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MAN IN THE MOON.
Saturday, 14th Jan. 1804.
CRITIQUE ON THE ENTERTAINMENT OF CINDERELLA,
I do not entertain the opinion that there is not any thing that deserves notice but great and mighty matters, and that in the mention of the drama, a farce, or a pantomime, is below criticism; I am of opinion, that every thing which is good of its kind, should be préserved ; a mite is acceptable in the work of charity, and in that of truth or morality the humblest attempt to uphold virtue, and to correct the heart, has its value in proportion as it serves to assist the great cause of humanity, and to add up something more in the sum of good to man. In the present depraved state of morals and taste, even a pantomime may serye to refresh the
memory, and bring the old-fashioned lessons we received in childhood to our recollection, to make us continue to be pleased with virtue, and in love with the unalterable character of truth. I shall, therefore, upon
these grounds detail the performance of the new piece called CINDERELLA, or the Glass Slipper; and first, of the plot. The goddess Venus, and the little god Cupid, who certainly make themselves as busy with mortals as any of the other deities, be they who they may, are represented as desirous to enslave a young handsome prince in the toils of virtuous love, and a great deal of consultation is held in heaven (and a very beautiful place heaven is represented to be): at this consultation, Venus decides upon the proper object for the prince's love; and by her extraordinary judgment in such affairs, finds her out in the person of the unhappy Cinderella, who suffers every thing disgraceful from the cruelty and contempt of her two sisters, who do not altogether vary in the features of character from many fine ladies of the present day. Poor Cinderella is kept in the kitchen to do the domestic duties of a servant; a man is also kept, and, at the commands of his mistress, his duty is to domineer over, and to perplex the unfortunate Cinderella; a middle character, known also in common life, where ignorance assumes fresh arrogance upon derived consequence, and oppresses and insults the weak. Not so this honest fellow, who seeks opportunities to comfort the debased and distrest Cinderella; and, as it not unfrequently happens in real life, an apparently trifling incident leads to a great event. A poor beggar boy, attended by his mother, comes to the door of the two sisters, but are rejected with scorn; for the ladies are invited to the ball to be given by the young prince, and pride and vanity occupy their minds. The poor beggar boy,
who is, in fact, Cupid, attended by one of the companions of Venus, having been turned out of the upper room, visits the kitchen, and there ask food of the humble Cinderella. Here nature prevails, and, affectionate to the poor, she divides with them her scanty meal, supplied her by the honest attendant : the moral, which effects so much in the original story upon the young mind, now begins to appear, and the heart beats with the delightful impulse attending the contemplation of a kind and good action. She gives--and she receives a reward she did not expect; and she who was insultingly refused a ticket for the ball by her sisters, is invited to it by Cupid, who assumes the dress of the prince's page. A pumpkin becomes changed into a magnificent car, and some mice let out of a trap are transformed into six handsome ponies; absurd as this may appear to a cold and torpid spectator, it certainly does awaken in the sensible mind lively impressions of the success of good intentions, attended with a glow of triumph on the side of virtue, Cinderella receives, however, a charge to quit the ball before the hour of twelve; from which this moral may be drawn—that we can only indulge pleasure with safety while we use it with discretion. At the ball, Cinderella is not known by her flaunty sisters; but she occupies the sole attention of the prince, becomes his partner, and is seated by his side-a true emblem of vicissitude in life. The time now advances fast to the limited hour, but love (and the idea has much naivetè and beauty) manages to put back the hand of the dial. Inexorable Time, however, rectifies the mistake, and
in the midst of the dance Cinderella listens to the hour striking twelve. In trepidation and despair she hears the last stroke of the bell, but too late ; her fine dress in an instant becomes the homely garb of the kitchen maid, and her poor honest attendant, who had been adorned also, by the magic of the goddess, in elegant attire, re-assumes the garb of the serving-man. Cinderella is now recognized by her sisters, and is hustled out of the ball room, leaving behind her a glass slipper; shewing, in a very moral point of view, the punishment of excess, and the mischief of disobedience. The prince, enamoured with the fair stranger who appeared at the ball, now issues an edict, offering his hand to the lady whom the glass slipper should fit. The ascent of Cupid in the planet Venus, which shoots down to receive him, has a charming effect, and keeps up the classical beauties of the piece. The unhappy Cinderella receives forgiveness for her fault, and her honest attendant very opportunely, as he thinks, þrings in another pumpkin and another trap of mice, in hopes of another chariot and horses, but he is deceived; and the wholesome old maxim, that an opportunity lost is not to be regained, becomes verified; they have new difficulties to overcome. In the next scene the candidates for the slipper appear, and among the rest the sisters of Cinderella, who experience all the mortifications of presumption. Numerous are the claimants who are dismissed, and, at last, through the persuasion of her faithful attendant, Cinderella appears in her homely garb a candidate for the prize; but she is only hooted at and pushed aside
by her cruel sisters, until the prince comes forward and nobly asserts the right of even the humblest individual to a trial; when, to the great astonishment of all, the slipper fits, and she produces the other from her bosom. Cinderella, now in the seat of honour, forgives her oppressors, embraces her sisters, and tastes the true gratification and triumph of modest merit over the circumstances of her former wayward fortune. This
may justly be called a speaking pantomime, for it does speak most feelingly to the heart. Very many indeed are the instances of mind in the author, besides the natural beauties of the design, taken from my old friend, Mother Goose, whose little gilt folio is, in my opinion, worth all that Mirabeau ever wrote. Genius, truth, and taste are combined in the piece of Cinderella, in a way that can please and delight with real and lasting entertainment,
Much are the proprietors, renters, and managers indebted to Mother Goose, and her getter up, for a production that promises to produce so much to the treasury. It would ill become the Man in the Moon to pass over in silence the just discrimination of character in the acting of Miss De Camp; it is chaste and natural, and the modesty of the depreciated Cinderella is admirably preserved throughout the piece. A change of fortune does not puff up with arrogance the mind impressed with truth and virtue, nor does the elegant manners of this excellent comedian in the last act make us believe that Cinderella is another per Son,