« ZurückWeiter »
ceremony, and duly considered the nature of those accompaniments which would be most suitable to the occasion, the unfledged bard produces the . Pleasures of Anarchy' to vary the choice amusements of the Jubilee.
But Mr. Newnham found out that, though he might tender his poetry to the public, he could not-inoculate them with a taste for its beauties; there was something in the time or the clime-somehow or another the sheets of the poem and the shelves of the publisher, mutually maintained such a perfect good understanding, that all thoughts of separation between them were entirely abandoned. Country air was now the resource of Mr. Newnham; and, at his rural retreat, he exhibited to the world in general, and to authors in particular, an example of philosophy and an ingenuity in the application of the principles of political economy, such as we hope will prove useful to both. "What Phæbus,' he says with admirable candour, ‘may be said in every way to have refused, Vulcan was compelled to take—some copies daily fed the author's fire: others were applied to a thousand different offices. A very large part of the first edition was spread on a four-acred field immediately in front of the Rectory House at East Horsley, in the County of Surrey, and produced a large crop froin the previously inipoverished soil ;'--' thus procuring,' adds our author, by abundance of grass, that which, when less of an agriculturist, he fondly expected the heights of Parnassus might be made to produce.
Was Mr. Newnham cast down by this agricultural diversion ? By no means. He dared the town once more, and sent his poem to Covent Garden Theatre. The proprietors restored it to the author with the comment that it would not succeed in representation. Could man or poet bear this? Mr. Newnham endured it. He had a refuge—to send the work to a publication, at that time existing for the reception of condemned dramas, which literary asylum was entitled " The Rejected Theatre.” But Mr. Newnham ultimately resolved to save his beloved offspring from such a fate. “S’death he prints” it once more-causes the moderate number of 150 copies to be struck off, and ushers it into the world in the entirely new and interesting character of a second edition. The middle of the year 1815 was the period chosen for the second coming of the Pleasures of Anarchy. Most unfortunately, what should just start up at the moment but the Battle of Waterloo! The public is always caught by glare. Every body talked of the victory, but no one said a word of the drama. We now deliberately take it upon us to state, that Mr. Newnham's book would have carried the day hollow at the time but for Wellington and Buonaparte.Under the very untoward circumstances which thus unexpectedly arose,—that is, the battle of Waterloo becoming the successful lion instead of the Pleasures of Anarchy,'--the publishers are moved to expend the capital sum of one pound eight shillings sterling in advertising the same. Notwithstanding this profuse expenditure, such was
it upon us tsaid a word och are. Eve
the rún which the Waterloo excitement produced, that not a single copy of the second edition was disposed of. Many were the devices of our author in such unhappy straits, and direful their result. • Occasionally,' he says, 'copies were anonymously dispersed, some by being left at the doors of, or forwarded to Members of both Houses of Parliament, eminent divines, schoolmasters, &c.'. • A ray of hope at last broke on the gloom of his despair. His present Majesty's coronation approached. • An excellent time,' exclaimed the indefatigable bard," • for a third edition.' He goes to a bookseller, Mr. Hone, on Ludgate-Hill, by whom his overtures are evaded. From that individual he transfers his addresses to a certain society, long since discontinued, called the “ Constitutional Association,” and in vulgar circles entitled “The Bridge-Street Gang.” The treatment of Mr. Newnham by this association is soon told. They kept his poem for a year, (he kept it himself more than ten) and they sent it back without a word of commentary. Praise or even politeness from such a quarter our author would have dispensed with : a harsh criticism on the work-downright abuse of it even would have been taken as a compliment; but the silence of the defunct society was unpardonable, and deserves the full measure of Mr. Newnham's posthumous indignation.
Our author seems now to have become hardened. He gave himself up to a reprobate sense as it were. Accordingly, in an evi! moment, as we think, he lays his drama at the feet of the manager of the Surrey Theatre-Olim reges atque tetrarchas, nuncheaven only knows what. The letter which conveys the humiliating proposal is at once so characteristic of the writer, and so faithful in its history, that we do not hesitate to transcribe it."" SIR,
May 15, 1820. "“ I called this afternoon, about a quarter past three, at the Surrey Theatre, but, on application at the box-office, and after being referred to a person styling himself your Porter, I was told I could not see you without giving in my name, which I declined doing. My object was to lay the enclosed Poem before you, in order that you might peruse it, and determine whether it would be likely to succeed, if brought out, in its present shape, or with any after-pruning, on your boards, as a tragedy.
"" The history of a work cannot be essential to the forming a correct judgment of its intrinsic worth. But I am not at all disposed to conceal from you, that the career of this has, hitherto, been unsuccessful. Two Editions, without the Author's name, have been printed, and both were withdrawn, very soon, a few copies only having been sold. It was also offered, Dec. 20, 1810, to the Manager of Covent Garden Theatre, who replied January 4, 1811, in the following words : « The Proprietors present their compliments to ........, they have read the enclosed tragedy with much attention, and are of opinion that it will not succeed in representation.'
"" Some time after the Second Edition came out, a copy was, next, left at Drury Lane Theatre : but the opinion of the Manager there was never received.
ooo I have now, Sir, to inform you upon what conditions the work was offered to both of the major Theatres. The Author was represented as not unwilling to give them the exclusive liberty of acting it, for the remainder of the season, without any other remuneration than the satisfaction arising from the diffusion of sentiments which he thought might be productive of good : and seeing nothing, latterly, in the progress of mankind to make him fonder of Anarchy, he is not unwilling to treat with yourself upon similar terms.
"“ You will, doubtless, be so obliging as to seal the Poem up, and to direct your Porter or Box-keeper to deliver it, either with or without your reply, on Friday next, at three o'clock in the afternoon, to the gentleman who was refused admittance to you to day.
"I am, Sir, Yours, &c. LO" P.S. In the copies sent to the major Theatres, there were no parts cut, or leaves pasted, as in the present case. The whole Poem appeared, which might have occasioned some confusion in forming a jadgment of the portion selected for representation. A Prologue and Epilogue tending to yive much relief to the horrors of the story might soon be written !! :“ To the Manayer of the Surrey Theatre.” ? - What a blessing is a good conscience. The worthy author, in a relenting mood, acknowledges the tragic excesses of his pen, and, with a compunctious earnestness, to be remembered when the cause of his penitence is for ever forgotten, he makes the tender of a balsamic Prologue, and of an Epilogue of equal virtue, "to relieve the horrors of the story !”
And yet it is wonderful that the keen instinct of a bookseller would not lead him to an alliance with the author of such a work. Full surely “ Paradise Lost” is not any thing like so taking a title, by one thousand degrees, as the *Pleasures of Anarchy. – The delightful incongruity of the name alone ought to ensure the triumph of the work. But the book has its other claims :—Being, firstly, the Pleasures of Anarchy, it is secondly a Poem : thirdly, it is a Dramatic Poem : fourthly, it has a preface, notes, and an appendix : fifthly, it has arrived at the third edition without scarcely a single one of its predecessors being sold : and sixthly and lastly, it is illustrated by a map—a real unexceptionable map--a graphic delineation of locality, meant to elucidate the abstruse geography of the scenes. Now to complete the Cyclopedic character of this very singular production, we humbly presume to propose that the tragedy should be set to music. We love to behold a congregation of the muses : and Melpomene, if we do not mistake, would take as a great kindness the presence of Euterpe on such an occasion.
With respect to the dramatic poem itself, we feel that it would be a profanation to notice it in terms of inadequate length. At least a review and a half would be required by the justice of the case. We resign ourselves then to the fate which forbids us to dwell on Mr. Newnham's production.
ART. IX.-An Historical Account of My Own Life, with some Reflections
on the Times I have lived in. (1671—1731.) By Edmund Calamy, D.D.; now first printed. Edited and illustrated with Notes, Historical and Biographical, by John Towill Rutt. 2 vols. 8vo. London : Col
burn and Bentley. 1829. MR. Rutt is already well-known to the public for his very valuable edition of Burton's Parliamentary Diary, a work which deservedly places him among the first of those useful and laborious men of letters to whom the historian owes so many advantages in his pursuit of authorities. The Life and Times of Calamy, is calculated to confirm the good opinion we have already formed of Mr. Rutt's industry and ability as an editor, and we are glad to see a work of so useful a kind, come from the hands of a gentleman so well adapted to secure its correctness.
The celebrated subject of this valuable auto-biography, was, in many respects, the first man of his day among the Non-Conforinists, and it was a period when to occupy so conspicuous a station among any of the great divisions, either religious or political, argued the possession of talents far above the ordinary stamp. No age has bced more conspicuous for intellectual activity, than that in which Calamy lived." There have been many periods, in which popular passion was equally or more awake-many in which geniuses of a higher order have spoken, and written, and given a more fervid and striking character to the age and country upon which they were thrown ; but we know of none which has exhibited so much ability employed upon the practical questions of religion or politics - none when so many men of talent appeared at the same time on the field of public controversy, to dispute every debateable spot with the ardour and resolution of a mortal combat. A violent and gloomy enthusiasm reigned in the first days of the Commonwealth, and was succeeded by a licentiousness which induced men to regard the proprieties of religion with contempt. It was possible that the proAligacy, the rude and boisterous merriment which thus banished thought and piely from the kingdom for some time after the restoration, might be followed by a total subversion of manners—so total as to prevent their reformation for ages; or by a sudden return to the forced and unnatural austerity from which the nation had only escaped by a desperate plunge into moral anarchy. But providentially for England, the convulsions which had so nearly shaken her from the foundation of social order, and left her without either liberty or religion, were terminated in neither of these ways. The puritanism, which in the time of the Cromwellians had been such a mixture of piety with fanatical ignorance, and of mad zeal with selfish hypocrisy, retained, at the period of which we are speaking, only a love of independence as its distinguishing feature, and with the change from paritans to independents, the children of the men who had expected to see Christ descend from heaven and proceed
the Chiabove or in de retained, ne tical ignorance, wellians bedrays.
at their head as a king, with sword and sceptre, became a rational and politic body, combining with their sectarianism a manly, but temperate, desire for civil liberty, and seeking to obtain the advantage over their opponents by the legitimate weapons of controversy.
While the character of the Puritans was undergoing this mcdification, the ruling vices of the nation, which had been introduced during the disgraceful reign of Charles II., were gradually losing their hold on the community. Instead of sinking deeper into licentiousness, the people began to turn their thoughts again to the situation of the country, and to concern themselves with questions regarding their rights and privileges. A large and powerful party still represented the old royalists, whose devotion to the cause of monarchy had, for some time, legalized the greatest corruption of manners; but it was not by their violence, or their loud and clamorous contentions, that they evinced their attachment to the opinions of their loyal ancestors. They carried themselves as men who defended the throne out of principle, and not by the impulse of a fiery enthusiasm; and pursued their ends by measures which, though not seldom unpopular, were gradually yielding to more sober and enlightened principles.
Such being the change which had taken place in the temper of the two great parties into which the kingdom was divided, the country was placed in a situation admirably calculated to draw forth whatever talent it possessed, and, from the same cause, men of ability were almost sure of becoming public men from their first entrance into life, and of devoting their time and abilities to the defence of some particular set of opinions. Though the period, therefore, which these Memoirs embrace, has no claims to be called the Augustan age of our literature, and greater men have since lived than most of those who then flourished either as statesmen or divines, still it is worthy of study for the numbers of strong, active minded men who then wrote; for the ability with which public questions were discussed; the earnestness which belonged to the controversial spirit of the age, and the striking manner in which the power and force of the opposite opinions were balanced, so as to prevent either the one party or the other from gaining an ascendency which might throw the nation back upon its former difficulties. As illustrating these points in our history, the life of Calamy is highly deserving of attention, and we refer our readers to it, as containing much useful information, delivered in a plain and pleasant manner, and as having that great charm which can only belong to narratives of events by cotemporary writers. Having said this much respecting the general importance of the work, we shall endeavour to give our readers some idea of the amusing details with which its pages are occasionally occupied. “I have taken a particular pleasure,' says Calamy,‘in reading the published epistles and lives of such as came into the world either before or since my