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from which we may, perhaps, gather that "The Female Officer" was composed very soon after that event :
"Alas, poor Foote! Be poisonous slander dumb!
The plot of the farce is this: Charlotte, the niece to Sir Anthony Ancient, has three lovers-Spencer, whom she favours, Billy Finikin, a young grocer, and Timothy Tamarind, an old oil-merchant. Both the latter are encouraged by her father. Sir Anthony is a virtuoso, and a collector of curiosities, and Finikin and Tamarind get into his good graces by promising to give him, the one a mummy, and the other a crocodile. They, however, unintentionally affront the old gentleman, and being turned out of his house, they return to it under cover of the curiosities they had agreed to present. It is night when they arrive, and Fanny (Charlotte's maid) amuses herself with them by pretending she is her mistress, and that she loves them both. They are surprised by the unexpected arrival of the old gentleman, and being unable to get out of their shells they run off, and he tumbles over them. Here the first act ends; but it includes also some love-scenes, of the usual kind, between Fanny and Frederick, who is Spencer's servant, and who aids his master in his amour. In the second act Spencer disguises himself as a foreigner about to set out for Egypt, who wishes to see Sir Anthony's wonderful collection before he departs; and Charlotte puts on the regimentals of a young officer, and escapes from her father's house. Tamarind again obtains admission in a large trunk, pretended to be filled with old newspapers, from the reign of Elizabeth downwards, and Finikin impudently walks in as if nothing had happened. Charlotte enters under the name of Captain Pleasant, a suitor to Sir Anthony's niece, who has come to chastise pretenders to her hand. Finikin and Tamarind relinquish their pretensions on the spot; but Spencer, throwing off his disguise, insists that Captain Pleasant shall resign his interest in Charlotte, and disclose the place of her retreat. This brings about the dénouement, and Sir Anthony, finding that Finikin and Tamarind only wished to impose upon him, gives his niece and her fortune to Spencer.
At the close, Charlotte "goes through the manual exercise," which must have been very gratifying to the officers, &c. of the King's Own Dragoons, who patronised Mrs. Hunter's benefit when "The Female Officer" was performed at York. The dialogue has about as little to recommend it as the plot; and as new jokes did not occur to the author, he satisfied himself, if not his audience, with old ones. For instance, in the first act, Sir Anthony and Tamarind enter, the latter reading a newspaper to the former :
"Tamarind (reading). The damage our fleet has received from the late bad weather is very considerable.' I wonder the Minister does not foresee these storms and prevent their expensive consequences. [Reads] We have good reason to believe the French have taken-'
Sir Anthony. Eh, what? taken what?
Tam. Alackaday, poor old England!
Sir An. I foresaw this. The House of Bourbon is leagued against us. We are all undone. What have they taken?
Tam. I'll read it again-' We have good reason to believe the French have taken umbrage.' Umbrage! Umbrage! Lend me your maps.
Sir An. (aside) He's very ignorant, but he's amazingly rich, so every body will think him wise."
Perhaps the best scene in the farce is between the valet and the lady's maid, when they are talking of marrying and settling in life. The following is part of it, showing, if he did not feel them, that Kemble accommodated himself to vulgar prejudices :
"Frederick. Very well, but you must not be so warm on the side of the subscription for French comedians.
Fanny. So you make no more words about the Italian Opera, I'm content.
Fred. I cannot give up that point so easily. Music, you know, is much in fashion
Fan. Then I will not renounce the French comedians.
Fred. How can you wish to patronise such creatures, Fanny? such shadows of men who converse only with grinning and shrugging. Sallow, skipping monkeys, the very picture of their own frogs! If ever I catch a Frenchman within my doors I'll send him back to his monarch an example of that severity with which I wish every honest Englishman would treat the effeminate outcasts of his kingdom.
Fan. Lord, Sir, if you go to that, the Italian gentry are not a jot better. The ladies, both in public and private practice, strip us of our wealth with the sole merit of a nimble foot and a shake in the voice; and for the men, poor creatures, my disgust is not very particular, for every woman naturally despises them."
Dismissing this unfarcical farce, which the very best acting could hardly have rendered endurable, I arrive at a piece which places J. P. Kemble's talents, as a dramatic author, in a more advantageous light. Between 1786, when he adapted, as he thought, "The Female Officer," under the title of "The Projects," for the London stage, and the year 1806, he seems to have done nothing in the way of original authorship beyond certain additions to Massinger's "Maid of Honour." His ordinary adaptations and alterations of dramas are scarcely to be taken into the account, however great the judgment displayed in them. In the season of 1803-4, Kemble, having purchased a sixth share in Covent Garden, transferred his services from Drury Lane, and became manager. The important change, by which he risked all the earnings of his professional life, appeared to wake his better faculties as an author, as well as to inspire him with new energies as an actor. How long before it had been in preparation I have no means of judging, but on January 4th, 1806, he sent to Larpent a comedy, in five acts, with the title of "The Legacy, or a Thousand Pounds Reward." It will not be found with that name in "The Biographia Dramatica," for in the bills of the day, it had been altered to "The Romantic Lover, or Lost and Found ;" and it is also attributed, by Mr. Stephen Jones, to the eccentric Allingham. The fact seems to be, that, as was not an unusual practice, the real author borrowed the reputation of some other dramatist; for, as has been already noticed, the Examiner's Account-book not only testifies it to have been the work of Kemble, but the manuscript sent for licence was elaborately altered and amended by him. Notwithstanding the extraordinary and much vaunted intimacy between Kemble and Mr. Boaden, the latter was not entrusted with the secret, and it finds no place in his "Memoirs:" it is possible that Allingham had some hand in it. Had the comedy succeeded, as I really think it ought to have done, the truth would doubtless have been announced; but it was not heard of after the first night, it did not answer Kemble's purpose to proclaim himself even joint author of a damned play. It need hardly be added, that it was never printed. I will insert the principal characters and the efficient manner in which they were cast, and I will then briefly speak of the plot :
One would think that such a list of comic performers would carry through almost any production; and assuredly, that now before us is little, if at all, inferior to some of the most popular comedies of Reynolds, or Colman. The fate of this piece turned upon a pivot-Emery's part; and had that once taken, the result would have been many nights of applauded repetition. But the audience was dissatisfied with the extravagance of the notion, that a Yorkshireman should visit London, and expect to make his fortune by finding lost
goods, and answering advertisements for their restoration. Zachary Search appears in the middle of the second act, and gives Timothy Brisk (in a scene of good broad humour, the first part of which is entirely written, and the rest much altered by Kemble) the following account of the reason for his journey:—
"You know, Tim, as my mother had nineteen on us-now the devil a one of the whole boiling can other read or write, except mysel; and you seen I ha' rather given my mind to study, so I reads the Lunnun news as they takes in at the Pig and Whistle in our town. Now, Tim lad, I ha' been amazed to find how careless your London folk be. One drops a pocket full o' bank-noates-another loses a purse o' guineas—one man loses his wife, and another his dog. Gold snuff-boxes, watches, rings, and diamond necklaces must lie about as thick as chaff on the barn-floor, and yet I never hears o' none of them being found, though they tell people where they dropt 'em, and sometimes offer money to ony one as will pick it up. Now, can you guess what I'm cum'd for?"
When once the tone of disapprobation was given, it was kept up, and those who were present tell me, that the comedy was condemned for no other reason than a dislike to Emery's part. If he could not reconcile the audience, who could? The other characters have some comic peculiarities. Sir Matthew Matchem is a poor, hen-pecked husband, under the most fortunate and blindfold delusion of being the happiest married man in the world. He is constantly labouring to make other people as happy as himself, and in the same way; while his young wife meets and counteracts him at every turn, and exercises a most ridiculous tyranny over him. He is guardian to Lady Frances Frankly, a sprightly, sensible, generous young woman of fashion, and his most earnest wish is to see her united to Peerless. The situation of Peerless is peculiar, but not improbable. His uncle has left him a large fortune, on condition that he marries a lady with 30,000l.; if not, the money goes to his cousin Weston. Being teased by every body, and courted by every body, Peerless is disgusted, and falls incurably in love with Antonia, the orphan daughter of Trueblue, an old naval officer. Trueblue returns to England in the first act, and afterwards finds that Antonia had left the house where he had placed her, in order to avoid the importunities of Peerless, fearing that they could lead to no honourable result. In fact, she seeks shelter with Lady Frances, to whom she was already known; and there Zachary Search, who had been employed by Peerless, traces her, and claims the thousand pounds reward, Peerless, in the agony of his mind, had offered. In the end, it turns out that the fortune of Antonia, by reason of her father's prize-money, exceeds the amount required in the uncle's will, and Peerless is united to her, while Sir Matthew succeeds in marrying his ward, Lady Frances, to Weston, to whom she had been long secretly attached.
Such is the mere naked outline of a story, not without considerable interest, which is generally well sustained and pleasantly diversified. The character of Trueblue, though presenting no features of remarkable novelty, is strongly and spiritedly drawn; and just enough of a romantic turn of mind is given to Peerless to make him long for obstacles, and to be sickened by the obtrusiveness of mothers, who wish to recommend their daughters, and of daughters who do any thing but recommend themselves. I have already exceeded the space I thought it would be necessary to occupy with the subject; but I cannot avoid quoting some portion of the dialogue of this comedy, although every body must be aware of the difficulty of finding a portion that will stand well by itself, unsupported by the scenes with which it is connected. I have selected the following, partly because it is good and lively in itself, and affords a good stage situation, and partly because Kemble has made in it a more than usual number of corrections and alterations, some of them arising merely out of the fastidiousness of authorship. Sir Matthew Matchem, in a scene with Lady Frances, bas been dwelling on his own domestic happiness, and earnestly urging her to consent to a marriage with Peerless: she laughs at him in return, and tells him :
"I really believe that feeling your own dreadful situation, you are malicious enough to wish to see all your acquaintance in the same dilemma, that they may not be able to join in the laugh against you. Ha! ha! ha!
Sir Matt. What! am I a laughing-stock?
Lady Fran. Be cool, be cool, or I shall be obliged to tell of you after all. Sir Matt. Tell of me! What, do you think there is anything so terrible about Lady Matchem! Would she were here at this moment, that might prove to you how much you wrong both myself and her ladyship.
Serv. Lady Matchem, to wait on your ladyship.
Sir Matt. Lady Frances, my dear, this happens to be the most awkward circum
Lady Fran. What, alarm'd?
Sir Matt. No, no, not that. Hark! was not that her footstep? I had promised to transact some business for her in another quarter, and
Lady Fran. And what?
Sir Matt. Her ladyship's only fault is her violent attachment to me, and it makes her a little jealous sometimes, that's all.
Lady Fran. Oh! ha, ha, ha! Oh, jealous! Forgive me for laughing at your distress. Jealous! ha, ha!
Sir Matt. Yes; so if you please, out of regard to your character, I'll just
Lady Fran. You shall not stir a step, unless you acknowledge that you are in a most terrible fright. [He hesitates.] She is at the door.
Sir Matt. I acknowledge any thing, only let me conceal myself.
Lady Fran. [Standing between Sir Matthew and the door.] Will you ever talk to me about matrimony again?
Sir Matt. Never, as I am a married man!
Lady Fran. So, so, you are coming to your senses. There-run there-I will protect you from all danger; while you are under my roof, you are in safety.
[Spoken with a tragedy air.
Sir Matt. Oh, what pleasure do I renounce on your account. To be deprived of Lady Matchem's conversation is to me an irretrievable loss. [Goes behind a commode and appears listening from time to time.
Lady Fran. Console yourself, you will not be out of the sound of her ladyship's delightful voice.
Enter Lady Matchem.
Lady Match. Ah, my dear Lady Frances, how do you do? I need not ask though, look divinely. Ah, my dear, you are happy, you have no foolish old husband to teaze you to death as I have.
Lady Fran. Hem! hem! [Aside to Sir Matthew.]
Lady Match. You can have no idea how troublesome mine is
Lady Fran. Hem! hem! poor Sir Matthew! [aside.]
You have a very awkward cough.
Lady Fran. Very-'tis more distressing than you can imagine.
Lady Match. I have sent him to his banker's-a journey I make him take pretty often. I assure you he looks very interesting to me, when he has a pocket-book in his hand, and I am kind enough often to show him off to the best advantage."
The situations in the comedy are, in fact, good throughout; and after the surfeit of French dramas we have had, if "The Legacy" were brought out at the Haymarket, and only reasonably well acted, I cannot think that it would be unsuccessful. The difficulty would, of course, be to get it reasonably well acted; for who is there now to succeed such performers as Munden, Lewis, Fawcett, and Emery? When the piece was damned at Covent Garden, it was not heard more than half through, and Kemble was not a man, in a case of this kind, to attempt to stem the tide of public opinion. After this experiment, he gave up dramatic composition; but he little imagined, in the latter part of his life, that he should leave behind him a young female of his family (to say nothing of her acting) of such original and inventive powers of mind as to bid fair, in dramatic poetry, to go beyond all that her gifted relatives have done in the imitative art.
J. P. C.
HOW TO LIVE WITH CREDIT.
(ADAPTED FROM THE FRENCH.)
"Felix qui rerum potuít cognoscere causas."
No man was better known in the fashionable world than the Honourable Howard Dalrymple. Connected by blood with some of the best families in England, he was admitted into the first circles, and admired for the elegance of his manner, the refinement of his style, and the brilliancy of his conversation, which was, however, for the most part, every-day language in holiday attire, rescued from the opprobrious charge of common-place, and just short of actual wit. No man knew the world and its ways better, because no man had studied them more closely. He was all things to all men, and yet was gifted with that desirable tact, that whether soliciting the suffrage of a dustman, or claiming the attention of a Duke, he was to the one affable without condescension, and to the other familiar without impertinence. He was a handsome man, and greatly admired by the sex. His bonnes fortunes were numerous, but his discretion and honour unimpeachable. He was the best dresser in town, drove the best horses, was a member of the best clubs, spoke well in the House, (for Howard was in Parliament,) played high, and paid all debts of honour with the utmost scrupulosity, and yet the Hon. Howard Dalrymple only possessed an income of 2507. a-year. This was as well known as himself; and how he contrived, year after year, to live at the rate of 5000l. per annum, became every year more astonishing. Yet he did "carry on the war" to the last; and it was only after his somewhat sudden decease at the close of last year, that the " means by which he lived" were discovered. Howard was not a marrying man. He said he had too much regard for the sex to deprive all of hope by bestowing himself on one. He had made his will, leaving his library and papers to a favourite nephew. This legacy, when collected, was found to consist of Lord Chesterfield's Letters, "Almanach des Gourmands," "Racing Calendar," "Hoyle and Matthews on Whist," a few political pamphlets, and a quantity of letters, written principally in very lady-like characters. All these the legatee burnt, except one packet, addressed to himself: this he rescued from "the devouring element," as the newspapers say, and, after a perusal, deemed the contents so excellent, and so replete with moral instruction for the rising generation, that he has graciously confided the autograph of his uncle to our care and publication. The name, of course, is disguised, but the élite will at once detect the original of the portrait.
Albany, January 1830.
"MY DEAR DIGBY, "I HAVE remarked with much satisfaction the disposition you have evinced from infancy to become a distinguished character. I like originality and talent, and am the more delighted when I see it in you, as I can turn it to advantage, and render you, from my own experience, not only my successor in the exclusive world, but my superior. Should you, however, feel any scruples (absurd though must they be) as to adopting my principles, and treading in my path,