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which we have never seen surpassed. The whole of the latter part of the third act was a masterpiece of profound pathos and exquisite conception, and its effect on the house was electrical. The tone of voice in which he delivered the beautiful apostrophe, “Then, oh farewell !” struck on the heart and the imagination like the swelling notes of some divine music. The look, the action, the expression of voice, with which he accompanied the exclamation, “Not a jot, not a jot;" the reflection, "I felt not Cassio's kisses on her lips;" and his vow of revenge against Cassio, and abandonment of his love for Desdemona, laid open the very tumult and ageny of the soul. In other parts, where we expected an equal interest to be excited, we were disappointed; and in the common scenes we think Mr. Kean's manner, as we have remarked on other occasions, had more point and emphasis than the sense or character required.
MR. KEAN'S IAGO.
Morning Chronicle, May 9, 1814. THE part of Iago was played at Drury Lane on Saturday by Mr. Kean, and played with admirable facility and effect. It was the most faultless of his performances, the most consistent and entire. Perhaps the accomplished hypocrite was never so finely, so adroitly pourtrayed-a gay, light-hearted monster, a careless, cordial, comfortable villain. The preservation of character was so complete, the air and manner were so much of a piece throughout, that the part seemed more like a detached scene or single trait, and of shorter duration than it usually does. The ease, familiarity, and tone of nature with which the text was delivered, were quite equal to anything we have seen in the best comic acting. It was the least overdone of all his parts, though full of point, spirit, and brilliancy. The odiousness of the character was, in fact, in some measure, glossed over by the extreme grace, alacrity, and rapidity of the execution. Whether this effect were “a consummation of the art devoutly to be wished," is another question, on which we entertain some doubts. We have already stated it as our opinion, that Mr. Kean is not a literal transcriber of his author's
* For a fuller account of Kean's Othello see p. 76. 2 Othello by Sowerby, a very mediocre performer.
he translates his characters with great freedom and ingenuity into a language of his own; but at the same time we cannot help preferring his liberal and spirited dramatic versions, to the dull, literal, commonplace monotony of his competitors. Besides, after all, in the conception of the part, he may be right and we may be wrong. We have before complained that Mr. Kean's Richard was not gay enough, and we should now be disposed to complain that his Iago is not grave enough.
MISS O'NEILL'S JULIET.
Champion, October 16, 1814. We occasionally see something on the stage that reminds us a little of Shakespeare. Miss O'Neill's Juliet, if it does not correspond exactly with our idea of the character, does not degrade it. We never saw Garrick ; and Mrs. Siddons was the only person who ever embodied our idea of high tragedy. Her mind and person were both fitted for it. The effect of her acting was greater than could be conceived beforehand. It perfectly filled and overpowered the mind. The first time of seeing this great actress was an epoch in every one's life, and left impressions which could never be forgotten. She appeared to belong to a superior order of beings, to be surrounded with a personal awe, like some prophetess of old, or Roman matron, the mother of Coriolanus or the Gracchi. Her voice answered to her form, and her expression to both. Yet she was a pantomime actress. Her common recitation was faulty. It was in bursts of indignation, or grief, in sudden exclamations, in apostrophes and inarticulate sounds, that she raised the soul of passion to its height, or sunk it in despair.
We remember her manner in The Gamester, when Stukeley (it was then played by Palnier), declares his love to her. The look, first of incredulity and astonishment, then of anger, then passing suddenly into contempt, and ending in bitter scorn, and a convulsive burst of laughter, all given in a moment, and laying open every movement of the soul, produced an effect which we shall never forget. Her manner of rubbing her hands in the night scene in Macbeth, and of dismissing the guests at the banquet, were among her finest things. We have, many years ago, wept outright during the whole time of her playing Isabella,' and this we take to have been a higher employment of the critical faculties than doubling down the book in dog-ears to make out a regular list of critical commonplaces. To the tears formerly shed on such occasions, we may apply the words of a modern dashing orator, “Sweet is the dew of their memory, and pleasant the balm of their recollection."
We have, we believe, been betrayed into this digres1 In Southerne's Isabella, or the Fatal Marriage, one of her greatest characters.
sion, because Miss O'Neill, more than any late actress, reminded us in certain passages, and in a faint degree, of Mrs. Siddons. This young lady, who will probably become a favourite with the public, is rather tall; and though not of the first order of fine forms, her figure is of that respectable kind which will not interfere with the characters she represents. Her deportment is not particularly graceful : there is a heaviness and want of firmness about it. Her features are regular, and the upper part of her face finely expressive of terror or sorrow. It has that mixture of beauty and passion which we admire so much in some of the antique statues.
The lower part of her face is not equally good. From a want of fulness or flexibility about the mouth, her laugh is not at any time pleasing, and where it is a laugh of terror, is distorted and painful. Her voice, without being musical, is distinct, powerful, and capable of every necessary exertion. Her action is impressive and simple. She looks the part she has to perform, and fills up the pauses in the words by the varied expression of her countenance or gestures, without anything artificial, pointed, or farfetched.
In the silent expression of feeling, we have seldom witnessed anything finer than her acting, where she is told of Romeo's death, her listening to the Friar's story of the poison, and her change of manner towards the Nurse, when she advises her to marry Paris. Her delivery of the speeches in the scenes where she laments Romeo's banishment, and anticipates her waking in the tomb, marked the fine play and undulation of natural sensibility, rising and falling with the gusts of passion, and at last worked up into an agony of despair, in which imagination approaches the brink of frenzy. Her actual
screaming at the imaginary sight of Tybalt's ghost, appeared to us the only instance of extravagance or caricature. Not only is there a distinction to be kept up between physical and intellectual horror, (for the latter becomes more general, internal, and absorbed, in proportion as it becomes more intense), but the scream, in the present instance, startled the audience, as it preceded the speech which explained its meaning. Perhaps the emphasis given to the exclamation, “And Romeo banished," and to the description of Tybalt, “ festering in his shroud," was too much in that epigrammatic, pointed style, which we think inconsistent with the severe and simple dignity of tragedy.
In the last scene, at the tomb with Romeo, which, however, is not from Shakespeare, though it tells admirably on the stage, she did not produce the effect we expected. Miss O'Neill seemed least successful in the former part of the character, in the garden scene, &c. The expression of tenderness bordered on hoydening, and affectation. The character of Juliet is a pure effusion of nature. It is as serious, and as much in earnest, as it is frank and susceptible. It has all the exquisite voluptuousness of youthful innocence. There is not the slightest appearance of coquetry in it, no sentimental languor, no meretricious assumption of fondness to take her lover by surprise. She ought not to laugh when she says, “I have forgot why I did call thee back," as if conscious of the artifice, nor hang in a fondling posture over the balcony. Shakespeare has given a fine idea of the composure of the character, where he first describes her at the window, leaning her cheek upon her
* This scene was interpolated by Garrick, who borrowed part of it from Otway's Caius Marius.