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pulled downand let him put his hand on
his heart (as they did in the good old
sterling comedies), and say whether he
remembers a single comfortable place in the
whole of that eminently national edifice
ranging all over it from the floor to the
ceiling? Let him say whether he remembers
that Theatre as a scene of public
protests and riots in consequence of the
exquisite uneasiness of every seat in it, or as
a scene of happy, crowded, cramped,
perspiring placidity, in which a British pit
perched itself upon its native knife-boards,
with its sides squeezed, its knees jammed,
and its back unsupported, a spectacle of
national discomfort and national contentment,
such as no other civilised city could
show in any part of Europe ? No! no! If
an English audience wanted to be made
comfortable, the old Adelphi Theatre could
never have kept its doors open through a
single season; and certain other national
that is to say, universally uncomfortable
theatres still in existence, would be shut up.
Are they shut up? Are they not, on the
contrary, crowded every night ? Is a murmur
ever heard from the contentedly-cramped
audience? I promised you logic, just now;
and here you have it, I think, with a

Having established my principle, and
proved it by facts which no man can deny, I
may now come down to details, and have it
out personally with Mr. Webster.

My first complaint is, that I am bewildered
by this innovating management, in two ways,
even before I take my seat inside the New
Adelphi at all. In the first place, I am not
fined a shilling at the Box Office, for the
offence of wanting to engage a seat at the
Theatre. Why not, when other theatres
continue to fine me with perfect impunity?
If I really resented such treatment, I should
bring those other theatres to their senses by
not going near them till they had removed
their shilling tax. But I do nothing of the
sort; I pay it uncomplainingly when I am
asked for it. And here is Mr. Webster losing
money in the vain attempt to teach me, as a
true-born Englishman, not to let myself be
taken in. And there are the other managers,
who know the public better, laughing at him
in their sleeves, and profiting daily by the
good old system. Speaking as a man of
business, I don't mind acknowledging that
this bewilders me to begin with.

Then again, when I go into the theatre,
and pass the money-takers, and enter the
lobbies, what do I see? Womenon my
word of honourquiet, civil, quick, neatly-
dressed, attentive women, who give me my
play bill gratuitously, and show me to my place,
and expect nothing for it. Here is a pretty
innovation! Women made useful in England,
in an occupation, which they are especially
well fitted to follow! Women removed from
those famous hearths and homes of ours,
which I always score with an approving line
in pencil, when my favourite authors present
them to me in my favourite capital letters!
What next, I should like to know? An
inoffensive Englishman, well acquainted with the
national customs, enters a theatre, after
paying to go in, keeping an extra shilling between
his finger and thumb, to pay again as usual
expects to meet a scowling male extortioner
in frowsy black who takes his bribe, as a
matter of course, before he opens the door
and confronts instead a pleasant little
woman, who never so much as looks in the
direction of the visitor's waistcoat-pocket,
and waits on him as civilly as if she were
his own servant. Upon my life, you might
have knocked me into my seat with a
feather, when I first took it at the New Adelphi

Wait, thoughI retract the word seat, as
applied to Mr. Webster's Orchestra Stalls.
My ideamy national English idea of a
stall-seat at a London theatre, implies
something which is too narrow and too high
something which slopes the wrong way, and
lets me slide down till my knees fit nicely
into the edge of the bench before me
something entirely unconnected with carpets below
and footstools in frontsomething, in short,
which, in respect of its intense discomfort
and wretchedness, is the exact reverse of my
seat at home. Do I meet with this at the
New Adelphi? I can hardly write it for
laughing; but I actually sit, in this deplorably
un-English building, in a real arm-chair, a
luxurious private arm-chairI can see the
stage without craning my head till I get a
stiff neckmy neighbours have room to pass,
without squeezing me against my seat;
and, to crown all, instead of paying more for
these foreign luxuries than I pay for my
national discomforts at my favourite national
theatre, not a hundred miles off, I am actually
charged a shilling less! Most ridiculous, is
it not?

I stand up, and look about me. Why, here
is an English Theatre, from every part of
which everybody can see the stage. I remark
a dress-circle with as much room in it as
there is in the stalls; with seats which can
be raised for the convenience of passing and
repassing; with special arrangements for hats,
cloaks, and opera-glasses; with an open
balcony in front, to show the bright colours of
the ladies' dressesand, as I live, with a row
of private boxes rising behind it. Private
boxes in England, with a front view of the
stageprivate boxes from which four people
can see without two of them standing up
private boxes, price one poundprivate boxes,
price ten shillings, even, if there are only two
of us who want to go into them! I think of
my one-eleven-six, or my two pound two, and
my angular peep behind the scenes, and my
bird's-eye view of the actors' heads, at my
favourite national establishment; and look
down at my play-bill to collect my thoughts