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mitted to exercise his dangerous trade one theatre in London has been so in the construction of any part of the placed, or so constructed, as to afford building
telerable convenience either to the It may at first sight appear, that higher or lower class of spectators, the substitution of iron for tim- Private property intervenes ber, must be enormously expensive, much, that it is scarcely to be expecand it would be enormous, if scienti- ted that any great improvement can fic care were not taken to calculate be made in this respect, by enlarging the stress and strength of every part the area round the site of the buildof the structure where iron was to be ing. used, and to frame the material to- Whether a more convenient situa. gether upon mechanical principles of tion might be selected, I do not prestrength and lightness.
tend to know ; but a theatre built on As to the roof, it could no doubt the old foundation might be rendered be made lighter and cheaper of iron extremely commodious as to its enthan of timber, at the present price of trances, or vomitories, as the antients that material. Cotton mills are fre- called the avenues to their amphiquently floored with hollow bricks, theatres. which are light, and these may be If the whole building were raised covered with carpeting.
upon arches of a height sufficient to Many other parts of the theatre admit carriages, and if numerous might be constructed of iron and fights of stairs constructed copper ; and stucco might be introdu- within the piers which supported ced in many places instead of wood. these arches, the audience might deThere are kinds of timber that do not part commodiously in different direcflame; these, though not very dura- tions, without confusion or delay. ble, might be employed for floors and The colonnades, formed by pillars benches; and where deal is absolutely properly disposed, would permit alternecessary,
it may be covered or im nate rows of carriages. Company bued with a wash, that in some de- might descend from the boxes almost gree will retard inflammation. After immediately into their carriages. Pasthe wood work that requires painting sages for those who were on foot has received two coats of oil paint, it might be railed off, and rendered semay be finished with a coat in distemper, which may be frequently renewed This plan would be attended with at small expence, and without the considerable expense ; but it might disagreeable smell of oil paint. be counterbalanced by sparing one
To heat the green room, dressing of the higher galleries, which lately rooms, and the withdrawing rooms, injured the audibility of the performsteam might be advantageously em- ance, without adding much to the ployed ; and the boiler to supply the profits of the house. Besides, it steam should be so placed, as to serve might be so managed, that tickets for at a moment's warning, to work a the admission of carriages under the steam engine of force sufficient to piazzas should be issued, which would draw water at once from the Thames cover the expense of their construcand to drive it with a strong impulse tion. wherever it should be wanted. This 3. Facility of seeing and hearingosteam engine should be strongly en- As to seeing, I believe that very little closed in a building to which access can be said, but what is obvious to on every side would be easily obtained. every person of common sense ; the
2. Some of the theatres at Paris actors and the spectators have in this have commodious avenues; but not respect opposite interests. It is the
Interest of the actors, to have that to, would contract the space so as to afpart of the house, which contains the fect too much the receipts of the house. audience, as large as possible. On The area for the stage might be as the contrary, it must be the wish of large as it was formerly; but the the audience, within certain bounds, scenery should be adjusted so as to to be near the stage ; and in all cases, contract the stage to reasonable dithe audience must wish, that every mensions. To confine the voice, part of the pit, galleries, and boxes, the wings should have leaves, or should be equally commodious for sce- flaps, hinged to them, so as occasioning. Now in a large theatre this is ally to close the space between the impossible. To extend the pit and wings, leaving sufficient room for exboxes, they must recede from the its and entrances. When large objects front of the stage; they cannot be require admission, these leaves might extended in breadth without shutting be turned back, and would then alout the view from the side boxes. low the same space as usual between
Little inconvenience was felt as to the wings. This would be an addiseeing at Drury-lane ; but every body tional convenience to the actors, who wished to hear, complained. As while they stand in waiting to enter to the actors, to inake any impression, on the stage, as it would screen them they were obliged to raise their voi: from the cold. The ceiling of the ces above the natural pitch; to sub- stage, which at present is inade by stitute pantomine gesticulation, in the strips of painted linen hanging perplace of inflexions of voice ; and to pendicularly, should be made of welluse contortions of features instead of varnished iron or copper frames, turnthe natural expression of the eyes, and ing upon centres so as to open at the easy movements of the counte- pleasure like Venetian window-blinds;
It is in vain, that critics in- and by this means to contract, at veigh against the bad taste of those, will, the opening of the ceiling, and who prefer show, and pantomime, and to conduct the voice of the performers processions, and dancing, and all that towards the audience. The current the French call spectacle : unless we of air, so as it does not amount to can hear the sentiments and dialogues, wind, should flow from the stage it is useless to write good plays; but to the audience. By experiments all the world loves spectacle. Both tried upon sound by Sir Thomas Morthese tastes should be gratified. Gar- land and some other members of rick, as I have heard him declare, the Royal Society, it appeared, that was always entertained with a panto- the propagation of sound was prodimime : he told me how many times giously obstructed by the resistance he had seen Harlequin Fortunatus or opposition of a slight currcnt of with delight--the number I forget, air. We are told by Vitruvius, and however, I am sure that it far exceed- Lipsius, that the sound of the actor's ed the number of times any man could voice was increased in a surprising hear a good comedy or tragedy. Sure- manner by brazen vessels placed unly the literary and the visual enter- der the seats of the audience. tainment of different spectators might No satisfactory account remains of be gratified. In the first place, the the manner in which this desirable efaudience-part of the theatre should fecť was produced. It would net, be smaller and lower, than it was at however, be difficult to try experiDrury-lane. Its shape might undoubt- ments on this subject in any one of edly be improved, by constructing it our theatres when it is vacant. according to the known laws of acou- About 40 years ago I happened to stics : but this, if rigorously attended go with a friend into a large cockpit at an inn at Towcester. My friend, situations of life tends to promote im who was at the opposite side of the dependence and morality. pit, appeared to me to speak with a It is scarcely necessary to add, that voice uncommonly loud and sonorous. pipes to speak through should be Upon my enquiring why he spoke in laid from the green room to every athat
manner, he said, that he had not partment of the actors. raised his voice above its ordinary 6. I have left the article of
expense pitch. Upon looking about, I per- to the last, because whatever essenceived a large earthen jar behind ine, tially tends to the convenience and which proved the cause of this in- gratification of the public will always crease of sound : for upon repeated find sufficient supplies from the libetrials, the voice of my friend sounded rality of Britain. A small addition as usual when I stood in any other to the price of tickets would amply part of the cockpit, but that in which defray the expence that would be inthe vase was placed. To the best of curred by any real improvements. my recollection the jar was about five If the united efforts of men of feet high, and twenty inches in dia- science, and men of practice, were di meter. I remember well, that it rung rected to this object, we might expect clearly, but slowly, when struck with to see a theatre superior to any on the knuckle. By what means, and the continent, adapted both to the by what materials, the pulses of purposes of splendid exhibition and of sound may be best returned for the true comedy; where our children purposes we have in view, is a subject might be entertained with the “ Forty for the joint efforts of mathematics Thieves,” and ourselves with “ The and experiment.
Rivals,” and “ The School for ScanAmong other expedients, pannel. dal.” ing the backs of the boxes with thin elastic plates of brass might be tried.
A saving and advantage would SCOTTISH REVIEW. certainly arise in all cases from using Coelebs in search of a Wife ; comiron, or copper, instead of wood; they
prehending Observations on Dowould not require renewal for many
mestic Habits and Manners, Reliyears, and they would be a preserva
gion and Morals. 2 volumes. tive against fire. The prompter's
London. Cadell and Davies, 1809. box might certainly be improved, so as to throw the prompter's voice more
(Concluded from our last, P. 441.) distinctly upon the stage, and to pre- GRI
REAT, however, as vent its being heard by the audience. More's powers of discernment
4. Convenience to performers.--Not- and description, there are nevertheless withstanding the reveries of Rousseau, not a few of the readers of her preand the declamations of the over-righ- sent publication who allege that she teous, actors have risen in the estima- has gone beyond nature in drawing tion of the public. We have seen, the principal figures which it repre- . with rational and sincere pleasure, the sents. Was there really ever such an excellent conduct of many female per- enchanting place, they enquire, as formers. I consider this reform as Stanley Grove? Where is there to highly advantageous to morality, and be found a Mr Stanley? Or, is his it becomes a duty in the managers of daughter within the whole compass of a theatre, to accommodate the per. creation ? It had been better, they forniers with every possible conve- insist, to have had them less perfect nience, so that they may enjoy that than so inimitable; and they add, that English word comfort, which in all much of the benefit which might have
arisen out of the materials from which there will no where be found in this the present book is framed, must from book, a single expression which at all this single circumstance be in a great savours of the celebrated doctrine of degree lost.
the perfectibility of man, which Mrs i'he same objection, we confess, oc- Hamilton has long ago so successfulcurred to our minds upon the first ly ridiculed in the person of Bridgetreading of • Cælebs.' After further ina Botheram. All that Mrs More reflection, however, we are inclined to has endeavoured to do, is to draw a think, that the author of these volumes veil over the dark parts of the princiis in the right. For, in the first place, pal characters of her work, and to it will be remembered, that the whole throw the exhibition of human vices story is related by an individual, who and failings into the secondary ones. must of necessity be supposed to have It ought not to be forgotten, besides, been
very blind to all those errors in that there is really no reason in findthe Stanleys, which a person in diffe- ing fault with a character on the rent circumstances might have been score of its perfection. The great supposed to observe ; and had these rule of human conduct is itself a perdefects been by him brought into fect standard, to which no mortal beview, the story might then we thinking has yet been known fully to be have been more justly subjected to conformed, but which nevertheless adthe charge of being unnatural, than at dresses itself to every unperverted present it can fairly be. But these mind, as the system, of all others, most objectors are perhaps also disposed to suited to the circumstances of man, find fault with the circumstance of and best adapted to become the source Celebs being made the narrator.- of his happiness. We would, however, acquit the au- “ It is justly considered,” says Dr thor upon this charge also, were it for Johnson, in the fourth number of the no other reason than because this very Rambler, the greatest excellency circumstance affords her an easy and “ of art, to imitate nature ; but it is natural opportunity of keeping all im- “necessary to distinguish those parts perfections out of sight. Had these 56 of nature which are most proper for been introduced and exhibited to the “ imitation. Greater care is still rereader, we imagine the general effect “quired in representing life, which is of the picture could not then have “ so often discoloured by passion, or
for there is a curious “ deformed by wickedness. If the propensity in our nature to imitate all “ world be promiscuously described, I the parts of a character, or at least cannot see of what use it can be to to pass over in ourselves certain errors 6 read the account, or why it may as altogether venal and trifling, if up
66 not be as safe to turn the
immeon any occasion we have been able to "diately upon mankind, as upon a discover the same defects in others, mirror, which shews all that prewhose general conduct is notwith- 6 sents itself without discrimination. standing exemplary and commendable.“ Many writers, for the sake of folWe know not if our meaning be“ lowing nature, so mingle good and clearly understood, but we own we " bad qualities in their principal perhave often felt in ourselves a great sonages, that they are both equally disposition to go snacks, as it were, in . “ conspicuous: and as we accompany the exceptionable as well as the amia- " them through their adventures with ble features of a character, which, con- “ delight, and are led by degrees to sidered as a whole, has excited our ad. “ interest ourselves in their favour, we miration.
6 Jose the abhorrence of their faults, It must also be recollected, that “ because they do not hinder our
been so pure ;
pleasure; or, perhaps, regard them twitching emotions, which are apt e “ with some kindness for being united nough of themselves to creep into all 66 with so much merit.
young minds, and to occupy the place “ Some have advanced, without due of other principles, which it is of far “ attention to the consequences of this greater importance to cultivate and “ notion, that certain virtues have cherish! The whole scene, indeed, " their correspondent faults, and there which ihis book embraces, speaks di. “ fore that to exhibit either apart, is rectly to the heart and to tbe affec
to deviate from probability. Thus tions; and certainly in the case of men are observed, by Swift, to be those individuals, who are possessed of grateful in the same degree as they a temper which admits at once all the
resentful. It is of the utmost milder sensations, and which gives “ importance to mankind, that posi- immediate way to its feelings, without “ tions of this tendency should be laid any effort of the judgment or under
open and confuted: for while men standing, the study of Cælebs may be “ consider good and evil as springing attended with some inconvenience.“ from the same root, they will spare We still, however, think that every " the one for the sake of the other; well-regulated mind will be proof 2“ and in judging, if not of others, at gainst the influence of the work in " least of themselves, will be apt to this respect. “ estimate their virtues by their vices. Thus far have we gallantly stood " To this fatal error all those will con- forth in our fair author's defence. “ tribute, who confound the colours We must now, however, confess that " of right and wrong; and instead of we have several objections to the “ helping to settle their boundaries, most striking characters in the histo“ mix them with so much art, that no ry.
common mind is able to disunite Mr Stanley seems to us to have " them.
been a gentleman of much sound sense “ In narratives where historical ve- and unaffected piety; yet we cannot “ racity has no place, I cannot disco- help thinking somehow, that he must 66 ver why there should not be exhibit- have been rather dull. There are no “ed the most perfect idea of virtue ; traits in his character which we would “ of virtue not angelical, nor above absolutely reject, but there are some,
probability; for what we cannot which we would wish to have percei“ credit, we shall never imitate ; but ved in it, but which we look for in " the highest and purest that huma- vain. His greatest excellence, in the
nity can reach ; which exercised in author's view, appears to have consistos such trials as the various revolutions ed in his uniformly maintaining the s of things shall bring upon it, may, sovereignty of principle in his mind, “ by conquering some calamities, and and in acting upon a regular and sys
enduring others, teach us what we tematic plan. This we would hear66 may hope, and what we can per- tily commend; but we think he pos,« form."
sesses rather tco great a portion of The utmost extent, therefore, of our constitutional philosophy, and it seems author's delinquency in this particu- to have superinduced a certain stiffness lar, appears, in our opinion, to consist and formality in hisconduct. We were in her having invented a story which much pleased, indeed, with thejudicious is likely to impress certain vivid and remarks which he makes, in the course captivating images on the fancy of of the conversations, in most of which some poor, unfortunate, warm-heart- he takes the principal part : but we ed, susceptible young man, and to know not how it is, but we are ever give an edge to those tender and in hopes that the next chapter will re