After all the learning, wrangling, and solemn exhortation of our preceding pages, we think we may venture to treat our readers with a little morsel of town-made gayety, without and great derogation from our established character for seriousness and contempt of trifles. We are aware, indeed, that there is no way by which we could so certainly ingratiate ourselves with our provincial readers, as by dealing largely in such articles; and we can assure them, that if we have not hitherto indulged them very often in this manner, it is only because we have not often met with any thing nearly so good as the little volume before us. We have seen nothing comparable to it indeed since the publication of the poetry of he Antijacobin; and though it wants the high seasoning of politics and personality, which no doubt contributed much to the currency of that celebrated collection, we are not sure that it does not exhibit, on the whole, a still more exquisite talent of imitation, wit, powers of poetical composition that are scarcely inferior.
We must not forget however to inform our country readers, that these "Rejected Addresses" are merely a series of imitations of the style and manner of the most celebrated living writers — who are here supposed to have tried their hands at address to be spoken at the opening of the New Theatre in Drury-Lane — in the hope, we presume, of obtaining the twenty-pound prize which the munificent managers are said to have held out to the successful candidate. The names of the imaginary competitors, whose works are now offered to the public, are only indicated by their initials; and there are one or two which we really do not know how to fill up. By far the greater however, are such as cannot possibly be mistaken; and no reader of Scott, Crabbe, Southey, Wordsworth, Lewis, Moore, Spencer, could require the aid, even of their initials, to recognize them in their portraits. Coleridge, Coleman, and Lord Byron, are not quite such striking likenesses. Of Dr. Busby's and Mr. Fitzgerald's, we do not hold ourselves qualified to judge — not professing to be deeply read in the works of these originals. There is a prose address however from Mr. Cobbett, which is a admirable — one from the Editor of the Morning Post, which was scarcely worth making — and one from the ghost of Samuel Johnson, which is more unequal than most of the others. The total number is twenty-one.
There is no talent so universally entertaining as that of mimickry — even when it is confiined to the lively imitation of the air and manner — the voice, gait, and external deportment of ordinary individuals. Nor is this to be ascribed entirely to our wicked love of ridicule; for, though we must not assign a very high intellectual rank to an art which is said to have attained to its greatest perfection among the savages of New Holland, some admiration is undoubtedly due to the capacity of nice observation which it implies; and some gratification may be innocently derived from the sudden perception which it excites of unexpected peculiarities. It rises in interest, however, and in dignity, when it succeeds in expressing, not merely the visible and external characteristics of its objects, but those also of their taste, their genius and temper. A vulgar mimic repeats a man's cant-phrases and known stories, with an exact imitation of his voice, look and gestures; but he is an artist of a far higher description, who can make stories or reasonings in his manner, and represent the features and movements of his mind, as well as the accidents of his body. The same distinction applies to the mimickry, if it may be so called, of an author's style and manner of writing. To copy his peculiar phrases or turns of expression — to borrow the grammatical structure of sentences, or the metrical balance of his lines — or to crowd and string together all the pedantic or affected words which he become remarkable for using — applying or misapplying all these without the least regard to the character of his genius, or the spirit of his compositions, is to imitate an author only as a monkey might imitate a man — or, at best, to support a masquerade character on the strength of the dress only; and at all events, requires as little talent, and deserves as little praise, as the mimetic exhibitions in the neighbourhood of Port-Sydney. It is another matter, however, to be able to borrow the diction and manner of a celebrated writer to express sentiments like his own — to write as he would have written on the subject proposed to his imitator — to think his thoughts in short, as well as to use his words — and to make the revival of his style appear natural consequence of the strong conception of his peculiar ideas. To do this in all the perfection of which it is capable, requires talents, perhaps, not inferior to those of the original on whom they are employed — together with a faculty of observation, and a dexterity of application, which that original might not always possess; and should not only afford nearly as great pleasure to the reader, as a piece of composition, — but may teach him some lessons, or open up to him some views, which could not have been otherwise disclosed.
The exact imitation of a good thing, it must be admitted, promises to be a pretty good thing in itself; but if the resemblance be very striking, it commonly has the additional advantage of letting us more completely into the secret of the original author, and enabling us to understand far more clearly in what the peculiarity of his manner consists, than most of us should ever have done without this assistance. The resemblance, it is obvious, can only be rendered striking by exaggerating a little, and bringing more conspicuously forward, all that is peculiar and characteristic in the model; and the marking features, which were somewhat shaded and confused in their natural presentment, being thus magnified and disengaged in the copy, are more easily observed and comprehended, and their effect traced with infinitely more ease and assurance; — just as the course of a river, or a range of mountains, is more distinctly understood when laid down on a map or plan, than when studied in their natural proportions. Thus, in Burke's imitation of Bolingbroke (the most perfect specimen, perhaps, which ever will exist of the art of which we are speaking), we have all the qualities which distinguish the style, or we may indeed say, the genius, of that noble writer, as it were, concentrated and brought at once before us; so that an ordinary reader, who, in perusing his genuine works, merely felt himself dazzled and disappointed — delighted and wearied he could not tell why, is now enabled to form a definite and precise conception of the causes of those opposite sensations, — and to trace to the nobleness of the diction and the inaccuracy of the reasoning — the boldness of the propositions and the rashness of the inductions — the magnificence of the pretensions and the feebleness of the performance, those contradictory judgments with the confused result of which he had been perplexed in his study of the original. The same thing may be said of the imitation of Darwin, contained in the Loves of the Triangles, though confessedly of a satirical or ludicrous character. All his peculiarities are there brought together, and crowded into a little space, where they can be compared and estimated with ease. His essence, in short, is extracted, and separated in a good degree from what is common to him with the rest of his species; — and while he is recognized at once as the original from whom all those characteristic traits have been borrowed, that original itself is far better understood — because the copy presents no traits but such as are characteristic.
This highest species of imitation, therefore, we conceive to be of no slight value in fixing the taste and judgment of the public, even with regard to the great standard and original authors who naturally became its subjects. The pieces before us, indeed, do not fall correctly under this denomination: — the subject to which they are confined, and the occasion on which they are supposed to have been produced, having necessarily given them a certain ludicrous and light air, not quite suitable to the gravity of some of the originals, and imparted to some of them a sort of mongrel character in which we may discern the features both of burlesque and of imitation. There is enough, however, of the latter to answer the purposes we have indicated above; while the tone of levity and ridicule may answer the farther purpose of admonishing the authors who are personated in this exhibition, upon what quarters they trespass on the borders of absurdity, and from what peculiarities they are in danger of becoming ridiculous. A mere parody or travestie, indeed, is commonly made, with the greatest success, upon the tenderest and most sublime passages in poetry; the whole secret of such performances consisting in the substitution of a mean, ludicrous, or disgusting subject for a touching or noble one. But where this is not the case, and where the passages imitated are conversant with objects nearly as familiar, and names and actions almost as undignified as those in the imitation, the author may be assured, that what a moderate degree of exaggeration has thus made eminently laughable, could never have been worthy of a place in serious and lofty poetry. — But we are falling, we perceive, into our old trick of dissertation, and forgetting our benevolent intention to dedicate this article to the amusement of our readers. — We break off therefore abruptly, and turn without farther preamble to the book.
The first piece, under the name of the loyal Mr. Fitzgerald, though as good we suppose as the original, is not very interesting. Whether it be very like Mr. Fitzgerald or not, however, it must be allowed that the vulgarity, servility, and gross absurdity of the newspaper scribblers is well rendered in the following lines.
Gallia's stern despot shall in vain advance
From Paris, the metropolis of France;
By this day month the monster shall not gain
A foot of land in Portugal or Spain.
See Wellington in Salamanca's field
Forces his favourite General to yield,
Breaks thro' his hues, and leaves his boasted Marmont
Expiring on the plain without an arm on:
Madrid he enters at the cannon's mouth,
And then the villages still further south.
Base Buonaparte, filled with deadly ire,
Sets one by one our playhouses on fire:
Some years ago he pounced with deadly glee on
The Opera House, then burnt down the Pantheon;
Nay, still unsated, in a coat of flames,
Next at Millbank he crossed the river Thames:
Thy hatch, O Halfpenny! pass'd in a trice,
Boil'd some black pitch, and burnt down Astley's twice, &c.
Who, while the British squadron lay off Cork,
(God bless the Regent and the Duke of York,)
With a foul earthquake ravaged the Caraccas,
And raised the price of dry goods and tobaccos?
Who makes the quartern loaf and Luddites rise?
Who fills the butchers' shops with large blue flies?
Who thought in flames St. James's court to pinch?
Who burnt the wardrobe of poor Lady Finch?
Why he, who, forging for this Isle a yoke,
Reminds me of a line I lately spoke,
"The tree of freedom is the British oak."
Bless every man possessed of aught to give;
Long may Long Tilney Wellesley Long Pole live;
God bless the army, bless their coats of scarlet,
God bless the navy, bless the Princess Charlotte, &c. p. 2-4.
The next, in the name of Mr. W. Wordsworth, is entitled "The Baby's Debut," and is characteristically announced as intended to have been "spoken in the character of Nancy Lake, a girl eight veers of age, who is drawn upon the stage in a child's chaise, by Samuel Hughes, her uncle's porter." The author does not, in this instance, attempt to copy any of the higher attributes of Mr. Wordsworth's poetry; but has succeeded perfectly in the imitation of his maukish affectations of childish simplicity and nursery stammering. We hope it will make him ashamed of his Alice Fell, and the greater part of his last volumes — of which it is by no means a parody, but a very fair, and indeed we think a flattering imitation. We give a stanza or two as a specimen.
My brother Jack was nine in May,
And I was eight on New Year's Day;
So in Kate Wilson's shop
Papa, (he's my papa and Jack's)
Bought me last week a doll of wax,
And brother Jack a top.
Jack's in the pouts, and this it is,
He thinks mine came to more than his,
So to my drawer he goes,
Takes out the doll, and, Oh, my stars!
He pokes her head between the bars,
And melts off half her nose! p. 5, 6.
We pass over this family feud, and the history of her conveyance to the theatre; and proceed to this interesting young, lady's observations upon its appearance.
My father's walls are made of brick,
But not so tall, and not so thick,
As these; and, goodness me!
My father's beams are made of wood,
But never, never half so good,
As these that now I see.
What a large floor! 'tis like a town!
The carpet, when they lay it down,
Won't hide it, I'll be bound!
And there's a row of lamps, my eye!
How they do blaze! I wonder why
They keep them on the ground.
At first I caught hold of the wing,
And kept away; but Mr. Thing-
umbob, the prompter man,
Gave with his hand my chaise a shove,
And said, Go on, my pretty love,
Speak to 'em, little Nan. p. 8, 9.
The exit is equally characteristic.
But while I'm speaking, where's papa?
And where's my aunt? and where's mama
Where's Jack? Oh, there they sit!
They smile, they nod, I'll go my ways,
And order round poor Billy's chaise,
To join them in the pit.
And now, good gentlefolks, I go
To join mama, and see the show;
So, bidding you adieu,
I curtsey, like a pretty miss,
And if you'll blow to me a kiss,
I'll blow a kiss to you.
[Blows a kiss, and exit.] p. 9, 10.
The next is ascribed to Lord Byron. But the author has succeeded better in copying the moody and misanthropic sentiments of Childe Harold, than the nervous and impetuous diction in which his noble biographer has embodied them. The attempt, however, indicates very considerable power; and the flow of the verse and the construction of the poetical period are imitated with no ordinary skill.
Sated with home, of wife, of children tired,
The restless soul is driven abroad to roam;
Sated abroad, all seen, yet nought admired,
The restless soul is driven to ramble home;
Sated with both, beneath new Drury's dome
The fiend Ennui awhile consents to pine,
There growls, and curses, like a deadly Gnome,
Scorning to view fantastic Columbine,
Viewing with scorn end hate the nonsense of the Nine. p. 11.
We can add but one stanza more from the indignant attack an the dissipated frequenters of playhouses.
Your debts mount high — ye plunge in deeper waste;
The plaintiff calls — no warning voice ye hear!
The plaintiff sues — to public shows ye haste;
The bailiff threats — ye feel no idle fear;
Who can arrest your prodigal career?
Who can keep down the levity of youth?
What sound can startle age's stubborn ear?
Who can redeem from wretchedness and ruth
Men true to falsehood's voice, false to the voice of truth? p. 14.
Mr. Cobbett's Address follows; but we shall leave it, with the rest of the prose pieces, to the end; and proceed to Mr. Moore's, which is entitled "The Living Lustres," and appears to us a very fair imitation of the fantastic verses which that ingenious person indites when he is merely gallant, and, resisting the lures of voluptuousness, is not enough in earnest to be tender. It begins,
O why should our dull retrospective addresses
Fall damp as wet blankets on Drury Lane fire?
Away with blue devils, away with distresses,
And give the gay spirit to sparkling desire!
Let artists decide on the beauties of Drury,
The richest to me is when woman is there
The question of Houses I leave to the jury;
The fairest to me is the house of the fair. p. 25.
The main drift of the piece, however, as well as its title, is explained in the following stanzas.
How well would our artists attend to their duties,
Our house save in oil, and our authors wit,
In lieu of you lamps if a row of young beauties
Glanced light from their eyes between us and the pit.
Attun'd to the scene when the pale yellow moon is on
Tower and tree they'd look sober and sage,
And when they all wink'd their dear peepers in unison,
Night, pitchy night would envelop the stage.
All! could I some girl from yon box for her youth pick,
I'd love her as long as she blossom'd in youth
Oh! white is the ivory case of the toothpick,
But when beauty smiles how much whiter the tooth! p. 26-27.
The next, entitled "The Rebuilding," is in name of Mr. Southey; and is one of the best in the collection. It is in the style of the Kehama of that multifarious author; and is supposed to be spoken in the character of one of his Glendoveers. The imitation of the diction and measure, we think, is nearly almost perfect; and the descriptions as good as the original. It opens with an account of the burning of the old theatre, formed upon the pattern of the Funeral of Arvalan.
Midnight, yet not a nose
From Tower-hill to Piccadilly snored!
Midnight, yet not a nose
From Indra drew the essence of repose!
See with what crimson fury,
By Indra fann'd, the god of fire ascends the walls of Drury;
The tops of houses, blue with lead,
Bend beneath the landlord's tread;
Master and 'prentice, serving man and lord,
Nailor and taylor,
Grazier and brazier,
Thro' streets and alleys pour'd,
All, all abroad to gaze, And wonder at the blaze. p. 29-30.
And a little after,
Drury Lane! Drury Lane!
Drury Lane! Drury Lane!
They shout and they hollow again and again.
All, all in vain!
Water turns steam;
Each blazing beam
Hisses defiance to the eddying spout;
It seems but too plain that nothing can put it out
Drury Lane! Drury Lane!
See, Drury Lane expires! p. 31.
There is then a great deal of undescribable intriguing between Veeshnoo, who wishes to rebuild the house through the instrumentality of Mr. Whitbread, and Yamen who wishes to prevent it. The power of restoration, however, brings all the parties concerned to an amicable meeting; the effect of which, on the power of destruction, is thus finely represented.
Yamen beheld, and wither'd at the sight;
Long had he aim'd the sun-beam to control,
For light was hateful to his soul:
Go on, cried the hellish one, yellow with spite;
Go on, cried the hellish one, yellow with spleen;
Thy toils of the morning, like Ithaca's queen,
I'll toil to undo every night.
The lawyers are met at the Crown and Anchor,
And Yamen's visage grows blanker and blanker.
The lawyers are met at the Anchor and Crown,
And Yamen's cheek is a russety brown.
Veeshnoo, now thy work proceeds;
The solicitor reads,
And, merit of merit!
Red wax and green ferret
Are fix'd at the foot of the deeds! p. 35-36.
"Drury's Dirge," by Laura Matilda, is not of the first quality. The verses, to be sure, are very smooth, and very nonsensical — as was intended; but they are not so good as Swift's celebrated Song by a Person of Quality; and are so exactly in same measure, and on the same plan, that it is impossible to avoid making the comparison. The reader may take these three stanzas as a sample.
Lurid smoke and frank suspicion,
Hand in hand reluctant dance;
While the God fulfils his mission,
Chivalry resign thy lance.
Hark! the engines blandly thunder,
Fleecy clouds dishevelled lie;
And the firemen, mute with wonder,
On the son of Saturn cry.
See the bird of Ammon sailing,
Perches on the engine's peak,
And the Eagle fireman hailing,
Sooths them with its bickering beak. p. 40, 41.
"A Tale of Drury," by Walter Scott, is upon the whole admirably executed; though the introduction is rather tame. The burning is described with the mighty Minstrel's characteristic love of localities.
As chaos which, by heavenly doom,
Had slept in everlasting gloom,
Started with terror and surprize,
When light first flash'd upon her eyes;
So London's sons in nightcap woke,
In bedgown woke her dames,
For shouts were heard mid fire and smoke,
And twice ten hundred voices spoke,
The Playhouse is in flames.
And lo! where Catherine Street extends
A fiery tail its lustre lends
To every window pane:
Blushes each spout in Martlet Court,
And Barbican, moth-eaten fort,
And Covent Garden kennels sport,
A bright ensanguin'd drain;
Meux's new brewhouse shows the light,
Rowland Hill's chapel, and the height
Where patent shot they sell:
The Tennis Court, so fair and tall,
Partakes the ray with Surgeons' Hall,
The ticket porters' house of tall,
Old Bedlam, close by London wall,
Wrght's shrimp and oyster shop withal,
And Richardson's Hotel. p. 46, 47.
The mustering of the firemen is not less meritorious.
The summon'd firemen woke at call,
And hied them to their stations all.
Starting from short and broken snoose,
Each sought his pond'rous hobnail'd shoes,
But first his worsted hosen plied,
Plush breeches next in crimson dyed,
His nether bulk embraced;
Then jacket thick of red or blue,
Whose massy shoulder gave to view
The badge of each respective crew,
In tin or copper traced.
The engines thunder'd thro' the street,
Fire-hook, pipe, bucket, all complete,
And torches glared, and clattering feet
Along the pavement paced. p. 48.
The procession of the engines, with the badges of their different companies, and the horrible names of their leaders, is also admirable — but we cannot make room for it. The account of the death of Muggins and Higginbottom, however, must find a place. These are the two principal firemen who suffered on this occasion; and the catastrophe is described with a spirit not unworthy of the name so venturously assumed by the describer. After the roof falls in, there is silence and great consternation.
When lo! amid the wreck uprear'd
Gradual a moving head appear'd,
And Eagle firemen knew
'Twas Joseph Muggins, name rever'd,
The foremen of their crew.
Loud shouted all in sign of woe,
"A Muggins to the rescue, ho!"
And pour'd the hissing tide:
Meanwhile the Muggins fought amain,
And strove and struggled all in vain,
For rallying but to fall again,
He totter'd, sunk, and died!
Did none attempt, before he fell,
To succour one they lov'd so well?
Yes, Higginbottom did aspire
(His fireman's soul was all on fire,)
His brother chief to save;
But ah! his reckless generous ire
Serv'd but to share his grave!
Mid blazing beams and scalding streams
Thro' fire and smoke he dauntless bred—
Where Muggins broke before.
But sulphury stench and boiling drench
Destroying sight o'erwhelm'd him quite.
He sunk to rise no more.
Still o'er his head, while Fate he braved,
His whizzing water-pipe he waved;
"Whitford and Mitford ply your pumps,
You, Clutterbuck, come stir your stumps,
Why are you in such doleful dumps?
A fireman and afraid of bumps!
What are they fear'd on, fools? 'od rot 'em!"
Were the last words of Higginbottom. p. 50-52.
The rebuilding is recorded in strains as characteristic, and a aptly applied.
Peace to his soul! new prospects bloom,
And toil rebuilds what fires consume!
Eat we and drink we, be our ditty,
"Joy to the managing committee."
Eat we and drink we, join to rum
Roast beef and pudding of the plum;
Forth from thy nook John Homer come,
With bread or ginger brown thy thumb, &c.
Didst mark, how toil'd the busy train
From morn to eve, till Drury Lane
Leap'd like a roebuck from the plain?
Ropes rose and sunk, and rose again,
And nimble workmen trod;
To realize hold Wyatt's plan
Rush'd many a howling Irishman,
Loud clatter'd many a porter can,
And many a ragamuffin clan,
With trowel and with hod. p. 52, 53.
"The Beautiful Incendiary," by the Honourable W. Spencer, is also an imitation of great merit. The flashy, fashionable, artificial style of this writer, with his confident and extravagant compliments, can scarcely be said to be parodied in such lines as the following.
Sobriety cease to be sober,
Cease labour to dig and to delve,
All hail to this tenth of October,
One thousand eight hundred and twelve.
Hah! whom do my peepers remark?
'Tis Hebe with Jupiter's jug;
Oh no, 'tis the pride of the Park,
Fair Lady Elizabeth Mugg.
But ah! why awaken the blaze
Those bright burning-glasses contain,
Whose lens, with concentrated rays,
Proved fatal to old Drury Lane.
'Twas all accidental, they cry,
Away with the flimsy humbug!
'Twas fir'd by a flash from the eye
Of Lady Elizabeth Mugg.
Thy face a rich fire-place displays;
The mantle-piece marble — thy brows;
Thine eyes are the bright beaming blaze;
Thy bib, which no trespass allows,
The fender's tall barrier marks;
Thy tippet's the fire-quelling rug
Which serves to extinguish the sparks
Of Lady Elizabeth Mugg.
The Countess a lily appears,
Whose tresses the dewdrops emboss;
The Marchioness blooming in years,
A rose-bud envelop'd in moss;
But thou art the sweet passion flower,
For who would not slavery hug,
To pass but one exquisite hour
In the arms of Elizabeth Mugg? p. 61-64.
"Fire and Ale," by M. G. Lewis, is not less fortunate; and exhibits not only a faithful copy of the spirited, loose, and flowing versification of that singular author, but a very just representation of that mixture of extravagance and jocularity which has impressed most of his writings with the character of a sort f farcical horror. For example—
The fire king one day rather amorous felt;
He mounted his hot copper filly;
His breeches and boots were of tin, and the belt
Was made of cast iron, for fear it should melt
With the heat of the copper colt's belly.
Sure never was skin half so scalding as his!
When an infant, 'twas equally horrid,
For, the water when he was baptized gave a fizz,
And bubbled and simmer'd and started off; whizz!
As soon as it sprinkled his forehead.
Oh then there was glitter and fire in each eye,
For two living coals were the symbols;
His teeth were calcin'd, and his tongue was so dry
It rattled against them as though you should try
To play the piano in thimbles. p. 68-69.
The drift of the story is, that this formidable personage falls in love with Miss Drury the elder, who is consumed in his ardent embrace; when Mr. Whitbread, in the character of the Ale King, fairly bullies him from a similar attempt on her younger sister, who has just come out under his protection.
We have next "Playhouse Musings," by Mr. Coleridge — a piece which is unquestionably Lakish — though we cannot say that we recognize in it an the peculiar traits of that powerful and misdirected genius whose name it has borrowed. We rather think, however, that the tuneful brotherhood will consider it a respectable eclogue. This is the introduction—
My pensive Public, wherefore look you sad?
I had a grandmother, she kept a donkey
To carry to the mart her crockery ware,
And when that donkey look'd me in the face,
His face was sad! and you are sad, my Public!
Joy should be yours: this tenth day of October
Again assembles us in Drury Lane.
Long wept my eye to see the timber planks
That hid our ruins; many a day I cried
Ah me! I fear they never will rebuild it!
Till on one eve, one joyful Monday eve,
As along Charles Street I prepar'd to walk,
Just at the corner, by the pastry cook's,
I heard a trowel tick against a brick.
I look'd me up, and strait a parapet,
Uprose at least seven inches o'er the planks.
Joy to thee, Drury! to myself I said,
He of Blackfriars Road who hymn'd thy downfal
In loud Hosannahs, and who prophesied
That flames like those from prostrate Solyma
Would scorch the hand that ventur'd to rebuild thee,
Has proved a lying prophet. From that hour,
As leisure offer'd, close to Mr. Spring's
Box-office door, I've stood and eyed the builders. p. 73, 74.
"A New Halfpenny Ballad," by a Pic-Nic poet, is a good imitation of what was not worth imitating — that tremendous mixture of vulgarity, nonsense, impudence, and miserable puns, — which, under the name of humorous songs, rouses our polite audiences to a far higher pitch of rapture than Garrick or Siddons ever was able to inspire.
Of "Architectural Atoms," translated by Dr. Busby, we can say very little more than that they appear to us to be far more capable of combining into good poetry than the few lines we were able to read of the learned Doctor's genuine address in the newspapers. They might pass, indeed, for a very tolerable imitation of Darwin; — as for instance,
I sing how casual bricks, in airy climb,
Encounter'd casual horse hair, casual lime;
How rafters borne through wondering clouds elate,
Kiss'd in their slope blue elemental slate,
Clasp'd solid beams in chance-directed fury,
And gave to birth our renovated Drury. p. 82, 83.
Thus with the flames that from old Drury rise
Its elements primaeval sought the skies,
There pendulous to wait the happy hour,
When new attractions should restore their power,
Here embryo sounds in tether lye conceal'd
Like words in northern atmosphere congeal'd.
Here many an embryo laugh and half encore
Clings to the roof, or creeps along the floor.
By puffs concipient some in aether flit,
And soar in bravos from the thundering pit;
While some this mortal life abortive miss,
Crush'd by a groan, or murder'd by a hiss. p. 87.
"An Address" by S. T. P. we can make nothing of; and, professing our ignorance of the author designated by these letters, we can only add, that the address, though a little affected, and not very full of meaning, has no very prominent trait of absurdity, that we can detect; and might have been adopted and spoken, so far as we can perceive, without any hazard of ridicule. In our simplicity, we consider it as a very decent, mellifluous, occasional prologue; and do not understand how it has found its way into its present company.
We come next to three ludicrous parodies — of the story of the Stranger — of George Barnwell — and of the dagger scene in Macbeth, under the signature of Momus Medlar. They are good, we think, as that sort of thing can be; and remind us of the happier efforts of Colman, — whose less successful fooleries are professedly copied in the last piece in the volume. Our readers, we hope, will be satisfied with one stanza from Macbeth.
Now o'er this terrestrial hive
A life paralytic is spread,
For while the one half is alive,
The other is sleepy and dead.
King Duncan in grand majesty
Has got my state bed for a snooze,
I've lent him my slippers, so I
May certainly stand in his shoes. p. 104.
"The Theatre," by the Rev. G. Crabbe, we rather think is the best piece in the collection. It is an exquisite and most masterly imitation, not only of the peculiar style, but of the taste, temper and manner of description of that most original author; and can hardly be said to be in any respect a caricature of that style or manner — except in the excessive profusion of puns and verbal jingles — which, though undoubtedly to be ranked among his characteristics, are never so thick sown in his original works as in this admirable imitation. It does not aim, of course, at any shadow of his pathos or moral sublimity; but seems to us to be a singularly faithful copy of his passages of mere description. It begins as follows.
'Tis sweet to view from half past five to six,
Our long wax candles, with short cotton wicks,
Touch'd by the lamplighter's Promethean art,
Start into light, and make the lighter start:
To see red Phoebus through the gallery pane
Tinge with his beam the beams of Drury Lane,
While gradual parties fill our widen'd pit,
And gape, and gaze, and wonder, ere they sit.
At first, while vacant seats give choice and ease,
Distant or near, they settle where they please;
But when the multitude contracts the span,
And seats are rare, they settle where they can.
Now the full benches, to late corners, doom
No room for standing, miscall'd "standing room."
Hark! the check taker moody silence breaks,
And bawling "Pit full," gives the check he takes. p. 116, 117.
The tuning of the orchestra is given with the same spirit and fidelity; but we rather choose to insert the following descent of a playbill from the upper boxes.
Perchance, while pit and gallery cry, "hats off,"
And aw'd consumption checks his chided cough,
Some giggling daughter of the queen of love
Drops, reft of pin, her play-bill from above
Like Icarus, while laughing galleries clap,
Soars, ducks, and dives in air, the printed scrap:
But, wiser far than he, combustion fears,
And, as it flies, eludes the chandeliers;
Till sinking gradual, with repeated twirl,
It settles, curling, on a fiddler's curl;
Who from his powder'd pate the intruder strikes,
And, for mere malice, sticks it on the spikes. p. 115.
The quaintness and minuteness of the following catalogue, is also in the very spirit of the original author — bating always then undue allowance of puns and concetti to which we have already alluded.
What various swains our motley walls contain!
Fashion from Moorfields, honor from Chick Lane;
Bankers from Paper Buildings here resort,
Bankrupts from Golden Square and Riches Court;
From the Haymarket canting rogues in grain,
Gulls from the Poultry, sots from Water Lane;
The lottery cormorant, the auction shark,
The full price master, and the half price clerk;
Boys who long linger at the gallery door,
With pence twice five, — they want but twopence more,
Till some Samaritan the twopence spares,
And sends them jumping up the gallery stairs.
Critics we boast who ne'er their malice baulk,
But talk their minds, — we wish they'd mind their talk;
Big wordied bullies, who by quarrels live,
Who give the lie, and tell the lie they give;
Jews from St Mary Axe, for jobs so wary,
That for old clothes they'd even axe St. Mary;
And bucks with pockets empty as their pate,
Lax in their gaiters, laxer in their gait. p. 118-19.
We shall conclude with the episode of the loss and recovery of Pat Jennings's hat — which, if Mr. Crabbe had thought at all of describing, we are persuaded he would have described as follows.
Pat Jennings in the upper gallery sat,
But leaning forward, Jennings lost his hat;
Down from the gallery the beaver flew,
And spurn'd the one to settle in the two.
How shall he act? Pay at the gallery door
Two shillings for what cost when new but four?
Now, while his fears anticipate a thief
John Mullins whispers, take my handkerchief.
Thank you, cries Pat, but one won't make a line;
Take mine, cried Wilson, and cried Stokes, take mine.
A motley cable soon Pat Jennings ties,
Where Spital-fields with real India vies,
Like Iris' bow, down darts the painted hue
Starr'd, strip'd, and spotted, yellow, red, and blue,
Old Calico, torn silk, and muslin new.
George Green below, with palpitating hand,
Loops the last kerchief to the beaver's band:
Upsoars the prize; the youth, with joy unfeign'd;
Regain'd the felt, and felt what he regain'd,
While to the applauding galleries grateful Pat
Made a low bow, and touch'd the ransom'd hat.
"Punch's Apotheosis," by G. Colman junior, is too purely nonsensical to be extracted; and both gives less pleasure to the reader, and does less justice to the ingenious author in whose name it stands, than any other of the, poetical imitations.
Of the pieces in prose, we can only afford room for a word on Mr. Cobbett's; and on that by the ghost of Dr Johnson.
The first is a very good copy throughout. It sets off thus.
"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 the next place, if you were ever so much ladies, and ever so gentlemen, I am not, nor ever will be, your humble servant,' &c. — 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 frostwork of Brobdignag filagree; but into a plain, honest, homely, industrious, wholesome, brown brick playhouse. 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 in a palace? Again and again I answer, Mr. Whitbread," &c. p. 19-21.
And a little after—
"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 plastered 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 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 don'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 Salamanca; no, nor Talavera neither, my most Noble Marquis; but plain, honest, black calamanco, stuff breeches. This is right; this is as it should be, &c. &c. p. 22, 23.
Samuel Johnson is not so good. The measure and solemnity of his sentences in all the limited variety of their structure, is indeed imitated with singular skill; — but the diction is caricatured in a vulgar and unpleasing degree. To make Johnson call a door "a ligneous barricado," and its knocker and bell its "frappant and tintinabulant appendages," is neither just nor humorous; and we are surprised that a writer who has given such extraordinary proofs of his talent for finer ridicule and fairer imitation, should have stooped to a vein of pleasantry so low, and so long ago exhausted; especially as, in other passages of the same piece, he has shown how well qualified he was both to catch and to render the trite characteristics of his original. The beginning for example, we think excellent.
"That which was organized by the moral ability of one, has been executed by the physical effort of many, and DRURY LANE 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 who should pronounce that our edifice has received its final embellishment, would he disseminating falsehood without incurring favour, and risking the disgrace of detection without participating the advantage of success.
"Let it not, however, 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 favour; 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. Parturient 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 perambulate her streets, exclaiming, 'In the name of the prophet — figs!'" p. 54, 55.
It ends with a solemn eulogium on Mr. Whitbread, which is thus wound up.
"To his never-slumbering talents you are indebted for whatever pleasure this haunt of the Muses is calculated to afford. If, in defiance of chaotic malevolence, the destroyer of the temple of Diana yet survives in the name of Herostratus, surely we may confidently predict, that the rebuilder of the temple of Apollo will stand recorded to distant posterity in that of — SAMUEL WHITBREAD." p. 59, 60.
Our readers will now have a pretty good idea of the contents of this amusing little volume. We have no conjectures to offer as to its anonymous author. He who is such a master of disguises, may easily be supposed to have been successful in concealing himself; — and with the power of assuming so many styles, is not likely to be detected by his own. We should guess, however, that he had not written a great deal in his own character — that his natural style was neither very lofty nor very grave — and that he rather indulges a partiality for puns and verbal pleasantries. We marvel why he has shut out Campbell and Rogers from his theatre of living poets; — and confidently expect to have our curiosity in this and in all oilier particulars very speedily gratified, when the applause of the country shall induce him to take off his mask.