This, then, is the state to which the founders of the Newgate school of dramatic literature, and the march of intellect, have brought us. Nothing short of actual hanging—the most revolting and repulsive of all possible subjects to enter, much less to dwell in any mind not actually savage—must now be provided to meet the refined taste of play-goers. In the present instance, nothing but the actual spiciness of the subject saved the piece from the last sentence of even Sadler’s Wells’ critical law; for in construction and detail, it is the veriest mass of incoherent rubbish that was ever shot upon the plains of common sense. The sketch we have made is in no one instance exaggerated. Our readers may therefore easily judge whether we speak truly or not.
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PUNCH AT THE NEW STRAND.
When Napoleon first appeared before the grand army after his return from Elba—when Queen Victoria made her debut at the assemblage of her first parliament—when Kean performed “Othello” at Drury Lane immediately after he had caused a certain friend of his to play the same part in the Court of King’s Bench—the public mind was terribly agitated, and the public’s legs instinctively carried them, on each occasion, to behold those great performers. When—to give these circumstances their highest application,—“Punch,” on Thursday last, came out in the regular drama, the excitement was no less intense. Boxes were besieged; the pit was choked up, and the gallery creaked with its celestial encumbrance.
As the curtain drew up, there would have been a death-like silence but for the unparalleled sales that were taking place in apples, oranges, and ginger-beer. Expectation was on tip-toe, as were the persons occupying that department of the theatre called “standing-room.” The looked-for moment came; the “drop” ascended, and the spectators beheld Mr. Dionysius Swivel, a pint of ale, and Punch’s theatre!
“Tragedy,” saith the Aristotelian recipe for cooking up a serious drama, “should have the probable, the marvellous, and the pathetic.” In the tableau thus presented, the audience beheld the three conditions strictly complied with all at once. “It was highly probable,” as Mr. Swivel observed to the source of pipes, ’bacca, and malt—in other words, to the landlady he was addressing—that his master, the showman, was unable to pay the score he had run up; it was marvellous that the proprietor of so popular a puppet as “Punch” should not have even the price of a pint of ale in his treasury; lastly, that circumstance was deeply pathetic; for what so heart-rending as the exhibition of fallen greatness, of broken-down prosperity, of affluence regularly stumped and hard-up! The fact is, that “Punch,” his theatre, and corps dramatique, are in pawn for eight-and-ninepence!