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The Somnambulist. Rosambert. What do I see?- The white phantom !--Good heavens ! 'tis Ernestine !
Act I, Scene 2.
OR, THE PHANTOM OF THE VILLAGE:
A DRAMATIC ENTERTAINMENT,
In Two Acts,
BY W. T. MONCRIEFF, ESQ.
Author of Eugene Aram, Monsieur Tonson, All at Coventry, Cataract of the Ganges, Giovanni in London, Rochester, Shipwreck of the
Medusa, Spectre Bridegroom, $c.
PRINTED FROM THE ACTING COPY, WITH REMARKS,
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL, BY D.-G.
To which are added, DESCRIPTION OF THE COSTUME,—CAST OF THE CHARACTERS,ENTRANCES AND EXITS, RELATIVE POSITIONS OF THE PERFORMERS ON TAE STAGE,—AND THE WHOLE OF
THE STAGE BUSINESS,
As performed at the
THEATRES ROYAL, LONDON.
EMBELLISHED WITH A FINE ENGRAVING, By MR. BONNER, from a Drawing taken in the Theatre, by
MR. R. CRUIKSHANK.
JOHN CUMBERLAND, 2, CUMBERLAND TERRACE,
CAMDEN NEW TOWN.
The Somnambulist. Our dramatic acquaintance, Mr. Moncrieff, again passes in review before us. As a caterer for the public taste, he is indefatigable in his researches for its gratification;
and, by that easy transfer to which literary pro.. perty is subject, the inhabitants of the good cities of Paris and London are made merry or sad on the same night from the same cause. Certain diurnal critics have sneeringly remarked that the French have little to spare in the way of wit and invention. Does it then become our magnanimous wisdoms to take from them that little, and subsist upon it ourselves ? Like captious valetu. dinarians, who never make a hearty meal without grum. bling, we borrow liberally, and as liberally abuse. Like Ancient Pistol, we swallow the leek, and bravely content ourselves with swearing all the while.
The Somnambulist is not a translation of the Vaudeville, “La Villageoise Somnambule, ou les Deux Fiancées ;" but, like that piece, is taken from the ballet “ La Somnambule,” by M. M. Scribe et Aumer, which, in its turn, is founded on a Vaudeville of the same name, by Scribe and Delavigne; from this latter Mr. Beazley produced, some years since, a pleasing entertainment, entitled “ Love's Dream." In the farce of “ The Sleep.walker,” somnambulism has been turned to very merry account; in the present piece, it produces fear. ful surprise and trembling anxiety. Had not circumstances passed within our own knowledge of an equally wonderful, though less romantic character, we should stamp" incredulus odi," upon the adventures of the sleeping Ernestine; but, like many theories, questioned at first, yet subsequently confirmed by experience, somnambulism proves what little advancement philosophy has made in unravelling the mystery of the mind,
and shows that human knowledge may find its limit, though human presumption never can.
The story of this piece is simple and touching. It en. lists our sympathies on the side of virtue, and illustrates a principle that cannot be too strongly enforced—that innocence, amidst its severest trials, is sure to meet with the protection of heaven. The comic portion is pleasantly written : the uxorious Colin de Trop, with his matrimonial influenza, and the jealous, coquetting, virtuous, Madame Gertrude, down to Master Oliver, the Trumpeter, who salutes the ill-paired couple with a discordant flourish, are naturally drawn. The mechanical, or melo-dramatic part, is singularly affecting. The scene between Ernestine and Rosambert, where every vicious thought is extinguished in the breast of the latter, and the concluding one, where the mystery is cleared up, swell the heart with emotion; indeed, the latter awakens a suspense and dread almost amounting to agony. We question if dumb show ever excited more intense feelings than those which thrill the audience when Ernestine passes over the water-wheel.
Somnambulism is a favourite subject with the Frenchits wonders have given rise to several pieces "La Petite Somnambule," “ Heloise, ou la Nouvelle Somnambule," “ La Sompambule Marièe," &c. &c.; none of which are more deservedly popular than the present English version.
We dislike catch-words--they do not add to the humour of a part; and their frequent repetition always tires, and often disgusts.—This remark applies equally to Ollapod's, “ Thank you, good sir, I owe you one !" and to Colin's, “ But it won't bear thinking of.”—Mr. Keeley plays Colin very whimsically: we never saw a little man more in a way to be put out of his misery by the matrimonial noose. All praise centres in Miss Kelly's performance of Ernestine : the fixed attention, the deep anxiety, the tears, that accompanied it, are the best evidences of her absolute power over the imagination, in characters of this description.