The arrangement of incidents in this piece was evidently an appeal to the ingenuity of the audience—our own penetration failed, however, in unravelling the plot. There was a drunken, gaming, dissipated student of St. John’s, Cambridge—a friend in a slouched hat and an immense pair of jack-boots, and a lady who delicately invites her lover (the hero) “to a private interview and a cold collation.” There is something about a five-hundred-pound note and a gambling-table—a heavy throw of the dice, and a heavier speech on the vices of gaming, by a likeness of the portrait of Dr. Dilworth that adorns the spelling-books. The hero rushes off in a state of distraction, and is followed by the jack-boots in pursuit; the enormous strides of which leave the pursued but little chance, though he has got a good start.
At another time two gentlemen appear in kilts, who pass their time in a long dialogue, the purport of which we were unable to catch, for they were conversing in stage-Scotch. A man then comes forward bearing a clever resemblance to the figure-head of a snuff-shop, and after a few words with about a dozen companions, the entire body proceed to fight a battle; which is immediately done behind the scenes, by four pistols, a crash, and the double-drummer, whose combined efforts present us with a representation of—as the bills kindly inform us—the “Battle of Culloden!” The hero is taken prisoner; but the villain is shot, and his jack-boots are cut off in their prime.
James Dawson is not despatched so quickly; he takes a great deal of dying,—the whole of the third act being occupied by that inevitable operation. Newgate—a “stock” scene at this theatre—an execution, a lady in black and a state of derangement, a muffled drum, and a “view of Kennington Common,” terminate the life of “James Dawson,” who, we had the consolation to observe, from the apathy of the audience, will not be put to the trouble of dying for more than half-a-dozen nights longer.
Before the “Syncretic Society” publishes its next octavo on the state of the Drama, it should send a deputation to the Victoria. There they will observe the written and acted drama in the lowest stage it is possible for even their imaginations to conceive. Even “Martinuzzi” will bear comparison with the “Life and Death of James Dawson.”
THE BOARDING SCHOOL.
At the “Boarding School” established by Mr. Bernard in the Haymarket Theatre, young ladies are instructed in flirting and romping, together with the use of the eyes, at the extremely moderate charges of five and three shillings per lesson; those being the prices of admission to the upper and lower departments of Mr. Webster’s academy, which is hired for the occasion by that accomplished professor of punmanship Bayle Bernard. The course of instruction was, on the opening of the seminary, as follows:—