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come them very well while young and sprightly, are now no longer proper for them.
The players of both sexes, we have said, ought always to remember that on the Itage every thing disgusls us, in a very fenfible manner, which calls to our remeinbrance the defects and infirmities of human nature; as we never fail of bringing every reflection of this kind home to our felves. In general when a person is become, thro' age or other infirmities, an object more fit to excite melancholy and compafiion, than joy and pleasure, the stage is no longer his proper scene of action, and he ought wisely to retire. It will appear absurd that a person to whose time of life the custom of the world forbids even the fatisfaction of enjoying, or at least of frequently being prefent at public diversions, thou'd arrogate the right of being the perpetual Heroe or Heroine of them. Indeed nothing less than fome singular and inimitable excellenci, can make us bear with a performer, whose decays in person, voice and features remind us continually of the fate that attends ourfelves.
The gratitude and justice of the world have made it a general rule, that those persons who have deserved the greatest applause on the stage in their earlier life, thou'd be received longer on it in their advanced years than others: The world is generous to them in this ; and they ought to be equally grateful to the public in remembring that they owe to the applauses and favours they have before received, the continuance of their reception in the same capacity fo long as it shall be found agreeable or welcome; or till they see themselves replac'd by other rising players, who
are able to join those advantages, which themselves now have no longer, to those which they
When we find that it is neither with a view to fordid interest, nor out of a foolish self-fufficiency and presumption, that performers continue among a company with whom they us'd to share the utmost praises, we are to regard them as worthy veterans, grown old in our service, and ftill attempting to administer to our entertainment; we have no right, in this case, to impute to them the injuries of nature; but if we on any occasion take their age into our remembrance, it ought to be only to lament that people, who of all others ought to have enjoy'd a laiting youth, are not exempted from the common laws of nature, but must submit to grow old and feeble as well as other men.
Men may continue the profession of playing to an advanced age much better than women. The reason is evident, that as this more robuit sex bears the attacks of age much better than the other, it also presents it to our view in a lefs aflicting and less disagreeable manner.
The French itage will long remember the favourites of three ages, Baron and Guerin, who after seeing every body grow old about them, far from being born down by the burthen of years themselves, continu'd to merit the applause of the greatest judges, by, retaining all that life and spirit, by which they had first obtain'd it, and which the younger people, tho'.of considerable merit, found it ficult to come up to.
We remember Bowman, who at a time of life twenty years beyond that at which the gene
rality of players become disagreeable to us, cou'd give fuch force to the character of Raymond in the Spanish Fryar, that the house never fail'd to sing with a long applause, when he declar'd to his suppos'd fon, his contempt of the statesmen of the times, and told him they were A council made of fuch as cou'd not speak, And dar'd not if they cou'd-A ministry Whence honest men Banilh'd themselves for shame of being there; A government which knowing no true greatness, Was scorn'd abroad, and livid on tricks at home.
And we never shall forget Johnson, who in comedy not only pleas'd, but excelld to the very Jast ; who at an age more than equal to that of Bowman, never appear'd upon the stage, without being the greatest player on it; and who has left us to seek, what we fhall perhaps never find, a good Coupler, a good Smugler, and a good hundred other things, which ceas'd to be any thing with us, when he ceas'd to play them.
The list of Veterans for this age ought not to be clos'd without mentioning the favourite Lever ridge, who, tho' his province was only finging, ought to be remember'd for ever, for pleasing us at least as well as he did our Fathers and our Grandfathers.
What the audience has a right to demand of thofe actors who are authoriz'd by the superiority of their talents, to continue upon the stage after a time of life, when it would be decent for others to quit it, is, that they have so much prudence, that while their interest in the company may give them a power of choosing for themselves what parts they please, they take only those,
which suit with that period of life they are at this time arriy'd at. This is a caution which, (tho' it wants not its weight with respect to the men,) ought chiefly to be regarded by the women. A well made man may possibly be decently gay at threescore, but the wrinkled face of a woman, address’d with all the flattery the poet cou'd bestow on something that he meant to describe as little less beautiful than an angel, is an absurdity too glaring to go down with the meaneft spectator.
Baron, the most eminent of the two French players just mention'd, tho' of the more proper sex for such an attempt, notwithstanding all his merit, was never able to make the audience relish the inclination he had to be playing the parts of young Princes and Heroes at the latter end of his life: The audiences, tho' they lov'd and esteem's the man extremely, cou'd not have patience at hearing him call'd Son and Child by people to whom, by his age, he might have been grandfather.
those Players, who play the capital Parts, jou'd be superior to those who perform the - subordinate Characters,
HOSE performers who in comedy have
the capital parts assign'd them, and whole polite address and spirited action is expected to enliven and support the representation, and those who in tragedy are usually employ'd to play the characters of persons worthy of our admiration for their virtues, or of our compassion for their misfortunes; and we may add those who either in comedy or tragedy have the parts of lovers : ought to be indowed with a great many natural advantages, besides those necefiary to players in general, and which may be dispensed with in those who are employed only in tubordinate characters.
The advantages necessary to persons in this higher rank in the theatre are of two kinds. Some are wholly exterior, some entirely interior. The latter of these affect the understandings of the spectators; the former only strike their fenses : The interior ones will make the subject of the first section of this book, the exterior of the second.