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Richard Cumberland Centenary Memorial Paper

Louis Zangwill

<plain_text><page sequence="1">^^^Kf' ^Kffi^W^i^^H RICHARD CUMBERLAND T7;^/// portrait by Romney</page><page sequence="2">RICHARD CUMBERLAND CENTENARY MEMORIAL PAPER. By LOUIS ZANGWILL. (Read before the Jewish Historical Society of England on July 10, 1911.) I. In the year 1785 Mr. Richard Cumberland included in his publication, The Observer, some papers on the Jewish question, putting forward an imaginary individual, Mr. Abraham Abrahams, as a peg for his disquisi? tion. In 1794 he produced the comedy of The Jew. Some ten years later, not so very long before his end, looking back on his incursion into that field, he expresses himself as follows : " I take credit to myself for the character of Abraham Abrahams; I wrote it upon principle, thinking it high time that something should be done for a persecuted race. I seconded my appeal to the charity of mankind by the character of Sheva, w7hich I copied from this of Abrahams. The public prints gave the Jews credit for their sensibility in acknowledging my well-intended services; my friends gave me joy of honorary presents, and some even accused me of ingratitude for not making public my thanks of their munificence. I will speak plainly on this point: I do most heartily wish they had flattered me with some token, however small, of which I might have said, this is a tribute to my philanthropy, and delivered it down to my children, as my beloved father did to me his badge of favour from the citizens of Dublin: but not a word from the lips, not a line did I ever receive from the pen of any Jew, though I have found myself in company with many of their nation; and in this, perhaps, the gentlemen are quite right, whilst I had formed expectations that were quite wrong; for if I have said for them 147</page><page sequence="3">148 RICHARD CUMBERLAND CENTENARY MEMORIAL PAPER. only what they deserve, why should I be thanked for it ? But if I said more, much more than they deserve, can they do a wiser thing than hold their tongues ?" So we may take it that Cumberland, wdiile he certainly never regretted his Jewish work, yet went to his grave disappointed, and with some sense that a slight had been put upon him. Now observe once again the irony of time ! A hundred years ago they buried him in Westminster Abbey. The privilege of a corner in the English national Pantheon signifies one thing at least. Whatever else it may mean or not mean; whether it be the result of genius or social wire-pullings: it yet marks success, conventional?at the world's valuation?within a man's own lifetime. For half a century Cumberland had been a continuous and prolific producer of drama and literature : over fifty plays stand to his account, besides novels, epic verse, and journalism. Formal eulogies spoken over dead ashes may soar high, yet only in a captive flight. 4'His works will be held in the highest estimation as long as the English language will be understood "?so ran the dis? course at Westminster : not unplausibly, as current judgment went. To-day, a hundred years later, ask any cultivated person offhand, of what Cumberland was the author, and the reply will be : " Oh, he was the man who wrote The Jeio of course; the man who put on the stage a good Jewish character." On the Continent, too, The Jeio has had its vogue, and is equally the play associated with his name. Of course professed students of letters would have a wider acquaintance with him ?they would perhaps look into some half dozen of his plays, The Brothers, The West Indian, The Wheel of Fortune, and so forth. But otherwise his works to-day have no real existence. A man of genius he was. Yet it is only by The Jetv that he survives. As for ourselves, we have long recognised our indebtedness to him, and our presence here to-night to honour his memory is sufficient proof of it. Mr. Richard Cumberland is a curiously difficult figure to approach, though material there is in plenty. And we have at least two good portraits of him?one in the prime of his life by Romney, and one in his autumn by Clover. Romney's is in the National Portrait Gallery. It is a strange piece of work. The vivid canvas strikes you full in the face ?you have the dandy, magnificent almost as a cardinal, flaunting his long luxurious coat of a bright cherry-colour, edged with fur, and full</page><page sequence="4">RICHARD CUMBERLAND CENTENARY MEMORIAL PAPER. 149 spreading as it falls almost to the ground. His breeches are of the same luscious colour, with slate-grey hose; a patch of yellow-brown waist? coat alone breaks the immense stretch of cherry. At first sight the long sumptuous figure seems too obviously " arranged" as it leans slightly back in a chair, one hand supporting the clean-shaven, still youngish-looking, face, which is set in meditation. But it is a theatrical meditation?something of a sham. Yet the conception impresses?it remains wdth you, and you wonder gently. The Clover portrait tells a different story?startlingly different. Here we have a clean-shaven, rather clerical type of face, with big clear features, the eyes slightly abstracted. Urbanity and benevolence are stamped there?he wins you at once. But it is a strong face?at the first glance you feel his moral stability. His white hair sets artistically ?he is well trimmed; and his swallow-tailed many-buttoned coat lies loosely yet becomingly around him. These portraits are certainly a stimulus to proceed. Yet, however far one adventures into the crowded atmosphere of his time \ however much one studies the impression he made on his own associates; nay, however much one studies, in his own Memoirs, the image in the mirror which he so carefully and conscientiously held up to himself, one never? theless feels strangely bafiTed. The figure that emerges is interesting and definite enough; but you are sure the whole time that some large element of personality is escaping you, and that you must woo your subject very closely, very deeply, if it is not to elude you. The inner circle of his contemporaries?Johnson, Reynolds, Gold? smith, Burke, Gar rick, and all the minor and major stars that clustered round them?had certainly a great esteem for him, but you soon feel that what is eluding you also eluded them. They regard him with cordiality, yet, paradoxically, with a certain lukewarmness?reservation. Johnson writes to Mrs. Thrale: " The want of company is an incon? venience, but Mr. Cumberland is a million." But when Cumberland's Odes were published, " Why, sir," said Johnson, "they w7ould have been thought as good as odes commonly are, if Cumberland had not put his name to them." Mr. Hewson Clarke, a journalist who knew him well in his later days, and had his confidence, gives us this personal impression : " The colloquial efforts of Mr. Cumberland were in no degree above the ordinary level. He was not particularly distinguished for the pro</page><page sequence="5">150 RICHARD CUMBERLAND CENTENARY MEMORIAL PAPER. fundity of his detached observations, or the brilliancy of his occasional repartees; to warm or extended argument he had an invincible aversion. . . . He never led the conversation of his social circle, or sustained its vigour, by the animation of his influence. Yet his casual remarks, when they were not distinguished by acuteness or brilliance, were characterised by that terse felicity of expression which constitutes the chief excellence of his Memoirs; if he did not predominate in conversation, he gave relief to the colloquial contests of more ambitious speakers; and if he seldom poured forth the treasures of his own intellectual stores, he displayed peculiar dexterity in the formation of hints . . . that might call into display the . . . endowments of his friends. " It may account in some degree," continues Mr. Clarke, " for the extent of his colloquial reputation, that his deportment was in the highest degree impressive and engaging. The smile that played upon his lip embellished many a commonplace sentiment, and the graceful yet dignified elegance of his address gave weight to opinions that from a less favoured speaker would have been received with contemptuous silence or acquiescent indifference." The same writer goes on to dwell with a rather blundering emphasis on some of Cumberland's little failings, such as his accessibility to flat? tery and parasitism, when these were merely the failings of his old age. No doubt he had his foibles, but they were of little moment. The cari? cature of him as Sir Fretful Plagiary by Sheridan was drawn out of revenge for an offence that had never been committed. Sheridan sup? posed that Cumberland had sneered at The School for Scandal, and in those days wounded men struck back hard. We may safely ignore Sir Fretful. But the reservation about him of his personal associates is of quite another order. As one looks into the material, so the sense of it grows upon one. There was a certain want of convictipn in their minds about him, though held with reluctance. For they accepted him. His credentials were unimpeachable. There was his assured position with the public : and with the big undeniable fact of success you cannot argue any more than you can with a checkmate. There it was, even if they did not quite understand why he had it. And then there was his aristocratic standing socially, carrying immense weight; for, in that age of patronage and influence, not even intellect could clear itself of</page><page sequence="6">RICHAKD CUMBERLAND CENTENARY MEMORIAL PAPER. 151 snobbery. Even in his silence he interested them?this blend of the pious Puritan and man of breeding and society. He was a charming person to rub shoulders with. The instinct to challenge?to doubt? only arose wrhen he wras not there. Clearly, he was not of the sort that finds its Bos well. A figure like Dr. Johnson's affords a curious antithesis to Cumberland's. Johnson was all vigorous personality, overflowing externally every minute. Cumberland, relatively, was a supernumerary. He did not drink twrenty-six cups of tea a day. He w7as so immaculate a gentleman that he lacked idiosyncrasies. To the facile chronicler he offered little that was tangible. The world had placed him among the elect, but in the inner hierarchy he was hardly of the heroes. In search of further illumination, wre turn to the tale of his career, but it reveals little more of the spiritually heroic. Born in 1732, Cumberland came of a kind of stock that has always been found in England?amid a great many other kinds, of course; combining godly character with learning and simple living, much kindliness and sincerity with much strictness and sense of discipline. Bishop Cumberland, his paternal great-grandfather, w7as a man of this breed. So, in private life at any rate, was his maternal grandfather, Richard Bentley; though of a more aggressive mould, and perhaps the fiercest controversialist of his time. Cumberland's father, the rector of Stanwdck, resembled his ancestor, the bishop; and Cumberland himself shared in all the characteristics of the blood. From the beginning his life ran on lines that were every? thing that was respectable and admirable. As was the family usage and tradition, he was carefully trained for scholarship and holy orders, and his youth was full of literary experimentation in the classical and monu? mental style, high above the plane of common life. From a preparatory school of repute?Bury St. Edmonds?he passed to Westminster School, and thence to Cambridge. We can hardly think of him as a wrangler, but he was tenth in the list for 1750-51. The career academic stretched before him, wThen one day?hey, presto !?his horizon changed in swift transformation ! His father, in his neighbourhood, had rendered certain political services to the Earl of Halifax, then head of the Board of Trade, and the latter, in return, offered his patronage for the son. Dazzled by the prospect of a great career, Cumberland came to London as his lordship's private secretary. But the promise of this auspicious</page><page sequence="7">152 RICHARD CUMBERLAND CENTENARY MEMORIAL PAPER. beginning was to remain unfulfilled. At a critical moment, some years later, he was disappointed of promotion, and, having married early, he was finally glad to accept, as a means of livelihood, the minor post of Clerk of Reports to the Board of Trade, which he retained for many years, right into his mature life, whilst he climbed his way to glory in literature. He was, of course, very sore at being thus passed over, but there is no doubt that Lord Halifax gauged his man correctly. Richard Cumberland had no practical political talent, though he cherished a belief to the contrary, which, years later, involved him in the greatest material disaster of his life. The truth is he had not the particular temperament. He was by nature too simple a man; he was no match for a subtle and less scrupulous opponent. As a player on the diplomatic chessboard, he could not see into the game. As an industrious and conscientious official, he wras the very thing; even though, with his heart in other ambitions, he may never have relished routine. On the whole there can be no doubt that, so far as his official life is concerned, he found his level fairly. In those days Cumberland often regretted that he had been tempted from the paths of scholarship to a career which had proved almost a broken reed to lean upon, but there were compensating aspects in that first plunge into the world. Being a handsome and engaging young man, and deriving a certain cachet from his secretaryship to a Minister of the Crown, he was able to enjoy many social privileges and a great variety of experience in London. He moved in the best society, and liked it. He was not the man to question the solid things of life. He was religious, but both worlds fitted into his scheme of things. Indeed, he thought it rather ungrateful to cavil at this world. " I really think it a world," he says, " very easy to live with upon passable good terms. I am free to confess it has mended me since. I have lived with it, and I am fully of opinion that it has mended itself." Mysticism he had, as every truly religious man has; yet his was not the mysticism that sends a cobbler or tailor to the cross-roads to scream his revelation to the passers-by. His was assuredly not the mysticism of the pre-Adamites, that sent men to fit themselves with tails, and go on all-fours, so as to circumvent their original sin. That sort of thing would have been too dusty for him. The Established Church and Sunday sufficed for that side of his nature. The view of himself which</page><page sequence="8">EICHARD CUMBERLAND CENTENARY MEMORIAL PAPER. 153 he loves most to dwell upon in his Memoirs is the true Christian gentle? man, full of sincerity and goodwill, scrupulously fair, controlling his anger and passions, firm and clear as to the path of duty. It is magni? ficent?the wTay in which no moral question ever presented any difficulty to him ! In a w7ord, his religious and general philosophy might have been furnished to order by Paley. He is Clover's portrait to the life. It will thus be clear that no instinct of rebellion ever assailed him. He loved the established social order: he liked the sense of a comfort? able, well-ordered prosperity for his immediate personal atmosphere? well-furnished, solid London houses, with successful architects, physi? cians, and merchants; knights and baronets by preference. His own household was ordered immaculately. "I had six children," he says, " whose birthdays w7ere comprised within the period of six years, and they were by no means trained with that laxity of discipline which renders so many houses terrible to the visitor. . . . My young ones stood like little soldiers to be reviewed by those who wished to have them drawn up for inspection, and wTere dismissed like soldiers at a word. Even poor Fitzherbert . . . with all his fond benignity of soul, could not with his caresses introduce a relaxation of discipline in the ranks of our small infantry: and though Gar rick could charm a circle of them w7hilst he acted turkey-cocks and peacocks, . . . yet, at a word or even a look of their mother hi motus animorum were instantly composed." Yet with all this sense of good form, of order, of worldliness, of perfect propriety, he maintains his standard of integrity. He comes dangerously near to the Pharisee of conventional conception, but his uprightness saves him?as it saved the real Pharisee of old. He does not seem to have changed much w7ith the years; all these deep instincts were apparently born with him, and he carried them through life. He never seems to have taken his experience with a detached eye; as, when we travel, we may view the new scenes before us for the in? terest of what they are, irrespective of our own standards. Anything that did not conform to his standards immediately brought into play the censor that was everlastingly within him: he was insular to the backbone?a veritable John Bull beneath all his cultivation and breed? ing. Indigenous to the soil, he seems to have had no desire to make the Grand Tour, so common an educative procedure in his day. He had little faculty for languages?English was good enough for him. His</page><page sequence="9">154 EICHARD CUMBERLAND CENTENARY MEMORIAL PAPER. first trip abroad was in mature life, when he weut to Spain on his great political mission, and in a style that was most expensive. We cannot imagine him, like Oliver Goldsmith, making his way home across Europe with no purse but a flute, and skill in disputation to win him a student's lodging. Indeed the vagaries of genius always seriously perturbed him. Oliver Goldsmith, of whom Cumberland was a devoted adherent, bothered him perpetually. " That he (Oliver Goldsmith) was fantasti? cally and whimsically vain, all the world knows," he writes. " He was tenacious to a ridiculous extreme of certain pretensions that did not, and by nature could not, belong to him, and at the same time inexpres? sibly careless of the fame which he had powers to command. . . . What foibles he had he took no pains to conceal; the good qualities of his heart were too frequently obscured by the carelessness of his conduct and the frivolity of his manners. Sir Joshua Reynolds wTas very good to him, and would have drilled him into better trim and order for society if he would have been amenable, for Reynolds was a perfect gentleman, had good sense, great propriety, with all the social attributes." Cumberland was in like wise perpetually distressed by Romney, to whom he paid ten guineas for his sumptuous portrait of him ; that being a generous advance on the usual eight which the artist was then receiv? ing. Romney attacked new portraits with great verve and enthusiasm, but he soon wearied of them, and stood them aside. " Thus," says the scandalised Cumberland, "he was for ever disappointed of receiving payment for them by the casualties and revolutions in the families they were designed for; for so many of his sitters were killed off, so many favourite ladies were dismissed, so many fond wives divorced before he would bestow an hour's pains on their petticoats, that his unsaleable stock was immense, whilst with a little more regularity and decision he would have more than doubled his fortune, and escaped an infinitude of petty trouble that disturbed his temper. At length, exhausted rather by the languor than by the labour of his mind, this admirable artist returned to his native county . . . and sunk at last into a distant and inglorious grave." A distant and inglorious grave! We see that Cumberland had already an eye on Westminster. We see what value he placed on what the world has to bestow, even when there is only the vacant human form to receive it.</page><page sequence="10">RICHARD CUMBERLAND CENTENARY MEMORIAL PAPEH. 155 II. An admirable and rather endearing figure this of Cumberland, as he displays himself consciously and unconsciously, and as we see him living and moving amid his associates. But, for a spiritual hero, it will hardly serve. Meanwhile the Romney portrait is ever before us?no Puritan this, but the deuce of a fine fellow, restless and conscious for all his air of meditation ! Why, he almost suggests the repentant rake ?though you w^ould question the penitence. The more Cumberland grows familiar, the more bewildering the painting. And at last it dawns upon you that Romney did make a dash at the truth, but missed. He saw7 there was something in our man that was not of the Puritan. But he overdid it?he eliminated the Puritan altogether. Therein he went wider of the truth than if he had kept to that combination of perfect clothes and perfect principles, which is really the basis of the Clover portrait. So that even Romney did not give us Cumberland. What was that chord of his nature which Cumberland never cared to dwell upon himself, and which escaped his friends; which will escape us all, if we are satisfied to see through his eyes and theirs? Only when he is off his guard does he reveal it to us. This Puritan, positive in faith and in philosophy, had a touch of the devil in him; this gentleman of perfect deportment, this lover of order and discipline and the best society, had in him a curious strain of vagabondage! There was in him a warmth that was not of his Queen Anne Street quarter ; there was in him some strain of melody that blew amid the ordered austerities of his nature. We catch a glimpse of it all in his boyhood, when, a scholar at West? minster School, boarding in the gloomy house of a relative, and possessed of considerable liberty, he was a frequent devotee at the theatre in Goodman's Fields. (We see even at this early period he must have prowled about the Jewish quarter.) To the young boy the footlights were magnetic, enchanting. I mean, of course, the metaphorical foot? lights : the real ones did not exist in England till some twenty or thirty years later. He pursued the pleasure of the theatre with a fervour that must have made his ancestors stir in their tombs. Here he first beheld the acting of Garrick (who was to play so large a role on the stage of his</page><page sequence="11">156 RICHARD CUMBERLAND CENTENARY MEMORIAL PAPER. life); and, with boyish worship, he followed his hero's onward flight to Drury Lane and Covent Garden. In those early days Cumberland, no doubt, learned many lessons, and particularly that tolerance for the profession which is even to-day rare in the Puritan. Many dramas he feverishly absorbed, and acting in immense variety. He beheld the contest of the traditional methods with the new mode of nature and simplicity. The outer aspects of Bohemia may have all his life dis? tressed him, but deep in his heart he was at one with it. Yet it was all strangely apart from the rest of him. I am sure he must have had considerable doubts at times; many a time he must have stifled qualms of conscience to taste of a glorious bout of freedom. When he passed to Cambridge the curtain necessarily fell; but he discovered the Greek comedies, and the curtain rose again in the fumes of the midnight oil. Those distinguished men who afterwards sat with him in company suspected not the leaven of temperament behind the immaculate mask. Avowedly and openly he was all his life a dramatist; visibly in close touch with the theatre; but he carried it off with a frigid dignity. At the University he had learned to call himself Dramatic Poet. Like every dramatist who is ashamed of his connection with the theatre, he patronises and elevates it. He has a solemn office. He is for ever parading the doctrine that the stage is a moral pulpit. And he is quite honest about it. For, as he grew to manhood, the Puritan instinctively wrestled with the devil, held him in a leash of discipline, converted him into an instrument of salvation. The Memoirs hold no word of the contest, but Cumberland was honest in his self blindness. Few men can realise their own inner antinomies; all men recast their image in their own eyes; they are all artists in their skill of selection and rejection, of laying on the colour, in touching up the values. What Cumberland was consciously most proud of : that he unconsciously and in good faith wore on the surface; that he loved to be thought and to think himself; to that he subdued himself, as the clay is subdued to the potter. Yet the devil is ever to be reckoned with. When you think you have him, he has you. The pure fervour of our dramatist's soul over bubbles when his imagination is enkindled. There are times when the moral pulpit vanishes into air, and the footlights beckon and allure, and the frank pleasure of the audience stirs his blood. All his life he had</page><page sequence="12">RICHARD CUMBERLAND CENTENARY MEMORIAL PAPER. 157 a surprising knack of turning you out a facile lyric, a good rattling sea song, or a swinging measure, humorous to the verge of frivolity. We can hear his chuckle of glee as his pen runs naughty in a mild caper or two. An industrious but foolish biographer of his has gathered together into a few awful pages some of his departures from strict propriety. What serried rows of d?n's ! And this to disparage his sincerity. Truth to tell, it was the more Bohemian mood of Cumberland that got him on the rung of the ladder. Pompous, high-faluting experi? mentation he had made in plenty. It wTas only when he turned aside from such ultra solemn efforts as The Banishment of Cicero, and let himself go with songs and dances, that he came nigh to succeed. Something with songs and dances and pleasant foolish action?in a word, some? thing very much akin to the musical comedy of our own time?was then extremely popular. Cumberland's serious disappointments seem to have disturbed him. He let himself go?he wrote to entertain, and The Summer's Tale won him a hearing. From that time he w7ent ahead, secured success with The Brothers, met Garrick in the flesh, won his backing, sealed his renown with The West Indian, and was launched amid the celebrities of the town. And so long as he was content to keep on an every-day plane ; so long as he avoided the formal mould of high literature, he did justice to the best in him. But just as he would cherish his diplomatic delusions, so he would hanker after higher flights, and be delivered occasionally of some solemn piece of mediocrity. When his success had become impressive they promoted him in the public .service, and he became full-fledged Secretary of the Board of Trade. With characteristic prudence he carried on his career in letters ?which, at the best, in those days was hardly remunerative?against this background of a sure emolument, and for forty years on wrote with industry and fertility. Yet, of all that prodigious labour, it is not really surprising that so little enters into our mental furnishings to-day. That era is, in reality, more remote from us than the Elizabethan. Indeed, the enacted drama of the late eighteenth century, with a few honourable exceptions, does not bear scrutiny at all. To attempt to absorb it gives one the sensation of making a meal off ashes. Cumberland is not impossible, but he is difficult. It is no easy thing for the modern reader to attune himself so</page><page sequence="13">158 RICHARD CUMBERLAND CENTENARY MEMORIAL PAPER. as to live and breathe freely in his creative universe. We must re? member that the modern reader is an immensely sophisticated person. He has had large advantages. He has had the privilege of a wonderful gamut of experience. The nineteenth century has intervened. Human life has had a search-light thrown on it such as before was hardly con? ceivable. The human soul has been ransacked for fresh feeling and emotion. Pathology has been called in to add variety. New horizons of wit and epigram have been opened. The tale of moral and spiritual adventure has been unfolded. Carlisle and Browning, and all the Victorian giants have come and gone. Meredith and Henry James have developed the subtlest intel? lectual expression for the gyrations of human nature. Wells, Gals? worthy, Shaw, and the ultra-modern pulpit moralists are in their full ffocd of discourse, and our ears are filled with the din. Nietzsche, whether we like it or not?whether we know it or not?has worked his way into our blood and fibre. The Eugenists are in full cry around us. We have absorbed the Continental literatures: the great Russians; the French masters of Realism and Naturalism; the intellectual mood of an Anatole France ; the fin de sieele poets?we have culled from the whole garden of Fleurs de Mal. Our minds have been coloured by the extraordinary pages of a D'Annunzio. Drama, too, has been trans? formed ; has been endowed with a rare glamour by the French writers of the Empire; has been drawn to austerer heights by an Ibsen or a Hauptmann. It is all very wonderful, all overpowering, yet it is the common heritage of every intelligence of to-day. It's useless saying we know very much more than is good for us. That may be true. We eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge, and it does not conduce to the desire to live for ever. We cannot turn back. The fruit of the tree has to be swallowed. All these great streams of ideas, all these creative forces, circulate in the life-blood of our time. We have long lost our simplicity. And when we go back to Cumberland we find him in all his original innocence. The sensation is like that of entering a Siennese gallery of twelfth-century painters after living for years in the fevered brilliant atmosphere of Paris art. There is the limited gamut, the conventional strokes, the glaring crudity. But presently we begin to feel the tenderness, the sense of</page><page sequence="14">RICHARD CUMBERLAND CENTENARY MEMORIAL PAPER. 159 personality, the indescribable quality! The defects become irrelevant. But the primitive picture has the advantage of the book. The picture may be seen at a glance, but the printed work calls for time and energy that we can ill spare. So the picture lives in its gallery, but the book is buried in its library, awaiting the hand of the student that may never touch it. Assuredly, in his art, Cumberland has all the characteristics of the primitive. His emotional synthesis is that of the primitive : he is a sentimentalist, but a primitive sentimentalist; a moralist, but a primi? tive moralist. His range of sentiment was strictly limited; his powers of sentimental expression w7ere strictly limited. ""What tidings?" asks the lady. "None," says her lover. "None, but of love, increasing with each moment, glowing with every beam that those soft eyes diffuse, and heightened into rapture by those charms, those graces, that each look, word, motion spread around you." Or, again: "O thou angelic virtue; soul-dissolving softness ! " Merely the sort of stilted conven? tional fustian that was common in his day ! Yet in practice it served. Phrases of the sort were symbols which, by a tacit understanding between' author and audience, took on just the right value. And similarly with his morality. He knows nothing of the com? plex flights of, say, a Shaw or an Ibsen. He is concerned with the elementary virtues, the primary generosities. He reminds one of the saloon-keeper's appeal out in the wild West: " Don't shoot the pianist? he is doing his best." He cares not a straw for your eugenics. A man is a man to him?of fit and unfit his pity and charity heed not. Difficult he is to approach, but once you find the mood he grows delightful; just as the primitive picture does. And presently you are playing the con? noisseur, and even the crudities begin to take on a preciousness. Of course he was always on the side of the angels. Has he not himself set down his theory? "As a writer for the stage is a writer to the passions," he tells us, "I hold it matter of conscience and duty in the Dramatic poet to reserve his brightest colouring for the best charac? ters, to give no false attractions to vice and immorality, but to endeavour, as far as is consistent with that contrast, which is the very essence of his art, to turn the fairer side of human nature to the public, and as much as in him lies to contrive so as to put men in good humour with one another. Let him, therefore, in the first place strive to make worthy</page><page sequence="15">160 RICHARD CUMBERLAND CENTENARY MEMORIAL PAPER. characters amiable, but take great care not to make them insipid: if he does not put life or spirit into his man or woman of virtue, and render them entertaining as wrell as good "?there we see the cloven hoof peep out?"their morality is not a whit more attractive than the morality of a Greek chorus." But, although he had a reasoned theory, Cumberland's method was in reality quite spontaneous?it was of the man. He really did have considerable knack for practical stage-work, and no doubt his primi tivism here assisted him greatly. Indeed, it is a question whether any man can write successfully for the stage till he has largely converted himself back again, bit by bit, into a primitive. Through the medium of the stage, and across the footlights, this primitive quality becomes extraordinarily effective. Cumberland, we see, made no pretence of reporting reality : his figures exist in a special universe which is to him truer than reality. He had the knack of adding emotion to emotion, of building a very symphony of emotion out of extremely simple material. His bad characters are always transformed by their commerce with his good ones. The less virtuous character is touched by the virtue of the more virtuous; and, apparently changing his nature, immediately out? does the virtuous in virtue. And then a kind of competition to outdo each other ensues, to the tearful gratification of the audience. Of course he had never any difficulties with human nature. The modern reviewer will not allow these changes in the character of people. " It's bad psychology," he cries, " false to life; unscientific, in short." A fig for your psychology! Cumberland was quite clear in his own mind about the matter. These apparently bad characters wTere never really bad; they were merely for a time tempted from their better selves, and it is their true selves they find when the right influence comes along. I cannot here do better than quote Oliver Goldsmith's playful epitaph on Cumberland (in Retaliation), with which our hero was delighted, over? looking its undercurrent of pleasant satire : " Here Cumberland lies, having acted his parts, The Terence of England, the mender of hearts; A flattering painter, who made it his care To draw men as they ought to be, not as they are ; His gallants are all faultless, his women divine, And Comedy wonders at being so fine:</page><page sequence="16">RICHARD CUMBERLAND CENTENARY MEMORIAL PAPER. 161 Like a tragedy queen he has dizened her out, Or rather like tragedy giving a rout. His fools have their follies so lost in a crowd Of virtues and feelings, that folly grows proud, And coxcombs, alike in their failings alone, Adopting his portraits are pleased with their own; Say, where has our poet this malady caught ? Or, wherefore his characters thus without fault ? Say, was it vainly directing his view To find out men's virtues, and finding them few, Quite sick of pursuing each troublesome elf, He grew lazy at last, and drew from himself." III. It will be fitting on this occasion to treat in some little fullness of his Jewish work; which, for the rest, admirably illustrates those limita? tions and qualities on which I have dwelt. Cumberland's first Jew on the stage was a bad Jew. Napthali, the broker, in The Fashionable Lover (1772), is a little ugly fellow with a broken accent?rather a rogue. He is not a very bad case, but just an average case of an average incidental figure. As w7e shall see, Cumberland afterwards regretted him. But he could not kill the figure which he himself had created, for?ironically?the play w?as revived at Drury Lane in 1818, some years after his death. But, Napthali notwithstanding, he seems always to have had considerable reverence for the Jewish people for the part it had played in early spiritual history. That reverence he has fully expressed in his periodical The Observer. Apart, however, from those special papers, it was in No. 38, in the year 1785, that he first definitely took up the Jewish question favourably. Since the futile commotion of the Jewish Naturalisation Bill and its repeal, in 1753 and 1754, there had been rather a lull in the Jewish situation. Such notice as the Jews had had bestowed on them was conversionist rather than political. Attention was directed to them again by the conversion of Lord George Gordon, and an outcry over alien crime and poverty; and it was about this time that Cumberland stepped into the breach and led the movement on their behalf. In the more liberal thought of the Continent the Jews had already their niche; but I believe Cumberland's inspiration was mainly his own. No. 38 of The Observer pleads that the alien Jew VOL. VII. L</page><page sequence="17">162 RICHARD CUMBERLAND CENTENARY MEMORIAL PAPER. should be welcomed in England. Next follows a letter, supposed to be written by the imaginary Abraham Abrahams, complaining of the bait? ing to which he is perpetually subjected in every-day life, and of the sorry figure which the Jew cut on the stage as " rogue, usurer, or buffoon." And then there is a P.S., suggesting that if the editor " should persuade one of the gentlemen or ladies who write plays, with all of whom I conclude you have great interest, to give us poor Jews a kind of lift in a new comedy, I am bold to promise we shall not prove ungrateful on a third night." It was this figure of Abraham Abrahams which remained in Cum? berland's mind, and impelled him ultimately to do the suggested comedy himself. But it should here be set down that all his life Cumberland had a special corner in his heart for social pariahs of all sorts. He relates in his Memoirs: " I perceived I had fallen on a time when great eccentricity of character was pretty nearly gone by, but still I found there was an opening for some originality, and an opportunity for show? ing at least my goodwill to mankind if I introduced the characters of persons who had been usually exhibited on the stage as the butts for ridicule and abuse, and endeavoured to present them in such lights as might tend to reconcile the world to them, and them to the world. I thereupon looked into society for the purpose of discovering such as were the victims of its national, professional, or religious prejudices; in short, for those suffering characters which stood in need of an advocate, and out of these I meditated to select and form heroes for my future dramas, of which I would study to make such favourable and reconciliating delineations as might incline the spectators to look upon them with pity, and receive them into their good opinion and esteem." With this end in view, Cumberland at first took up the characters of an Irishman and a West Indian. At this early time he does seem to have overlooked the Jew. The very play which holds his bad Jew was specially written to rescue the Scot. Unless specially alive to injustice, Cumberland would as a matter of course avail himself of the usual stock figures that were at the disposal of dramatists. Whilst drawing Napthali he was so engrossed with Colin that he did not stop to reflect. He did it in good faith, no doubt believing that the figure represented the truth. At any rate it is clear that the project of an amende honorable lay in his mind for years, though it was only in</page><page sequence="18">RICHARD CUMBERLAND CENTENARY MEMORIAL PAPER. 163 1793 that he was actually inspired to execute it. Possibly Nathan the Wise may have stimulated him, but Sheva, his hero, has little in common with Lessing's. NaJthan wras conceived throughout on lines of dignity? in full dress, so to speak?and with an outlook on the great sister reli? gions. Sheva is rather derived from Shylock, though the model was radically changed. Here is Cumberland's own reference to the occasion of this production : "When the new and splendid theatre of Drury Lane was opened, my comedy of The Jew was represented, and, if I am not mistaken, it was the first new piece exhibited on that stage. I am ashamed to say with w7hat rapidity I despatched that hasty composition, but my friend Bannister, who saw it act by act, was a witness to the progress of it: in what a degree he was a promoter of the success of it I need not say: poor Suett also, nowr no more, was an admirable second. " The benevolence of the audience assisted me in rescuing a forlorn and persecuted character, w7hich, till then, had only been brought upon the stage for the unmanly purpose of being made a spectacle for con? tempt and a butt for ridicule. In the success of this comedy I felt, of course, a greater gratification than I have ever felt before upon a like occasion. " The part of Sheva presented Mr. Bannister to the public in that light, in which he will always be seen, when nature, fairly drawn and strongly charactered, is committed to his care." The prologue of the play made a direct appeal to the audience before the action began, though, as we shall see, Cumberland did not rely upon it. The Comic Bard is supposed to view the world, and to select this island to build his stage and erect his school: *'' A school for prejudice:?Oh, that my stroke Could strip that creeper from the British Oak! Twined round his generous shaft, the tangled weed Sheds on the undergrowth its baneful feed.' This said, he bids us strike the daring blow, That lays his fame or this detiler low. As for our fable, little I'll unfold ; For out of little much cannot be told. 'Tis but one species in the wide extent Of prejudice, at which our shaft is sent,</page><page sequence="19">164 RICHARD CUMBERLAND CENTENARY MEMORIAL PAPER. 'Tis but the simple lesson of the heart? Judge not the man by his exterior part: Virtue's strong root in every soil will grow, Rich ores lie buried under piles of snow. If to your candour we appeal this night For a poor Client, for a luckless wight, Whom Bard ne'er favoured, whose sad fate has been Never to share in one applauding scene, In souls like yours there should be found a place For every victim of unjust disgrace." The story of the play is simplicity itself. Sir Stephen, the hard Christian merchant, has determined that his son must marry a lady with ten thousand pounds. Instead, the boy has secretly married the sister of one of the clerks, Ratcliffe, and, in consequence, has brought himself, as well as the lady with her mother and brother, into very great trouble. They have hardly a groat between them, and the new couple are in great straits. Of course, the son dare not appeal to his terrible father, and at this point Sheva, who is Sir Stephen's stockbroker, comes in as the good angel, or rather as the good angel in disguise, for at first you cannot recognise him behind the usual caricature. Of course he is seen from the heathen view of an alien wanderer; coming out from his own fastnesses only for the purposes of his transactions with other men. The Jew in general literature is naturally an isolated figure, in isolated relation with the Christian. Thus, though shown in his own home in Duke's Place, Sheva is there solitary; not so much as a family man, and even in isolation from other Jews. Yet there is a true sense of the tragedy of Israel in the vicissitudes of his life: he has escaped from the Inquisition in Spain; he has been rescued from the mob in London. And his rescuer in London was no other than Ratcliffe, the heroine's brother. When Sheva is first announced, Sir Stephen's son refers to him as " the merest muck-worm " in the City of London. He is the miser?starving his servants, starving himself, merely to heap up money. His house is so bare that there is only a cup of cold water to offer his guest. When he asks what there is in the place for dinner, the servant answers: " One egg-shell and the skins of three potatoes: shall I serve them up at once, or make two courses of them 1" " Haven't you left some of the potatoes in their skins?" asks Sheva. Yet it is to him that Sir Stephen's son appeals in his distress, and &lt;f the muck-wrorm "</page><page sequence="20">RICHARD CUMBERLAND CENTENARY MEMORIAL PAPER. 165 not only responds magnificently?it was only for such occasions that his money existed?but he tries even to put in a good word for the boy with the father. Of course so carefully disguising the nature of the transac? tion?for Sheva's good deeds are always strictly secret?that Sir Stephen suspects he has been playing the usurer with the boy, and calls him a villain. The scene between them that follows is the one through which Cumberland largely delivers his message. Let me read it to you : Sheva. Aha ! That is a very bad word?villain. I never did think to hear that word from one who says he knows me. I pray you now permit me to speak to you in my own defence. I have done great deal of business for you, Sir Stephen: have put by a pretty deal of monies in your pocket by my pains and labours: I never did wrong you of one sixpence in my life: I was content with my lawful commission. How can I be a villain ? Sir Stephen. Do you not uphold the son against the father ? Sheva. I do uphold the son, but not against the father ; it is not natural to suppose the oppressor and the father one and the same person. I did see your son struck down to the ground with sorrow, cut to the heart: I did not stop to ask whose hand had laid him low; I gave him mine and raised him up. Sir S. You ! You to talk of charity ! Sheva. I do not talk of it: I feel it. Sir S. What claim have you to generosity, humanity, or any manly virtue ? Which of your money-making tribe ever had sense of pity ? Show me the terms on which you have lent this money, if you dare I Exhibit the dark deed by which you have meshed your victim in the snares of usury ; but be assured I'll drag you to the light, and publish your base dealings to the w orld. (Catches him by the sleeve.) Sheva. Take your hand from my coat?my coat and I are very old, and pretty well worn out together. There, there! be patient?mo derate your pas? sions, and you shall see my terms: they are in little compass : fair dealings may be comprised in few words. Sir S. If they are fair, produce them. Sheva. Let me see, let me seel?Ah, poor Sheva!?I do so tremble, I can hardly hold my papers.?So, so ! Now I am right.?Aha ! here it is. Sir S. Let me see it. Sheva. Take it?do you not see it now 1 Have you cast your eye over it ? Is it not right? I am no more than broker, look you. If there is a mistake, point it out, and I will correct it. Sir S. Ten thousand pounds invested in the Three per Cents.?money of Eliza, late Ratcliffe, now Bertram. Sheva. Even so! a pretty tolerable sum for a poor disinherited son not worth one penny. Sir S. I'm thunderstruck! Sheva. Are you so? I was struck, too, but not by thunder. And what has Sheva done to be called villain??I am a Jew, what then ? Is that a reason</page><page sequence="21">166 RICHARD CUMBERLAND CENTENARY MEMORIAL PAPER. none of my tribe should have a sense of pity ? You have no great deal of pity yourself, but I do know many noble British merchants that abound in pity, therefore I do not abuse your tribe. Sir S. I am confounded and ashamed ; I see my fault, and most sincerely ask your pardon. Sheva. I pray you, good Sir Stephen, say no more; you'll bring the blush upon my cheek if you demean yourself so far to a poor Jew, who is your very humble servant to command. Sir S. Did my son know Miss Ratcliffe had this fortune ? Sheva. When ladies are so handsome, and so goot, no generous man will ask about their fortune. ... Sir S. I merit your reproof. I shall henceforward be ashamed to look you or my son in the face. Sheva. To look me in the face is to see nothing of my heart; to look upon your son, and not to love him, I should have thought had been impossible. Sir Stephen, I am your very humble servant. Sir S. Farewell, friend Sheva!?Can you forgive me ? Sheva. I can forgive my enemy ; much more my friend. Thus is established the groundwork of the symphony. So far, Sir Stephen has only been won round by the ten thousand pounds. True, he is ashamed, but only for the terrible injustice he had meted out to the lady in supposing she had no fortune. So, naturally, he thinks it ex? pedient to go and make his peace with her, only to discover that she knows nothing of this money?this supposed inheritance. He at once concludes that Sheva has been playing with him. But?next move? ment in the symphony?he is so enchanted at sight of the lady that the hard man of money in him vanishes there and then. "Your merit, then," he exclaims, " and not your fortune, shall endear you to me. I wrill strike out the ten thousand pounds that I see you are not possessed of, and write in ten thousand graces, which I perceive you are possessed of, and so balance the account." And now we are naturally carried on to the third movement, wherein father, son, mother, and daughter come together in unison, and Sir Stephen bestows his blessing. " Frederick, give me your hand. If you had brought me half the Indies with a wife, I should not have joined your hand to hers with such sincere delight." And then for the grand finale, the lady's brother breaks in on them, hauling in the reluctant Sheva, and bids him stand forward as the hidden benefactor. "This is the man," he exclaims; "my benefactor : yours, Eliza?Frederick's : yours, dear mother?all mankind's. The</page><page sequence="22">RICHARD CUMBERLAND CENTENARY MEMORIAL PAPER. 167 widow's friend, the orphan's father, the poor man's protector, the universal philanthropist." Sheva. Hush, hush, you make me hide my face. (Covers his face with his hands.) Rat. Ah, sir, 'tis now too late to cover your good deeds: you have long masked your charities beneath this humble seeming, and shrunk back from actions princes might have gloried in : you must now face the wrorld, and transfer the blush from your own cheek to theirs, whom prejudice had taught to scorn you. For your single sake we must reform our hearts, and inspire them with candour towards your whole religion. Sheva. Enough, enough ! more than enough !?I pray you, spare me : I am not used to hear the voice of praise, and it oppresses me : I should not know myself, if you were to describe me: I have a register within, in which these merits are not noted. Simply, I am an honest man, no more: fair in my dealings, as my good patron here, I hope, can witness. So far Sheva had provided the dowry of ten thousand pounds out of a purely angelic impulse. But now a delightful revelation takes place. Not only is Ratcliffe his rescuer from the London mob, but Ratcliffe's mother is revealed as the very lady whose husband saved him from the Inquisition in Cadiz. The stage vibrates. What audience could be so stony-hearted as not to thrill to it! And in that tense atmosphere Sheva announces that Ratcliffe is the man to whom he has willed his fortune. " I am merely honest," he stammers apologetically, " and pay my debts." " Remember, son," says the mother, " to whom you owTe this happi? ness, and emulate his virtues." "If I forget to treat my fortune, as becomes the son of such a father, and the heir of such a benefactor, your warning will be my condemnation." Sir S. It is a mine of wealth. Sheva. Excuse me, good Sir Stephen, it is not a mine, for it was never out of sight of those who searched for it: the poor man did not dig to find it; and where I now bestow it, it will be found by him again. I do not bury it in a synagogue, or any other costly pile ; I do not waste it upon vanity or public works: I leave it to a charitable heir, and build my hospital in the human heart. And the curtain falls. You see, in a way, that the story is quite crude and ridiculous. Only it doesn't matter in the least how absurd it is: it's the symphony</page><page sequence="23">168 RICHARD CUMBERLAND CENTENARY MEMORIAL PAPER. that counts, the emotional movement to a finale. In so far as the fable was incredible, why, so much the more was it effective. The very ex? travagance of the Jew's liberality?the wonderful revelation of the man behind the miser?carries the audience by force. The comedy was most successful : it had an abiding vitality. Not only was it played by stock companies well into the nineteenth century, but it was revived at Drury Lane in 1815, again in 1818, and again in 1821. It was printed soon after production, and in seven years ran through seven editions. It was reprinted in 1824, 1829, and 1834, and in other forms since. It was translated into several languages, and had a considerable vogue on the Continent. In 1868 it was included in a classical theatre library of all nations, published at Stuttgart. But these particulars are necessarily incomplete?they are given only as a rough indication of its powerful hold over audiences of all nationalities. Remembering what satisfaction Cumberland felt at this performance of his, we cannot be surprised at his disappointment when he found Sheva had merely frozen his Jewish friends into polite silence. It is curious that this attitude of the Jews is rather endorsed by later writers, among them even Sir Walter Scott, who remarks?in 1824?that " the people in question felt a portrait in which they were made ludicrous as well as interesting, to be something between an affront and a compli? ment. Few of the better class of the Jewish persuasion would, we believe, be disposed to admit either Abraham or Sheva as fitting representatives of their tribe." Nevertheless, I feel sure that the view thus taken is unreasonable. That the good Jew in Cumberland's hands should turn out as the figure of Sheva was inevitable. Cumberland, despite his didactic intentions, was first and foremost a writer for the stage. In his hands his material spontaneously adapted itself to come across the footlights. His instinct would never be to fling a new figure at the heads of his audience. Even to-day such a procedure is dangerous. Moreover, if you are to have a Jew on the stage at all, it must be an extraordinary Jew : a plain, good Jew would be lost?he would offer no contrasts, he would be of no use at all. It is true that Sheva, when he first appears, is the old familiar figure, the grasping, miserly man of money, speaking broken English. But we must remember that the audience of those days was, in general, hostile to the Jew ; hissing Shylock and gleeful at his downfall.</page><page sequence="24">RICHARD CUMBERLAND CENTENARY MEMORIAL PAPER. 169 You cannot tell people suddenly they've been quite wrong : they don't like it. You must first put them at their ease by agreeing with them. The pit recognises its old friend and at once feels at home. When it has thoroughly accepted his reality, there is a further revelation which trans? forms the figure of sordid clay. The audience sees the man's bend straighten itself out into a fine up-standing dignity. Thus the pit could feel that of course it had known the Jew?it had known the truth, but not the whole truth. Why, it was the very process which the author's own mind had undergone. He had first accepted the stock figure, but had afterwards learned better. A process, as he must have seen at a glance, of obvious dramatic advantages. . What more natural than that he should employ it on others ? Cumberland did his best: he bases the new revelation, which is to change the world's opinion, on the one fact which had no doubt enlightened him in his own experience?the charity of the Jew. And it must be admitted that the revelation? his amende honorable?was magnificent. After all, this method of a gradual weaning of the audience from the old conception had the un? deniable merit of justifying itself by results. Whereas, if the new conception had been presented to them directly, all of a piece, it is highly probable they would not have accepted it at all. First put in good humour, and then further enlightened, they accepted in the most thorough-going manner. And the surest test of the acceptance was that it really did effect a change in the public view of the Jew. Songs about Sheva were sold in the street?the usual broad-sheets of the day.1 Moreover, the play set a fashion in Jewish heroes; the figure was fastened upon, and lifted whole. If some industrious excavator could exhume the dead novels of the period, I think w7e should be surprised at the host of Shevas. One novel I have read?Theodore Gyphon, by George Walker?has a Jew who is a cross between Sheva and Nathan the Wise. This book crystal? lises all the humanitarian radicalism, the wave of which had reached England from the Continent, and against which England officially stood firm. It paints the time in flaring colours, and is tinged by a pessimism not to be matched even in our days. The young Gentile hero 1 By the courtesy of Mr. Israel Solomons I am able to give the text of a broad-sheet as an appendix.</page><page sequence="25">170 RICH?.RD CUMBERLAND CENTENARY MEMORIAL PAPER. is hanged, and the heroine dies of a loathsome disease in the workhouse, both victims of a feudal civilisation, in which the Jew is represented as the only civilised species. At first sight it seems curious that whilst, from Cumberland's beginnings onwards, there was a steady improvement, an opening out of men's minds towards the Jew?as instanced, for example, by such later appeals as Witherby's and Dun stable's?the political situation of the Jew grew?formally?worse! The last decade of the century brought measures by which the alien Jew suffered. But that was rather due to the rise of Napoleon and the position of England in the welter of European politics. English hatred of the foreigner was rising to a level hardly known before or since, and the truth is that the Jew suffered as a foreigner rather than as a Jew. Properly viewed, the main current was flowing for him. But Cumberland had by no means done with Sheva. As so many others considered the figure valuable, it was natural that his imagination should still work on it, embroidering and extending; and only three years before his death he gave it another setting?in a musical play. The Jew of Mogadore, produced in 1808, appears to have been an immediate failure, and has been all but forgotten. But it deserves to be better known to you, if only as an historical item. Its sense of the Jewish tragedy as a whole is larger, and its central character developed even further than in the previous play. Cumberland's most picturesque self seems herein to have run riot. We have a romantic African coast with a shipwreck, grand Moorish saloons and harems, the colour of Eastern streets. It is all a curious medley, with some little coherence of plot, and interspersed with songs in varying moods?melodious, sentimental, seafaring, humorous; with swift move? ment of events, catastrophes that endure a tense moment, when the sky clears, and all is sunshine. Nadab, the Jew, is our old friend again, but he is shown in rela? tions which are more widely symbolic. "I am peeled," he exclaims; 441 am pillaged by the villainous Moors; I am eaten up alive by this shark of an Emperor, and who regards the life of a Jew no more than he does that of a jackal. ... 4 Nadab,' cries one, 4 thou hast coffee, thou hast opium, thou hast tobacco! Send them to the-Emperor?Jew, cries another, thou hast teeth of elephant, feathers of ostrich, dust of gold :</page><page sequence="26">RICHARD CUMBERLAND CENTENARY MEMORIAL PAPER. 171 deliver them up !' To this, when I humbly make answer?what would you have of a poor dying Jew? Give him the bastinado, they cry out. Off* with his slippers !" When Eooney, his Irish servant, tells him that the Emperor hanged two hundred Jews because there had been no rain for forty weeks, "It's false," he cries, "it rained yesterday by buckets full." " Yes, but the gentlemen were hanged the day before, and have all the credit for the change of weather." Left alone, Nadab philoso? phises : " Well, honest Nadab, amidst all thy sorrow's thou hast one comfort?monies ; . . . thou hast no son, no daughter : thou art friend? less ; thou hast no horse, no camel . . . not even a dog that owns thee for its master : but thou hast monies, Nadab, and that makes my heart so merry, I will sing a little song: ' That money will multiply care, Philosophers foolishly teach, 'Tis a proof that their pockets are bare When such silly maxims they preach. It gives the sweet power to impart What fortune denies to the brave, It lightens the care-loaded heart, And redeems the disconsolate slave/ " This last line refers to Nadab's particular pet generosity?the buying of slaves from the Moors in order to set them free. Rooney, his servant, is one of them. The general sentiment about money was no doubt Cumberland's own. The end of the song runs : " My money-bags, safe and secure, I hoard that the poor may partake, Reproach and contempt I endure, And starve for humanity's sake. Let them fully enjoy their abuse, And call me a miserly elf ; I confess it?but 'tis for their use I'm a miser?and not for myself." You see the repetition of the entire theme, the insistence on a leading idea. But then there is also the attempt presently to widen the character. For, when the Emperor dies suddenly, and his black army is pouring down to the sack of the city, Nadab is made to come out as a fighting potentiality. "Fetch me my sword," he cries ... "I</page><page sequence="27">172 RICHARD CUMBERLAND CENTENARY MEMORIAL PAPER. can draw and use it too. I am no coward, I will fight for Selim; the spirit of the Maccabees is in me . . . I'll sell my life as dearly as I can." "Aye," says the droll Irish servant, "aye, sir, you'll drive hard bargains to the last." In fact, the comic and the heroic jostle each other all through this play. Moreover, two comic songs by a friend of Cumberland's were incongruously thrust into the mixture. One relates how: " Paddy Shannon, high mounted on his trotting little pony, Set off in a gallop from Leather Lane to Bow, To ogle Widow Watkins, whom he courted for her money, And, tugging at his bridle, cried,' Whoa, my love, whoa ! * " In the other, Rooney relates his history. It is just an odd interest? ing item, a little of which is worth quoting. It has a sort of jig-trot motion : " In Ireland so frisky, with sweet girls and whisky, We managed to keep care and sorrow aloof, And whirligig revels made all the blue devils Creep out with the smoke through a hole in the roof." Then the young man goes out into the world to make his fortune : "Away then I scampered from Ballinafad. Then to seek for promotion I walked the wide ocean, Was shipwrecked and murdered, and sold for a slave, Over mountains and rivers was pelted to shivers, And met on the land with a watery grave. But now Mr. Jew-man has made me a new man, And whisky and Mammora make my heart glad. To sweet flowing Liffey, I'm off in a jiffey, With a whack for old Ireland and Ballinafad. From this cursed station to that blessed nation, Again Master Rooney shall visit your shore, Where I'll flourish so gaily, my sprig of shillilagh? Long life to old Nadab of old Mogadore ! " The plot in general of this play is a little too complex for our attention to-night, but it has its typical emotional movement. Prince Selim had been sent to extort Nadab's property for the national treasury, but, face to face with Nadab, he conceives a great admiration for him instead. Nadab, not to be outdone, bids up against him. "If you want me in a noble cause, and none but such I'm sure you will abet, to the last</page><page sequence="28">RICHARD CUMBERLAND CENTENARY MEMORIAL PAPER. 173 ducat I am Selim's banker." Whereupon Selim, bidding still higher : " Say no more, Nadab. I shall not forget your generous offer, but my aim will be not to diminish, but augment your store." In the end, Nadab begs the Prince to allow the Irishman and Mammora to depart for home in a British man-of-war that has anchored there, and Selim graciously accedes : " Nadab, your charitable suit is granted. Your nation shall be honoured in your name: buy, sell, get richer, deal as merchants should, with probity, with honour: freight your vessels to the four quarters of the earth, bring home your treasures lawfully acquired, and peaceably enjoy them unreproached. This, I conceive., is justice." And the curtain falls. A word or two to complete Cumberland's biography. The whole of his Jewish work was done at Tunbridge Wells, whither Cumberland had retired when his office at the Board of Trade was abolished in 1782, and compounded for at only half its value. But'his greatest financial loss had been made earlier?over his Spanish Mission in 1780. In that year he acquired by some unknown means some special knowledge of intrigues between France and Spain. Imparting it to the Government, he was directed to go out, under cover of a voyage with his family for health or pleasure, with a view to the possibility of winning Spain away from that hostile combination. The whole possibility turned on one point?wdiether Spain would stand out for Gibraltar as the price. In that case England would not proceed. The English had a secret agent, the Abbe Hussey, chaplain to his Catholic Majesty, w7ho was to test the ground and communicate with Cumberland. If his advices were favourable, Cumberland was to go on to Madrid, but not otherwise. The Abbe, however, was not the man to commit himself: his letters, apparently encouraging, merely temporised. In short, he was not the sort of man Cumberland w7as fitted to cope with. It is true that such subtle complexity is often shattered against the rock of simplicity. But unfortunately Cumberland tried to play the game. Instead of standing implicitly by his instructions and returning to England, he got the idea of proceeding to Madrid on his own responsibility, though with the tacit permission of the Government. At Madrid he lived a year, disbursing ?4500 of his own money. No doubt there was a great deal of palm greasing, and here again w7e can imagine the simple gentleman, accus</page><page sequence="29">174 EICH ARD CUMBERLAND CENTENARY MEMORIAL PAPER. tomed to accept statements at their face value, the unconscious victim of any amount of knavery. He returned to England only when expressly ordered. Though he attributes his failure to news of the Gordon Riots, which wTere regarded at Madrid as the downfall of the English monarchy, there was never the slightest hope of his succeeding. The loss of Gibraltar was a wound that rankled. Spain had only just tried to retake it, and a year later they made another and more determined attempt. At any rate, the Government refused to reimburse his outlay?it was a blow, and he was left with the grievance for the rest of his life. The Spanish Premier had indeed offered to make good his expenses, but Cumberland, though actually in distress at the time, refused?a fine act of honour and patriotism, which has for the most part been passed over in silence. IV. To the picture which has been set before you, both of the man and his work, it might be urged that a qualification should be made. It might be urged that all those special characteristics were by no means unique; that he was only a man of his time. It was an age of the Rights of Man and of rampant Pharisaism; and we have seen that he was strongly moved by the former, and influenced to danger-point by the latter. There were more primitives than he among the dramatists. As for stilted sentiment, Richardson purveys it wholesale. Paley, as has been admitted, sums up his comfortably-reasoned religion and moral philosophy. These things were all in the air, it might be said. So they were. The ideas of any age are conspicuously worn, like fashions. Crinolines and shepherd's-plaid trousers, for example, make a great display externally?they fill the vision ; and they go with certain internal fashions. Tell me the costume of an age, and I will tell you its ideas and moods. "What is the right thing to think ? What is the right thing to feel??Above all, what is the right thing to wear??are questions which are settled for the overwhelming majority. Cumberland was scrupulously exact in all the outer, as in all the inner, fashions of his day. True, that in his later years he could not absorb the radicalism which had swamped intellectual Europe; but there is no doubt that the corresponding emotion touched him deeply, though he did not</page><page sequence="30">RICHARD CUMBERLAND CENTENARY MEMORIAL PAPER. 175 follow it out in the concrete to its logical consequences. Nevertheless, he was no mere wearer of fashions. It is difficult to express, and I can only put it this way. I remember there once came to me a young friend who had married against the wishes of his family. " All that they say is perfectly true," he admitted, " but they don't see it all doesn't matter ; they don't see that the only thing that does matter is Happiness." And his eyes shone with rapture as he dwelt on the word. Just that vivid value which Happiness?with a capital H?had for the boy, all the moral and sentimental currency of the late eighteenth century had for Cumber? land. Justice, Humanity, Pity, Generosity, Virtue, Benevolence?these abstractions wrere very near and very real to him. They all sang in his heart. And thereby he takes his place among the elect. Before bringing this paper to a close, I should like to devote a line or two?quite inadequate, I fear?to the women that were most near to him. In his mother, as in his wife, Cumberland professed himself as " superlatively blessed." Both were women of admirable character and wide cultivation. His mother's taste and knowledge were potent factors in his education, and he has acknowledged his debt to her. Of his wife he was always proud. She w7as careful with their resources, yet conducted their household "with every elegance and comfort," as he puts it. Her co-operation meant a great deal to him?she never set herself against his guests, but threw open their house, which became for many years the resort of a considerable company of "friends and followers of the muses." And we must not forget his youngest daughter, Frances Marianne, who did not marry, and alone remained to him in his old age. "In her filial affection," he says, in concluding his Memoirs, "I find all the comforts that the best of friends can give me : from her talents and understanding I derive all the enjoyments that the most pleasing of companions can communicate. As she has witnessed every step in the progress of this laborious wrork, and cheered every hour of relaxation whilst I have rested from it, if these pages . . may happily obtain some notice from the world, by whomsoever they are read, by the same this testimony of my devotion to the best of daughters shall also be read: and, if it be the will of God that here my literary labours are to cease for ever, I can say to the world for the last time that this is a dedication, a tribute to virtue . . . and an effusion of gratitude, esteem, and love."</page><page sequence="31">176 EICHARD CUMBERLAND CENTENARY MEMORIAL PAPER. The end came, in the due course of nature, a few years later; and, at the last rites, the Dean of Westminster pronounced this eulogy ou him: "Good people, the person you now see deposited is Eichard Cumberland, an author of no small merit; his writings were chiefly for the stage, but of strict moral tendency: they were not without faults, but they were not gross ... as I am shocked to observe is the case of many of the present day. He wrote as much as any one; few wrote better, and his works will be held in the highest estimation as long as the English language will be understood. He considered the theatre as a school for moral improvement, and his remains are truly worthy of mingling wdth the illustrious dead which surround us." But we Jewrs cannot but be conscious of an omission. Cumberland excelled in justice, but the eulogy holds no word of it. However insular he might be, his justice knew no earthly boundary. For us he stands as one of the great pioneers in the slow movement of justice for the Jew ; and the courage that called for cannot be easily measured to-day. He helped to prepare the social ground, and that is more essential work than the final measures of the politician or administrator, who most often merely gives official embodiment to principles that have long been developing. Cumberland's efforts on our behalf have passed into Jewish History, and will not soon be forgotten.</page><page sequence="32">APPENDICES. APPENDIX I. ORIGINAL CAST OF "THE JEW: A COMEDY," AS PERFORMED AT THE THEATRE ROYAL, DRURY LANE. DRAMATIS PERSON'JE. Sir Stephen Bertram. Mr. Aickin. Frederick, his Son. Mr. Palmer. Charles Batcliffe. Mr. Wroughton. Saunders, First Clerk to Sir Stephen . . Mr. Mattocks. Sheva, a Jeiv. Mr. Bannister. Jabal, his Man. Mr. Suett. Mrs. Batcliffe. Mrs. Hopkins. Louisa Batcliffe. Miss Fahren. Mrs. Goodison. Mrs. Booth. Dorcas, the Jeitfs Servant. Miss Tidswell. Scene, London. APPENDIX II. BENEVOLENT JEW, OR, SHEVA'S CREED, Printed and sold by J. Pitts 14 Andrew Street, 7 dials. Sure I vas an Hebrew man, And vel known in Tuke's Place And since honesty's my plan I can boldly shew my face; Vat tho' monish I lends out, 'Tis but vat my neighbours do, VOL. VII. 177 M</page><page sequence="33">178 RICHARD CUMBERLAND CENTENARY MEMORIAL PAPER. Den I never sheats the needy ; Upon my vord 'tis true ; No?I'm content with vat I get, Sirs in an honest way, My debts I never once forget, But cheerfully them pay ; And tho' the Christians flout, And call me heathen Jew, Whilst I know I'm acting right, Vhy I mind not vat they do, (Speaks.) No, no tho' I shay it myself, I have a heart so tremblingly alive to the mis? fortunes of my fellow creatures, dat it ish only when I'm reliving their vants that I can sing? Tol lol lol lol lol lol. If ven walking thro' the street Some poor creatures meets my eye Who, naked, cold, and hungry, Implores my charity, I never thinks to asks, His religion or his name ; No?he's a brother, and in want, Sure that's sufficient claim, Upon my purse to help his need, And save him from distress, Whilst I do this I shall succeed, And Providence me bless, Den let the vorld still flout, And call me knave and Jew Whilst I know, &amp;c. (Speaks.) No no, for dis de vay of the vorld to make ill-natur'd remarks a top of those who do better den demselves, but vhilst I have a clear conscience their scorn vil not hinder me from singing Tol lol lol, &amp;c. Let misers hoard up money, And hide it from the day, Let parents stake their children's bliss, That ne'er shall be my way.</page><page sequence="34">RICHARD CUMBERLAND CENTENARY MEMORIAL PAPER. 179 I'm rich, 'tis true, but should my son, To wife, to beggar take, Let virtue be her portion, I ne'er will him forsake, True love should ever join our hands, And Int'rest kick the beam; For bliss dwells not where gold commands Tho' they may happy seem ; Would men these maxims keep, Whether Christian, Turk, or Jew, Their conscience ne'er would teaze them, Upon my vord 'tis true. (Speaks.) Aye, aye, when a man can clap his hand a top of his heart, and shay he has done no one an injury, he need not be a fraid to sing with me? Tol lol lol, &amp;c. [The size of the above broad-sheet?now reprinted by the courtesy of Mr. Israel Solomons?was 10 ins. by 3? ins. The beginning at first sight seems ironic, but it soon appears that the song is sympathetic.?L. Z.]</page></plain_text>

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