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-My mother bows :

As if Olympus to a mole-hill should
In supplication nod.

Mr. Kemble's voice seemed to faint and stagger, to be strained and cracked, under the weight of this majestic image; but, indeed, we know of no tones deep or full enough to bear along the swelling tide of sentiment it conveys; nor can we conceive anything in outward form to answer to it, except when Mrs. Siddons played the part of Volumnia.

We may on this occasion be expected to say a few words on the general merits of Mr. Kemble as an actor, and on the principal characters he performed; in doing which, we shall

Nothing extenuate,
Nor set down aught in malice.

It has always appeared to us that the range of characters in which Mr. Kemble more particularly shone, and was superior to every other actor, were those which consisted in the development of some one solitary sentiment or exclusive passion. From a want of rapidity, of scope, and variety, he was often deficient in expressing the bustle and complication of different interests; nor did he possess the faculty of overpowering the mind by sudden and irresistible bursts of passions; but in giving the habitual workings of a predominant feeling, as in Penruddock, or The Stranger, in Coriolanus, Cato, and some others, where all the passions move round a central point, and are governed by one master-key, he stood unrivalled. Penruddock, in The Wheel of Fortune, was one of his most correct and interesting performances, and

one of the most perfect on the modern stage. The deeply-rooted, mild, pensive melancholy of the character, its embittered recollections and dignified benevolence, were conveyed by Mr. Kemble with equal truth, elegance, and feeling. In The Stranger, again, which is in fact the same character, he brooded over the recollection of disappointed hope till it became a part of himself; it sunk deeper into his mind the longer he dwelt upon it; his regrets only became more profound as they became more durable. His person was moulded to the character. The weight of sentiment which oppressed him was never suspended; the spring at his heart was never lightened -it seemed as if his whole life had been a suppressed sigh! So in Coriolanus, he exhibited the ruling passion with the same unshaken firmness, he preserved the same haughty dignity of demeanour, the same energy of will, and unbending sternness of temper throughout. He was swayed by a single impulse. His tenaciousness of purpose was only irritated by opposition; he turned neither to the right nor the left; the vehemence with which he moved forward increasing every instant, till it hurried him on to the catastrophe. In Leontes, also, in The Winter's Tale (a character he at one time played often), the growing jealousy of the King, and the exclusive possession which this passion gradually obtains over his mind, were marked by him in the finest manner, particularly where he exclaims

-Is whispering nothing?

Is leaning cheek to cheek? Is meeting noses?
Kissing with inside lip? Stopping the career
Of laughter with a sigh (a note infallible
Of breaking honesty)? Horsing foot on foot?
Skulking in corners? Wishing clocks more swift?

Hours minutes? The noon midnight? and all eyes
Blind with the pin and web, but theirs! theirs only,
That would unseen be wicked? Is this nothing?
Why then the world and all that's in't is nothing,
The covering sky is nothing, Bohemia nothing,
My wife is nothing, if this be nothing!1

In the course of this enumeration, every proof told stronger, and followed with quicker and harder strokes ; his conviction became more rivetted at every step of his progress; and at the end, his mind, and "every corporal agent," appeared wound up to a frenzy of despair. In such characters, Mr. Kemble had no occasion to call to his aid either the resources of invention or the tricks of the art; his success depended on the increasing intensity with which he dwelt on a given feeling, or enforced a passion that resisted all interference or control.

In Hamlet, on the contrary, Mr. Kemble in our judgment unavoidably failed from a want of flexibility, of that quick sensibility which yields to every motive, and is borne away with every breath of fancy: which is distracted in the multiplicity of its reflections, and lost in the uncertainty of its resolutions. There is a perpetual undulation of feeling in the character of Hamlet; but in Mr. Kemble's acting, "there was neither variableness nor shadow of turning." He played it like a man in armour, with a determined invetéracy of purpose, in one undeviating straight line, which is as remote from the natural grace and indolent susceptibility of the character, as the sharp angles and abrupt starts to produce an effect which Mr. Kean throws into it.

In King John, which was one of Mr. Kemble's most

• My wife is nothing; nor nothing have these nothings,
If this be nothing!-Winter's Tale, i. 2.

admired parts, the transitions of feeling, though just and powerful, were prepared too long beforehand, and were too long in executing, to produce their full effect. The actor seemed waiting for some complicated machinery to enable him to make his next movement, instead of trusting to the true impulses of passion. There was no sudden collision of opposite elements; the golden flash of genius was not there; "the fire i' th' flint was cold," for it was not struck. If an image could be constructed by magic art to play King John, it would play it in much the same manner that Mr. Kemble played it.

In Macbeth, Mr. Kemble was unequal to "the tug and war" of the passions which assail him; he stood, as it were, at bay with fortune, and maintained his ground too steadily against "fate and metaphysical aid," instead of staggering and reeling under the appalling visions of the preternatural world, and having his frame wrenched from all the holds and resting places of his will, by the stronger power of imagination. In the latter scenes, however, he displayed great energy and spirit; and there was a fine melancholy retrospective tone in his manner of delivering the lines,

My way of life
Is fallen into the sear, the yellow leaf,

which smote upon the heart, and remained there ever after. His Richard III. wanted that tempest and whirlwind of the soul, that life and spirit, and dazzling rapidity of motion, which fills the stage, and burns in every part of it, when Mr. Kean performs this character. To Mr. Kean's acting in general, we might apply the lines of the poet where he describes

The fiery soul that, working out its way,
Fretted the pigmy body to decay,
And o'er-inform'd the tenement of clay.1

Mr. Kemble's manner, on the contrary, had always something dry, hard, and pedantic in it. "You shall relish him more in the scholar than in the soldier ; " but his monotony did not fatigue, his formality did not displease, because there was always sense and meaning in what he did. The fineness of Mr. Kemble's figure may be supposed to have led to that statue-like appearance which his acting was sometimes too apt to assume; as the diminutiveness of Mr. Kean's person has probably compelled him to bustle about too much, and to attempt to make up for the want of dignity of form, by the violence and contrast of his attitudes. If Mr. Kemble were to remain in the same posture for half an hour, his figure would only excite admiration; if Mr. Kean were to stand still only for a moment, the contrary effect would be apparent. One of the happiest and most spirited of all Mr. Kemble's performances, and in which even his defects were blended with his excellences to produce a perfect whole, was his Pierre. The dissolute indifference assumed by this character, to cover the darkness of his designs and the fierceness of his revenge, accorded admirably with Mr. Kemble's natural manner; and the tone of morbid, rancorous raillery, in which Pierre delights to indulge, was in unison with the actor's

• Dryden.

2 Hazlitt was economical of his ideas. This passage (from "It has always appeared to us," p. 137) is amplified from an article which appeared in The Champion, November 20, 1814, the remarks on King John and Macbeth being written in.

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