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Newspapers are sent into the country through the General Post Office; and, by a late regulation of parliament, it is no longer necessary to write the name of a member of parliament on the envelope, but both ends must be left open as formerly. The news-venders assemble every morning and evening at the News Hall, as it is called, in Black Horse Alley, Fleet Street, where transfers and exchanges of papers are made, and an extraordinary bustle is exhibited by the different distributors (men, women, and boys) on preparing to set out for their respective walks.
The Theatres, and other Places of Public Amusement.
The Public Amusements and Spectacles in London may be classed as follow:
Drury Lane Theatre, Brydges Street.
The King's Theatre, or Italian Opera House, Hay Market.
Olympic Theatre, Newcastle Street, Strand.
Theatre Royal, Haymarket.
The English Opera, Strand.
The West London Theatre, Tottenham Street.
The King's (or Ancient) Concert.
Oratorios, in Lent, at Drury Lane and Covent Garden Theatres.
It is a prevailing weakness among mankind to depreciate the merit of every thing contemporary, and to refer all greatness to past ages. This prejudice tinctures the writings of dramatic, not less than those of other critics; yet we are convinced, that in all the varied and essential features of Dramatic entertainments, no age has approximated so nearly to perfection as the present. We e may not have as contemporaries a Shakspeare, an Otway, a Rowe, a Dryden, and a Congreve, nor were those men contemporaries of any single age, but the time of George III., it must be remembered, produced Sheridan, the two Col mans, Cumberland, O'Keefe, Tobin, Murphy, Inchbald, Morton, Holcroft, the Dibdins, Reynolds, and Kenney, names which will be duly estimated by posterity, when viewed in connexion with their predecessors in the general retrospect of past ages.
In like manner, if, in regard to actors, we do not enjoy the contemporaneous talents of such performers as Garrick, Booth, Cibber, Quin, Woodward, Foote, Shuter, Pritchard, and Clive; yet the last reign also elicited the talents of Kemble, Siddons, Lewis, Munden, Fawcett, Cooke, Young, Farren, King, Bannister, Jordan, Emery, Matthews, Liston, Elliston, Johnstone, Dowton, C. Kemble, Macready, Jones, O'Neal, and Kean. Neither did any prior age present a theatrical system of such excellence, as that which, under the able management of the late Mr. Thomas Harris, and the late Mr. J. P. Kemble, reduced the business of the stage to the precision of a science, Several of the actors last mentioned are still our contemporaries, and it is impossible to prove, that they were ever surpassed.
Drury Lane Theatre. - This externally substantial, and internally superb and well-contrived theatre, was rebuilt
in 1811, on the ruins of the former edifice, which had been burnt down in 1809. The architect was Benjamin Wyatt, Esq., and his skill was powerfully and liberally aided by an intelligent and public spirited committee, of which the late Mr. Whitbread was chairman. The front towards Brydges Street is ornamented with pilasters of the Doric order. Previously to the commencement of the season of 1822, the interior of the theatre was entirely newmodelled, by Mr. Peto, from designs by S. Beazley, Esq. Architect. The house was originally built to afford sitting room for 2810 persons; viz. 1200 in the boxes, 850 in the pit, 480 in the lower gallery, and 280 in the upper gallery; but, under the present arrangements, it will contain 3060 persons. The house was completed for 112,000l. ; including lamps, lustres, furniture, &c. 125,000l.; and including scenery, wardrobe, and other properties, nearly 150,000l. The chief entrance to the boxes is from Brydges Street, through a spacious hall, which also communicates with the pit entrances. This hall opens into a rotunda of great beauty, on each side of which are passages to the great staircases, which are remarkably spacious and grand. The entire architectural design of this part is at once grand, convenient, and commodious.
The saloon is eighty-six feet long, circular at each extremity, and separated from the box-corridors by the rotunda and principal staircase. The ceiling is arched, and the general effect of two massy Corinthian columns, painted, in imitation of variegated marble, at each end, with eight duplicated corresponding pilasters at each side, is magnificent. At the extremities of the saloon are rooms for coffee and refreshments.
The interior of the theatre has been altered to the lyre or horse-shoe form, as seen from the stage. There are three circles of boxes, with family, or private boxes behind them. The coup d'œil is extremely impressive, especially since its effect has been heightened by suspending from the ceiling a most magnificent glass chandelier with gas lights.
Previously to the fire, the concerns of this theatre were in an embarrassed state; but on the occurrence of that accident, a composition was entered into with the cre