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It is to be observed in the few—the few only by comparison, in number the many—who affect vices of which they are innocent.
How shocked we are to see men professing sternness when they are soft and compassionate, affecting pride and reserve when they are inwardly communicative and humble-minded ; but the folly can go no further, when it fastens upon a low vice, and fictitiously adopts the baseness which decency would disown. If we were to catch some eccentric in the act, not of mounting a decent though deceptive wig, but of shaving his head and affecting baldness, it would not seem more strange than to hear him boasting of nights of intoxication which were spent soberly, and pretending to be the triumphant emptier of bottles where of the corks were never drawn.
Worse still, a thousand times, is the abominable affectation of another kind of profligacy, which is not only fatal to the character of him who stoops to it, but perilous to the reputation perhaps of innocent
The mere mock man of virtue, and the pretender to temperance, we pass by ; but we carefully note down the name of the sham rake and lady-killer-of him who assumes the air of a successful wooer, and gaily affects the vice, of which, if guilty, he should be at least ashamed. The most despicable and wretched of the whole tribe of the affected is this mean little dabbler in the small-talk of gallantry, who likes to be thought licentious, and affects to be “ a devil of a fellow."
I SEE a phantom, weary, old, and dim,-
W. H. B.
BY W. T. MONCRIEFF, ESQ.
THE SANGUINARY PUBLIC. During the term of Elliston's first lesseeship of the Royal Circus, now the Surrey, he was very hard run by the production at Astley's of the celebrated Spectacle entitled “ The Blood Red Knight; or, the Fatal Bridge,” the first Equestrian Spectacle of its peculiar class that had appeared, and which nearly emptied his house, while it filled that of his rival to overflowing.
“ The Blood Red Knight, or the Fatal Bridge,” said Elliston, contemptuously, on hearing some one noticing its success. I am not to be abridged in this manner. Blood! blood ! if the sanguinary public want blood, if the sweet lumps are only to be refined with blood, they shall have enough of it, ay, and sawdust too, into the bargain for that matter-they shall sup full of horrors ! Send for Tom Dibdin.”
Tom was accordingly sent for, and came shambling and snuflling along to know what Elliston wanted.
Want, sir?" said Elliston. “I want you to fight the Blood Red Knight-cut his throat, sir—the public are homicidal—they like blood. You must write me a piece, sir, redolent with gore, and call it, • Blood will have Blood; or, the Battle of the Bridges.' Yes, as they have got "The Fatal Bridge,' we'll have. The Battle of the Bridges' -Blackfriars against Westminster—and see which bridge will carry its resident manager over the most safely! If they will make our theatres slaughterhouses they shall!"
• Blood will HAVE BLOOD; OR, THE BATTLE OF THE Bridges!” was accordingly produced, and Elliston had no reason to regret having catered to the taste of the sanguinary public, or, as he remarked, much to Tom Dibdin's indignation, " having given the swinish multitude hog-puddings for supper.'
THE FALLEN HERO.
Though the greater part of the anecdotes related of Elliston had their birth when he was full of the god,” it must not be inferred that he was either naturally or habitually a drunkard; he was certainly in some measure a bon vivant, and fond of his glass, but he required good fellowship to make the bottle pass to his mind. With a congenial spirit, a social friend, he would indeed drink pottle-deep. His great delight was to be Rex Convivii—to indulge in the song, the speech, and the sentiment; the joke, the tale, the anecdote. Without a companion to his taste, he could pass days and not touch a single drop; but when once he indulged, it was with his usual ardour; he set no bounds to his libations. There might be this excuse for his excesses, wine had not the stupifying effect upon him it generally has upon weaker natures; it did but freshen his fancy-give a keener zest to his enjoyment, heighten bis humour, and supply him with a thousand waggish expedients. Had it been his destiny to have chosen his own death, he would certainly, like royal Clarence, have decided on ending his days in a butt of Malmsey. That he did not, like Cassio when he drank,“ put an enemy into his mouth to steal away his brains," a thousand instances might be recounted.
The relater of the following anecdote was present when the whimsical contretemps it details occurred, and can vouch for its correctness.
Playing Richmond, one night, to Kean's Richard-which he was very fond of doing, being cunning in fence—Elliston was so drunk, that after killing Richard, he staggered, stumbled over the body, fell prostrate, and measured bis length by the side of it. The audience hissed tremendously at this unseemly conclusion, which somewhat recalled him to his senses. Wishing in this dilemma to make his exit with as good a grace as possible, drunk as he was, he hit upon this ludicrous expedient, catching an idea from his prostrate situation and the analagous circumstances of the times. It was shortly after the battle of Waterloo-much had been said in the papers of the propriety of raising a subscription for the widows and orphans of those who had fallen on the field of battle in that meinorable contest-vaguely remembering this, and recovering his equilibrium as well as he could, Elliston advancing to the front of the stage, and with great gravity thus addressed the audience, who naturally expected he was going to offer them some apology:
“ Ladies and gentlemen-hic-I have great pleasure in—hic—"(a laugh) “in informing you that to-morrow evening-hic—it is my intention to hic-"(another laugh)" that is to devote the profits of thehic-performance to the benefit of the orphans and widows of those fallen heroeş-hic” (a laugh)" that is of those brave men who have fallen-hic-on the field of battle—” (another laugh)—“ in the memorable struggle of Bosworth---hic” (loud shouts)—“no, I beg pardon, I mean Waterloo.”—(Bravo! bravo! and immense applause.)
Charmed by this generous resolution, the audience loudly cheered the announcement, and the actor staggered off with the exclamation, "I wish they may get it!"
Of course no such benefit as that announced took place, but the unexpectedness of the intimation had the desired effect for the moment of extricating Elliston from a very disagreeable position, in which, as a fallen hero, his indulgence of the glass had temporarily placed him.
COMPLETE IRISH PIECE !
During his proprietorship of the Olympic Theatre, Elliston requested the narrator of these anecdotes, whom he had recently introduced to the theatrical world as a dramatist, to write him an Irish Burletta, for the purpose of exhibiting the talents of Mr. Fitzwilliam, at that time as popular for his personation of Irish characters, as was afterwards poor Power. The dramatist accordingly selected the wellknown anecdote of the Duke of Richmond, when Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, knighting, in a drunken frolic, a poor Irish inn-keeper; who, the next morning when his Grace wished to recall what he had done,
only answered him with the observation, that he had not the smallest objection in life, to be un-knighted himself, “ but then, your Grace," said he," what will my lady say ?"
The idea was highly approved of, and the first act of the drama, comprising the benighting of the duke, his subsequent revelry, and the knighting of the inn-keeper was speedily written. Elliston was delighted with it, and ordered it to be put into immediate rehearsal, telling the author to go home and write day and night, till he had finished the other act.
His injunctions were obeyed to the letter, and on the morning of the third day following, the task was completed, and the author triumphantly repaired to the theatre with the MS. of the second act under his arm ; but what was his consternation on reaching the stage-door, to see a bill posted up announcing the first performance, that evening, of the first act of his piece, under the title he had given it, “ The Knight of the Boots; or, What will my Lady say?".
With all the irritability of his race, he rushed to Elliston and demanded the reason of such undramatic treatment.
“My dear fellow,” said Elliston, coolly, “what could we do? were dying for something for Fitz to appear in, and really your first act is so excellent, we thought it was a pity the public should be deprived of the pleasure of seeing it, even while you were preparing the second, we have therefore determined on producing it to-night. Your second act, for I see you have it there, we will reserve as a bonne bouche, till Wednesday, when it will be quite an agreeable surprise to the audience, who will not expect it, and will consequently relish it all the more.'
“ But, my dear sir,” exclaimed the mortified dramatist, “I shall be ruined ! What can you expect from only playing the first act of the piece? What manager, before yourself, ever thought of representing an unfinished drama,-serving up the dispecta membra poetæ to the public in this manner,-finishing in the middle? The piece will certainly be damned !"
"I'll be d--dif it shall !" said Elliston, coolly: “so let that suffice."
“ We shall all be damned !" was the author's angry rejoinder, in an under tone, " and very deservedly too."
There was, however, no alternative but to submit. The first act was accordingly represented, and through the drollery of Fitzwilliam, and the fun incidental to the subject, was perfectly successful. This was very contrary to the expectations of the author, who was of course greatly elated with his good fortune, anticipating still greater success on the completion of the piece ; argning, that if so much had been done with one act, twice as much might certainly be expected to be accomplished with two.
On the Wednesday following the second act was got ready, and the piece played in its perfect state; but such is the effect of first impressions, that the addition was by no means considered an improvement; and after the scene of the drunken revelry, which concluded the first act, the cream of the jest, consisting in the Duke's mortification, and Paddy's pertinacity in his imperturbable replication, “What will my lady say?" went off in a very“ stale, fat, and unprofitable" manner;
so much so, that it was resolved the next morning to consign the second act to the tomb of all the Capulets !
In justice to the narrator, he may perhaps be allowed to remark that much of the tameness with which the finish of his little drama had been received, might be ascribed to the actors having, through the postponement, lost much of their original interest in the subject, they were not spurred on by that excitation and zest so necessary to the success of a first night's representation. The disappointment and mortification of the dramatist, may be better conceived than described. He repaired to Elliston, his bosom swelling with indignation : but Elliston very composedly put down all his complaints of being disgraced and ruined for ever, by quietly remarking,
"My dear fellow, go home and make yourself perfectly easy; you may content yourself with the reflection that you have produced the most complete Irish piece that ever was written-a piece which finishes better in the middle than at the end—and is more complete as a half than as a whole. That is better without a catastrophe than with one, and in which you have completely bothered the audience by trying to make them understand it! And that's more than O'Keefe could ever say with any of his pieces! A piece, in short, my dear fellow, that is as perfect a dramatic blunder as ever was perpetrated; and if you are not satisfied with that, I don't know what the devil you will be satisfied with !”
There was no answering this, and stomaching Elliston's left-handed compliments as well as he could, the dramatist retired, firmly resolving never to give him another chance of producing the first act of a piece before the second was written, although it might, as in this instance, unexpectedly turn out to be a complete Irish piece.
ELLISTON AN M.P.
Elliston had a great opinion of his own oratorical powers, and imagined himself eminently qualified for the senate. Having a keen eye to the Treasury bench, he always had a strong idea that he should shine as a legislator, and seriously thought of becoming an M.P. in a parliamentary sense, as well as in a theatrical one; and of representing the aristocracy and democracy of the country in another house and on another stage ihan that of Drury Lane or the Olympic.
Among other attempts that he made for this purpose, the following is not one the least worthy of notice:
On Sheridan announcing his intention of withdrawing from the representation of Stafford, and putting up for Westminster, Elliston thought the golden chance he had so long sighed for presented itself. He accordingly wrote to Mr. G * *, the great patron of the then rotten borough of Stafford, whose influence had always ensured the return of Sheridan, to whom he was a stanch friend, and who it was well known could command a seat in the House for any one he might choose to nominate. In a letter to this gentleman, Elliston modestly offered himself as a candidate, and solicited his interest, without which, as he remarked, he well knew, a contest could not be sustained with any chance of success. To this application he received the following laconic and and pointed rebuff:
Feb.-Vol. LXVII. XO. CCLxvi.