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It is almost needless to say there was no reply to this letter—it was suffered to close the correspondence.

A doggrel version of this anecdote was circulated at the time it occurred, but the narrator has long since forgotten it.

A DISCERNING AUDIENCE.

As must have been evident, in the course of these anecdotes, no actor ever possessed a greater command over an audience than did Elliston ; for this he was indebted, amongst other things, to the general favour in which he was held by the public, a prepossessing person, winning voice, great goodnature, admirable presence of mind, and, if it must be said, extreme effrontery. He usually gained his ends by a skilful admixture of wheedling and authority, or, as he pompously termed it, in his Latinity of Paul's School, the suaviter in modo and fortiter in re, together with a plentiful application of Sam Slick's " soft sawder.”

It is astonishing how complacently we appropriate to ourselves, individually, any compliment that may be paid us en masse—who ever formed one of an assemblage addressed as an enlightened and discern. ing audience,” or a “spirited and generous British public,” that did not immediately take credit to hinıself for being both enlightened and discerning, and rest perfectly content that he was alike spirited and generous, though perhaps unable to penetrate the mystery of a mousetrap, and perfectly guiltless of ever parting with a penny, for which he had not previously "value received."

The servant-girls and shop-boys in the gallery, when addressed as “ Ladies and gentleinen," by some good-looking personage in silk smalls and pumps, feel quite assured for the time that they really are ladies and gentlemen. No where is the consequence of the multitude exhibited so strongly as in the gallery of a theatre—there, the costermonger and the mechanic are indeed gods ! and on the strength of their sixpence, assert their fancied rights and prerogatives with an independence that rebels against all control, yet largely open to flattery, they are, for this very reason, easily to be cajoled.

No one knew all this better than Elliston, for he had much general knowledge of human nature, and no one availed himself of such knowledge more unsparingly—not a season of his theatrical life that did not furnish many instances of the gullibility of a “ Discerning audience;” one illustration of these remarks may be acceptable.

The “Discerning audience,” in this instance, had congregated at the Surrey Theatre, during Elliston's last management there, at the time that clever little performer, Master Burke, as he was then termed, was in his zenith. The anecdote is somewhat akin to that entitled “ Humbug,” given in a previous number, in which Elliston satisfactorily accounted for the non-appearance of Carles; but as showing the different modes by which he gained his ends, and how skilfully he could practice on the gullible points of a “ Discerning audience,” it is here related.

It was in the latter part of the year 1827, Little Burke had, through Elliston's judicious management, become the popular star of the Sur

rey—and with some justice, for his precocity was among the least of his merits—he was an excellent musician, and displayed a comic talent far beyond his years. Notwithstanding, there was great reason to believe, that like the negro's pig, “ though wery little, him was dam old !"

Ever willing to take fortune at its swell, the adroit manager having an opportunity of working double tides, in addition to profiting by the “Little Wonder's" performances at the Surrey, farmed him out to appear for a short time at the Pavilion. From the distance between them, the audiences of the two theatres were equally innocent that there was any participation in their source of enjoyment. By a mutual arrangement between both houses, it was so contrived that the juvenile prodigy appeared during the first of the evening at the Pavilion, and wound up his night's performances by making his bow to the half-price at the Surrey. This arrangement did capitally, till one evening, by a misliap, the “ Little Wonder” and Harry Kemble, who accompanied him to assist him in his performances, were detained considerably longer than usual, while the first piece at the Surrey happened that evening to be much shorter than usual.

The fiddlers sent in to amuse the audience, by harping as usual too long upon the same string, only increased the general impatience instead of allaying it. Full three-quarters of an hour had passed since the finish of the first piece, and “Douglas," which was to follow it, and in which little Burke was to appear, had not commenced; the audience became outragecus, and the usual indescribable volley of hisses, cat-calls, stamping, and yelling, by which they generally manifest their desire for any thing, increased to a perfect tempest.

An hour had now passed without any signs of either little Burke or Harry Kemble. A disposition for riot beginning to manifest itsell, it was necessary something should be done. Elliston had been sent for by Fairbrother, the prompter.

"I will soon settle them,” said he, on hearing the cause of the disturbance; “ no doubt the boy will soon arrive, ring up the curtain, they only want me to speak to them !"

The curtain was accordingly rung up, and Elliston made his appear. ance with his usual prepossessing bow. In an instant the tempest wa hushed; his was the genius to ride on the whirlwind, and command the storm; his voice was oil upon the angry waves.

• Ladies and gentlemer," said he, in his blandest manner, directing his first attention to the gallery, that portion of the house that appeared to be the most vociferous, “ladies and gentlemen,”

A round of applause, and noisy cries of Silence, down, down, order, bravo,” &c., testified the gallery's sense of his just estimation of them.

Ladies and gentlemen," continued the manager," what is your pleasure ?"

* * Douglas !" Douglas !' little Burke !" was the unanimous response from all parts of the house.

“I will give you · Douglas,' vou shall have little Burke; but I must intreat your indulgence for a short time. Trusting to the generous sympathy of a discerning audience, I have lent our little prodigy and

6

Harry Kemble to serve a great cause-the cause of charity"-(applause). “A distressed family-reduced by misfortune-free benefit -you all have families—you all may be reduced by misfortune-and should, all of you, have free benefits!”—(Loud cheering). “I know you, you are like myself, ever ready to succour the widow and the orphan; we all love charity-need I say more ?" “No, no; bravo Elliston,” resounded from every

side. “No doubt some accident has detained our absentees, but messengers have been despatched in every direction, and their return may instantly be looked for, when they shall immediately have the honour of appearingbefore you. In this crisis, I throw myself on the consideration and liberality of a generous British public !" Loud applause.

My talented company will do the best to amuse you until their return. I have the first hornpipe-dancers in the world; and for comic songs, what can equal your favourite, ' The good old days of Adam and Eve?' Mr.Vale has verses and voice enough for a whole evening ; shall he delight you again ?"

“Yes ! yes! and bravo !" was the general cry:

Elliston became affected, put his hand to his heart, declared nothing could exceed the gratification he felt at appearing before such an enlightened and discerning audience; that he never would forsake them; that they should have a hornpipe and comic song the instant the performers could be got ready. He then retired amidst the discerning audience's most unbounded applause.

Two or three hornpipes were then danced, and " Adam and Eve" was repeated several times, until at length little Burke and Harry Kemble rushed in almost breathless from the Pavilion; they had been detained by a sudden and unavoidable change in the entertainments. “ Douglas" was then commenced. The "Little Wonder” and his companion expected nothing better than to be received with a shower of hisses when they appeared, for having kept the audience waiting. What was their surprise at being greeted, thanks to Elliston, with three rounds of applause. It was the same every time they reappeared ; not being in the secret, they were not a little amazed, and Kemble could not avoid hazarding some conjectures on the cause of this unusual approbation of the audience.

"Do not inquire too curiously, my good fellow," said Elliston, who happened to overbear him ; " between ourselves, you are a confounded bad actor, friend Harry; but charity, charity, my boy, charity covers a multitude of sins, and now you have it !"

THE AERIAL STEAM-CARRIAGE.

OF late years we have become so accustomed to witness new achievements of science, and especially of mechanical science, that events of this kind, each of which would have furnished wonder enough for a common century, pass only as matters to make up the news of the day. It was but in the boyhood of our fathers that steam was harnessed to our universal drudgery, and the tamed giant made to drain our mines and whirl about our mills, and now we look on it as a thing of course, going on to devise new engines for him to propel, and new mountains for him to remove, just as though it were all a light and common matter. Next he was made to beat the vexed ocean into obedience ; for a day or two it was a wonder, but now we step on board the Atlantic or the Indian steamer and dine, and chat, and sleep at pleasure, thinking of nothing about the leviathan which hurries us along, except perhaps the ceaseless monotony of his strokes. Then we set him to copy our thoughts, and straightway every morning teems with debates and tidings, and the countless solicitations of industry or need multiplied, like the Calmuc's prayers, by his restless revolutions. Next we yoke him to our cars, and ihe cashiered and wondering horse is left far behind.

Whirled thus about from miracle to miracle, our curiosity decays. What in other days would be sanguine hope or straining curiosity, is but a common-place looking out for something new: and the month, or almost the day, which has not its successful egression on nature's remaining powers, is perhaps the greatest wonder of the times.

It is possible then that Mr. Henson and his aërial carriage may in one respect have“ fallen on evil days;" and yet it must be accounted hereafter one of the strange characteristics of the age, and the surest measure of our satiety of marvels, if any hopeful attempt to subdue an entire and almost untrodden realm of nature meet not with the active sympathies and ardent aspirations of this enterprizing age. Encumbered as we are with the spoils of science, we have yet, we hope, unsatisfied ambition enough to anticipate with some exultation the conquest of the air, and to help with head and purse, if not with heart and hand, when it is proposed to carry through the regions of unobstructed

space

the intercourse which is the lite-blood of human happiness and improvement. Perhaps our sated faculties cannot afford an excitement like that which followed Montgolfier's noble and successful daring, but we shall at least be ready with the quiet and effective approbation which in prospect of good dividends will furnish “ the sinews of war.”

For say what we will, the plain business-like question will take precedence of the heroics, and “Can it be done?” is the first and

now

universal question. To this essential interrogatory the following account of the machine must stand for a reply: and we entreat our readers to lay aside as much as possible of the repugnance often felt for mechanical descriptions, if it be only to recompense our endeavour to rid the subject of obscurity.

Let us begin then by imagining first a thin, light, strong expanse of framework, not less than one hundred and fifty feet long, and thirty feet wide, and covered with silk or linen. This stands instead of wings, although it has none of their vibratory motion; it is jointless and rigid from end to end. In advancing through the air, one of its long sides goes foremost. Attached to the middle of the hinder side is a tail fifty feet long, on either side of which, and carried by the main frame or wings, is a set of six vanes or propellers, like the sails of a wind mill, and twenty feet in diameter ; beneath the tail is a small rudder, and across the wings, at their middle, is a small vertical web, which tends to prevent lateral rocking. Immediately beneath the middle of the wings are suspended the car and the steam-engine : for the construction of the latter ingenuity has been highly taxed, but successfully employed, in producing the necessary power in combination with most extraordinary lightness; its occupation is to actuate vanes or propellers.

To render the rest of our description intelligible, we must now advert to the precise difficulty which has hitherto foiled all similar attempts. Men have tried often and again to raise themselves in the air with wings moved by their own muscular force: always and of necessity they have failed. Whoever has tried to raise himself by grasping a rope with his hands, will readily believe that the muscles of the arms are by no means equal to the task; for there can be at best no gain in beating the air instead of lifting by a rope. Again, we have only to ascend the Monument, or St. Paul's, to be satisfied that the legs are quite incompetent to the necessary effort; and even these trials lay out of the account the necessary continuance of the exertion, for which our limbs are entirely unfit.

Of inanimate sources of power, the steam-engine is the only one which is not by its nature inapplicable to the purpose: and to that attaches with even greater force the objection which renders living power useless;—it is hopelessly heavy in proportion to its effect. Nor does Mr. Henson's successful effort to reduce the weight of the steam-engine bring it within the essential conditions of utility if the ordinary mode of dealing with the subject were not to be abandoned.

But that ordinary mode tacitly assumes that it is necessary to carry in the machine the means of producing all the power required to raise and sustain it. It is in dispensing with this necessity, and thus reducing very greatly the amount of machinery to be carried, that the chief, but not the only peculiarity of Mr. Henson's invention lies; and it is by this means he has opened a path which seems destined to lead to the accomplishment of this long sought object.

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