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checked and crippled ; the strength of ge. be seen a luminous specimen of the nerations had been wasted, and the im- view taken of the most memorable mense extent of the empire only served events in history by the liberal wri. yet more to sustain the general peace, ters. In his reflections on this heartfrom the exhaustion of its forces. The stirring event, in his observations on defeat of Xerxes paralysed the East. the glorious defeat of the arms of
Thus, Greece was left secure, and at Eastern despotism by the infant efliberty to enjoy the tranquillity it had ac
forts of European freedom, there is quired, and to direct to the arts of peace nothing said of the incalculable conthe novel and amazing energies which had
sequences dependent on the struggle been prompted by the dangers, and ex
nothing on the evident protection afalted by the victories, of war. “ The Athenians, now returned to their
forded by a superintending Providence
to the arms of an inconsiderable Recity, saw before them the arduous task of rebuilding its ruins, and restoring its public-nothing on the marvellous wasted lands. The vicissitudes of the adaptation of the character of Thewar had produced many silent and inter
mistocles to the mighty duty with nal, as well as exterior, changes. Many which he was charged, that of rolling great fortunes had been broken ; and the back from the cradle of civilisation, ancient spirit of the aristocracy had re
freedom and knowledge, the wave of ceived no inconsiderable shock in the barbaric conquests. It was fate which power of new families; the fame of the raised him up! Against such a view of base-born and democratic Themistocles- human affairs we enter our solemn proand the victories which a whole people had test. We allow nothing to fate, unparticipated— broke up much of the pre- less that is meant as another way of scriptive and venerable sanctity attached expressing the decrees of an overrul. to ancestral names, and to particular fami- ing, all-seeing, and beneficent intellilies. This was salutary to the spirit of
gence. We see in the defeat of the enterprise in all classes. The ambition of mighty armament by the arms of a the great was excited to restore, by some
small city on the Attic shore-in the active means, their broken fortunes and
character of its leaders—in the efdecaying influence- the energies of the
forts which it made-in the triumphs humbler ranks, already aroused by their
which it achieved, and the glories new importance, were stimulated to maintain and to increase it. It was the very
which it won—the clearest evidence crisis in wbich a new direction might be
of the agency of a superintending given to the habits and the character of a
power, which elicited, from the colwhole people ; and to seize all the advan
lision of Asiatic ambition with Eurotages of that crisis, Fate, in Themistocles, pean freedom, the wonders of Grehad allotted to Athens, a man whose qua.
cian civilisation, and the marvels of lities were not only pre-eminently great in Athenian genius. And it is just bethemselves, but peculiarly adapted to the cause we are fully alive to the imcircumstances of the time. And, as I portant agency of the democratic elehave elsewhere remarked, it is indeed the ment in this memorable conflict; benature and prerogative of free states, to cause we see clearly what inestimable concentrate the popular will into some- blessings, when duly restrained, it is thing of the unity of despotism, by pro- capable of bestowing on mankind; beducing, one after another, a series of re- cause we trace in its energy in every presentatives of the wants and exigencies succeeding age the expansive force of The Hour- each leading his generation, which has driven the blessings of civibut only while he sympathizes with its
lisation into the recesses of the earth, will ;- and either baffling or succeeded by that we are the determined enemies his rivals, not in proportion as he excels
of those democratic concessions which or he is outshone in genius, but as he gives, or ceases to give, to the widest range of entirely destroy the beneficent agency the legislative power, the most concen
of this powerful element, which pertrated force of the cxecutive ; thus uniting
mit the vital heat of society to burst the desires of the greatest number, under
forth in ruinous explosions, or tear to the administration of the narrowest possi
atoms the necessary superincumbent ble control ;- the constitution popular
masses, and instead of the smiling asthe government absolute but responsible." pect of early and cherished vegetation,
leave only in its traces the blackness Now, in this splendid passage is to of desolation and the ruin of nature,
THE-WORLD WE LIVE IN.
That Liston is an excellent actor, as remarkable as his own physiognoall agree; that he thinks of leaving my—a problem “ too deep for tears," the stage, all regret ; that he has made an evidence of virgin sensibility sura competence, all are glad to hear; viving the “ smell of lamp-oil and but that he is overcome with modesty, orange-peel," as poor Matthews dewe thought had hitherto never occur- fined the theatrical atmosphere, unred to any one. However, we were rivalled in the annals of the Minerva mistaken; for it has just occurred to library. a correspondent of one of the papers. It is our personal opinion, that LisThis discoverer forewarns the public, ton intends to amuse himself, and still that the next time they shall see him, more amuse his audience, by a burhe is to be overwhelmed with sudden lesque of the customary leave-taking, blushes, and to weep, by particular and instead of " sending his hearers desire. The letter tells us, that Lis- weeping to their beds," or poisoning ton, who left Covent Garden boards the air with the odour of hartshorn, in 1823, returns there for one night and startling the ear with the sound of more; but, as the writer, with pathe- hysterics, will keep the multitude tic pleasantry, and pleasant pathos, laughing at him, for him, and by him, says,—“ It is supposed by his friends to the fall of the curtain. Liston is that he returns only to finish his glo- undoubtedly a loss to the stage. He rious theatrical career." The letter had great humour, yet of a peculiar proceeds to give one of those touches kind. He had neither the broad pleaof the historic broom by which the santry with which Munden exerted concealing cobwebs are swept away such irresistible power over the aufrom the fame of men. It tells us
It tells us dience, nor the graceful pleasantry that Liston was born in London in that made Jack Bannister the most 1776, and first appeared at the Hay- delightful of comedians. His talent market in June 1805. That he has was dry humour. Those who see noalways believed himself too nervous thing in an actor but his visage, said to take a formal farewell; and even that he had the most humorous of all now dreads being called on to appear visages, and were prepared to laugh at the end of a play. Therefore, when he twisted a muscle. But his adds the writer, “ It is to be hoped face was certainly the mere instruthat on Friday next this useless, and ment of an ingenious mind. It was in his case painful ceremony, will be actually heavy, It had neither the dispensed with.”
flexible mouth that we see pit-pat made We never doubted Liston's power for jest, nor the voluble eye that the of merriment, and are the less sur- great dramatist describes, “ like parprised that he should be merry in the rots winking at a bagpiper.” But, as newspapers. Of course the announce- the instrument of an inventive drollment that he is to finish the part of ery, it was characteristic. Liston was Looney Mactwowlter or Paul Pry, by rather a humorist than a man of huthe part of “ Niobe all tears," for that
There was a quaint force in night only, will add prodigiously to his conception that as often made one the audience, and swell the bill of the think as smile ; and a dexterous byFarce by a "new attraction.” That a play which seldom left the audience clever fellow who has faced all kinds aware of the skill to which their de. of audiences, in all kinds of parts, and light in his performance was due. But with all kinds of oddities, for thirty neither he, nor any of the chief actors years, should feel a sudden timidity at of our day, have had a fair trial withthe sight of pit, box, and gallery huzza- in the last twenty years.
The stage ing him, is a paradox. That he should has produced too little of force or nofeel a pang in the waving of a pocket, velty to give them the field for true handkerchief, horror in a hearty laugh, talent; it has abandoned the strong or agony in “ three distinct rounds pungency of English character for the of applause," is to us among the myse feeble affectations of foreign life, and teries of human nature; a phenomenon thus, instead of native opulence, given
us foreign beggary. It is altogether The other absolutely hopeless, withuntrue to say, that our stage has out the daring originality, the living been driven to feed on those husks conception of human impulses, and the by the famine of English character. poetic eloquence, which by common Those who say this palpably think consent are born of consummate abi. that the coat is the man, and that the lity alone. But genius is proverbially uniformity of costumes can extinguish shy, fastidious, and easily disconcerted. the original diversities of profession, If it rises higher than the ordinary propensity, and mind. Such thinkers step of men, it is only the more exwould have us believe that there is posed to waver and feel at once the neither folly nor wisdom existing ex- force and the chill of gusts that would cept through the taste of the tailor; pass unregarded across the path of and that the quackery of physic, the the thousands below. A slight represumption of law, the ostentation of pulse has often thrown a man
of this soldiership, the avarice of commerce, rank of mind wholly off his balance, the adulation of courts, the vanity of has made him relinquish the favourite fashion, the vulgarity of the parvenu; pursuit of years, and exaggerating the all the peculiar follies, and tangible nature of his failure with the same exaggerations of life are lost since the keen sensibility which fevered his day when the streets were a masque spirit in the enterprise, he resolves, rade of full-bottomed wigs, square like another Prospero, to abandon the skirted coats, and rolled-up stockings. fairy isle where he so long reigned They cannot see which folly runs alone, break his wand, and return to ahead in the grand race of national the ordinary haunts and commonplace absurdities, except by the colour of the career of general mankind. jockeys' caps and jackets. To such Nor is the fault wholly that of macrities the whole feast of public oddity nagers. They are a struggling class is a feast with all the dishes covered. of men. Within the last half cen
Their eye is baffled by the indiscrimi. tury, none of them have been able to nate show of the outside, and they ju- do more than fight ill luck from season diciously determine that there can be to season. A long succession of them no variety in the viands within. have been ruined altogether; and a late
But the question arises. To what manager, whose amateur propensities is the true deficiency of stage author plunged him into the hazardous amuseship owing ? We say not to the pub- ment of governing a theatre, is said to lic. Whenever the theatres exhibit have paid L.30,000 as the penalty of any thing worth going to see, the pub- his experience. What, then, is to be lic crowd the theatre. Not to the na- the resource? Or are we to relinquish tional failure of ability ? In the vigour all the advantages which might re. which the British mind exhibits in dound to a civilized people from a every pursuit, in the countless avenues well-ordered national theatre ? We which it finds or makes for fame, and altogether disregard the ridiculous outin the natural propensity of the Eng. cry raised against theatres from their lishman for the study of character, abuse; and, so long as we have Shakwe see an inexhaustible mine of comic speare, can rejcice that we had a power, if the mine were but worked. theatre to summon that mighty genius In the profound sensibilities of a peo. into action, and still have a theatre to ple, the most sensitive though the spread the splendours of his mind least ostentatious in their feelings of through the people and posterity. The any on earth, we have as little doubt first step, as we conceive, would be to that the noblest ore of trageily is only form some public body for the express waiting to be brought to the surface. encouragement of the drama.
We Why, then, have we not both comedy have a Royal Academy for painting ; and tragedy? The reason unquestion. we have half a hundred associations ably is - Because neither is solicited for all kinds of public efforts, from by that especial encouragement which the dreary drudgeries of geology, is essential to both. Both are espe- up to the noblest researches of science. cial works of genius. One requiring Why not establish a society for the the quick wit, the keen insight into direct promotion of dramatic authorhuman eccentricities, and the forcible ship-to give rewards for the ablest construction of story, which are never comedy and tragedy ; to spread drato be found in their highest grade, but matic knowledge, to purify dramatic in the highest orders of invention. taste ; to exercise the mild influence of opinion over the conduct of actors, au- and repeopling the deserted hills of thors, and managers alike, and without national literature with shapes not un. harshness or officiousness, have all the worthy to move even among the coeffect of a powerful and salutary juris- lossal heroes and demigods of Shakdiction? The object is certainly worth speare. the trial. The literary ambition of But, to revert for a moment to the Swift was to found an academy for the fact that our best actors have not had purification of the national language. a fair field for their display, we afThe noblest trophy that Louis XIV. firm that the failure of authorship is raised in the height of his power, the true cause of the comparative failand the only fragment of his fame ure of stage ability. The most vivid which survived himself, was the French actor is but little less than a puppet, Academy, whose chief exploit was the without a vivid part. He may look Dictionary of the national language. the character, but it is the author who Yet we suffer the most brilliant, most must give him the power to speak it. effectual, and most permanent, popu. No pleasantry of the performer can lar, and universal of all the efforts of fully struggle against native dulness genius to lie in utter neglect; strug-, in the play, and no originality in the gling into an abortive existence under' performer can make an audience find the difficulties of bankrupt theatres perpetual novelty in perpetual repetiand bitter criticism, wholly unprotect- tion. In fact, all our comedies are ed by the natural patronage of the worn out ; and, except Shakspeare's, higher orders, almost wholly un- no tragedies are now ever capable of known to the people, and thus ab- being performed. Repetition even in solutely decaying out of the land. those cannot extinguish the beauties, To undertake this duty and remove but it has palled the delight; and the this stigma, should be the work of the actor's fame perishes under the forced opulent, the intelligent, and the pa- sameness of the exhibition. If we triotic of the nobility of England. It should once again see the revival of would well become Lord Francis Eger- talent in the drama, we should forget ton, for instance, and individuals of his our complaints against the decay of tastes and opportunities. Many would talent in the actors. While the temjoin them; anda society would be form- ple is in ruins, who can wonder at the ed, which might become rapidly one of listlessness of the priests? Like the the ornaments of the country. Doubt. old and fine superstition of the Greeks, less they would find a vast quantity of the cutting down of the forest not feeble writing poured in upon them in merely stripped the land of its noblest the first instance. This is the natural ornament, but exiled the whole host result of the long neglect of the dra- of nymphs and sylvans--made the ma, and also—and the remark is worth night no longer vocal with sounds of making-of the strong propensity of unearthly harmony, and extinguished the people to dramatize. But a few the purple wavings of the thousand months would exhaust the influx, and pinions that once bore the forms of then the stream would begin to run beauty and inspiration among its pure. Writers who now shrink from dewy haunts and caverns of solemn the entré of the pursuit, who know shade. nothing of the means of access, or who have been disgusted with the dif- It might be a curious question for ficulties of theatric negotiation, would metaphysicians--if metaphysics ever be found, delighted to follow the im- settled any thing-why credulity expulse of their minds, when the fruit of ercises such singular power over man? that impulse was to be placed in the If there be one fact more notorious hands of men of rank and estimation, than another, it is, that the future is actuated simply by the wish to raise wholly beyond human knowledge. the fallen dramatic fame of this singu. That no man can determine the events larly dramatic country. Wo cordially of the morrow, has amounted to a hope that the experiment will be made. truism since the beginning of the We can answer for its success. Half- world ; and yet, in defiance of the a-dozen years would not elapse with most perfect proof on the subject, out producing a total change in every there has always been a strong inclimatter connected with the national nation to believe that the events of drama, stimulating the latent poetry not only the morrow, but of years to of England into vividness and beauty, come, and even of a whole life, can be
determined. And, to make the ano. new face of virtue was very properly maly stronger still, this determination visible over the whole town. " Butchis not to be fixed on the wisdom of the ers' meat fell a penny in the pound, wise, but on the ignorance of the ig- and the pound itself seemed suddenly norant. Where we disdain the phi- to enlarge in its dimensions. The losopher, we trust the gipsy; where loaf assumed a new whiteness, along we laugh at the man of experience, with a new magnitude. Several cowe rely on the babblings of an old teries of old ladies declined attending woman: just as our forefathers scoffed the card table. The Temperance Soat the statesman, and believed the astro- ciety received an accession of memloger. Last month a prophecy shook bers, and drew up a resolution, that in the good town of Halifax “ from its future none but rain water should be propriety," by threatening it with ut- used in their tea, as being the most ceter ruin. It was not to be massacre lestial. The new corporation bought by a French invasion, nor cannibalism a prayer-book, and the mayor carried by an Irish one. Napoleon was not a proposal, in full conclave, that they to rise from his dust to inflict ven. should attend the parish church on the geance upon the loyalty of the Tories, Sunday ensuing, if they survived. Vanor Dan O'Connell to smite the Ra- rious husbands were reconciled to their dicals for having refused to make him wives. Several gentlemen of advanced “representative of all England." The years and good repute repaired to the destruction was to come in the shape Surrogate for licenses, in which they of the Sodom and Gomorrah penal. inserted the names of their housekeepties. First there was to be an earth
Several solicitors spontaneously quake of the most sweeping and ef- docked several bills of cost of peculiar fectual order. By this all above longitude. Two dissenters acknowground was to be shattered to pieces, ledged that balf a farthing in the pound from the mirror in the house of the was not a ruinous sum to pay to the mayor to the pane in the cobbler's church-rate ; and one dissenter actustall. Then was to come the second ally paid it to the amount of sixpence unwelcome visitor, in the shape of a halfpenny. thunder-storm, not merely the “ most Still, as in all cases prevention is terrible in the memory of the oldest better than cure, and virtue is difficult, inhabitant,” according to the estab- where multitudes are concerned, the lished formula on those occasions, but expedient most in favour was flight. one which was to prevent any appeal Numbers, as the day approached, to the past, or moral for the future, shook off the dust of their feet against by roasting every soul that was caught Halifax, prepared to see the catasabove ground. The finale was to be trophe on cheaper terms than total finished by a shower that would have conversion, and escaped with all speed carried away Mont Blanc, if it had from the devoted town. The unforhappened to be in the neighbourhood, tunate theatre, the common scapegoat but, of course, would make short work of the Simon Pures, without which we with the crackling ruins and burnt should have lost so many terrific spebones of the Halifax houses and house. cimens of street eloquence from the holders.
itinerant, and so many drowsy decla. The prophecy, formidable as it was, mations from the stationary, and withcame from a source which deepened out which we should have lost Shaksall its terrors. It was from a pauper peare too, a trifle in comparison, was in the county workhouse. We have utterly abandoned. Mrs Wail-it's omi. not ascertained whether he was not nous name, well known for her various blind, deaf, and dumb. But if he kinds of captivation, offered them in were, this oracle would have been only vain. Taste was vanquished by terthe more worthy of public accepta- ror-the love of song gave way to the tion ; if the man had been an idiot, love of life—the minstrel was left like additional force would naturally have the nightingale to tell his sorrows to been given to his authority. But if darkness and solitude—and the theatre he had been frantic and the actual closed its doors in despair. wearer of a strait waistcoat, it would have justified a general insurance of bills, making of leases, and borrowing Washington Irving, after gleaning of money.
As it was, the effect was the romance of Europe, is now indesolemn. As the day approached, a fatigably labouring at the romance of