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AUBER AND RODWELL.
been preparing Auber's opera of the Bronze Horse on a very extensive and a very expensive scale. It was placed in the hands of the best singers of the day, the music arranged to be given entire, its incidental ballet superintended by a Parisian master, and the paraphernalia of the mise en scene prepared on gorgeous and characteristic scale. It had been begun. before Covent Garden Theatre had a tenant, but temporarily laid aside for the production of The Jewess, during the run of which it was again taken up and finished. Notwithstanding all this outlay, and notwithstanding my own conviction and my rival's knowledge that he did not possess the materials to do it any degree of justice, " AUBER'S LAST NEW OPERA of THE BRONZE HORSE" was announced for representation at Covent Garden by an operatic company incapable of singing the music, with scarcely a chorus singer or dancer, and without, I believe, the expenditure of £50. Instead of it being " AUBER'S last opera," it was (at least a great part of it) "RODWELL'S last opera❞— another, among the many of my friend George's waggeries.* Not but what Rodwell is a man of great talent, and an opera from him, advertised as
* Whenever Covent Garden or Drury Lane Theatres are to be let, it is invariably insinuated in all theatrical circles, followed up by paragraphs in all the papers, that Mr. Rodwell has made an offer for the one advertised. The Cockneys swallow this for a day or two, and Rodwell, though too modest a man to insert such things about himself, believes it himself for another day or two; but the only theatre he has taken, or is likely to take, is the one that is to be "let alone."
such, is a very welcome visiter; still he is not MONSIEUR AUBER. The object of all this could be but to forestall the operations of Drury Lane, and, by being first in the field, to throw cold water on any similar subject that appeared afterwards. The same attempt was subsequently made, this same season, with Herold's opera of Zampa; and though in both instances the result recoiled upon the schemers of the scheme, the intention was the same; and had it been attended with any degree of favour, the labour and expense which had been incurred at Drury Lane might have been neutralised by the parsimony and false expedition at Covent Garden; but these are more of the delights of management.
A singular instance of the further trials to which the stage, or rather its director, is exposed, occurred at this time. I was beset by several people, and especially by the individual himself, to give a comparative stranger to the London boards a trial in the character of DOCTOR O'TOOLE. The exorbitant price paid for Mr. Power's talent, and the hopelessness of finding any one, for some time past, able to compete with it, rendered the accession of a successful representative of Irish character of the first consequence. Mr. Macarthy was therefore allowed his probation, and, by his own urgent request, a repetition of the part was granted. His performance gave no indication of his being enabled to fill the desired post, and with as much regard to what the gentleman was pleased to call his reputation, as could consistently
be paid, his further services were dispensed with. Notwithstanding the testimony of my acting manager, Mr. Yates, by whom the whole arrangement was conducted, that no idea of an engagement had ever been entertained, the doctors differed as usualDoctor O'Toole contending that he played for an engagement, and by playing was entitled to one, and Doctor Yates contending for the very reverse. The consequence was, that, without the shadow of a plea for making any claim, an action was brought against me to maintain one; and time and money, which might both have been so much better employed, were wasted in the defence. The learned judge (one always calls them learned by custom, and not from any knowledge of their exalted attainments) suggested that the matter should be referred, and it accordingly was, to a perfect gentleman and sound lawyer, Mr. Wheatley. For above two months this farce of reference was going on-examination following examination, to arrive at the exact state of the case. The award was finally made, and notice served upon the plaintiff that it was ready to be taken up. Taking it up involved a further outlay of twenty guineas, and the Doctor, either not having as many fees at his command, or, apprehensive of the result, declined the disbursement. The defendant in such cases is not, I believe, compelled "to take it up :" but having occupied the time and the chambers of a stranger, who had treated me with great courtesy, I could not be a party to any questionable measure,
THE PROVOST OF BRUGES.
and therefore, at the risk of the award being given against me, my attorney paid the said amount of the expense upon it. Not only was it made completely in my favour, but the plaintiff was saddled with all costs. They amounted to something considerable, and having had a wanton action brought against me by one who had no visible means of defraying its charge, I naturally was apprehensive for the repayment of what I had expended in defending it. My repayment consisted of " a notice from the Insolvent Court," which eventually discharged with a spunge the amount in full. If the manager had not given the Doctor a trial, he would have been denounced as a man who discouraged every applicant of talent; on giving it, an attempt is made to saddle his treasury with an utterly useless engagement, and that not succeeding, the manager, merely for the defence of his own rights and the vindication of his own character, has at last to pay considerably more than the Doctor's engagement for the whole season would have come to. "The pleasures of management," in three volumes octavo, could be soon filled up at this rate.
A slight reference having been made to the production of the Provost of Bruges and its attraction, there cannot be a much better opportunity selected for the entertainment of a question much agitated at this time, and one that has created considerable controversy. Whenever a piece becomes sufficiently attractive to be played night after night in uninterrupted succession, (as was now the case with the Jewess, which
MR. PEAKE'S FROLICS.
ran SIXTY-FOUR subsequent evenings,) the manager is assailed with the complaints of the performers who have to play in it, on the score of fatiguewith the complaints of the performers who do not happen to play in it, on the score of neglect— and with the abuse of all persons enjoying a free admission, whether by gift or purchase, on the score of a want of variety in the amusements they are thus privileged to see. Post after post brought me, at the period in question, anonymous letters to this effect; and day after day those newspapers which admit such kind of contributions, publicly adopted a similar tone. With the view of silencing all these grumblers, and also of proving that the patronage of spectacle had not caused any neglect of the higher walks of the drama, the Provost of Bruges, a work of high literary character, was put into rehearsal and produced. It was backed, on the first night of representation, by a new farce from the prolific pen of my humorous friend, Mr. Peake,* and it was unnatural to suppose
* The subjoined note will show that the feeling I have alluded to was rife at the time. Mr. Peake had produced, some time previous at Covent Garden Theatre, an unsuccessful farce, and not liking altogether to oppose my judgment against that of so able a writer, I merely stated my belief that this farce would share the fate of its immediate predecessor. Mr. Peake, who has been very fortunate in neck or nothing sort of pieces, was, however, disposed to differ with me, and to try the experiment :
“14, University Street, Jan. 16, 1836.
"My dear Bunn,
"Do you want a Pantomime to succeed your Pantomime? When I
say this, do you want a broad comic piece in three very short acts,
(my own and original,) in which your long unemployed comedians
may appear: there are good parts for Farren, Harley, Bartley, Mea