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object of the club was to support Kean by crushing his competitors. In consequence of this idea, which was very generally disseminated, the society was dissolved, though the only just fault to be found with it was, that its aim was impracticable. Those moral principles are not powerful enough to sway men's minds; it is only the mystical influence of religion that can subdue the passions of men, and make them act according to presented regulations.
From this period, nothing occurs in Kean's life to command the attention of the biographer till the production of Miss Porter's tragedy of Switzerland. In this he had to sustain a principal character, which, as it afforded no peculiar opportunities for the display of his talents, he performed very negligently, and, in consequence, the piece was damned. The friends of the authoress were naturally loud in censure, and the papers of the next morning visited the offence with no slight indignation. But this storm would soon have died away, had not Mr. Bucke dexterously chosen this opportunity of bringing himself into notice, by withdrawing from the theatre his unacted play of the Italians.
The dispute, however, will best speak for itself, and for this purpose we shall give a faithful transcript of the letters, in the order in which they occurred.
MR. KEAN AND THE AUTHOR OF THE ITALIANS. The subject above named must of necessity be interesting to all persons who take cognizance of theatrical affairs ; and it is highly desirable that the true merits of the case should be before the public. We should be very happy to contribute towards directing the judgment of our readers; but as we have before us little information which is not open to all the public, we think we shall best fulfil our duty to our readers, by simply laying before them the correspondence which has taken place.
We shall first give a letter written by Mr. Bucke, the author of “ The Italians,” to Mr. Kean, when he suspected that performer of some disaffection to his tragedy, with Mr. Kean's answer thereto.
“ To Edmund Kean, Esq. « SIR,
Jan. 14, 1819. “ A few days since, I enclosed to the committee my preface to the tragedy of The Italians.
* I had so much trouble about this tragedy last season, that I had become almost indifferent as to its being performed at Drury Lane Theatre at all. The committee, however, seem to think, that it is pre-eminently worthy of such distinction, and that if performed it would be exceedingly productive to the theatre. The preface, I enclosed, they think, also, would have so wide and so permanent an effect, and awaken such an extraordinary sensation in the public mind, that for the sake of all parties involved, they are desirous of preventing its publication, by having the tragedy performed, as you and they had expressly engaged last season.
6 Thus stands the case. The committee wish to have it brought forward, and so in fact do I. But neither the committee nor Mr. Kemble, nor myself, would on any account permit it to be so, unless you will ardently and zea. lously enter into the subject, and perform the principal character with the cheerfulness and the satisfaction, that may command a successful result.
“ The subject, therefore, rests wholly with you.
“ This tragedy has, as I believe you know, been in the hands of some of the first critics of the present day. They tell me it is likely to succeed on two accounts; first, because there is a character which you know so well how to render effective; and, secondly, because there are other characters calculated to render your own far more interesting, by the decided contrasts they will exhibit.
« Notwithstanding this opinion, I am well aware that no person can presume, with any degree of certainty, to foretell the actual success of any thing, either at the theatre, or in any other of the affairs of life.
“ But let the success, or non-success, be as it will, this, I believe, is certain, that if the tragedy is not acted, after the express engagements of yourself and the committee, the operation will be far more serious, than if it is performed and condemned.
“ You see, sir, this subject is of more importance than some superficial persons may suppose. It involves interests therefore of the first magnitude to the establishment. I request you, therefore, to appoint either to-morrow, or Satur, day, at any hour you please, to meet me in the com, mittee-room, which will be appropriated to, our especial service, that we might come to some final arrangement. Let us regard only the interests of the theatre. If I can be convinced that it is for its interests that I should quietly withdraw, I will do so, provided I can with propriety, and that just sense of feelings which every man ought to entertain for his own fame and respectability. If, on the other hand, you feel disposed to resume your former enthusiasm, let us lose no time in consulting together, for the mutual benefit of all parties concerned.
“ I am, sir, yours, &c.” - SIR, “ I know too well my duty to a liberal public, to be instructed in my conduct towards them; nor can I bring any circumstance to my recollection, of giving any portion of that public an opportunity of accusing me of want of ardour and zeal in their service. I have nothing to do with the management of the theatre: if the committee think your tragedy worthy of representation, I am the servant of the establishment; and for my own sake, shall make the most of the materials that are allotted me ; further explanation on this subject is unnecessary; when the prompter sends me the character, I shall enter on its study. I am afraid in our former acquaintance you have mistaken good wishes to you for enthusiasm in your efforts. Yours, &c. &c. Jan. 15.
“ EDMUND KEAN.”
We shall next give Mr. Bucke's letter to the sub-committee of Drury-lane, when he finally withdrew his tragedy.
66 To the Committee of Drury Lane Theatre. 66 GENTLEMEN, “ When you were pleased to accept my tragedy, you promised to bring it forward immediately, and to support it with the whole strength of the theatre. Mr. Kean, too, promised me the best assistance of his powerful talents.
- This pledge, I understand, is now at last about to be redeemed.—The redemption comes too late !
- The scene witnessed, the other evening, at the representation of Miss Jane Porter's tragedy, can never be forgotten. It forms an epoch in theatrical history; and the name of Mr. Kean must ever be pronounced, with indignation, by all admirers of those prides of civilized life--elegant and accomplished women.
“ The conduct of Mr. Kean on that occasion, exhibited such a contemptuous disregard to the common decencies of society, that I scorn to be in any way obliged to him !
“ Miss Jane Porter is nothing to me :-I only remember having once passed a very agreeable evening in her society ;—that is all the personal knowledge I have of her; but her character is well known to be estimable; and her talents, as a writer, are universally acknowledged. That she has not been able to write a tragedy is no great matter of disgrace, seeing that the art appears to be entirely lost.
—But to wound,—deliberately,—the feelings of such a woman, and that, too, before one of the most brilliant audiences ever assembled at a theatre, surely could not have proceeded from a man of courage !-It is, indeed, so gross, that language is powerless, when it would presume to visit it with commensurate condemnation.
“ You may, gentlemen, continue to suffer the establishment of Drury Lane Theatre to become a martyr to Mr. Kean's ambition and caprice, if you please ;-I shall have nothing more to do with him !—Therefore, with every sentiment of respect towards you, individually, I beg leave to withdraw my tragedy of The Italians entirely from the stage. Feb. 18, 1819.
“ I am, gentlemen, &c. &c." (To be resumed.)
FROM MUSTAPHA RUB-A-DUB KELI KHAN,
(Resumed from page 22.)
I PROMISED in a former letter, good Asem, that I would furnish thee with a few hints respecting the nature of the government by which I am holden in durance. Though my inquiries for that purpose have been industrious, yet I am not perfectly satisfied with their results, for thou mayest easily imagine that the vision of a captive is overshadowed by the mists of illusion and prejudice, and the horizon of his speculations must be limited indeed.
I find that the people of this country are strangely at a loss to determine the nature and proper character of their government. · Even their dervises are extremely in the dark as to this particular, and are continually indulging in the most preposterous disquisitions on the subject ; some have insisted that it savours of an aristocracy; others maintain that it is a pure democracy; and a third set of theorists declare absolutely that it is nothing more nor less than a mobocracy. The latter, I must confess, though still wide in error, have come nearest to the truth. You, of course, must understand the meaning of these different words, as they are derived from the antient Greek language, and bespeak loudly the verbal poverty of these poor infidels, who cannot utter a learned phrase without laying the dead languages under contribution. A man, my dear Asem, who talks good sense in his native tongue, is held in tolerable estimation in this country; but a fool, who clothes his feeble ideas in a foreign or antique garb, is bowed down to as a literary prodigy. While I conversed with these people in plain English I was but little attended to, but the moment I prosed away in Greek every one looked up to me with veneration as an oracle.
Although the dervises differ widely in the particulars above-mentioned, yet they all agree in terming their government one of the most pacific in the known world. I cannot help pitying their ignorance, and smiling, at times, to see into what ridiculous errors those nations will wander who are unenlightened by the precepts of Mahomet, our divine prophet, and uninstructed by the five hundred and forty-nine books of wisdom of the immortal Ibrahim Hassan al Fusti. To call this nation pacific! most preposterous ! it reminds me of the title assumed by the sheck of that murderous tribe of wild Arabs, that desolate the valleys of Belsaden, who styles himself STAR OF COURTESY,-BEAM OF THE MERCY-SEAT!
The simple truth of the matter is, that these people are totally ignorant of their own true character; for, according to the best of my observation, they are the most warlike, and I must say, the most savage nation, that I have as yet discovered among all the barbarians. They are not only at war (in their own way) with almost every nation on earth, but they are at the same time engaged in the most compli