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The poor actors luckily found engagements in other companies. I have here said very little about them, because their lives are familiar to the dramatic public; but should this sketch appear promising enough, I will deck it out with anecdotes of these stage-characters, which will be read with avidity, by all the lovers of the drama.
Having thus suddenly sunk down on the very high-road to wealth, honour, fame, and consequence, no resource remained for me but to turn writer. I chose a grand ornamental style, and adopted a peculiar system of contrast; if the matter on which I wrote was dark or obscure, I composed in a light, brilliant manner, that set off the subject to great advantage. On the contrary, if I had to deal with a plain, lucid subject, I endeavoured to give it an air of gravity and sombre shade, that greatly impressed it on the imagination. However, I generally preferred the light style, because my studies were carried on by night, at which time images of darkness were not adapted to my disposition. But clearness and distinctness were my chief characteristics ; and I succeeded so far, that it was usual to say of my writings, that those who ran might read them. How often I have been near being prosecuted for them, is well known to my contemporaries. That, however, is no discredit to me, as the greatest authors have also been prosecuted in this age. I say no more, lest I should be accused of vanity, but refer my readers to the walls about Brompton and Kensington, for specimens of the sublime and beautiful.
I might have subsisted very comfortably by this literary occupation, enlightening the world and helping to polish mankind, had not the subjects on which I wrote been speedily exhausted. The field of my exertions became so narrowed from being, like the other genteel professions, overstocked, that invention was completely foiled for new, untouched matter to write upon. Nothing remained but to publish fresh editions of my works, as fast as they went off : but a man of genius flies from the tedious labour of correcting and revising former ideas such monotonous employment sickens him-add to which, the emolument seldom repays him for his trouble. I did not altogether discard letters, but united them to the more successful mode of instructing mankind morally. Having, in the course of my meditating rambles by moonlight, been one evening suddenly surprised by certain inquisitive meddlers, while in the act of composing a majestic ode on a country church-yard, I broke off the strain in a pet, leaving my instruments behind me, and took refuge from the impertinent spies in the body of the building. Here a gentleman of dignified mien was holding forth upon sheep and goats, lambs, oxen, and asses, as if he were a grazier; and, indeed, he proved to be the greatest feeder in the parish. There is no accounting for the unseasonable hour, in which conviction may be forced upon us. Here now was I, dreaming of uothing but cattle, and yet I received as sincere a call in this place, as ever I received. I began to mourn within me, that I had so long neglected the lessons of the Tract Society, and determined instantly to set about teaching men the vanity of earthly possessions.
In effect, on the descent of the grazier from the elevated place whence he delivered his lecture, I went up to him in an unostentatious way, and used certain private arguments, that could not fail to produce in him, conviction of the uncertainty of human possessions. I
showed him how much better it was to keep a good watch on himself, than to allow his flock to engross his hourly concern; I made him take heed, test the fleecer should himself be fleeced, yea, in the very act of wool-gathering ; and then I modestly retired, not wishing to encounter his self-upbraidings. Having begun the pious work, I hastened back to town that night, reasoning with myself, and strengthening my resolution, to become henceforth an enforcer of the instability of worldly goods.
With this view I waited on an adopted uncle of mine, a truly benevolent man, who had always maintained that doctrine by precept and practice, lending money to all such as showed a disregard of their property. I gave him a pledge of my conversion; and he fitted me out as an itinerant teacher. I brushed up my divinity, and attended several conventicles before I commenced lecturing, always inculcating by my practice the maxim with which I set out. At lerigth I took the field as a Southcote militant, and drew from my congregation as many proofs of their profound attention as ever were elicited. There was such an outpouring at my meetings, that the plate was found to contain watches, rings, and trinkets, besides coin, extracted from my audience by the powerful appeals I made; and many wept for days after, at the lessons which I had given them. Of course I took not the merit of these zealous efforts on myself, nor did any one attribute to me such selfseeking worldly-mindedness. No! it was no sort of suspicion of my appropriating gifts, which did not belong to me, that threw me into discredit with my hearers, who more and more delighted in my discourses, from the zeal with which I denounced picking and stealing. I fell a martyr to the infidelity that spread itself among some of the juvenile females of my auditors. Alas! they might have become the mothers of young Shilohs, had they had the faith of Joanna! But it seems they were moved by the evil one, to read their recantation before a civil magistrate, and to accuse me of having seduced them to conceive, that they might give birth to the prince of the millenium. I was bound here and there to keep the peace,
which it was said I had violated; and to put myself forward as the sworn promoter of the infant society, which I had helped to form. I was, with all my efforts, unequal to the task; and, in consequence, my ungrateful audience forsook me—that is, they would have forsaken me, if I had not anticipated their design. I left the faithless, frail creatures to shift for themselves, and directed all my abilities to informing the great ones of the earth. This country was once ruled by a statesman, who sought information from every quarter, high or low, whence it could be attained. I need not name the lowly man, he did one act—for which, if he had never done any other, we ought to be eternally grateful; he died for his country's good. It is this part of my life that gives me the greatest pride, as it enables me to unfold my services to the state, and to relate the high estimation in which I was held by the governors of the land. Judge you, whether Mr. Kelly, or any other, can detail such interesting anecdotes of the great, as fell under my observation, during this nobleman's administration. He was the best patron I ever had; but I scorned to make use of his interest, without rendering myself worthy of his esteem, and of my country's gratitude. I gave him all the secret instructions which it was in the power of memory and invention to afford. All the Cato-street business was managed by me, and so iudefatigable was l, that, night or day, I ceased not to do every thing at his bidding. I got up moonlight meetings in the disturbed districts; and was made a member of the privy council, on account of my sagacity. A pension was allowed me, which, however, I resigned on conscientious principles; because I could not reconcile it to myself to be a party man, though I do not ame others for connecting themselves with whatever side they please. My dismissal from the cabinet arose out of this circumstance. One of the ministers held the great seals, the emolument of which induced me to endeavour to deprive him of so lucrative an appendage, for the sake of retrenchment. I made a glorious but unsuccessful trial, and in consequence received my congé, conveyed to me by one of H. M.'s judges—and all for not consenting that a tory should enjoy, in quiet, such manifest appurtenances of a time-server. But this dismissal was signified in the most gracious manner; and it was left at my option, whether I would serve in the colonies, or go out as foreign ambassador to a court, upon the lake of Como. I chose the latter, for I preferred the latitude of Italy to the vicinity of the line. How I served the administration in that post, shall be told in the subsequent volumes; here a mere outline of my private history will suffice. I did not neglect my previous cultivation in this classic land, where I amassed a rare collection of coins and antiques, and thoroughly studied music under Hurdigurdini, aud Tamborino, the two great Cisalpine masters, and finally returned to England, a finished performer, and an accomplished traveller.
I brought home with me, from Geneva, a grand harmonicon, capable of playing, if properly managed, any overture, in any time or tune yet imagined. I have played some of the most original airs in the world on it, and never yet met any body who was not fully enchanted with its stops. This is now my great resource—as an amusement, I meanfor, in point of profit, I exact nothing but what the patrons of music choose to give towards my pipe and barrel.
Thus, sir, I have given you a hasty draft of my diversified life; and it remains for you to say, whether it is not capable of being woven into as entertaining a narrative as any of the theatrical memoirs heretofore published, or to be published. I have been more than ever was required of an actor-a chorist, a tumbler, a juggler, an enthusiast, a manager, an author, a preacher, a minister, an envoy, and a leader of an orchestra-What else can I add to this catalogue of fascinating employments? Have I not signalised myself in all of these, each of which is the extent of another man's ambition ? If you think the details would make a selling book, and encourage other men of genius to benefit the world by their adventures behind the scenes, pray send me an offer, and if it is at all reasonable, I will set about it instanter, and push it into the hands of the public, before any more Reminiscences can appear; for I have plenty of time now upon my hands, having taken quiet lodgings in the compter, a large hotel, where my mother has been living in retirement for some years past.
FOR THE MONTH OF MARCH.
A LUMINARY of the law is wont to observe; that there is no such thing as bad wine ; some wine, he admits, is better than other, but none is bad. The same may be said of discussion of public affairs. There is no such thing as useless discussion; some discussion is more profitable than other, but none is bad. As stagnant waters corrupt, so undisturbed institutions deteriorate. Let in a breeze to ruffle them, and they are purified by the commotion. But then to hear the distracted voices of the discomposed tadpoles, who call the stars out of the firmament, to witness the turbulence of the tempest, and avert its dire rage; and protest that heaven and earth are coming together by reason of the agitation of their element ! If tadpoles had their way, waters would be ever stagnant and green ; but the world is not made for tadpoles, and breezes ruffle and fresher currents purify the lakes. Great is the virtue of agitation ; but wherever it takes place, there is sure to be some small fry of little creatures to be disturbed, and petulant is their resistance-angry and dismal their remonstrance. We should like to know the terms in which a certain unfavoured insect, which politeness would roh not only of its life, but even of its name, (albeit it is euphonous) would speak of a small-tooth comb. Would he not condemn it as something more horrible than a French Revolution. How he would paint the terrors of its ravages ! What dreadful images he would present of the bleeding, mangled forms, and impaled bodies of his fellow 1-! and how impossible it would be to raise the little thing's little mind to the contemplation of the utility of the small-tooth comb; and to make him understand the justice and propriety of his being sacrificed to the comfort of the human head. And yet a l- might have much to say too. He would point to the woods and waters, and observe, that they were all peopled with myriads of living creatures, and he would ask whether nature had not provided the abundant head of hair for his shelter and retreat, and those of thousands of his kind. He would inquire whether it was credible, compatible with divine wisdom, that those auburn tresses should have been made merely for show; and then philosophically passing to the examination of their nature, he would prove it to be vegetable, and argue thence, that it was intended for sporting cover to animal life. He would then proceed to draw a touching picture of the happiness of l— living peacefully and innocently in the luxuriant pastures of a head unprofaned by a comb, and to describe the sudden and utter devastation produced by the introduction of that scourge to the 1-race. Boroughs desolated at a scratch; whole people swept in an instant to destruction; fathers torn from their daughters ; weeping mothers from their sons; fond husbands from their distracted wives ; or whole families impaled together and writhing in common torture on one tooth. In vain should we urge to the spokesman that the head must consider what is most agreeable to its own ease ; he would refer us to that great knob the world, and APRIL, 1827
desire us to observe, that the history of human policy shows that its ease, peace, and interests, are perpetually sacrificed to those privileged twolegged 1- that prey on it; and he would entreat us to remember, in what a dreadful light a small-tooth comb revolution is regarded by us, when it unfortunately is provoked by an excess of irritation; and how, for years afterwards, we resist any purifications, by expatiating on the past horrors. How could we answer this remonstrance !-by putting the back of our nail with an ex officio pressure on the speaker. It certainly is strangely difficult to make little creeping things believe htat man is not made for them. As Gay says :
“When I behold this glorious show,
“ Not of the importance you suppose :
That more important ileas might feed.” Thus it is with the feas on the noses of society all the world overman is invented for their need, that more important fleas may feed. What is the ease and tranquillity of a nose compared with the pleasure of an established fea? All Ireland is kept in irritation simply that some important shovel-hatted-feas may feed on her delicate bits. As I said before, however, great is the virtue of agitation, and even fleas are discomposed by flappers. Discussion is therefore as ungrateful to certain insects, covetous of that kind of retirement which the mouse sought in the Cheshire cheese, as the light of publicity is to dirty doings; and hence the spokesmen of the insects, or the advocates of the dirt, arraign the discussion or the light as the cause of mischief, instead of tracing the evil to the nature of the two things that suffer by them. We heard of a housemaid, the other day, who, on having some filth pointed out to her in a remote uook of a chamber, exclaimed, “Lord, Ma'am! it's all along with the nasty sun that comes into the room, and shows every speck of dirt!” Here was a housemaid fit for an all-work place in the House of Commons. Is there any member on the treasnry benches who could hit off a defence of dirty doings more orthodoxly? Could the Attorney General Wetherell have made a better speech than this unlearned maid ? Really I should be glad to see the girl placed where her parts might serve bis majesty's government, and if Mr. Holmes will apply to me, I will procure her address for him. She will be worth all the old women of the gown now in the House, put together. Consider that her talent is natural, uncultivated, unpractised; and yet by her own lights, she has arrived at the established form of reasoning in resistance of all reforms. If we find any thing amiss in the jurisprudence of the country, or the administration of the laws, what is to blame? not the blemish, but