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and at the kindness with which they were surrounded. The garde de chasse, who accompanied them through the park, had served the Prince de Condé; the riding-master who was employed to teach them to mount on horseback, had been for years in the grande ecurie, and had given instructions to Madame Elizabeth ; so that they were constantly being reminded of individuals of their own family. Boucher, the cook, was continually employed in concocting detestable Spanish olios. The terrace before the château was converted into a salle de bal for their amusement, where they would sometimes join in those dances of their country, which require no art to follow the movements or the step. Guitars were left in every corner of the garden, and the kindhearted Dussek himself would devote his time and talent to the execution of simple Spanish airs, which they would love to hear, as being the only music they could understand.
“But all these amusements were but minor points of interest in the history of their lives. It was at the hour of prayer when the bell of the chapel sounded at sunset, that all the etiquette of Spanish form was most strictly adhered to. Every soul in the château, whether visiter, attendant, gaoler, or guard, was: compelled to attend at the chapel; and it was really a touching sight to behold prisoners and gaolers, oppressors and oppressed, kneeling together before the same God, laying aside their bitterness and enmities before Him who was one day to judge them all."
(To be continued.)
Some old song together,
How long is't we've lived together?
Loved each other—perhaps blindly;
Spite of frosts and stormy weather ;
And lay life's burden down-together!
THE CENSORSHIP OF THE ENGLISH DRAMA.
THE PROHIBITED COMEDY.
THROUGHOUT the checquered history of its past vicissitudes, the English acted drama never stood in such peril as it does at the present moment. The fact is as notorious as an Irish grievance; but, unfortunately, it is considerably more definite. One theatre is given up to cheap fiddling and cheap bread; another is closed after a fortnight's forlorn hope ; and the remainder, with the honourable exception of the Haymarket, are occupied in a way that seems to foreshadow too accurately the coming catastrophe of the legitimate drama. Mrs. Malaprop would say that these results have been brought about by a concussion of circumstances; and she would say very rightly. People may never agree about the specific causes of this decadence, any more than they are likely to be unanimous upon Ireland ; but the visible fact, we take it, is as undeniable as the peak of the hill of Howth.
In the worst period of its struggle against ignorance, prejudice, or bad government, the drama exhibited inore vitality within itself, had more resources to call into action as opportunity served, and contrived to keep up a more electric sympathy with the public at large than it can now be congratulated upon-now hastening towards the iniddle of the nineteenth century. Even when Cromwell struck it down with his iron band—when the stage was forbidden, and the actors dispersedthe vital principle still survived, and the drama took refuge in congenial nooks and corners, where it was cherished by loving hands, and where it continued to be enjoyed by stealth, and was, probably, protected all the more tenderly because of the price that was on its head—in Holland-house, for example, and in the green bye-ways that had not yet been desolated by the civil war, and in all places of popular resort where people had courage enough to venture upon the indulgence of a pleasure enjoyed at so serious a risk. The love of the drama was still strong in the popular heart, although a mighty revolution had swept away its temples and its ministers. So long as that love lingered there, the drama was safe; and when a counter-movement replaced the Stuart upon the throne, the drama sprang to life again, certainly not purified nor strengthened by the interval of suppression, but elastic and glowing with eagerness and hope. Yet, desperate as the circumstances of the drama were during the dreary interregnum,-dreary for literature and art—they were not so desperate as they are at this moment. There never was a time when malignant influences from without, as well as from within, seemed to combine so conclusively against the stage :-- the distresses of all classes of the population, except the upper, and the total indifference of the upper to dramatic interests :—late dinner hours ;-cheap lectures ;-cheap concerts ;—all tending to dry up the stream so effectually at its source, that, even should the public again return to crowd the theatres, it is very doubtful whether, a year or two hence, a sufficient company could be mustered to revive the national drama, as it used to be presented even in our boyhood. If ever there was a time, then, in this country when the drama demanded encouragement, and fosterage, and rewards, and extra patronage in high quarters—this is the time; yet, incredible as it may appear, most patient and suffering Stage, this is the very time—this time of depression and squalor in the imaginations and cupboards of the poets—this time when Nobody's carriage stops the silent way in front of the “ Box Entrance"—when men who were dramatists formerly are compelled to box all the other points of the literary compass, in a hazy delirious struggle for bread-and when no new dramatist (except one who was born to die in a breach), can be reasonably expected to venture into the deserted arena-this is the very time, o public, when the Examiner of Plays prohibits the representation of a new five-act comedy, after all the preliminary arrangements had been made for its production, the stage swept, and the chairs set!
Possibly, Public of ours, you may never have heard of the existence of such a valuable officer as the Examiner of Plays. Possibly, 0, Public, you did not know that you had so enlightened a servant to see after your theatrical pleasures; little suspecting that when you went to the playhouse of an evening, to stretch yourself and yawn off your superfluous claret, what care had been taken beforehand by that unknown, but most diligent keeper of your taste, to avert the chance of having your morals, or your politics, shocked or corrupted. Be informed, therefore, for the first time, if it be so, that you really have such an excellent person in your train, and}be grateful, as you ought to be, accordingly. It may undoubtedly seem very strange to you, you, great, many-headed monster, that you are considered to be incapable of judging for yourself in such matters, as if you had not arrived at years of discretion, although it is admitted on all hands that you have attained a swinging majority. You may think yourself aggrieved, but you know nothing about it, and must in this, as you have in many a like case, submit to be whipped, and put to stand in a corner till you beg pardon, or drop into a happy oblivion of your juvenile troubles. Go to bed, naughty Public, while the elder wisdom of the Lord Chamberlain's officer sits up late o' nights planning innocent recreations for you.
When we first heard that the Examiner of Plays had actually prohibited the performance of a new five-act comedy, we thought there must have been some mistake; such an occurrence being in itself, especially at this disastrous crisis, a heavy blow and most grievous discouragement to the drama. Besides, we knew we were not living in Russia, and had a faint suspicion that we were breathing a tolerably free and healthy atmosphere. But there is no mistake in the business : the Examiner has prohibited the comedy called “ Richelieu in Love."
The mere liability of the dramatist to the irresponsible operations of this invisible tribunal—the simple hanging of the sword over his feast of hope and endeavour, is quite enough to destroy the germ of fancy in his brain, and make him pitch his unfinished work into the fire. It is worse than the thunder which makes cattle go mad, and turns honest home-brewed into vinegar. But this is not all.
If the Examiner of Plays were to put a stop to the authorship of plays, making his own office a farce, the ground of complaint would be distinct and intelligible; and people would cry out against it just as they do against any other senseless restrictions upon productive industry. But the Examiner of Plays does nothing of the kind. He is gracious
enough to allow every body who chooses to write plays ; it is only when they succeed in getting them accepted, and are about to put them upon the stage that he pounces upon them. The consequence is, if, or the general average, the accepted plays may be assumed to be, the best of the infinite multitudes submitted to the judgment of managers —that the functions of the Examiner of Plays are exercised only in reference to those pieces which are the least likely to be offensive or injurious to the public; while the nameless bundles of dialogue which are rejected by the scrupulous manager, and which, if immorality, sedition, irreligion, libel, or nonsense may be presumed to reside any. where in the contemporary drama, must contain them all, are left to go scot-free, and to be given out to the public, through other channels, by the wounded vanity and disappointed ambition of their authors ! Of a truth, there never yet was a bit of intrinsic tyranny, that was not also a bit of eminent humbug.
But let us see what this Sanitary Inspector of Playhouses conceives himself entitled to do by virtue of his office. If the reader imagine that any questionings pass between the said Inspector and the author of the play—we had almost written plague-which he is about to condemn to quarantine ; if he suppose that the author is, in any way, put upon his defence, or allowed to vindicate or to amend his position ; or that any appeal is left open to him, so that he may set himself right at
all we have to say is, that the reader has inadvertently clothed the great dramatic functionary with a little of his own sense of justice : a garment which does not appear to form any part of the livery of his state. No—the course is this: a play is sent into the Examiner(Herbert's ghost, for all we know, still sitting there in an arm-chair, transparent and invisible)—and when the office is done upon it—that office which no human understanding shall ever be able to comprehend -it (the play, not the ghost) is sent out again with the stamp upon it whereby the sublime official signifies his pleasure, as to whether it may or may not be submitted to that ordeal for which it was written, for which the manager and the actors are already socked or buskined, as the case may be, and for which the public in all human probability, are waiting with curiosity and impatience. But the play is condemned branded-prohibited: the toils of the author have been useless; the preparations of the manager so much gold-dust cast upon a whirlwind; and the expectation of the public is set adrift, at peril of winds and waters, till it foats into some other harbour, or strike and go down head foremost against a rock.
Well—and all this time, has the author no remedy! Can he not knock at the Examiner's door, and, hat in hand, humbly supplicate for permission to take all the plums out of his pudding, and substitute in their place any thing the Examiner thinks proper, so that by recasting the ingredients he may at last have his pudding served up somehow? Or can he not petition to be informed wherein the fiavour displeased the palate of the judge? Or as to whether something might not be done midway between Scylla and Charybdis, so that he might at all events escape the total loss of his pudding ? No he can do nothing of the kind; he is precisely like a man in the stocks; he may agitate his brains to and fro as much as he likes, and roar till he is hoarse ; but he will not get one step farther for all that towards bis desiderated object. He is in a cleft-stick, and can't get out of it; and if he were as strong as Samson, and as wise as Solomon, and as old as Methuselah, he could not mend the matter. Begging wont do it--remonstrance wont do it-protesting wont do it—the thing is settled beyond hope; the fiat is gone forth; and gods, men, and columns, may dance in the ante-room till doomsday, and chaos may come again, before any body shall ever be able to ascertain why the said fiat was issued at all, or why, being issued, it might not be set aside by a writ of error.
To be sure it may seem, and we have no doubt it does seem, a very trumpery affair altogether, to numerous gentlemen in cinnamon waistcoats and white stocks—this business of prohibiting a play; and so far as they are concerned, we grant that it is an indescribable piece of trumpery. Why should they be troubled or pestered with the squabbles of authors and licencers? What do they know or care about them? all they know is that a play is an amusing sort of puppet-show which lasts out an hour or two; and that one play is pretty much the same as another; and that if the Examiner prohibited a play he must have had good reasons for it. Now there is no inconsiderable number of the “ fashionable” frequenters of theatres who will hold this language, and also will conclude, out of a sort of gold-stick-in-waiting instinct, that the licencer had his own reasons and must be right, although they know no more about the merits of the case than a certain class of very useful animals are supposed to know about saints' days and holidays. But as it is worth while to make even cinnamon waistcoats pant occasionally with the beatings of something in lieu of a heart—that being rather a scarce commodity in such quarters—we venture to entreat of some of those gentlemen to try to set about to think (not to write, that would be too much!) a play in five acts; but more especially a comedy of real life, not a masquerade, under the patch and spangles and harlequinade of which, the want of a true knowledge of nature and the world is so often brilliantly concealed--a comedy of which every body can form some judgment by the responses of his own experience, from the proscenium beauty smothered in gauze and feathers, to the gallery.god steaming through his aboriginal soot. When poor, lisping, bewildered Cinnamon shall have discovered the despair of the attempt, he will then be in a condition—but not a moment sooner—to understand a description of the dramatist's labour in the production of such a work ; and to enter upon the threshold of the feeling of indig. nation with which the despotism of the Examiner of Plays is regarded by every man who does understand the nature of that labour.
The bare hint of the existence of such a despotism in this country would be enough, one might suppose, to set our liberal air in a blaze. It is certainly not a question of politics. Whig and Tory, Protestant and Catholic and Puseyite, Celt and Saxon, must be presumed to think alike upon the existence of a secret tribunal, which operates, nobody knows how; which condemns, nobody knows why; which kills in the dark, which cuts off hope and justice at a single blow, and consigns its victinis to punishment without trial, hearing, or appeal. The apparition of this destroying minister, stealing in, muffled to the mouth, masked and velvet-shod, upon the stage in the broad daylight, while the gay and exulting comedians are at full play in their forward rehearsal-gliding through them to the dark corner where the prompter, ever assiduous, is intent upon the poet's scroll, which lies before himthen darkening like a sudden spread of noiseless wings over his prey, as