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An Account of the Value of all Imports into, and all Exports from, Ireland, for three Years, ending 5th January, 1811.
Year ending 5th Jan. 1809, 7,129,057 11 12 5,696,897 5 5 235,694 6 113
1811, 6,564,578 8 0 5,471,012 15 04 627,472 16 101
Note. The real value of Irish Produce and Manufactures exported in the Year ending the 5th of January, 1811, computed at the Average Prices current, amounted to
£10,781,050 8 11
Inspector-General's Office of Imports and Exports,
H. B. HAUTENVILLE.
We concluded our last year's dramatic article with the adjustment of the extraordinary contest, between the public and the proprietors of Covent-Garden theatre, concerning the prices of admission, when the concessions enforced by the committee at the Crown and Anchor tavern were reported to the audience by Mr Kemble; and after some little further explanations and promises, they declared themselves satisfied, and suffered the business of the theatre to proceed as usual. The delay, expence, and difficulties, however, in which this disgraceful agitation had involved the concern, has proved a considerable hinderance to the production of novelties, and we shall have but little to notice, which, either from its originality or merit, deserves more than the passing record of the diurnal prints, and shall proceed to touch upon such things only as, from their peculiar features, may serve best to designate the dramatic genius and public taste of the times.
The most remarkable circumstance in the beginning of the present year, was a dinner given at the Crown and Anchor tavern to about 300 persons, convened by advertisement from the committee for managing the late O. P. fund, Mr Clifford in the chair.
These self-established conductors and protectors of the public concerns and interest, were avowedly the same persons who managed the subscription for defraying the expences of Sir Francis Burdett's election for West. minster. This dinner they termed, by way of distinction, a 66 Reconciliation Dinner," and to this feast of amity were invited, Mr Kemble, and Mr Henry Harris, son to the veteran proprietor of Covent-Garden theatre. This was the young man who, in the heat of those times of fury and danger, we mentioned in our last year's Register as having been weak enough to introduce boxers and blackguards into the theatre, to quell the tumult by their pugilistic prowess, and who, in the same spirit of folly, vainly endeavoured to terrify an angry multitude by the introduction of fire-engines upon the stage, and by setting open all the trap-doors in the formidable array of pitfalls, in case of an assault from the audience; thus contributing, with foolish inso. lence, to fan the flame which had been at first unhappily lighted. From such a specimen of the policy and taste of the young manager, we cannot augur very favourably of the future character of this theatre, when it shall become entirely abandoned to his regulation.
In perfect union with the character of this reconciliating assembly, the following are a few of the toasts which were given from the chair :"The voice of the people." "The ancient and unalienable judicature of the pit."
And, in allusion to the venerable law chief who tried the cause of Clifford v. Brandon, for false imprisonment, in which the jury gave the plaintiff five pounds,
"May a browbeating judge ever be opposed by an enlightened and impartial jury." This toast, say the papers, was drank with cheers, and with unbounded enthusiasim.
"The Bill of Rights; and may condign punishment await those magistrates who dare to infringe it, by demanding excessive bail."
A Mr Bonner, formerly the deputy-controller of the general post-office, endeavoured, in the course of the evening, to avail himself of the professed spirit of this peace-making dinner, and interceded with them in behalf of poor Brandon, who, in the exercise of his duty, had been, by their influence, discharged from his situation; but Mr Bonner was instantly stopped by the ferocious uproar of this amicable assembly, and assured that the gentlemen who had formed the committee and called this meeting, had voted it improper that any thing of the nature now proposed should be brought forward on the present occasion. Mr Brandon appealed, however, from these gentle delegates to the public at large, through the medium of the daily prints, and, by an apologetical but manly letter, effected his peace with them, and his restoration to office.
From this time to the close of the
season in July, and the re-opening of the theatre in September, nothing more of a riotous disposition was displayed, when, from an injudicious attempt, upon the part of the proprietors, to depart from the terms of the compact mutually agreed upon, we shall have to register a renewal of the public anger, and a very narrow escape from those consequences of po pular fury, which had been so lately and with so much difficulty eluded.
In the mean time, of new productions we have but few to mention, and those but of light regard, and of new performers none. One or two, indeed, have been transplanted from the provincial nurseries of the king dom; but they were such as were merely necessary to fill up vacancies in the common productions of the garden, and have taken their place among them, claiming neither peculiar care nor notice from their excellence or rarity.
But about this time that extraordi nary phenomenon in the art, Cooke, exhibited fresh instances of those eccentric irregularities which even yet have not weighed down the favour of the public, created by his uncommon abilities, and presented himself before the audience, as Horatius, in the Ro man Father, in a state of utter intoxication. After a few vain efforts at intelligible articulation, he made his exit as he made his entrance, reeling, and amidst the loud and general expression of severest displeasure. A few nights after he again disap pointed the house by not appearing at all, as he had been announced, in the character of Shylock; the play, however, was not changed, and an opportunity was given to Mr Charles Kemble, who supplied his place, to
⚫ Sir James Mansfield. See Edinburgh Annual Register, Vol. 2. Part 2. p. 370.
gain considerable credit by his correct, chaste, and classical, though somewhat tame performance of the part. This strange, though by no means new conduct of Mr Cooke's, took place on the 28th of December 1809; and on the 8th of January, in the present year, he was advertised to perform his favourite character of Richard III. The house, as usual on such occasions, overflowed, and whistles, catcalls, and every noise denouncing punishment for his late behaviour, "gave dreadful note of preparation" for the evening's storm.The overture passed, the curtain rose, and in the midst of these appalling symptoms of public vengeance, appeared the penitent performer, bow. ing with profoundest reverence; and with a calm submissive air, and a countenance tremulously intercessive, yet not without a slight tinge of the sly, sarcastic, and droll hypocritical pathos of his assumed character, he uttered the following apology for his misconduct :
"LADIES AND GENTLEMEN,-It is utterly impossible for me to convey to you, in sufficiently becoming language, my sense of the justly mortifying situation in which I stand before you: I, however, beg permission to say a few words in pal liation, if not in justification, of my recent conduct. As to the 28th of Decem ber, I did not know, till just as I had arrived in town, that I was appointed to perform that evening, and afterwards, I do confess, I forgot it."-[After a loud and irresistible interruption of several minutes of mingled laughter and hisses, Mr Cooke proceeded]-"On Thursday last, I was really so ill through the day, that at length I found myself totally incapable of playing" -[Here again he was interrupted by strong murmurs of incredulous discontent and ridicule.]-"I do not of ferthis, Ladies and Gentlemen, as an apology, you cannot receive it as such; but I do most confidently trust, that, should
you once more restore me to that place in your favour which I lately held, I shall not again".
The concluding part of the sentence was lost amidst an universal burst of applause, and generous outcry of pardon. The social aberrations of the private man, which have yet left unimpaired the public abilities of the actor, were instantly forgotten,-remembrance alone of the delight he had so often imparted, and expectation of the evening's renewal of it, remained, and MrCooke retired to await the moment of his re-entrance in character, completely restored to favour and forgiveness.
We should scarcely deem it fair to perpetuate such defections in our records, and were they accidental and of rare occurrence there could be no plea imagined for the mention of them; but in the present instance, they are in a manner embodied with the very fame and existence of the actor; nay, some have gone so far as to assert, that his bacchanalian eccentricity forms one of the principal sources of his reputation. In this, as in most assertions of the kind, there is a mixture of fact and fancy; but true it is, that Mr Cooke altogether presents so singular an example of great talent unimpaired by such practices, and of the unbounded possession of public favour, continually sported with, yet never lost; incessantly forfeited, only to be more and more strongly re-established, that we ourselves should be deficient did we not notice it.
At his share of public favour no one can wonder, who considers his professional powers, somewhat harsh and unrefined 'tis true, but mighty, genuine, and original; and if it may sometimes be a subject of astonishment that this favour has not been deteriorated by a practice which other exam
ples have shown to reduce genius to a degree of contempt, and to be tolerated only through compassionate regret for the genius which it debases, it should be remembered, in Mr Cooke's behalf, that his encroachments upon sobriety have never been known to be accompanied by those habits of vulgar and vicious degradation, which, through the loss of self-respect, loses respect for the public; and the public therefore have considered them as erratic habits of a social disposition, which have still left without serious injury the character of the man, and the faculties of the actor. His deference to the feelings and opinions of the audience in his worst offences has never been forgotten; his apologies, though sometimes a little embarrassed and ludicrous, are never self-degrading, but simple, respectful, and sufficiently candid; and his appearance and manner, when himself, is always imposing, gentlemanly, and dignified. It is not therefore unlikely, that extraordinary and excessive ability like his, joined to some very excellent and amiable traits of character, should mingle an affection with the public admiration, which is ever ready to forgive his faults; and that a curiosity to witness the operation of such habits upon such talents, to see his extrication from his difficulties and his reinstatement in favour, may have been a great additional source of attraction; and amidst crowds thus attracted, numbers will be found, who, confounding eccentricity with genius, will believe and assert, not only that the one cannot exist without the other, but that they are one and the same thing. All we shall say more is, that, as Mr Cooke has not had sufficient precaution and management to hinder him from showing his social habits along with his theatrical
VOL. III. PART II.
exertions, we wish that the former may still continue to be as harmless to the latter as they have hitherto proved; and that he may subdue them, to the final preservation of his professional, intellectual, and moral character.
The first new piece produced this year was another of those flimsy melo-dramas, which eke out the want of good sense, good writing, and legitimate dramatic interest, with interpolations of music, splendour of dress, decoration, scenery and processions ;-good accessories, but miserable substitutes. The success of the Exile prompted Mr Reynolds to another attempt of the same kind; but his fickle and flimsy Pegasus had tired in the first heat, and hobbles but lamely through the second. The character of the Free Knights, or the Edict of Charlemagne, for so is this compound of glittering inanity entitled, bears a considerable degree of similitude, in conduct, and composition, to the Exile; but seems, compared even with that, like the dregs of a half-finished glass filled up with luke-warm water, and diluted to nauseous insipidity. The serious interest and the comic relief, are but a faint and false echo of those of his former production.
The story, which is extremely simple; may be thus briefly stated:
An usurper gets possession of the throne of Westphalia, by the attempted murder of the rightful heiress, Teresa, while an infant; she however is preserved, (by one of those miracles which are always at hand upon such occasions,) and brought up in obscurity. The usurper discovers her, and procures her condemnation by the secret tribunal of Free Knights. The Abbot of Corbey, however, protects her, the power of pardon and sanc