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our national theatre ; but may it not be suspected that real genius has been sometimes compelled, by discouragement or neglect, to linger an unwilling exile from the first object of its literary enthusiasm and devotion, or even to renounce for ever that mimic world, to which, under happier circumstances, it might have added dominion, honour, and prosperity ? It is too common to censure individuals for the faults of a whole community. Whatever may have been the mistakes of those to whom the interests of the stage have been committed, it is evident that they must have received their impulse from the public, which sanctions the dereliction of taste, by withholding support from real talent, and by an avowed preference of ephemeral to imperishable productions. *
* Although the tragedy of De Montfort should never be restored to the stage, its introduction, so much to the honour of theatrical taste, ought not to be forgotten. In like manner we have lately seen Richard the Second, and Timon of Athens revived, only to attract transient
The theatre is the only CAPITOL in which our bards must look for the laurel crown, or receive the splendid triumph. The aspect of an assembled multitude, of whom the lowest, equally with the highest, asserts the privileges of sovereignty, is far more imposing than the magnificent par geantry by which the Tassos or Petrarchs of former ages were dazzled with the personifications of glory and immortality. No mitred chiefs — no sceptred potentates - ever bestowed honours so dear, so sacred, as the spontaneous suffrage of a liberal and enlightened audience. It should also be remembered, that with us the drama is of native growth - a self-sown species of poetry, which fixed its broad roots in the habits — the sympathies - the affections of the people. To suppose that this fairest product of the age of Elizabeth is already withering in hopeless though pre
homage, although both these characters were sustained by the genius of that great actor, who is confessedly a living illustration of Shakespeare.
mature decay, is to suppose not merely an alteration but a perversion of English character, than which nothing can be more dissonant to true English feeling!
It is earnestly to be wished that the simple but authentic statement of Tobin's difficulties and disappointments, may excite in some intelligent and powerful mind, an interest in the general character of our dramatic exhibitions, commensurate with the real dignity and importance of the subject. May it be the business of some able pen, not merely to trace to their latent source the causes of that alienation in the public from their once favourite pursuit, but to suggest feasible and efficient remedies for the growing evil. To the countrymen of Shakespeare it can never be an object of indifference, to preserve in a national theatre the patrimony of genius, for the protection of their cotemporaries, and the honour of posterity.