Cobourg Theatre 1833

Passing through your pretty village on Tuesday last, and hearing the fine Steam Boat at that time on the stocks would be launched on the following day, I was induced to delay my departure in order to witness it. I have seldom or never seen a finer specimen of naval architecture, and as I stood on the beach that evening, and reflected that the timber of which she was built but three months since was growing in the wild jackless forest - it gave me a most favorable idea of the talents and activity of the Master Builder, and of the enterprise and spirit of the Proprietors.

I retired to my rest at the INN hoping that the morrow's sun would rise without a cloud to witness tho entry of "the Cobourg" into that element of which she is destined to become one of the greatest ornaments.

But the elements appeared to have combined to disappoint us; for on the Wednesday morning, the heavens were opened and the rain descended in torrents, and doubtless kept numbers from the scene; however the crowds who attended in spite of wind and weather surprised me very much, not being aware that the country in the neighborhood was much settled. At length preparations being completed, the word was given and the vessel began to move slowly and majestically from her ways, but owing to a bolt rising up as I have been since informed, just as we were expecting to see her enter the water she stopt short, putting an end to the cheers of the multitude, and darkening every face with the clouds of disappointment. Stranger tho' I was, and unacquainted with a single individual, I felt as much for failure as if I had been interested in the undertaking. I have seen launches of all kinds, both at home and in the States, from the smallest craft to a ship of the line, and I never saw any vessel leave her ways in better style, or with more certainty of entering the water in safety.

Being disappointed in seeing a launch, I determined to make it up by going to your Amateur Theatre, which I perceived by handbills, would be open that night, promising myself at any rate some amusement. I have been in my youthful days a bit of an Amateur myself, and felt therefore more interest in the cause, accordingly a little before seven o'clock, I took my seat in a very neat little theatre which reflects the greatest credit on those persons who fitted it up; the house filled rapidly, and I was delighted and surprised to see such a numerous and fashionable audience before whom even the heroes of old Drury might have been proud to appear, I could scarcely have be believed it possible that a small village which but a few years ago was a wilderness tenanted only by the wolf or savage bear, and where the weary traveller would have looked in vain for a place to lay his head, could now in a few hours collect together such an assemblage of elegant dressed women and beautiful girls as I saw there, many of whom "might well have graced a Royal court".

From what I have seen of the audience, I began to form a very favorable opinion of the actors, & anxiously awaited the drawing up of the curtain, the bustle behind which encreased every moment. I confess I felt rather afraid as to the success of the female characters, knowing, from experience the difficulty of gentlemen putting on the manners and appearance of ladies with their attire. But I had a brief space for reflection, for the curtain drawing up, the first scene commenced with Mr. and Mrs. Hardcastle, which was performed in a manner that justified the favourable opinion I had formed. The play now proceeded and each moment added to my surprise and pleasure. The Ale-house scene with the low fellows was admirable, and only exceeded by the very laughable one between Mr. H. and the awkward servants; Diggory and Roger were perfect characters; and when Diggory says to his master that he must not tell the story at which they had all laughed for twenty years, I thought I should have died on the spot. But I forget the ladies. Miss H. performed well, dressed well, better indeed than amateurs in general, and succeeded to admiration in the assumption of those little airs and graces that mark the female. But I fear I cannot give my unqualified approbation to another of your ladies - I mean Miss Neville - not but that the charcter was pretty well dressed/ Bu then, who ever heard of a Miss standing, I should think, nearly six feet high without her shoes.

Was it not possible to find among the company some person who would have approached a little nearer to the common standard of young and delicate ladies. Hastings, the lover was not as tall by three inches, and I should consider it very dangerous for him to wed the young lady; and then Tony's exclamation, that Bet Bouncer would make two of she!!! In that case Bet would have made an excellent mate for Goliath. Had you wanted a Meg Merrilies, a Helen McGregor, or good old Queen Bess, it might have done; but as it was, it bordered so much on the absurd, that I could not by any exertion of imagination fancy I looked upon Miss Neville. Tony L. was creditably performed, and the costume good. Young Marlow, good, particularly in the bashful scene with Miss H. and the one with her father, when he calls his servant to say whether he had not ordered them to drink as much as possible for the good of the house - the expression of amazement and anger in the face of Mr. H. (who by the by is more than a mere amateur) was excellent; and then the scene where Tony has misled his mother , and she takes her husband for a highwayman was beyond any thing I could have pictured to myself. The terror of the old lady, "spare our lives good Mr. Highwayman," the surprise of her husband, and the delight of Tony at the success of his stratagem was incomparable; but I must not forget Hastings, who sustained his part with great spirit.

If I do not conclude I am sure I shall tire your patience Mr. Editor; notwithstanding I must say a few words of the farce, which was laughable enough. I thought I recognized my friend Diggory in Sheepface, for surely the company does not possess two such stars, and Mr. H. in the Lawyer; Snarl was also very good. Before I finish I must give my mite of approbation to the Scenery, which I was informed was the production of one of the company; it was exceedingly well executed and reflected great credit on his taste and judgment. I suppose it had been painted for another piece, as some of the scenes were rather unappropriate, however good.

I am now about to proceed on my journey, but from what I have seen of your village during my brief sojourn, I trust, at no very distant day, to return to finish my earthly pilgrimage among you, and become personally acquainted with some of those who by their talents and exertions, contributed so much to my amusement on the evening of the 29th. With the most sincere wishes for the success of Cobourg, of "THE COBOURG", and of your Amateurs, Believe me, your obedient Servant, A TRAVELLER 1833.

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