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less fleeting and evanescent, the memorials of their good sense, and their virtues.
Kemble amused me much at this interview it was the last) with an account of the getting up of Vortigern, one of young Ireland's forgeries. “I constantly refused,” he said, “ to look at the ma. nuscripts which old Ireland exhibited in Norfolk Street. Mr. Malone, in a few minutes conversation, convinced me that they were spurious, and the fraud betrayed itself in the endless contradictions, into which the fellow, who pretended to have brought them into light, was betrayed, when he first began to account for their coming into his possession. At Sheridan's desire, I consented to play it; but Mrs. Siddons positively refused to enter, as she expressed herself, into so abominable a conspiracy against the memory of Shakspeare. Sheridan thought that it would be good for the treasury, and, that public curiosity, or rather the pride of having to decide whether a piece was actually written by Shakspeare or not, would fill the house for one night, even with advanced prices; 'for you
know very well, Kemble,' said he, that an Englishman considers himself as good a judge of Shakspeare, as of his pint of porter. He was • right. Well. The house overflowed in all parts.
The first act, much of the second, and a few speeches in the third, were endured. Some murmur of discontent began, however, to be heard. Give the thing a fair trial,' roared out Humphrey Sturt from the stage-box, with the intonation of a bull. Such an appeal to the equity of the audience, and from such brazen beings, had some effect, and the storm was lulled; but, from time to time, there were deep growls of disapprobation from different quarters. A line occurred in the part I had to act, which they accuse me of having pronounced with a malicious emphasis, to assist the downfal of the piece. It was this :
'I would this solemn mockery were o’er!'
The allusion was too obvious not to be caught in a moment by an audience wearied to death with what they had already gone through, but one half of whom were afraid of being too hasty in the condemnation of a play, which, if it really was Shak
speare's, would turn the laugh against them. At this line, the most overwhelming sounds of mingled groan and laughter ran through the house; but Humphrey Sturt, whose ordinary tone of conversation reminded you of the noise of a fulling-mill, again obtained a few moment's silence, but with extraordinary efforts of voice; the pause, however, was of short duration, for Phillimore, who played Vortigern, had to call out to the soldiers, as they were leading off Mrs. Jordan, who performed Rowena,
• Give her up! Give her up! oh, give her up!'
This was too much. Humphrey Sturt threw himself back on the bench, and burst into a fit of horse-laughing, as deafening as the falls of Niagara, and the rest of the audience caught the infection. Give her up, give her up,' resounded from a thousand tongues; the hint was taken, and the curtain fell. Joe Richardson came to me in my dressing-room, quite delighted with the verdict of the public. “If the thing had been tolerated,' he said, it would be a canister tied to Shakspeare's tail to all succeeding ages, or remain a recorded monument of the dramatic taste and critical discernment of England at the close of the eighteenth century.' As for old Ireland, he never forgave either Phillimore or myself. He said, that if I had boná fide intended to let the piece have a chance, I should not, as stage-manager, have given such a character as Vortigern to Phillimore; for that his nose was long enough to d—n the finest play Shakspeare ever wrote.' The younger Ireland, the fabricator of the fraud, was all this time sitting in one of the upper boxes, apparently unconcerned, by the side of Polly Thompson, or some such personage ; the person,
, from whose head, as he afterwards confessed, he had cut the identical lock of hair exhibited at the elder Ireland's, as a lock from the head of Mrs. Anna Hatherewaye (the lady to whom Shakspeare is said to have been betrothed) and which he pretended to have found amongst the manuscripts, with this memorandum inscribed in Shakspeare's hand-writing. This is the haire of Mistresse Anne Hatherewaye.' The true believers,” Kemble continued, “ absolutely adored this precious
relic, which was religiously enshrined in a gilt box, lest a single hair should be lost by profane handling."
On the Saturday following, Kemble dined as a visitor at the Beef-Steaks. We resumed insensibly our last conversation, which led us, naturally enough, to the proneness almost peculiar to our nation, but most eminently so to its metropolis, of swallowing the grossest extravagances, and that too with an appetite and power of digestion that kept pace with their absurdity. The young Roscius, we all agreed, was a recollection that should call shame to the cheek of modern London. Whatever
Whatever may be the share of honour due to the art of a player, neither at Paris, nor at Madrid, nor at Petersburgh ; no, nor any where, but in the mid-heart of cockneyism, would it have been so insulted, as it was by the homage which the town lavished upon an automaton-a inere child, whose excellence, estimated at the highest, transcended other children only in a riper fulness of intonation, and a somewhat greater command of gesticulation. The whole, as Arnold aptly observed, was a most unnatural