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this very part of Pierre, who has form’d the true rule by which to proportion the due strength of voice to every part of that noble character, so as not to let us perceive a want of force any where, and yet to keep a reserve to support himself in the most violent scenes, with a power and energy, that the rest of the great performers of the time must allow us to say, no body ever did, or perhaps ever will, come up to.
How exquisite is the management of this player, in giving a ftrength that scarce any body besides himself ever gave to any thing, to that scene where he braves the rest of the conspirators, and in the midst of all their threatnings against Jaffeir asks them,
Who talks of killing Who's he'll shed the
blood That's dear to me? is't you ? or you? or you, sir? What not one speak? how you stand gaping all ! On your grave oracle, your wooden god there.
One such word more, by heavens I'll to the fenate,
We rememberWalker's straining till he was quite hoarse at this scene, and incapacitating himself for any thing of confequence that was to follow, and we have seen fomething not unlike it in some later players of very great merit; but how are we surpriz'd to find in Mr. Quin, that all the
fire he throws into this part of his character, is but of a subordinate kind, when we see him under greater provocations, and before a greater assembly, rising upon us to a much nobler height; and telling the trembling senate of Venice, with
majesty, that it is easy to admire, impossible to imitate,
You my lords and fathers (As you are pleas’d to call your selves) of Venice, If
you sit here to guide the course of justice, Why these disgraceful chains upon the limbs That have so often labour'd in
your service ?
After admiring the superior force and dignity with which this inimitable player has rais’d the vehemence of this part of his character so highly
beyond every thing we had before admir’d; how are we at length, on the appearance of Waffeir, and his suing to him for a reconciliation, astonish'd to find that even this also was but a force of a subordinate kind, and to see that he has yet reserved an infinitely greater store of it, for that keenest of all resentments which is due to a violated friendship. Even the vehemence of that execration with which he leaves the senate,
Curs'd be your fenate ! curs’d your conftitution, The curse of growing factions and divisions Still vex your councils, shake your publick fafety, And make the robes of government you wear Hateful to you, as these base chains to me.
Is nothing when compar'd to that with which he tells the friend who had betray'd him,
Hast thou not wrong’d me? dar'lt thou call thyself
these chains, Whence this vile death that I may meet this
moment, Whence this dishonour, but from thee, thou
like thine, Base as thou'rt false? Leave me--Nay then thus, thus I throw thee
from me; And curses great as is thy falsehood catch thee.
Whoever has heard these and the rest of the keen and disdainful reproaches which Pierre juftly throws on his friend, utter'd from the mouth of Mr. Quin, will agree with us, that the whole compass of the English stage affords nothing greater; and yet there in this judicious performer, are but the sequel of a whole part, and that a long one, kept up throughout with due dignity and spirit.
CH A P. IV.
to be of a distinguished Figure ?
WHERE are a great many people that fre
quent the playhouses, who are less apt to be affected with those obje&ts which are form’d to entertain the understanding, than with those destin'd to act principally on the senses. These gentlemen are oftener drawn to the theatres by the names of the actresses, than by those of the characters which they are there to perform ; and as they are capable of judging of no perfections but those of figure and perfon, they are always disposed to take an amiable face for a very great talent in a performer; and wou'd have even a Mistress Amlet or a Lady Bountiful, have a regular fet of features, a snowy neck, or an elegant person.
Tell these people that there is a new actress to appear upon the stage such a night, the first queftion they ask is, Is she handsome? And ’tis ten to one, but they forget to enquire at all whether she has any merit in the profession.
The women pretend indeed that the figure of a performer of the other fex, is the article they least of all regard in him as an actor; but the player who has not fome personal charms about him, will always find it extremely difficult to get their good opinion. The criticisms that one hears among this part of an audience, always run more upon the imperfections or blemishes in the face or figure of the actor, than on those of his performance; and almost on every occasion of this kind, we shall find that the elegant or disagreeable mien of the player is what has most taken up their attention.
Whoever therefore wou'd propose to himself to acquire fame on the stage, in the eye of the polite world, and to become the favourite of a numerous party, must remember that a graceful figure and an engaging aspect are almost absolutely neceffiry to it. We have had very few instances in England, in which an actor has been able to make his way to applaufe in the higher characters without personal charms; and in France it is an allow'd truth, that no man ever did or ever will be a favourite in this capacity without them,
'Tis only the herd of an audience however that fall into this fort of absurdity in their opinions; the better judges despise such prejudices. They agree, that there are indeed some charac ters, in which we find, by the conduct of the scene, that the actor is out of nature if he have not something amiable about him. They do not deny that even in most other parts a good person in the actor, is far from being indifferent; but they assert with great truth and justice, that our nicety in requiring a good face and well propor