17 MARCH 1855, Page 11

Mr. J. Stirling Coyne, to whom we are indebted for

so many delinea- tions of English comic life, and from whom the French, who are rather the pillaged than the pillagers in matters dramatic, did not disdain to borrow the plot of that famous farce Did you ever Settle Accounts with your Laundress f—Mr. Coyne, quitting his old style, has pounced upon a -German play entitled Der Geheime Agent, or rather upon an article in _Blackwood's Magazine, in which the beauties of that work are pointed out in a manner rather indicating the enthusiasm of the writer than contri- buting to the amusement of the reader. The story is of a petty German duke, who lives under the tyranny of the dowager-duchess his mother, and a party of courtiers devoted to her interests, till idlest, by the advice of a pretty cousin, he adopts the happy expedient of pretending that he has a "secret agent" by whose advice he acts, andthus throws his tyrants into a state of confusion andmutual distrust; for whereas they at first tremble at the agent as a mysterious invisible power, they afterwards begin tosuspect each other of adopting the inquisitorial office. According to the Blackwood article, the pleasantries that arise from panic are carried on in due comedy fashion ; but Mr.-Coyne has _keenly perceived that the joke about the "secret agent" begins to lose its salt soon after it has been set on foot; and therefore, when it has endured for about an hour, he devises means of amusement more farcical than was contemplated by the German Axistophanes. Mr. Buokstone plays one courtier, and Mr. Compton another; and as they both dome 'to watch the "secret agent " at a masked ball, what more comical than to dress up the former as a sham Spanish danseuse, and -the latter as a 'novel Mephistopheles-? A -roar is thus gained, -which has not much to do with the leading idea of the piece; but Mr. Coyne has wisely thought that it is betterto be heartily merry during two acts than to indulge a dignified facetiousness during five,—as is the .ease :with Herr Ilacklander, the German Aristophanes aforesaid. The -audience are amused with the two acts, heterogeneously compounded ; but how would they have endured the five acts, and those all in thesame ltey?