« PredošláPokračovať »
sions. She had more variation and pathos of his under tones, spent in flexibility of tone than Mrs Cibber, their passage through the misty void, and her eyes were powerful auxilia- would have failed to reach the outries to her voice and action. She skirts of that greedy theatre And was not exclusively a tragick actress, he would have found himself only but filled the characters of upper co- understrod in the neighbourhood of medy with great success.
I do not the orchestra, whilst the rest of the recollect to have seen Garrick play spectators would have discovered litwith more animation on any occasion, tle else in the finest actor that ever than when upon the stage with her, lived, but the diminutiveness of his as for instance, in the part of Don figure. Felix and others of that amatory cast. If the dreadful spectacle which In those days, before theatres were those blazing theatres have alternateof the size to which they since have ly displayed to the astonished capital, grown, the countenances of perform- cannot burn them into smaller and ers could be distinctly seen, and the more modest compass, but that they language of the eyes could be under. will rise more splendid from the stood by the spectators; and not to downfal, and defy their fortune, the have discovered how their lively same resources must supply the same comment animated and improved demands; the muse of comedy must the text would have been a loss in- resume her cap and bells, and the deed.
proprietors must again call forth aut Of Garrick it was not originally urfum, aut pugiles, to amuse the peomy purpose to have spoken in this ple's eyes, when they no longer can place ; but the recollection of his regale their ears. various and enchanting talents pres
l's Yates was an actress of a lof. ses on my mind, and not to speak of
tier cast and higher tone than either him, when speaking of his colleagues Mrs. Cibber or Mrs. Barryand contemporaries, is a self-denial For dignity composed, and high exploit, that I cannot practise. He was the her natural powers were great, her great promoter (I had almost said the genius bold, her person, voice and founder) of that legitimate taste for action so commanding, that somethe early dramatists, particularly times, in the domineering torrent of Shakspeare, which Mr. Kemble, to her passion, she would so overbear her his honour be it spoken, struggles to interlocutors, as almost to outstep uphold, but struggles against a tor- decorum and monopolize the stage. rent of mummery, and machinery, Still, where any great and striking and song, and spectacle, which the cir- effect was to be produced, I have necumstances of the time he lives in, ver seen the performer, who in my and of the stage he treads, render opinion surpassed Mrs. Yates. In it impossible for him to do more than short, she was as decidedly formed to struggle with. It is a turbid tor. and fashioned by the hand of Nature rent which he cannot stem. If he to be an actress, as Mr. Femble is to cannot trust himself to the character be an actor She had an independent even of lacbeth on the little stage style unmethodized by art; a spirit in the Haymarket, without Viother that disdained prescription, and a Goose to cackle in his after-piece, towering genins, that dreaded nothing neither could Garrick have filled that but mediocrity. Colliseum, which is now a ruin, un- This great heroine is now no more; lcss Johnson had drawn out his ele. but the stage bas still possession of phants to allure the gapers in the an actress, whom all have admired, gallery. All the intelligence of his and many idolized. Were I only eye, the archness of his smile, the called upon t: speak of Mrs. Siddons novement of his brow, the touching as she has been, I should say that in
her first display of character she was vertheless, we must confess the stamp as pure, as perfect, and as near to of Nature is upon him as the tragick Nature as Nature's fairest represent- hero; and when we add to that the ative could be. I apprehend she has
habits he has acquired by the study too cautiously restrained and circum- of his art, and probably by the dispo
, scribed her powers, and being sensi- sition also of his mind, he has a right, ble that repetition needs relief, has if he sees fit, to be seen in none but not sufficiently considered that abso- the gravest and most dignified situalute perfection does not admit of va- tions. Nay, althonglı it were allowriation. Why elst she should resort ed on all hands, and he himself were so often to her under tones I cannot conscious, that such were the true tell; for they are positively inaudible, compass and determined limitation and the people, who call upon her to of his histrionick powers, yet Mr. speak louder, should convince her Kemble would have no right to arthat she's still too fine a speaker to raign the liberality of Nature, because be allowed to deprive them of their she did not give him features as flexiright without a remonstrance. ble, and frame as plastick as she gave As an actor, who in the decline of
to Garrick: what is great, and solemn, our national taste stands firm in the
and sublime she has qualified him to support of the legitimate drama, and
express, and though her gifts, as
such alone, bad not been very varimay be truly styled the gravis Æsopus of his time, Mr. Kemble has my
ous, they surely may be called exmost sincere respect, and when I
tremely valuable. But I adhere to bear this unprejudiced testimony to
my conjecture. his merit, I ain moved to it by no
Mr. Hunt says of Mr. Kemble, as other consideration, but as I think
Racine did of his own Athaliah it due from me, being the conductor
Non in se crimen amoris habit. of a work, devoted to the interests of Mr. Hunt is a nice observer, and fair criticism and contemporary ge- very apt to be right. Mrs. Inchbald nius. If he is evidently cautious how difiers from bim, and upon a question he lends himself to great variety of of that nature little likely to be wrong; character, he very probably acts how can we decide? wisely for his fame, and prudenily The ingenious writer of these esfor his health ; but I am far from says under my review expresses some sure, that we have seen him in the disapprobation of a certain stiff and whole capacity of his power's, nor studied manner, which he remarks does it follow, because he has never in Mr. Kemble, and observes that he stepped beyond the boundaries of his is an actor even in the operation of genius, that he has absolutely step- taking out his handkerchief, when ped up to them. I rather think, that he is upon the stage. I can believe if he chose to sally from his intrench- the fact to be as Mr. Hunt has stated ments, he might take new ground, it, but I do not quite agree with him and post bimself very strongly on it in the comment, that he grounds
. I have watched him in his Leon, and upon it. I conceive it must depend will venture to say that his fatuity upon the character, which Mr. Kemin that character is more highly co- ble represents, and the situation he loured than that of Garrick's was. I is in, whilst an action of this sort is dare say my readers can recollect cer- introduced, whether his manner of tain parts, in which his unimpassion- performing it is, or is not, pedantick ed recitation, that would hang so and improperly artificial. Heroes and heavy in the hands of others, has a kings may take out their handkercharm that never wearies us in his chiefs on the stage; but certainly not I am satisfied he might considerably for that familiar purpose, which meanenlarge his compass, if he would. Ne. er characters would apply them to, whose noses had occasion for them. Upon this arduous part Mr. Kema Mr. Kemble, as the representative ble enters with attributes in some of dignity, will of necessity dignify respects happier and more auspi. overy niovement, that fills up the ac- cious than those with which Mr. Gartion, and what is termed the by-play rick was by nature armed. The dig. of his part. He naturally will not nity of the prince is in his form ; the allow himself to perform such com- moody silence, meditative look, remon offices, as are above alluded to pulsive coldness, and taunting ridicule like common men, but specifically cast on the creatures of the court, and precisely as the individual would, who besiege him, are peculiarly his whose image is in his mind, and own. In the judicious management whose minutest habits he would wish of soliloquy, so little understood by to make his own, so long as it may some, he is not to be surpassed by be his duty to reflect them. If he any. In his interviews with the apdoes no more than this, he does right, parition of his father no actor can be and I have not observed him apt to more impressive; but in the gracious. offend against character. No per- ness of his manner with Horatio, former ever fashioned himself more Laeries and others; in his familiar studiously on reflection, and where I condescension to the players, and think him open to criticism is, when especially in those delicate observanhe suffers that reflection to be seen ces, which are not to be totally laid in representation, which only should aside, even in his sarcastick scene with precede it.
Ophelia, and that more sharp and The part of Hamlet has generally accusatory one with his mother, , been selected as the test of genius. which were so finely and so curiously I rather look upon it as the touch- managed by Mr. Garrick, I must stone of versatility. It is not always confess I have not received that perthe best actor who will play Hamlet fect satisfaction from Mr. Kemble, best, but he who is most variously which in other parts he has given me. endowed; for that applauded drama When Hamlet, in his interview with is, in fact, a most irregular and parti. Ophelia, repeatedly vociferates : T. coloured composition. In parts and a nunnery! to a nunnery! and quits passages of that non-descript per- the stage, Mr. Garrick tempered the formance various actors have suc- unmanly insult in a manner that I ceeded ; several in many; Kemible
cannot define; but by the effect it in most ; Garrick alone in all was evident that the sensibility of the
Mr Hunt says (and I quote it as a actor operated as a softener to the passage in his besų man
asperity and coarseness of the poet. “ That it must be the praise of a man,
I have thought that in the stateliness who shall possess a genius capable of of his deportment, and above all, in more than the art of acting, to personate
the measured march and high pitchHamlet, the gallant, the philosophical, ed one of his declamation, Mr Kemthe melancholy Hamlet, that amiable in, ble did not sufficiently yield and acconsistent, wło talked when he should cord himself to the fluctuations of have acted, and acted when he should not even have talked. Who, with a bosom
that changeful character, which is wrung with sensibility was unfeeling, and throughout the drama alter et idem. in his very passion for justice unjust. But these are merely superficial opiWho, in his misery had leisure for ridi- nions, that have floated in my mind, eule, and in his revenge, for benevolence. whilst I have been watching his perWho, in the most melancholy abstraction never lost the graces of mind or the ele- formance, and they may very possigances of manner ; natural in the midst bly be coloured by the prejudice of of artifice, and estimable in the midst of first impressions, and I feel how pererrour."
fectly unfair it is to bring actors now,
contending with the disadvantages of pany, has spirit to undertake and ad. very different theatres and different dress to execute a great diversity of audiences, to comparisons with actors parts. Those which require little past. It is nugatory and frivolous, if else than memory he seizes with fadone to flatter the living ; unjust and cility ; but if deliberation, time, and cruel, if intended to disparage them. study shall be wanting, I cannot see The present stage, whilst possessed of where he will find those favours to Mr. Kemble, has to boast of a per- bestow upon them. If he is not exformer, more deeply scientifick, more travagantly fond of praise, I think learned, and more laborious in his he must be more than satisfied with profe-sion than is probably to be found the very fine things which Mr. Hunt in the annals of the British theatre. has said of him. I suspect he has Although Garrick and Barry, Quin a few failings, which it would be well and Henderson, Woodward and O' to correct, but, lest he should not Brien, have passed off; although be quite as well pleased with advice, Mrs. Cibber and Mrs. Barry, Mrs. I shall forbear to obtrude it upon him. Pritchard and Mrs. Yates, Mrs. A man of lively parts is apt to catch Abington and Miss Farren, will be at an apology for carelessness, and if
no more, the few old fellows you can inspire him with a high opi. like myself, who have lived through nion of his genius, you may take no the whole list, and admired every one further pains about instruction; he of them in their turns, would be the will be sure enough to hold it in conmost illiber. I of bigots, if we did not tempt. If genius may be said to acknowiedge the merit of those, consist in the variety of its operations who have succeeded to delight us, without any regard to the dignity and and support the undiminished credit importance of them, then may a of the stage.
maker of toys be called a man of I cannot quite take leave of Mr. more genius than the builder of a Kemble without noticing Mr. Hunt's ship. remarks upon orthoëpy, as applied Endowed with an excellent and to that elaborate performer I con- well informed understanding, graced fess I wish him not to be too precise with a becoming person, and modest, in his pronuociation, but to content unassuming manners, the junior Mr. himself with speaking what is com- Kemble wants nothing but opportunimonly called court language, without ties to display in new and more imtoo marked an aspiration of certain portant parts the histrionick powers, vowels. In some instances, that are which he possesses in no less degree urged against him, I think him right; than others of his family. As I am yet I would recommend it to him to persuaded that this rising actor has restrain his zeal or reforming cus- too much real merit to disdain the toms, so long as they are sanctioned advice of a judicious critick, I hope by the best societies, and are not in. he has noticed Mr. Hunt's remark, elegant. That he pronounces aiches, and will correct his indolence, if inas those who empoyed the word, dolence can fairly be imputed to him; meant it to be spoken, I am well but if he only wants animation in convinced: the metre puts it out of some unanimating, under characters, doubt; but it is not worth his while
and possesses it to the full in such to be in a minority for a word. Let leacling parts as Romeo and Jaffier him say to himself
(which I am told is the case) it only -Scio meliora, proboque; proves that he is alive to good writing, Deteriora sequor
and a lazy advocate in a lame cause, Mr. Elliston, the Gracioso of Dru- and for an unworthy client. As his ry Lanc, always enterprising, and as
talents have been gradually expandvarious as a hore of a country com- ing and improving from the first hour
when he stepped upon the stage, I of a theatre, there is no reasoning would advise him now, before he has in the case. It is to be hoped, howthe responsibility of a leader upon ever, that in the construction of the him, to lay out for excursive service, new and magnificent theatre now by which he may diversify his walk. erected in Covent Garden, care will No man can exactly foresee to what be taken that the voices of the perextent the elasticity of talent may be formers may have a fair chance to stretched by the energy of ambition. reach the ears of the audience. And
When Mr. Cook is Richard, or as this is unquestionably the first lago, or Sir Pertinax, he is in his thing needful, there can be little fear proper post, and whilst he bears his ofits being overlooked and neglected. faculties in steady poise, no actor Means may at the same time be taken can surpass him He is then the to secure and guard the interiour of main prop of the drama he is engaged the theatre from those unseemly in; but should that main prop totier, noises and disorderly interruptions, what disgrace can be greater than that have been matter of such just that of an actor so disabled? what re- complaint; and when the avenues and sentment more justifiable than of an obies shall be kept free from those audience so disappointed ?
disgraceful scenes, which to every Of Mr. Alexander Rae, now act- person that passed through them exing on the Dublin stage, I am glad bibited the licentiousness of a brothel, to find that Mr. Hunt conceives fa
a great and very needful thing will vourably. What his advances may be effected. The consequence of have been since he appeared in the this reform will be, that in proporsummer theatre I cannot say: but tion to the respectability of the asof a mind so well informed, so open sembly, so will be that of the enter. to instruction, and so totally devoid tainment. Authors, who have been of self-conceit, as I believe his mind in the practice of writing to the galto be, I augur confidently, and ex- leries, must give place to those, who pect great produce.
can address themselves to hearers of High as my opinion of Mr. Dow- a purer taste ; and actors, who, in ton's abilities as an actor is known to compliment to those gallery authors, be, and much as I regard him, it is have condescended to become bufenough for me to say that I am par foons, must recollect themselves and ticularly gratified to find my opinion be comedians. so flatteringly confirmed by the in- Much will depend upon the congenious author of these essays struction of this new theatre about to
That so many comick actors and open, and still more upon the style actresses, capable of doing justice and character, which the conductors to the best productions, have been shall give to its representations, and seen to sacrifice their admiralle ta- of what description the first novellents to buffonnery and farce, is much ties shall be, which they offer to the to be regret'ed, and I cannot but publick. If the splendid pile be realagree with Mr. Hunt, that it has ly meant to be a playhouse, and if been evidently prejudicial to some song, and scenery, and show, are to amongst them of the higher order. be employed as ornamental, not as Woodward, I confess, was a harle- essential, then indeed, provided there quin, and would jump through the be genius in the age to furvish dradial-plate of a clock ; but he would mas of true, sterling worth, there not grin through a halter. If more seems no reason why nonsense should than that degree of spectacle and pass current, merely because it glitsplendour, which is auxiliary to dra- ters. matick compositions, must be em- That there is this genius in our ployed to meet the great outgoings contemporaries I cannot doubt ; but