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himself, and though not so heroic in his person nor so subtle in his art, too much frequently upon the strain, and rather pleasing than great, yet with no mean share of his family advantages, born for the stage, and naturally studious, he might be fairly set next to his brother, at whatever distance. It was always to be remarked that he never imitated him, either in the tone or cadence of speech, and in the action or display of the person he went upon a principle much less refined and picturesque.
We must not, in this article of “Pizarro,” forget what was certainly the best part of it, the money it brought into the house. I think my old acquaintance, Peake, told me that I might fairly estimate its first season at £15,000. But for the credit of Sheridan's muse, I could have wished he had got the money without such an outrageous violation of good taste as the following precious morsel, in the rant of Elvira, which, observe too, is a soliloquy, that is, only solitary meditation. She has Pizarro in her mind.
“ Thou, on Panama's brow, didst make alliance with the warring elements, that tore the silence of that horrid night; when thou didst follow, as thy pioneer, the crashing thunder's drift, and, stalking o'er the trembling earth, didst plant thy banner by the red volcano's mouth."
It is sanctioned, too, only by the very intelligible sentence in Kotzebue which follows:
“ Thou, whom neither the terrors of the elements, nor the fury of the foe, were able to alarm."
But the mock heroic tempted him to wield the thunderbolt, or follow the drift, as his pioneer, and the result was mere fustian. He gave to his darling Rolla, however, his favourite figure, the soft incubation of the blood-stained vulture, which is ushered in by an appeal to nature, who never pleads in vain, something in the style of Sterne's apostrophe to sensibility. As this was calculated more especially for the peeresses' gallery, during the impeachment of Warren Hastings, respect to the most refined matrons of the land leads me to quote it — because, too, a bit of argument in the drama is a rare occurrence.
" Oh, holy nature! thou dost never plead in vain. There is not, of our earth, a creature bearing form, and life, human or savage - native of the forest wild, or giddy air - around whose parent bosom thou hast not a cord entwined, of power to tie them to their offspring's claims, and at thy will to draw them back to thee. On iron pinions borne, the blood-stain'd vulture cleaves the storm — yet is the plumage closest to her heart soft as the cygnet's down, and o'er her unshelld brood the murmuring ringdove sits not more gently."
To be sure; because less warm maternal softness would not hatch the young of this bloodstained race. And if nature is to be termed holy on account of one instinct, the maternal, what is to be her epithet for the other, equally powerful, which condemns this vulture to be blood-stained, or unsustained at all.
“ Draw them back to thee!”
Gross, unnatural flattery; their preservation is surely as dear to the goddess as their propagation ; nay, the second cannot exist without the first. The make of the animal ascertains his food. The humanity of life is frequently absurd and affected.
If this meant anything in Westminster Hall, it was an apology for Indian government, for it showed how the elegant mothers of Leadenhall Street might, with the greatest gentleness, strain their young ones to bosoms equally soft, while they themselves were nourished by the blood and sweat of the unhappy peasant of Bengal, from whom they had wrested even “the very opium, in which he forgot alike his misery and his oppressors.
And something like this last line, I remember Burke himself to have written on the subject of Indian delinquency. However, he reasoned justly
on the premises, which Sheridan did not. The prettiness was all he cared about, and it seemed pretty. “Giddy air” was from Shakespeare, but not attaining his happiness.
“ Wilt thou, upon the high and giddy mast,
Seal up the ship-boy's eyes, and rock his brains ? "
The Summer Theatre - Antiquary Assails the “Red Cross Knights ” — Falls Foul of Poor O'Keefe's “
"Peeping Tom" - His Anachronisms Colman Not to Be Moved by the Twaddler — The Winter Season of Drury Could Not Begin with “ Pizarro” – Kotzebue's Monopoly of “Seduction” Gluts the Market - A Fable of This Kind Dished Up by Mrs. Inchbald, and Called the “ Wise Man of the East” - Fable of the “East Indian,” by Lewis - Miss Biggs Assumes Mrs. Jordan's Character, Zorayda - Mrs. Jordan's Confinement in December, at Bushy – How Managers Suffer by These Natural Impediments — Kemble without Heroines, Resorts to Monodrames — The Antiquary Admires His Richard, but Has a Long List of Errors in the Getting Up of the Play – France and Banting - King Henry Not Uncovered The Missal to Throw after the Mayor and Aldermen - No Armour in the Play, but in the Mouths of the Actors — My Friend Elliston, the Real Patron of True Armour His Three Splendid Suits - The Civic Festival — Gog and Magog — Kean – A Basso-relievo of Richard Dying Pointed out to Him – Mrs. Jordan's Return to Drury.
HE Haymarket in the summer of 1799
was full of business, which I am not
called upon particularly to notice, though I myself figured there among the authors who succeeded. The reader remembers the antiquary who troubled Mr. Colman's “ Banquet Gallery” with