A DRAMATIST'S BENEFIT.
SHERIDAN KNOWLES took a benefit at the Olympic on Thursday; when the Hunchback was performed for the first time at that little theatre. We never relished this delightful play more, nor saw it acted better, though we have witnessed its representation many times. KNOWLES looked admirably as the Hunchback. His head and the varied expressions of his face were studies for a painter. These are lost on a wider stage. The scenes between Julia and Master Walter were perfectly real: it was not KNOWLES and ELLEN TREE, but the father and daughter. Those who have seen the Hunchback even many times, should see it again here. They will find, as we did, new beauties in it.
After the play, KNOWLES appeared in the character of Lubin in the Quaker; the first time of his attempting a vocal part in public. His acting was easy, natural, and spirited ; his earnestness and feeling made thecharacter quite another thing than the insipid rehearsals of vocalists have made it ; and he sang with manly heartiness. We hope KNOWLES will extend his. range of acting. In any cha- racter where nature, feeling, spirit, and energy are required, more than polished elegance of manneror smooth declamation, he would. be eminently successful. What a genuine Walter he would be in the Children in the Wood ! But the number of dramatic charac- ters congenial to his nature is not small.
The house, it will have been anticipated, was a bumper : the small Olympic could hardly hold all the friends of KNOWLES; much less all who were anxious to testify their admiration of the
author of Virginius, Caius Gracchus, William Tell, Alfred, the Hunchback, and the Wife : the pit overflowing, the boxes crammed, could certainly not contain the public eager to make amends to the author for the loss e has sustained by the closing of Covent Garden upon one of the most successful dramas ever brought on the stage, and which has been acted almost nightly by the com- pany at the Olympic. We are sorry and ashamed to say this was not the case. The pit even was not full; in the upper boxes there was plenty of room ; and the half-dozen private boxes were not all profitably filled. KNOWLES has probably not lost by his night, but to call it a benefit, is a mockery. It was pretty much the same on the last similar occasion. It is not wonderful that we have so few good dramatists, since this is the reward of our most— we may almost say our only—successful dramatic writer. Had a French dancer taken a benefit, Covent Garden would not have held all that would have flocked thither. But a poet, who is as it were upholding the drama by his genius—who is worse paid for a fine play, the work of months of thought and labour, than an Italian singer for a single night's performance—and who is forced upon the stage as an actor, in order to support his family, nay even to get his play performed—has to congratulate himself, that on an occasion when he appeals to the public in the way custom- ary among actors of any celebrity, for support and encouragement, he is not money out of pocket. Shame!