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Art. XII.-Memoirs of Charles Lee Lewes, containing
Anecdotes, Historical and Biographical, of the English and Scottish Stages, during a period of Forty Years. Written by Himself. In Four Volumes. Small Octavo. Phillips. 1905.
THIS is a very low, contemptible performance. Even to those who are fondest of vulgar anecdote, such stories as the origin of the expression 'My eye, Betty Martin,' and the stupid speeches of provincial managers to their troops of ragamuffins, can afford but little entertainment. The author, Mr. Lee Lewes, an actor of considerable eminence in the arduous part of Harlequin, as well as in others where rather more mental activity was required, died on the 22d of July 1803, in the sixty-third year of his age. He sup. ped with Mr. Townsend of Covent Garden theatre, on the night previous to his death, at the Middleton's Head, Sadler's Wells,' as the editor of these volumes informs us, with many other equally interesting particulars, which, we conceive, the majority of our readers will excuse our giving them in minute detail.
Charles Lee Lewes, however, occupies but a very small portion of his own Memoirs; and when he has said that he was born in New Bond Street, on the 19th of November, old style, 1740, that he broke his head in taking a leap at Sheffield, but which accident was the means of making him known in London as a famous harlequin, and got him a se. condary situation under the great Woodward at Covent Garden theatre; when he has told us these important facts, and mentioned his quarrel with a methodist preacher in Aberdeen, he makes his exit without further ceremony, Garrick, and Moses Kean, Mrs. Clive and Fanny Furnival, &c. &c. supply the want of incident in the life of Mr. Lewes himself.
The first appearance of Mrs. Siddons at Dublin was whimsically celebrated, as Mr. Lewes phrases it, in an Irish newspaper, from which he copies the whole account of seven pages. His idea of whim is singular. The wittiest paragraph in this nonsensical effusion is the following:
'One hundred and nine ladies fainted! forty-six went into fits! and ninety-five had strong hysterics! the world will scarcely creilit the truth, when they are told, that fourteen children, five old wumen, one hundred taylors, and six common-council men, were actually drowned in the inundation of tears that flowed from the galleries, lattices, and boxes, to increase the briny pond in the pit. The water was three feet deep, and the people that were obliged to
stand on the benches, were in that position up to their ancles in tears!
If hyperbole be bumour, by saving that the whole house was actually drowned, the above account would have been much improved. But byperbole is the last resource of empty addle-pated coxcombs.
Moses Kean had a wooden leg. Sleeping one night at an inn, where the landlady always went round carefully to see that there was no danger of fire in any of the chambers, Moses had thrust the end of bis wooden leg out of bed. 'The fearful hostess immediately conceived it to be the warming-pan which the chambermaid bad heedlessly left between the sheets. She immediately began to pull, and Moses to roar, to the great alarm and confusion of the whole house. The ridicule was so strong against the minic, that he was obliged to decamp the next day without performing as he had intended in the town. This is a specimen of Mr. Lewes's theatrical anecdotes, and one of the best his book affords. He tells us a great many old stories, such as that of the lwo riders (or bagmen) quarrelling about the different yearly profits of their respective employers. One asserted that the single article of ink cost his house many hundreds in the year. The other replied, ' our business is so extensive, that we save some thousands annually, by leaving out the dots to the i's, and the strokes to the t's.' Twenty
years ago, when we first read this story in a book of anec• dotes, we did not think it amiss.
In giving an account of John Knox, and in defending the stage against the attacks of the puritans, Mr. Lewes rises into the following very animated strain of absurdity:.
Now murders and devastations stalked with giant stride over Scotland, and their zealous leader presumed to assert that he wielded the sword of the Lord and Gideou against idolatry. Bless d God! how is thy holy name and authority prostituted to serve the infaa mously interested purpose of artful and designing men ! But though these principles were the chief cause of stage persecution, yet ever in this enlightened age of liberality and refinement, we fud the immortal works of Shakespeare excluded from a representation in our great and distinguished seminaries, while the indecent productions of a Pretonius Arbiter, an Ovid, a Horace, and the dangerous doctrines of a Lucretius, are the classical studies of our young students at both the L'niversities. O shame, where is thy blush !
Where, indeed, Mr. Lewes! Pretonius Arbiter, this new classic of our author's, must be one of the very private sius dies of our young students at the Universities, for we never vet met with such a name in the list of books for an exami
nation; nor have the dangerous doctrines of Lucretins (whose doctrines they are not been much countenanced, since Creech put an end to his existence in order to imitatc his great poetical master more closely in his actions, than ho had done in bis versification. Mr. Lewes proceeds to prove how useful a theatre would be in an University, by instanc, ing the Blocks of gownsmen from Oxford that attend the plays at Abingrlon, and by relating the story of a seriouş disturbance at Huntingdon theatre, occasioned, as he terms it,' by à party of young Cantabs. Certainly, these are very convincing proot's of the advantage of licensing actors to perform in Universities, when they cannot come within twenty miles of Oxford or Cambridge, without being of such essential benefit to the students at these seminaries, to adopt the elegant phraseology of Mr. Lewes. We cannot be seriously angry with such a monitor as Harlequin, but we think the above hint to the Caput highly it pertinent.
In page 266, of volume the 411, Mr. Lewes, with much complacency, gives us a spice of his own humour. He brings a puritanical tallow chandler, whom he facetiously calls Dundee Dip, (from his living at Dundee,) to the playhouse, which he never before frequented, by telling him that all his candies when they had burnt balf way, would burn no longer. Upon the remonstrance of the puritan that this statement was untrue, as he had himself witnessed, “I maintain it still,' exclaimed Mi. Lewes, evidently with the highest seli-satisfaction, 'I maintain it still, Dip; Dip, when your candles are burnt balf-way, they all burn shorter.'
Ohę jam satis est!' If such stuff as the above is to be drag. ged from the portfolios of deceased persons by the injudicious zeal or rapacious avarice of their surviving acquaintances, the contempt of criticism cannot be too strongly excited against authors, editors, and all who are instrumental in overwhelining the town and country with these catchpenny publications. The present is one of the worst of this abomi. pable species of books, which we are sorry to observe form at once the entertainment and the disgrace of our contemporaries. Possest of no stores of information, conversant neither with sciences nor languages, ignorant even of their owo tongue, literary quacks of every description drain their comminon place books to the dregs, and usher thein adorned with all the luxury of printing into the hands of the public. Sudden death perhaps just prevents them from edit. ing their correspondence with literury friends, with
Ambubaiarum collegia, pharmacopolæ,
but the precious letters are not lost! every escrutoir is rana sacked, and the strange compounds of absurdity, blasphemy, family receipts, private communications, which some may think should be sacred, as they were only intended for the eye of friendship, memoranda, ejaculations, and embryo conceptions, are brought into the world, by that universal midwife, the press. The impudence of republication, so conspicuous in the present age, we have already more than once justly censored; never was it more gross than in the Memoirs of Mr, Lewes.
Art. 13.-A Funeral Oration to the Memory of his Royal Ilighness
the late Duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh, delivered at Grosvenor Chapel, Grustenor Square, on Sunday the sth of September, 1805. By the Rer. T. Baseley, A. M. Chaplain to the Right Rer. the Lord Bishop of Lincoln. 4to. Ladley, Faulder, &c. 1806.
OVER all the adulatory effusions that were ever offered to the living or the dead, this Oration of Mr. Baseley to the memory of the late Duke of Gloucester stands pre-eminent. It far outdoes all the addresses presented to Bonaparte by the mayor and prefects of his good city of Paris. Mr. Baseley's idea, however, of fattery seems to be very different from ours. In page 10 he says, • I wish it to be understood that no such adulation is now meant to the dead, as we all know were most unacceptable to the living, and that what follows, originates entirely from my own mind, my respect for public feeling, and my profound deference for the memory of unexampled virtue.' Ple likewise intimales that express orders were issued, in consequence of what appeared in the public prints, (and he might have added in consequence of the bills which were posted at various puinps and dead walls in the neighbourhood of his chapel,) to abstain not only from every appearance of Nattery, but even from the service prepared for the occasion. But Mr. Baseley had been at too grcat an expence in fitting up his chapel in imitation of Mrs. Salmon's max-work representation of the duke's lying in state, to comply with these orders, or to ' disgust a feeling public by disappointing their expectations ;' he therefore determined resolutely to follow the impuise of his own heart, to do all he could for the best, and to refer liis apology for the freedom assumed, to the well
known magnanimity and indulgence of the royal family. After the preparation in page 10, where we are warned not to expect any flattery, we are informed,' that the characteristic piety of his Royal Highness rendered him an object of peculiar veneration to the whole Christian world! that' he constituted a part of the great Composite pillar on which our Zion rests,' and 'that in mourning for his death we have to remember that her magnificence is marred, and her strength impaired.' Meretricious gems made no part of his earthly distinctions, and have no place in the crown of glory which now encircles his holy head!' &c. &c. These and twelve pages of similar compliments Mr. B. tells us are not adulation, but respect for public feeling and sympathy. We know not what may have been the sentiments of the present Duke of Gloucester on his perusal of this eulogy, if he has lost so much time as to peruse it; but we think his.
magnanimity and indulgence must have been really put to the proof. In short, it is difficult to conceive Battery less ingenious, less concealed, more disgusting, or more disgraceful. If it should answer the end which the reverend author doubtless had in view, it would be strange indeed. It remains to say, that the style of the discourse very much resembles that of Dr. Mavor in flowery deSlamnations, high flown bombast, and every species of bad taste.
ART. 14.-A brief Treatise on Death, philosophically, morally,
and practically considered. By Robert Fellowes, A. M. Oron, 12mo. Mawman, 1805,
IF the size of this Treatise were to prescribe the measure of our praise, we should not do justice to its pretensions. But as it is no part of our plan to make bulk the criterion of merit, Mr. Fellowes will have nothing to fear from our decision. This little work is very
aluable, it is evidently the production of a scholar, and does credit to the talents which the author is known to possess. The lanBhage exhibits a bappy union of strength and simplicity, equally calculated to instruct the unlearned and to gratify the well-informed ; We are therefore clesirous to recomiend it to general perusal. While the philosophical reasonings contained in it evince the fragility of He and the certainty of our dissolution, the considerations drawn from religion teach the Christian to esteem the former as no evil, and the latter as the earnest of a better state. It is inscribed by the author to the memory of the late Lady Harriett Fitzroy, daughter of the Duke of Grafton,
ART. 15.- Religion essential to the temporal Happiness of a Na.
tion. A Sermon preached, August the lith, 1805, at Granthani, before the Boston Loyal Volunteers, on permanent Duty there. By Samuel Purtridge, M. A. F.S. A. Vicar of Boston, and Chapa lain to the Corps. 8vo. London, Rivingtons. 1805.
THE Sermon before us is from Psalın xsiji, 12, · Blessed is the mation whose God is the Lord. It is a very plain, sensible discourse,