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When George Colman was truly George Colman the younger, he was one of the pleasantest men alive; witty, inventive, originall And as we always rather incline to the memory of what is estimable and excellent, than to a dejected contemplation of what is real and indifferent, we will just say a few words upon the dramatist that was, and get as hastily as possible over the dramatist that is. The peculiar forte of George Colman lay in his combination of extravagancies of character, in his breadth of humorous dialogue, and in his improbable but laughable situations. Ollapod, in the Poor Gentleman, is a compound (we should say a mirture) of medicine, cavalry, jargon, and sporting allusions, and with this whimsical complement of pursuits, the character whirls through five acts, “ever pleasing, ever new.” Dr. Pangloss, Lord Duberly, Lady Duberly, Mr. and Mrs. Brulgruddery, Caleb Quotem, are all the same violent yet whimsical caricatures of character, and all possess individually certain points which separate them from the mass of common men. Of the humour of the dialogue a thousand instances might be chosen; for there is no writer who surpasses George Colman in the merry extravagancies and increasing inventions of conversation. He piles load upon load of jolly exaggeration 1 Dennis Brulgruddery's account of himself in the first scene of John Bull, in which he relates to his servant Dan his birth, parentage, and education, is perhaps the richest building up of delightful lies and humorous enormities in all Colman's works. What a birth : What a parentage ' What an education “He is brought up to the church,”, for “he opens the pew doors:” he is “turned out for snoring at sermon time,”—for “he awakens all the rest of the congregation 1" What clusters of non sequiturs / Dan devours up his discourse with the greediness of a Desdemona—but still the house affairs and Mrs. Brulgruddery call him thence. Pangloss's lesson to Lord Duberly is certainly another and an admirable instance of outrageous and triumphanthumour. The broad ignorance of the Peer, contrasted with the pedantic and nice vanity and #. of the Tutor, makes the
est display of absurdities possible.
Of the ingenuity and pleasantry of the situations, each early play affords abundant proofs: but where such characters are created, the situations cannot avoid being powerful and striking. Dennis Brulgruddery, with his Irish wife and Yorkshire servingman, living on a heath in Cornwall, in a public-house, without a customer, is a farce of itself. Such a monstrous compound is by no means common. And Trudge's discovery of Wowski, in Inkle and Yarico, is very delightful and full of contrast. It is like a reverse of Titian's Mistress and the Negro. Dr. Pangloss’s contemplation of himself in a Tandem with a terrier between his legs, and Stephen's relation of the storming of the pigsty, and washing the little singed pigs in milk, are vivid descriptions of situations, which are quite as real and amusing as incidents themselves. This extension of situation to the second and third degree evinces the hand of the master. There is no pure and quiet comedy in George Colman's writings, no delicate delineations of the human mind in the trials and severities of life, or in its finer points of mirth; but he never affected these deeper accomplishments of dramatic writing, and it can therefore be no matter of accusation against him that he was deficient in them. He wrote to make mankind laugh; — and he succeeded beyond any other dramatic writer of any
There is one species of Drama for which George Colman has a strong predilection, and which we do not very greatly admire, and that is, the sentimental, half humorous, and half musical play; — such as the Mountaineers, the Surrender of Calais, the Battle of Hexham, and the Africans: —under this class indeed, but immeasurably inferior to its predecessors, comes the Law of Java. The anxiety to include all the talent of a theatre, must, we conjecture, have been the origin of this grasping and unnatural . of writing. Mr. Young, Mr. Kemble, and Mr. Mathews, and Mr. Liston, were in the receipt of salaries, and might as well be employed to the utmost, and therefore, desperate blank verse and broad humorous prose were jumbled together to allow of this assemblage ; tragic and comic actors on
the stage at once. The Mountaineers and the Surrender of Calais were the best of these nondescripts, but they were written by their author in all the freshness of his genius and his youth. The Africans was a tame and extravagant Opera, – but the dramatist was then old enough in his mind for retirement. There is a time when it is becoming in an actor to retire; there is also a time when it is no less becoming in an author to uit the stage. John Kemble and om Cribb have taken Nature's hint and quitted their laborious and noble professions; — George Colman the ounger has come forward in his later years, like Mendoza, to try a contest, with enfeebled powers, and to suffer a defeat. The Law of Java is a musical, serio-comic piece, in three acts, with very many characters, and few incidents. In humour, in spirit, in originality, it is decidedly unfit to be named with the previous works of its author, and we should have teen glad to see it published with another name. In Colman's real youth, he prefixed the name of Arthur Griffinhoof to some of his lively productions, and now, as if in the perversity of human nature, he glares out his true name, on pieces which Mr. Griffinhoof would have shuddered at. The plot, if plot it can be called which plot is none, is founded on the distresses of a young native of Macassar and his wife, who fall into the hands of the Emperor of Java. The lady is an unconquerable lady of the Emperor's Harem; and the husband, in his visits to his better half, is caught by the guards, and sentenced to death, which sentence is however commuted for a journey to the poison tree, the common punishment of Javanese criminals. He luckily meets with his father, a Hermit, at the entrance of the desert, and as happily obtains an urn of the tin-Velmo vegetable syrup, from a returning and dying criminal. The hero and his papa get back to court just in time to save the youthful wife, who is almost persecuted to a *plus. By an old law, it is discovered that the Emperor is bound to grant the criminal's request; and he, of course, requests the life of Zaide, his wife? The reader knows the seqūel. The intermediate scenes are
ten on purpose for Liston.
composed of captains of the guard, and flashy feeling dons:—and there is a sort of Henry Augustus Mug in an English servant, Pengoose, writWith the exception of this character, all else is monstrous, tedious, and feeble ! Pengoose is a travelling servant of Cambridge University, chosen by some student as a valet, and left destitute at Amsterdam—to find his way about the world as he can. He is fond of making memoranda for a tour; and in these “mems” consists all the humour of the character Liston was admirably lax and ridiculous in the part, and his flat face quite pointed all the blunt jokes of the author. The actors did their utmost for the piece; they seemed to remember George Colman the younger. Miss Tree was beautiful, and pathetically powerful in her acting of the Macassar wife; Miss Stephens was lively as her friend. Jones bustled through a young soldier with considerable adroitness, and Abbott looked portentous in the Emperor of Java. The scenery was not remarkably ood; and we do not anticipate a ong run for this “ last of the Romans.” DRURY LANE THEATRE. Mr. Kean has taken two new parts in the course of the last four weeks; Don Felix in the Wonder, and Cardinal Wolsey in Henry the Eighth. In the latter character, he wanted dignity of person, although his soul at times towered to an immeasurable height. In the former part, he was as gentlemanly, airy, and pleasant as the most polished comedian we ever saw in the part. He played Don Felix for the benefit of Miss Tidswell, who retired from the stage after forty years' hard service. Retirements begin to thicken. Liston is oing to quit! Mathews is o imself to America (where he wi be lost!).-Mrs. Davison is taking a final benefit—Miss Tidswell is gone ! —It is like a general shutting up of shops; and we only wait for the farewell addresses of Claremont and Chapman, to pull off our own critical caps, and retire ourselves. Why do not certain Magazines make their formal departures, and take benefits The vast quantity of materials which this month presents to our choice almost “puzzles the will.” Seldom, perhaps, has there been so much music “going” in London, and certainly never more of novelty: to the facts then without further preface. At the King's Theatre Mose in Egitto has been metamorphosed and brought out (with some slight additions from other works of Rossini) under the title of Pietro l'Eremita, and it is rendered very effective; no contemptible proof of the power of situation and circumstance in aiding art, for, as an Oratorio at Covent Garden, scarcely was there ever a more complete failure. “O, Sir,” said a conductor, as celebrated for his quaintness, aptitude, and power of illustration, as in the line of his profession, “it is a great matter for a man to be able to throw his arms and legs into a note,” and straightway Peter the Hermit starts up to confirm the worthy conductor. The scene is laid in Egypt, about the time of the tenth century, where the crusaders, prisoners of Noraddin (Zuchelli) are forbidden by him to depart, and the land of Nile is covered with miraculous darkness, the Divine p.” for the persecution of ietro (Cartoni) and the Christians. The scene is opened by Noraddin, whose apprehensions are excited by this visitation, and he promises the hermit to permit them to depart if the light be restored. Light instantly re-appears at the prayer of Peter. Orosmanes (3. the son of Noraddin, has secretly espoused Agia (Madame Camporese), a Christian convert; hence this prince, agitated by the fear of losing his beloved, represents Peter as a magician, and works upon his father to break his promise, and to compel the Christians to remain. He contrives, by the assistance of his agent, Ismeno, to excite a sedition, and the people demand the detention of the captives. Noraddin yields to their importunities in spite of the entreaties of Fatima (Madame de Begnis), his Sultana. The Christians being assembled for departure, under their leaders,
in their last numbers! l
REPORT OF MUSIC.
Pietro and Lusignano (Bogrez), near Damietta, Noraddin recalls his vow, and Pietro menaces a fresh punishment in the destruction of the city by fire, which is immediately fulfilled. The fluctuating Noraddin is again solicited in behalf of the Christians by Fatima, and she admits that a degree of conviction is mixed with her fears of the Deity who works such great marvels. Noraddin, seized with alarm at the impending conversion of the Sultana, promises to hasten their departure, threatening them at the same time with death if they linger. The Sultana announces this decree to Lusignano. At this moment Orosmanes enters, and learns from his father the return of an embassy, dispatched for the purpose of demanding the hand of an Arabian princess which has been pledged to Orosmanes. He receives this news, together with that of the meditated departure of the Christians, with the deepest melancholy. He seeks to conceal Agia, but is observed by Lusignano, who, at Pietro's desire, communicates the circumstance to Fatima. She pursues the fugitives to their subterraneous retreat, and brings them back. The length of the opera here occasions a considerable contraction of the entire drama. Some of the scenes are blended, much of the last part entirely omitted, and the catastrophe changed. The Christians and their opponents are all assembled, and Pietro is threatened with death by Orosmanes, who is himself struck dead by a thunderbolt at the moment when he is about to draw his sword to slay the hermit. The grief of Noraddin and Agia gives opportunity for some fine musical expressions, and the celebrated prayer, Daltuo stellato soglio, is abstracted from the omitted third act to conclude the piece. The general effect of the music is, perhaps, more excellent than its particular parts, though it is commonly esteemed to be among the best of Rossini's works. It is certainly the finest of any of his serious compositions which have been performed in this * The situations are often 2 U2
* highly productive of passion, and the music is exceedingly expressive. Of such a kind are the duets between Orosmanes and Agia, Noraddin and Fatima, and Noraddin and Orosmames. Some of the concerto pieces are also very beautiful. Mi manca la voce,” and Dal tuo stellato soglio, are fine combinations of melody and harmony. There are several duets, particularly one between Noraddin and his son, in which Zuchelli manifested fine science. Great praise is due to the singers. Camporese, in her recitatives, gave magnificent proof of her expressive power, and Curioni was very successful. This opera introduced Signor Zuchelli to an English audience, who is a novelty of some rank. His voice is a bass of most tremendous volume and extensive compass, yet scarcely so fine in its quality as that of Angrisani. He has considerable flexibility, but excels most in the sustained and declamatory parts. He is more defective in his shake than any performer we ever heard. Signor Zuchelli appeared at one of the opera concerts, but the stage is clearly his proper region. At the Ancient Concerts Handel's Why do the nations, and part of Polypheme's fine business were allotted to him. Signor Zuchelli speaks English better than most Italians (indeed he was born and remained some years in England), but the style seemed new to him, and he appeared to be alarmed and ill at ease. In the orchestra he therefore sang to less advantage than on the boards of the Ring's theatre. Another new, and even more attractive performance has been produced in the Otello of Rossini, given for Madame Camporese's benefit, on Thursday, last. The plot is considerably altered from that of Shak#. Otello is secretly married to esdemona, the daughter of Elmiro, a senator of Venice; she is designed for Roderigo, the son of the Doge.
Iago is a rejected lover of Desdemona, and he pretends to favour Roderigo. At the return of Otello from a triumphant expedition, Elmiro proposes Roderigo as a husband to Desdemona, when her attachment to Otello is discovered. Iago, by representing that a letter and a handkerchief, sent by Desdemona to Otello, are intended for Roderigo, works upon the Moor to determine on the murder of his wife, which he accomplishes by stabbing her in bed. Soon after, he is made acquainted with Iago's treachery, the pardon of the senate for his marriage, and Elmiro's consent; every thing promises happiness, when he undraws the curtain, exposes to view the corpse of Desdemona, and plunges the dagger into his own heart. A scream of horror from all the dramatis personae concludes the piece, in a manner quite new to the Italian stage. It is difficult to say which is the most powerful agent in this very effective drama, the music, the situation, the singing, or the acting; but we never felt so thoroughly disposed to admit the supremacy of musical tragedy as upon this occasion. The acting of Madame Camporese, and of Curioni (whose morning face, by the way, bears a very strong resemblance to the busts of Shakspeare) was superb, and their singing had more of true feeling than we ever remember to have witnessed since the days of Tramezzani in Sidagero, and of Grassini. The music is extremely difficult of execution, it is made up of divisions, and in compass is often terrible. It has less of melody than is common to Rossini. The translation of A poor Soul sat sighing, is heavy and tiresome, by the repetition of no less than four verses; nevertheless, the audiences of this house have very seldom, indeed, felt so deep an interest in an opera. It will, we presume, supersede Pietro. Signora Cinti is arrived from Paris, but has not yet appeared. Her
* This it was that gave rise to the late dispute between the two prima donnas. Madame Camporese opens the piece with the solo, Mi manca la voce, which words were no sooner pronounced than Madame de Begnis whispered loud enough to be heard by the singer, E vero! and the harmony is said to have been enforced by a return box on the ear from Madame Camporese. This part of the story we doubt, for Madame Camporese is as dignified in her manners as elevated in her profession. Her singing o: are certainly exalted by every other requisite more than by voice. So far De
beauty has hitherto been more celebrated than her singing. The opera subscription concerts have begun, but have not met very great support. At the second, which took place on the 6th of May, four German females, Mesdemoiselles Fransma, Dessaur, F. Praga, and E. Praga, sang a duet, an air, and finale, in Italian and in German, but they had not been sufficiently cultiwated to please in a country where the finest vocal talents of the world are at this moment concentrated. A not less singular novelty was the introduction of a French comedy, Frontin Mari garçon, between the acts of £he concert. We announced in our last report the performance of Messrs. Kiesewetter and Mazas, at the Philharmonic. The former violinist appears to have improved in delicacy and in facility of execution, in which he is transcendant, even since last season. He is a great favourite with the profession as well as the public. Mr. Mazas is powerful and rich in tone, and altogether an artist of the first rank. At M. Sapio's benefit concert he layed a concerto, wholly upon the ourth string. This extraordinary conceit is, we are told, the invention of Paganelli, an Italian violinist, of whom report speaks in the highest terms. M. Mazas accomplished his task in a masterly manner; the subject Di tanti palpiti, was pleasing, the execution powerful, yet meat. He took the harmonics with great truth of intonation, and with fine tone, and, upon the whole, we found much to admire, where we expected only surprise. Mr. Lafont, another accession to the violinists, is also come to England, and he purposes to #ive a grand concert at the King's Theatre in June. We have heard him in private, and he has a fine hand. His tone is particularly rich, and his playing is delicate in taste, and elegant in fancy. He appears to avoid the extremes of execution, and is content with exhibiting a bold, finished, and classical style. The Benefit Concerts have been uncommonly numerous and of the first order: never, perhaps, was there such a competition of talent. So mumerous indeed are the claimants for public favour, that, since the first week in May, not a single open night
was or is to be found for new comers. Mr. Greatorex and Mr. Sapio were compelled to share the same night. The Philharmonic and the Opera Concerts have the alternate Mondays; the Ancient Concert and Madame Catalani both take the Wednesdays. But Madame Catalani rules supreme. At her nights there have been present never less than 1000 persons, and the orchestra has exhibited the novel appearance of rows of ladies sitting rank above rank upon the steps erected for the musicians, who are secn to rise, as it were, out of agrove offeathers, flowers, turbans and diamonds, which obscure half their dimensions. These concerts have little to recommend them, except the GREAT 1Dol herself, and whatever is superadded is listened to with such lax attention, or rather with such utter disregard, that it were far better not to be in at all. Mr. Kellner, a bass singer, not absolutely new, but yet not much heard in London since his return from Italy, sang at the third. His comic duet with Begrez, All' idea di quel metallo, was murdered by the slowness of the time in which it was played; and indeed, it seemed, as Signor Arionelli says of marriage, “ quite out of his way." His voice is sound and good without being powerful, or indeed in any circumstance distinguished as pre-eminent. His manner is that of a man who understands thoroughly what he is about, but who is a little too ambitious to display all and more than all he is able to do. Thus his Italian song was injudiciously chosen, because it was continually deformed by notes in his falsette, (which mixture poor Arnold used to call “Bubble and squeak;”) and his own composition, The Goatherd of Appenzel, had the same defect. At this moment, perhaps, there is no place in the vocal department more necessary to be filled than that of a principal bass singer; and Mr. Kellmer seems to us to possess as many of the requisites as any of the candidates, but his success will materially depend upon his yielding his own prepossessions to the confirmed and established predilections of his hearers, and more especially to those of the conductors of concerts. Of Madame Catalani herself, we have so recently spoken at large that we could scarce