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cret from the eyes of the world; and forty years ago, Dissent bore not, by we take it upon us to affirm, that not one-fifth part, the proportion which all the faultsof the clergy,—their care- it now bears to the Establishment. lessness -- their non-residence----their Dissent has kept pace with the increalukewarmness—and even their dissen- sing exertions of the clergy: Whence sions with one another,—not all these arises this? We are at no loss for an things combined, had they been ten times greater than they have been, This is, or at least it is pleased to have wrought the Church one half the call itself, an enlightened age. All mischief which has been wrought by men read now-a-days-some even her too ready compliance with the ag- thinkand many pretend to reason. gressions of her ally. The alliance, A dissenting minister who should atindeed, of which Warburton wrote, tack the Church through the sides of has long ceased to exist; and in its her individual clergy, would hardly room has come the connexion between be listened to with patience. We master and servant.
ourselves know one case, in which a In common with the whole nation, respectable minister of the Establishwe have rejoiced in the increased and ed Church was accused of illiberality, increasing zeal manifested by the bie and otherwise vilified by his dissentshops; in their wise and just regula- ing rival; and what was the consetions touching the due performance quence ? That many members of the of divine service in the churches; and congregation which listened to the in the vigilance with which they seem philippic deserted the meeting, bedetermined to watch over the conduct cause they would not hear an indivi. of their clergy. We have seen, too, dual pulled to pieces from the pulpit. with great satisfaction, that one, at Our readers may take our word for it, least, has resolved to subject every that a very different and a more succandidate for holy orders to an exa- cessful course is pursued by the promination, not only on points of divi- pagators of Dissent, than to discourse nity, but on the much neglected, but and dwell upon the errors of the Ese most necessary, qualification of read- tablished clergy. They strike at prining and delivery. In these days, it is ciples and things, and not at men. past dispute, that a good voice, and an - They ask their people, whether Christ impressive manner, tend a thousand be or be not the only head of his times more to draw people together, Church? whether he have, or have not, than the most profound knowledge of left with it, rather than with the civil polemics, and the most rigid ortho- magistrate, the power of determining doxy of principle. We have observed, all points which refer to matters purelikewise, in the Charges of two of our ly spiritual ? whether it be lawful bishops, the Bishops of Gloucester and in the sight of God to prostitute the Chester, several excellent hints, of holy sacrament, by making it the which it is our intention, on some fu- pledge of a man's political sentiments ? ture occasion, to speak more at large. with many other questions of the same All these matters we have seen with import. They ask, moreover, whepleasure, because they come upon us ther it be not blasphemy in one man as indications of a reviving spirit of to declare, that he absolves another zeal, from which much good may be from his sins? whether it be not the expected ultimately to arise. But of next thing to blasphemy to assert, this we are quite convinced, that their that the thief cut down from the gala Lordships attribute more to petty lows, the derider of his Maker and abuses than they merit, and that they his Redeemer, and the pious Christhave not gone to the root of the evil. ian, all die in equally sure and cer
They seem to think that our parish tain hope of the resurrection to eter-, churches are deserted, and the meet- nal life?” To these questions they ing-houses filled, chiefly because the add the power of ridicule and the parochial clergy have been neglectful force of contrast: “What kind of a of their duty. We know better. Thir- church is that,” they say,
" which ty or forty years ago, it might be said first declares us to be cut off as rotthat within the Church of England ten members from the communion of there were many careless stewards; saints; and yet, because the civil maat present, we confidently assert that gistrate enjoins it, pronounces us dear there are few indeed. Yet thirty or brethren at our graves ? What can
we think of a society, which in ons why the Church has lost ground, and
not a standing reproach against the
MODERN COMLC DRAMA.
LOVE'S VICTORY; OR, THR SCHOOL FOR PRIDE. Few things connected with the pub- mn approaches nearer to perfection lic taste are so remarkable as the change than any of the others. The purpose which has taken place in late years, com mon to them all is, to place before both as to audiences, actors, and wri- the s'enses or the imagination copies or ters, in the comic drama. There seems combinations of originals which exist to be a gradual decay in the relish for in the works of nature or of art; and pure comedy ; in lieu of which the that invitation is productive of the larpublic are regaled with five-act farces, gest share of pleasure, which gives and two act prodigies, which are nei- the most faithful copy of such origither Farce, Comedy, nor Tragedy. Even nals as possess, in themselves, most when Comedy presents her decent per- dignity or interest. Sculpture and son, she is so distorted from her natu- painting: are restricted, the one to a ral orderly shape, and made to cut single posture, usually of a single persuch antic capers, that her most faith- son—the other to a single point of acful lovers can scarcely recognise her. tion where several are grouped. When Lifeand Nature are no longer the staple they furnish copies merely of the lower subjects of imitation on the stage. The animals, or of inanimate things, they drama has so far advanced in invention, effect all that art can accomplish in that its persons are not the representa- that kind of imitation ; but when they tives of anything which the living rise to the representation of man, his world holds, but the genuine and un- passions, his sympathies, or his actions, disputed offspring of the authors' so far are they from succeeding in the brains. In short, the Comic Muse, and attempt, that our pleasure in witnessing her friends the players, have entered the result of it arises in a great degree into a grand confederacy against the from a sense of wonder, that even a shaking sides and aching jaws of the little has been done, where it seems so whole play-going public;
and provided difficult to perform anything. When shouts of laughter attest their triumph, we gaze with admiration, mixed with care nothing for the still small voice astonishment, at the Magdalen of Caof reflecting criticism.
nova, or at Raphael's Cartoon of Paul Our most popular comic performers preaching at Athens, we see Penitence (with, doubtless, two or three most personified in the worn figure of a beaurespectable exceptions) are those who tiful woman, emaciated by long cheexcel in broad farce, and who carry the rished sorrows, or we witness the trilargest share of its rant, grimace, and umphs of eloquence more than human, buffoonery into the higher department attested by the looks of a various, ignoof the comic drama. The well-bred rant, and impassioned crowd; but in gentlemen and graceful ladies, who both, it is a glance at only one mowere deemed by our fathers and mo- ment of existence, giving, indeed, from thers such good company, as to give to that very narrowness of representation, the pieces in which they bore a part, an impulse to the fancy, but yet being, the name of genteel comedy, appear, as a representation, for the same reaindeed, under the same appellations, sson, unsatisfactory ard imperfect. and speak the same language ; but But to poetry, all that man can do, they have forgotten their old-fashion- or feel, or suffer, is but one wide and ed good manners, and seem only to flowery field, in which subjects of reremember that it is easier to provoke presentation may be culled and comlaughter, than to excite interest or bined ; and of all kinds of poetry, the admiration.
dramatic possesses the largest means A good comedy, well acted, is per- of presenting faithful copies from real haps as great a treat as can be presenta existence. In other works of invened to a cultivated mind. Indeed, if tion, the reader has to fashion out, in we consider the true objects of the imi.. his own imagination, the forms and tative arts, it will appear that the dra- the situations which are not exhibited,
* Love's Victory; or, The School fior Pride, a Comedy in five acts, sounded on the Spanish of Don Augustin Moreto. By George Hyde. First performed at the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden, on Wedv esday, Nov. 16, 1825. London: Hurst, Robinson, and Co. ; Constable and Co. Edinburghi
but described, and is left to make such be not only rendered dull and languid, suppositions as he may, of the looks but made almost wholly to yield to a and gestures and tones of those whom relish for meaner pleasures. Numethe poet makes to act and to suffer. rous are the instances of a total revoBut that mysterious and impressive lution wrought in the course of a few language which nature addresses, not generations, in the taste of a whole to the ear, but the eye, is spoken in people. Shakspeare was in England the drama alone. Nothing nearer to once banished from the stage ; and reality can be conceived in imitation ;
there was a period when Lucan was and, accordingly, that imitative qua- at Rome as popular as Virgil. The lity which is found in man at every pe- time seems fast approaching with us, riod of society, and at every stage of his when the imitation of ordinary life in existence, from his cradle to his grave, legitimate comedy, will yield its place has made dramatic representations, in upon the stage to exhibitions which almost every nation, one of the earliest gratify, not by the fidelity with which contrivances for public entertainment. they copy life, but by exciting asto
Of the two grand divisions of the nishment and laughter at the ingenious drama, Comedy is undoubtedly best and successful efforts they display, in calculated to afford that species of the invention of beings and incidents pleasure which arises from successful which could be furnished by no conimitation. In Tragedy, the charac- ceivable state of human existence. The ters are taken chiefly from a class of fondness for excitement is so much which the individuals are imperfect- stronger than a love of the more refily and indistinctly known to us. How ned and placid pleasures derived from lively soever are the sympathies they the elegant arts, that novelties and excite, these sympathies are for ever wonders will, with the crowd, be alchecked by the consciou.sness, that as ways more popular on the stage, than they belong to a state of existence representations of life, manners, and which can never be ours, their joys nature. The popularity will indeed be or their sorrows are such that we can transient, for the same thing cannot scarcely ever hope or fear to share be twice the subject of wonder, and them. But in Comedy, the persons but seldom even of laughter; but while are taken, as it were, from among our- a farce or a melo-drame is new, and is selves. We see upon the stage, if it be capable of exciting mirth or astonishtrue and genuine Comedy, the virtues ment, it will continue to be attractive and the vices, the follies, levities, and to the multitude. The frequent grahumours, the littlenesses and intrica- tification of this propensity, not only cies, that engage, and interest, and en- tends to confirm and enhance it, but gross us in real life; our sympathies are is sure to diminish the desire for those roused in proportion to the closeness less boisterous pleasures to which it is of the copy-and in that proportion we in its nature so opposite. It is in this are pleased. It is a pleasure which, in way that as Farce advances, Comedy common with that afforded by all the
writers and players create and elegant arts, is of a quiet and gentle increase a power to which they in turn kind,-not leading to boisterous mirth, must yield; and in the framing of new --but mixing smiles with reflection. plays, aud in the
ing of old ones, What it wants, however, in intensity, the caterers for public amusement rea is made up in duration. The plays of gulate their talents and exertions acSheridan, Farquhar, Vanburgh, Gold- cording to the inclinations of an ausmith, and Coleman, never tire us in clience, who yawn and grow dull when repetition. The copy is as delightful t.bey are not kept in successive roars. at its tenth, as at its first presentation. of laughter. It is in the very nature It is like those wonders of the painter of performances of this kind to be and the statuary above noticed, on fraught with puerilities and absurdiwbich we can gaze again and again, not ties, which produce in cultivated minds finding out new beauties, as some pe- not amusement, but contempt ; and dants say they can, but feasting still which among the luxurious classes of with undiminished appetite on those society, whose temper and habits unfit which we have often relished.
or disincline them for strong exciteBut it is most true, that a taste for ment, afford little or no entertainment. this kind of gratification, though it is Hence, when such exhibitions prevail, deeply seated in our nature, is suscep.- though the higher classes do not detible of various changes, and as it may sert the theatres--and though they be cultivated and improved, so it may may oceasionally even encourage thess
extravagancies, yet they gradually, have not just now space to inquire; but and perhaps unconsciously, fall off in it would be easy to show, that this has their attendance at places of public not happened from the cause which entertainment, where they find the re- some have chosen to assign-progress presentations adapted for the noisy of refinement, and the general assimimirth of the multitude, in which they lation of manners. There is not yet, cannot sympathize.
and there probably never will be with Such seems to be at present, with us, such sameness of character as exus, the condition of the comic drama. isted in France, when Moliere carried Most of our late comedies have been Comedy to a pitch of excellence never written upon the plan of those compo- rivalled but in England. We have sitions which O'Keeffe and the artists amongst us at this day, a fund of peof his school invented, or improved in culiar and strongly marked character, extravagance, to destroy the illusions which it is needless to say exceeds, both which Siddons and Kemble had raised, in its variety and in its capability of and enable the audience to take ven- being copied for the stage, all that our geance for the distresses they had been next neighbours on the Continent have made to endure, by laughing Tragedy had for ages. There is stamped upon out of countenance. Had Farce re- the very nature of an Englishman an mained confined within its proper pro- individuality, which is unknown in vince, whatever critics may say of it, the country where, even at this day, it would have had its claiins to a re- Comedy flourishes in fertility and vispectable place in the literature of gour. The humours of the French, Britain. It is certainly a plant of in- whether on or off the stage, are the hudigenous growth, and though wild, is mours of classes, not of individuals. not without its virtue. It may be, They have not,and they never had, their and it has been, made the medium of Sir Peter Teazles, their Lord Oglebys, keen and effective satire, and in the or their Job Thornberrys. These are the hands of a writer of genius, though it genuine growth of Great Britain, and may want the truth, may yet serve they still exist among us in rich abun. many of the purposes of Comedy. A dance, requiring but the eye and the folly or a foible is often best corrected touch of genius to select and combine by showing it in its most ludicrous them for the drama. Passion has inand extravagant excesses, and if the deed retired as civilization has gone characters are only well marked as in- forward. Tragedy, and the more sodividuals, though they be such as ber kinds of poetry which delight by could never have had a real existence, the excitement of strong emotion, are they may combine a moral with amuse- in these quieter and happier times losing ment. Whoever has seen Munden, the materials which were furnished (shall we ever see anything like him?) when society was ruder. But the
pein that most genuine of farcfs, Modern culiarities which amuse and instruct Antiques, must have borne in his re- by ridicule, and from which Comedy collections, for one year at least, a com- draws all its choicest stores, whether plete antidote against the infectious for mirth or for moral, are with us bite of an antiquary.
nearly as various and as fresh as ever. The ascendency, however, which It will be readily supposed, when Farce has gained, andwhich is strength- we announce, that the play we are ening daily, seems likely to lead at last about to notice is in its scene, plot, to the total expulsion of legitimate and character, wholly Spanish, that Comedy from the stage. But this is we do not assign it a very high rank not the only symptom which seems to in British Comedy. To British Comark the decline and fall of the once medy, indeed, it can be hardly said to brilliant empire of Comedy in Eng- belong. There is nothing in it England. Authors appear to have for some lish but the language. And yet it is time past abandoned all thoughts of impossible to read half-a-dozen pages working with British materials. The of any part of it, without perceiving scene and the characters are from that the author, or adapter, is a man Spain, or Italy, or Sicily; and real of taste and genius, and has studied, life at home seems too dull or too diffi- with considerable effect, those peculicult for imitation. Why the old staple arities, so little attended to by most of of the British drama,—the humours, our modern playwrights, which disthe passions, and the foibles of British tinguish dramatic dialogue from all originals,-has been thrown aside, we other styles of written English. This