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THE NEW PLAY.
« Behold a wonder for theatric story!
• With all his imperfections on his head!'" GARRICK, • It will certainly be damned," said I, peeping, with tremulous anxiety, through the curtain of a side box, and surveying the lengthening visages of several grave elderly gentlemen, seated in formidable array, and most significantly shrugging up their shoulders, about the fifth row from the orchestra. " Confound that gaping booby in the stage-box!” uttered I, in an agony of despair, —“ gaping is catching, you rascal !-Another yawn, and I am certainly undone.” But thanks to the gods above! this expectant forerunner of my irretrievable ruin was succeeded by the deafening, though welcome, shouts of " over with him!” “ kick him out!” “ turn him over !” proceeding from the stentorian lungs of the thunder-cloud gods, at the summit of Mount rascal. Peal on peal re-echoed above, and, to my inconceivable delight, the apparent frown of merciless criticism, and the native yawn of a country clown, were dissipated by the rude gust of an overwhelming clamour.
After a delightful interlude of five minutes' whistling and screaming, tranquillity was at length restored, and, with fear and trembling, I betook myself to my peep-hole, watching, like a mouse from his hiding-place, with anxious and scrutinizing eye, the hostile movements of the great grimalkin Criticism.
No gentle reader's heart ever palpitated with the anxiety that perturbed my half-distracted brain, when my ear caught, on turning round to wipe away the distillations with which hope and fear had flooded my cheek, the whispering sound of a lurking hiss. It vibrated to my very soul, and the chill of horror thrilled my whole frame. Half breathless, and my knees trembling beneath me, I awaited the threatening thunders of the approaching storm; but the hiss died away harmlessly, and, to my unspeakable delight, the thunder of public approbation started me from my reverie, and hope animated the declining warmth of my drooping heart, which crowned the conclusion of the first act.
Now! thought I, am I about to become immortalized-to be pointed at, as the favourite poet of the day—the wonder and admiration of thousands—the topic of general conversationthe “ sine qua non” of the beau monde-in short! the enviable author of the sweet, charming, delightful “ new play.”
new play.” Elated with these ideas, and “puffed up in my own conceit," I speedily resumed my post of observation, rejoiced beyond measure with
" still as
the success that attended the first representation of the first act of my first attempt at theatricals.
At length! the mighty judge was seated, and the murmuring hum of busy voices was soon hushed in the calm quietude of listening anxiety, awaiting, on“ tip-toe expectation, the commencement of the second act. Soon the tinkling harbinger “ gave note of dreadful preparation, and all was night.” But scarce had the drop-scene risen, when the most enthusiastic greetings welcomed the entrance of a favourite actor, and relieved me for the moment, to prepare for yet more trying scenes of “ doubts and hopes.” From right to left I watched-then listened-and then watched again, eager to catch the faintest whisper of the public voice.
For two scenes, all went on“ smooth as a flowing tide,” save here and there a temporary interruption of “ Pray, Ma'am, be so kind as to have the goodness to take off that there bonnet of yours.”—“La Pa! I vish you'd shove off that there gentleman's hat,” with various other fretful ejaculations, humorous enough in the abstract, but distressingly fidgeting to an agitated author.
At last the lightning of a bright conception fired the audience. Shouts of “ Bravo! bravo !” simultaneously burst forth from pit, boxes, and gallery. And “ Bravo! my boy!". reiterated an impertinent, rushing into my box, and saluting me with a slap on the shoulder, that nearly felled me to the ground, exclaiming, “ By the genius of Shakspeare, Hal, we'll carry it through bravely ;-half a dozen friends in every box in the house, slips and all,---five hundred in the pit, and a roaring thousand in the galleries ;"_adding a damme--a devilish glad to see ye-and a similar salute at parting--this brainless fac simile of a milliner's band-box, was off in the skip of a grasshopper ; leaving me wonder-struck at the consummate effrontery of one who was, to me, a perfect stranger. Recovering from my fit of amazement, yet certainly much roused by such an unceremonious greeting, I shook my feathers,--took another pinch of snufi, --rubbed my hands, and hugged myself with the idea of pocketing the hard-earned profits of my literary labours. For authorship is, at best, but a laborious sort of profession, a name without a trade.
" But hark !
I hear a sound that chills my blood !” The ghosts of Richard's victims were not more unwelcome than were the stifled symptoms of disapprobation which grated on my ear. “ This passage must certainly come out,” said I, ploughing a long black line of pencil-mark through half a page of self-imagined beautiful soliloquy.“ There ! 'tis dune ! 1 may be yet immortalized,”. continued I, sorrowfully surveying the havoc I had made. “ But n'importe-Nil desperandum, must be my motto.” Shouts of “ Bravo ! bravo !" succeeded to this momentary inquietude, which was amply compensated for, by the soothing voice of the audience, whose plaudits closed the last scéne of the second act, and buoyed me up, in the hope of success, with“ trials yet to come.”
What frequenter of a London theatre is there, who, after the close of a long act, has not felt benefited by the comforts of sedentary relaxation; either by stretching his limbs, 'trumpeting his nasal organs, or yawning out a responsive gape of drowsy indulgence? And how many little masters and misses-aye! and grown people too, are there, who have unintentionally incurred the petulant displeasure of Miss Deborah Spotless on the one side, or Mr. Spick and Span on the other, by sucking the grateful juice of a well-squeezed orange ? Even country Nan and Sue must have their “fidgetings and gigglings,” straining their beauteous eyes
upon the start” to devour with all their might the novel spectacle of a London theatre. Critics, too, can “smooth their wrinkled fronts,” and sometimes smile a ray of hope to an author in a side-box, who now, with them, resumes in eager haste his seat, to wait “ the coming storm.”
Never did the creative brain of authorship teem with such pleasing, dreams, as the ignis fatuus visions which danced before me in perspective playfulness, previous to the commencement of the last act. At one time methought the labours of my youthful pen were rummaged from the dusty confines of a cornice shelf, put into “ apple-pie order,” habited in the modern apparel of double-gilt morocco, or russia, and honoured with a conspicuous station, “'mid bards of old, immortal sons of praise." Now I fancied myself Sir Oracle of a Sunday conversazione, receiving the homage of a fluttering host of fashionable literati, at the shrine of their prosperous saint. At another time methought I occupied a distinguished station in the Poet's corner, with a hic jacet encomiastic inscription, blazing, in highly varnished black letters, the merits of departed genius. Then I thought on—when the prompter's bell awoke me from
This, said I exultingly, will be the last trial I shall undergo. "Mind actors,” said I, in the joy of my heart," an author expects every actor to do his duty:" that well done, the victory is ours. “ Truce with your vanities," said a listening critic. " Public opinion !" " Deuce take public opinion,” faltered on my lips. : “ But," rejoined I, cooling with icy celerity, “public opinion is here lord chief justice, or commander-in-chief, and I am but a poor, ragged, half-starved, raw recruit, training under
the nimble-wristed round rattan Aourish of a drill-serjeant, whose will is law." “ Yes," at the same time pressing down my book upon the cushion, and preparing the blunted point of my pencil for another coup de main, “it is so, and by that law I am willing to be judged-so now for the last act.” How smilingly the critics look to-night, thought I. "Poor Ned's piece was damned last night-lost all his time, and;" Here a most tremendous uproar commenced between the boxes and pit; each contending with stubborn perseverance the merits of a contested point. Hisses and shouts of bravo raged with contending equality; whilst I, pale and trembling, would gladly have conceded the disputed point, to save the piece. But “who shall decide when doctors disagree?” So the wind blew, and the sea roared, and my play was buffeted about, at the mercy of contending partizans,
“ And with the sea, rose mountains high,
Then dipp'd again as low--as hell's from heaven.” At length Mr. Manager came forward, amid loud cries of off--off-hear--hear-bravo-bravoand went through the appeasing elocutives of dumb show. At last a hearing was obtained, and Mr. Manager addressed the audience by “ Ladies and Gentlemen, your will is law. If it is your pleasure that the piece be withdrawn, we shall feel it incumbent on us to comply.” Shouts of no-go on-go on, at length became almost unanimous, and the play proceeded to the delight of some and the grumbling of others, and was given out for repetition on the following evening, by which time I resolved within myself to eurtail the last act one third, a resolution that fortunately saved the piece, set me upon the pinnacle of popularity, filled my pocket, immortalized my name, realized my hopes, and paved a way for the foundation of another new play, to be written for the forthcoming season.
W. D. St. C.
WALKS IN THE GARDEN. NO. III. “ The life and felicity of an excellent gardener is preferable to all other diversions."
Health, leisure, means to improve it, friendship, peace,
Cowper. "I Do dearly love," says the young lady in the Comedy, “ to see the dingy little sparrows in London hopping about from lamp-post to lamp-post."--" Talk of the rain,” exclaims Mrs. Briggs, “ pattering on the green leaves, and the birds chirping on the spray :--- give me the rain pattering on the green umbrellas, and the clink of pattens on the pavement!” Now, with due deference to these authorities, I cannot help thinking there is something very melancholy in the smoky aspect of those feathered cockneys, who are conversant with lamp-posts and the rumbling of cart-wheels, instead of the dancing green bough, and the music of the grove, or its hushing silence:---and, as to the effect of a shower in the country, I declare I do not know a more exhilarating sight, to say nothing of its melodious sounds and refreshing odours. To me the branches of the trees always appear to stretch themselves out, and droop their leaves with an obvious sense of enjoyment, while they are fed by the renovating moisture. I have been complacently watching my shrubs and plants during this repast ;---but the rain is now over, they have finished their meal, and as they have already begun with fresh spirits to dance in the breeze and glitter in the sunshine, let us sally forth to share their festivity. What a delicious fragrance gushes from the freshened grass and borders! It is the incense which the grateful earth throws up to heaven in return for its fertilising waters. Behold! here is one of the many objects which the shower has accomplished : by moistening the wings of the flying Dandelion, it has conveyed it to the earth at the very moment when it was best adapted for the reception of its seed. “ The various modes by which seeds are dispersed, cannot fail to strike an observing inind with admiration. Who has not listened in a calm and sunny day to the crackling of furze bushes, caused by the explosion of their little elastic pods; or watched the down of innumerable seeds floating on the summer breeze, till they are overtaken by a shower, which, moistening their wings, stops their further fight, and at the same time accomplishes its final object, by immediately promoting the germination of each seed in the moist earth? How little are children aware, as they blow away the seeds of Dandelion, or stick burs in sport upon each other's clothes, that they are fulfilling one of the great ends of nature!"* The various mechanism and contrivances for the dissemination of plants and flowers are almost inexhaustible. Some seeds are provided with a plume like a shuttlecock, which, rendering them buoyant, enables them to fly over lakes and deserts, in which manner they have been known to travel fifty miles from their native spot. Others are dispersed by animals, some attaching themselves to their hair or feathers by a gluten, as Misletoe; others by hooks, as Burdock and Hounds-tongue; and others are swallowed whole, for the sake of the fruit, and voided uninjured, as the Hawthorn, Juniper, and some grasses. Other seeds again disperse themselves by means of an elastic