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the Orangemen in calling petitions in favour of emancipation, popish petitions-and those who further such proceedings, papists,-passes current with too many still. We do not now pause on the meanness of such wilful misrepresentation: the very persons who set these expressions about, know that those of whom they use them are as thoroughly protestants as themselves. They know how the truth lies perfectly : but, alas ! there are still many who believe what the gentlemen say, and are swayed in their conduct accordingly.
But Éducation is advancing—and, as it spreads, Bigotry must recede before it. Even in the very place which has given rise to these remarks-Leeds—the progress of public opinion on this great question is strongly exemplified. The majority in favour of the petition is stated to be about seven to four; there was, sixteen years ago, a majority against a similar question of nearly twenty to one.
And in the same way, we do not doubt that Education will spread, not Intelligence only, but also Tolerance, Charity, and brotherly kindness wheresoever it extends. It will open the eyes of the community to the claims of justice, and will shew that it is both politic and right to grant them.
11th. Very shortly after we had written the notice with which our Diary for this month commences, we saw advertised—“ The Country Girl,-Peggy, by a young lady, being her first appearance upon any stage.” After the passing mention we there made of this comedy, it may be supposed that we were a little surprised at “ a young lady" making such a selection for her first appearance. Surely this can never do now, we thought-but, as far as regards the young lady, it has done, and very well, and (in a theatrical point of view) very deservedly. Her success was represented as having been extreme, the first night-and, in consequence, we went to form our own judgment, last night.
The Country Girl, as it is now represented, is about as bad a play as can well exist. The Country Wife, as Wycherley wrote it, has been out of the question these many years. It is certainly one of the very most loathsome specimens of what our ancestors sat and enjoyed in “ the good old times of the drama.” It had, also, which is unusual in Wycherley, no great proportion of real wit—and no original character but Margery Pinchwife, the Peggy of the present play. This part, it would seem, has in part rescued the play from its highly-deserved oblivion ;-and we can scarcely conceive why-for its simplicity is not childishness merely, but positive folly-its cunning is not learned by experience, but supplied by an evil disposition—and the two are carried respectively to such an excess as to be an absolute contradiction to each other. Mrs. Jordan used, however, to embody it in a manner which dropped much of the coarser part of the character, and rendered it certainly a very fascinating thing to see ;—but, besides that nobody could do this but Mrs. Jordan, even in her hands it was, we think, repulsive on consideration. The moment the alcohol of Mrs. Jordan's acting had passed away, the very odious nature of the whole play came into sight again. It is, of course, much more decent than the old version-but it is still very far from pure; and the merit which it
originally had, of caricaturing the fopperies of Charles II.'s time, is of course passed away ;-for such a tone as is here represented is of the seventeenth century-and, when transferred to a date which there is nothing to tell you is not that of George III., it becomes totally unmeaning—for it is obsolete as regards ourselves, and it is not put forward as the embodying of the manners of a remote age.
We really are not, in the most remote degree, prudish or straitlaced—yet this is already the second time this month we have had occasion to remonstrate against the performances at our great theatres on the score of propriety; and we are quite sure that in both instances the remonstrance is thoroughly well-grounded.
Well, we went last night to see Miss Nelson in this very trying part. She is certainly, in every sense, very extraordinary. She seemed perfectly at home, jumped about as though in her own dressing room, spoke (for the most part) with as much ease and in as natural a manner as though it had been to her mother, and yet an eye accustomed to the stage could trace stage-knowledge, almost amounting to stage-trick, in a dozen different instances. She is quite young, very youthfully formed, and of a very girlish aspect. Her country-accent, we are quite convinced, is by no means wholly assumed--and joined as it is to a very strange, and by no means pleasing, intonation of voice, would, we think, very much stand in her way in other parts. Mr. Fawcett went out of his way, as the newspapers report, to assert to the audience, on the first night of this young lady's appearance, that it was really her first appearance. By this, he surely did not mean to exclude practice on small theatres. We chanced, last night, to sit next to thoroughly versed in theatrical technicalities, and he agreed with us, that there were strong marks of stage-knowledge, well learned.
Still there is a great deal that is fresh, and buoyant, and vivid, and sterling, in Miss Nelson's performance, certainly. A great deal of talent it is impossible to deny-and, once or twice, we thought we caught a flash of even genius. Both the mannerism and the almost startling nature were strongly apparent in the scenes in which she writes the letters. We must still revert to our first phrase-she is very "extraordinary," and no cautious critic can commit his opinion till he sees her in something else. But what else is there for her?-We have heard Miss Prue mentioned—but we hope · Love for Love' will be suffered to rest quietly on the shelf of the theatrical amateurs of the old school, --it is obsolete to the public now,—the characters are no longer understood,—the wit, admirable as it is, is not felt, --its faults are the only things left prominent;—for the sake of the genius of a former age, let it rest. We have also heard Corinna, in the Confederacy,' mentioned—but all the same reasons apply, and others from which • Love for Love' is free. The plot is pitifully slender and feeble, and what there is of it is mean and paltry, and there is no catastrophe. The • Confederacy' ought never to have been more than a farce—there is matter enough for that, but no more. It was carried through the last century on the strength of a great name, but it is buried now; let it rest. Cherry also has been talked of, but it is a very slight part, and even that play, buoyant and brilliant as it is, is scarcely fit for us now. In short, the only thing mentioned which seems at all likely to suit this Yery strange young lady is Priscilla Tomboy; and if she have any
thing like the tålents we are half.inclined to give her credit for, that is a very poor part for their display. Seriously, we shall be glad to see her in something else-though we can't conceive what—in order to be able to form something like a fixed opinion.
We may as well mention, with reference to the performance of the • Country Girl,' a very remarkable instance of Fawcett's powers of vocal expression. The concluding speech of Moody is one of frantic jealousy-but the author (of the modern piece—the catastrophe of the old one is different altogether) has filled it with farcical images, with the manifest intention that a roar of laughter should accompany the exit. But Fawcett wanted something more than this; and he spoke the speech in a real tone of jealousy in its awful mastery over the human soul. It was impossible for the ear not to be struck at first with the discrepancy of the words — but the mind soon forgot them, and was carried away by the mere power of the actor's delivery. It was clearly wrong>but it was singularly able.
In the papers of this morning, there is a notice of Mr. Thomas, the zealous constable of St. Paul's, Covent Garden*, bringing before Sir Richard Birnie a dozen boys (chiefly play-bill sellers) for committing acts of vagrancy in that parish; and a very interesting conversation appears to have ensued between the magistrate and the constable on the subject of the wretched creatures of this class so common in that neighbourhood. We are glad to be able to say that we very much approve of the disposition manifested by Sir Richard on this occasion, which we do the more readily from having been compelled to differ from him so strongly, so often :
Sir R. Birnis said–That the only method of destroying these gangs of juvenile thieves, would be to adopt a plan he had recommended to the Police Committee of the House of Commons. They ought to be taken up en masse, and those who had no visible means of getting a livelihood, should be dealt with under the statute of the 2d and 3d of Anne. That act authorized any magistrate to bind boys, who had no visible means of living, to the masters of coasting and other vessels, and if there were to be a receiving ship appointed by government, on board of which such boys could be sent, where they might be taught, in a few weeks, all that was necessary to qualify them to be engaged to the masters of vessels, who would be glad of such boys, he was satisfied the root of the evil which had caused the lamentable increase of crime in the metropolis, would be in a great degree destroyed. Some time ago his nephew, who was captain of one of his majesty's cutters, wishing to
* It may not be known to some of our readers that Mr. Thomas has voluntarily undertaken the office of constable of his parish, from having seen, during the year in which he was called upon to fill the situation as an inhabitant, what good might be done by one who served this office with zeal and uprightness. We had occasion, in the course of last year, to lay before our readers some of Mr. Thomas's evidence before the Parliamentary Police Committee : and, from facts there brought forward, it is quite clear that sound and practical sense has always kept Mr. Thomas's zeal within due limits. When thus regulated, we confess we respect active phi. lanthropy in any sphere, however hunible. But, though many may think it humble, that of Mr. Thomas, in Covent Garden is by no means limited. Vast is the mass of human guilt, and, therefore, of human misery, in that area in which we have somewhere seen it finely said, “ Silence has not existed for a century." It is to lessen that guilt and misery that Mr. Thomas devotes his benevolent ex. ertions and we respect the man who exerts himself to that end, whether he be king or constable.
serve the parish of St. Martin's, sent for five boys, who were paupers in that parish. Five of the finest lads in the workhouse were selected, and they were attired in blue trowsers, jackets, and caps. Their appearance led
many other boys in the house to volunteer to go on the same kind of service, but there were no masters for them. The five boys, however, were sent, and after learning to assist on board, they were engaged as servants by five different officers, and in a very short time, the lads, who behaved extremely well, sent home to their parents two sovereigns each.
We have left the anecdote of Sir Richard's nephew, because we would not, for the sake of a few lines, omit the record of a kind action; but it does not bear upon the question, which is whether it would be possible to establish a government receptacle for these wretched apprentices to theft, and then to ship them off under the statute of the 2d and 3d of Anne. That such a measure would be a very great public benefit, if it could be carried into effect with regard to these lads, cannot, we think, be doubted-and, at the same time, it would be the means of saving a great many fellow creatures from a life of vice and want. But we fear, as the law at present stands, that can hardly be. We doubt whether Sir Richard Birnie rends the statute of Anne aright. That act empowers justices of the peace, town and parish authorities, &c., to bind, and by a subsequent clause, compels ship-masters (number for tonnage) to receive, any boy of the age of ten years or upwards, who may be chargeable, or whose parents may be chargeable, to the parish they inhabit, or who may beg alms, as apprentices to the seaservice. Now unless these boys actually be chargeable to their parish, St. Paul's, or St. Giles's, or whatever it may be, or unless they ask alms, it is clear they cannot be bound apprentices to masters of merchant vessels. Other provision is made for rogues and vagabonds, whether boys or men, in the very same act. They are to be sent to sea in her (now his) majesty's service. The only thing which at all would seem to include our friends the hawkers of play-bills, would be asking alms—and we doubt if they even do that very often: they pilfer, and deal in little wares, and so on. But even this, we are convinced, would not do: masters of vessels would never be compelled to take such ne'er-do-weels as apprentices merely because it could be proved that they had asked alms. The whole spirit of the act shews that the asking alms, as used in the clause of which we have given the pith above, is considered only as evidence of poverty—of being about to become chargeable to the parish. People who ask alıns in the capacity of rogues and vagabonds are, as we have said, separately dealt with afterwards: sturdy beggars are mentioned by name. Moreover, the statute 4th of Anne, cap. 19, exempts masters of vessels from taking apprentices under thirteen years old: and by thirteen, the young people in the Garden have advanced to a very considerable maturity of vice.
No-we fear these acts could not, now, be brought into serviceable operation, as regards these wretched boys. Certainly, if you can prove them to belong to a parish, and to be above thirteen years of age, that parish can compel masters of vessels to take them as apprentices, But the evil is then in great measure done. Of the shoals who get under your feet between St. Martin's-Court and the corner of CatharineStreet, not one in ten is any thing like thirteer. Now, prevention really might be called into action here without any invasion of private rights. Nearly all of these are already under the hand of the law, if it choose to lay it down, as “rogues and vagabonds." Why not, then, adopt some measure-by act of Parliament if it be, as it probably is, necessary-to free ourselves from this regular, public, preparatory school of thieves-from whence spring, first the pick-pockets,- then the horse-stealers, the highway-robbers, and, worst of all, the burglars, of Londou? We
say worst of all, the burglars;" for the nature and extent of the evil inflicted by them is, in general, far worse than any other. The security of your dwelling is set at nought ; property to the value, perhaps, of half your worth in the world is stolen ; and it is by no means improbable that your brains may be beaten out into the bargain. Burglars, it is true, endeavour to get away unheard; but for a goldsmith, or a banker, or even a private individual to have his premises cleared by “first-rate cracksmen," is, in itself, considerably less than pleasant.
And these “ cracksmen,” or by whatever other name of villainy their jargon of abomination may dub them, are nearly all bred to the business, as regularly as an artisan serves his apprenticeship in his craft. And these wretched lads are the ore out of which the veteran villains form and polish their tools: and from being the tool, they advance in their turn to mould and wield them. Mr. Thomas says exactly this :
The constable observed, that it was a system of prevention of crime that was wanted; but hundreds of boys, who were known to have no honest means of living, were allowed to prowl daily and nightly about all parts of the metropolis, and as soon as they arrived at the age of 16 or 17 years, they became street-robbers or burglars.
We fully agree with Sir Richard that taking these boys up en masse, would be of the very greatest public advantage. And, if it be considered, as we fear it must, that the acts above discussed are insufficient for the purpose, we hope some active member of Parliament will bring in a bill to furnish the necessary powers. Prevention, where it can be effected without incurring too great a danger of abuse of power, is better even than punishment. And, we think that, in the present instance, very little harm could be done, and that a great deal of benefit would.
12th. We have to record another first appearance ; at least, it has been so completely to us. We saw last night a new Mr. Liston make his appearance in the part of Adam Brock in a piece acted for the first time, entitled “ Charles XII., or the Siege of Stralsund." Liston, we have always been in danger of bursting by laughing at. Playing parts manufactured for himself, his power over the muscles is totally irresistible: but we have always had a sort of lurking consciousness that he was not sterling ; for (not to mention Shakspeare) he never could play any
stock part in his life. Last night it certainly was not a stock part for it was the first performance of a new piece, but it was a part which merits to be a stock part—(we never care whether a good thing be in a tragedy, opera, farce, or melodrame-deuce take dignity-if a thing be good, we never ask its name)-à priori, we should have said