hay- enough to carry him through with market.
the rest of his farce, which conseOn the 21st of April was produ- quently met with no great success. ced a new comedy, entitled Grieving's On the 25th of September followa Folly, which had, we believe, been ing, the Lyceum Theatre opened for rejected by the Drury-Lane board the new Drury-Lane season, under of management, but which was gra- different circumstances. During the