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ADDRESS TO THE PUBLIC.
WHEN entering on the Fourth VOLUME of their New SERIES, it is with
feelings the most grateful, in every sense of the word, that the PROPRIETORs are prompt to return their best thanks to the many learned and ingenious correspondents, who have so materially contributed to their success, and to the public at large, who have crowned their joint endeavours with such flattering commendation, and encou • raging patronage. Though resolved to do their duty, it would be gross affectation to say that they need
The PROPRIETORS 'rejoice in the stimulus which they have received, and while they feel conscious that they have discharged their debt in measure running over, it is not a little feast to their vanity to know that their subscribers, without an exception, entertain a concurrent opinion. This conviction makes them proud to meet the public on the present occasion, and they think that they pledge themselves most satisfactorily, when they engage to use the same judgment in selection, and to maintain the same independent spirit of criticism, as have hitherto so distinguished the pages of the Monthly Mirror. Relying on this promise, which, being made by gentlemen and scholars, will not be broken, the world will find the motto on the title page, which professes, in the words of Cervantes, to make this work a treasure of satisfaction, and a mine of amusement, no presumptuous boast, or vaporous delusion.
MONTHLY MIRROR, JULI', 1808.
MEMOIR OF MRS. SHARP,
(With a Portrait.) When the proprietors of the new theatre in Drury Lane placed the statue of Apollo upon a roof lofty as his own Parnassus, they doubtless meant that the influence of the God should not be monopolized by Thalia and Melpomene, but that the rest of the Muses should occasionally occupy his regard. The wit of Congreve, the humour of Farquhar, and the pathos of Rowe, may be sufficient to attract the multitude to a theatre of ordinary dimensions: but even writers like these are barely endured in such an edifice as new Drury, simply because they can barely be heard. What then should we say to the manager of such a theatre, who should expect emolument from the unadorned genteel comedy of certain modern writers? The collision of little wits and large theatres will rarely produce sparks of gold.
Aware of this truth, and that in such a building the eye and ear must receive that gratification which distance denies to the understanding, the dramatic writer, who invokes the nine under the dome of Drury, will do well to accept the aid of as great a number of the sisterhood as are disposed to obey his summons. He will borrow her pallet from the Muse of painting to decorate his spacious stage with castles, woods, and waterfalls: he will invite Euterpe to open those ears which are closed to dialogue, and above all will invoke Terpsichore to gratify the eye with the magic of spectacle, and the graces of the dance. To those who af fect to undervalue the latter species of entertainment, it may be right to observe, that the genius of pantomime exacts more talents from his votaries, than “ native awkwardness with two left legs,” is disposed to allow. That magical personage requires his pupils to possess an expressive countenance, varying with the varying scene: a correct ear to mark the pauses of the music : pliant limbs to move in unison with it, and above all an elegant form, whose attitudes and proportions may rival the statues of antiquity. Such are the qualities, which pantomime exacts from its votaries, and which, in our opinion, unite themselves in the person of the lady whose memoirs we are about to relate.
Arabella Menage was brought upon the stage at so early a period, that she may be said to have been rocked in the cradle of Thalia. Her first appearance was as a mere infant in Mr. Colman's Battle of Herham, and her second as the Page in the Fop's Fortune. These were trivial parts, to which almost any child would have proved equal: but in the year 1792, while the Drury, Lane company were performing at the Opera House, Miss B. Menage assumed a more prominent station in the theatre by personating one of the children in the after-piece of the Prisoner, The interest of this piece is derived from the escape of a prisoner from captivity, in which he is aided by two children. The talents displayed by Miss B. Menage, as the female infant, contributed in no small degree to the success of the piece. Her skill in performing this character, perhaps induced Mr. Morton to see lect her as one of the deserted orphans in his interesting drama of the Children in the Wood, which made its appearance at the Haymarket theatre on the 1st of October, 1793. The infant subject of this memoir found ample amends for the cruelty of an uncle, in the applauses of a parental public.
From these displays of juvenile talent, it might have been predicted that Miss B. Menage would in process of time have filled many parts in comedy with credit to herself, and advantage to the theatre. But such predictions are frequently falsified by the event. On the great stage of life circumstances will sometimes occur to place men in situations ill according with their original disposition.
“ How sweet an Ovid Murray was our boast ;
many Martials were in Pulteney lost." And thus it happens on the boards of a theatre, where accident, or the illness of another performer has frequently thrown an actor or actress into a line of performance quite opposite to their original destination. The beauty of Miss B. Menage's figure was probably the cause of her enlisting in the train of Terpsichore, and the sportive Muse was so well pleased with her acquisition, that she has remained her leading favourite to the present time. Her first appearance in that department was, we believe, in the hornpipe in the Stranger, on the secession of Bossi del Caro. Her skill in that performance, operated like electricity in arousing John Bull from the torpor, into which the tedious pleadings of à German divorce suit were lulling him, and gave the town no cause to regret the loss of her diminutive predecessor. The next conspicuous character in which we trace this lady, is Columbine in Harlequin's Amulet, or the Magic of Mona.' The skill with which she personated this queen of escapes and surprizes, was