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Rejected Addresses   By: (1775-1839)

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by James and Horace Smith


Preface to First Edition Preface to Eighteenth Edition Rejected Addresses Loyal Effusion by W. T. F. The Baby's Debut by W. W. An Address Without a Phoenix by S. T. P. Cui Bono? by Lord B. Hampshire Farmer's Address by W. C. The Living Lustres by T. M. The Rebuilding by R. S. Drury's Dirge by Laura Matilda. A Tale of Drury Lane by W. S. Johnson's Ghost The Beautiful Incendiary by the Hon. W. S. Fire and Ale by M. G. L. Playhouse Musings, by S. T. C. Drury Lane Hustings by a Pic Nic Poet Architectural Atoms translated by Dr. B. Theatrical Alarm bell by the Editor of the M. P. The Theatre by the Rev. G. C. Macbeth Travestie by Momus Medlar Stranger Travestie by Momus Medlar George Barnwell Travestie by Momus Medlar Punch's Apotheosis by T. H. Footnotes and other notes


On the 14th of August, 1812, the following advertisement appeared in most of the daily papers:

"Rebuilding of Drury Lane Theatre.

"The Committee are desirous of promoting a free and fair competition for an Address to be spoken upon the opening of the Theatre, which will take place on the 10th of October next. They have, therefore, thought fit to announce to the public, that they will be glad to receive any such compositions, addressed to their Secretary, at the Treasury office, in Drury Lane, on or before the 10th of September, sealed up, with a distinguishing word, number, or motto, on the cover, corresponding with the inscription on a separate sealed paper, containing the name of the author, which will not be opened unless containing the name of the successful candidate."

Upon the propriety of this plan men's minds were, as they usually are upon matters of moment, much divided. Some thought it a fair promise of the future intention of the Committee to abolish that phalanx of authors who usurp the stage, to the exclusion of a large assortment of dramatic talent blushing unseen in the background; while others contended that the scheme would prevent men of real eminence from descending into an amphitheatre in which all Grub Street (that is to say, all London and Westminster) would be arrayed against them. The event has proved both parties to be in a degree right, and in a degree wrong. One hundred and twelve Addresses have been sent in, each sealed and signed, and mottoed, "as per order," some written by men of great, some by men of little, and some by men of no talent.

Many of the public prints have censured the taste of the Committee, in thus contracting for Addresses as they would for nails by the gross; but it is surprising that none should have censured their TEMERITY. One hundred and eleven of the Addresses must, of course, be unsuccessful: to each of the authors, thus infallibly classed with the genus irritabile, it would be very hard to deny six stanch friends, who consider his the best of all possible Addresses, and whose tongues will be as ready to laud him as to hiss his adversary. These, with the potent aid of the bard himself, make seven foes per address; and thus will be created seven hundred and seventy seven implacable auditors, prepared to condemn the strains of Apollo himself a band of adversaries which no prudent manager would think of exasperating.

But, leaving the Committee to encounter the responsibility they have incurred, the public have at least to thank them for ascertaining and establishing one point, which might otherwise have admitted of controversy. When it is considered that many amateur writers have been discouraged from becoming competitors, and that few, if any, of the professional authors can afford to write for nothing, and, of course, have not been candidates for the honorary prize at Drury Lane, we may confidently pronounce that, as far as regards NUMBER, the present is undoubtedly the Augustan age of English poetry... Continue reading book >>

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