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blended with other sets of feelings, and become subject to other asso. ciations. Whereas in sitting down to write a letter, we have nothing to entice us “out of the record"-nothing to divert our thoughts and feelings from the process of coining themselves into the words that are expressive of them-nothing to restrain us-nothing to interrupt or confuse or alarm or disturb us--nothing, in short, to prevent the hand and pen together from performing the office we have for the time being appointed them to, of acting as a copying-machine to a certain page of the mind or the heart. The tongue rarely if ever gave a true transcript
any particular portion of the mental world that is within us ;--for the eye of another, looking upon us while we speak, is alone sufficient (however unconscious we may be of its influence) to alter all that we should otherwise say. But the pen has the power (which nothing else has) of drawing true pictures from the human heart, and of drawing them too in a permanent form, so that they can be copied, and repeated, and kept at hand for study and reference and comparison. While the tongue, even if it could draw as vivid pictures and as true ones, could only trace them on the air, from which they must fade in the same moment that they appear. "No conversation was ever so exactly recollected and reported as to convey a perfect impression of the effect which it produced at the time it was uttered. But a real letter is á real tangible thing--you have it "in black and white" -- there's no gainsaying or altering or disputing or denying it. Be it understood then, briefly, that it is the object of these papers,
if not to supply the desideratum the absence of which is lamented above, at least to shew the manner in which it might be supplied. But while this is their main object, it is not intended to pursue this object formally, but to forget or step aside from it whenever the pursuit of it might seem incompatible with the amusement of the reader. In short, it is proposed to skim the cream of a large collection of original letters from all classes and degrees of persons ; making the selection chiefly with a view to illustrate character and human nature generally ; but sometimes depending, for the interest we propose to excite, on "the magic of a name" alone: But be it always borne in mind by the reader, that the chief claim we are induced to make upon his attention and curiosity in regard to these “selections," arises from their absolute reality. Whatever they seem to be, that they are. We are not going to shew him what might, could, would, or should have been written, under certain supposable circumstances; but what actually was written under certain actual circumstances. In fact (and to this we pledge ourselves), the letters we shall present him will be copied, ver. batim et literatim, from the originals as they lie before us, by the favour of their possessor--who has all his life been a collector of every thing in this way that could illustrate the infinite varieties of human character, and the mere fact of their being found in whose possession is enough to stamp a certain value upon them-since, if there be a person whose tact in detecting, and whose skill and quickness in applying indications of this nature, surpasses those of all others now living among us, it is he who has for five years successively, in his own single unassisted person, supplied the place of a whole company of comedians (to say nothing of
scenery, machinery, dresses, decorations, &c.") to the most enlightened audiences that our theatres have seen for many years past, and has himself furnished, from the stores of his own uñassisted observation, nearly all the materials of which his illustrative entertainments have been composed.
The considerate reader will pardon us for having detained bim so long from those objects which are to form the staple of these papers, both in substance and in attraction. But the truth is, we have foreseen the small chance there is of our being attended to in the presence of “metal more attractive;" and have determined " to have our say" beforehand on this most enticing subject. We have now done, except in so far as regards the few words with which we shall venture to preface each letter as we present it.
We cannot do better than begin with the Theatrical letters, if it be but in compliment to the friend whose kindness permits us thus to skim the cream of his collection.
The following letter, in addition to its other merits, of style, composition, &c. proves the singular effect which theatrical representations produce on spectators of a certain class, in regard to the persons who embody the different characters represented. To a country bumpkin the abstract notion of "a play-actor" is a something which inspires a mysterious respect amounting to awe, and at the same time a sense of familiarity which almost "breeds contempt." These two opposite feelings are delightfully blended and confused together in the epistle which follows:
Mr. WRENCH, SIR,—Please to excuse my freedom as streanger to you, but I have had the pleasure of seeing you many times at the theatre in Oxford.
Mr. Wrench, J. W*** presents most respectful compliments to Mr. W. begs the favor of his company at dinner to day at 2 o'Clock to meet a few friends—And in the evening we intend to visit your
theatre. Sir, I hope you will excuse this short notis. Monday Morning,
J. W***, 4th Sept. 1815.
Porter of College. An answer is requested. Our next specimens shall be from two aspirants after theatrical fame. The infinite summariness of the first, and the cool manner in which the writer desires to be waited upon at his own residence, are remarkable. He evidently thinks that, now his mind is made up on the matter, nothing remains but to arrange the preliminaries of his engagement. To Mr. Mathews,
Aug. 13, 1815. Sir,- I write these few lines to you, hoping that i shall succeed in what I am trying for-i am very unhappy, now my mind is all on being a stage-actor, and if you would have the goodness to stepp down to 35, Devonshire-street, Portland-place, to-day, i shall be very much a bloiged to you, as I have not time to come to the Haymarket.
I remain yours,
R. R*****. The other is from a very different person
“ Some clerk foredoom'd his father's soul to cross,
Who reads a play-book when he should engross.” His mingled confidence and modesty are amusing. He feels no difficulty in offering himself as “ a tragic performer of the first characters;" and yet the utmost scope of his expectations in the affair of salary is fifteen shillings per week!
SIR-I now wait upon you in order to offer myself to your acceptance as a tragic performer of the first characters--having studied Shakespear and other celebrated authors for several years—but I bring with me no other recommendation to your notice but my own abilities not having appeared on any stage yet-still if you should have the goodness to grant my suit, I think I may justly say with Norval, something makes me bold to say I will not shame thy favor. The salary) should expect would not be more than 155. per week. Pardon me, if I through ignorance have erred in addressing you—not knowing the way in which the theatrical affairs are generally transacted.
Your humble Servant,
W. K*** N. B. If you think it worth your trouble, as I am now in waiting, I would give you a specimen or two of my abilities—knowing, from report, your ionate worth and love of justice. To Mr. T. Dibdin, Manager,
Surry Theatre." We will now take a step to higher and tenderer ground. The following is from an author-and what is more, a poet—and what is most of all, a patriot! There is something dramatic even in his epistolary style. Interrogatories issue from him in a stream. And then what novelty in the conception of introducing the overture as soon as the play is over! He thinks that the dramatists of the day have hitherto put the cart before the horse, and that an over-ture of course means a something which shall be given after the play is over! And what an overture is his to be! “patriotic,” as he says, with a vengeance-embodying nothing less than all the national songs we possess ! He may well desire to have his name concealed, lest, on the performance of his play, he should be overwhelmed with addresses from all parts of his grateful country! Of all the paradises extant in tlie realms of the imagination, commend us to "the Fool's Paradise.” The poet's is a purgatory in comparison. But to our Letter :
“Scarboro', Dec. 9, 1804. Dear Sir,- I have written a play *, and I am confident it possesses merit. One (a facetious, whimsical, hypocritical, satirical, avaricious) character, 1 purposely contrived for you. Quere, can I have it introduced in London? In what time? How must I proceed? What obstacles will oppose me? How shall I oppose them? What terms ? Is Mr. Kelly accessible? for I want a “patriotic overture" composing, and a “patriotic song" setting to music-viz.
England, arise ! see, where the gathering foe,
Headlong destruction! Ruin! on them heap !! OVERTURE, (which immediately strikes up at the conclusion of 5th Act,) to have for its various movements, “God Save the King”—“Rule Britannia” -"Hearts of Oak”-“ Britons Strike Home.”
Hope you will not be offended at my having taken this liberty with you, por at my urging you to favor me with as early an answer as possible. And let me entreat you to keep my name ( -) secret, for I mean to be kuown only as,
Dear Sir, Yours, &c.
WM. RUMBERT. N.B. Best respects to Mrs. Perhaps I may err in my superscription--for I only heard per chance you were ai Drury-lane. If you are not, permit me to say you deserve to be there.
for 4 voices
“ Patriotic Incidents, or the Nightly Watch ; in five acts. Altogether pro tem pore-the title will convince-it will readily be licensed."
We will now return to the humbler walks of professional life. The following effusion is the joint production of two brothers, who seem, in this instance, to have been sick of too much health. The “ bons," (as they call them) with which the worthy proprietor of Vauxhall had favoured them, were any thing but bons to them! Their consternation at the unremitting attacks that are made upon them—their tender solicitude lest Mr. Barrett should suspect them of disaffection to his interests, in not helping to fill his gardens with orders--and their innocent despair at the “ distressing necessity" to which they are reduced of being compelled to solicit the favour of being allowed to forego the favour he had conferred upon them—all this is the perfection of naïveté.
“ London, Aug. 1, 1820. Much RespecTED SIR, Your kind generosity was so great that you bestowed on us, your horn-players at Wauxhall, two Bons, which we with the most grateful sensibility accepted; but in the course of time we find hout that this intended favor was for us an severe punishment. We are every day besieged ; they say, two bons make a little party, and for this reason, in the course of the season, more than 300 person ask, and constantly plag us for the bons so that we are at last under the distressing necessity to solicit your kind permission and consent to rennounce and give up the bons. But if we lose the bons, we wish never and never to lose your
kind protection. Consequently, we most humbly solicit the favor to be always at your service, at least as long as we can decently do our duty, as we prefer the engagement at Wauxhall to any other at London. We remain, with the greatest respect, much respected Sir,
Your most grateful and humble Servants,
Joseph & Peter
Horns at Wauxhall. Perhaps after all this prose the reader may like to see a little verse. He
may be assured that what follows is written in as sober seriousness as any of the preceding. It will explain itself.
“ Impromptu. To My Dear Mary,
Sunday Night, 31 Oct.
More anon-errors excepted. We shall conclude our extracts for the present, with an epistle sent from a clown at the Dublin Theatre to his wife in London. The following, like the specimen which precedes it, is certainly neither prose nor verse; but we will venture to say that it is poetry, if the simple outburstings of a sincere and deep-seated affection are such. In the midst of its infinite confusion of times, persons, and things, there are touches of passion which nothing purely fictitious ever possessed. The benediction that intervenes between the two postscripts is the sublime of simple nature. The reader must not be content with a single perusal of this letter. On the first reading, its somewhat recondite orthography
may perhaps interfere with its effect. But when it can be read over without pausing to puzzle out the meaning of the words, he who can so read it, and not be touched by it, even to the very verge of tears, may be assured that he is either not made of “penetrable stuff,” or that his heart and affections are not in a healthful state. We should shrewdly suspect such a person of being secretly addicted to melo-drams!
“Friday Morning. MY DEAR AINGEL-I reaseaved your Leater, and I am a stonisht that you did not start off the moment the theatre closed, after what I have rote to you and leting you know what a situation I am in. I am a stonisht that you did not pay more a tencion—was you in a straing country I wold not serve you so -you are braking my hart by eanchis, I have ben bad a nuf before I reseved this Leter—but this has cut me to the senter of my hart. I am walking the streets from morning to night and till morning again—if you are not started before you reaseve this Leter, I shal expect you will start of on the recpt of this Leater, wich you will reaseve on Monday, 12 of November, wich I shall expect you will come of by the inale at night ; and if you are not over in Dublin on the thursday folowing, 1 shal start on the fryday folowing, if I am abel to start-for it is no youse for you to come over heare then—for you Inse your engadgment—for Mr. Joneston says he must engadg sum one Elce in your situation-so you know sentiments.
Dam the election and the theatre--if you wish to make me hapy you will mind what I have rote to you,
So no more from
your ever loving and obedient husband. If it ruines me I will start on fryday if you are not over on thursday. If you start on monday night you will be in Dublin on thursday.
God bless your eyes.
The theatre is shut up, and I have just money a nofe left to bring me to holey head-and if you are not over on thursday the 15, or friday the 16, by God I will come of if I walk all the way from the head to London-thearfor do not come if you do not come of in time.
O fany-I did not think you wold treat me so-to leave me in a straing country—I could not treat poor Lobskey so-much more your loving husband.”
If the critics do not pronounce this to be the perfection of the natural, in point of style as well as matter, we would beg them to explain what is.
LINES ON ACCIDENTALLY POSSESSING AND RETURNING
MISS B—'s MINIATURE.
To make us chiefly break;
Turn thief and risk my neck.
So, if I stole this treasure
Repeni it at my leisure.
Would merit Wisdom's stricture.