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A GHOST IN SPITE OF HIMSELF.
In Two Acts.
By W. T. MONCRIEFF, Esq.
PRINTED FROM THE ACTING COPY, WITH REMARKS,
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL.
To which are added,
A DESCRIPTION OF THE COSTUME, CAST OF THE CHARACTERS, - EXITS AND ENTRANCES, RELATIVE POSITION OF THE PER FOAMERS ON THE STAGE,-AND THE WHOLE OF THE STAOR
As now Performed at the
EMBELLISHED WITH A FINE WOOD ENGRAVING,
JOHN CUMBERLAND, 19, LUDGATE HILL.
EVERY age and nation has its particular prejudices, fashions, and superstitions,—which, having had their day, go off
, and are succeeded by others : and it frequently happens, that what was an object of admiration at one time, is treated with contempt and ridicule at another.
For more than a century, the prevailing taste of Europe was travelling to Jerusalem-Kings, princes, nobles, bishops, priests, and friars, ran thither in crowds. At another time, pilgrimages to Rome were in high vogue. Whole provinces were overrun with flagellants. About the end of the sixteenth century, nothing was talked of but wizards and witches. In Hungary, Moravia, Silesia, and Poland, Vampires were, a hundred years since, the order of the day. Every age has had its fooleries ; the South-Sea Bulble, the Cock-Lane Ghost, Doctor Graham's celestial Bed, and Gall and Spurtzheim's New System of Craniology!
Regarding Vampires, we are told, that it was common to see men, who had been dead several years--or, at least, several months come back again, walk abont, infest villages, tormeut men and cattle, suck the blood of their relations, throw them into disorder, and, at last, occasion their death: and there was no way of getting rid of these troublesome visitants, but by digging them out of their graves, impaling them, cutting off their heads, taking out their hearts, and burning their bodies ; a tedious, and, certainly, no very agreeable mode of exorcising. The name by which these strange appearances were known, was Oupires, or Vampires : and the stories about them were related with such minute particularity and probability of circumstances, that scarcely a man, woman, or child, could be found, who had not seen a Varapire, and was ready, like little Moses, to “ take their oath of it."
It is certain, that no superstition of this sort was known in antiquity. Search the histories of the Jews, Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans; and nothing will be found that comes near.it. It was a general opinion among the ancients, that magic inight be employed, both to deprive people of their lives, and to raise the spirits of the departed. There are some passages cited,
which prove, that it was a prevailing notion, in certain times, that wizards sucked the blood of men and children. In the twelfth century, there appeared ghosts, of much the same species as those in Hungary; but in no history do we read of anything 80 common, or so circumstantial, as the various, and seemingly well-authenticated, relations of Vampires in Germany,
Without presuming to question such respectable authority, we may reasonably ask, how Vampires could coine out of their graves, and go into them again : for this particular is mentioned in every story of this sort, as a certain fact. That a body buried five or six feet under ground, with no room to move or stir, (were it so inclined,) wrapped close in a shroud, and nailed up in a coffin, should extricate itself from all these obstacles, come again above ground, and play such singular vagaries; and, after that, return to its former state, get under the earth again, and he there found entire, full of blood, and, in all respects, like a living body; is a query that may fairly startle the most inveterate believer in supernatural appearances. With a strong disposition to the marvellous ourselves, we could have wished that the relations transmitted to us, concerning Vampires, had explained these difficulties in a more satisfactory manner.
We are told by Pliny, that the soul of Herinotimus of Clazomenæ had a trick' of frequently leaving his body, and, upon coming back again, would give an account of several events which happened at a great distance. One day, when it was out upon a ramble, the Cantharidæ, Hermotimus's enemies, seized his body, which lay with scarcely any signs of life, and burnt it," Donec cremato corpore inimici (qui Cantharidæ vocalantur ) remcanti animæ velut vaginam ademerint.” This expedient effectually put a stop to the future excursions of Master Hermotimus, and fairly laid him in the Red Sea.
“The Spectre Bridegroom” is founded on a story contained in the Sketch Book, which Mr. Irving himself borrowed from the French. Mr. Moncrieff has dramatised this tale with skill and
leasantry : it is quite extravagant enough to answer the pur. poses of farce, without running into that hideous and nonsensical diablerie, which has been so popular of late.
This farce contains some droll situations and whimsical equivoque. The mistakes and misapprehensions of the Aldwinkle family—the superstitious terrors of Dickory-and the ludicrous surprise of Mr. Nicodemus, keep the audience in continual merriment. We agree with the author, that the subject is better adapted to Farce than to Melo-drame. Indeed, the latter species of entertainment is so contrary to good taste and common sense, that we care not how soon it is banished from the stage.
Mr. Cooper, in Nicodemus, was sufficiently sepulchral and solemn. He looked just such a personage as might be expected to “ revisit the pale glimpses of the moon," either for recreation, or resuscitation: Little Knight was excellent in Dickory ; the horror and surprise with which he announces the re-appearance of the departed; and his quaint apology for the delusion,-that a ghost is a spirit, and that spirits are apt to get into his head, were farce in right earnest. We have subsequently seen Mr. J. Russell in the character, and, without bringing him into immediate comparison with Knight, we may justly assign him no small share of approbation. We should be glad to see the talents of this very deserving actor called into more frequent exertion. Gattie, in Squire Aldwinkle, contributed to his share of the amusement; and Mrs. Orger, and Miss Sınithson, in Georgiana and Laviniu, were arch and lively.