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the peace for any thing done in the execution of his or their office in enforcing any summary conviction, whether respecting penalty, imprisonment, or any other matter, in case such conviction shall have been quashed, or shall be defective on the face thereof, the plaintiff, besides the amount of the penalty which may have been levied upon him, in case any levy thereof shall have been made, shall not be entitled to recover any greater damages than the sum of Two-pence, nor any costs of suit whatever, unless it shall be expressly alleged in the declaration, which shall be in an action upon the case only, that the thing complained of was done maliciously, and without any reasonable and probable cause.

Recollect that the word is “and,” not or any reasonable or probable cause;" which causes this enactment to be that, supposing injury to have accrued to the plaintiff from the grossest ignorance, or the most shameful carelessness, he is to lose his time, his trouble, his money, if he venture to seek redress. This throws it all upon that malice, which, as we have shown, it is scarcely on record that a judge has been honest enough yet to find out. But we will put malice out of the question. Has the plaintiff any voice in the appointment of the magistrate ? Certainly not. Why, then, should he suffer

? by the ignorance or negligence of an officer who is placed over him bon gré mal gré ? The law holds very different doctrines in other matters where the party has an option. Every man is responsible for his negligence, many for ignorance in their trade. Medical men are subject to actions for improper treatment of their patients, though their patients have chosen them. And is a man to lose his liberty, his reputation, by a person being appointed a magistrate, and accepting the office, knowing that he is not fit to hold it, or, when he does not do his duty when he is in it? Is this any thing like justice? Aye, but the magistrate is unpaid! We will just put that argument to death for ever. If he be unfit, and is protected because he is unpaid, then the whole system is vicious, from first to last. Paid or not paid, a magistrate should be fit—and responsible if he act unfitly-from any cause soever.

We had intended to notice the most extraordinary omission of which this bill, professing to codify and amend the whole system of the magistracy of England, is guilty--that of the Court of Quarter Sessions. But its sins of commission have carried us too far to allow us to do so now. We have some slight hope that a proceeding, which

so epigrammatic, as the very word not occurring once in Mr. Peel's speech, and never with reference to itself in the bill, must be indicative that, next Session, an Act will be passed wholly devoted to that most momentous subject. If Mr Peel really has an ambition of being considered a systematical reformer of the law, he must feel that such imperfect and faulty measures as these will never give him that rank. Would he wish that posterity should have to say, “Mr. Peel's attention was devoted to the magistracy for years, and we have still to reform that canker that eats into the heart of the country—the Court of Quarter Session ?"

It will readily be believed that we have not gone out of our way just now to malign a bill brought forward by Mr. Peel : what we have said has arisen from our really doing what others only talk about-judging by the measure and not by the man,



We have hitherto somewhat defended the monopoly of the patent theatres, much against our general principles, from honestly thinking that the peculiar manner in which the property came into the hands of their present possessors made them a fair exception to the rule. But the manner in which they have been conducted, for a considerable time back, is of a nature which has now reached a climax that, we think, would render it a matter of the greatest advantage to public morals, and national reputation, if the monopoly were annulled to-morrow.

It may have been remarked by our readers, that we have given very few theatrical criticisms during the course of the present season. Our reason has been that, for the most part, the pieces presented have been such that we felt so much pain in the necessity of making use of the only terms we could use in speaking of them, that we have abstained almost wholly from any mention of the theatres at all. But we feel that, if we were any longer to be silent, we should not deserve the estimation for proper moral feeling in which, we have reason to know, and it is no undue self praise to express that knowledge, the present series of our work has ever been held.

We have had the curiosity just to run our eye through our tables of contents as to dramatic articles, and on referring to them we have found the tone, first of gentle, and then of stronger, remonstrance in favour of poor discarded decency pervading them throughout, till at last we laid down our pen in despair, and now resume it in indignation.

Covent Garden—and most deeply do we lament that we should have occasion thus to speak of the theatre where the noble Kemble closed his glorious and unspotted career-has been guilty this reviving plays which it would be a disgrace to the country should ever have been written in it, were it not for the universal license, amounting to grossness and profligacy, which existed throughout Europe at their date. By the most monstrous perversion of argument this has been applied to the defence of the representation of the plays. you must compound for the exceptionable parts; recollect when they were written-and the wit, too, it redeems the licence.” We do distinctly recollect when they were written, and we also recollect the mode in which plays were then written in general, and these in particular; and therefore we say, that it is a gross scandal and outrage that they should be acted now. As to the argument that the wit redeems the indecency, we shall not answer it. Persons of ordinary good feeling and sense can at once make their own reply-and those who think that the meanest, as well as most disgusting, profligacy may be properly represented in public for the sake of its being expressed in terms of humour or wit, are not people that we think it worth while to talk with.

But, in a very large proportion of instances, the direct naming and representing indecent acts form all the wit, all the humour, if in them



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selves they are to be considered such. Thank heaven, neither cultivated, nor uncorrupted nature does so regard them. The former scorns them, the latter shrinks from them; both loathe them.

It is only that meanest and most despicable class of society, the low townprofligates, with little sense, less information, and no heart at all, that enjoy such things as these. They are on a level with their capacity: it needs nothing but eyes and ears to understand them; and these animals chuckle and roar at seeing brought forward, with all the glitter of theatrical adjuncts, things fitting their own base and brutal natures.

It may be thought that we are speaking too strongly: it lies in the very filth of the subject itself that we cannot prove-prove beyond the power of profligate denial—that our language is far feebler than justice requires. But, if we entered into the subject to the full, it would lead into the necessity of using terms which shall never stain our pages. Indeed, if we were to quote any considerable portion of the

Recruiting Officer,' we should deserve to have our work forbidden every house of respectability; and the • Beaux Stratagem' is quite as bad. We can, however, allude to one portion of it, which only those who have had the inisfortune to see it can form any idea of, and which we only do mention, to warn others not to expose their families to the indignity of witnessing. It is a thing done, not a thing said ; and therefore people, not very conversant with the play, and trusting that the managers of a Theatre Royal will not insult their audience, may very innocently go and see--and be, by so doing, unspeakably disgusted. We allude to the representation of the scene in the fifth act, in Mrs. Sullen's dressing-room, the manner of which is nothing short of sickening—nay, it is carried to such an extent, that it almost creates a doubt at what point the filthy abomination will stop.

It is a doubtful question how far this exceeds, or falls short of, a disgusting exhibition at present going on at Drury Lane. Here, it is merely physically offensive to an incredible extent certainly, but it does not include that which is morally indecent. Still it is a sort of thing which we really think, if all sense of propriety have left the management of the house, ought to be put down by authority. We allude to an exhibition of feats of strength by two men all but naked. We do not in the very least exaggerate when we use this phrasebecause the flesh-coloured silk has to the eye the effect of nakedness, and there was very little more on the men. We are not aware whether the licenser's power extend to representations neither dramatic ņor musical; but we are quite sure that exhibitions, such as this, may be put down, as outrages upon public decency, by the common law of the land. Nay, we are sure also, that if there were a public prosecutor, the town never would have been insulted a second time by a representation fit only to be made in places which we cannot name.

So strongly was this felt the night we were there, that we saw several ladies around us in the greatest distress—and it was manifest that many would have left the house, had they not feared to attract attention hy so marked a step. As it was, the manager may perceive that he has, in this instance, outstepped what the English public will bear; for


there was considerable hissing in the dress circle, constantly renewed, and several even called Off! Off! more than once. The ayes of the Orders and Easter visitors certainly prevailed, but the reproof was exceedingly marked, notwithstanding

Those who go to see the Easter spectacles, often scarcely ask what the play is, but go for the evening. But, supposing they do, -we instance the evening we were there—how do they know that a farce called • My wife, what wife ?'—is a tissue of jokes, nineteen-twentieths of which are from the nature of its construction, grossly indecent and many of a character peculiarly revolting ;-or that, before they can see the afterpiece, they must be insulted and disgusted by naked men exhibiting postures before them. The licenser ought really to ascertain whether he cannot put down this abomination; we are confident that if he can, he will.

We have cited this with regard to Drury Lane, because it is present. But it fully shares the guilt of the other house in the general course of conduct of which we have spoken. Not content with new pieces of impropriety, which are the worse, from its being impossible to know that it is to be avoided, this theatre has joined in the system of indecent revival. We noticed in our Diary for December, with remonstrance firm though more mild—for l'esprit de système had not then become so decided,—the revival of the Country Girl, a very indecent play itself, and an alteration from what we find we have termed “one of the very most loathsome specimens” of our drama. Moreover, they have played Measure for Measure. We shall not be suspected of lightly saying anything in derogation of Shakspeare. But we are not blind. We must see his errors-and, considering all things, we think their being so few one of his greatest merits. This play, indeed, exemplifies this opinion ; for the habits of the age having rendered it matter of not serious blame that he should select a subject essentially improper, it is quite a metaphysical curiosity that he should have been able to work it out in a manner so comparatively little offensive. But the difficulties were insurmountable even to Shakspeare ; and, in every scene, accordingly, there are manifold allusions totally unfit for repetition on the stage. There are many verbal blemishes of a very gross nature throughout the part of Lucio; but they might be with ease omitted, without in the least injuring the service which he renders to the plot. They were, therefore, all, even the worst, scrupulously retained.

We have now gone through a very painful task, and we have done so with great reluctance. We have entered upon it at all solely from the conviction that these are duties which it is incumbent upon any work of the nature of our's to fulfil. Month after month we have said to ourselves ;-no—they may mend-we will try them again-nay; we have individually--and this is the most painful part of the whole ; many a lang-syne recollection of kindness connected with one of the Theatres of which we have now been driven to speak thus. But we can stand it no longer at last. They have mended in the fashion that Davie Gellatly truly prophecies of the Laird of Belmawhapple, in Waverley, “like sour ale in summer”—the occurrences of the other night put the climax to the whole, and we have been obliged to speak,


Are our

We trust that we shall not be considered as not having said enough in detail of fact to establish our case. Into the detail of such facts, when writing for readers of both sexes, we never will go. What we have said must, we think, with such as those for whose approbation we write, be quite sufficient to shew the justice of our condemnation; and they will the most readily understand the difficulties which beset striking the true medium at all. We trust they will not think we have far missed it on either side.

But, now we have spoken, the Theatres may rely on it that our vigilance shall continue; their conduct shall be watched. Not in a spirit of party, we trust we need not say. We have no connection with any Theatre whatever, and all our predilections are so strongly with them, that we can most truly say, that we have real pain in having them thus destroyed by their objects. But Predilection must give way to Principle—and that is any thing but too high a name to give to the desire to retain the national character of delicacy of feeling, and purity of heart.

We implore our contemporaries daily, weekly, and monthly, to join us in this, which we will at once designate as a good work. Theatres, established by exclusive patent, to be suffered to become places in which it will soon be disgraceful for our wives, our daughters, and our sisters to be seen ?--for this is the true and fair question. It is not for us to profess that we are not actuated by any narrow or overscrupulous view of the question. Of the Theatre, conducted as it should be, we are the greatest adınirers, the warmest advocatesand firm old friends into the bargain. The greatest act of friendship we can render it, is to endeavour to prevent its becoming such as to render it impossible for any man of decency and proper feeling to own that it is on the list of even his visiting acquaintance.

The conductors of the press alone can do this, and they can do it easily if they will. On such a subject no difference of politics or of literary tastes should come into play. All men who are in the least what they should be, must, we are conscientiously convinced, agree with us on this question, if they give it fair consideration. We ask no more, and we are confident as to the result. We know that many who are fools and profligates in conjunction, bring forward against adherence to purity in literature, of course including the Drama, this absurdly futile accusation :--they sneeringly assert, that it is always allied to dulness. But we know that we need not remind our fellowlabourers in the periodical, and therefore most influential, literature of England, that all men whose opinion deserves the name, will agree that the wit the most really delightful—the imagination of the most expansive grasp,-in one word, that the noblest intellect—have always achieved their greatest and truest successes in conjunction with the loftiness of principle and the exquisite beauty of delicacy. We go even further than he who has painted Dulness with anatomical accuracy. He has said that

want of decency is want of sense.” True—but it is more, and worse: it is want of feeling also.

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