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The Theatrical Fund Dinner

Before proceeding with our account of this very interesting
festival--for so it may be termed--it is our duty to present to
our readers the following letter, which we have received from the
President:--

TO THE EDITOR OF THE "EDINBURGH WEEKLY JOURNAL."

Sir,--I am extremely sorry I have not leisure to correct the copy
you sent me of what I am stated to have said at the dinner for
the Theatrical Fund. I am no orator, and upon such occasions as
are alluded to, I say as well as I can what the time requires.

However, I hope your reporter has been more accurate in other
instances than in mine. I have corrected one passage, in which I
am made to speak with great impropriety and petulance, respecting
the opinions of those who do not approve of dramatic
entertainments. I have restored what I said, which was meant to
be respectful, as every objection founded in conscience is, in my
opinion, entitled to be so treated. Other errors I left as I
found them, it being of little consequence whether I spoke sense
or nonsense in what was merely intended for the purpose of the
hour.

I am, sir,

Your obedient servant,

EDINBURGH, MONDAY. WALTER SCOTT.

*

The Theatrical Fund Dinner, which took place on Friday, in the
Assembly Rooms, was conducted with admirable spirit. The
Chairman, Sir WALTER SCOTT, among his other great qualifications,
is well fitted to enliven such an entertainment. His manners are
extremely easy, and his style of speaking simple and natural, yet
full of vivacity and point; and he has the art, if it be art, of
relaxing into a certain homeliness of manner, without losing one
particle of his dignity. He thus takes off some of that solemn
formality which belongs to such meetings, and, by his easy, and
graceful familiarity, imparts to them somewhat of the pleasing
character of a private entertainment. Near Sir W. Scott sat the
Earl of Fife, Lord Meadowbank, Sir John Hope of Pinkie, Bart.,
Admiral Adam, Baron Clerk Rattray, Gilbert Innes, Esq., James
Walker, Esq., Robert Dundas, Esq., Alexander Smith, Esq., etc.

The cloth being removed, "Non nobis, Domine," was sung by Messrs.
Thorne, Swift, Collier, and Hartley, after which the following
toasts were given from the chair:--

"The King"--all the honours.

"The Duke of Clarence and the Royal Family."

The CHAIRMAN, in proposing the next toast, which he wished to be
drunk in solemn silence, said it was to the memory of a
regretted-prince, whom we had lately lost. Every individual
would at once conjecture to whom he alluded. He had no intention
to dwell on his military merits. They had been told in the
senate; they had been repeated in the cottage; and whenever a
soldier was the theme, his name was never far distant. But it
was chiefly in connection with the business of this meeting,
which his late Royal Highness had condescended in a particular
manner to patronize, that they were called on to drink his
health. To that charity he had often sacrificed his time, and
had given up the little leisure which he had from important
business. He was always ready to attend on every occasion of
this kind, and it was in that view that he proposed to drink to
the memory of his late Royal Highness the Duke of York.--Drunk in
solemn silence.

The CHAIRMAN then requested that gentlemen would fill a bumper as
full as it would hold, while he would say only a few words. He
was in the habit of hearing speeches, and he knew the feeling
with which long ones were regarded. He was sure that it was
perfectly unnecessary for him to enter into any vindication of
the dramatic art, which they had come here to support. This,
however, he considered to be the proper time and proper occasion
for him to say a few words on that love of representation which
was an innate feeling in human nature. It was the first
amusement that the child had. It grew greater as he grew up; and
even in the decline of life nothing amuses so much as when a
common tale is told with appropriate personification. The first
thing a child does is to ape his schoolmaster by flogging a
chair. The assuming a character ourselves, or the seeing others
assume an imaginary character, is an enjoyment natural to
humanity. It was implanted in our very nature to take pleasure
from such representations, at proper times and on proper
occasions. In all ages the theatrical art had kept pace with the
improvement of mankind, and with the progress of letters and the
fine arts. As man has advanced from the ruder stages of society,
the love of dramatic representations has increased, and all works
of this nature have keen improved in character and in structure.
They had only to turn their eyes to the history of ancient
Greece, although he did not pretend to be very deeply versed in
its ancient drama. Its first tragic poet commanded a body of
troops at the battle of Marathon. Sophocles and Euripides were
men of rank in Athens when Athens was in its highest renown.
They shook Athens with their discourses, as their theatrical
works shook the theatre itself. If they turned to France in the
time of Louis the Fourteenth--that era which is the classical
history of that country--they would find that it was referred to
by all Frenchmen as the golden age of the drama there. And also
in England in the time of Queen Elizabeth the drama was at its
highest pitch, when the nation began to mingle deeply and wisely
in the general politics of Europe, not only not receiving laws
from others, but giving laws to the world, and vindicating the
rights of mankind. (Cheers.) There have been various times when
the dramatic art subsequently fell into disrepute. Its
professors have been stigmatized, and laws have been passed
against them, less dishonourable to them than to the statesmen by
whom they were proposed, and to the legislators by whom they were
adopted. What were the times in which these laws were passed?
Was it not when virtue was seldom inculcated as a moral duty that
we were required to relinquish the most rational of all our
amusements, when the clergy were enjoined celibacy, and when the
laity were denied the right to read their Bibles? He thought
that it must have been from a notion of penance that they erected
the drama into an ideal place of profaneness, and spoke of the
theatre as of the tents of sin. He did not mean to dispute that
there were many excellent persons who thought differently from
him, and he disclaimed the slightest idea of charging them with
bigotry or hypocrisy on that account. He gave them full credit
for their tender consciences, in making these objections,
although they did not appear relevant to him. But to these
persons, being, as he believed them, men of worth and piety, he
was sure the purpose of this meeting would furnish some apology
for an error, if there be any, in the opinions of those who
attend. They would approve the gift, although they might differ
in other points. Such might not approve of going to the theatre,
but at least could not deny that they might give away from their
superfluity what was required for the relief of the sick, the
support of the aged, and the comfort of the afflicted. These
were duties enjoined by our religion itself. (Loud cheers.)

The performers are in a particular manner entitled to the support
or regard, when in old age or distress, of those who have
partaken of the amusements of those places which they render an
ornament to society. Their art was of a peculiarly delicate and
precarious nature. They had to serve a long apprenticeship. It
was very long before even the first-rate geniuses could acquire
the mechanical knowledge of the stage business. They must
languish long in obscurity before they can avail themselves of
their natural talents; and after that they have but a short space
of time, during which they are fortunate if they can provide the
means of comfort in the decline of life. That comes late, and
lasts but a short time; after which they are left dependent.
Their limbs fail--their teeth are loosened--their voice is lost
and they are left, after giving happiness to others, in a most
disconsolate state. The public were liberal and generous to
those deserving their protection. It was a sad thing to be
dependent on the favour, or, he might say, in plain terms, on the
caprice, of the public; and this more particularly for a class of
persons of whom extreme prudence is not the character. There
might be instances of opportunities being neglected. But let
each gentleman tax himself, and consider the opportunities THEY
had neglected, and the sums of money THEY had wasted; let every
gentleman look into his own bosom, and say whether these were
circumstances which would soften his own feelings, were he to be
plunged into distress. He put it to every generous bosom--to
every better feeling--to say what consolation was it to old age
to be told that you might have made provision at a time which had
been neglected--(loud cheers)--and to find it objected, that if
you had pleased you might have been wealthy. He had hitherto
been speaking of what, in theatrical language, was called STARS;
but they were sometimes falling ones. There was another class of
sufferers naturally and necessarily connected with the theatre,
without whom it was impossible to go on. The sailors have a
saying, Every man cannot be a boatswain. If there must be a
great actor to act Hamlet, there must also be people to act
Laertes, the King, Rosencrantz, and Guildenstern, otherwise a
drama cannot go on. If even Garrick himself were to rise from
the dead, he could not act Hamlet alone. There must be generals,
colonels, commanding-officers, subalterns. But what are the
private soldiers to do? Many have mistaken their own talents,
and have been driven in early youth to try the stage, to which
they are not competent. He would know what to say to the
indifferent poet and to the bad artist. He would say that it was
foolish, and he would recommend to the poet to become a scribe,
and the artist to paint sign-posts. (Loud laughter.) But you
could not send the player adrift; for if he cannot play Hamlet,
he must play Guildenstern. Where there are many labourers, wages
must be low and no man in such a situation can decently support a
wife and family, and save something off his income for old age.
What is this man to do in later life? Are you to cast him off
like an old hinge, or a piece of useless machinery, which has
done its work? To a person who had contributed to our amusement,
this would be unkind, ungrateful, and unchristian. His wants are
not of his own making, but arise from the natural sources of
sickness and old age. It cannot be denied that there is one
class of sufferers to whom no imprudence can be ascribed, except
on first entering on the profession. After putting his hand to
the dramatic plough, he cannot draw back, but must continue at
it, and toil, till death release him from want, or charity, by
its milder influence, steps in to render that want more
tolerable. He had little more to say, except that he sincerely
hoped that the collection to-day, from the number of respectable
gentlemen present, would meet the views entertained by the
patrons. He hoped it would do so. They should not be
disheartened. Though they could not do a great deal, they might
do something. They had this consolation, that everything they
parted with from their superfluity would do some good. They
would sleep the better themselves when they had been the means of
giving sleep to others. It was ungrateful and unkind that those
who had sacrificed their youth to our amusement should not
receive the reward due to them, but should be reduced to hard
fare in their old age. We cannot think of poor Falstaff going to
bed without his cup of sack, or Macbeth fed on bones as
marrowless as those of Banquo. (Loud cheers and laughter.) As he
believed that they were all as fond of the dramatic art as he was
in his younger days, he would propose that they should drink "The
Theatrical Fund," with three times three.

Mr. MACKAY rose, on behalf of his brethren, to return their
thanks for the toast just drunk. Many of the gentlemen present,
he said, were perhaps not fully acquainted with the nature and
intention of the institution, and it might not be amiss to enter
into some explanation on the subject. With whomsoever the idea
of a Theatrical Fund might have originated (and it had been
disputed by the surviving relatives of two or three individuals),
certain it was that the first legally constituted Theatrical Fund
owed its origin to one of the brightest ornaments of the
profession, the late David Garrick. That eminent actor conceived
that, by a weekly subscription in the theatre, a fund might be
raised among its members, from which a portion might be given to
those of his less fortunate brethren, and thus an opportunity
would be offered for prudence to provide what fortune had denied
--a comfortable provision for the winter of life. With the
welfare of his profession constantly at heart, the zeal with
which he laboured to uphold its respectability, and to impress
upon the minds or his brethren, not only the necessity, but the
blessing of independence, the Fund became his peculiar care. He
drew up a form of laws for its government, procured at his own
expense the passing of an Act of Parliament for its confirmation,
bequeathed to it a handsome legacy, and thus became the father of
the Drury Lane Fund. So constant was his attachment to this
infant establishment, that he chose to grace the close of the
brightest theatrical life on record by the last display of his
transcendent talent on the occasion of a benefit for this child
of his adoption, which ever since has gone by the name of the
Garrick Fund. In imitation of his noble example, funds had been
established in several provincial theatres in England; but it
remained for Mrs. Henry Siddons and Mr. William Murray to become
the founders of the first Theatrical Fund in Scotland. (Cheers.)
This Fund commenced under the most favourable auspices. It was
liberally supported by the management, and highly patronized by
the public. Notwithstanding, it fell short in the accomplishment
of its intentions. What those intentions were, he (Mr. Mackay)
need not recapitulate, but they failed; and he did not hesitate
to confess that a want of energy on the part of the performers
was the probable cause. A new set of Rules and Regulations were
lately drawn up, submitted to and approved of at a general
meeting of the members of the Theatre, and accordingly the Fund
was remodelled on the 1st of January last. And here he thought
he did but echo the feelings of his brethren, by publicly
acknowledging the obligations they were under to the management
for the aid given and the warm interest they had all along taken
in the welfare of the Fund. (Cheers.) The nature and object of
the profession had been so well treated of by the President that
he would say nothing; but of the numerous offspring of science
and genius that court precarious fame, the actor boasts the
slenderest claim of all--the sport of fortune, the creatures of
fashion, and the victims of caprice, they are seen, heard, and
admired, but to be forgot. They leave no trace, no memorial of
their existence--they "come like shadows, so depart." (Cheers.)
Yet humble though their pretensions be, there was no profession,
trade, or calling where such a combination of requisites, mental
and bodily, were indispensable. In all others the principal may
practise after he has been visited by the afflicting hand of
Providence--some by the loss of limb, some of voice, and many,
when the faculty of the mind is on the wane, may be assisted by
dutiful children or devoted servants. Not so the actor, He must
retain all he ever did possess, or sink dejected to a mournful
home. (Applause.) Yet while they are toiling for ephemeral
theatric fame, how very few ever possess the means of hoarding in
their youth that which would give bread in old age! But now a
brighter prospect dawned upon them, and to the success of this
their infant establishment they looked with hope, as to a
comfortable and peaceful home in their declining years. He
concluded by tendering to the meeting, in the name of his
brethren and sisters, their unfeigned thanks for their liberal
support, and begged to propose "The Health of the Patrons of the
Edinburgh Theatrical Fund." (Cheers.)

Lord MEADOWBANK said that, by desire of his Hon. Friend in the
chair, and of his Noble Friend at his right hand, he begged leave
to return thanks for the honour which had been conferred on the
Patrons of this excellent institution. He could answer for
himself--he could answer for them all--that they were deeply
impressed with the meritorious objects which it has in view, and
of their anxious wish to promote its interests. For himself, he
hoped he might be permitted to say that he was rather surprised
at finding his own name as one of the Patrons, associated with so
many individuals of high rank and powerful influence. But it was
an excuse for those who had placed him in a situation so
honourable and so distinguished, that when this charity was
instituted he happened to hold a high and responsible station
under the Crown, when he might have been of use in assisting and
promoting its objects. His Lordship much feared that he could
have little expectation, situated as he now was, of doing either;
but he could confidently assert that few things would give him
greater gratification than being able to contribute to its
prosperity and support. And indeed, when one recollects the
pleasure which at all periods of life he has received from the
exhibitions of the stage, and the exertions of the meritorious
individuals for whose aid this Fund has been established, he must
be divested both of gratitude and feeling who would not give his
best endeavours to promote its welfare. And now, that he might
in some measure repay the gratification which had been afforded
himself, he would beg leave to propose a toast, the health of one
of the Patrons, a great and distinguished individual, whose name
must always stand by itself, and which, in an assembly such as
this, or in any other assembly of Scotsmen, can never be
received, not, he would say, with ordinary feelings of pleasure
or of delight, but with those of rapture and enthusiasm. In
doing so he felt that he stood in a somewhat new situation.
Whoever had been called upon to propose the health of his Hon.
Friend to whom he alluded, some time ago, would have found
himself enabled, from the mystery in which certain matters were
involved, to gratify himself and his auditors by allusions which
found a responding chord in their own feelings, and to deal in
the language, the sincere language, of panegyric, without
intruding on the modesty of the great individual to whom he
referred. But it was no longer possible, consistently with the
respect to one's auditors, to use upon this subject terms either
of mystification or of obscure or indirect allusion. The clouds
have been dispelled; the DARKNESS VISIBLE has been cleared away;
and the Great Unknown--the minstrel of our native land--the
mighty magician who has rolled back the current of time, and
conjured up before our living senses the men and the manners of
days which have long passed away--stands revealed to the hearts
and the eyes of his affectionate and admiring countrymen. If he
himself were capable of imagining all that belonged to this
mighty subject--were he even able to give utterance to all that,
as a friend, as a man, and as a Scotsman, he must feel regarding
it--yet knowing, as he well did, that this illustrious individual
was not more distinguished for his towering talents than for
those feelings which rendered such allusions ungrateful to
himself, however sparingly introduced, he would, on that account,
still refrain from doing that which would otherwise be no less
pleasing to him than to his audience. But this his Lordship,
hoped he would be allowed to say (his auditors would not pardon
him were he to say less), we owe to him, as a people, a large and
heavy debt of gratitude. He it is who has opened to foreigners
the grand and characteristic beauties of our country. It is to
him that we owe that our gallant ancestors and the struggles of
our illustrious patriots--who fought and bled in order to obtain
and secure that independence and that liberty we now enjoy--have
obtained a fame no longer confined to the boundaries of a remote
and comparatively obscure nation, and who has called down upon
their struggles for glory and freedom the admiration of foreign
countries. He it is who has conferred a new reputation on our
national character, and bestowed on Scotland an imperishable
name, were it only by her having given birth to himself. (Loud
and rapturous applause.)

Sir WALTER SCOTT certainly did not think that, in coming here to-
day, he would have the task of acknowledging, before three
hundred gentlemen, a secret which, considering that it was
communicated to more than twenty people, had been remarkably well
kept. He was now before the bar of his country, and might be
understood to be on trial before Lord Meadowbank as an offender;
yet he was sure that every impartial jury would bring in a
verdict of Not Proven. He did not now think it necessary to
enter into the reasons of his long silence. Perhaps caprice
might have a consider able share in it. He had now to say,
however, that the merits of these works, if they had any, and
their faults, were entirely imputable to himself. (Long and loud
cheering.) He was afraid to think on what he had done. "Look
on't again I dare not." He had thus far unbosomed himself and he
knew that it would be reported to the public. He meant, then,
seriously to state, that when he said he was the author, he was
the total and undivided author. With the exception of
quotations, there was not a single word that was not derived from
himself, or suggested in the course of his reading. The wand was
now broken, and the book buried. You will allow me further to
say, with Prospero, it is your breath that has filled my sails,
and to crave one single toast in the capacity of the author of
these novels; and he would dedicate a bumper to the health of one
who has represented some of those characters, of which he had
endeavoured to give the skeleton, with a degree of liveliness
which rendered him grateful. He would propose "The Health of
his friend Bailie Nicol Jarvie"--(loud applause)--and he was sure
that when the author of Waverley and Rob Roy drinks to Nicol
Jarvie, it would be received with that degree of applause to
which that gentleman has always been accustomed, and that they
would take care that on the present occasion it should be
PRODIGIOUS! (Long and vehement applause.)

Mr. MACKAY, who here spoke with great humour in the character of
Bailie Jarvie.--My conscience! My worthy father the deacon could
not have believed that his son could hae had sic a compliment
paid to him by the Great Unknown!

Sir WALTER SCOTT.--The Small Known now, Mr. Bailie.

Mr. MACKAY.--He had been long identified with the Bailie, and he
was vain of the cognomen which he had now worn for eight years;
and he questioned if any of his brethren in the Council had given
such universal satisfaction. (Loud laughter and applause.)
Before he sat down, he begged to propose "The Lord Provost and
the City of Edinburgh."

Sir WALTER SCOTT apologized for the absence of the Lord Provost,
who had gone to London on public business.

Tune--"Within a mile of Edinburgh town."

Sir WALTER SCOTT gave "The Duke of Wellington and the army."

Glee--"How merrily we live."

Lord Melville and the Navy, that fought till they left nobody to
fight with, like an arch sportsman who clears all and goes after
the game."

Mr. PAT. ROBERTSON.--They had heard this evening a toast, which
had been received with intense delight, which will be published
in every newspaper, and will be hailed with joy by all Europe.
He had one toast assigned him which he had great pleasure in
giving. He was sure that the stage had in all ages a great
effect on the morals and manners of the people. It was very
desirable that the stage should be well regulated; and there was
no criterion by which its regulation could be better determined
than by the moral character and personal respectability of the
performers. He was not one of those stern moralists who objected
to the theatre. The most fastidious moralist could not possibly
apprehend any injury from the stage of Edinburgh, as it was
presently managed, and so long as it was adorned by that
illustrious individual, Mrs. Henry Siddons, whose public
exhibitions were not more remarkable for feminine grace and
delicacy than was her private character for every virtue which
could be admired in domestic life. He would conclude with
reciting a few words from Shakespeare, in a spirit not of
contradiction to those stern moralists who disliked the theatre,
but of meekness: "Good, my lord, will you see the players well
bestowed? Do you hear, let them be well used, for they are the
abstract and brief chronicles of the time." He then gave "Mrs.
Henry Siddons, and success to the Theatre Royal of Edinburgh."

Mr. MURRAY.--Gentlemen, I rise to return thanks for the honour
you have done Mrs. Siddons, in doing which I am somewhat
difficulted, from the extreme delicacy which attends a brother's
expatiating upon a sister's claims to honours publicly paid--
(hear, hear)--yet, gentlemen, your kindness emboldens me to say
that, were I to give utterance to all a brother's feelings, I
should not exaggerate those claims. (Loud applause.) I
therefore, gentlemen, thank you most cordially for the honour you
have done her, and shall now request permission to make an
observation on the establishment of the Edinburgh Theatrical
Fund. Mr. Mackay has done Mrs. Henry Siddons and myself the
honour to ascribe the establishment to us. But no, gentlemen, it
owes its origin to a higher source--the publication of the novel
of Rob Roy--the unprecedented success of the opera adapted from
that popular production. (Hear, hear.) It was that success which
relieved the Edinburgh Theatre from its difficulties, and enabled
Mrs. Siddons to carry into effect the establishment of a fund she
had long desired, but was prevented from effecting from the
unsettled state of her theatrical concerns. I therefore hope
that in future years, when the aged and infirm actor derives
relief from this fund, he will, in the language of the gallant
Highlander, "Cast his eye to good old Scotland, and not forget
Rob Roy." (Loud applause.)

Sir WALTER SCOTT here stated that Mrs. Siddons wanted the means
but not the will of beginning the Theatrical Fund. He here
alluded to the great merits of Mr. Murray's management, and to
his merits as an actor, which were of the first order, and of
which every person who attends the Theatre must be sensible; and
after alluding to the embarrassments with which the Theatre had
been at one period threatened, he concluded by giving "The Health
of Mr. Murray," which was drunk with three times three.

Mr. MURRAY.--Gentlemen, I wish I could believe that in any degree
I merited the compliments with which it has pleased Sir Walter
Scott to preface the proposal of my health, or the very
flattering manner in which you have done me the honour to receive
it. The approbation of such an assembly is most gratifying to
me, and might encourage feelings of vanity, were not such
feelings crushed by my conviction that no man holding the
situation I have so long held in Edinburgh could have failed,
placed in the peculiar circumstances in which I have been placed.
Gentlemen, I shall not insult your good taste by eulogiums upon
your judgment or kindly feeling, though to the first I owe any
improvement I may have made as an actor, and certainly my success
as a manager to the second. (Applause.) When, upon the death of
my dear brother, the late Mr. Siddons, it was proposed that I
should undertake the management of the Edinburgh Theatre, I
confess I drew back, doubting my capability to free it from the
load of debt and difficulty with which it was surrounded. In
this state of anxiety, I solicited the advice of one who had ever
honoured me with his kindest regard, and whose name no member of
my profession can pronounce without feelings of the deepest
respect and gratitude. I allude to the late Mr. John Kemble.
(Great applause.) To him I applied, and with the repetition of
his advice I shall cease to trespass upon your time--(hear, hear)
--"My dear William, fear not. Integrity and assiduity must prove
an overmatch for all difficulty; and though I approve your not
indulging a vain confidence in your own ability, and viewing with
respectful apprehension the judgment of the audience you have to
act before, yet be assured that judgment will ever be tempered by
the feeling that you are acting for the widow and the
fatherless." (Loud applause.) Gentlemen, those words have never
passed from my mind; and I feel convinced that you have pardoned
my many errors, from the feeling that I was striving for the
widow and the fatherless. (Long and enthusiastic applause
followed Mr. Murray's address.)

Sir WALTER SCOTT gave "The Health of the Stewards."

Mr. VANDENHOFF.---Mr. President and Gentlemen, the honour
conferred upon the Stewards, in the very flattering compliment
you have just paid us, calls forth our warmest acknowledgments.
In tendering you our thanks for the approbation you have been
pleased to express of our humble exertions, I would beg leave to
advert to the cause in which we have been engaged. Yet,
surrounded as I am by the genius--the eloquence--of this
enlightened city, I cannot but feel the presumption which
ventures to address you on so interesting a subject. Accustomed
to speak in the language of others, I feel quite at a loss for
terms wherein to clothe the sentiments excited by the present
occasion. (Applause.) The nature of the institution which has
sought your fostering patronage, and the objects which it
contemplates, have been fully explained to you. But, gentlemen,
the relief which it proposes is not a gratuitous relief, but to
be purchased by the individual contribution of its members
towards the general good. This Fund lends no encouragement to
idleness or improvidence, but it offers an opportunity to
prudence in vigour and youth to make provision against the
evening of life and its attendant infirmity. A period is fixed
at which we admit the plea of age as an exemption from
professional labour. It is painful to behold the veteran on the
stage (compelled by necessity) contending against physical decay,
mocking the joyousness of mirth with the feebleness of age, when
the energies decline, when the memory fails! and "the big, manly
voice, turning again towards childish treble, pipes and whistles
in the sound." We would remove him from the mimic scene, where
fiction constitutes the charm; we would not view old age
caricaturing itself. (Applause.) But as our means may be found,
in time of need, inadequate to the fulfilment of our wishes--
fearful of raising expectations which we may be unable to
gratify--desirous not "to keep the word of promise to the ear,
and break it to the hope"--we have presumed to court the
assistance of the friends of the drama to strengthen our infant
institution. Our appeal has been successful beyond our most
sanguine expectations. The distinguished patronage conferred on
us by your presence on this occasion, and the substantial support
which your benevolence has so liberally afforded to our
institution, must impress every member of the Fund with the most
grateful sentiments--sentiments which no language can express, no
time obliterate. (Applause.) I will not trespass longer on your
attention. I would the task of acknowledging our obligation had
fallen into abler hands. (Hear, hear.) In the name of the
Stewards, I most respectfully and cordially thank you for the
honour you have done us, which greatly overpays our poor
endeavours. (Applause.)

[This speech, though rather inadequately reported, was one of the
best delivered on this occasion. That it was creditable to Mr.
Vandenhoff's taste and feelings, the preceding sketch will show;
but how much it was so, it does not show.]

Mr. J. CAY gave "Professor Wilson and the University of
Edinburgh, of which he was one of the brightest ornaments"

Lord MEADOWBANK, after a suitable eulogium, gave "The Earl of
Fife," which was drunk with three times three.

Earl FIFE expressed his high gratification at the honour
conferred on him. He intimated his approbation of the
institution, and his readiness to promote its success by every
means in his power. He concluded with giving "The Health of the
Company of Edinburgh."

Mr. JONES, on rising to return thanks, being received with
considerable applause, said he was truly grateful for the kind
encouragement he had experienced, but the novelty of the
situation in which he now was renewed all the feelings he
experienced when he first saw himself announced in the bills as a
young gentleman, being his first appearance on any stage.
(Laughter and applause.) Although in the presence of those whose
indulgence had, in another sphere, so often shielded him from the
penalties of inability, he was unable to execute the task which
had so unexpectedly devolved upon him in behalf of his brethren
and himself. He therefore begged the company to imagine all that
grateful hearts could prompt the most eloquent to utter, and that
would be a copy of their feelings. (Applause.) He begged to
trespass another moment on their attention, for the purpose of
expressing the thanks of the members of the Fund to the Gentlemen
of the Edinburgh Professional Society of Musicians, who, finding
that this meeting was appointed to take place on the same evening
with their concert, had, in the handsomest manner, agreed to
postpone it. Although it was his duty thus to preface the toast
he had to propose, he was certain the meeting required no further
inducement than the recollection of the pleasure the exertions of
those gentlemen had often afforded them within those walls, to
join heartily in drinking "Health and Prosperity to the Edinburgh
Professional Society of Musicians." (Applause.)

Mr. PAT. ROBERTSON Proposed "The Health of Mr. Jeffrey," whose
absence was owing to indisposition. The public was well aware
that he was the most distinguished advocate at the bar. He was
likewise distinguished for the kindness, frankness, and cordial
manner in which he communicated with the junior members of the
profession, to the esteem of whom his splendid talents would
always entitle him.

Mr. J. MACONOCHIE gave "The Health of Mrs. Siddons, senior, the
most distinguished ornament of the stage."

Sir W. SCOTT said that if anything could reconcile him to old
age, it was the reflection that he had seen the rising as well as
the setting sun of Mrs. Siddons. He remembered well their
breakfasting near to the Theatre--waiting the whole day--the
crushing at the doors at six o'clock--and their going in and
counting their fingers till seven o'clock. But the very first
step--the very first word which she uttered--was sufficient to
overpay him for all his labours. The house was literally
electrified; and it was only from witnessing the effects of her
genius that he could guess to what a pitch theatrical excellence
could be carried. Those young gentlemen who have only seen the
setting sun of this distinguished performer, beautiful and serene
as that was, must give us old fellows, who have seen its rise and
its meridian, leave to hold our heads a little higher.

Mr. DUNDAS gave "The Memory of Home, the author of Douglas."

Mr. MACKAY here announced that the subscriptions for the night
amounted to L280, and he expressed gratitude for this substantial
proof of their kindness. [We are happy to state that
subscriptions have since flowed in very liberally.]

Mr. MACKAY here entertained the company with a pathetic song.

Sir WALTER SCOTT apologized for having so long forgotten their
native land. He would now give "Scotland, the land of Cakes."
He would give every river, every loch, every hill, from Tweed to
Johnnie Groat's house--every lass in her cottage and countess in
her castle--and may her sons stand by her, as their fathers did
before them; and he who would not drink a bumper to his toast,
may he never drink whisky more!

Sir WALTER SCOTT here gave "Lord Meadowbank," who returned
thanks.

Mr. H. G. BELL said that he should not have ventured to intrude
himself upon the attention of the assembly, did he not feel
confident that the toast he begged to have the honour to propose
would make amends for the very imperfect manner in which he might
express his sentiments regarding it. It had been said that,
notwithstanding the mental supremacy of the present age--
notwithstanding that the page of our history was studded with
names destined also for the page of immortality--that the genius
of Shakespeare was extinct, and the fountain of his inspiration
dried up. It might be that these observations were unfortunately
correct, or it might be that we were bewildered with a name, not
disappointed of the reality; for though Shakespeare had brought a
Hamlet, an Othello, and a Macbeth, an Ariel, a Juliet, and a
Rosalind, upon the stage, were there not authors living who had
brought as varied, as exquisitely painted, and as undying a range
of characters into our hearts? The shape of the mere mould into
which genius poured its golden treasures was surely a matter of
little moment, let it be called a Tragedy, a Comedy, or a
Waverley Novel. But even among the dramatic authors of the
present day, he was unwilling to allow that there was a great and
palpable decline from the glory of preceding ages, and his toast
alone would bear him out in denying the truth of the proposition.
After eulogizing the names of Baillie, Byron, Coleridge, Maturin,
and others, he begged to have the honour of proposing "The Health
of James Sheridan Knowles."

Sir WALTER SCOTT. Gentlemen, I crave a bumper all over. The
last toast reminds me of a neglect of duty. Unaccustomed to a
public duty of this kind, errors in conducting the ceremonial of
it may be excused, and omissions pardoned. Perhaps I have made
one or two omissions in the course of the evening for which I
trust you will grant me your pardon and indulgence. One thing in
particular I have omitted, and I would now wish to make amends
for it by a libation of reverence and respect to the memory of
SHAKESPEARE. He was a man of universal genius, and from a period
soon after his own era to the present day he has been universally
idolized. When I come to his honoured name, I am like the sick
man who hung up his crutches at the shrine, and was obliged to
confess that he did not walk better than before. It is indeed
difficult, gentlemen, to compare him to any other individual.
The only one to whom I call at all compare him is the wonderful
Arabian dervise, who dived into the body of each, and in this way
became familiar with the thoughts and secrets of their hearts.
He was a man of obscure origin, and, as a player, limited in his
acquirements; but he was born evidently with a universal genius.
His eyes glanced at all the varied aspects of life, and his fancy
portrayed with equal talents the king on the throne and the clown
who crackles his chestnuts at a Christmas fire. Whatever note he
takes, he strikes it just and true, and awakens a corresponding
chord in our own bosoms, Gentlemen, I propose "The Memory of
William Shakespeare."

Glee--"Lightly tread, 'tis hallowed ground."

After the glee, Sir WALTER rose and begged to propose as a toast
the health of a lady, whose living merit is not a little
honourable to Scotland. The toast (said he) is also flattering
to the national vanity of a Scotchman, as the lady whom I intend
to propose is a native of this country. From the public her
works have met with the most favourable reception. One piece of
hers, in particular, was often acted here of late years, and gave
pleasure of no mean kind to many brilliant and fashionable
audiences. In her private character she (he begged leave to say)
is as remarkable as in a public sense she is for her genius. In
short, he would in one word name--"Joanna Baillie."

This health being drunk, Mr. THORNE was called on for a song, and
sung, with great taste and feeling, "The Anchor's Weighed."

W. MENZIES, Esq., Advocate, rose to propose the health of a
gentleman for many years connected at intervals with the dramatic
art in Scotland. Whether we look at the range of characters he
performs, or at the capacity which he evinces in executing those
which he undertakes, he is equally to he admired. In all his
parts he is unrivalled. The individual to whom he alluded is
(said he) well known to the gentlemen present, in the characters
of Malvolio, Lord Ogleby, and the Green Man; and in addition to
his other qualities, he merits, for his perfection in these
characters, the grateful sense of this meeting. He would wish,
in the first place, to drink his health as an actor. But he was
not less estimable in domestic life, and as a private gentleman;
and when he announced him as one whom the chairman had honoured
with his friendship, he was sure that all present would cordially
join him in drinking "The Health of Mr. Terry."

Mr. WILLIAM ALLAN, banker, said that he did not rise with the
intention of making a speech. He merely wished to contribute in
a few words to the mirth of the evening--an evening which
certainly had not passed off without some blunders. It had been
understood--at least he had learnt or supposed from the
expressions of Mr. Pritchard--that it would be sufficient to put
a paper, with the name of the contributor, into the box, and that
the gentleman thus contributing would be called on for the money
next morning. He, for his part, had committed a blunder but it
might serve as a caution to those who may be present at the
dinner of next year. He had merely put in his name, written on a
slip of paper, without the money. But he would recommend that,
as some of the gentlemen might be in the same situation, the box
should be again sent round, and he was confident that they, as
well as he, would redeem their error.

Sir WALTER SCOTT said that the meeting was somewhat in the
situation of Mrs. Anne Page, who had L300 and possibilities. We
have already got, said he, L280, but I should like, I confess, to
have the L300. He would gratify himself by proposing the health
of an honourable person, the Lord Chief Baron, whom England has
sent to us, and connecting with it that of his "yokefellow on the
bench," as Shakespeare says, Mr. Baron Clerk--The Court of
Exchequer.

Mr. Baron CLERK regretted the absence of his learned brother.
None, he was sure, could be more generous in his nature, or more
ready to help a Scottish purpose.

Sir WALTER SCOTT,--There is one who ought to be remembered on
this occasion. He is, indeed, well entitled to our grateful
recollection--one, in short, to whom the drama in this city owes
much. He succeeded, not without trouble, and perhaps at some
considerable sacrifice, in establishing a theatre. The younger
part of the company may not recollect the theatre to which I
allude, but there are some who with me may remember by name a
place called Carrubber's Close. There Allan Ramsay established
his little theatre. His own pastoral was not fit for the stage,
but it has its admirers in those who love the Doric language in
which it is written; and it is not without merits of a very
peculiar kind. But laying aside all considerations of his
literary merit, Allan was a good, jovial, honest fellow, who
could crack a bottle with the best. "The Memory of Allan
Ramsay."

Mr. MURRAY, on being requested, sung "'Twas merry in the hall,"
and at the conclusion was greeted with repeated rounds of
applause.

Mr. JONES.--One omission I conceive has been made. The cause of
the Fund has been ably advocated, but it is still susceptible, in
my opinion, of an additional charm--

"Without the smile from partial beauty won,
Oh, what were man?--a world without a sun!"

And there would not be a darker spot in poetry than would be the
corner in Shakespeare Square, if, like its fellow, the Register
Office, the Theatre were deserted by the ladies. They are, in
fact, our most attractive stars. "The Patronesses of the
Theatre, the Ladies of the City of Edinburgh." This toast I ask
leave to drink with all the honours which conviviality can
confer.

Mr. PATRICK ROBERTSON would be the last man willingly to
introduce any topic calculated to interrupt the harmony of the
evening; yet he felt himself treading upon ticklish ground when
he approached the region of the Nor' Loch. He assured the
company, however, that he was not about to enter on the subject
of the Improvement Bill. They all knew that if the public were
unanimous--if the consent of all parties were obtained--if the
rights and interests of everybody were therein attended to,
saved, reserved, respected, and excepted--if everybody agreed to
it--and, finally, a most essential point, if nobody opposed it
--then, and in that case, and provided also that due intimation
were given, the bill in question might pass--would pass--or
might, could, would, or should pass--all expenses being defrayed.
(Laughter.) He was the advocate of neither champion, and would
neither avail himself of the absence of the Right Hon. the Lord
Provost, nor take advantage of the non-appearance of his friend,
Mr. Cockburn. (Laughter.) But in the midst of these civic broils
there had been elicited a ray of hope that, at some future
period, in Bereford Park, or some other place, if all parties
were consulted and satisfied, and if intimation were duly made at
the kirk doors of all the parishes in Scotland, in terms of the
statute in that behalf provided--the people of Edinburgh might by
possibility get a new Theatre. (Cheers and laughter.) But
wherever the belligerent powers might be pleased to set down this
new Theatre, he was sure they all hoped to meet the Old Company
in it. He should therefore propose "Better Accommodation to the
Old Company in the new Theatre, site unknown."--Mr. Robertson's
speech was most humorously given, and he sat down amidst loud
cheers and laughter.

Sir WALTER SCOTT.--Wherever the new Theatre is built, I hope it
will not be large. There are two errors which we commonly
commit--the one arising from our pride, the other from our
poverty. If there are twelve plans, it is odds but the largest,
without any regard to comfort, or an eye to the probable expense,
is adopted. There was the College projected on this scale, and
undertaken in the same manner, and who shall see the end of it?
It has been building all my life, and may probably last during
the lives of my children, and my children's children. Let not
the same prophetic hymn be sung when we commence a new Theatre,
which was performed on the occasion of laying the foundation-
stone of a certain edifice, "Behold the endless work begun."
Playgoing folks should attend somewhat to convenience. The new
Theatre should, in the first place, be such as may be finished in
eighteen months or two years; and, in the second place, it should
be one in which we can hear our old friends with comfort. It is
better that a moderate-sized house should be crowded now and
then, than to have a large theatre with benches continually
empty, to the discouragement of the actors and the discomfort of
the spectators. (Applause.) He then commented in flattering
terms on the genius of Mackenzie and his private worth, and
concluded by proposing "The Health of Henry Mackenzie, Esq."

Immediately afterwards he said:--Gentlemen, it is now wearing
late, and I shall request permission to retire. Like Partridge,
I may say, "NON SUM QUALIS ERAM." At my time of day I can agree
with Lord Ogilvie as to his rheumatism, and say, "There's a
twinge." I hope, therefore, you will excuse me for leaving the
chair.--The worthy Baronet then retired amidst long, loud, and
rapturous cheering.

Mr. PATRICK ROBERTSON was then called to the chair by common
acclamation.

Gentlemen, said Mr. Robertson, I take the liberty of asking you
to fill a bumper to the very brim. There is not one of us who
will not remember, while he lives, being present at this day's
festival, and the declaration made this night by the gentleman
who has just left the chair. That declaration has rent the veil
from the features of the Great Unknown--a name which must now
merge in the name of the Great Known. It will be henceforth
coupled with the name of SCOTT, which will become familiar like a
household word. We have heard the confession from his own
immortal lips--(cheering)--and we cannot dwell with too much or
too fervent praise on the merits of the greatest man whom
Scotland has produced.

After which several other toasts were given, and Mr. Robertson
left the room about half-past eleven. A few choice spirits,
however, rallied round Captain Broadhead of the 7th Hussars, who

was called to the chair, and the festivity was prolonged till an
early hour on Saturday morning.

The band of the Theatre occupied the gallery, and that of the 7th
Hussars the end of the room, opposite the chair, whose
performances were greatly admired. It is but justice to Mr. Gibb
to state that the dinner was very handsome (though slowly served
in), and the wines good. The attention of the stewards was
exemplary. Mr. Murray and Mr. Vandenhoff, with great good taste,
attended on Sir Walter Scott's right and left, and we know that
he has expressed himself much gratified by their anxious
politeness and sedulity.

Sir Walter Scott

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