« ElőzőTovább »
Do not we nightly see, under our very noses, Congreve fitted to the last of the present times, (with all the neatness and address of a modern shoe-maker,) and as such recommended by soi-disant critics, as the newest town-made goods for the use of country managers? Do not we see Shakspeare made more natural by daily emendations, additions, and omissions? And have we not frequently seen, for years back, the scene of Diana Trapes totally cut out of the Beggar's Opera, (though upon that scene hinges a principal part of the plot,) merely to save Captain Macheath the trouble of redressing himself? O yes! we have often seen these things; and are, perhaps, doomed to see many more, whilst audiences will suffer their judgments to be counted by-Proxy.
But, to return from this digression, and advert more particularly to the character of Mossop. We must not judge of him from these professional eccentricities: he was led to them principally from his necessities, which, though it must be confessed he in a great degree brought on himself, they were rather the faults of an easy, ductile temper, than any original bad principles. In the career of success, he got up the best and most approved tragedies and comedies, and cast them with strength and judgment. He attended himself regularly at rehearsals, and paid his performers punctually, whilst the receipts of the treasury answered their demands; and could he have confined himself entirely to the duties of his profession, he might have weathered the storm, particularly as he was, in himself, the least of a luxurious or expensive man belonging to the stage. His ruin was the love of gaming; or rather the vanity of being under the wing of female persons of high fashion, who gamed deep: they at first fooled him into this pursuit, under the pretence of supporting his theatre in opposition to Barry and Woodward; and they did it to a degree, but with the secret purpose of bringing grist to their own mills; for what they gave to the stage through their influence or interest, they principally brought back with exorbitant profits to their private purses.
Such was Mossop in his public character; a man who had qualified himself for the stage by a previous course of classical education, and was inducted to it by the hand of genius; without which, all learning, all assiduity, all mechanism of profession, are but as a tinkling cymbal." The departments which he filled in the theatre were exclusively his own; for, except Garrick in Richard, he had no competitor. Holland, indeed, may be said to follow him, but haud passibus equis! It is true, Holland was not deficient in figure
voice, or attitude; and, to people who judged merely by the effect of those powers mechanically employed, he had his admirers; but, alas! the divine fire of the player was wanting; that “unresisting power which storms the breast," and realizes the scene, we looked for in vain. The two Zangas, comparatively speaking, were as fire and water-substance and shadow. In short, this tragedy, though excellent in various parts of the writing, owes its celebrity on the stock list, principally to the powers of Mossop; and as it was revived by him, so it has, in a great measure, died with him; and, like some other high-wrought characters of our best poets, must wait in sullen silence till some master spirit shall arise, who "shall bestride the conqueror of Africa, and its hundred thrones," with equal dignity and triumph.
As a man (abstracted from the seduction of gaming, and its innumerable bad consequences) he was retired, frugal, and abstemious; and as little tainted with the clinquant and vices of his profession, as any man of his time. He is likewise said to have had a heart capable of friendship, and had that happiness of temper to make almosts as many friends as acquaintances. His natural love of independence was such, that he would receive no favours from his nearest friends, even in the lowest declension of his fortune: here, indeed, his pride seemed to be at the highest, as He, in the eud, sacrificed his life to its punctilios.
How miscalculating is the mind of man! Mossop had talents and natural inclinations to be one of the most independent characters in his profession; he added to the powers of conversation, a sincerity of conduct, and a simplicity of manners, that would have gained him respect and honourable friendships; but the vanity of being the idol of a set of Right Honourable Harpies, who seduced him, from base and interested motives, was principally his ruin. In vain he sought to recover in detail what he so prodigally lost in the gross-in vain did he look to the little items of personal disbursements, and the frugal management of his theatre, when the gamingtable nightly presented a gulph of incalculable extravagance.
In short, the fall of this unfortunate man evidently arose from two causes the first, his becoming manager, so as to indulge his self-love in being an universal actor; the second, that of his becoming a gamester, a profession which, in itself, carries with it ruin and disgrace, and is as inimical to fortune, as it is to all the manly and social virtues.
The following lines are meant to describe feelings which the circumstances and the scene (the northern approach to Worthing,) rendered particulary impressive. They are much at your service, and submitted with good wishes to yourself and your Miscellany.
Yours, R. B.]
A FIRST VIEW OF THE SEA.
ARE these the fam'd, the brave SOUTH DOWNS,
Their pale green sides and graceful crowns?
To freedom, thought, and peace how dear!
To thought, for silence soothes the way :
Unnumber'd flocks and shepherds stray.
Now, now we've gain'd the utmost height!
Old Chankbury, from thy tufted brow,
Dark as a forest's ample crown;
And countless spots of harvest brown!
But what's yon southward dark-blue line
Still varying half the circle round?
I come, I come, my heart beats high;
The greensward stretches southward still;
A spot where once the eagle tower'd
And here OLD SISSA, So they tell,
The Saxon monarch, clos'd his days;
I see, I taste the coming joy;
My heart is there-Sleep, Romans, sleep;
Let me descend to love and thee.
Bring Peace, and Hope, and bid them live, And Night, whilst wand'ring by thy side, Teach wisdom-teach me to forgive.
Then, when my heart is whole again
Strong on my soul those terrors bring.
And where the crystal brook ran by, Mark'd sands, and waves, and open sea, And gaz'd-but with an infant's eye.
Twas joy to pass the stormy hour
In groves, when childhood knew no more; Increase that joy, tremendous pow'r,
Loud let thy world of waters roar.
Or draws too often rapture's tear,
Occasioned by the Death of His Royal Highness
WRITTEN BY THOMAS DIBDIN, ESQ.
Spoken by MR. RUSSELL, at the Theatre-Royal Richmond, on the Night of his Benefit, Sept. 11, 1805
OF gen'ral mournings, that in other climes,
With frequent shade have mark'd these changeful times,