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part of the infatuated King, but the appeal to the sword. We soon find him, therefore, in the field of battle, periling life for freedom, and girded, to use the words of Algernon Sydney, with the "athletic habit of liberty for the contest."
In the "Memorials" before us, the history of the year of civil warfare which ensued is given with great spirit, and Lord Nugent has not scrupled throughout to indulge in emotions, of a very pleasing and affecting kind. But we must not venture into these details. It is sufficient to say that Hampden in vain endeavoured to push the vacillating Essex into some great enterprise which might lead to a decisive issue, and that even his own superhuman courage and wonderful skill were insufficient to compensate for the weaknesses of that commander. We are not without a very picturesque, if not very ornate description of his appearance on the field of battle, which we find in a poem, published a few weeks after his death by "Capt. J. S." his friend and fellow-soldier. The lines ought to have been preserved by Lord Nugent, for they give us at least an animated notion of Hampden's valiant bearing. "I have seene," says his friend in the course of them
"I have seene
Him i' th' front of his regiment in greene,
Of never-fayling courage ;-and so cheare
-but all this availed not; and in the fatal skirmish of Chalgrove, John Hampden (who had hurried to the fight because there was danger there, and hope of service to the cause, and of retrieving the errors of Essex,) received his death-wound from two carabine balls that lodged in his shoulder: "closing," to use the words of these Memorials, "the great work of his toilsome life with a brilliant reputation and an honourable death; crowned, not, as some happier men, with the renown of victory, but with a testimony not less glorious, of fidelity to the sinking fortunes of a conflict which his genius might have more prosperously guided, and to a better issue."
We need not dwell on the affecting moments of his death, on his courage, and patience, and love of country, which survived to the last; on the message which, with his "ruling passion strong in death," he sent to the terror-stricken army, or on the prayers for his distracted country, which were issuing from his lips, as he fell back and expired. We have already exceeded our limits in illustrating the great points of his character;-not in vain, if it has helped to suggest any new considerations of human motives and conduct, nor without present advantage to a contest now impending, if, in drawing the line of distinction between the early and later years of John Hampden, we have given one more illustrious example to the great truth, that rights withheld and justice deferred will ever enhance the price, at which safety and peace must, in the end, be purchased.*
Since these pages went to press, we have perused Mr. D'Israeli's Pamphlet entitled "Eliot, Hampden, and Pym." We regret that we cannot in the present number find space to reply to several assertions advanced by that ingenious Author we shall deem it a duty to the illustrious dead, to take an early opportunity of doing so.
THE STATE OF THE DRAMA.
IN a literary age, acknowledged to abound with writers endowed with a true poetical spirit, the decline, or rather the extinction of the English Drama seems a paradox as curious as it is lamentable, and deserves, at least, some investigation. Like most other mundane affairs, however, it is capable of being explained by very natural and efficient causes, the chief of which will be found ultimately to be resolved by the unparalleled injustice of the law relative to dramatic copyright. A few observations, not propounded with the exactest regard to method, and mixed up with a portion of theatrical gossip, may elucidate the subject as clearly as a more formal and elaborate argument.
The public at large are yet unapprised, that should an author commit to the press a drama, of any description whatever, from that moment, and by the mere act of ascertaining, by the only criterion in his power, whether his work possesses any value, he loses all control over its representation on the stage. It may be performed, like the Marino Faliero of Lord Byron, against the most urgent remonstrances of the author; and should it happen to acquire unbounded popularity, -should it be acted in every theatre in the three kingdoms-should it make the fortune of particular actors, and put thousands of pounds into the pockets of the various managers-still its author would not be entitled, by law, to the smallest compensation; nor, in fact, would he receive a shilling for his labours, unless perchance from the unexpected liberality of the metropolitan theatre which first adopted his performance.
Nor is the case of the proprietors of the metropolitan theatres themselves a much less degree of hardship. It was their custom, at least in former days, to remunerate an author with a sum really worth his acceptance. Mr. Colman, it is said, received a thousand pounds for "John Bull;" Mr. Cherry's "Soldier's Daughter" netted somewhat more. After such deductions from the profits even of the most successful play, besides having incurred the risk of failure-involving a certain loss, surely nothing can be more vexatious than for these persons being compelled to witness the deterioration of their property from the competition of other managers, who have incurred neither the risk of failure nor the expense of purchase. To what extent such plunder has been carried, may be inferred from a somewhat recent investigation. The proprietor of the Lyceum having purchased the copyright of the "Bottle Imp," became desirous of putting an end to the practice, though it is needless to add, in vain. But an inquiry being set on foot, it was discovered that this piece, which possesses no extravagant claims to popularity, was performed on the same evening in no fewer than twenty-three of the provincial theatres.
From the progressive operation of this state of things the London managers have ceased to reward authors with the same munificence as their predecessors, and consequently men of genius have ceased to write for the stage. The enormous size, too, of the patent theatres, by which half the dialogue is lost to the audience, having rendered the classic drama less efficient and attractive, spectacle and show, with translations of short pieces of mere bustle, from the French, sup
plied at a trifling expense, have usurped the stage. Poor Comedy, thus neglected and discouraged, has literally expired; and though Tragedy, by dint of rant and mouthing in the actors, has made somewhat a better stand, yet what would be the remuneration of the most successful play, compared with the sums lavished on the "Lions of Mysore," upon whose arrival Government, it is said, by way of encouraging the drama, thought it not unworthy their attention to remit the usual Custom-house dues on imported animals? Well might Lord Brougham inquire, in the recent discussion of Mr. Arnold's claim to an extension of his licence, whether the patent theatres, during the last twenty years, had produced a single play worthy the attention, and fit for the rational amusement of men and women? The lawyers, struck dumb by the appeal, could certainly recollect no case in point: and thus the English drama, once the pride of the nation, has dwindled down so as to have ceased even to form a province of its literature. So much has the fashion of reading the last new play passed away, that scarcely any modern drama, however successful on the stage, will pay the expense of publication -another drawback to the unfortunate race of dramatists, who are deprived of a subsidiary recompense, which, in other days, was far from contemptible.
In France a law was passed, in the year 1791, prohibiting the work of any living writer to be represented, except by the author's consent, expressed in writing, under the penalty of the whole receipts of the theatre and in 1793 an additional fine was imposed of 500 francs, both penalties becoming the property of the author. In Paris, it seems, that in most of the theatres the author shares a per centage on the receipts of the house, whenever his piece is performed. In the provinces the manager usually makes an agreement for each representation. These claims continue during the life of the author, with a remainder of ten years to his assigns, the whole business being conducted by respectable agents residing in Paris, having their correspondents throughout the country. The beneficial effect of these regulations is apparent in the acknowledged superiority of the modern French stage, and the striking contrast exhibited in the situation of the dramatist in each country; the very handsome emoluments derived from successful pieces in France, placing their authors in a state of ease and respectability, whilst in England the usual poverty of the writer for the stage is almost become proverbial; and well it may, when the dramatist, after having encountered the various difficulties of getting his piece represented, and having secured the favour of a capricious public, instead of having his property protected by the law, is left by the plenitude of its injustice to the mercy of every spoiler, and the principal sources, from whence he ought to derive his profits, are completely turned against him. A new invention in bobbin-net, or an improved lock, would be amply secured to its proprietor, but to the fabrications of the brain, British legislation has never been propitious; all that has been gained seems to have been wrung from a tardy and reluctant sense of shame, rather than of justice, the Senate ever beholding literature with a jealous, if not a vindictive eye, more ready to crush than to foster, to deride the sorrows of its professors, rather than to protect their interests.
It is now about two years since, that Mr. Lamb brought forward in the House of Commons a Bill "to alter and extend the provisions of the Act of 54 Geo. III. to take from managers of theatres the right of acting plays without obtaining the consent of the authors." The subject met with the support of several distinguished members of both parties; however, after various delays and adjournments, it was dropped, on an understanding, it is said, that it was to be renewed in the next Session. The word of promise has not been kept, and the dramatist must still sow the seed for other men to reap the harvest.
That the provisions of a Bill, assimilating the rights of authors to those secured by the laws of France, would be as practicable as they are beneficial, we have the forty years' experience of our neighbours, Nor let it be said that Parliament is too much occupied to attend to what some persons may choose to denominate trifles; to relieve injustice, to remove oppression, ought at no time to be considered as a trifle. It was during the busiest period of the Revolution, that the French Legislature could find leisure to protect the interests of a favourite branch of their national literature.
And, after all, is the Drama a trifle?-has it not exercised a mighty influence on the thoughts, the feelings, and the morals of the nation?-perhaps not the less powerful because somewhat unsuspected. It has been alleged, that in the provinces theatrical representations have ceased to attract: the national intellect, forsooth! having been so far advanced by the schoolmaster, as to be beyond the reach of improvement from the stage. But if such indifference really prevails, it must rather be attributed to a want in the supply of deserving novelties, which are absolutely necessary to the support of a theatre, the equivoque of the French stage, however smart and clever, not being sufficiently national, or affording suitable aliment to the taste of John Bull. When was Mr. Kean, while his faculties were unimpaired, heard to complain of the inaptitude of the population of any town, large or small, to listen to the language of Shakspeare from his lips? The present age, instead of disregarding works of imagination, seems rather too much disposed to reject instruction, unless presented through their medium; for however laudable may be the institutions of modern times for the promotion of science, mathematics or mechanics can interest but few persons in the busy walks of life, and those only whose understandings are decidedly bent on their pursuit; but just exhibitions of life and manners come home to the business and bosoms of all men, inculcating on both sexes examples of real and universal wisdom. Hear the severe Milton
"Thence what the lofty, grave Tragedians taught
Of moral prudence, with delight received,
Par. Regained, book iv.
This description, it must be owned, is more suited to the ancient than the modern state of the Drama, but by the proposed legislative provisions its equality might be somewhat restored. An author would feel secure in publishing a small edition of his work, by way of tentamen,
which might be adopted by any theatre which chose to make the experiment; at present, no man of literary attainments permits his play to be sent to the minor theatres, because of the beggarly emoluments which it would produce; but under a different system, an effective tragedy or comedy might be submitted to the usually indulgent audiences of these theatres, as a preliminary to its acceptance by the larger houses; and by the opportunity of correction and improvement thus afforded, it would be rendered secure against a sometimes unjust and precipitate condemnation. Indeed, under the present system, the patent houses, whenever a popular afterpiece has appeared on the boards of the minor theatres, have been far from unwilling to transplant it to their own more luxuriant soil; but, as it is understood, without the least advantage to the author. Opportunity, also, would thus be given to an actor of celebrity to try the effect of what he deemed an appropriate character at "a provincial theatre, without the danger of staking his judgment before the stormy and turbulent ordeal of a London audience:" by such a judicious experiment Mr. Macready secured the success of Lord Byron's "Werner" at DruryLane, which, a few years before, had been all but condemned at Covent-Garden; and thus, to works of real merit now slumbering in the scrutoires of their writers, managers would be compelled to pay that attention, which, by the present system, their authors, unless belonging to a certain clique, have not the slightest chance of commanding.
The fate of the tragedy of "Fazio, or the Italian Wife," by the Professor of Poetry at Oxford, is a striking confirmation of the correctness of these opinions. The play having been published, was neglected by the London managers, but the proprietors of the Bath theatre having sufficient tact to discover its dramatic power, brought it forward in that city, where it met with distinguished success. Its merit being thus ascertained, the principal character, Bianca, was soon after played by Miss O'Neil, at Covent Garden, and by Miss Taylor, at the Surrey theatre, to very large and frequent audiences; and lastly, Miss F. Kemble repeated it, in the last season, no fewer than seventeen times. What emolument the author may have derived from this well-deserved popularity, the world has not been informed; but whatever may have been its amount, whether much or little, or more probably nothing at all, it could only be claimed as a matter of favour, not of right, which makes a wonderful difference.
The successful comedy of "Paul Pry" stands in somewhat a different predicament. This play having been produced in the regular way at the Haymarket, the author, it may be concluded, received from that theatre the usual, or perhaps more than the usual remuneration; but had such a hit been made at Paris, he would have realized a moderate competence. Two hundred times has this favourite play been repeated in the metropolis, and it has penetrated to every nook and corner of the kingdom,-a proof, by the way, that audiences can still be drawn together in the country by the reputation of merit. Wherever Liston appeared, crowds were sure to follow, and will follow, as long as he repeats this popular character; and though no one can grudge to this incomparable performer his professional gains, yet, in this case, he may fairly be said to have traded on the borrowed capital of the author, who, by every rule of equity, commercial