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their witless advice upon a subject of which they are profoundly ignorant. When a satirist, like Lord Byron or Mr. Charles Sprague, or any man of talent, undertakes to lash the vices of the stage, the lack of practical knowledge is overlooked in the display of poetic power; they present us with a forcible picture of what is bad, but without pointing out the efficient means of making that bad better ; they dwell much upon the faults and follies of the system, because faults and follies are the food of the satirist; and they will even, at times, give very fine advice, which has only the fault of not being practicable. They ought to bear in mind wbat Portia truly and sensibly says, “If to do were as easy as to know what were good to do, chapels had been churches and poor men's cottages princes' palaces. It is a good divine that follows his own instructions." Lord Byron, when he dipped his pen in gall, and wrote his "English bards and Scotch reviewers," denounced the stage among other existing follies ; but when he actually became concerned in the management of Drury-lane, he found it a great deal easier to censure than amend. And yet now the A. and B. newspaper critics prate about the offence given to their delicate tastes, when a profitable piece of nonsense happens to be enacted, instead of Shakspeare or the sterling English comedies!" But the
best of the joke is, that most of this kind of persons, whom we have had the misfortune to become acquainted with, in reality know no more of the sterling English comedies (except a few of the most popular) than they do of Homer in the orignal; and as for Shakspeare, their knowledge of him is confined to his Macbeth, Othello, Richard the Third, and a few more of his acting plays; while his more imaginative ones, his Tempest and Midsummer Night's Dream, are so much heathen Greek to them; nay, one whom we knew, that pretended a most overweening admiration for the immortal bard, actually did not know that he had written either songs or sonnets; and upon being told that the popular song of " Bid me discourse," was one of his, resented the information as an impudent attempt to undervalue his understanding and impose upon his credulity! Yet this is, for the most part, the sort of people that affect a stately supremacy, and talk about managers “dazzling the eyes of the ignorant vulgar," and " catering for the vitiated taste of the public."
Now we are by no means going so far as to contend that the drama as it is," is any thing like the “drama as it ought to be:" but we do mean to say, that there is an “infinite deal of nothing," or, at least, nothing but unmingled cant, preached
upon this very subject. Even at the present day, Shakspeare is played ten times to any other author's once, and would, if the public attended, be enacted still more frequently; and for this simple and satisfactory reason, that his drama has not one half the expense of modern pieces, for they have the beau
“Needs not the foreign aid of ornament ;"
consequently, the cost of “ scenery, machinery, dresses, and decorations,” is all saved ; and to those who, for want of a genuine admiration of that truly immortal man, counterfeit an ardent longing for his more frequent presentation on the stage, we would say~-or rather we will tell them an anecdote which, though old, is good and applicable, and may be more to the purpose than
argument. A certain king of France had a very pretty queen whom he loved “passing well,” at least, considering that he was a Frenchman and she was his wife, but still not with such exclusive devotion as to prevent
The king, instead of answering the question, asked the priest what dish he was most partial to. "Partridges,” answered the friar, in an emphatic tone, while his eyes glistened and his lips moved invo luntarily at the ideas which the mention of has favourite repast called forth—“ partridges, your majesty.” The next morning the worthy clergyman was lodged in prison, and for fourteen days, morning, noon and night-breakfast, dinner, and supper -partridges and partridges only were set before him, until the gastric juices of the worthy ecclesiastic could no longer endure this horrible monotony, and he exclaimed, in an agony of feeling, that " they might imprison him as long as they liked, if they would only give him something else to eat !" Upon this the king sent for him. “How is this," said his majesty," that you complain of your favourite fare?" "Partridges are excellent," quoth the friar, “but always partridges !” “ The queen is excellent,” retorted his majesty, - but always the queen!" and so the king had his joke, and the priest a change of diet. Now we hope that no person whose imagination particularly qualifies him for finding out a bad moral, will infer from this, that we mean to applaud his majesty's very improper and naughty behaviour; all that is meant to be deduced from the story is, that Shakspeare, always Shakspeare, would
be neither profitable to the managers, nor pleasing to the public.
The mind of man requires a variety of intellectual food, just as the stomach requires a variety of animal nutriment; and that mind is perhaps the healthiest, and that stomach the strongest, which can enjoy themselves off whatever is set before them: what they lose in extreme delicacy, they make up in vigour. With some people, as the saying is, “all is fish that comes to their net ;" if they can get a good tragedy or comedy, so much the bet
if not, an opera will do as well ; if that is not to be had, why then a broad farce, or a broader melo-drama; or in default of these, even an extravaganza or a pantomime; always provided, that the thing be tolerably good of its kind; and the man who on one night laughs heartily at the extravagance of Hilson, or the extravagant extravagance of Barnes, in some of their “broad-grin” parts, is more likely on the next to relish the passion and pathos, the exquisite poetry and divine philosophy of Shakspeare, than one of those squeamish and pedantic personages, whose
• Visages do cream and mantle like a standing pool,"
who dare not be caught enjoying themselves with any thing save what is of acknowledged excel