10 AUGUST 1872, Page 24


The Recollections and Reflections of J. R. Manche: 2 vols. (Tinsley.) —The book seems to be of formidable size, yet no one should complain of its length. Six hundred pages or so of autobiographical reminiscen- ces, from one whose fertile pen has produced not much less than two hundred dramatic pieces, some of them regular " five-act comedies," ar not an immoderate demand upon the reader, and Mr. Planchd has seen BO much and done so much that he is fully entitled to so much atten- tion. f Nor will the reader find it difficult to give. Mr. Planchfi writes in a lively and pleasant style, and having plenty to tell, knows how to tell it. His book, indeed, is a valuable contribution to the materials of theatrical history. He has been himself one of the moat uniformly successful of writers for the stage, a master in more than one kind of dramatic writing, and the inventor of the Classic Extravaganza." And he has done it substantial service of anotherkind. "Costume" has been his forte. He first, we believe, made it really correct ; not an approximation merely to the fashion of the time represented, but the fashion itself. From a Court suit of the day to something antique was the first step, from the something antique to the dress or armour really worn was the next, and for this our author has to be thanked. And he has to be thanked also for doing much towards securing to dramatic writers their fair share of remuneration. A wrong of his own shows what injustice they had to endure. It was the practice of music publishers to take songs from the stage without any remuneration to the writer. The famous " Gentle Zitella" increased, says Mr. Planche., the price of the business which Mr. Chappell was then buying of Mr. Latour by £500, and brought to the new possessor £1,000 the first year, but the writer never got a sixpence from it. Apart from their general interest, these two volumes are full of stories, which, like other stories, are good, bad, and indifferent. Here is one very characteristic of Hood:— " In his last illness, reduced as he was to a skeleton, he noticed a very large mustard-poultice which Mrs. Hood was making for him, and ex- claimed, ' 0 Mary, Mary! ' that will be a great deal of mustard to a very little meat."

Here is Theodore Hook driving home one summer morning :— " I have been very ill," said Hook, " for some time, and my doctors told me never to be out of doors after dark, as the night air was the worst thing for me.' I have taken their advice. I drive into town at four o'clock every afternoon, dine at Crockford's,' or wherever I may be invited, and never go home till this time in the morning. I have not breathed the night air for the last two months."

This is a smart saying of Lady Blessington, grievously offended at not being asked by Louis Napoleon, then President, to the Tuileries, a thing, of course, impossible, even to his gratitude, which has never failed old friends. The Prince overtook her one day in the Champs Elysdes "Comptez-vons rester longtemps ? " he unluckily asked. "Et yeas?" was the reply.