The Autobiography of Leigh Hunt: With Reminiscences of Friends and Contemporaries - Vol. 2

By Walter Scott | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXV. .
PLAY-WRITING. -- CONCLUSION

Difficulty of meeting the literary requirements of times and editors.-- Play-writing and present condition of the stage.--Actors out of their place as managers.--Reason why their profession is not more esteemed. --Delusions practiced by them respecting the "Shakspearian," the "legitimate," and the "national" drama.--Only remedy for such abuses.--The Legend of Florence, and four other dramas by the Author.--Lord Melbourne and the Author's pension.--Ideas associated in the latter's mind with the Queen.--Amateur acting.-- Removal to Kensington.--Author's latest productions and daily habits.--Question of the Laureateship.--Political and religious opinions.

POEMS of the kind just mentioned were great solaces to care; but the care was great notwithstanding. I felt age coming on me, and difficulties not lessened by failing projects: nor was I able, had I been ever so inclined, to render my faculties profitable "in the market." It is easy to say to a man, Write such and such a thing, and it is sure to sell. Watch the public taste, and act accordingly. Care not for original composition; for inventions or theories of your own; for æsthetics, which the many will be slow to apprehend. Stick to the works of others. Write only in magazines and reviews. Or if you must write things of your own, compile. Tell anecdotes. Reproduce histories and biographies. Do any thing but write to the few, and you may get rich.

There is a great deal of truth in all this. But a man can only do what he can, or as others will let him. Suppose he has a conscience that will not suffer him to reproduce the works of other people, or even to speak what he thinks commonplace enough to have become common property. Suppose this conscience will not allow him to accommodate himself to the opinion of editors and reviewers. Suppose the editors and reviewers themselves will not encourage him to write on the subjects he understands best, perhaps do not

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