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ed me day and night. I am more indebted to a good constitution for having got over this attack, than to the drugs of an ignorant Turk, who called himself a physician. He would have been glad to have disowned the name, and resigned his profession too, if be could have escaped from the responsibility of ato tending me ; for my Albanians came the Grand Sig. nior over him, and threatened that if I were not entirely recovered at a certain hour on a certain day, they would take away his life. They are not people to make idle threats, and would have carried them into execution had any thing happened to me. You may imagine the fright the poor devil of a Doctor was in; and I could not help smiling at the ludicrous way in which his fears showed themselves. I believe he was more pleased at my recovery than either my faithful nurses or myself. I had no intention of dying at that time ; but if I had died, the same story would have been told of me as was related to have happened to Colonel Sherbrooke in America. On the very day my fever was at the highest, a friend of mine declared that he saw me in St. James's Street; and somebody put my name down in the book at the Palace, as having inquired after the King's health.
“Every body would have said that my ghost had appeared.”
6 But how were they to have reconciled a ghost's Writing ?” asked I.
I should most likely have passed the remainder. of my life in Turkey, if I had not been called home by my mother's death and my affairs," said he, "]
mean to return to Greece, and shall in all probability die there."
Little did I think, at the time he was pronouncing these words, that they were prophetic !
“I became a member of Drury-lane Committee, at the request of my friend Douglas Kinnaird, who made over to me a share of £500 for the purpose of qualifying me to vote. One need have other qualifications besides money for that office. I found the employment not over pleasant, and not a little dangerous, what with Irish authors and pretty poetesses. Five hundred plays were offered to the Theatre during the year I was Literary Manager. You may conceive that it was no small task to read all this trash, and to satisfy the bards that it was so.
“When I first entered upon theatrical affairs, I had some idea of writing for the house myself, but soon became a convert to Pope's opinion on that subject, Who would condescend to the drudgery of the stage, and enslave himself to the humours, the caprices, the taste or tastelessness, of the age ? Besides, one must write for particular actors, have them continually in one's eye, sacrifice character to the personating of it, cringe to some favorite of the public, neither give him too many nor too few lines to spout, think how he would mouth such and such a sentence, look such and such a passion, strut such and such a scene. Who, I say, would submit to all this ? Shakspeare had many advantages : he was an actor by profession, and knew all the tricks of the trade. Yet he had
but little fame in his day : see what Jonson and his contemporaries said of him. Besides, how few of what are called Shakspeare's plays are exclusively so!--and how, at this distance of time, and lost as so many works of that period are, can we separate what really is from what is not his own ?
“ The players retrenched, transposed, and even altered the text, to suit the audience or please themselves. Who knows how much rust they rubbed off? I am sure there is rust and base metal to spare left in the old plays. When Leigh Hunt comes, we shall have battles enough about those old ruffiani, the old dramatists, with their tiresome conceits, their jingling rhymes, and endless play upon words. It is but lately that people have been satisfied that Shakspeare was not a god, nor stood alone in the age in which he lived ; and yet how few of the plays, even of that boasted time, have survived, and fewer still are now acted ! Let us count them. Only one of Massinger's, (New Way to pay Old Debts,) one of Ford's,* one of Ben Jonson's,* and half a dozen of Slakspeare's; and of these last. · The Two Gentlemen of Verona' and · The Tempest' have been turned into operas, You cannot call that having a theatre. Now that Kemble has left the stage, who will endure Coriolabus ? Lady Macbeth died with Mrs. Siddons, and Polonius will with Munden. Shakspeare's Comedies are quite out of date ; many of them are insufferable to read, much more to see. They are gross food, only fit for an English or German palate ; they are indigestible to the French and Italians, the politest
* Of which I have forgot the pame be mentioned.
people in the world. One can hardly find ten lines together without some gross violation of taste or dea çency. What do you think of Bottom in the Midsummer Night's Dream ?' or of Troilus and Cressi. da's passion ?”
Here I could not help interrupting him, by saying ,“You have named the two plays that, with all their faults, contain, perhaps, some of the finest poetry," “ Yes,” said he,“ in Troilus and Cressida ;' " Prophet may you be ! "If I be false, or swerve a hair from truth. 4 When time is old, and hath forgot itself, # When water-drops have worn the stones of Troy, " And blind Oblivion swallow'd cities up, 6 And mighty states characterless are grated 46 To dusty nothing, yet let memory « From false to false, among false maids in love,
Upbraid my falsehood! when they've said, -As false « As air, as water, wind, or sandy earth, & As fox to lamb, as wolf to heifer's calf, " Pard to the hind, or stepdame to her son ; « Yea, let them say, to stick the heart of falsehood« As false as Cressid !'". These lines he pronounced with great emphasis and effect, and continued :
“ But what has poetry to do with a play, or in a play? There is not one passage in Alfieri strictly poetical ; hardly one in Racine.”
Here he handed me a prospectus of a new transa. lation of Shakspeare into French prose, and read part of the first scene in • The Tempest,' laughing inwardly, as he was used to do ; and afterwards produced a passage from Chateaubriand, contending that we have no theatre.
“ The French very properly ridicule our bringing in enfant au premier acte, barbon au dernier.' I was always a friend to the unities, and believe that subjects are not wanting which may be treated in strict conformity to their rules. No one can be absurd enough to contend that the preservation of the unities is a defect,- at least a fault. Look at Alfieri's plays, and tell me what is wanting in them. Does he ever deviate from the rules prescribed by the ancients, from the classical simplicity of the old mo• dels ? It is very difficult, almost impossible, to write any thing to please a modern audience. I was instrumental in getting up. Bertram,' and it was said that I wrote part of it myself. That was not the ease. I knew Maturin to be a needy man, and interested myself in his success: but its life was very feeble and ricketty. I once thought of getting Joanna Baillie's • De Montfort revived; but the windingup was faulty. She was herself aware of this, and wrote the last act over again ; and yet, after all, it failed. She must have been dreadfully annoyed, even more than Lady was. When it was bringing out, I was applied to, to write a prologue; but as the request did not come from Kean, who was to speak it, I declined. There are fine things in all the Plays on the Passions : an idea in De Montfort? struck me particularly ; one of the characters said that he knew the footsteps of another.**
** De Montfort.-Tis Rezenvelt : I heard bis well-known
foot! "From the first staircase, mounting step by step. W Freberg.---How quick ap ear thou hast for distant soupd! " I heard him not,"
Act II. Scene 2.