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can shew that a coat must necessarily be of fine texture and with double rows of buttons ? that ruffles to shirts, lace to caps, feathers and artificial flowers are necessaryp then it will be admitted that the Drama is otherwisel and absolutely unnecessary! When they can prove that gluttony, or its opposite Epicureanism - that spiritous liquors, wine or even strong beer, or strong potions of any kind - then, and not till then, will it be allowed that the Drama is superflous, and in effect, a specious of slow moral poison ! The direct contrary however is the truth ;-the human constitution is impaired by the use of strong liquors, while the mind's health is renovated by wholesome institutions of the Drama. It may be said in reply that articles of dress though merely ornamental are in a certain degree useful to maintain rank and credit in the different orders of society. Well, and is not mental ornament equally ne+ cessary to distinguish man in society? Is the head the only part that is to be left unfurnished and undecorated and totally neglected ? In the present state of civilized Europe the Drama is a necessary part of educa. tion: the gentleman and even the respectable tradesman would make but a poor figure, if entirely iguorant of it. Whoever is a total stranger to the Drama, and at the same time is obliged to have intercourse with the world, let him beware of the consequences. He would be in the situation of the man who sets out on his travels without knowing any thing of geography. Good plays are, as to the obtaining a knowledge of mankind, what maps and charts are to the travellor and circumnavigator in acquiring a perfect knowledge of the globe. By the reading of plays in his closet or rather by witnessing the representation of them on the stage, a man may acquire as much practical every-day knowledge in an hour, as can be gained in a month without them : howa ever well-intentioned and virtuous the mind of a man may be if (in the present state of society) he is entirely ignorant of the drama he can never apply his talents to advantage for himself, or society, but will continue to be duped by knaves, thwarted by fools, and impeded by prejudices, and his best intentions porverted into the furtherance of the specious schemes and interested speculations of selfish and designing men.
In support of things as they are, it has often been urged that articles of luxury are to be indulged in, and, in a commercial nation like this, encouraged for the sake and support of the manufacturers : well, and will not the argument apply with the same force on this subject. Are there not thousands of individuals and their families whose subsistence in a great measure depends on the labor carried on in the dramatic, manufacturies ? Are all these to starve by being thrown suddenly, and as it were all at once out of employ? are they not fellow creatures ? members of society, and such as nearly all societies in all ages and in all countries, have contained, countenanced and encouraged ? consisting of authors, artists, tragedians and comedians, singers, musicians, printers, painters, paper-makers. &c.; to say nothing of dress-makers, tailors, oilmen, gas lighters or tallow-chandlers. The carpenters too, these carpenters are important personages, manufacturers of modern dramas.: And are none of these to be considered in the eye of the philosopher and political economist? are they not as deserving of notice, and at least as useful members of the state as the silk wearers of Spital-fields, the button-makers of Birmingham, the toy-shop folks of Sheffield, the fillagree muslin-men milliners of Manchester ? or even the grand importers and manufacturers of cosmeties, quack medicines, inflammatory liquors, gin and whiskey, snuff and tobacco, tooth-picks, tweezer-cases, essence bottles and tobacco pipes?
If the labourers in the dramatic field, are of equal importance with the manufacturers of the articles above enumerated, they are certainly deserving of equal encouragement ? for it is written every labourer is worthy of his bire. Let it not be for a moment supposed that the trades here alluded to, the weavers, &c. spoken of as not deserving of encouragement! no such thing; the argument here is that in a nation like this all trades are necessary; or rather, if left unmolested employ, like water soon finds its own level. The purposes of agriculture should have their full supply of hands after that things may be left to take their own course, and in process of time all parties will be satisfied.
There are many very worthy individuals, who though liberal and friendly to the drama, still are of opinion that it ought not to be countenanced in times of dearth and scarcity or general depression, This argument like the former one will make as much for, as against the question, and as the lawyers say will cut on both sides. In good times people are naturally contentcd, and happy, in bad times the reverse; therefore amuse
ment is the more necessary in order to keep them in good humour; to dissipate their gloom, animate their hopes, and set them willingly to work in all the various useful arocations of life. Besides it must not be thought that which is expended on the drama is lost to society, as if buried in the earth, or thrown into the sea. No, as in the universal economy of nature, nothing is lost. As vegetable substances consumed by flame, rise in vapour to the skies, and descend again in dews and refreshing showers to the earth so the superfluous wealth raised from one part of the community, descends by various direct and indirect channels to enliven and invigorate the other part; or, to speak in plainer terms, the drama does not destroy, but only causes a circulation of money ; its funds are chiefly drawn from the pockets of the affluent and distributed amongst ingenious artists, industrious mechanics, and respectable, reputable tradesmen, and various other branches of society.
By some anti-dramatists it is pretended that people of low circumstances are by theatrical amusements oft induced to spend money that they cannot afford. Now granting this true, what does it amount to ? this--that there are and always will be, very imprudent people ; and if any man is foolish enough to spend a shiling that he cannot afford, where had he best spend it-in a play-house or an ale-house, This story bears the marks of being invented by some fanatical, or interested methodist preacher who hates plays and all concerned with them, because they tend to open the eyes of the people.
The small sums that a poor man can spare from his
daily earnings are, perhaps more rationally spent in a play-house than in a methodist meeting-house. In the former be is amused and instructed, in the latter he is mystified, made a gloomy discontented being, a burden to himself and of no use to society.
A case may be supposed in which it would be inexpedient to waste time in dramatic amusements. small colony or issolated part of the globe, where all the labour is required for the purposes of agriculture and other necessary occupations to support life. But it is otherwise in this part of the universe, where there is a redundancy of hands, where men in general are sophistieated ; and in-door entertainments become as necessary as the feather beds on which they sleep!
Even in a colony the other side of the proposition, will only hold good for a time, for as soon as plenty produces leisure, amusement becomes necessary :-better to be employed this way than be idle, for we know " idleness is tbe root of all evil.”
Perhaps on no one subject of general knowledge, do the bulk of mankind entertain such erroneous notions as on that of theatricals ::-I mean in an enlarged point of view. Like politics, the Theatricals are discussed almost in every house, and like them very little understood. Many consider the subject beneath their notice, others look at it with an inverted eye, or at such a disa tance, they never discover its real bearing, and dependencies; yet all, at times, intrude their opinions as peremptorily as if they had given the matter the most mature consideration.
As a mere matter of amusement, all persoas can tell