THE MIRROR OF TASTE,
Vol. I APRIL 1810. No. 4.
HISTORY OF THE STAGE.
ORIGIN OF COMEDY—ARISTOPHANES—DEATH OF SOCRATES.
Though the term "tragedy" has from the first productions of AEschylus to the present time, been exclusively appropriated to actions of a serious nature and melancholy catastrophe, there is reason to believe that it originally included also exhibitions of a pleasant, or comic kind. The rude satires, and gross mummery which occupied the stage, or rather the cart, of Thespis, were certainly calculated to provoke mirth in the multitude. By what has already been shown, the reader is apprised that the word, in its original sense, bore no relation whatever to those passions and subjects, to the representations of which it is now applied; but meant simply a dramatic action performed at the feast of the goat, in honour of Bacchus. Thus the different provinces of the drama then undistinguished, were confounded under one term, and constituted the prime trunk from which sprung forth the two branches of tragedy and comedy separately—the first in point of time usurping the original title of the parent stock, and retaining it ever after.
Why human creatures should take delight in witnessing fictitious representations of the anguish and misfortunes of their fellow-beings, in tragedy, and, in comedy of those follies, foibles and imperfections which degrade their nature, is a question which many have asked, but few have been able to answer. The facts are admitted. Towards a solution of their causes, let us consider what is said on the subject of tragedy in that invaluable work "A philosophical inquiry into the origin of our ideas of the SUBLIME AND BEAUTIFUL."
"It is a common observation," says the author, in the chapter on sympathy and its effects, "that objects which in the reality would shock, are, in tragical and such like representations, the source of a very high species of pleasure. This taken as a fact, has been the cause of much reasoning. The satisfaction has been commonly attributed, first to the comfort we receive in considering that so melancholy a story is no more than a fiction; and next to the contemplation of our own freedom from the evils which we see represented. I am afraid it is a practice much too common in inquiries of this nature, to attribute the cause of feelings, which merely arise from the mechanical structure of our bodies, or from the natural frame and construction of our minds, to certain conclusions of the reasoning faculty on the objects presented to us: for I should imagine that the influence of reason, in producing our passions, is nothing near so extensive as is commonly believed.
"To examine this point, concerning the effect of tragedy in a proper manner, we must previously consider how we are affected by the feelings of our fellow-creatures, in circumstances of real distress. I am convinced we have a degree of delight, and that no small one, in the real misfortunes and pains of others; for let the affection be what it will in appearance, if it does not make us shun such objects, if, on the contrary, it induces us to approach them, if it makes us dwell upon them, in this case we must have a delight or pleasure of some species or other in contemplating objects of this kind.
"Do we not read the authentic histories of scenes of this nature with as much pleasure as romances or poems, where the incidents are fictitious? The prosperity of no empire, nor the grandeur of no king, can so agreeably affect in the reading, as the ruin of the state of Macedon and the distress of its unhappy prince. Such a catastrophe touches us in history, as much as the destruction of Troy does in fable. Our delight in cases of this kind is very greatly heightened if the sufferer be some excellent person who sinks under an unworthy fortune. Scipio and Cato are both virtuous characters, but we are more deeply affected by the violent death of the one, and the ruin of the great cause he adhered to, than with the deserved triumphs and uninterrupted prosperity of the other; for terror is a passion which always produces delight when it does not press too close; and pity is a passion accompanied with pleasure, because it arises from love and social affection. Whenever we are formed by nature to any active purpose, the passion which animates us to it is attended with delight; and as our creator has designed we should be united by the bond of SYMPATHY, he has strengthened that bond by a proportionable delight; and there most, where our sympathy is most wanted, in the distresses of others. If this passion was simply painful we should shun with the greatest care all persons and places that could excite such a passion; as some, who are so far gone in indolence as not to endure any strong impression, actually do. But the case is widely different with the greater part of mankind; there is no spectacle we so eagerly pursue as that of some uncommon and grievous calamity; so that whether the misfortune is before our eyes, or whether they are turned back to it in history, it always touches with delight. This is not an unmixed delight, but blended with no small uneasiness. The delight we have in such things, hinders us from shunning scenes of misery; and the pain we feel prompts us to relieve ourselves in relieving those who suffer; and all this antecedent to any reasoning by an instinct that works us to its own purposes without our concurrence."
The great author then proceeds to illustrate this position further, and after some observations says:
"The nearer tragedy approaches the reality, and the further it removes us from all ideas of fiction, the more perfect is its power. But be its power what it will, it never approaches to what it represents. Choose a day to represent the most sublime and affecting tragedy we have; appoint the most favourite actors; spare no cost upon the scenes and decorations; unite the greatest efforts of poetry, painting and music; and when you have collected your audience, just when their minds are erect with expectation, let it be reported that a state criminal of high rank is on the point of being executed in the adjoining square; in a moment the emptiness of the theatre would demonstrate the comparative weakness of the imitative arts, and proclaim the triumph of the real sympathy. This notion of our having a simple pain in the reality, yet a delight in the representation, arises hence, that we do not sufficiently distinguish what we would by no means choose to do, from what we should be eager enough to see, if it was once done. We delight in seeing things which so far from doing, our heartiest wishes would be, to see redressed. This noble capital, the pride of England and of Europe, I believe no man is so strangely wicked as to desire to see destroyed by a conflagration or an earthquake, though he should be removed himself to the greatest distance from the danger. But suppose such a fatal accident to have happened, what numbers from all parts would crowd to behold the ruins, and among them many who would have been content never to have seen London in its glory."
So much for the causes of the pleasure experienced from tragedy. But how are we to account for the delight received from comedy? Some have imagined it to arise from a bad pride which men feel at seeing their fellow-creatures humiliated, and the frailties and follies of their neighbours exposed. The fact is indubitable, be the cause what it may. The great moral philosopher quoted above, in another part of his works, shrewdly observes, "In the disasters of their friends, people are seldom wanting in a laudable patience. When they are such as do not threaten to end fatally, they become even matter of pleasantry." The falling of a person in the street, or his plunging into the gutter, excites the laughter of those who witness the accident: but let the fall be dangerous, or let a bone be broke, and then comic feelings give way to the sympathetic emotions which belong to tragedy. On a superficial consideration, the delight we feel in tragedy bears the aspect of a cruel tendency in our hearts, yet it is implanted in us for the purposes of mutual beneficence. The pleasure we feel in comedy, too, looks like a malignity in our nature; but why may not it, like the other, be resolved into an instinct working us to some useful purpose without our concurrence?
The end of comedy, like that of satire, is to correct the disorders of mankind by exhibiting their faults and follies in ridiculous and contemptible attitudes. The tendency we feel to laugh at each other's foibles, or at those misadventures which denote weakness in us, being implanted by the hands of Providence, was no doubt given to us for special purposes of good, and in all probability to make men without the least intervention of will or reason, moral guides and instructers to each other. It is allowed by the soundest philosophers that ridicule has a much better effect in curing the vices and imperfections of men, than the most illustrious examples of rigid virtue, whose duties are so sublimed that they rather intimidate the greater part of mankind from the trial, than allure them to walk in their steps. The following definition of comedy given by Aristotle and adopted by Horace, Quintilian, and Boileau, corresponds with these observations: "Comedy," says the Stagyrite, "is an imitation of the worst of men; when I say worst, I don't mean in all sorts of vices, but only in the ridiculous, which are properly deformities without pain, and which never contribute to the destruction of the subject in which they exist."
It has been remarked that the most severe satirists have been men of exemplary goodness of heart. The giant satirist Juvenal, was a conspicuous illustration of this truth. While his superior intelligence and sagacity unfolded to him in their full size the vices and follies of his fellow-creatures, his superior philanthropy heightened his indignation at them. The same may perhaps be said of the dramatic satirists, or writers of comedy in general. We could adduce many instances to corroborate this assertion. That very man who stands unrivalled at the head of comic poetry, stands not less high in the estimation of all who know him, for generosity and benevolence. If those who have traversed the life of the author of the School for Scandal with the greatest ill will to the man, were put to the question which they thought, his good-nature or his wit were the greater, they would probably decide in favour of the former.
The most unamiable form in which comedy has ever appeared, was that it assumed at its first rise in Greece. The character of the Athenians was peculiarly favourable to it. The abbe Brumoy who has discussed the subject with vast labour and talent says, "generally speaking, the Athenians were vain, hypocritical, captious, interested, slanderous, and great lovers of novelty." A French author of considerable note, making use of that people as an object of comparison, says, "Un peuple aussi malin et aussi railleur que celui d'Athenes." They were fond of liberty to distraction, idolaters of their country, selfish, and vain, and to an absurd excess scornful of every thing that was not their own. Their tragic poets laid the unction of flattery in unsparing measure upon this foible of theirs, representing kings abased as a contrast to their republican dignity; and with all their greatness, it is easy to detect through their writings, a lamentable propensity in their muse to play the parasite with the people. To their gratification of the public foible, the tragic poets no doubt owed some small part of that idolatry in which they were held by the Athenian multitude. Yet no sooner did the comic writers appear, ridiculing those very tragic poets, than they became still greater favourites with the people. Horace has transmitted to us the names of three of these comic poets, cotemporaries—Cratinus, Eupolis and Aristophanes. If there were any before them, their names are buried in oblivion. Taking the structure of the tragedies of AEschylus for their model, these commenced the first great era of improvement in the comic drama. Of the comedies of Cratinus, Quintilian speaks in great commendation; the little of his poetry, however, that remained is not thought to justify that praise. Eupolis is related to have composed seventeen plays at the age of seventeen years. He was put to death by Alcibiades for defamation, and died unlamented except by a dog, which was so faithfully attached to him that he refused to take food and starved to death upon his master's tomb. So that of the three, Aristophanes alone lays claim here to particular commemoration.
Perhaps there is not one character of antiquity upon which the opinions of mankind are divided, and so opposite to each other as that of Aristophanes. St. Chrysostom admired him so much that he always laid his works under his pillow when he went to bed. Scaliger maintained that no one could form a just judgment of the true Attic dialect who had not Aristophanes by heart. Of Madame Dacier's idolatry he seems to be the god: while the venerable Plutarch objects to him that he carried all his thoughts beyond nature; that he wrote not to men of character but to the mob; that his style is at once obscure, licentious, tragical, pompous and mean—sometimes inflated and serious to bombast—sometimes ludicrous, even to puerility; that he makes none of his personages speak in any distinct character, so that in his scenes the son cannot be known from the father—the citizen from the boor—the hero from the shopkeeper, or the divine from the servant.
Whatever doubts may exist as to his talents there can be none respecting his morals. To admit all that his panegyrists have said of his genius is but to augment his depravity, since by the most wicked and wanton perversion of that genius, he made it the successful instrument of the most base and barbarous purposes. Against all that was great and wise and virtuous he with the most malevolent industry turned the shafts of his poignant wit, his brilliant imagination, and his solid knowledge. Corrupting the comic muse from her legitimate duty he seduced her from the pursuit of her fair game, vice and folly, and made her fasten like a bloodhound upon those who were most eminent for moral and intellectual excellence. His caricaturing of Sophocles and Euripides, and turning their valuable writings into ridicule for the amusement of the mob, may be forgiven—but the death of Socrates will never cease to draw upon Aristophanes the execration of every man who has the slightest pretensions to virtue or honesty.
It is here to be observed that the comedy of Greece is to be ranked under three distinct heads. The plays composed of ribaldry, defamatory licentiousness, indecency and loose jokes, which prevailed on the stage while the supreme power remained in the hands of the multitude, constitute the first of these; and it goes by the name of the old comedy. In those pieces no person whatever was spared. Though they were so modelled and represented as to deserve the name of regular comedy they were obscene, scurrilous, and defamatory. In them the most abominable falsehoods were fearlessly charged upon men and women of all conditions and characters; not under fictitious names, nor by innuendo, but directly and with the real name of the party, while the execrable calumniator, protected by the licentious multitude, boldly defied both the power of the law and the avenging arm of the abused individual. Among that licentious people, nobody, not even the chief magistrate nor the very judges themselves, by whose permission the comedians were permitted to play, received any quarter, but were exposed to public scorn by any merciless wretch of a libeller who chose to sacrifice them. Nor were the bad effects of these calumnies confined to public scorn—they often went to the pecuniary ruin of families; sometimes, as in the case of Socrates, afterwards to the death of their object. At length the miscreants proceeded to open impiety, and held up the gods, no less than men to derision.
These abuses continued to contaminate the people and disgrace the country with daily augmented profligacy till a change took place in the government, which took the administration from the multitude and vested it in a few chosen men. The corruptions of the stage were then attended to, and the poets were restrained by law from mentioning any man's name on the stage. With this law terminated that which is called THE OLD COMEDY.
So far was this law from producing the salutary effect expected from it, that it rendered the poison more mischievous by depriving it of the grossness which in some degree operated as an antidote to its baleful effects. The poets finding that certain limits were prescribed to them, had recourse to greater ingenuity, and by cunning transgressed the spirit while they obeyed the letter of the law. They fell to work upon well known real characters, concealed under fictitious names; thereby not only exciting in the multitude a keener relish for their slanders, but giving a more wide and extensive scope to the operation of their malice. When the name of the object was openly told, the calumny rested upon him alone—but when a fictitious name was held up, however well known the real object might be, the slander was applied to many, and each spectator fixed it upon that particular person whom stupidity, malice, or personal hatred first suggested to him. Thus the hearts of the people were more corrupted by the more refined malice of guessing the persons intended.
This is what has been denominated the MIDDLE COMEDY. In this particular era it was that Aristophanes flourished, doing more mischief by his labours than all the wit which was lavished upon the Grecian multitude in ages could counterbalance. The virulence of the canker, however, at last enforced the necessity of a resolute cure. The magistrates interdicted the poets and players not only from using real names but from representing real subjects. This admirable refinement produced correspondent effects: comedy assumed a new character, and acquired a new name. The poets being obliged to bring imaginary subjects and fictitious names upon the stage, the safety of individuals from those butcher slanderers was secured, and that safety begat tranquillity—thus the theatre was gradually purified and enriched; and shortly after Menander arose to dignify comedy and rescue the drama, and the public taste of Greece from barbarism. This is the third division alluded to, and is called the NEW COMEDY. A sad proof of the danger to a nation of allowing a false or corrupt practice to prevail for any time, arises from the sequel. The Athenians were so vitiated by the OLD and MIDDLE comedy that the NEW was disagreeable to them, so that it rose to no estimation in the world till it was transferred to Rome.
To his poignant wit, and poisonous malignity, Aristophanes joined great intrepidity of spirit. By the indefatigable exercise of his talents he proceeded, unrestrained by fear, unchecked by conscience, inaccessible to shame or pity, and alike regardless of the anger of foes and the feelings of friends, giving to the middle comedy still more force and acumen than ever belonged to the old. He cajoled the multitude by a plausible affectation of a violent love for Athens, and an inveterate hatred to all on whom he chose to fix the odium of wishing to enslave her. Though he was a Rhodian by birth, he had the address to persuade the Athenian multitude that he was a native of Athens. Wit of a much more obtuse quality than his could not fail of winning the hearts of such a people, if it were employed as his was in calumniating men of wisdom, virtue and dignity.
An instance of his intrepidity is worth relating. The very first man he attacked was a man of vast power in Athens, named CLEO: for the purpose of exposing this man he wrote his comedy of the EQUITES. He could not, however prevail upon any of the actors to incur the danger of personating Cleo, so much were they intimidated by the man's power, wealth and influence. He therefore resolutely determined to play the character himself; which he did with such diabolical ability that the Athenian multitude compelled the object of his defamation to reward him with no less a sum than five talents; cast flowers upon his head; carried him through the streets, shouting applause, and made a decree that he should be honoured with a crown of the sacred olive in the citadel, as a distinction of the highest kind that could be shown to a citizen.
The greatest admirer of this mischievous man was Madame Dacier, who translated from the Greek, and read over no less than two hundred times his comedy of The Clouds. A partiality which no doubt will be allowed to reflect much credit on that lady's taste, moral as well as critical, especially when it is considered that it was by that comedy the death of Socrates was accomplished. Socrates had expressed his disapprobation of the licentiousness of the comic poets, in their conduct as well as writings. This exasperated Aristophanes, who, to accomplish his revenge, conspired with three profligates named Melitus, Lycon, and Anytus, orators and rhetoricians, to destroy that godlike being. Defended by the reverence in which the people held him, Socrates was perpetually secured from the feeble villany of these three associates, till Aristophanes joining them, broke down by wit the barrier that protected him. In the comedy of the Clouds he threw the venerable old man into such forcible ridicule as overset all the respect of the mob for his character, and all their gratitude for his services, and they no longer paid the least reverence to the philosopher whom for fifty years Athens had regarded as a being of a superior order. This accomplished, the conspirators stood forth to criminate him; and the philosopher was summoned before the tribunal of five hundred, where he was accused—first, of corrupting the Athenian youth—secondly, of making innovations in religion—and thirdly, of ridiculing the gods which the Athenians worshipped. To prove these evident falsehoods, false witnesses were suborned, upon whose perjuries and the envy and malice of the judges, the accusers wholly relied. They were not disappointed. The judges expected from Socrates that abject submission, that meanness of behaviour, and that servility of defence which they were accustomed to receive from ordinary criminals. In this they were deceived; and his firmness and uncomplying integrity is supposed to have accelerated his fall.
The death of Socrates has always been considered one of the most interesting and afflicting events in history—interesting as it exhibits in that illustrious philosopher the highest dignity to which mere human nature has ever attained, and afflicting as it displays in the Athenians the lowest depth of baseness to which nations may sink. In the history of the Grecian drama it is necessarily introduced, as it serves to throw a light upon the effects produced by the dramatic poetry upon that people, and because a consideration of the manner of that philosopher's death is inseparably connected with the character of the first of their comic poets, Aristophanes: this chapter therefore will conclude with a circumstantial relation of that event, taken from a celebrated historian:
"Lysias, one of the most celebrated orators of the age, composed an oration in the most splendid and pathetic terms, and offered it to Socrates to be delivered as his defence before the judges. Socrates read it; but after having praised the eloquence and animation of the whole, rejected it, as neither manly nor expressive of fortitude; and comparing it to Sicyonian shoes, which though fitting, were proofs of effeminacy, he observed that a philosopher ought to be conspicuous for magnanimity, and for firmness of soul. In his defence he spoke with great animation, and confessed that while others boasted they knew every thing, he himself knew nothing. The whole discourse was full of simplicity and grandeur—the energetic language of offended innocence. He modestly said, that what he possessed was applied for the service of the Athenians. It was his wish to make his fellow-citizens happy, and it was a duty he performed by the special command of the gods, "WHOSE AUTHORITY," said he emphatically to his judges, "I REGARD MORE THAN YOURS." This language astonished and irritated the judges, and Socrates was condemned by a majority of only three votes. When, according to the spirit of the Athenian laws, he was called upon to pass sentence on himself, and to choose the mode of his death, he said, "For my attempts to teach the Athenian youth justice and moderation, and to make the rest of my countrymen more happy, let me be maintained at the public expense the remaining years of my life in the Pyrtaneum, an honour, O Athenians which I deserve more than the victors of the Olympic games: they make their countrymen more happy in appearance, but I have made you so in reality." This exasperated the judges still more, and they condemned him to drink hemlock. Upon this he addressed the court and more particularly the judges who had decided in his favour, in a pathetic speech. He told them that to die was a pleasure, since he was going to hold converse with the greatest heroes of antiquity: he recommended to their paternal care his defenceless children, and as he returned to the prison, he exclaimed, "I go to die, you to live; but which is the best the divinity alone can know.""
The celebration of the Delian festivals suspended his execution for thirty days, during which he was loaded with irons; his friends, particularly his disciples, were his constant attendants, he discoursed with them with his wonted cheerfulness and serenity—one of them expressing his grief that he should suffer, though innocent, Socrates replied, "would you then have me die guilty?"—with this composure he spent his last days, instructing his pupils, and telling them his opinions in support of the immortality of the soul. And, oh what a majestic spectacle! disregarded the entreaties of his friends, and when it was in his power to make his escape from prison refused it. Crito having bribed the jailor and made his escape certain, urged Socrates to fly; "where shall I fly," he replied, "to avoid the irrevocable doom passed on all mankind?" Christians! wonder at this heathen, and profit by his example! in his last days he enlarged upon the wicked crime of suicide, which he reprobated with an acrimony not usual with him, declaring it to be an inexpiable offence to the gods, and degrading to man because the basest cowardice.
When the hour to drink the poison came, the executioner presented him the cup, with tears in his eyes. Socrates received it with composure, and after he had made a libation to the gods, drank it with an unaltered countenance, and a few moments after expired. Thus did the villanous libeller Aristophanes occasion the death of a man whom all succeeding generations have concurred in pronouncing the wisest and best of mankind, in the seventieth year of his age.
Let justice record the sequel! Socrates was no sooner buried, than the Athenians repented of their cruelty. His accusers were despised and shunned; one was put to death; some were banished, and others with their own hands put an end to a life which their cruelty to the first of Athenians had rendered insupportable.
BIOGRAPHY—FOR THE MIRROR.
SKETCH OF THE LIFE OF THE LATE MR. HODGKINSON.
(Continued from page 212.)
It has been found impossible to ascertain, with any degree of precision, the year of Mr. Hodgkinson's birth. At the time of his death, which happened in 1805, he was stated to be thirty-six years of age; but there are many reasons for believing that he was older. There are few ways in which human folly and vanity so often display themselves, as in the concealment of age. The celebrated Charles Macklin clipped from his term of existence not less than ten years, the obscurity of his early life inducing him to fancy he could make his age whatever he pleased without detection. Extremely attached to the sex, he wished to appear youthful in their eyes as long as possible, and fixed his birth at the year 1700; but it has, since his death, been ascertained, upon authority which cannot be controverted, that he was, for safety, carried away from the field, on the day of the battle of the Boyne, in 1690. Indeed there exist letters of his to his daughter, dated so far back as 1750, stating his incapacity to chew solid food, and deploring the necessity of living upon spoon-meat, on account of the loss of his teeth. From circumstances which the writer of this remembers to have heard from Mr. Hodgkinson, he suspected that the age of that gentleman was underrated; and therefore took some pains to collect the best information respecting it. The result of his inquiry has justified his suspicion. There are in America several persons who remember Hodgkinson at different periods of his theatrical life, from whose united opinions it appears most likely that he was born in 1765. If this estimate be correct (it cannot be far from it) it must have been early in the year 1781 when he took his flight from Manchester, and reached the city of Bristol.
He stopped at a wagon-house in Broad-mead, and was, by the wagoner, introduced to the landlord, who soon showed, by the conduct of himself and his family, that he was taught to consider our hero as a curiosity. They treated him with exemplary kindness, however. The landlord, though a rough homespun man, bred up in low life, manifested, not only tenderness and humanity, but a degree of delicacy that could not have been expected. A grown up young man, a son of his, the very evening he arrived, took the liberty, upon the wagoner's report, of asking our adventurer to sing him a song, for which the father reprimanded him, and turning to John, said "Doant thee, doant thee sing for noabody, unless thee likest it. If dost, thee'll have enow to do, I can tell thee." This was one of the little incidents of his life upon which he was accustomed to advert with pleasure; and often has he, with much good humour, contrasted it with the rude and indelicate conduct of persons of great pride and importance. No man that ever lived required less entreaty to oblige his convivial friends with his charming singing. Of the families where he was treated with friendship and free hospitality he delighted to promote the happiness, and to them his song flowed cheerfully: but he clearly distinguished from those, and has more than once, in the confidence of friendship, spoken with feeling and considerable asperity, of the indelicate conduct of some who, aspiring higher, ought to have known better. "It is indeed," said he to the writer of this, "a trial which few tempers could stand, but which I have often been obliged to undergo. A person whom I have met, perhaps at the table of a real friend, asks me to dine with him: I find a large company assembled upon the occasion, and hardly is the cloth taken away, when mine host, with all the freedom of an established acquaintance, without the least delicacy, or even common feeling, often without the softening circumstance of asking some other person to begin, or even of beginning himself, calls upon Mr. Hodgkinson for a song."—"Then why do you comply? why dont you refuse the invitation? or, if you cannot, why dont you pretend to be hoarse?" "I will tell you why: because, in a place of such limited population as this, the hostility of a few would spread through the whole; and not only mine host, but all those whom he had invited to Hodgkinson's SONG, would fret at their disappointment, and their fret would turn to an enmity which I should feel severely in empty benches at my benefit." "It is not that, Hodge," said this writer; "but, as Yorick said to corporal Trim, because thou art the very best natured fellow in the world." It was upon an occasion of this kind Hodgkinson related to the writer the incident with his Bristol landlord, observing upon it, that there were many who washed down turtle dinners with champaigne and burgundy that might derive profit and honour from imitating the natural politeness and delicacy of that man whom, if they had seen, they would have called a low fellow or a boor.
To please the honest wagoner, and one or two fellow-travellers, however, H. did sing several songs in the evening, and as at that time he had not learned to drink, they thought themselves the more indebted to him, and the landlord and his wife put him to sleep with their son, who kept him awake the greater part of the night, asking him the most ridiculous questions respecting his parentage, where he came from, whither he was going, &c. and concluded with expressing his firm belief, because Sally, the housemaid, had told him so, that he, Hodgkinson, was some great man's son, who had run away from school, for fear of a flogging: "for you know," said he, "that none but the great volks can afford to be great singers and musicianers."
Resolved to take leave of his kind friend the wagoner, who was to set off on his return early in the morning, our young adventurer was up betimes, and went to the stable to look for him. As he stood at the door, a tall young stripling, dressed in what they call a smock frock, with a pitchfork in his hand, came up and, taking his station a little on one side, began to view him from head to foot, scratching his head and grinning. Our youth was startled and blushed, but said nothing, and affected firmness; yet he imagined he had seen the man's face before. The arrival of the wagoner afforded him a seasonable relief, and he returned with him into the inn kitchen, where breakfast was got ready and John was invited to sit down and eat. He had hardly swallowed two mouthfuls when he of the pitchfork, having left his hat and his instrument aside, entered, and, taking his station at the dresser, continued to gaze upon him, still scratching his pate and looking significantly. Our adventurer was sadly disconcerted, but concealed his emotions so that they were not observed, till breakfast was over, when the rustic took an opportunity to beckon to him with an intimation to follow him. They proceeded to the stable, where after carefully looking out of the back door to see that nobody was near them, the rustic without any preface said, "I'll tell thee what—thee art Jacky Meadowcroft!—I know thee as well as I do that horse that stonds there before my eyes; so don't you go vor to tell loies about it, or to deny it." Hodgkinson who, though he might be startled, was not to be intimidated, asked the fellow sturdily, and with a dash of stage loftiness, what it was to him who he was, or what his name; upon which the other rather abashed said, "No harm I assure thee Jack, nor hurt would I do thee for ever so much: but I fear thee be'est upon no good: now don't think hard of me, but do thee tell me, what prank art thee upon here?—where dids't thee get those foin clothes?"—To this our adventurer gave no answer but a look of haughty resentment, putting his arms akimbo, elevating his head and neck, and finishing with a contemptuous sneer of the right barn-buskin kind. "Nay, now," said the other, "I am sure of it. Yes, Jack Meadowcroft thee hast left thy honest parents, and mixed with the strolling fellers—the play actors,—a pize upon them, with their tricks, making honest folks laugh to pick their pockets."
Our youth now saw that it would be useless to persevere in concealment, and said to the other with a good-humoured cheerful air, "Who are you who know me so well, and seem so much concerned about me?" "My name be Jack as well as thine," replied the honest-hearted bumpkin. Hodgkinson then discovered that the young man had been for sometime a stable-boy at Manchester, and was in the habit of going to his mother's house with the gentlemen of the long whip; but being elder than John had not been much noticed by him. H. understood from him that his singing at night was the first thing that raised his suspicions, and that he determined to know all about it in the morning. "I was pretty sure at the first sight, said he, that thee wert Jack Meadowcroft; but still I was not quite certain till I heard thee chattering with the folks at breakfast: so being ostler, I called thee out to the stable to speak to thee in private: for I'll tell thee what Jack, I will not betray thee." Hodgkinson then told him that though he loved music and acting, and should be glad to be a good player (at which the fellow shook his head) he had not yet mixed with any strollers, nor did he believe any strollers would let him mix with them; as he was too young and had not a figure or person fit for their purpose; but his object was to go to sea to escape from tyranny, hard fare, and oppression.
How often are the intentions of the best heart frustrated by the blunders of an uninformed head. Who can, without respect and admiration, contemplate the sturdy integrity, and simple zeal with which this rustic moralist enforced his laudable though mistaken notions? who can help reflecting with some surprise upon the fact, that before he ceased to apothegmatise and advise his young friend against having anything to do with the actors he was actually the first who put him seriously in the notion of going directly upon the stage as a public actor? It was a curious process, and we will endeavour to relate it as nearly as possible in the way Hodgkinson related it to us:
"A plague upon going to sea," said the honest fellow, "I can't abide it, thoff it be a hard, honest way of getting one's bread, and for that reason ought to wear well—but some how or other I never seed a sailor having anything to the fore; but always poor and dirty, except now and then for a spurt. There's my two brothers went to sea, and it makes my hair stand on end to hear what they go through; I would not lead such a life—no, not for fifty pound a year; evermore some danger or some trouble. One time a storm, expecting to be drowned—another a battle with cannon, expecting to be murdered—one time pressed—another time chased like a hare, that I wonder how they live. No, Jack, doan't thee go to sea; but stay at home and die on dry land. Why see how happy I am! and I'll be hong'd if measter within would'nt take thee with all love, to tend customers and draw the beer: ay, and 'twould be worth his while too, for thy song would bring custom, let me tell thee. As to being a play-actor, confound it, I hate the very word; you need not think anything about your size. Thou'rt very tall and hast a better face to look at than any on 'un I see; and though thou be'est knock-kneed a bit, its the way with all growing boys. Lord love thee, Jack, if wert to see some of them fellows, for all they look so on the stage with paint and tinsel and silk, when they stop to take a pint of beer, I think they be the ugliest, conceitedest, foolishest talken fellows I ever ze'ed. Why there's one feller was here for three days all time quite drunk—went yesterday to Bath to get place there among them. He's a player, and as ugly as an old mangy carthorse. But he's an Irishman to be sure, and they say he won't do at Bath because he wants an eye."
"You have players here at times then," said H. interrogatively.
"Yes! sometimes they comes for their baggage, that is, their trunks and boxes and women and children. Sometimes the poor souls on 'un come in the wagon themselves. Sometimes when it's a holliday we 'un, they walk out to Stapleton and other parts to kill time, being very idle people; then they stop to take beer here, and they talk such nonsense that I can't abide the tuoads. Lauk! thee why Jack, thee know'st I would not flatter thee now—thee art a king to some on 'un that talks ten times as big as king George could for the life o' him."
This intelligence given by the honest simpleton, in all likelihood for the purpose of disgusting our adventurer with the stage, communicated to him the first proud presentiment he felt of what afterwards occurred. The thought instantly struck him, "If performers, so very despicable as this man describes, are endured upon a public stage, thought he, why may not I?—cannot I be as useful as them? besides I can—but these men sing, I suppose—do not they sing John, much better than me?" "Noa, I tell thee they doan't: sing better than thee! they can't sing at all. A tinker's jackass is as good at it as any of them I see here. When they are on the stage (I went three or four times with our Sall to the play) od rot 'un—they make a noise by way of a song, and the musicianers sing for them on their fiddles." The man to whom honest John alluded, arrived from Bath that very day, execrating the injustice of the Bath and Bristol managers, who though they could not but be convinced of his talents, refused to give him even a trial. Our adventurer surveyed him from head to foot, and from the information of the man's face, voice, deportment, language, and person, concluded with himself that he had little to fear; "If, said he, this man has ever been received as an actor by any audience in this world, I'll offer myself to the first company I meet." He was precisely such as the ostler had described him—he wanted an eye, and was frightfully seamed by the small-pox, which not only had deprived him of that organ, but given him a snuffling stoppage of the nose. Such as this, was the whole man in every point, who actually boasted that he was allowed by all judges to play Jaffier better than any man that ever lived, but Barry, and who, disgusted with the British managers for their want of taste, took shipping that very evening for Cork.[A]
Without imparting a hint of his intention to the ostler who vowed, "as he hoped to be saved" that he would never betray him (a vow which he religiously fulfilled) Hodgkinson resolved to introduce himself in some shape or other, to the company of the theatre as soon as they should return from Bath to Bristol; an event which was to take place according to the course of their custom, in two days. Meantime he walked frequently to the theatre, in order to indulge himself with looking at the outside of it; and he made the fine square before it, his promenade, where he gave a loose to his imagination, and anticipating his future success, built castles in the air from morning till night.
He was at this work when the players returned from Bath. He saw the gates laid open, and having taken his post at the passage to the stage-door, resolved first to reconnoitre those who entered, and collect from circumstances as they might occur, some clue to guide him in his projected enterprise. As this was one of the eras in his life on which he loved to ruminate and converse, he was more than commonly circumstantial in his account of it. "There is a long passage," said he, "that goes up to the stage-door at Bristol. For the first two days I stood at the outside, but becoming more impatient, and impatience making me bold, I took my station in the passage, with my hat under my left arm stood up with my back to the wall, and as the actors and people of the theatre passed by to rehearsal, I made a bow of my head to those whose countenances and manners seemed most promising. For several days not one of them took the least notice of me. There was one of them who looked so unpromising that I should hardly have given him the honour of my bow, if it were not for his superior age and venerable aspect; and I believe when I did give it to him, it was but a mutilated affair. There was a starched pompous man, too, whose aspect was, to my mind, so forbidding and repulsive that I never condescended to take much notice of him. From a loquacious, good-natured and communicative old Irish woman who sold fruit at the door I gained the intelligence that the former of these was Mr. Keasberry the manager—the other Mr. Dimond. That Mr. D. said I to her, seems to be a proud man. "Och, God help your poor head!" said my informant; "it's little you know about them; by Christ, my dear, there's more pride in one of these make-games that live by the shilling of you and me, and the likes of us, than in all the lords in the parliament house of Dublin, aye and the lord-lieutenant along with them, though he is an Englishman, and of course you know as proud as the devil can make him:—not but the old fellow is good enough, and can be very agreeable to poor people," My first act of extravagance in Bristol was giving this poor woman three half-pence for an orange, and making her eat a piece of it; a favour which many years after she had not forgotten."
"I believe it was on the fourth day of my standing sentinel," continued H. "that the old gentleman passing by me, I made him a bow of more than ordinary reverence. The Irishwoman's character of him had great weight with me, and my opinions and feelings were transferred to my salute. He walked on a few steps, halted, looked back, muttered something to himself and went on. I thought he was going to speak, and was so dashed, I wished myself away; yet when he did not speak, I was more than ever unhappy. He returned again with two or three people about him in conversation; his eye glanced upon me, but he went on without speaking to me, and I left the place—for, said I to myself, if this man does not notice me, none of them will. Discouraged and chop fallen I returned to Broad-mead, and on my way began, for the first time, to reflect with uneasiness upon my situation.
"Next day, however, I returned to the charge, and assumed my wonted post in the way to the stage-door of the theatre. Instinctively I took my stand further up the passage, and just at the spot where the old gentleman had the day before stopped and turned to look at me—after some minutes I saw him coming—I was ashamed to look towards him as he advanced, but I scanned his looks through the corner of my eye—my mind misgiving me at the moment, that I had a mean and guilty look, so that when he came up, I made my reverence with a very grave, I believe indeed, a very sad face. The old gentleman stopped, and my heart beat so with shame and trepidation that I thought I should have sunk. He saw my confusion, yet addressed me in a manner which, though not unkind nor positively harsh, was rather abrupt. "I have observed you, boy, for several days," said he, "standing in this passage, and bow to me as I go by; do you wish to say anything to me? or do you want anything?" I hesitated, and was more confused than I remember to have ever been before or since:—"Speak out, my boy, said he, do not be afraid!" These words which he uttered in a softened, kinder tone, he accompanied with an action which gave the most horrible alarm to my pride, and suggested to my imagination a new and frightful idea. He passed his hand into his pocket as if feeling for cash. Great God! said I to myself, have I incurred the suspicion of beggary! the thought roused all of the man that was within me, and I replied, "No, sir, I am not afraid; nor do I want anything." He afterwards owned that the words, and still more the delivery of them, made a strong impression upon him. Well then, my good boy, what is it you wish for? coming here successively for so many days, and addressing yourself to me by a salute, you must surely either want or wish for something. "Sir," replied I, "I wish to go upon the stage." "Upon the stage," said he emphatically, "how do you mean? oh to look at the scenery I suppose"—"No, sir—I wish to be an actor.""
Thus far the words of Hodgkinson himself are given. The name of the old gentleman had entirely escaped the writer of this, who, when he heard the relation from Hodgkinson, little thought that it would ever devolve upon him to pay this posthumous tribute to his memory. Upon the facts being since related, and the description of the person being given to some gentlemen long and well acquainted with the affairs of the Bath and Bristol theatres, they have cleared up the point to the writer, whose recollection, though faint, perfectly coincides with their assurance that it must have been Mr. Keasberry, who was at that time manager, and with whose character this account is said to agree accurately.
"I wish to be an actor," said our adventurer. The confidence and firmness with which the boy spoke, surprised and greatly diverted the old manager, who after eyeing him attentively a minute or two, exclaimed, "You an actor, you young rascal!" then laughed heartily, and continued, "An actor indeed! and what the devil part would you think of acting?" By this time some of those who attended the theatre, doorkeepers or supernumeraries, came up, and Mr. K. said to them, laughing, "Here's a gentleman proposes to be an actor." And again addressing the boy he said to him with an affected solemnity, "Pray, sir, what character have you yet thought of enacting?" The jibing manner in which this was spoken by the manager, and the sneering, scornful looks of the sycophants about him, who, to curry favour with him, chuckled at his cleverness, had nearly disconcerted the poor boy; however, he was naturally resolute, and replied, "If I can do nothing else I can snuff candles, or deliver a message, or do anything that young lads do." "You can indeed?" "Yes, sir, and I can do more, I can play the fiddle and sing a good song." "A good song! I dare say—but d——d badly I'll answer for it." "Won't you give me a fair trial, sir?" "Fair trial indeed!" repeated the old man laughing, and walking on a step—"fair trial! a pretty trial truly—however," said he, turning round and beckoning to the boy, as he got to the stage-door, "Come this way, and let's hear what further you have to say for yourself!"
Hodgkinson followed the manager, and for the first time in his life set his foot on the stage of a public theatre. The actors were rehearsing; and ensconced behind one of the side scenes he looked on, and "with the very comment of my soul I did observe them," said he, "and not to conceal anything from you, I thought I could have done a great part of it much better myself! oh that I were but a little bigger and had a beard! said I to myself twenty times while the actors were going through the business." Had they thought of infant Rosciuses at the time, his bread had been buttered on both sides, as the saying is. The rehearsal being over, Mr. K. advanced to him and said, "You wish to be an actor, eh!"—then turning to one of the actors, "Here is a person," continued he, "who desires to go upon the stage, and is content by the way of a beginning, to snuff the candles—humble enough you'll say. But he says he can sing;" then ironically to H. "Now, pray sir, do us the favour to say what song you can sing—you perceive the gentlemen of the band are in the orchestra—or perhaps you would rather accompany yourself, as you say you play the fiddle." Then without giving him time to answer he said to one of the band, "hand this gentleman a fiddle, as he calls it." Hodgkinson took the fiddle, and pitching upon the beautiful Finale at the end of the first act of the farce of the Padlock, he played and sung it not only to the astonishment of them all, but so much to their satisfaction and delight, that Mr. K. after asking him whether he thought he could sing accompanied by the band, and being answered in the affirmative, spoke to the orchestra to go over the Finale with him, and desired H. to sing it again. Emboldened by this mark of approbation, John asked permission to sing another song: Mr. K. assented: the boy then stepped forward to the orchestra and asked the leader whether it would suit him to play one of the songs of Lionel? Certainly, he replied, which of them? "Oh dry those Tears," said our juvenile hero: a murmur escaped them all, as if they thought his vanity was carrying him too far. "Try him, by all means try him," said Mr. K.—The boy sung—their surprise was now raised to astonishment—and Mr. K. patting him on the head, emphatically said to him, "My boy, you'll never be a candle snuffer. For the present, however, you may carry a letter—or something more perhaps." He then interrogated him—"have you ever been about a theatre:—perhaps your parents are?"—"No sir, I never had the sole of my foot on a stage till now." "Where then did you first learn to sing?" "In our church sir." "Your church! where is your church?" Here finding that he had got into a dilemma, he hesitated and blushed: "a number of other boys and I practised music together, sir." "But where?"—then perceiving the boy's distress, Mr. K. shifted the question and said, "So much for your singing, but where, in God's name, did you learn to accompany your singing with such action; which I declare, said he, turning to the people on the stage, wants little to be what I should call perfect for a singer?" "We boys, sir, acted plays together." "And you played—" "Several parts, sir." "You surprise me, boy!" "Well," said he, "call upon this gentleman tomorrow morning betimes, and he will converse with you." He then turned to the person who was acting as prompter, and whispered him, when Hodgkinson, after getting the gentleman's direction, made his bow. As he was going down the passage a lad followed him and told him the manager had sent to let him know that if he pleased he might come on the stage that evening during the performance.
Never before had our adventurer experienced such transporting sensations. To use his own words, his head whirled and sung again with delight. Instead of going straight back to Broad-mead, he walked about the square plunged in a delicious reverie—perfectly insensible of hunger or fatigue he continued on the stride, up the river side and down, then about the square again—then here, then there, in short he knew not whither nor why, wholly forgetful of home, dinner, and every thing till some time after the playhouse opened, when going to the stage-door he was admitted, and when he got behind the scenes, was kindly accosted by some, questioned very impertinently, and curiously by others, and stared at by all. The after-piece for the night was "the Contrivances," which he had never seen or heard of before. He was vastly taken with the song of "Make haste and away my only dear;" and as he passed down from the stage, hummed it to himself; on which one of the gentlemen of the band who was near him accosted him, "Hah, master Henry, is it you?—you have practised every piece on the stage, one would think—and the Contrivances has not escaped you." "My name is not Henry, sir—my name is John." "Well, Master John then, I beg your pardon, but you have been at Rover I see." "No, sir, I never saw or heard of the Contrivances till this night's performance." "You can't say so," said the other, "you have learned that song before, assuredly!" "Upon my word it is a truth, sir; I never heard it before tonight." "Do me the favour to hum it over again for me," said the musician. Hodgkinson complied. "Why you have the words of the song as well as the air." "Of one verse only, sir: but the next time, I shall catch the whole of it." The musician expressed his astonishment, and asked the boy where he lodged; to which John replied, "Off this way, sir," and ran away as fast as he could to Broad-mead, where he was resolved it should not be known, for sometime, at least, that he had any connexion with the theatre.
When he reached his hospitable landlord and family, he found that they had all been in great consternation at his absence. He had that morning spoken to his friend John the ostler, about selling his silver buckles, in order to pay his bill, and the generous souls were all afraid that he was in distress. "Hast thee eat nothing since breakfast," said the good man; "Lauk! why thee must be famished—what bewitched thee to stay away from thy meals, child," cried the wife, "tis very bad for a young thing like thee to fast," said another: and numberless other kind and tender expostulations were uttered by the good people one and all, while ostler John who was more frightened about him than any of them, and could not get the naughty players out of his head, coming in said with affectionate surliness, "Soh! thee'st come back, be thee?—Ecod thee deservst to ha thee jacket trimmed, so thee dost—a young tuoad like thee to stay out, God knows where, to this time o' night?" "Dont be angry John," replied our adventurer, "dont be angry—and as to trimming, John, it is not in thy jacket, to trim my jacket John—so go to your hayloft and dont make a fool of thyself!" In saying this he mimicked John's clownish lingo so nearly that the family burst out laughing, and John went off, growling out that he believed the devil or his imps the player fellers had got possession of the boy.
"John is thy friend," said the landlord, "he was quite down o' the mouth about thee." "And I love and thank John," said Hodgkinson, "but I could not help making fun of him for his talking of beating me. I accidentally met with a friend who offered to bring me to the play, and I was so glad I never thought of dinner." "Well come now," then said the good man, "pay away upon that beef—lay in dinner and supper at once, my boy, and thee shall have a cann of as good yeal as any in Somersetshire, and moreover than all that it shall cost thee nothing but the trouble of drinking it—so here's to thee, my boy." The worthy man drank, and his wife drank, and son and daughter, and all drank, and H. told them all about the play, and sung, "Make haste and away my only dear," for them, to their great delight. He was then too innocent and too young to direct it to the young lady of the house, or it is more than probable that she would have been more delighted with it, than any of them.
The next morning early he waited on Mr. ——,[B] the prompter, who told him that Mr. K—— desired that he would keep about the theatre, and make himself as useful as he could in anything that might occur, till something could be done for him. He accordingly attended it diligently, examining and watching every thing done and every body that did it, and storing his young mind with useful knowledge of the profession. What his pittance was, he never told this writer, who therefore concludes it must have been very small, particularly as he sold his buckles, and plumed himself upon not parting with the silver seal given him by his old friend at Manchester.
(To be continued.)
[A] Upon comparing notes with Hodgkinson, and considering his description, I was convinced that this was no exaggerated picture. Precisely such a man I remember to have seen, but not playing. He was in a strolling company in Ireland, and was admired for his miraculous power of making people merry with tragedy. He was a well-meaning, honest, simple poor man, but even his performance of Jaffier was hardly as comical as the compliments he himself lavished upon it.
[B] The name is entirely forgotten by the biographer.
BARRY, THE PLAYER.
The following description of the person and acting of the celebrated BARRY the player is introduced here, to accompany the life of Hodgkinson, because a clear recollection of the former in a multitude of characters, a long and scrutinous investigation of the professional powers of the latter, and an intimate knowledge of both of them, has long established in our minds the unalterable opinion that of all the performers who make up the feeble crowd that have followed the men of Garrick's day in sad procession, not one so nearly trod in the footsteps of Barry (sed heu longo intervallo) as Hodgkinson. Whatever may have been said of his comedy, we never could contemplate it with half the satisfaction we received from some of his tragic performances. His Osmond, his De Moor, and his Romeo were infinitely superior to his Belcour, Ranger, and Ollapod. And his Jaffier unquestionably stood next to Barry's. We know nothing of Mr. Young, therefore do not mean to include him in this position, though seeing and hearing what we every day see and hear, of the present facility of pleasing in England, we receive the encomiums of the other side of the Atlantic on their passing favourites cum grano salis. In a word, we are persuaded that Hodgkinson came nearer to Barry in Barry's line, than any actor now living does to Garrick, Barry, or Mossop in theirs. In Faulconbridge, and in it alone he was perhaps equal to Barry.
Spranger Barry was in his person above five feet eleven inches high, finely formed, and possessing a countenance in which manliness and sweetness of feature were so happily blended, as formed one of the best imitations of the Apollo Belvidere. With this fine commanding figure, he was so much in the free and easy management of his limbs, as never to look encumbered, or present an ungraceful attitude, in all his various movements on the stage. Even his exits and entrances had peculiar graces, from their characteristic ease and simplicity. What must have greatly assisted Barry in the grace and ease of treading the stage, was his skill in dancing and fencing; the first of which he was early in life very fond of; and, on his coming to England, again instructed in, under the care of the celebrated Denoyer, dancing-master to Frederick Prince of Wales's family. This was done at the prince's request after he had seen him play in lord Townley, in the Provoked Husband. In short when he appeared in the scene, grouped with other actors of ordinary size, he appeared as much above them in his various qualifications as in the proud superiority of his figure.
"So, when a well-grac'd actor leaves the stage, All eyes are idly bent on him who follows next."
To this figure he added a voice so peculiarly musical as very early in life obtained him the character of "the silver-toned Barry," which, in all his love scenes, lighted up by the smiles of such a countenance, was persuasion itself. Indeed, so strongly did he communicate his feelings on these occasions, that whoever observed the expressive countenances of most of the female part of his audience, each seemed to say, in the language of Desdemona,
"Would that Heaven had made me such a man."
Yet, with all this softness, it was capable of the fullest extent of rage, which he often most powerfully exemplified, in several passages of Alexander, Orestes, Othello, &c.
We are aware of Churchill's criticism in the Rosciad standing against us, where he says, "his voice comes forth like Echo from her cell." But however party might have cried up this writer as a poet and a satirist of the first order, Goldsmith had the sense and manliness to tell them what they called satires were but tawdry lampoons, whose turbulence aped the quality of force, whose frenzy that or fire. Beside, Churchill had a stronger motive than prejudice or whim: the great hero of his poem was Garrick; and as Barry was his most formidable rival, he had little scruple to sacrifice him on this occasion.
But to leave the criticisms of this literary drawcansir to that oblivion to which they seem to be rapidly hastening, let us examine the merits of Barry in some of those characters in which he was universally allowed to excel; and on this scale we must give the preference to Othello. This was the first character he ever appeared in, the first his inclination prompted him to attempt—and the first without question, that exhibited his genius in the full force and variety of its powers.
In the outset of Othello, when he speaks but a few short sentences, there appears a calmness and dignity in his nature, as evidently show "the noble qualities of the Moor." These sentences we have often heard spoken (and by actors too who have had considerable reputation) as if they had been almost totally overlooked; reserving themselves for the more shining passages with which this tragedy so much abounds: but Barry knew the value of these introductory traits of character, and in his first speech, "'Tis better as it is," bespoke such a preeminence of judgment, such a dignified and manly forbearance of temper, as roused the attention of his audience, and led them to expect the fullest gratification of their wishes.
His speech to the senate was a piece of oratory worthy the attention of the critic and the senator. In the recital of his "feats of broils and battles," the courage of the soldier was seen in all the charms of gallantry and heroism; but when he came to those tender ejaculations of Desdemona,
"In faith 'twas strange—'twas passing strange! 'Twas pitiful, 'twas wond'rous pitiful!"
his voice was so melodiously harmonized to the expression, that the sigh of pity communicated itself to the whole house, and all were advocates for the sufferings of the fair heroine.
In the second act, when he meets Desdemona at Cyprus, after being separated in a storm, his rushing into her arms, and repeating that fine speech,
——"Oh! my soul's joy! If after every tempest come such calms," &c.
was the voice of love itself; describing that passion in so ecstatic a manner as seemingly to justify his fears
"That not another comfort like to this Succeeds in unknown fate."
Through the whole of the third act, where Iago is working him to jealousy, his breaks of love and rage were masterpieces of nature, and communicated its first sympathies; but in his conference with Desdemona, in the fourth act, where he describes the agonizing state of his mind, and then, looking tenderly on her, exclaims,
"But there, where I had garnered up my heart, Where either I must live or bear no life,"
the extremes of love and misery were so powerfully painted in his face, and so impressively given in his tones, that the audience seemed to lose the energies of their hands, and could only thank him with their tears.
We have to lament, that in many of the last acts of some of our best dramatic writers, there wants that degree of finish and grouping equal to the rest. Shakspeare sometimes has this want in common with others; but in this play he has lost none of his force and propriety of character—here all continue to speak the language of their conformation, and lose none of their original importance. Barry was an actor that, in this particular, kept pace with the great poet he represented—he supported Othello throughout with unabating splendor—his ravings over the dead body of the innocent Desdemona, his reconciliation with Cassio, and his dying soliloquy, were all in the full play of varied excellence, and forced from the severest critic the most unqualified applause.
That this our opinion is not exaggerated, we refer to that of Colley Cibber, an unquestionable good judge of his art, and who, with all his partialities to Betterton, yet gave Barry the preference in Othello. In short, it was from first to last a gem of the noblest kind, which can be no otherwise defined than leaving every one at liberty to attach as much excellence to it as he can conceive, and then suppose Barry to have reached that point of perfection.
His other favourite characters were, Jaffier, Orestes, Castalio, Phocias, Varanes, Essex, Alexander, Romeo, &c. In all characters of this stamp, where the lover or hero was to be exhibited, Barry was unique; insomuch, that when Mrs. Cibber (whose reputation for love and plaintive tenderness was well known) played with Garrick, she generally represented his daughter or sister—with Barry she was always his mistress.
He likewise excelled in many parts of genteel comedy; such as lord Townly, Young Belville, &c. &c. The Bastard in King John, was another fine character of his, which Garrick attempted in vain—having neither sufficiency of figure, or heroic jocularity. To that may be added Sir Callaghan O'Brallaghan, in Macklin's farce of Love-a-la-Mode; a part in which he gave such specimens of the gallant simplicity and integrity of the Irish gentleman, as were sufficient to establish an independent reputation.
Though his Hamlet, Richard, Lear, Macbeth, &c. were star height above what we see now, he lost by a comparison with Garrick. Here the latter showed the master in an uncommon degree; as he did in all the quick animated parts of tragedy. In the spritely, light kind of gentlemen, Garrick had likewise the advantage; and in the whole range of low comedy he blended such a knowledge of his art with the simplicity of nature as made all the minutiae of the picture complete. Thus his Abel Drugger was as perfect in design and colouring as the miseries and distresses of Royal Lear.
In talking of these actors, it is impossible for the amateurs of the stage not to regret their loss with some degree of sensibility—not only as men who contributed to the entertainment and refinement of their youth, but whose death seem to threaten a decay of the profession itself. There are periods when the arts and sciences seem to mourn in sullen silence the departure of those original geniuses, who, for years, improved, exalted and refined them; and, like widows, whose hearts were sincerely pledged to their first lords, will not sacrifice on the altar of affectation to secondary wooers. Painting and statuary suffered such a loss in the deaths of Titian, Raphael, and Michael Angelo, that more than two centuries have not been able to supply it; and how long the present stage may want the aid of such powerful supporters as Garrick and Barry, the experience of near thirty years holds out but very little hopes of encouragement.
To this admirable description as true as it is eloquent, we subjoin the following extracts from the old Dramatic Censor of England.
* * * * *
Speaking of Castalio in The Orphan, he says, "His circumstances give great scope for the exertion of various capital powers, which were amazingly well supplied in the elegant figure, bewitching voice, and excellent acting of Mr. Barry; who, in this part, defied the severest criticism, and justly claimed what he always obtained, the warmest applause that enchanted feelings could bestow."
Antony in Julius Caesar.
Mr. Barry beyond doubt stands foremost in our approbation for this part, as possessing an adequate figure, an harmonious voice, and all the plausibility of insinuation that Shakspeare meant; however, we think that critic an enthusiastic admirer, who, speaking of him in the Rostrum, exclaimed that Paul never preached so well at Athens.[C] It is certain, nature in this, as well as in all his dramatic undertakings, furnished him with irresistible recommendations.
Varanes in Theodosius, or the Force of Love.
Varanes, who was most the object of our author's attention, is an odd medley of love and pride; now he will, then will not; tender, impatient; in short a romantic madman; yet notwithstanding inconsistencies of a glaring nature, he is a dramatic personage highly interesting. Mr. Barry must, in imagination, to those who are at all acquainted with his performance, fill up every idea of excellence in this character: his love was enchanting, his rage alarming, his grief melting: even now, though overtaken by time, and impaired in constitution, he has not the shadow of a competitor. The rheumatic stiffness of his joints has been industriously trumpeted forth, and every mean art made use of to lower him in public opinion; yet true it is that if he hobbled upon stilts, he would be better than many persons, in his style, upon their best legs. A gentleman of acknowledged judgment lately made the following just and striking similitude: that Mr. Barry was like the time-worn ruins of Palmyra and Balbec, which even in a fallen state show more dignity and real beauty, than the most complete productions of modern architecture.[D]
In Altamont in The Fair Penitent.
After observing that this character lies a dead weight upon the play, this great critic says, "We remember Mr. Barry, by exertion of singular merit, making Altamont as respectable as any other character in the piece, though Mr. Garrick did Lothario and Mr. Sheridan Horatio on the same occasion. Indeed he so much outfigured all competitors and illustrated so beautifully a character scarce known before, that he appeared to great advantage."
"If any performer ever was born for one part in particular it must have been Mr. Barry for the Moor: his figure was a good apology for Desdemona's attachment, and the harmony of his voice to tell such a tale as he describes, must have raised favourable prejudice in any one who had an ear, or a heart to feel. There is a length of periods and an extravagance of passion in this part, not to be found in any other for so many successive scenes, to which Mr. Barry appeared peculiarly suitable. He happily exhibited the hero, the lover, and the distracted husband; he rose through all the passions to the utmost extent of critical imagination, yet still appeared to leave an unexhausted fund of expression behind; his rage and tenderness were equally interesting, but when he uttered the words "rude am I in my speech," in tones as soft as feathered snow that melted as they fell, we could by no means allow the sound an echo to the sense."
To these extracts we will add one from the life of the celebrated John Palmer, already mentioned, in the Thespian dictionary.
"The following summer he (Palmer) was engaged at the Haymarket, when Mr. Barry was also engaged. The part of Iago was given to Mr. Palmer to study, but at rehearsal he was so awed at the presence of Mr. Barry, that in spite of all that gentleman's encouragement, he could not subdue his terrors, and was obliged to resign his part to Mr. Lee."
Yet there was a suavity and familiar frankness in his manner, particularly if he had a point of interest or pleasure to carry, which won young and old—man and woman. A British merchant having occasion to go to Dublin when Barry and Mossop headed the rival theatres, was commissioned to collect some debts, and among others two owing by those celebrated men. When he returned to London his constituent asked him, "Well, have you got the actors to pay you?" "Mossop has paid," he replied, "Barry, not." "How comes that?" "To tell you the truth," answered our merchant, "I called on Mr. Barry several times, but he delighted me so much with his talk, and his kindness, that I swear, I could not ask him for money, or do anything to hurt his feelings. When I went from him to Mossop, he looked so stern, that I was overawed and cowed, and so told him, that as I wished to oblige him, I would let the matter lie over; and what do you think was his answer? In a voice that made me tremble, he said, disdainfully, "You oblige ME, sir!—and pray sir, who are you that presume to offer to oblige me?—call tomorrow, sir, on my treasurer, and the pelf shall be paid to you, sir." And as I went down stairs I could hear him say to himself several times, "Oblige ME indeed, ha, ha, hah!—you oblige ME!!" In a word I got the money from him, but never saw him after." "You saw Barry, though?" "Oh yes, he gave me a general order to the house, introduced me to Mrs. Barry,—and always smiled and spoke so kindly, squeezed my hand too whenever I saw him, that I never thought of money. It dont signify talking, but I verily believe, that he could wheedle the birds off the trees with that sweet voice of his, and his good-natured look. I would rather be put off by Barry, than paid by Mossop." In this simple anecdote, which is a fact, the private characters of Barry and Mossop are clearly and faithfully illustrated.
[C] Our readers will partly judge what the powers of that roan must have been, who could beguile an erudite critic into such an enthusiastic, rapturous expression of approbation.
[D] The late John Palmer had one of the finest persons and faces in Great Britain. I remember to have seen him, handsome Brereton, and manly F. Aitkin, when in the prime of life on the stage at the same time with Barry, when he was labouring under old age, and so miserably infirm that he walked with difficulty. Yet neither I nor any one of the spectators ever noticed the others, so lost were they to the sight under the towering superiority of Barry. Editor.
THEOBALDUS SECUNDUS, OR SHAKSPEARE AS HE SHOULD BE.
Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, continued.
Marcellus invokes the ghost almost in the words of Charon, who, too charitable to suffer a man to go to the devil in his own way, thus addressed the son of Anchises:
Quisquis es armatus qui nostra ad flumina tendis, Fare age venias: jam isthinc et comprime gressum.
The sybil in Virgil gives a civil answer to a civil question, and narrates the birth, parentage, and education of her protege. Not so "the buried majesty of Denmark." Disdaining to be tried by any but his peers, he withholds all parlance till he commences with his son, and having entered O. P. (signifying "O Patience," to the inquisitive spectator) makes his exit P. S. (signifying poor spirit). Marcellus, hereupon, moralizes after the following fashion:
Mar. Thus twice before, and jump at this dead hour, With martial stalk hath he gone by our watch.
Why this dead hour? hours never die. In Ovid they are employed as grooms in harnessing Apollo's steeds, and if there be any faith in tempus fugit, how can the dead fly? to be sure, Marcellus was a sentinel, whose duty it is to kill time: but I prefer dread hour! Now for jump—Mr. Malone says, that in Shakspeare's time, jump and just were synonimous terms. So they are in our time. Two men of sympathetic sentiments are said to jump in a judgment. We have also a sect of just men in Wales called jumpers. Strange that the same motion that carries a man to heaven should carry a Kangaroo to Botany Bay!
——multi Committunt eadem diverso crimina fato Ille crucem pretium sceleris tulit, hic diadema.—Juv.
I do not think that the modern actors who personate the ghost, pay a proper attention to the text. It is evident from the above passage, that the ghost in crossing between the speakers and the audience, should give a jump, taking special care to avoid both traps and lamps, otherwise he may "fast in fires," a little too fast. "Gone by our watch," should be divided thus, "Gone—by our watch;" meaning at this hour, as we compute the time. Marcellus should here pull out his watch. A man will never make an actor unless he is particular in these little matters. Horatio continues thus:
Hor. But in the gross and scope of mine opinion, This bodes some strange eruption to our state.
Johnson will have it that "gross and scope," mean general thoughts and tendency at large. Alas! that all the scope of his gross frame should contain so small a meaning! I prefer guess and skip of my opinion; that is a random notion hastily entertained.
As for the eruption in the state, the reader will bear in mind the jump of the ghost, and coupling it with the aforesaid eruption, will no longer wonder that a modern writer couples the word jump with the Norman invasion:
Hop, step, and jump, Here they came plump, And they kick'd up a dust in the island.
O'Keefe has a character in his farce of The Farmer, called Jemmy Jumps, but I cannot with all my diligence, discover that he takes his name from a love of jumping. Molly Maybush, indeed, gives us a hint of his fondness for that recreation in the following distich:
Go hop my pretty pet along, And down the dance lead Bet along.
But if his own evidence is to be believed, (and according to some recent suggestions, that is the only evidence which ought to be received) he has no penchant for it. The farmer asks him to join the village dance, whereupon he indignantly exclaims, "What! I sport a toe among such a set of rustics!" Upon the whole I am inclined to believe that as a manufacturer of stays he takes his name from a part of those modish ligatures called jumps.
A figure of the very first water and magnitude, now makes his entre—the ghost of the late king! and here I must digress awhile, and like a raw notary's clerk, enter my feeble protest against the tame and unimpressive manner in which that supernatural personage is permitted to make his appearance. It should seem that our managers reserve all their decorations for the inexplicable dumb show of the Wood Daemon (that diphthong is my delight), the Castle Spectre, &c. &c. The Bleeding Nun in Raymond and Agnes is ushered in with a pre-scent-iment of blue flame and brimstone. Angela's mother advances in a minuet step, to soft music, like Goldsmith's bear, and is absolutely enveloped in flames—none but a salamander, or Messrs. Shadrach and company can enact the part with safety. But when we are presented with a dead Hamlet, Banquo, or lady Anne, those impressive non-naturals of the poet of Nature, they walk in as quiet and unadorned as at a morning rehearsal; marching like a vender of clumsy Italian images, "with all their imperfections on their head," and an additional load attributable to the imperfect head of the manager. Remember the lines of the poet:
Another Eschylus appears—prepare For new abortions, all ye pregnant fair, In flame like Semele be brought to bed, Whilst opening hell spouts wildfire at your head.
And let us in future see Shakspeare's ghosts adorned with the proper paraphernalia and (impernalia) of thunder, hautboys, and brimstone. But to return—For "eruption to our state;" some people prefer reading corruption, alleging that most states are corrupt (England, as one of the present company, of course excepted) but that eruptions are confined to the towns that border on Mount Vesuvius. But surely, allowing the observation its full swing, eruption is here the right reading. The ghost, in a subsequent scene, expressly informs us that he is "confined to fast in fires," and from his underground repetition of the word "swear," it is clear that those fires were immediately under Hamlet's feet. Yes, sir, this identical ghost was the Guy Faukes of Denmark, and but for the vent he discovered in a cranny near Elsinore enabling him to take a peep at the "glimpses of the moon," would doubtless have blown the crown prince, and all his court into the air, and thus have rendered unnecessary our late expedition for that purpose.
I find nothing upon which to animadvert till the re-entry of the ghost. He has evidently something upon his mind, which he wishes to communicate; but with the heart of a lion shows that he also possesses the fears of that royal beast, for upon the crowing of the cock (a sound most injudiciously omitted, since the death of the bantam Roscius) the spirit evaporates as quickly as from a glass of champagne, in the drinking of a health.
Mar. Shall I strike at it with my partisan?
Here performers, who move like blind asses in the manager's mill, usually raise the right arm, as though partisan meant the instrument in their grasp. O lame and impotent! As if a little bit of a truncheon could bruise a ghost! What says Ossian, speaking of a ghost? "The dim stars twinkled through his form." A plain proof of his want of substance. So of Pope's sylph:
Fate urg'd the shears and cut the sylph in twain; But airy substance soon unites again.
Some fanciful persons will have it that partisan signifies companion, as though Marcellus should say, "shall I strike at it with the assistance of Bernardo?" Listen to the real original meaning:
Mar. Shall I strike at it with my parmesan?
In plain English, "shall I throw a cheese at its head?" This agrees with what was before advanced relative to beef, and shows that the sentinels of those days antedating the couplet in the Bath Guide,
He that would fortify the mind, The belly first must fill,—
never mounted guard without a havresack well stuffed with eatables.
* * * * *
Coffee and Chocolate.
Coffee is the seed of a tree or shrub of the jessamine species, originally a native of Arabia, but now thriving in the West Indies, where it is become an important article of English commerce.
The flower is yellow, and the berry juicy, containing two seeds: these when gathered have a ferinaceous bitter taste, but are wholly without that peculiar smell and flavour imparted to them by fire, and for which an infusion or decoction of them is so much admired.
This fashionable beverage, almost a necessary of life to the merchant, the politician, and the author, on its first introduction in Asia, caused a violent religious schism among the Mahometan doctors, almost as early as the thirteenth century, although it was not till towards the middle of the sixteenth, that a coffee-house properly so called, was established at Constantinople: its discovery was announced by a miraculous legend which each sect relates in its own way.
A dervise, says a certain heterodox rational mussulman, if such there be, "a dervise overflowing with zeal or with bile, was sorely troubled on observing that his brethren were not animated by a spirit active as his own: he saw, with concern, that they were listless and drowsy in the performance of their religious exercises, their ecstasies, their howlings, their whirlings round, their vertigoes, their bellowings, and laborious breathings.
"The dissatisfied dervise, taking a solitary walk to sooth his disturbed spirits, or cool his heated imagination, observed that the cattle became suddenly and remarkably playsome and lively, after feeding on a certain leaf; judging, by analogy, that the same effect might be produced on other animals, he gave his companions a strong infusion of it; their heaviness and torpor were almost instantly removed, and they performed the parts allotted to them with exemplary activity and vigour; the leaf so powerful in its effects proved to be the shrub from which coffee berries afterwards were gathered."
"Listen not to such profane heresies," says an orthodox doctor of Mecca, "it was in the six hundred and sixty-sixth year of the Hegira (about the middle of the thirteenth century of the Christian era) that Abouhasan Scazali, on a pilgrimage to the tomb of our most holy prophet, sinking under fatigue, extreme heat, and old age, called unto him Omar, a venerable Scheick, his friend and companion, and thus addressed him:
"Teacher of the faithful! the angel of death hath laid his hand upon me; cleansed from my corruptions in the waters of Paradise, I hope soon to be in the presence of our prophet; but I cannot depart in peace, till I have done justice to thy zeal, thy faith, and thy friendship; persevere in the path thou hast so long trod, and rely on him, who drove the infidels like sheep before him, to extricate thee from all thy difficulties: farewell, sometimes think of Abouhasan, pity his errors, and do justice to his good name:" he would have spoken further, but his breath failed, his eyes became dim, and pressing that hand he was to press no more, he expired without a groan.
"Having performed the last office of friendship, Omar pursued his way: but, a few days after, lost in devout contemplation, or overwhelmed with sorrow, he wandered from his associates in the caravan, and was not sensible of his situation, till involved in one of those whirlwinds, which, raising into the air the sandy soil of that country, generally prove destructive. Falling on his face, the fury of the blast, and the thick cloud of sand passed over him: almost suffocated with dust, notwithstanding the precaution he had taken, separated from the companions of his journey, without water to moisten his parched mouth, and fainting for want of sustenance, he gave himself up for a lost man, the stream of life was propelled with difficulty, perception and sensation began to fail, and believing himself in the agonies of death, he poured forth a mental ejaculation to Allah.
"An angel of light immediately stood before him, waving his hand thrice towards the holy city, and pronouncing deliberately three mysterious words; a limpid stream suddenly gushed from the ground, and a luxuriant shrub sprung forth from the barren sand of the desert; bathing the temples, the eyes, and the lips of Omar, with the refreshing fluid, the celestial messenger disappeared.
"The cool stream, and the berries plucked from the miraculous tree, soon recovered the sinking man; he poured forth his soul in thanksgiving, and sunk into a deep sleep, from which he awoke in full vigour and spirits.
"Omar, with renewed strength, soon rejoined the caravan, and relating the supernatural circumstance, a mosque was erected on the spot, by the zeal and contributions of true believers; coffee, that wonderful shrub, the peculiar gift of our prophet, and more particularly the produce of his favourite country, still continues the solace, cordial, and comforter of his devoted followers."
This singular specimen of Turkish superstition, in which the Mahometan appears to have encroached on the prerogatives of the Vatican, is taken from a curious book, which, previous to the Gallic revolution, was in the library of the king of France, and presented to Louis the fifteenth, by Said, an ambassador from the Porte to the court of Versailles.
It is called in the title page, Dgihan Numa, that is, a description of the world, and was printed at Constantinople, in seventeen hundred and thirty-one, adorned with plates and illustrated by maps; the author, or rather the compiler, was Keatib Cheleli, a learned doctor of the Turkish law.
"Coffee," says this enlightened mussulman, who shaking off the stupidity and indolence of his countrymen, assumes the character of a medical inquirer, after he had quitted that of an implicit believer, "coffee is a rejoicer of the heart, an enlivener of conversation, a sovereign restorative after the fatigues of study, of labour or of love; its peculiar characteristic is, to comfort the stomach, nourish the nerves, and to protect the frame against the debilitating effects of a hot climate and a fiery atmosphere.
"Taken an hour after dinner, it prevents an accumulation of crudities in the first passages, is an infallible remedy for the horrors of indigestion, and the megrims."
It was not probable that so wholesome and agreeable an article of diet would be long confined to Asia; it is said to have been introduced to the fashionable circles of Paris by Thevenot, in 1669, but had been made use of in London as an exotic luxury before that time.
The first coffee-house opened in the British metropolis, was in George-yard, Lombard-street, by Rosqua, the Greek servant of a Turkey merchant, in the year 1652; its flavour was considered so delicate, and it was thought by the statesmen of those days (no very reputable characters) to promote society and political conversation so much, that a duty of fourpence was laid on every gallon made and sold.
But Anthony Wood earnestly insists, that there was a house, for selling coffee, at Oxford, two years before Rosqua commenced the trade in London; "that those who delighted in novelty, drank it at the sign of the angel, in that university, a house kept by an outlandish Jew."
In another part of his works, he says that Nathaniel Conapius, a native of Crete, and a fugitive from Constantinople, but residing in the year 1648, at Baliol college, Oxford, made, and drank every morning, a drink called coffey, the first ever made use of in that ancient university.
This popular beverage is mentioned in a tract published by judge Rumsey, in 1659, entitled "Organum Salutis, or an instrument to cleanse the stomach; together with divers new experiments on the virtues of tobacco and coffee."
It is observed in this work, by a correspondent of the author, "that apprentices, clerks and others, formerly used to take their morning draught in ale, beer or wine, which, by the dizziness they cause in the brain, make many unfit for business; but that now they may safely play the good fellow, in this wakeful civil drink, for the introduction of which first in London the respect of the whole nation is due to Mr. Muddiford."
* * * * *
Chocolate, then, is a preparation from the seeds of a small American tree, called by botanists Cacao Guatimalensis, bearing a large red fruit in the shape of a cucumber, which generally contains twenty or thirty of the nuts, boiled and prepared according to art.
This highly nutritious, agreeable, and, to many, wholesome drink, became on its first introduction, a subject of strong agitation, and warm contest, with many conscientious and scrupulous catholics.
Approaching in its original form, and in its alimentary properties, so nearly to solid diet, it was doubted by the timid and the devout, whether enjoying so delicious and invigorating a luxury in Lent, and other seasons appointed by the church for fasts, was not violating or eluding a sacred and indispensable ordinance.
That party which was unwilling to resign their chocolate, quoted the words of St. Thomas, who repeatedly asserts, that it is by solid food only that a fast can be properly said to be broken; that if it is unlawful to drink this liquor on fast days, because of the portion of solid cocoa contained in it; by the same rule, wine and beer, which on these occasions have never been interdicted, might be forbidden, as the first contains a large proportion of the saccharine substance of the grape, and the latter suspends rather than dissolves the whole of the farina of the grain.
The chocolate drinkers were opposed by a powerful party of rigid disciplinarians, and austere devotees; a Spanish physician wrote a Latin treatise, expressly against what appeared to him so impious a practice on a fast day; his book, entitled "Tribunal Medico-Magicum," exhibits much zeal and some learning; that he was strongly attached to the luxury against which he declaims, is a strong presumption in favour of his sincerity.
The Spaniard's book was answered, by a cardinal of the catholic church in a candid and agreeable way; it was the opinion of the ecclesiastic, supported, indeed by reason and experience, that neither chocolate nor wine taken in moderation could, strictly speaking, be construed into breaking a fast; yet, he hoped, that such a concession, would not be made a pretext by sensuality and wickedness, for using them to excess, by which some of our greatest blessings are converted into curses; as whatever tempts or occasions us to overstep the bounds of nature and of temperance, can never be defended by the canons of the church.
The Roman prelate concludes his rational and truly pious book, written in Latin, not unworthy of the Augustan age, with the following words, which ought to be written in letters of gold, in some conspicuous part of every eating-room in Europe:
"The infidel and voluptuary may ridicule the idea of the Almighty Creator of the universe, being pleased, or displeased, with a man for having a full or an empty stomach; but whatever tends directly or remotely, to subdue rebellious passions, and subject a creature like man to the restraints of reason and religion, cannot fail being a matter of the highest importance to our well-doing, and our everlasting destiny hereafter."
* * * * *
MONUMENT IN HONOUR OF THE LATE DUKE OF BEDFORD.
ERECTED IN RUSSELL SQUARE, BY R. WESTMACOTT, ASSOCIATE OF THE ROYAL ACADEMY.
This monument consists principally of a colossal statue of the late Duke of Bedford, habited in his parliamentary robes. At the feet of his statue, or rather around the fragment of rock on which it stands, are "the seasons personified by genii, or children in playful attitudes."
"This group surmounts a pedestal composed of granite; the sides of which are embellished by bassi-relievi of pastoral subjects. On the angles are bulls heads; the intermediate friezes being occupied by bassi-relievi of groups of cattle. The whole composition is about twenty-five feet in height."
The latter part of this general description, which we have marked as quotation, is taken from Mr. Westmacott's own modest account of his work, in the 'Academic Annals.'
The whole forms an imposing, and, in some degree, magnificent pile of sculpture, and seems the worthy ornament of a great metropolis; yet it has such defects as inform us that it has not fallen from Heaven. The statue is doubtless meant to be stable, manly, easy, and dignified; yet it is not perfectly these, though perhaps no other words could be so nearly used with propriety in describing its first bold impression on the mind of the beholder, as he approaches from Bloomsbury square along Bedford-place.
A noble and sedate simplicity characterizes the general style of Mr. Westmacott's sculpture, and is conspicuous in the tout ensemble of the pile before us. The proportions of the statue and its ornamental accompaniments, to the pedestal and double plinth basement, are well regulated, and are the evident and successful result of study. The bronze, of which the statue and bas-reliefs are composed, being covered with a fine green patina (which has apparently been superinduced), would have assimilated very well with the sort of grave, negative colour of the Scotch granite, of which the pedestal is formed, had the rock on which the Duke stands been of bronze, as well as the statue and personifications of the seasons which are designed to group with it. This rock ought certainly not to have been of Scotch granite. The pedestal alone should have been of this material, and all that surmounts it of bronze. Beside that real rock is almost as unscientific in this place, as would have been the real ermine on the Duke of Bedford's robes, or a real wig on his head; it is almost as destructive too of the chastity of sculpturesque effect. It gives a meager effect to the seasons, while it mars the simplicity of what would else have appeared a grand connected mass of imitative art. The granite and green bronze, if kept in broad and distinct masses, would have harmonized extremely well with the verdure of the pleasure ground in which it is placed; yet, as it is, the whole composition, when viewed from any station near the south end of Bedford-place, detaches with effect from the air-tint of the distant country, excites a classic and elevated feeling, and invites the steps of the tasteful to a nearer view.