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Anticipating histories: emotional life at Covent Garden Theatre, February 1811.

The winter of 1811 figures prominently in canonical accounts of Romantic theater. The dispute over the infiltration of hippodrama into Covent Garden Theatre is central both to Jane Moody's argument about the triumph of illegitimacy and to Jeffrey Cox's and Michael Gamer's influential Broadview Anthology of Romantic Drama: their careful presentation of Blue Beard, Timour the Tartar, and The Quadrapeds of Quedlinhurgh has enabled thorough discussion of the cultural debates surrounding the suffusion of illegitimate genres in the patent houses. (1) I am returning to this archive with different historical objectives and questions. In her recent book Cruel Optimism, Lauren Berlant asks a crucial question for cultural analysis: "How can it be said that aesthetically mediated affective responses exemplify a shared historical sense?" (2) If we transpose Berlant's question to the theater it suggests that the affect instantiated by performance enacts historical knowledge. Rather than consigning emotional reaction and investment to a negligible zone of inchoate individual response, Berlant's question asks us to think about how "Affect's saturation of form can communicate the conditions under which a historical moment appears as a visceral moment, assessing the way a thing that is happening finds its genre." (3)

Everything we know about the late Georgian playhouse points towards precisely this affective saturation of form. The emotion activated by Siddons, the emergence of melodrama, the complex elaboration of pantomime, the cult of Kean: all of these phenomena are integrally tied to heightened affective bonds between audience, player, and theatrical technology. Furthermore the theater of Romanticism is a wartime theater whose extraordinary level of generic experimentation both in and out of the patent houses constitutes a response to the overwhelming social crises of war and social unrest. (4) Significantly, the history of how these crises were aesthetically mediated in performance was bifurcated by radical transformations in theatrical space. Just as performance venues proliferated beyond Westminster, the vast expansion of Co vent Garden Theatre resulted in a crisis of its very own--i.e., the Old Price Riots--and suddenly changed not only what kind of emotional transactions were viable in the theater, but also what form historical consciousness would take. (5) The OP riots can be understood as the sign of a complex modulation from one kind of affective economy to another. The close proximity that had previously enabled intimate affective bonds between player and audience was a thing of the past and thus the process of collectively engaging with historical crisis required generic innovation. The emergence of melodrama and new forms of spectacle more suited to the expanded space of Covent Garden engaged emotion in substantively different ways than the performance of interpersonal ties so crucial to five-act comedy and tragedy. As we will see, this new form of affective engagement supplemented or even bypassed the representation of social relations to target the bodily, visceral lives of the audience.

The turmoil surrounding the staging of hippodrama in Covent Garden can be traced to this fundamental shift in the space of performance. As Moody argues, the decision to stage an equestrian Blue Beard arose from a need to offset lost revenues following the success of the OP riots, and Blue Beard netted over, 21,000 [pounds sterling] in 41 nights. Horses dominated Covent Garden's program from the opening of Blue Beard on 18 February 1811 through the even more inflammatory hippodramatic production of Timour the Tartar that opened on 29 April 1811. As Moody states, these productions "came to symbolize the decadent triumph of theatrical illegitimacy." (6) The Morning Chronicle demanded that Blue Beard "be transferred to its proper sphere, which is Astley's Amphitheatre." (7) But this assumes that there was something appropriate to the newly expanded sphere of Covent Garden. The 1810-11 theatrical season was, among other things, an experiment in seeing what would work in this space.

Clearly the revival of Blue Beard did well; but closer inspection of Covent Garden's calendar of plays for January and February of 1811 shows that this was a season of unusual successes. If we ignore the small scattering of Shakespearean and other stock plays, Kemble staged three patriotic mainpieces: a historical opera by Willem Dimond based on the life of Gustavus Vasa, Thomas Morton's musical adaptation of Sir Walter Scott's quasi-historical poem The Lady of the Lake entitled The Knight of Snowdoun, and Kemble's own revival of Addison's Cato. All of these plays--even Cato--relied on music and spectacle to supplement spoken dialogue. But more importantly these manifestly historical mainpieces were supplemented by one of two wildly successful afterpieces. From the Christmas season to 14 February, Farley's Harlequin and Asmodeus; or, Cupid on Crutches played virtually every night. It was one of the most famous shows of the popular clown Joseph Grimaldi. After the Christmas pantomime closed on 14 February, the much-anticipated equestrian revival of Colman's comic opera Blue Beard took the town by storm.

This essay contends that the relationship between these historical mainpieces and specific pantomimical and hippodramatic productions speaks to a larger set of historical forces enveloping Britain at this time. As I work through Covent Garden's calendar I explore each evening's performance in its entirety as a dynamic entertainment commodity. (8) And I argue that Grimaldi's tricks and Astley's horses are necessary supplements that phantasmatically attenuate some of the unresolvable problems instantiated by historical drama itself. In order to make that argument, I pay a great deal of attention to chronology and I repeat one of Kemble's key managerial decisions: the need to go Astley's Royal Amphitheatre in order to think about matters of life and death, and death in life.

Mainpiece Patriotism and the Problem of Life

The winter of 1811 was a period of great social insecurity for Great Britain. In the fall of 1810 and the first two months of 1811, it once again became clear that George III's madness, likely arising from an untreated porphyria infection, had returned permanently. The papers commented daily on the King's health and reported on the complex legislative procedures undertaken to enact the Regency Bill in early February. This transitional moment in the history of the monarchy was matched by a similar threshold moment in the Peninsular War. During the winter of 1810-11 Wellington's troops were slowly starving Massena's forces and preparing for their successful counterattack, which in many ways signaled a turning point in the war against Napoleon. These events were linked by an uncomfortable feeling of untimeliness: George III's reign was ending too soon; Wellington's operations in Portugal couldn't come soon enough; and the public was mired in a strange state of historical anticipation.

In this context, it comes as no surprise that the three primary Covent Garden mainpieces were exercises in patriotism. Cato had long been understood as a panegyric to British liberty: in this manifestation the conflict between Cato and Caesar allegorized the war between noble Britain and tyrannical Napoleon. Despite Genest's harsh account of Morton's The Knight of Snowdoun, audiences were thrilled by its spectacle and its blunt exhibition of loyalty. (9) The least commercially successful of this historical triad, William Dimond's historical opera Gustavus Vasa, the Hero of the North, opened in early December 1810 and re-engaged the well-known story of Sweden's liberation from the tyranny of the Danish king Cristiern by the virtuous Gustavus. Like many patriotic plays of the period, the usurping tyrant is a type for Napoleon, but some papers complained that the opera was hardly new: it was a musical version of the author's Hero of the North, which was itself an adaptation of Henry Brooke's 1739 precursor. In all three manifestations of the story the "single and great moral was 'Patriotism, or the Love of Country,' embodied in the character of Gustavus." (10) It was a patriotic show successful enough to close out 1810 but little


Like the country, Covent Garden was in a holding pattern. The only thing driving receipts in January of 1811 while Kemble's company was working up Cato and The Knight of Snowdoun was Grimaldi. As had become the norm, holiday pantomime underwrote much of the theatrical season, but Grimaldi's famous performance in Farley's Harlequin and Asmodeus; or, Cupid on Crutches--about which I will have more to say later--was particularly successful. Throughout this period Grimaldi was increasingly known for "tricks of construction, the production of a novel whole from a selection of found objects." (11) In this afterpiece, Grimaldi would assemble a Vegetable Man from "melons, turnips and carrots garnered from Covent Garden Market, " but when the Vegetable Man sprang to life Grimaldi would gamely strike down the uncanny monster of his own creation (12) (fig. 1). Night after night audiences came to see the Vegetable Man brought to life and just as quickly killed. What interests me about this trick is that non-human elements take on certain characteristics of life only to find themselves returned to fragmentary death. When Cato opened to universal acclaim on 26 January it was paired with Harlequin and Asmodeus. And when Cato was momentarily put aside 10 days later for the The Knight of Snowdoun, Harlequin and Asmodeus and the Vegetable Man continued unabated. If we look carefully at the reviews for these two mainpieces, we can see why the Vegetable Man still needed to be on the program.

Kemble's revival of Cato was by any standards a remarkable decision. The play, although well known, had largely fallen out of the repertory. In part because it was increasingly deemed unplayable, and in part because of its enthusiastic adoption by the American colonists as an anti-imperial script, Cato was considered obsolete during the late-Georgian period. But by 1811 it was not difficult to mobilize once again the allegories first set into motion by Addison. In fact, the revival was a return of sorts to the anti-French dynamics of the original production because the threat to the Catonic ideal at this moment was clearly Napoleon. Firmly entrenched in Portugal, Wellington awaited engagement with the forces of Caesar under Massena's command. But if this situation seemed auspicious for a rehearsal of the same old allegories and yet another encounter with the problems that Lisa Freeman has identified regarding the death of republican Rome, I have argued elsewhere that Kemble's Cato is an allegorical rejoinder to the governmental crisis precipitated by George III's madness. (13)

As the reviews and his promptbooks indicate, Kemble altered the end of Act IV, scene iv in symptomatic ways. This is the crucial scene in which Cato is informed of the death of his impetuous son Marcus. In Addison's script it is the moment when all emotional ties, even those of father to son, are subordinated to love of country and love of liberty. Kemble allowed a certain amount of parental emotion to permeate the scene when he introduced a musical procession and a tableau of Marcus's body surrounded by weeping Senators. This display around Marcus was supplemented by a remarkable rewriting of the scene such that:

The verses in which Cato says to Juba,

   "Thy virtues, Prince, if I foresee aright,
   "Will one day make thee great."

   Were seized on by the house with the most lively emotion. Mr.
   KEMBLE gave his peculiar energy to the inference from the passage;
   and four distinct enthusiastic bursts of applause, demonstrated the
   feeling of the public towards the PRINCE of WALES. (14)

Kemble's rewriting of this speech suppresses Cato's natural son Portius by recommending that the favoured "son" Juba take on the mantle of the republic. That this is George is speaking to the morally suspect Prince of Wales would not have been lost on the audience; thus the entire recalibration of this speech is aimed at reforming the soon-to-be Regent. The explicit reference in the ensuing lines to vice now plays as a condemnation of the Prince of Wales's past public persona:

   Content thyself to be obscurely good:
   When vice prevails, and impious men bear sway,
   The post of honour is a private station. (15)

Through a curious act of splitting, Cato's speech both honors the Prince of Wales and cuts him off from his past life of dissipation. Marcus, the dissipated son, is dead; Cato's living son, Portius, now figures for the politically disappointing Prince of Wales; and Juba emerges as the future ideal Regent. In a sense, the allegorical inference prompted by Kemble's performance reinvents the character of the Prince of Wales for the future Regency.

But this necessarily means that Kemble becomes George III's effigy and thus is performing what his king could not do: he is bidding adieu to the nation with dignity and parental concern. With George hi fully incapacitated, the Regency Bill enabled governance to proceed as if he were dead. Act v achieves aesthetically what Parliament had to enact politically--it allowed the audience, and by extension the nation, to imagine the king's death in life. (16) The challenge for Parliament lay in how to migrate one half of "King-in-Parliament" to a holding pen of sorts in order to make room for a new "King." The challenge for Kemble lay in how to embody a living leader ineluctably driving towards his own self-slaughter without lapsing into tragic closure. The only way out was to elevate a surrogate from within the script--in this case the actual son Charles Kemble now figured as the ideal Regent: Juba.

However, reviews indicate that Kemble's performance of Cato's soliloquy at the beginning of Act v verged on failure because it drew attention away from the invocation of the Prince of Wales that elicited such strong response only moments before at the close of Act IV. (17) When the curtain rose on Act v, the audience confronted George in yet again, seated in a chair, at the end of his life (fig. 2). By turning the monarch into an object of veneration, Kemble threatened to overshadow the vigorous anticipatory inauguration of the Regent at the end of Act iv, and suddenly it became Kemble's task not to save Cato from Cato, but to reactivate the loud plaudits for Juba's future. As the Morning Post reported, it was Kemble's performance of the final section of Cato's soliloquy, in which he invests in Plato's vision of the soul's immortal youth, that converted audience aversion to "loud plaudits." (18) Kemble's cold declamation of much of the speech elicited desire for a transference of Cato's soul forward through time, and thus he subtly inculcated a yearning for succession prior to George III's actual death that could only secure the future of the Regency.

The historicity of Kemble's Cato, as with so many plays in the repertoire, relies on the mobilization of topical allegory in the scene of performance. But the problem is that allegory always does too much. The desire to figure forth an ideal Regent comes with many infelicitous implications. It draws attention to how George III's madness places him in a liminal space between life and death. It also signals the need to separate the Regent from the history of the man who would be king, for the dissolute Prince of Wales makes a poor Juba. Both of these historical implications require a paradoxical separation from the past that is perhaps best captured by a reversal of Benjamin's famous angel. Rather than being propelled into the future while looking backwards, audiences at Covent Garden, in the name of history, were faced away from the past and directed resolutely at an immediate future occupied by Joe Grimaldi, or later by Astley's horses.

Is it too jarring to suggest that Grimaldi's game with the Vegetable Man is intimately connected to the anxieties explored allegorically in Kemble's Cato? After all the turnips and melons, now in fragments, were once vibrantly alive. As Grimaldi attaches them to one another, life slowly returns until finally the Vegetable Man emerges as Grimaldi's comic double. In order for Grimaldi to proceed forward through time, for the joke to inhere and the performance to continue, that revenant double, poised between death and life, must be cut down again. What I would like to suggest here is that the precarious historical work enacted by Kemble's Cato in the name of Juba and the Regent's future life is supplemented by Grimaldi's intriguing negotiation with life and death. The problem with Kemble's Cato is that Juba's future is secured by Cato's self-slaughter. Cato, like the Vegetable Man, must be brought to life in order to die; but the allegorical link between George in and Cato means that both figures remain alive in some extra-historical space. Kemble's transformation of Addison's script into a "half-history" play is haunted by memory of Cato's tragedy and thus requires Grimaldi's comedy. Grimaldi manages to do something that Kemble cannot do because Grimaldi is not laden with the allegorical weight of history. He can remain alive and put the Vegetable Man to rest. At the risk of sounding indecorous, this is what the nation needed to do in relation to the king and this is what the Regency Act achieved on 5 February 1811: the Vegetable Man was dealt with and the clown's reign was secure.

Harlequin and Asmodeus is more than a laughable distraction. Grimaldi is enacting what Nietzsche would describe as the capacity to live "unhistorically." (19) That the un-historical clown operates as an apt rejoinder to the theatrical manifestations of both monumental and antiquarian history should not go unnoticed because what Grimaldi's tricks and later Astley's horses demonstrate is the obsolescence of historical narrative, its inability to offer secure notions of the future. (20) In short, these afterpiece entertainments are no less of a symptom of modernity than the revolutionary transformation of society in this period. That this overcoming is achieved through the body's capacity to supplement historical allegory changes how we think about the politics of Romantic theater. For much of the eighteenth century, the mobilization of topical allegory by audiences, players, managers and playwrights was a central device for negotiating historical crisis and change. Political and historical affiliation could be marked by its acceptance or rejection. But during the efflorescence of what the Morning Chronicle calls the "wildness and irregularity of the modern Drama," a host of physical and affective technologies emerged that radically expanded historical engagement beyond mere referentiality into the realm of feeling and beyond. (21) More than ever before theatrical entertainment became a visceral experience heavily reliant on bodily sensation. Historical problematics could be activated at the level of allegory or reference, but then resolved in a seemingly disconnected, un-historical affective field. This is not to say that five-act comedy or tragedy was not also engaged in affective work, but rather to suggest that Romantic theatrical innovation amplified emotional cathexis in a way that exceeded narrative probability and thus opened onto increasingly phantasmatic resolutions to present crises. This is perhaps most evident in the way that war was reterritorialized in the late-Georgian playhouse.

The Living and the Dying

In one of the great--yet heretofore unrecognized--coincidences of theater history, the transition from George III's kingship to the Regency temporarily put Kemble's revival of Cato on hold. On 5 February, the Regency Act was passed and Thomas Morton's The Knight of Snowdoun opened at Covent Garden. (22) If my analysis of Kemble's Cato stresses the bathos of monumental history, Morton's spectacular musical adaptation of Scott's The Lady of Lake allows us to locate a different way of dealing with George III's decline and Wellington's proceedings in the Peninsular War. The Knight of Snowdoun was chock full of elaborate stage effects and no cost was spared on the scenography. In light of the reading of Cato above, it is hardly surprising that the play is quite literally about a missing King who is nevertheless everywhere visible. Because of the immense popularity of the poem, the characters are the only people at Covent Garden who are unaware that the titular Knight of Snowdoun is actually King James V of Scotland in disguise.

In Scott's poem the King exiles the entire Douglas clan and the Earl of Douglas and his daughter take refuge with Roderick Dhu on an island in Loch Katrine. James Fitz-James--i.e. the King--comes to the island and falls in love with Ellen. But Roderick and the loyal Malcolm Graeme are competitors for her affection. As the King's forces threaten to attack Roderick for sheltering Douglas, Douglas goes to surrender to the King. Fitz-James offers to take Ellen to safety but is told that she loves another; he responds by giving her a ring that will obtain any favor from the King. On the way to Stirling Fitz-James fatally wounds Roderick, who is taken captive. When Ellen presents herself at court she discovers Fitz-James's identity and begs for her father's pardon. The King and Douglas are reconciled and Ellen and Malcolm marry.

Morton's adaptation radically restructures the conflict between the King and the Douglas clan by eliminating Malcolm. Ellen now loves Roderick and thus his death is averted. The play ends in a crescendo of encomiums to the patriot king from his strongest detractors. Roderick, whose martial prowess is foregrounded, promises "to guard that happy land, which boasts a merciful and patriot king." King James responds, "Now crown me with the soldier's proudest laurel; for I've destroyed a foe, by making him a friend." (23) The play concludes with a declaration of the loyalty of the Douglas clan, the King's recognition that Douglas's "pure flame of genuine freedom, will never prove a monarch's foe," and then a general Finale:

   Now our Monarch's hopes are crowned,
   Strike your harps, your trumpets sound,
      While joyous we
      The union see
   Of loyalty and liberty. (24)

Beyond the obvious celebration of loyalism it is worth considering the significance of Roderick's revivification.

In The Lady of the Lake, the King stands for centralized national government over the feudal independence of the clans that is figuratively aligned with liberty. In Scott's poem, the King's victory over Roderick and the reconciliation with Douglas instantiates political modernity. As Andrew Lincoln states, "the outlawed chief must resign his independence in the interests of law and national unity--but what is lost in this realm of action can be given back in the realm of romance. And so Scott offers royalty in disguise--Fitz-James the hunter--who can act with the captivating independence of an outlaw." (25) This allows "liberty" to inhere in the state form. By keeping Roderick wounded but alive, Morton goes one step further than Scott by addressing the necessity of the military state apparatus in wartime. He ensures that the military prowess of Roderick enacted in the performance's most spectacular moment is subsumed under the King's centralized state:

   That part of the poem which represents Roderick as calling up his
   warriors in an instant, and in an instant dismissing them, has been
   very judiciously embodied here. We have seldom seen a piece of
   stage effect feet so well managed, and a more striking spectacle
   can hardly be imagined. The concealed outlaws start in a moment
   from their hiding places at the signal of their Chief, and appear a
   very formidable host, covering the mountains in all directions. The
   whole vanish in an instant, in obedience to Roderick, in a manner
   which cannot but excite surprise and afford considerable pleasure.

As military spectacle this is a sign of absolute logistical control, of ideal command. This careful "management" of stage effect has allegorical objectives and it is clear that Roderick is a type for Wellington. The obviation of Roderick's death in no small part constitutes the wishful thinking of a military state in transition.

Despite the play's militarism and its loyalism, anxiety regarding that transition was itself registered by the audience and carefully reported in the press:

   Douglas, in speaking of the King, observes, "That Kings often
   suffer for the faults of their Ministers." This was applied by
   some person to the political state of things at the present, and
   accordingly applauded by them--a circumstance which immediately
   awaked indignation in the greater part of the audience, and a
   general hiss followed which lasted for some moments, and completely
   triumphed over the most violent efforts of those who had first made
   the application. (27)

Which "King" is suffering here is hard to interpret. On one hand, this could be referring to the Regency Bill itself, i.e. that George in was the victim of his Ministers. On the other hand, it could be insinuating that the well-known political antipathy between the Regent and the Prime Minister Spencer Percival was bound to sabotage the country's future. At this early point in the "succession," both concerns were very much alive, but in terms of the play's allegorical potential it is far easier to read the young King James as a type for the ideal regent especially since he spends much of the play as an errant knight only to ascend to the status of patriot king at the close of the final act. That very errancy captures both the waywardness of much of the Prince of Wales's life and the historical irregularity of the Regency itself.

That said, it is ultimately The Knight of Snowdoun's militarism that "electrified the House" and set the stage yet again for Harlequin and Asmodeus, (28) But now the significance of the latter performance lies less in Grimaldi's construction tricks than in the pantomime's scenographic specificity. If Cato would have brought out the liminality of the Vegetable Man, The Knight of Snowdoun's scenography and its loyalist finale would have been immediately amplified by the elaborate views of the Prado and the Harbour of Cadiz in the first six scenes of the pantomime. (29) By bringing the audience to the very Peninsular spaces allegorized by the main-piece's invocation of Wellington, one could argue that Harlequin and Asmodeus is now engaging with both the anxieties of war and the anxieties of succession in turn. The staging of a Spanish bullfight, given special notice in the press, is not quite a military simulation, nor is it a full-blown allegory, but animal death staged and contained is a resonant act in this historical moment not only because it speaks to the anxiety around living death enveloping the monarchy, but also because it anticipates the presence of living horses on the Covent Garden stage in the very near future. Like the bulls in a bullfight, these horses were recruited so that they could be spectacularly put to death.

The horses of course came from Astley's Royal Amphitheatre and would be the star attraction of the afterpiece that would take Harlequin and Asmodeus' place in the theatrical calendar. As is well known, the equestrian Blue Beard elicited intense resistance in the press as a devolution in public taste. However, the Morning Post's coverage was far more concerned with comprehending the appeal of Blue Beard. After assuring its readers, "We do not see that SHAKESPEARE is likely to be trampled under foot by the horses introduced in an after-piece at Covent Garden Theatre, and without meaning any thing disrespectful to the present company of performers, we do not see that one in any way disgraced by such auxiliaries," the paper went on to describe the thrill of seeing Astley's horses in this setting:

   In the early part of the second act, the horses made their first
   appearance, and were greeted with universal applause: the beauty of
   the animals filled every one with admiration, and when they were
   seen ascending the heights with the greatest velocity imaginable,
   the audience were perfectly in raptures. (30)

Many if not all of the audience members would have seen these magnificent animals before at the Astley's. What had changed was the interaction of the horses with the cutting edge scenography of Covent Garden Theatre:

   We should despair of being able to do justice to the last scene in
   description, if our time and our limits would admit of the attempt.
   After a general battle in front of the stage, which is in some
   parts managed very well, though the whole is a good deal confused,
   the contending parties appear on the draw-bridge of the castle. The
   bridge breaks down. The cavalry opposed to the tyrant are below,
   and are here seen to charge up the broken bridge, which is in a
   direction almost perpendicular. Abomelique is conquered. The castle
   is fired, men and horses are seen dying on the stage, and a variety
   of interesting objects presenting themselves to the eye, form a
   coup d'oeil, which we again declare ourselves unable to describe.

The simulated battle and the drama of the dying horse were Astley specialties. (32) But audiences familiar with Astley's shows knew that a horse's death was but a prelude to its revivification. Blue Beard integrated these elements into a larger narrative and crucially supplied a scenic context that maximized the virtuosity of the horse's exertions (fig. 3). However, that very same scenography--Abolemique's Arabian castle--also displaced the cavalry action from its obvious allegorical referent.

On the evening of Blue Beard's equestrian revival, the audience experienced two different engagements with war. The Knight of Snowdoun's most electrifying moment enacted a military fantasy of instantaneous absolute command. The fetishization of Roderick/Wellington was ensured by Morton's own incursion on Scott's narrative: by preserving Roderick the play both preserved and transcended his martial promise. Because this sublation was out of step with historical events, both within Scott's narrative and on the ground in Spain--Wellington would not move for some months yet--the cavalry episodes in Blue Beard become that much more resonant. They achieve that which the mainpiece projects but which has not yet come to pass. In the press coverage of the equestrian Blue Beard, the Peninsular War was never far from the horizon of interpretation:

   BARRYMORE, in the grand equestrian attack in Blue Beard is killed
   by Proxy. (33) What a number of warriors we should have if, in the
   heat of battle, they were permitted to have a double.

      Historians in describing the Roman Theatres, express their
   vastness and magnificence, by their exhibition of mounted troops,
   representing all the evolutions of a real action. This is now
   executed at Covent Garden, in the revival of Blue Beard, where
   the battle of real horses being on a scenic stage, instead of a
   plain area, has the more wonderful and picturesque effect.

   It is said that when the great run of Blue Beard shall be over, the
   horses are to be sent over to Paris, they being the only commodity
   BONAPARTE will allow the importation of from England, with the risk
   of being roasted. (34)

But the interlacing of military and theatrical history here is nothing when compared to this brief squib:

   A French Officer, seeing the astonishing feats of horses and
   horsemanship at Covent-garden Theatre, was heard to say, "What is
   the bridge of Lodi to the bridge of Blue Beard!!! (35)

The Battle of Lodi (1796) was central to the myth of Napoleon's martial prowess and it was one of Massena's most famous actions. But the crucial thing about Lodi is its pastness: it has been superseded by the final bridge scene in Blue Beard, which is now beginning to carry the weight of theatrical prophecy.

Victory here staged night after night fulfills the desire for victory in Spain that was inculcated day after day in the press. In this context, the newspapers, the mainpiece, and the equestrian afterpiece operate as a dynamic patriotic engine that reconstructs the historical fantasy of Scott's poem in a way that heightens the anticipatory resolution projected in the afterpiece. (36) That this is achieved by fetishizing not command but animality should not go unnoticed. As we pass from historical allegory in the mainpiece to the "real action" in the afterpiece, the audience's attention shifts from unfulfilled human potential--the as yet unrealized victory--to the presentness of animal being. I would contend that it is the very un-historicality of animal life--its untimeliness--that allows this performance to phantasmatically realize the future of desire. The doubt that attends the human future, the anxiety that permeates wartime, is here cancelled by the presence of nonhuman existence. What is curious is why so much attention both then and now is placed on the resistance to this mechanism. Why is the Morning Chronicle's dismay over the corruption of the legitimate theater such a cultural flashpoint and why is the Morning Post's fascination with these strategies seen as unimportant? In order to answer this we need to understand more clearly how this equestrian entertainment differed from that on offer south of the Thames.

Death-defying Feats at Astley's Royal Amphitheatre

Kemble and Harris imported a hot commodity--Astley's horses--north across Westminster Bridge to buoy their faltering receipts. On 28 February, about two weeks into the run of Blue Beard, Astley began offering the following extravaganza:

   This present Evening, and Saturday next, at half past six
   precisely, the much admired PONEY RACES; immediately after which,
   Haydn's Minuet danced by two Horses, rode by Mr. Astley, jun. and
   Mr. Collett, and concluding with a third horse dancing a Pas-seul
   on the stage; and for the 1st time, a New Melo Dramatic Indian
   Spectacle, called KONGO KOLO; or, Mandingo Warriors. With extensive
   new Scenery, Dresses, Decorations, Music, &c. Previous to the above
   will be acted also, 1st time, a Comic Burletta, called HARVEST
   HOME; or, the Tythe Sheaf. Equestrian Agility by twelve celebrated
   Horsemen. The whole to conclude with a Military Local Spectacle,
   called LISBON; or, Ruse de Guerre on the Banks of the Tagus.
   Pourtraying occurrences that have lately taken place, particularly
   by the French Foraging Parties crossing the Tagus, General Action,
   Defeat, &c &c. (37)

This diverse entertainment was staged repeatedly at the same time that Covent Garden was running Blue Beard and preparing to open Timour the Tartar, and it allows us to be more precise about the axiological and affective significance of equestrian performance. Horses appear in every component of the evening, but they are used differently as the night progresses. The Poney Races featured jockeys and their mounts racing from the ring, up a ramp through the proscenium, around the stage and back down to the ring again--a mini Newmarket if you will. The Poney Races, however, was not a competition but a stock play in Astley's repertoire and its fictionality is highlighted by Astley's and Collett's dressage performances. The pleasures of horse ballet are followed by two plays: Harvest Home and Kongo Kalo. Of the former we know little, but a script of sorts for the songs in Kongo Kolo exists in the Larpent papers. I will be talking about this play in detail shortly, but horses are deployed in this "Melo Dramatic Indian Spectacle" in much the same way as in Blue Beard. Under the heading of "Business" it is clear that various cavalry actions punctuate the play. After another interlude of pure horsemanship, probably involving less dressage than feats of show riding, the evening concluded with a simulation of the real: in this case, Wellington's engagement with Massena in Portugal.

As Gillian Russell and others have noted, military reenactment was a burgeoning entertainment commodity, but this particular simulation is interesting for two reasons. (38) First, the events in question don't afford much in the way of dramatic incident. Wellington laid waste to the countryside in anticipation of Massena's siege. Wellington's forces were easily supplied because they had access to the sea; Massena's strained supply-lines were destroyed and his foraging parties were cut down by Britain's Portuguese allies. As the French slowly starved through the winter of 1810--u, Wellington's officers reportedly indulged in fox-hunting. Watching soldiers starve is meager theatrical fare, but staged fox-hunting would bring the evening full circle. The horse's place in country entertainments--the race meeting and the fox-hunt--now interjected into the heart of London serves as a vehicle for metropolitan national fantasy.

But the defeat of Massena in the Peninsular War had not yet happened. He did not withdraw until late March of 1811. Astley's anticipatory staging of Lisbon had been running for a month by then. Thus the evening also has a tightly constructed temporal itinerary. The Poney Races had been part of Astley's repertoire for over twenty years and thus hearkened to the pre-revolutionary past; Lisbon was enacting the foreseeable future. In between these bracketing "historical" performances, the audience was engaged in a series of performances whose relation to the experience of the present constituted the very essence of their value. The thrill of watching John Astley dance Haydn's minuet on horseback lies not in its reference to any past social and/or historical experience but rather in the potential of its "nowness" to rupture the temporal continuum. The heightened experience of the singularity of the present allows for a reprieve from the uneasy sense of historical suspension and anticipation that characterized this historical moment. As Peta Tait argues about the circus more generally, "the artistic forms of the circus are conditioned by the presentation of daring and dangerous feats by the trained physical body, and the skillful execution of seemingly impossible physical actions sets the gendered body of the circus performer apart from social norms." (39) John Astley's physical beauty and his extraordinary skill made him a kind of superhuman and thus a particularly idealized object of desire. (40) This helps us to understand the necessary relation between equestrian acrobatics and historical simulation: set as they are in Astley's program they constitute a dialectic between the terror of the real and the thrill of its evasion. The referentiality of Lisbon is of course an effect, but one which always threatens to disclose the anxiety of wartime; Astley's equestrian acrobatics don't refer beyond themselves but they are the material basis on which a fantasy of superhuman capacity is raised. When both are brought together into a patriotic sublation, the audience can experience victory before it comes and leave behind the cares of everyday life in a fantasy of anticipatory plenitude. In other words, the body/ equestrian complex is a death-defying feat on more than the literal level.

None of this would seem to have anything to do with Africans: Kongo Kolo, stuck as it is in the middle of the program, appears to be little more than an interruption. Set in West Africa on the borders of the Fulani Empire, it is spatially distinct from the rest of the evening's entertainment and its status as a "Melo Dramatic Indian Spectacle" makes it the generic outlier. Even its title description as somehow related to India is a misnomer, because it is specifically concerned with conflict between the Foulahs and the Mandingos and with the legacy of African slavery. In the play the shipwrecked English Captain Sidney finds himself separated from his wife Laura. She has been captured by the Foulah prince Zanta Benrada who has fallen hopelessly in love with her. Sidney too is enslaved and is forced to translate Zanta's proclamations of love to the sequestered Laura. In the process, Sidney discovers that his wife is in the harem and plots to free her. What happens next is confusing because we only have the songs: either Sidney teams up with the eponymous Mandingo chief Kongo Kolo to release her from the harem or Kongo Kolo steals her for himself. In either case, the final act involves Sidney liberating Laura from both Zanta and Kongo Kolo. Throughout the play, Sidney, most likely played by John Astley, repeatedly asserts the equality of blacks and whites; thus his attack on the Foulahs is an anti-slavery action in two senses: he seeks to liberate his wife from sexual slavery and he wants to curtail the Foulah's enslavement and subsequent sale of its enemies to European slave traders. All of the play's "business"--the staged moments of physical combat that interrupt the songs about love and slavery--revolves around the border dispute between Kongo Kolo and Zanta Benrada, and it comes with the added bonus of saving white womanhood.

However Kongo Kolo is something more than a hippodramatic minstrel show, because it is clearly an adaptation of Colman's The Africans, a notable abolitionist play that had run for 31 performances at the Haymarket in 1808. Astley takes much of the situation and plot, leavens it with a few episodes from Colman's Inkle and Yarico (another Haymarket mainstay from the late 1780s which was staged repeatedly at the Lyceum during the time of Kongo Kolo's production), and generates a melodrama that is by turns abolitionist and deeply ethnocentric. So while Kemble and Harris were importing Astley's horses from south of the river in the winter of 1811, Astley was importing some of the legitimate theater's most successful scripts.

If we think about Astley's productions not as some kind of foreign influence undermining the integrity of the theatrical economy but as the dominant mode of entertainment at this moment in London's history, then the question we need to ask is why the importation of hippodrama to Covent Garden signaled cultural and moral collapse for some commentators while the export of sentimental comedy and comic opera from the patent houses didn't seem to have any impact on the moral or cultural value of the circus. If we attend to the entire evening's bill in both venues we can see that the complex entertainment practices developed by Astley were being diluted or adulterated to meet the financial needs of Kemble and Harris. In this inversion of the conventional axiological paradigm, the problem lies in pairing mainpieces like Cato, The Knight of Snowdoun, Henry V and other Shakespearean plays, with Blue Beard. In the mainpiece, the claims for national election lie either in the aesthetic merit and moral seriousness of Addison and Shakespeare or in Morton's pretensions to loyalist history. In all of these cases, topical allegory becomes the conduit for patriotic performance and reception. In the offending afterpieces, allegories of British national supremacy are supplemented by acts of physical virtuosity in which Napoleonic tyranny is rebutted by military men and brave horses whose primary motive lies in the protection of virtuous endangered women. The immediacy and the urgency of the afterpiece eclipsed the complex series of axiological displacements traditionally required to activate patriotism in the mainpiece, and thus for some viewers the sufficiency of Cato's or Henry Vs claims to value was destabilized. For these audience members and reviewers, the visceral power of the afterpiece had replaced the aesthetic seriousness of the mainpiece. However as the Morning Post indicates, many audience members did not see the afterpiece as a substitute for but rather experienced it as an amplification of the emotional concerns activated in the mainpiece. (41)

From his long practice of crafting the circus program, Astley recognized that the patriotic effects of hippodrama could only be amplified by pairing it with seemingly impossible physical actions whose significance lies beyond representation. Thus his military simulations are bracketed by superhuman acts of horsemanship. When we look carefully at Astley's importation of Colman's The Africans, there is no axiological destabilization because the adaptation takes those elements of Colman's play most suitable to the Amphitheatre and jettisons the "heavy" speeches of Act III in which Colman tries to stage African subjectivity. Colman's anti-slavery position is condensed into Sidney's noble comments on racial equality and the entire play becomes about how enlightened the English are at the very moment that it eliminates Colman's attempt to render positive racial and ethnic difference. Instead, Zella, the only African character who sings, enters the play with a long panegyric on the kindness of the white men who have superseded the Buckra Man, and the audience is reassured that Africans have already forgiven them for their involvement or complicity in the slave trade.

But Astley's adaptation also stages a very specific transmutation in working class masculinity. In Inkle and Yarico and The Africans, Colman allows cockney servants to explore the possibility of an interracial future. In both plays, the opportunistic Trudge and Mug envision racial integration at the level of sexual practice and in many ways it is their openness to Wowski and Sutta that distinguishes them from normative middle class whiteness. In Kongo Kolo, the spectacle of interracial desire between white men and African women is rigorously separated from Englishness because Kongo Kolo is what Michael Ragussis has termed a "multi-ethnic spectacle." (42) Mug, the cockney character from The Africans has been transformed into Felix Fagan O'Fogharty and the script is literally overwhelmed by "Pratees," "Whiskey" and famous Irish melodies. Felix, like Sydney, is enslaved to Zanta, but he is employed as the Foulah Prince's overseer. Much of the script revolves around the question of O'Fogharty's feigned loyalty to his African master and his desire for Zella. Felix's relation to the Africans is mercurial; he appears first cracking the whip but breaks the whip in an apparent rejection of his violent role in the slave economy. His relations to all the characters are duplicitous and thus he speaks both of "liberty for all" and informs on Sidney when he seeks to break free of his bonds. In all cases, his desire for gain and the "dear bit" Zella distorts any principled position by which to navigate the African world. O'Fogharty's explicit racism is thus not a pernicious cause of his actions, but an effect of his cowardly greed and his rampant sexual appetite.

By fusing Trudge's fleshly desires, Inkle's inconstancy, and Mug's opportunism, Astley generates a specific ethnic caricature whose contours not only highlight the nobility of Sidney, but also combine O'Fogharty's connection to the slave trade, his interest in interracial sex, and his treachery into a new kind of stage Irishman. In the process, racial hatred is reterritorialized as a humorous element of working class Irish subjectivity. The journey to West Africa in the middle of Astley's show not only affords an opportunity for the audience to displace obsolete elements of English national character into the derogated figure of the Irishman, but also provides space for the further idealized figures of Sidney and Kongo Kolo to be subsumed under the superhuman figure of the equestrian performer. In this rather strange but rigorously logical performance economy, O'Fogharty and Zanta are relegated to sub-human status because of their common links to the African slave economy and to interracial desire. The English Captain Sidney--i.e. Astley--and the Mandingo warrior Kongo Kolo fuse with the horse and leap beyond human capacity to become the very martial ideal that unifies the entire entertainment. Significantly, and here readers familiar with Timour the Tartar will see the stakes for gendered allegory in the Napoleonic period, Sidney's wife Laura and Zella, the only women in the entire evening's entertainment, embody the human qualities preserved by the combination of seemingly impossible physical action and all too recognizable ethnic caricature.

Out of Place

If we can discern a militaristic logic in the relation between The Knight of Snowdoun and the equestrian Blue Beard, the brief divagation to Astley's reminds us of the importance of not only feminine vulnerability but also spatial displacement to this patriotic fantasy. In Morton's adaptation of Scott's poem, Roderick Dhu's martial prowess is not only sustained by keeping him--contra Scott--alive, but also by marrying him to Ellen Douglas. The warrior is also the protector husband. What Lincoln argues about the poem is amplified here:

   The idealized femininity allows the heroine to express a humane
   response to violence, and to act without acting, to influence the
   masculine world innocently. Structurally it provides a way of
   mediating between the opposing claims of nation and clan. (43)

As noted earlier, the opposing claims are those besetting the modern state and Morton's adaptation deploys Ellen in a way that absorbs Roderick's militarism into the state so that it can be mobilized for the King's future actions.

This dovetailing of political and domestic objectives is typical of many patriotic plays in the period and it needs to be understood in relation to the specific spatial displacement of The Knight of Snowdoun. Even a cursory glance at the script indicates the importance of the picturesque Scottish scenes to the representational economy of the play. Being transported to Scotland was both thrilling--one of the selling points of the poem as well--and enabling, because it provided the room necessary for political fantasy. In a sense "Scotland" allows for the internal calibration between "liberty" as a political identity, violence as a necessary political tool, and monarchy as that which can bring idea and action into a national fantasy suitable for this wartime moment.

Significantly, Blue Beard, in its original 1803 manifestation, also used spatial displacement and feminine vulnerability to explore the nature and limits of masculine tyranny. "Turkey" provided the pretext for staging a spectacular psychodrama whose primary axes of elaboration were racial and sexual. (44) In this regard, its narrative could operate as the counterbalance to The Knight of Snowdoun. All of the forces of violence, passion and betrayal that are quelled in Morton's mainpiece are reopened by Colman's script. If we put the mainpiece and afterpiece into dialogue, then Blue Beard's closure bears the burden of resolving the conflict between tyranny and liberty activated across the evening's entertainment. Blue Beard ends with Abomelique being felled by the very mechanism he has built to guard the bloody chamber: the dart-wielding Skeleton stabs Abomelique and he disappears into the stage via a trapdoor amidst an explosion of flame and smoke. Tyranny destroys itself. Could we not argue that this mechanical resolution to the problem of tyranny was no longer historically viable not only because it was already too well known but also because it implied that Abomelique's demise was inevitable? With war's end nowhere in sight, the revival of such a simple resolution to "tyranny" cannot stand alone, in part because memory of the closing spectacle actually undermines its capacity to pull the audience past their present state of anticipation into a fantasy of victory. Memory of the repertoire negates or attenuates the feeling of "present-ness" necessary for "communicating the conditions under which a historical moment appears as a visceral moment." (45)

In February of 1811, Astley's horses were needed to save Blue Beard from its own historicity (see fig. 3). Their animal "liveness" generated an emotional urgency to what would otherwise be merely a mechanical repetition. (46) Here we can begin to see equestrian Blue Beard as a revival in every sense of that term, a controlled reintegration of the problem of life into the political anxieties of this historical moment. Leigh Hunt's aversion to precisely this issue is, I believe, revealing, because he saw that the mobilization of animal life in this space was itself grounded on its horrific curtailment:

   it will take a great deal to persuade a rational spectator at the
   theatre that the closeness of a stage, the running round and round,
   the bending of knees, the driving up steep boards, and above all,
   the mimicry of absolute death, do not give the animal considerable
   pain, and have not cost a hundred times as much in the training.

His review of the show narrates how enthusiasm for the horses works as political theater, and then ruthlessly turns to show how this enthusiasm relies on forgetting first the "graceful and active movements" of horses in the fields, and second the training methods that disable these "noble brutes" and force them to "manifest constraint and timidity." (47) For that critique to fully inhere, he rehistoricizes animal performance not at Covent Garden, but at the fair and the circus. In other words, he draws attention to where the horses came from and in so doing demonstrates how spatial displacement and forgetting enable political fantasy.

The particular evening at Astley's I have been exploring coincided with yet another shift in programming at Covent Garden. On 1 March, after almost a continual run of 12 performances, The Knight of Snowdoun gave way to back-to-back performances of Kemble's Cato now paired with Blue Beard. With this eventful February in mind, how would it feel to watch Kemble's struggle to keep George hi barely alive in a script that calls for his all-too-resonant suicide and then watch Astley's horses feign death--and return to life--in the famous drawbridge collapse of Blue Beard? As noted earlier, Kemble's revival of Cato engaged with the problem of the king's madness by postulating a future Regency led by Juba. That future requires not only the forgetting of the Prince of Wales's spotty history--here contained in the figures of Marcus and Portius--but also Juba's difference. As the primary Numidian character in the play, Juba is African and thus can only become "Roman" in "spirit." The audience cheering for Kemble's implied comparison between the Prince of Wales and Juba was likely not celebrating his African qualities or his interracial marriage to Cato's daughter Marcia but rather forgetting them.

This kind of forgetting is crucial to topical allegory--it is by its very nature not systematic. And it is, I believe, crucial to Kemble's performance of Cato in Act v. As we have already seen from accounts of the Act v soliloquy, Kemble's performance was bled of emotion to the point of statuesque whiteness. As if to distinguish Cato from the emotional African world of Numidia, Sir Thomas Lawrence's famous "half-history" painting of Kemble in the role of Cato highlights this whiteness by rendering it against a brown almost featureless shroud (see fig. 2). (48) But this preserves Cato--in the sense of preserving a dead specimen--by suppressing that which must be kept alive: Juba in all his living qualities. This is the conundrum facing Kemble's production and is what he sought to counteract first--as the Morning Post understood--by revivifying the parental relation at the end of the Act v soliloquy and by supplementing the entire mainpiece with acts of physical virtuosity explicitly aimed at pulling life from the verge of death.

In early February, when the Regency Bill was just passing, it fell to Grimaldi and his Vegetable Man to do this work. By the end of the month, equestrian Blue Beard would have allowed Kemble to tilt Cato more force fully towards the problem of war by changing the generic significance of Cato's death. Kemble's promptbooks show that he carefully arranged for the dying Cato to be brought center stage to his chair to die. Within the allegorical economy sketched throughout this essay, he dies on his throne with Portius and Juba at his right hand. Juba is stage right and closest to the audience. After a brief interlude, the audience would eventually watch a noble horse die center stage in Cato's spot just prior to Abomelique's death and disappearance through the floor. Does the "dying" horse replicate Cato's noble death and thus constitute a tragic amplification suitable for the historical moment? Or does the restaging of the oldest trick in Astley's book produce a form of generic interference that short circuits the monumental claims of the Catonic ideal and of Kemble's allegory? It would seem that amplification of the kind so forcefully recorded by the Morning Post relies on forgetting what happened all too often at Astley's. And that forgetting is clearly tied to the newness of seeing animals simulate death, not south of the Thames but here in Covent Garden, only minutes after Kemble himself played the dying representative of Liberty, where everything was suddenly out of place.

What I would like to suggest in conclusion is that equestrian Blue Beard "exemplified a shared historical sense" precisely because it simultaneously amplified and interfered with Cato's tragic closure. Memory of how Cato actually ends--the defeat of Republican Rome by Caesar--had to be reterritorialized in a way that changed history. As a vehicle for patriotic veneration Cato had to be transformed from a tragedy into a "history" play--i.e., a play that keeps the Catonic ideal strangely alive by allowing for the death of Cato-and that requires a generic supplementation in the afterpiece. Likewise, Scott's Lady of the Lake was transformed to ensure the vitality of Roderick Dhu. In both mainpieces, we see careful modification of the source material to supersede death in life and ensure the solidity of the military state in a time of war. But these modifications themselves were precarious innovations that exerted significant pressure on what Diana Taylor has called the repertoire-those "embodied and performed acts [that] generate, record, and transmit knowledge." (49) The ultimate value of equestrian Blue Beard lay in its effect on the memory of what came before it. As the audience watched the horses heroically stumble and die on the boards of Covent Garden Theatre, they were replaying the struggle between clan and nation, between republic and empire, between domestic liberty and tyranny, raised earlier in the evening in a way that averted doubt and social insecurity and quite literally turned emotional loss into affective gain. What is so disturbing is that the harsh procession towards attrition and death had permeated Georgian society to such an extent that the unhistorical qualities of Astley's horses could operate as both symptom and temporary cure for what was happening.

University of Guelph, Canada


[Astley, John]. Kongo-Kolo, or the Mandingo Chief. Manuscript. Larpent Collection. 1644 (21 Nov 1810). Huntington Library. San Marino, California.

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(1.) Moody, Illegitimate Theatre in London, 1770-1840 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000); Cox and Gamer, The Broadview Anthology of Romantic Drama, (Peterborough: Broadview Press, 2003). See also Michael Gamer, "A Matter of Turf: Romanticism, Hippodrama, and Legitimate Satire," Nineteenth-Century Contexts 28, no. 4 (Dec 2006): 305-34

(2.) Berlant, Cruel Optimism (Durham: Duke University Press, 2011), 3.

(3.) Berlant, Cruel Optimism, 16.

(4.) Gillian Russell, Theatres of War: Performance, Politics, and Society 1793-1815 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995).

(5.) Marc Baer's Theatre and Disorder in Late Georgian London (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992) remains the most exhaustive account of the riots, but Elaine Hadley's analysis in Melodramatic Tactics: Theatricalized Dissent in the English Marketplace 1800-1895 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1995), 34-76, is most attentive to the way that the events themselves took on a melodramatic structure.

(6.) Moody, Illegitimate Theatre, 72.

(7.) Morning Chronicle, 19 February 1811.

(8.) See Jeffrey N. Cox, "Spots of Time: the Structure of the Dramatic Evening in the Theater of Romanticism," Texas Studies in Literature and Language 41, no. 4 (Winter 1999): 403-25 for a similar consideration of the theatrical program.

(9.) John Genest refers to the play as "a wretched attempt to dramatize Scott's Lady of the Lake" in Some Account of the English Stage from the Restoration in 1660 to 1830 (Bath: Carrington, 1832), 8:230-31.

(10.) Thomas McGeary, The Politics of Opera in Handel's Britain (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), 197. See Morning Chronicle, 1 December 1810 for a discussion of the opera's over reliance on antecedents.

(11.) Andrew McConnell Stott, The Pantomime Life of Joseph Grimaldi: Laughter, Madness and the Story of Britain's Greatest Comedian (Edinburgh: Canongate, 2009), 224.

(12.) Moody, Illegitimate Theatre, 223.

(13.) See Freeman, "What's Love Got to Do with Addison's Cato?" SEL, 1500-1900 39, no. 3 (Summer 1999), for a succinct discussion of the conflict between republic and empire in the play. For an extended discussion of Kemble's adaptation of Cato see my "The Function of Cato at the Present Time," Eighteenth-Century Fiction 25, nos. 3-4 (Spring-Summer 2015): 479-507.

(14.) Morning Chronicle, 28 January 1811.

(15.) John Philip Kemble, "The Tragedy of Cato," in John Philip Kemble Promptbooks, ii vols., ed. Charles H. Shattuck (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 1974), 10:6.i.47.

(16.) See my Entertaining Crisis in the Atlantic Imperium, 1770-1790 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011), 312-28, for a discussion of the ritual revitalization of George in following the American War.

(17.) Morning Post, 28 January 1811.

(18.) Morning Post, 28 January 1811.

(19.) Friedrich Nietzsche, "On the Uses and Disadvantages of History for Life," in Untimely Meditations, trans. R. J. Hollingdale (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), 62-63 and 120-21.

(20.) William Charles Macready criticized Kemble's statuesque "attitudes" and opined "though it might satisfy the classic antiquary, the want of variety and relief rendered it uninteresting and often indeed tedious." See Macready's Reminiscences: And Selections from His Diaries and Letters, ed. Frederick Pollock (New York: Macmillan, 1875), 136.

(21.) From a review of Thomas Morton's The Knight of Snowdoun, in the Morning Chronicle, 6 February 1811.

(22.) Indeed, a notice of protest to the Bill appeared immediately adjacent to the opening review of Morton's play in the Morning Chronicle, 6 February 1811.

(23.) Morton, The Knight of Snowdoun; a musical drama, in three acts (London: Whittingham and Rowland, 1811), 78.

(24.) Morton, The Knight of Snowdoun, 79-80.

(25.) Lincoln, "Walter Scott and the Birth of the Nation," Romanticism 8 (2002): 16.

(26.) Morning Post, 6 February 1811.

(27.) Morning Post, 6 February 1811.

(28.) Morning Post, 6 February 1811.

(29.) Charles Farley, Songs, Chorasses, Recitative, &c. in the new Pantomime called Harlequin and Asmodeus; or, Cupid on Crutches (London: Barker, 1810), 9, 13, 14.

(30.) Morning Post, 19 February 1811.

(31.) Morning Post, 19 February 1811.

(32.) See Marius Kwint, "The Legitimation of the Circus in Late Georgian England," Past and Present (2002): 75-78, for a discussion of Astley's trick of reviving a dead horse.

(33.) Barrymore played the part of the ill-fated tyrant Abomelique.

(34.) Morning Post, 21 February 1811.

(35.) Morning Post, 25 February 1811.

(36.) Charles Rzepka argues that a similar dynamic animates De Quincey's patriotic writing in the 1840s in part because he was so well versed in pantomime and hippodrama; see "Bang Up! Theatricality and the 'Diphrelatic Art' in De Quincey's English Mail-Coach," Nineteenth-Century Prose 28, no. 2 (Fall 2001): 75-101.

(37.) Morning Chronicle, 28 February 1811.

(38.) Russell, Theatres of War, 52-78 and Moody, Illegitimate Theatre, 25-29 and 98-106. See also my Staging Governance: Theatrical Imperialism in London, 1770-1800 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005), 312-48.

(39.) Tait, "Danger Delights: Texts of Gender and Race in Aerial Performance," New Theatre Quarterly 12, no. 45 (February 1996): 44.

(40.) See Monica Mattfield's remarks on John Astley in "'Undaunted all he views': The Gibraltar Charger, Astley's Amphitheatre and Masculine Performance, " Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies 37, no. 1 (2014): 27-33.

(41.) Morning Post, 19 February 1811. See also Times, 19 February 1811.

(42.) Ragussis, Theatrical Nation: Jews and Other Outlandish Englishmen in Georgian Britain (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010), 24-31.

(43.) Lincoln, "Walter Scott and Birth of the Nation," 14.

(44.) See Frederick Burwick's discussion of Blue Beard's misogyny in Romantic Drama: Acting and Reacting (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), 202-29.

(45.) Berlant, Cruel Optimism, 16.

(46.) See Philip Auslander, Liveness: Performance in a Mediatized Culture (New York: Routledge, 2008), and Jennifer Parker-Starbuck and Lourdes Orozco, Performing Animality: Animals in Performance Practices (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015).

(47.) Leigh Hunt, The Examiner 169 (24 March 1811), quoted in Cox and Gamer, Broadview Anthology, 340.

(48.) See Shearer West, "Thomas Lawrence's 'Half-History' Portraits and the Politics of Theatre," Art History 14, no. 2 (June 1991): 245.

(49.) Taylor, The Archive and the Repertoire: Performing Cultural Memory in the Americas (Durham: Duke University Press, 2003), 21.
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Author:O'Quinn, Daniel
Publication:Studies in Romanticism
Article Type:Critical essay
Date:Jun 22, 2015
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