Ma. H. WALLACH'S attempt to give the Shaksperian drama a local habitation in Covent Garden has been attended with signal and speedy failure : two or three nights' trial sufficed to demonstrate the hopeless- ness of the experiment ; and the doors were shut upon SHAHSPERE at once—let us hope for ever. The exclusion of the "legitimate drama" from the two patent theatres is " a consummation devoutly to be wished" by every lover of SHAKSPERE and fine acting : their huge area is fit only for opera and spectacle ; and since every theatre in the kingdom is now privileged to perform SHAKSPERE'S plays, there is no longer a necessity for keeping up the costly farce of identifying the national drama with "the houses twain of Covent Garden and of Drury Lane."
This incident occurred at the close of last week ; and so silently— though it has since made some noise in the theatrical world—that it was not until we read the manager's announcement in our own adver- tising columns that we were aware of its occurrence : we could there- fore only advert to it, briefly, in a portion of our last week's impression. The turn given to the affair was that of a squabble between the manager and a section of his company. On Saturday Mr. WALLACE put forth an address to the public announcing that the first season of his manage. meat of Covent Garden was at an end—it having lasted not quite a fortnight, and that a "second season" would commence on Monday the 16th. The cause of this strange proceeding was mysteriously alleged to be, that the manager's plans had been " constantly thwarted and crippled, principally by those who should have been the first to aid and forward his views." The plain English of this was, " the actors had done it all:" -which of them were meant was evident, by the disappearance of the names of Messrs. VANDENHOFF, PHELPS, and ANDERSON, Mrs. WAR- HER, and Miss VANDENHOFF, from the bills. Thus, tragedy and its performers were at once got rid of; and the treasury was relieved from a drain upon its funds, entailing a "ruinous nightly loss." This was a bold and dexterous step : how far the conduct of the performers may have justified the manager in throwing the onus upon them, is not so obvious. He has at any rate promptly redressed his own grievances, and in so doing has given them occasion to complain in their turn. Mrs. WARNER and Mr. PHELPS have each published a reclamation : from their statements it would appear that they are not obnoxious to the imputations cast upon the body ; which, if believed, would, as the lady remarks, "shut the doors of managers against them." Where is the manager who has not been worried with the jealousies and in- ordinate pretensions of actors?—whose vocation from its very nature tends to foster the growth of vanity and caprice. We dare say that Mr. H. WALLACH has not escaped his share of these annoyances : but Mr. MACREADY, who had the same set of performers to deal with, managed to assign to each one his proper place, and to develop to the best possi- ble advantage their respective talents. The preponderating power and influence of the manager depends greatly upon his individual tact, judgment, and experience ; and the company do not seem to have had such confidence in Mr. WALLACH as to insure him their unqualified submission and cordial cooperation. It is not our province to enter into the merits of the dispute ; nor is it necessary to do so in order to come to the conclusion that they had nothing to do with the success or failure of the recent performances of SHAH SPERE. No possible mode of ap- portioning the principal parts in Othello, Macbeth, and Julius Cesar, between Messrs. VANDENHOFF, PHELPS, and ANDERSON, would have made these tragedies popular. If MACREADY'S Shaksperian revivals, which included the attractions of his name and talent, aided by a muse en sane the most complete and splendid ever witnessed, were unprofitable, it is not likely that representations every way inferior would prove remunerating. As for the com- pany throwing up their parts in one or two new play s, it would appear that they were not only justified in so doing, but that the manager ac- quiesced in their decision : Mrs. WARNER, however, denies baviug refused any part. The selection of such a play as Woman for the com- mencement of the season does not say much for the manager's judg- ment ; though, for aught we know to the contrary, it may have been the most likely of the pieces at his command. In short, neither actors nor manager could have averted failure : the success of such a forlorn hope would have been a miracle. The ruin of successive speculators will not convince the victims of a mania for managing a patent theatre that the evil is in the overgrown dimensions of the house, which nothing short of a pluenomenon can fill for a few nights together, and in the enormous nightly expenditure that crowded audiences alone can re- pay. Mr. 'WALLACE has retained his comedians ; and The Rivals was performed in a creditable manner on Tuesday : but it is not to be ex- pected that a tolerable performance of a comedy that every playgoer
knows by heart will draw people from their fireside enjoyments. No- thing short of novelty and excellence combined will fill one of these huge theatres ; and the houses are so big that then one half of the au- dience can appreciate only the spectacle. The juvenile corps known on the Continent as " Les Enfans Castelli," who were announced to appear at the Princess's, are engaged at Covent Garden : this is a novelty in its way, and we hope for the manager's sake it may deservedly prove attractive—he is justified in resorting to any kind of entertainment that his licence will allow and the public approve.
The new act of Parliament, which came into working operation only last week, has completely changed the condition of theatrical affairs ; though no results as yet denote the extent of the change. All the licensed theatres in the kingdom are put on an equal footing ; and are at liberty to keep open all the year round, and perform any drama sanctioned by the Chamberlain, subject to the author's claim for remu- neration. We counted no fewer than seventeen theatres now open nightly, including three tavern "saloons," which have been licensed for theatrical performances, but are no longer allowed to furnish their au- diences with beer and spirits : add to this number three others not open, and we have twenty playhouses in London and the suburbs. Yet not one of them advertises SHAHSPERE or tragedy ; and only at the Haymarket and Covent Garden are regular comedies performed. Opera and spectacle, melodrama and farce, are the popular entertainments, from Drury Lane to the Albert Saloon—from Marylebone to White- chapel—from Sadler's Wells to the Surrey. As yet, however, the Minor managers have not had time to avail themselves of their new privileges : but now that Melpomene is turned adrift from Covent Garden, some one more ambitions than his fellows may offer her a home. Whoever should be the first to try the experiment of repre- senting tragedy in the most finished style possible on a small stage, would be most likely to succeed. Another year or two, in all proba- bility, will bring about that desirable result of the new law, the forma- tion by each manager of a compact and well-selected company for the performance of a particular class of entertainments, which he would be thus enabled to produce in the highest perfection. This system works well in Paris, where the stage is most flourishing ; and if any thing can revive the drama in this country, its adoption here would be most likely. England cannot boast such talent either among actors or authors ; but by concentrating and classifying what we have, its efficacy would be so much increased that its amount would appear greater. At the Princess's, where opera and vaudeville have hitherto prevailed, an attempt has this week been made in comedy, for the purpose of in- troducing a young candidate for public favour in a class of characters that has remained without a representative since the days of Mrs. Joa- DAN—the joyous, impulsive romps and hoydens. The Country Girl, a stage-adaptation of WYCHERLY'S unactable comedy The Country Wife, was selected for the debut of Miss CLARA SEYTON, in the part of Peggy, that inimitable compound of rustic simplicity and roguish cunning.
Miss SEYTON surprised and pleased the audience with the spright- liness and abandon of her acting : she evinced that thorough enjoy- ment of the spirit and humour of the part which denotes genuine impulse and natural talent; and though het. first effort is deficient in the delicacies of art, and marred by the fault incidental to novices...- overacting—there are indications of powers that may be matured into excellence of no common kind. The chief defect of her personation was that the simplicity of the country girl appeared to be assumed, not natural ; though many traits of artless naiveté were admirably given : it was too much like a clever town-bred girl playing the rustic hoyden, and overdoing the simpleton. Miss SEYTON delivered the dialogue with remarkable distinctness and significance ; every point told with its due effect. But she unfortunately pitched her voice so high that it sounded sharp, thin, and strained, especially in contrast with her lower tones, which are full and sweet : this is one of those faults of inexperience that study and practice may correct. The young lady was much applauded, and the performance was announced for repetition. A long continuance of the Country Girl, however, is unlikely. The audience, though amused with a lively incident and a touch of nature now and then, took little interest in the play—for the very sufficient reason that it is unintelligible as a representation of life : the state of society and manners depicted in the original comedy is so completely obsolete, that the traces of vicious frivolity yet remaining in the muti- lated version, combined with the medley of modern and old-fashioned costumes, allusions, and forms of speech, rendered the whole incon- gruous. The ballet continues to be the most popular portion of the entertain- ments at Drury Lane ; and its attractions have been introduced into the new opera, if not with propriety, at least with scccess, for almost every thing was or would have been encored. The story of The Favourite (see the paper that follows, for a critical notice of the music) resembles that of The Bridal, an adaptation by SHERIDAN KNOWLES of a play of BEAUMONT and FLETCHER 8, in which MACREADY and MTS. WARNER used to horrify people at the Haymarket. Its development in the opera, however, is not so startling. CaanoTTA Gana executed the pas in which she made her triumphant debut in Paris: the effect was wonder- ful. Beautiful scenery also lends its aid. A brace of MORTON farces have been let • off this week • one at each of the great theatres. Neither of them hung fire, but both ex- ploded smartly, and the crack of the practical jokes awakened echoes of laughter from all sides of the house. My Wife's Come is the Drury Lane title ; and Mrs. STIRLING, (dressed as in the Eton Boy,) HARLEY, MEsnows, and SELBY, make the fun. The Covent Garden piece is Slight Mistakes; and KEELEY, as an officious friend, is the blunderer whose extravagant " mistakes " create abundance of merriment. To tell what people laughed at, would only suggest doubts as to the possi- bility of their being so entertained.
An indifferent version of a French military melodrama, called the Roll of the Drum, was produced at the Adelphi on Monday, and showed the new debutante, Miss WooLoaR, to possess talent for serious as well as comic acting, and to be as charming a songstress as she is a dancer. She plays the heroine, a Countess, who to escape the Revolutionary_ tribunal becomes a adder, and as such is married by " roll of drum" to a common soldier, also a noble in disguise. Her tenderness and pathos are no less genuine than her gayety ; though arch and playfhl coquetry is her forte. The song with which she lures her husband away from his post to enable her brother to escape was ravishing enough to have effected its object. Miss STANLEY played a settler, her rival, very cleverly.