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the hour of punishment while he compares himself to Joshua arresting the course of the sun. But alas! unfortunate reflection, before the third act, perhaps from the commencement of the first scenes, the fear of political allusion compels my friend to close the book, and he reproaches me with having suggested a subject, which would be returned to him scored in every part with the erasures of the licencer. Besides my friend aspires to an academic chair. Patience; some day Timotheus will return from his exile, and his harp, enriched with new strings, will obtain an amnesty.
We complain in France, and truly, of the obstacles which the censorship imposes on the dramatic art, and of the still more serious obstacles by which the jesuits are endeavouring to arrest the progress of civilization and enlightenment. The Presbyterian olergy of Scotland has always similarly endeavoured to subject the conscience to its intolerance. The history of the Scotch theatre might be adduced as an example of this intolerance.
The present house only dates from 1768. Up to that time the children of Thespis found a difficulty in evading the decrees of the synods and the general assembly in tennis courts, barns &c., when, in 1735, an individual poet, Allan Ramsay, caused a theatre to be built at his own expence; but at the end of two years a proclamation of the magistrates, at the instance of the clergy, declared that theatrical performances were an illegal recreation, and thereupon the ministers instituted a process against the servants of Satan, as they called those who assume at London the title of servants of the king. Such is the power of opinion that by degrees a new theatre was opened notwithstanding the law, and in 1756, (unexampled scandal!) a clergyman, Mr. Home, dared to cause his Douglas to be performed. The thunders of excommunication rolled over the head of the author, his friends, and the partizans of the pomps of the devil. Douglas was received with that enthusiasm of opposition which hails Tartuffe amongst us when some president or minister does not wish it to be played. In short, at the present day, many a presbyterian minister allows himself to enter a theatre under pretext of meeting there with lessons in the art of declaiming for the benefit of his sermons. To make amends, the influence of the sceptic Hume is effaced among the laity, and never were the churches so crowded as now, while thirty or forty years ago it was unfashionable to attend the service. It will be seen by and bye whether we fire to attribute this religious revolution to the single eloquence of Messrs. Alinson and Chalmers. These instances of mutual compromise are very remarkable.
Politics have sometimes found a voice in the Edinburgh theatre. During the queen's trial allusions were eagerly seized, and even songs
on the subject were called for ; in the same manner in 1715 the Jacobites demanded that the
orchestra should play them the air of “May the king enjoy his ain again.”
In the great rebellion of 1745, Jacobite songs had a momentary fashion ; but in 1749, after the pacification of the Highlands, when the whigs intended to insult the vanquished by calling for the tune of “Culloden” on the anniversary of that fatal battle, the Stuartites found themselves in the majority, and caused the roofs of the theatre to echo with
“Ye are welcome Charlie Stuart.”
One of those riots ensued, in which oranges and other such local weapons composed the ammunition of the battle. At present, the approaching visit of George the Fourth procures for us, God save the King, Rule Britannia, &c. Poor Scotland forgets herself and her antient ballads; and it is much if a strathspey or a reel revives for a few moments her old opinions. One of the most singular episodes in the dramatic history of Edinburgh, is the dispute which Garrick’s farce of “High Life Below Stairs” occasioned there. Footmen are dedicated to ridicule in this farce. They went in a body to the theatre and disturbed the representation to such a degree that their masters were obliged to drive them
from the house. + + + + +
P. S. Since writing this letter, a circumstance has occurred, which may cause us to exclaim
Ou la vertu vas-elle te nicher.
The celebrated Kean has had a very animated explanation with justice on the score of an alderman's wife; and he has been hooted, hissed and repulsed at London. That is to say, the alderman has friends in London who recruit their ranks with moralists in order to disturb the triumphs of Kean under the plea of violated morals: such is the law of retaliation. But the Edinburgh manager, having latterly announced that Kean was engaged for twenty nights, the audience aped those of London. The most curious feature of the affair was a gentleman addressing the house from his place in the two-shilling gallery, in order to threaten the manager with discontinuing tobring his family to the play should he persist in. allowing so libertine an actor as Kean to appear on the stage.
Tant de fiel entre-t-il dans l'ame des devoti>
TO M. THE COMTE D'hauterive.
Can the climate of Edinburgh be disparaged? A slight rain scarcely refreshes the atmosphere
when the sun, drying the pavements and the paths iu the environs of the town, invites us to picturesque walks. The sky of wintry clouds and frost, wherein the melancholy divinities of Ossian reigned, is doubtless there ; but it is also the same climate wherein a few fine days, like those which we enjoy, inspired Buchanan with his ode to the month of May, Ramsay with his pastorals, in which he has so charmingly depicted the locality of each scene like a smiling landscape, and Burns with some of his songs, the poetry of which would be worthy of the shepherds of Sicily or the valleys of Arcadia. This morning I left the philosopher sleeping tranquilly, and in order to prepare myself for breakfasting with Sir Walter Scott, I directed my steps towards the castle of Craig Millar, situated on an eminence at three miles distance from Edinburgh. This fine relic of warlike architecture, which dates from the fifteenth century, is, as it were, protected by several groupes of old trees. The happy combination of its decayed walls with their verdure has supplied the materials of a charming landscape painting to the Turner of Edinburgh, the Rev. J. Thomson.
But I occupied myself less with an examination of this dungeon keep flanked with turrets, with its battlemented walls, and the armorial devices which adorn them, than with the queen who once resided in a fortress now become the domain of a family of robins. Craig Millar has preserved the traces of that poetical Mary Stuart, who in her multiplied Scotch portraits, appeared, with her misfortunes