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Covent-garden Theatre will leave Norwich before Saturday week. As I pass thro' long Stratton I shall pay the post of this letter there-hegging (at the present) to be excused for not mentioning my name, being Sir, Your frequent visitors,
MP- H-PP.S. If Mr. H. fix upon some delightful pieces he may see it expedient to have them asserted in next friday's paper, and then very likely the public will come forward to your witnessing a crouded house. It certainly is in the power of Mr. H. to perform something of a superior nature. The Opera of Penelope is very fine, and there is Murry's comedy of Know your own Mind.
I am not perfect in directing this scrall, but hope it will reach you safe. I was at your benefit at the last Bury fair, Oct. 30, '1816.
May the giver of all pleasure grant health, liberty, and the like on the above evening, and to all us at other periods also. The play of Cato and
are said to be very fine; but I never see them nor the other two neither.
The following we shall permit to speak for itself, lest, in endeavouring to point out its merits, we should be inadvertently led to aid and abet the objects of the writer. Not that we have any thing to say against puffing, provided it be performed in a spirited and straitforward manner. Accordingly, we have a kind of respect for a certain impudent expender of whiting upon blacking, and should be willing to make his fortune at once by letting his name grace our pages gratis, on certain conditions, which shall at present be nameless ! for if Lord Byron was not angry at being accused of assisting in such an object, why should we? But the writer of the following (every vestige of whose name and address we shall carefully expunge) goes to work in a pettyfogging manner that we cannot patronize.
To Mr. MATHEWS. Dear Sir,--Actuated by the same strange propensity as yourself, namely, rising in the world,' but not l confess aspiring to the reputation in my business that you have arrived at as an actor, and by which you are rendered inimitable if not immortal; and being a great admirer of your extraordinary abilities, I intend doing myself the pleasure of paying you a visit when you are · At Home' on Thursday next; and if you will do me the honour to introduce in the course of your highly interesting performance a pinch of a new snuff that I have just made, and which has never yet been sold to any one, I shall feel much obliged.
Perhaps, Sir, you recollect an anecdote of your predecessor the immortal Garrick. That gentleman was the means of introducing the now renowned snuff called • Hardham's 37,' in a farce of his own, and in the following way, viz. •I shall take a pinch of Hardham's 37, it certainly is the best snuff I ever tasted, and the man that makes it lives at
Should I be so fortunate as to gain your approval by what I have made, and
you will introduce it in a similar, or any way you please, I have no doubt my fortune's made. I can assure you that it is something new.
I have the honour to be, Sir,
Your obedient humble servaut,
We shall now close our “ Elegant Extracts” for this month, by offering two letters that richly deserve, if ever any thing did, the epithet of “ characteristic :" for if there be such a thing as drawing one's own portrait without knowing it, that has been done with a most masterly (or perbaps we should rather say mistressly) hand, in the following pen and ink sketches. As the artist is happily very far from being more," we shall not affix her name to the fac-similes we are about to
strike off for the gratification of public curiosity. So that, unless she has been strikingly correct in her likeness, she cannot complain of us for exposing her effigy to view; and if she has been correct, she can still less complain of us for multiplying copies from the original which she herself so willingly furnished. Au reste, we know nothing whatever of this lady but what she herself has thought proper to expose to the world ; and (not being critics) should never have discovered that she was incomparably the worst actress of her day, if she had not insisted on passing for incomparably the best. Be it expressly remembered, too, that if she keeps her own counsel in regard to these letters, she may continue to preserve that strict incognito under which we shall leave her ; for we may defy the uninformed reader to guess who it is among those he is acquainted with that would express themselves as follows:
My dear Sir,-1 dare say you have offered what you can afford, but I cannot afford to take it. I have had better terms than you offer me even as a provincial actress only. Intrinsically I am worth as much as Mr. Kean or Miss O'Neil ; but at the same time I am aware that coming out in Drurylane so late in the season, and the untoward circumstances of the theatre al. together, have prevented me from being of that value which (please God) next summer in all probability I shall be. Yet I have done enough for you to make a good account of me if you manage well. If you will guarantee the two benefits shall produce me 1201. well, I will be with you. If you can. pot afford the risk of entering into this bond, I cannot expect that you should agree to it. But I cannot afford to hazard my time upon total uncertainty, as I do not play from love of acting, but miser-like, for cash. I can make out a good benefit bill. A play of my own, called and a farce in which I personate five or six characters with several songs. That there may not be any rubs or blotches in the way,' and that I may not deal unfairly by youif I am not attractive-if I do not draw you money-(and if they are not stupid as dormice I will rouse them if it is possible and when I have started the game, if you do not pursue the chase why you are a bad sportsman) why then the two benefits may be rated at 80 or 100 my share. If the two nights produce more than the sums I mention, of course it appertains to my advaniage. As it now stands in your proposal I think it would be better to play four nights a week-as you will wish for comedy. I can bear the fatigue of four nights, and it of course will lighten my domestic expences.
you wish to play Bellamira? I do not like the part. She seems to me on pe. rusal a raving Bedlamite-where the modesty of nature is completely violated.
I have the honour to be,
« June 19.
My dear Sir,-I am a tragedy actress, but I really in my heart love fun. There is a whimsicality, in your letter that pleases me, and (win or lose) please God I will be with you on your present proposition, viz. five nights at Brighton—the last my own night--a clear half of the house—and four at Worthing—the fourth my own. I will give you the whole strength and force of my talent and spirit. You give me all the consequence that in these cases are given, where a London constellation comes down to glitter (sometimes with a false glare) over those who may be less fortunate but not always less worthy than themselves. Miss O'Neil came to a prosperous house, and therefore all went well with her. I came in support of a falling ruin ; and as I am not an Atlas, why I have been obliged to be—a woman. I play Lady Macbeth on Monday—my last appearance this season ; so I may now make
my own arrangements. . Let me know when you wish me to be with you, and I will arrange accordingly. Let me know soon as you can whether you want me by the fifteenth of July. I had rather not open the theatre if you can avoid it. Let Imogine be my first character. Will there be time for the MS. play I mentioned to be got up for my night if I play the four nights in one week ? I send this off immediately on the receipt of your's—uncertain if you will get it to-night, as I have not a messenger. But I suppose these letters will be forwarded to you at Gravesend. I shall feel obliged by hearing from you as to the time, as I have some literary arrangements to make that I am pledged for the finishing of in a stated time.
I have the honour to be,
Sir, your obedient,
The Captive Knight.
Through the pass beneath him wound.
" I knew 'twas a trumpet's nole!
And their plumes to the glad wind float!
am here, with my heavy chain !
And a host, to its battle-plain!
“ Must I pine in my fetters here?
And the trumpet in mine ear?
“ They are gone! they have all pass’d by!
They have left me here to die !
... AUTHORESSES AND AUTOGRAPHS.-NO. I. The Nineteenth Century has almost completed its first cycle, and is already marked by a character and physiognomy which distinguish it from its predecessors. Within the last fifty years various circumstances have conspired to the expansion of intellect. Wealth, luxury, and cultivation have excited the mental powers to intense and unremitted activity. A magnificent domain is added to science the splendid discoveries of chemistry, the electric wand, the pneumatic tube have in a manner conferred on man supplemental faculties, nor has the march of political events been less favourable to the developement of the public mind. Revolutions have broken the barriers of prescriptive systems, important truths are now familiar to the ordinary understanding which were once perceived only by the philosophic eye (even the course of time seems to have been accelerated), and such is the rapid circulation of ideas among us at present, that in some respects we might imagine centuries to have elapsed from the era of Bishop Burnet, and his polite contemporaries, few of whom would probably feel disposed to relish, or sanction our modern improvements. Amongst men of science, indeed, there must always exist a common tie of sympathy and fellowship; and it is easy to conceive that the venerable Evelyn would cordially harmonize with our Linnean Smith-Sir William Petty enter into amicable controversy with Mr. Malthus-and Locke and Berkeley heartily agree in honouring Mrs. Fry; but alas for the wits of Queen Anne! where should Addison shelter himself from the obtrusive attentions of a fashionable party? Imagine the struggles of Pope to escape from a coterie of admiring blues, or the splenetic contortions of Swift in comparing the autographs of British authoresses who have died since the commencement of the present Century! It has been often asked, in what degree the cultivation of the female mind is desirable or useful, and how far it might be prudent to allow the sex to share in the pursuits, or divide the honours of literature? In proposing this question philosophers seem to have overlooked the obvious truth that the progress of civilization is not to be regulated by arbitrary prescription,
and that the admission of the ladies to the field of authorship is but one among other indications of increasing knowledge and refinement. Rude and turbulent periods have witnessed the conflicts, and commemorated the triumphs, of poets and philosophers, whose genius delighted in the whirlwind, and whose glory is not unaptly represented by the image of the sun dispersing the darkness of the storm; but the germs of female talent expand to softer gales, and ripen under the genial influences of security and prosperity; and as in that pretty barometrical toy which Cowper calls the weather-house," the female figure appears to denote a general rise of temperature, so the presence of woman on the summit of Parnassus bespeaks the suspension of civil strife, and is something better than a May-day festival by the Muses. To illustrate this obsere vation, we have but to glance at the literary chronicles of our fair compatriots. At the era of the Reformation a powerful mental impulse was given to both sexes; but whilst the men plunged into the labyrinths of polemical controversy, the ladies were contented to be accomplished linguists and humble translators. Under the Tudor princes, noble
damozels, in common with royal dames, were deeply imbued with Roman and Grecian learning. After the accession of the Stuarts, the passion for classical studies declined. The queens of James and Charles were notoriously illiterate; and for such as aspired to their favour it was advisable rather to affect an amiable ignorance, than to make an ungracious display of superior wisdom. To whatever cause attributed, the fact is indisputable, that the ladies had retrograded in accomplishments. In the younger days of Henry the Eighth, the beauteous dames of England, as we learn from Cavendish, bad enchanted the ambassadors of France by the elegance with which they saluted them in their native language; but when Mary de Medicis took refuge in the court of her son-in-law Charles the First, the divine beauties of Windsor and Hampton-court (according to the testimony of the gallant Secretary Serre) were dumb to those who understood not their mother-tongue. During the Commonwealth our British matrons exemplified not merely domestic but heroic virtues, of which an exquisite portraiture has been transmitted in Lucy Hutchinson's touching narrative. The Restoration introduced the fopperies, rather than the graces, of French society: the ladies descended to frivolity, or aspired only to a sort of fantastic elegance, despised the Muses, yet succeeded not in propitiating the Graces. The Duchess of Marlborough, who was herself one of the wits of the day, in describing the Princess Anne's Court, observes sarcastically of a lady of the bed-chamber, that she looked like a mad-woman and talked like a scholar. Such was the prejudice against female literature, that even Nestor Ironside, the professed advocate of the sex, could not allude to a couplet which had been innocently repeated by Cordelia Sigard without protesting that he dreaded nothing so much as to see a poctess in the family. It would be an error to suppose that women when proscribed from the circle of intellectual pursuits, are characterized by peculiar gentleness, simplicity, or modesty. On the contrary, as they sympathized in the passions, they mingled in the controversies that engrossed their masculine contemporaries, disputed keenly on articles of faith, declaimed with vehemence pro and con, respecting the Protestant succession, signalized by patches on the cheeks their attachment to Whig or Tory principles, canvassed for votes, and plunged into various political intrigues, utterly repugnant to our present ideas of womanly propriety. In domestic life they were either rigid housewives or insolent spendthrifts, passionately fond of dress and pomp, and addicted to every luxury, save that of books and refined conversation. The moralists of the day, as unsparing in their censures as their coun. sels, have probably transmitted a caricature of female follies: but allowing for exaggeration, it is impossible not to suspect that with some rare exceptions, they were illiterate, boisterous, and even uninformed, in a degree of which few examples at present exist in the British empire. During this period, the reign and triumph of unsophisticated beauty, the pretensions of the blue-stocking were unassailed because unknown, and poets and divines, wits and philosophers, expatiated on the beau ideal of female cultivation, and implored the fair sex not to neglect the intellectual faculties which nature had liberally bestowed. It must be confessed their exactions were sufficiently moderate: Addison merely required docility, gentleness, and good housewifery ; Swift stipulated for neatness, distinct enunciation, and correct orthography;