Billeder på siden

tending, that the notions of an author tomed as she was, to the extravagance concerning his own productions ought of a town life. And as to the lady to be adopted as an invariable stand- herself, her language is in one or two ard for judging the plot and charac- places so little measured, that her sarter of any works of invention. We. casms barely stop short at the safe have a right to deal with his perform side of abuse. Upon the whole, it is mance, as we find it, and to decide abundantly evident, that Sheridan inupon the persons introduced as the tended to represent the plagues and agents of its design, according to their follies of an old country gentleman own conduct and language. But and his young country wife, coming though an author must not be relied to live in town for the gratification of on as an infallible commentator upon the lady, with little previous knowhis own works, he may surely be em- ledge (on her part none) of its modes ployed as a witness entitled to some or its society, and falling insensibly respect when speaking of characters to an intimacy, dearly paid for, with with which he had a very early and a small coterie, who are obliged to a very intimate acquaintance. A pa content themselves with a place in the rent may be liable to partiality or miss outskirts of fashion. Sir Peter's contake in his opinion of the habits and versation, it is true, is that of a man disposition of his offspring, but he is who had once known the world; but tolerably good authority on such he betrays his disgust and contempt points, notwithstanding.

of the frivolities of the town, in terms Sheridan has indeed left no express that strongly savour of the sentiments comments upon this part of his lite of a man who had long retired from it. rary family ; but it is clear from the Indeed, as to the diction, generally, traces which appear of their first state of the whole play, it is obvious, that of existence, that he by no means con whatever was Sheridan's design retemplated making Lady Teazle a specting the principal personages, his finished fine lady. This will appear execution throughout exceeded any from the slightest perusal of the first conceptions he could have originally scene of the first act, as it stood in the formed. I before alluded to the poet's original rough sketch, and as it powers of dialogue displayed by such is quoted by Mr Moore in his chapter a pair of gentlemen as Trip and Moon the School for Scandal. There is, ses; and we now know that the elawith abundance of wit and point, an borate polish bestowed by the author air of coarseness throughout, which upon almost every sentence of this must, I think, strike any one that comedy, was considered by himself as compares it with the same scene as it at least liable to objection, if it did not was afterwards fined down to its pre amount to an actual blemish. Of all sent admirable polish. Sir Peter, in- things, therefore, it is most absurd, in deed, in his soliloquy, calls his wife criticising the School for Scandal, to

a woman of fashion, but it is form conclusions concerning the rank plainly in irony and vexation, excited which its characters ought to be reby the contrast between her former presented as holding, by urging the mode of life and her pretensions after design of the author, and inferring , marriage. In the whole of the dia- that design from the style of dialogue logue between the gentleman and which he decreed that those characters his lady, he appears as little accus should use. *

• Mr Moore, after the extract which he gives from the rough sketch of the play, containing the scene above referred to, has the following passage.-" In comparing the two characters in this sketch, with what they are at present, it is impossible not to be struck by the signal change that they have undergone. The transformation of Sir Peter into a gentleman has refined, without weakening the ridicule of his situation ; and there is an interest created by the respect, ability, and amiableness of his sentiments, which, contrary to the effect produced in general by elderly gentlemen so circumstanced, makes us rejoice, at the end, that he has his young wife all to himself, The improvement in the character of Lady Teazle is still more marked and successful. Instead of an ill-bred young shrew, whose readiness to do wrong leaves the mind in little uncertainty as to her fate, we have a lively and innocent, though imprudent country-girl, transplanted into the midst of all that can bewilder and endanger her, but with still enough of the purity of rural life about her heart, to keep the blight of the world from settling upon it permanently."

Opposed to the speculations here different performers in a favourite part advanced, is one fact, which, with the with feelings somewhat similar to those tribe of critics already referred to, with which we visit a favourite landseems quite decisive of the question. scape at different seasons.

In spring, All the actresses, from Mrs Abington, in summer, and in autumn,-on sunny downwards, who have appeared in and on gloomy days, --Nature puts on Lady Teazle, have, it is alleged, different dresses ; still she is altera et sought to represent her clothed with eadem-her aspect changes, but she is the practised and habitual graces of a still the same. And we would be roba thorough woman of fashion. The act bed of half the pleasure which the ing of Miss Farren, in particular, the drama affords us, were it possible for most distinguished of Mrs Abington's some stiff pedantic rules to gain sway followers, is appealed to as having fix- in its representation, prohibiting all ed the cast of the character, by a style departurefrom some established standof performance which so long delight- ard—(something like the brass gallon ed the lovers of pure and genuine co

of the Commissioners under the new medy. The fact is undoubtedly true, Act for regulating weights and meathat such has hitherto been usually, sures)-fixing the meaning of every perhaps invariably, the reading of character in every play, and prescriLady Teazle. But that players, like bing the looks, the tones, and the geslawyers, are to be bound by prece tures, without which the performance dents, is strange doctrine. According must be adjudged counterfeit. to this school of criticism, (if it be But, besides all this, two


sufconsistent with itself,) Kemble ought ficient reasons may be given why Lady never to have played at all, since it Teazle has been hitherto represented was not in his nature to play exactly as a fine lady. In the first place, the like Garrick - Kean ought to have talents requisite for giving to the part been denounced for his departure, in that mixture of qualities for which I Richard, from the example of one who have contended, are much more rare had been for twenty years the favour than those which enable an actress to ite interpreter of Shakspeare,-and personate a mere wayward woman of Miss O'Neill's Belvidera ought to fashion. And, in the next place, whathave been hissed off the stage, upon ever may have been the cause of it, so which Siddons had wrought her pro- the fact has been, that all the actresses digies in that character-prodigies the of note who have appeared in this chamore wonderful, because it was a chae racter, were distinguished performers racter almost wholly opposed to her in that line of acting to which the part own peculiar genius.

of Lady Teazle has been usually supVariety in representation is an es posed to belong. They were all, in sential attribute of the drama. That their days, the most remarkable fine any two performers should play the ladies of the stage. In playing the part same part exactly alike, is almost a according to any other reading, they physical impossibility. Such is the would have risked their reputation, ambiguity, or rather the pliancy by encountering a difficulty which of language, that the same words, their habitual style of performance by pronounced by different persons, will, no means fitted them for surmounte unless they contain mere statement ing; and it is no offence, I hope, toor reasoning, always affect an audience wards such of them as survive, to say, differently. The look and the voice, that to resign the eclat of being for which can never be the same, however three hours admired by three thouclose the natural resemblance, or how- sand people, as exhibiting a finished ever exact the imitation, must for ever pattern of the manners of the haut ton, produce associations in the spectator would be a self-denial so enormous, as and listener, corresponding to the differ no woman, and certainly no actress, ence in what is seen and heard. Mun- could in fairness be expected to practise. den's reading of Sir Peter Teazle was And now, before I conclude, let me the same with that of Mr W. Farren, be indulged with addressing a word or yet no two performances can be more two


the difficulties to which Miss distinct than theirs of that character. Kelly's reading of the School for ScanIndeed, this diversity is one of the dal subjects Lady Teazle’s representprincipal charms of dramatic repre- ative, and upon those rare endow. sentation. We witness the acting of ments which Miss Kelly herself pos

-one com

sesses for achieving what she under rarely represented well. There are, took. The characters of women, in perhaps, no two characters more frecomedy, as they are far less nume. quently selected for showing off an acrous, so also are they far less diversified tress, than Sophia in the Road to Ruin, than those of men. I speak here of and Lydia Languish in the Rivals. the younger part of the sex, as repre To both belongs, in no small degree, sented in the drama. They are com that quality which I have attempted posed chiefly of two classes,

to describe; and it is this which prinprising women of fashion, varying, cipally sustains the interest we feel in indeed, as to their individual charac- them,--for they are in other respects ters, according to the peculiar virtues, rather common-place, have not a great frailties, intrigues, and sentiments, deal to do in the pieces to which they designed for them by their parent belong, and are not connected with the author,-yet women of fashion circumstances that in themselves create still ;-the other class containing a much sympathy. Their great populamost extensive assortment of arch rity usually saves the actress who tries waiting-maids, virtuous peasant girls, her fortune in them from the ordinary unsophisticated and sentimental young consequences of a total failure. It ladies, brought up in the country, or would not be easy to point out a walk confined within a limited circle, by in the drama in which so few have some vinegar old aunt, or iron old succeeded, or in which success, when uncle in town, and so on. But there attained, is more brilliant, or better reis an intermediate class, partaking the warded. It is in characters of this dequalities of both the former, in which scription that Miss Kelly displays most art is blended with nature, and in fully, and with greatest effect, her exwhich there is a perpetual conflict be- traordinary powers. Her Sophia in tween the manners of society, to which the Road to Ruin may be termed perthe individual is obliged, from ecluca- fect. There are few performances at tion and example, and even habit, to the close of which we are so much inconform, and those native emotions, clined to turn to our neighbours among or peculiarities of temper, which oc the audienee and say,

" Who would casionally burst their way through all think, on reading that part, that so artificial restraints. Such characters much could be made of 'it?” It has are not common in the drama, and been sometimes questioned, whether they are rare in life. We see them, the performance of a great player can however, sometimes. Among some ever be an attestation of genius; but hundred women, we shall find one if genius can be displayed by an actor, who, on ordinary occasions, seems it is then, if ever exercised, when he in no respect different from others, – gives to his audience a conception of who moves about in the throng, the the character that he personates, which same in dress and in manners, con they acknowledge and admire as just, versing on the same subjects, amused but which they had themselves never by the same trifles, engaged in the thought of. same occupations ; but, upon the The part of Lady Teazle, undertouchingof some hidden chord-it may stood as I have attempted to explain not be of sentiment or passion,-it it, is of the same class with those just may be of habit or of prejudice, but noticed. She is neither a woman of it matters little what, -shall exhibit fashion nor a rustic girl, but somecertain marked and striking peculiari- thing between both. She has tasted ties, that, according to their character, the poisonous sweets of dissipation, will excite ridicule, or contempt, or and they have intoxicated her senses ; abhorrence, or deep and pathetic inte- but her heart, though approached by rest. Such characters as these are the the malady, has escaped it. She adopts creations which make a poet immortal. the modes, the dress, and the obserThey are copies from nature, taken in vances of a town life; but she must her least beaten paths, but instantly retain, amid all her finery, and with all acknowledged as genuine representa her wit, some traces of the habits in tions,-the more prized, because to see which she has passed all but a few either the original or the copy is a rare months of her existence, and which enjoyment. These, too, are the parts, cannot be put off like a suit of counvhich, though, in proportion to their try-made clothes, nor left behind when

her, oftenest attempted, arc most ons steps into a carriage, like a country


residence. And in one passage of the public. Sufficient opportunity was cere
play_if we are either to learn a moral, tainly not given to the town, of forme
or to be roused to emotion-she must ing å mature and correct judgment
appear to us as if waking from a busy upon this departure from established
dream, in which she has felt herself precedent. As far, indeed, as the sense
clothed with attributes that she detests of a delighted audience, loudly and
and disowns. She must be seen uns warmly expressed, might be considere
learning in a moment, at the edge of ed as an evidence of success,
the precipice, the false and deluding could be more successful than the ex-
manners that have conducted her to it, periment. But some (and only some)
and returning to those ways of simpli- of the newspapers censured and sneera
city undisguised, and virtue freed from ed,--and Miss Kelly, or (for where we
artificial follies, to which she had been have no certain knowledge we must
accustomed during her youth and child be cautious) the managers, or both,
hood, and from which she could not got frightened !
have wandered, without exhibiting that There is yet a remedy for the lovers
appearance of restraint in her move of the drama. I trust it will be ap-
ments, which is the sure mark of an plied. It is only necessary, when the
imperfect and ill-tutored hypocrisy. town fills, that an inquiry should be

Such is Miss Kelly's Lady Teazle. made, coming from one or two fashiona
I must not abuse the courtesy of those able names, “When Miss Kelly shall
readers who may have accompanied next play Lady Teazle ?" The actress
me thus far, by asking them to travel and the managers would soon take the
farther, that I may notice her admihint; all who possess taste and discri-
rable performance of this difficult and mination would assist by their pre-
complex character. Tempting as the sence and applause; a far more nume-
theme is, the bulk to which my chap rous host would follow the fashion ;
ter has already grown warns me to genius, for once at least, would be
forbear. I shall merely ask this sim- freed from the degrading bondage that,
ple question of those who deem them- in this department, has been for some
selves the patrons of the drama,-Are time settling upon it; and the rights
we to be denied a repetition of that and privileges of The Stage would be
performance? For the present, Miss asserted, spite of all the pert dogma-
Kelly, or the managers, or it may be tism, and all the pointless flippancy of
both, have yielded to the clamour of ALL THE CANTERS,
Cant, and, after two or three trials of

London, January %, 1826.
the public taste, she has ceased to per-
form Lady Teazle. I must say, I think
this is not dealing quite fairly with the

THE FRENCH GLOBE AND BLACKWOOD's MAGAZINE. In our December Number we made French Globe, and we think we were some remarks on the present state of not wrong. Judge, then, of our surFrench literature, which were of course prise, when our Parisian express archaracterized by our usual Rhadaman- rived, containing the Number of the thian impartiality. What we said, we 20:h of December, in the year lately do not in the least recollect, but have defunct, with the following article no doubt that it was particularly good. stuck at the bottom of it, as we have Needless is it to say, that if we cen seen in the days of our youth a bunch sured, we did so with our universally of nettles under the tail of an otheracknowledged good manners, temper- wise well-behaved and most milky ing the austerity of the judge with the benignity of a father, and if we

"Sur un article du BLACKWOOD MAGApraised, administering the bonbons of panegyric with the grace of Mr Am. Depuis que nos travaux nous ont,” &c. brose setting down a platter of powldowdies. Such, our readers know, is But why should we bother our read the common mode of proceeding in our ers with French ? Here, therefore, we pages.

overset it into English for the benefit Among other affairs, we praised the of the Cockneys, who write under the



[ocr errors]

signature of French Viscounts, and the next Number, said we to the Sediscuss the literature of France, cretary, be placed under our own eyes

“Since our labours commenced, and forthwith. Ay, ay! sir, said Mula we have begun to study the literary lion. journals of Great Britain, we have But with this next Number came been frequently struck with the tri calmer thoughts. We perused it with fling nature of their correspondence satisfaction, and saw that the French with France, [This refers of course to men had been imposed upon, and were the correspondence of Beyle, and other not deserving of the castigation which such raff, with the Maguzines of Co we had intended most unmercifully to cagne, J and the credulity of our neigh bestow upon them. They had seen bours, with respect to communica their error, and being, as we take it, tions, which, when read in Paris, Papists, had thumped their stomachic would make people shrug up their region, exclaiming, “ Mea culpa, mea shoulders. There is really a commerce culpa, mea maxima culpa!" Here is of scandal going on-a trafficking of what they said translated into the lannames and anecdotes. Our works are

guage of George the Fourth, whom never analyzed or judged, but the men God preserye. who have written them,—and these letters cannot be better compared to (From Le Globe of the 22d Dec. 1825.) anything than to certain drawing-room “ Our last Number contained a note conversations, where the most import written with some rudeness, (brusant questions are decided by a word,

querie) on an article of Blackwoods and the most celebrated men criticised Magazine, which, in consequenee of with impertinence. There is no des

some vague information, had excited sire of displaying either literature or in us serious uneasiness, (vives inquiesound criticism, but solely of exciting tudes.) We had been told that much curiosity by stories, or a sort of confi- praise had been bestowed on the Globe, dential communications which have and in particular on two of its editors, apparently been picked up by surprise but that some writers, whom we love, by slipping into literary circles. Too had been, as we may say, sacrificed. often, enemies, by employing their per- The horror we have against coteries, fidious weapons, can calumniate honest the very criminal abuse which we have men, (hommes honnêtes, translate it as

seen made of political and literary coryou like,) and imprudent friends throw respondence, the natural fear that ridicule on modest labours by absurd praises coming to us from beyond sea eulogiums. Such may be the result of might give us some resemblance to the an article in Blackwood's Magazine for quacks whom we have blasted, and December, which a friend has denoun- wish always to blast, the desire of ced to us, and against which we has- guarding our English readers promptten to enter our protest.”

ly against false or rash decisionsHo! said we, by the word of an old everything, in fact, combined to give game-cock, but that is a pretty return our remark a vivacity which the Edifor civility. May we be rammed into. tor of Blackwood will easily pardon Queen Anne's pocket-pistol, and sputtered over into Calais Green among Certainly-not a doubt of it-give the rascally rope-twisters of that ras us the hand. Now you may continue. cally region, if we don't make these “ There is an uneasiness concerning honest fellows remember us some lit one's honour which all elevated minds tle. We do not know what is going can comprehend, and in such a case on in the centre of Paris! We who the delay of a day is too long. Au could tell you the tittle-tattle, chit- reste, although our expressions only chat, gibble-gabble of the backstairs attack generally the criticisms of Briof the palace of Timbuctoo! We slip in- tish writers on our literature, and cast to literary circles ! We who are court but a vague imputation on Blackwood's ed wherever we go, and by common Magazine, yet, if we have offended, consent put at the head of all feasts

our reparation comes immediately." where good men most do congregate. Say no more about it, Monsieur Le Punished shall the Globe be. It is de Globe-we forgive and forget. Perge. cided upon. The laws of the Medes “ We have to-day read with attenand the Persians never were more ir tion the article in question, and can revocable than this our dictum. Let affirm that it contains just information


« ForrigeFortsæt »