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Pompey's regimen of poultry and game, remarking how fat and comely the “ mere Irish ” look on mere potatoes.
Sir,—You have in your magnificent metropolis a hundred, nay, five hundred exhibitions—but there never was, there never can be, a show combining such high philosophical advantages with such light entertainment as the display promised by the Council of the embryo Society, the subject of this hasty and imperfect letter. With the most ardent wishes for the success of the scheme, and with the deepest conviction of its utility,
I remain, your obedient servant,
Adam Pongo. P.S. Is it the purpose of the society to confine its subjects to single specimens, or do the members intend to exhibit pairs ? As a bachelor, I take the liberty to express an opinion that, at the beginning, the experiment should be made with as little cost as possible. Besides, it may be found very difficult to keep some animals-Georgians and Circassians, for instance-in any cages. The tranquillity and stability of the society will be best insured by the importation of the homo cælebs.
From Gustavus Nibs, Pimlico, to Clarissa Peachdown, Mousehole.
Beloved Girl,—The glory of the coronation is gone and past; and for that foolish paragraph reflecting on the reputation of our gallant and spotless band, it has been traced to the malice of a disappointed candidate for our purchasable laurels. * It was the intention of two or three of the corps to call a general meeting of the force, in order to cast lots for the proud distinction of punishing the slanderer: the
lea, however, was abandoned, the philanthropy of our martial brotherhood very properly displaying its abhorrence (an aversion, now a matter of history) of blood ! Besides, perhaps there was a little scrambling in the Abbey; perhaps, a little whispering among us-the “ noisy gabble” I fling in the teeth of our calumniator, for who, at such a time and in such a place, could be all tranquillity? But nothing escaped us that could by possibility affect our characters, not only as gentlemen, but as gentlemen-at-arms. It is a source of proud consolation to us that we can fall back upon the opinion pronounced upon our merits by the sergeant of the guards who, for some time previous to the ceremony, drilled us.
“ Better raw material for soldiers,” said the sergeant, never shouldered Bess,”— Bess being, my dearest, a martial synonym for musket. (To be sure, the sergeant had his joke on the portliness of a few of the corps, avowing that he never saw troops less likely to run!) In addition to this well-earned praise, we have received the highest eulogy at the tongues of the Middlesex magistracy, for the discipline, forbearance, fortitude, passive valour, and every other soldierlike quality displayed by our illustrious body at the ceremony of the coronation. It was expected that Marshal Soult would, ere his departure for France, review every man of us ! London « society
has presented the strangest, yet most interesting aspect. Princes, dukes, and warriors, statesmen and councillors, from all the civilized lands of the earth, have met, and reciprocated the “gentle courtesies of life.” Bitter foes—“ natural enemies as bygone philosophers were wont to call the English and the French-as if certain men were marked and noted from their birth as the inveterate haters of a certain portion of their species—have met with palm branches in their hands, singing songs of amity and peace. For three weeks all the world has—at least by its representatives—been upon its very prettiest behaviour. A royal ball-room has looked very like a chess-board when the game is over; kings, knights, and pawns, before arrayed one against the other with deadliest purpose, mingled in a most pacific mob, castles no more disputed.
* Mr. Nibs offers no proof of this.-HENRY B.
A worthy man has long been known to the London public by his successful treatment of the lower animals, softening antipathies hitherto considered untameable. Under his benevolent system we see the cat lie down with the rat-the sparrowhawk on the same perch with the dove-the owl looking with peaceful gravity upon the mouse! This great teacher has, I understand, for some years set up his pulpit near Waterloo Bridge, and there, by living examples, preaches good-fellowship to lordly man. The good thus quietly effected in human society by this most benevolent showman will, it is said, be ere long acknowledged by the award of a baronetcy, provided, of course, that the party to be honoured can be induced to accept the distinction.
The exhibition in question has been copied on a most magnificent scale at Guildhall. I speak, my Clarissa, of the city dinner to the Ambassadors, where all the ends of the earth met and dined by deputy ; and, whilst they dined, palm-trees grew about the tables, and Peace and her handmaids played on twenty silver trumpets!
That night, Aldermen went home and dreamed of Arcadia, and more than one gigantic stockbroker prattled in his sleep of the age of gold.
If the court can be brought to sustain my absence for a few weeks, I may visit Mousehole ; but, whether in Cornwall, at Windsor, or Brighton, on guard, or off guard, in uniform, or out of uniform, believe me, thine ever,
GUSTAVUS. P.S. I am informed that there is every prospect of a visit next season from M. Musard, whose quadrilles have obtained him immortality in Paris.
From Gustavus Nibs to Benjamin Squabpre, Mousehole, Cornwall.
My dear Ben, -Your play of “ Love and Tenderness,” if turved into an opera-keeping in your mind scenes for the introduction of the Russian Family, daily chanting at the Argyll Rooms; the brass band; Michael Buai, the chin-musician ; the German siffleur; an extraordinary genius, who has lately risen like another Aurora borealis in Kamschatka, whose efforts on a salt-box are said to be unprecedented, and to whom the most liberal proposals have already been despatched by a very" spirited” proprietor—if you can render your drama available for such persons recommended by such high purposes, it will, I believe, be more certain
We saw at the opera two dynasties, the extinct and the flourishing, separated by one slight partition-a thin piece of " dead wood" supporting on one side the lounging Duke de Nemours, and the other Joseph, the ex-king of Spain !-H. B.
Sept.-VOL. LIV. NO. ccxiii.
of attention on the part of most managers than in its present bare and timeless condition. In these times you must be operatic, or you are nought. Patronage descends in a golden shower upon the sons and daughters of song, but refuses to drop one copper penny into the ragged cap of the mendicant drama. If you have but two notes in your voice, you will be richer than with two new tragedies in your pocket. In these days, the ladder to wealth is the gamut; ut re mi are the synonyms of £. s. d.
I have, however, great dramatic news to communicate. Drury Lane Theatre is let! It was said that the Zoological Council have offered terms for the building to make it a winter hospital for sick carnivora; whilst some folks, professing to be the best informed on the matter, declared that it would be turned into a preparatory school for pupils for the Italian Opera. That what is called the “regular drama can flourish at both the patent houses,—that there are actors in sufficient number to play tragedy, comedy, and farce at both Drury Lane and Covent Garden with any chance of remuneration, is yet to be proved, the result of past seasons showing the absurdity of the experiment. Hence, let opera alone possess one of the theatres—let all the singing-birds flock together, and * make the grove harmonious.” Swallows have, it is said, this season built under the arm of Shakspeare's statue over Drury Lane portico, giving augury, add the superstitious, of the many prime donne who will warble within doors in the ensuing season ; my friend Dullandry of “The Wet Blanket,” saying, in his droll and laughter-killing way, that the true singer is always known by his “swallow.” There is no doubt that actors—mere actors--are kept at much less expense than the birds of opera ; I am told that a man, looking over the treasurer's books of Drury Lane and Covent Garden, would be astounded at the enormous price of canary-seed !
Covent Garden will again be governed by Mr. Macready, who, we trust, will be warned by his losses of last season, and not keep an operatic aviary: his skylarks and linnets picked up golden seed, took very many guineas, and did not, in Bardolph's sense, “ draw an angel down.” But great hopes are entertained for the drama, under Mr. Macready, next season. It is said that orders have been received to fit up the royal box with peculiar magnificence, the Court henceforth resolving to give some countenance to the English dramatist
-a person down by the tuneful choir of M. Laporte. Nay, I have heard that it is in contemplation to dignify the author of " Virginius” with a knighthood, as a mark of acknowledgment of the exalted interests and high purposes of the pure drama. New tragedies are spoken of-one by an author unknown to the stage, but long known to the world as a writer who has vindicated its noblest aims, and whose humanizing spirit has taught society to pluck the soul of goodness “out of things evil," and that in evil times.
Be assured, my dear Ben, that Macready is, at the present day, the only man under whom the drama can hope to survive and was strong --- he must, however, shun music. Depend upon it the syrens were originally opera-singers.
I have just seen a circular—a copy of which I send you—addressed to all London managers by a gentleman to whom, if report speak truly, we owe the recent appearance of a wonder from Warwickshire. As an
all but sung
evidence of industry, if of no higher qualities, the document is valuable :
Esq., Theatre. “ Sir,- In the present dearth of dramatic talent-in the present apathy of public feeling towards the divine creations of those great creatures, the elder dramatists,-it affords me peculiar pleasure to inform you that, having opened a next-of-kin-office for the descendants of poets, painters, heroes, architects, statesmen, &c., with a view to their introduction on the English stage, I have been peculiarly fortunate in my researches, and have now on hand to offer you a most unique collection of descendants—some in the right line, some in the left, and some in the zig-zag-of the greatest men that ever respired within the British Isles. Permit me, Sir, to assure you, that I have left nothing to doubt or speculation—all the documents, proving the authenticity of the several individuals, are in my possession, including marriage-certificates, registers of baptism, &c., all of which, I submit, printed in bright scarlet ink at the head of the play-bills, cannot fail to have a due effect on the minds of an enlightened and curious public. But, Sir, to come at once to my list of offshoots, of which I have numbered a few to simplify my correspondence.
“No. 1. A descendant of Homer, fortunately blind, with a capital tenor voice, and well studied in Scotch ballads; documents in Greek, and an original portrait by Apelles of his great ancestor, not to be disputed. Will moreover be led by a dog, also descended from the dog of Homer ; ears and tail of undeniable authenticity. Both might be found effective for songs between the pieces. Dog has played in “Dog of Montargis."
“ No. 2. The great, great grandson of Voltaire; discovered in a hamand-beef shop, in St. Martin's Court; good in lively Frenchmen. Has besides an authentic drama, written by his philosophic great great grandfather, called “ Marshal Soult in the City of London.” Goes with his piece, or separate.
“No. 3. A descendant of Suetonius, residing at present at Battle Bridge, near the very spot where the Roman soldier encountered Queen Boadicea. Do for general utility.
“ No. 4. A descendant of Admiral Blake, with the copyright of the first hornpipe ever danced in England, triumphantly proving the antiquity of the double-shuffle.
“No. 5. The descendant of Cleopatra--great historical likeness; has the identical vinegar-cruet-a wood-cut of which might adorn the play-bill-in which her great relative, the Queen of Egypt, dissolved the pearl. Capital for chambermaids.
“ No. 6. The descendant of Guy Fawkes—with identical matches and tinder-box intended to be used by his celebrated ancestor. Would make himself generally useful.
“ These, Sir, are only a few of a vast number of celebrated individuals, emblazoned with the glorious light of a glorified ancestry. A call, however, at my "next-of-kin office” will convince you that, particularly in these trying days for the drama, you may meet with a cheap and most attractive pennyworth.
“ I had almost forgotten to say, that I have a tragedy written by the infant daughter-she died at Missolonghi when six years old, cutting her double teeth-of a late noble bard, well worthy of your consideration, and remain,
“ Your obedient servant,
“ PATRICK GAGGERTON. “P.S. A word to the wise. Sir William Courtney is not quite so dead as many people have been induced to think.”
With this I end my dramatic news for the present, and subscribe myself, dear Ben,
From Andrew Honeymouth, Mousehole, to Gustarus Nibs, Pimlico.
Dear Gustavus,—This, since your flight from Mousehole, is my first epistle; but the glorious news daily arriving here allows me to be no longer silent on the advent of that golden time which, with a full hope in human perfectibility, I have long confidently looked for.
The “ Sayings and Doings” of Marshal Soult have filled me with the liveliest joy, believing as I must that, from this time forward, the foolish and wicked horrors of war will be the peculiar folly and guilt of half-civilized people; and that the two most powerful and most refined nations of the earth will hold out a fine example of humanity and common sense to the rest of the world.
A hint, dropped by the Marshal, on his visit to the London Docks, might, I think, be carried into practical effect to the benefit of all nations. He said, it was his hope that the English and French might henceforth only meet face to face at table—their only weapons the knife and fork! Now, as the end of war is destruction, and as certain disagreements may yet arise among the happiest people, I would, prompted by Marshal Soult, suggest that the quarrel be settled by each party appointing champions to eat away the dispute-in other words, to beat their opponents by the valour of appetite; the field of battle, a table plentifully spread--the troops to be demolished, turbot, turkeys, geese, capons, beet, mutton, pork, &c., as duly agreed upon. I put it to you, my young friend, whether a national quarrel might not be as wisely arranged by such means, as by shooting and stabbing thousands of men, burning towns, destroying vineyards and corn-fields, and making this beautiful earth a charnel-house and a wilderness! Besides, by a table war, the result might be more certainly calculated; nothing would be left for new dispute between the beating and beaten; there could be hardly such an event as a drawn battle-no such indefinite terms for a general to hide his loss in as allowed by the present system of field tactics. To retreat as fast as mortal legs could carry men would not be, as now, only“ to continue a movement." The defeated could not shirk their disgrace--it would be open, palpable to the heralds appointed to declare the victory; and thus with knife and fork would terminate a hard campaign. Of course, the slightest advantage gained over an adversary would decide the battle; a pippin more or less consumed at the dessert might end the war; and thus perhaps incalculable good result to a gr portion of the human race from a single apple.
The Beefeaters-should the Soult system be adopted—will henceforth have a terrible significance in their now vulgarised and ludicrous appellation : they will be in the table-war what the Pappenheimers were in