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attended with bad consequences in many points of view, in respect tò morals, health and business. The hour at Cambridge was, till this year, six o'clock; and though the theatre was, till then, nearly two miles off, the company have generally been home by ten o'clock, or soon after. The hour was, at first, last season, altered to seven, but was objected to, and then altered to half past six, though, I believe; the majority wished for the old hour of six.
In order to preserve regular hours, the entertainments should not be very long; a multiplicity of them, though it may attract a few more spectators, only fatigues the majority.
It is desirable likewise to keep down the price as low as possible,
In country towns it might certainly be made practicable to prevent bad company from appearing as such, and to prevent all disorderly behaviour.
P. p. 98. Addison, in The Spectator, No. 371, tells an anecdote of a gentleman, who took occasion to bring together such of his friends as were addicted to a foolish habitual custom of swearing. In order to shew them the absurdity (rather sinfulness) of this practice, hemplaced an Amanuensis in a private part of the room. After the second bottle, when men open their minds without reserve, my honest friend began to take notice of the
but unnecessary words that had passed in his house since their sitting down at table, and how much good conversation they had lost, by giving way to such superfluous phrases. What a tax, says he, would they have raised for the poor, had we put the laws in execution upon one another? Every one of them took his gentle reproof in good part. Upon which he told them, that knowing their conversation would have no secrets in it, he had ordered it to be taken down in writing, and for the humour sake would read it to them, if they pleased. There were ten sheets of it, which might have been reduced to two, had there not been those abominable interpolations I have before mentioned. Upon the reading it in cold blood, it looked rather like a conference of fiends, than of men. In short, every one trembled at himself upon hearing calmly what he had pronounced amid the * heat and inadvertency of discourse."
Law makes a similar proposal with respect to the wicked, profane, blasphemous, indecent, detestable things, that are said in the playhouse, only in one season, and he says, it would appear to be such a mass of sin, as would suifficiently justify any one in saying that the
business of players (as it is now managed) is sinful. (p. 377 and 414.) This is the method which has been followed by Collier and Bedford, and it is a pity that there is not some work particularly devoted to the examination of all our dramas which are acted in a season, both in a moral and religious point of view; or that some of our Reviews already established, do not make this a more important article in their monthly numbers. This ought, at any rate, to be done with respect to the new plays; and we have seen before, p. 225. that the number of new plays in a year is not so large, but that it might easily be done.
About the year 1791, a periodical publication appeared, entitled, The THEATRICAL GUARDIAN, written by MR. FENNEL, for the purpose of exposing the abuses of the Stage. It was continued for only a few numbers, and then dropped. It was said to contain t90 much truth for some persons nearly concerned in it, and that effica. cious means were taken to stop it. It is to be wished that some such work were set on foot, which should be “ silenced” only by the “ well doing" of all the parties concerned in the Stage.
In the year 1770, a work was published called The Dramatic Gensor, in two volumes, which contains criticisms upon some of the principal acting plays of that time. The remarks are both critical and moral, many of them very excellent, but not, I think, going far enough in some respects, and allowing other things which appear to me to be highly objectionable. This work, I believe, did good in its day; and its beneficial effects, in some measure, still continue, as several of the passages there objected to, now appear, in the printed copies of the plays, marked with inverted commas, as being omitted in the representation.
Since writing the foregoing sentences, and just as this sheet is going to the Printer's, a friend has called my attention to The LITERARY PANORAMA, for May 1808, in which there is a Review of the Comedy of The WORLD, and which is very much in the style here mentioned. The writer objects to two of the characters, on moral principles, and shews wherein the delineation is faulty. He mentions, likewise, the oaths introduced, with references to 33 pages in which they appear; attaching blame to the LICENCER for suífering them to pass, and recommending the notice of this practice to The Society FOR THE SUPPRESSION OF Vice, and to the MAGISTRATES. (See Literary Panorama, vol. iv. p. 299. also p. 288.) I wish that I had opportunity and leisure for referring to
more of these Reviews before I close these Notes. If they are all in the same style, I trust that they will have a considerable influence upon the minds of all the different descriptions of persons concerned in our Theatres, and most cordially do I wish them success. (January the 3d. 1809.)
I ana happy that a fresh circumstance, which shews the attention whieh is now paid to the Stage and its professors, demands my police before these notes are printed off.
In The Courier for Wednesday January 4, 1809, an Advertisement appears, from a Solicitor at Nortkampton, announeing tbe Theatre there to be let " to a respectable Manager of a Provincial Theatre ; and that “ Testimonials of the good Conducé, Character and Abilities of the Manager and his Company will be required.”
This caution should be extended to the Pieces performed, and the example generally followed.
When I closed the long Notes to my Second Discourse with ar apology, I did not think, from the memorandums made for those of the present, that they would bave extended to near the length which they have. The matter contained in them is varied, and I trust equally, or more interesting, than that of the former; but such is the nature of it, that wherever it may be deemed otherwise, it can be easily passed over;
think so, is requested to reflect, that although uninteresting to him, the matter may be both
teresting and important to others.
1 Skimuel iii. 13.
xvi. 18, 24.
2 Samuel xii.
1 Kings sviii. 27.
Ezra viii. 16.
Seherniah ix. 21.
viii. 20, 21.
86 Song of Solomon
Isaiah i. 16, &c.
ii. i, &c. ir. i.
Proverbs xiv. 6.