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with incongruous materials, till the very incongruity makes the best things in it appear the worst. It is an involuntary parody, in which the nobler the original the more humiliating the joke. What is the use of a piece of gold stuffed in a pudding, but to jar one's teeth? Is a casement the better for a broken pane, stopped up with velvet? When we heard such lines out of Beaumont and Fletcher, as that exquisite one spoken by the poor dying boy

""Tis but a piece of childhood thrown away,"

we only hoped that the rest of the house might not hear it, lest finding it where they did, they might mistake and receive it profanely. We hurried it onward in imagination, as we should a beauty through a mob.

The Merchant's Wedding has not succeeded because it is eminent either for plot or character, still less because it can have a tenth part of the effect, which the originals produced when all its localities were alive, and the audience knew to what the wit referred. The adapter has even been obliged on this account to leave out a good deal of smart imagery, and has sometimes cut short (not so wisely, we think) the most robust and original of the speeches, where the passion would have carried them through with the audience; which is not the case, we admit, with mere ventures of joke and double-meaning: nor ought to be. But the piece has succeeded for several reasons: first, that audiences are more discerning than they used to be, owing, we doubt not, to the large increase of popular knowledge and the publications that give it eyes; second, that the scenes are numerous and full of action, the persons coming and going as if in some bustle of real life; third, that there is good stuff in the dialogue, the words being as lively as the action; fourth, that the scenery and costume are excellent, old, picturesque, and of a peculiar interest, being old English, and exhibiting our ancestors as they lived in doors, and the streets as they walked about them; and last not least, because this crowd of people is represented by a crowd of good actors,—at least, the best parts are in good hands, and the others in hands not unworthy. Nothing languishes, for default of action. There is Farren (excellent) in the old usurer, with a groan a mile long; Blanchard, in

the other old merchant, with little to say, but looking it admirably, a perfect stock-fish of the Exchange; Charles Kemble, in the confident wooer, victorious, and looking as if he ought to be so; Keeley, made a real fish of by his "insolent companions," who dress him up in scales and fins when he is drunk, and shew him, a most helpless and meek monster; Bartley, who wears his size gallantly, and bullies as if he had really grown big in a tavern; Miss Chester, 66 a fine woman, Sir," as the old gentlemen say;(there was one, and a very polite one, near us, who seemed to have come on purpose to see her);-she looked just such an heiress as the gallant Plotwell would carry off, whether for love or money; Mrs J. Hughes, in the cunning and wooden-faced Dorcas, as odd a little body, with a head to match, as if she had escaped out of a pantomime; and Mrs Chatterley, not so loud or imposing as she used to be some years back, but with more ideas in her head; besides others, who really all do well what they have to do, and never let the ball to the ground.

We have no room to detail the plot, nor is it necessary. There is a fool shewn for a fish,-a ticklish point for the stage,-out of our old friend Lazarillo de Tormes; but the language and the real animal spirits carry it off;—an old usurer, whose sins are paid off by the torture of a marriage with a young pretended devotee, who first astonishes him with her extravagance, and then turns out to have been falsely married to him, to get an estate back for her lover; a heap of jokes and tavern-plots among the would-be gallants of those times (Charles Kemble in his first simple dress, between two of them in their gorgeous ones, looked like Milton when his two court-friends used to visit him on " gaudy days ");-and a very gallant scene, but more ticklish than the other, though we doubt not it finally turned out the most popular of all, in which Plotwell gets into the heiress's chamber at night, and forces her to marry him by dint of certain perils to her character. There is as gallant a want of sentiment in it as need be, and about as much compliment to the sex; in both of which points it is worthy of remark, that the writers of those times take the unfavourable or the favourable side, in proportion as they were mere wits, or wits ennobled with poetry; Shakspeare being at the top of those who

But some amends

have said the sweetest things of womankind. is made for the scene before us, by the generosity with which Plotwell afterwards tears up the forced deed of marriage; and in the scene itself, and all other scenes where the spirit is superior to the letter, there is an instinctive sense on the part of the audience, that the spirit only, and the gallant sketch of the thing, is to be taken as the real business,-something beyond the matter-of-fact, surmounting it with its plumes of wit and vivacity, and prepared to do anything else that real gallantry may require, as it afterwards does in the circumstance just mentioned. Thus Ranger, in the pleasant hey-day comedy of the Suspicious Husband, in a scene which the old play may have suggested, rattles away to the borders of what might seem even unfeeling; but one touch of genuine womanhood on the part of the lady, though moved by the thoughts of another man, enables him to show us, that he has never lost his good-nature; and even Ranger becomes grave and affectionate under the fall of that sweet shadow of tenderness.

TO CORRESPONDENTS.

A Correspondent of a very companionable nature, an old play-goer, encourages us to proceed, and says that our theatricals will carry us through." We are happy to sit with him in the pit, and do hereby offer him an imaginary pinch of snuff, the only sort that we take.

On the other hand, S. G. says he must drop our acquaintance, if we have nothing but plays and the weather to talk about; which is hard, if he be an Englishman. Furthermore, he does not like our verses; and concludes by asking our opinion of the "new-fashioned system of Scientific Institutions." We fear our Correspondent would like our science still less than our verses; for we know still less about it. We profess only to be ardent and most expectant admirers of that mighty part of knowledge; and on that account we recommend to his notice the prospectus of a scientific weekly paper, which is to appear on the 1st of March, and is entitled the Verulam.

After the receipt of S. G.'s letter, our friend W. W. will not wonder that we translated his initials into "doubly welcome."

E. C. and F. C. N. will oblige us by consulting the answers to Correspondents on the wrapper of the Monthly Part; or in case they have it not, we may as well repeat in this place, for their benefit and that of other correspondents whose taste for verse surpasses their practice in writing it, that for reasons which they will be good enough to surmise and to give a handsome construction to, we are obliged to be cautious how we supersede our own quantity of labour with contributions from hands less accustomed to composition.

In looking over again the letter of F. F. we fear we have committed a violation of courtesy in giving it public notice; but the mistake was involuntary, and must be excused by the nature of the letter itself; which was so well written, and turned with so much delicacy and cordiality, that in our enjoyment of the spirit of it, we overlooked the passage we allude to.

LONDON:

Published by HUNT and CLARKE, York street, Covent garden: and sold by all Booksellers and Newsvenders in town and country.-Price 4d.

PRINTED BY C. H. REYNELL, BROAD STREET, GOLDEN SQUARE.

THE COMPANION.

No. VII.—WEDNESDAY, FEB. 20, 1828.

"6

Something alone yet not alone, to be wished, and only to be found, in a friend."-SIR WILLIAM TEMPLE.

LARGE BONNETS. A NEW WANT OF GALLANTRY.SECRET OF SOME EXISTING FASHIONS.

We have been requested to remonstrate with the huge bonnets that are now in fashion, and that are found by play-goers to be very inconvenient in the pit. A lady (provided she has no other lady before her similarly dressed) can see out of it as comfortably as if she were sitting in a chaise, and perhaps feels the snugger for that sort of calash; but the unfortunate persons behind her, deprived both of the pleasure of the scene, and of the consolation of beholding the back part of a human head, are as much at a loss as if the chaise were actually before them. Imagine thirty or forty of those vehicles, placed unaccountably about the pit, with a fair, mystery in each, like the lady in the lobster! The lady would be speedily detached, with a merry violence, and the vehicles rolled away. But head and bonnet are not to be divorced. In vain the fair wearers are requested to take them off. They wonder at you; they frown; they "cannot think of such a thing." The ladies who make the request (for this is a difficult office for a gentleman) acknowledge that compliance is hardly to be expected. The head is dressed for the bonnet; and besides, where is so huge a machine to be put? Thus then the ladies sit on, seeing but not allowing to see. The persons in the shadow of their borders contrive, by leaning their heads sideways, cribbing a bit on the seat, and other desperate

VOL. I.

7

resources, to partake painfully of what is going forward; but those more immediately in the dark, particularly the unhappy person right behind, give the thing up as hopeless. The bonneted lady intercepts the main part of the scene. Charles Kemble is swallowed up. The wing of an army is made no more of than that of a chicken. Enter a house and grounds:-no matter:-the yawn of the bonnet engulphs them like a lawyer's bag. At the opera, you may get a leg now and then, or the point of a shoe.

Nothing that we can say could remedy an evil of this description. The fashion must change of its own accord. Opposition meanwhile would only make it worse; modes of this kind going upon no principle of reason or convenience, but upon pure will and novelty. Masterless fashion sways us to the mood Of what it likes or loathes.

Its sole object being to differ with those who are not of it, difference of any sort only convinces it that it is just what it ought to be. When the many take to it, then and then only it alters, disobliging them in its vicissitude, and changing to some equally wilful shape. Its very death is out of the spirit of contradiction.

There is one thing indeed: Ladies may choose to stop away, who find themselves much worried. They may also suffer from like bonnets, and be perplexed between the wish to be relieved and their disinclination to relieve others. Here and there a goodnatured conscience may take a bonnet with it another time, which shall be removeable. We sat near a lady the other night, who said very prettily, "A bonnet has come in my way, and I have not the face to ask for its removal; for I have been sitting all the while, never thinking of my own." This inclined us to make application to the intercepter; but we desisted, for fear of being refused, not liking to see a woman at a disadvantage.

A word upon that point,-suggested by what we have heard of refusals given to gentlemen who have been bolder. We are very much for equalizing the principles of right and wrong in both sexes; and in accordance with this notion of ours (which we do not mean to insist upon in this work, but which we conceive to be anything but hostile to womanhood) we will venture to remark, that there may be a want of gallantry in women as well as in men.

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