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pelted them with oranges and witticisms, to show their unruly contempt for them and their art; while the performers, to be even with the audience, evidently slurred their parts, as if ashamed to be thought to take any interest in them, laughed in one another's faces, and in that of their friends in the pit, and most effectually marred the process of theatrical illusion, by turning the whole into a most unprincipled burlesque. We cannot help thinking that some part of this indecency and licentiousness is to be traced to the diminutive size of these theatres, and to the close contact into which these unmannerly censors come with the objects of their ignorant and unfeeling scorn. Familiarity breeds contempt. By too narrow an inspection, you take away that fine, hazy medium of abstraction, by which (in moderation) a play is best set off: you are, as it were, admitted behind the scenes ; "see these puppets dallying ;” shake hands, across the orchestra, with an actor whom you know, or take one you do not like by the beard, with equal impropriety :-you distinguish the paint, the individual features, the texture of the dresses, the patchwork and machinery by which the whole is made up ; and this in some measure destroys the effect, distracts attention, suspends the interest, and makes you disposed to quarrel with the actors as impostors, and "not the men you took them for." You see Mr. Booth,' in Brutus, with every motion of his face articulated, with his underjaws grinding out sentences, and his upper lip twitching at words and syllables, as if a needle and thread had been passed through each corner of it, and the gude wife still continued sewing at her work :-you perceive the con

Junius Brutus Booth, whose brief rivalry with Kean is well known, was at this time playing at the Coburg Theatre.

tortion and barrenness of his expression in which there is only one form of bent brows, and close pent-up mouth for all occasions), the parsimony of his figure is exposed, and the refuse tones of his voice fall with undiminished vulgarity on the pained ear.

Turn we to survey" where the Miss Dennetts, at the Adelphi Theatre (which should once more from them be called the Sans Pareil), weave the airy, the harmonious, liquid dance. Of each of them it might be said, and we believe has been said

Her, lovely Venus at a birth,
With two Sister Graces more,
To ivy-crowned Bacchus bore.

Such figures, no doubt, gave rise to the fables of ancient mythology, and might be worshipped. They revive the ideas of classic grace, life, and joy. They do not seem like taught dancers, Columbines, and figurantes on an artificial stage ; but come bounding forward like nymphs in vales of Arcady, or, like Italian shepherdesses, join in a lovely group of easy gracefulness, while “vernal airs attune the trembling leaves " to their soft motions. If they were nothing in themselves, they would be complete in one another. Each owes a double grace, youth, and beauty, to her reflection in the other two. It is the principle of proportion or harmony personified. To deny their merits or criticise their style, is to be blind and dead to the felicities of art and nature. Not to feel the force of their united charm (united, yet divided, different and yet the same), is not to see the beauty of "three red roses on a stalk"-. or of the mingled hues of the rainbow, or of the halcyon's breast, reflected in the stream or "the witchery of the soft, blue sky" or grace in the waving of the branch of a tree, or tenderness in the bending of a flower, or liveliness in the motion of a wave of the sea.

We shall not try to defend them against the dancing-school critics, there is another school, different from that of the pied à plomb and pirouette cant, the school of taste and nature. In this school the Miss Dennetts are (to say the least) delicious novices. Theirs is the only performance on the stage (we include the Opera) that gives the uninitiated spectator an idea that dancing can be an emanation of instinctive gaiety, or express the language of sentiment. We might show them to the Count Stendhal, who speaks so feelingly of the beauties of a dance by Italian peasant girls, as our three English Graces.


London Magazine (No. V.), May, 1820. An actor is seldom satisfied with being extolled for what he is, unless you admire him for being what he is not. A great tragic actress thinks herself particularly happy in comedy, and it is a sort of misprision of treason not to say so. Your pen may grow wanton in praise of the broad farcical humour of a low comedian ; but if you do not cry him up for the fine gentleman, he threatens to leave the stage. Most of our best comic performers came out in tragedy as their favourite line ; and Mr. Mathews does not think it enough to enliven a whole theatre with his powers of drollery, and whim, and personal transformation, unless, by way of preface and apology, he first delivers an epitaph on those talents for the legitimate drama which were so prematurely buried at Covent Garden Theatre! If we were to speak our minds, we should say that Mr. Mathews shines particularly, neither as an actor, nor a mimic of actors, but that his forte is a certain general tact, and versatility of comic power. You would say he is a clever performer : you would guess he is a cleverer man. His talents are not pure, but mixed. He is best when he is his own prompter, manager, and performer, orchestra, and scene-shifter ; and perhaps, to make the thing complete, the audience should be of his own providing too. If we had never known anything more of Mr. Mathews than the account we have heard of his imitating the interior of a German family, the wife lying a-bed grumbling at her husband's staying out, the husband's return home drunk, and the little child's paddling across the room to its own bed as soon as it hears him, we should set him down for a man of genius. These felicitous strokes are, however, casual and intermittent in him: they proceed from him rather by chance than design, and are followed up by others equally gross and superficial. Mr. Mathews wants taste, or has been spoiled by the taste of the town, whom he must live to please, and please to live." His talent, though limited, is of a lively and vigorous fibre ; capable of a succession of shifts and disguises; he is up to a number of good things-single hits here and there, but by the suddenness and abrupt. ness of his turns, he surprises and shocks oftener than he satisfies. His wit does not move the muscles of the mind, but, like some practical joker, gives one a good rap on the knuckles, or a lively box on the ear. He serves up a picnic entertainment of scraps and odd ends (some of them, we must say, old ones). He is like a host who will not let us swallow a mouthful, but offers us something else, and directly after brings us the same dish again. He is in a continual hurry and disquietude to please, and destroys half the effect by trying to increase it. He is afraid to trust for a moment to the language of nature and character, and wants to translate it into pantomime and grimace, like a writingmaster who, for the letter I, has the hieroglyphic of an eye staring you in the face. Mr. Mathews may be said to have taken tithe of half the talents of the stage and of the town ; yet his variety is not always charming. There is something dry and meagre in his jokes; they do not lard the lean earth as he walks, but seem as if they might be written upon parchment. His humour, in short, is not like digging into a fine Stilton cheese, but is more like the scrapings of Shabsuger. As an actor, we think he cannot rise higher than a waiter (certainly not a dumb one), or than Mr. Wiggins. In this last character, in particular, by a certain panic-struck expression of countenance at the persecution of which the hen-pecked husband is the victim, and by the huge, unwieldly helplessness of his person, unable to escape from it and from the rabble of boys at his heels, he excites shouts of laughter, and hits off the humour of the thing to an exact perfection. In general, his performance is of that kind which implies manual dexterity, or an assumption of bodily defect, rather than mental capacity : take from Mr. Mathews's drollest parts an odd shuffle in the gait, a restless volubility of speech and motion, a sudden suppression of features, or the continual repetition of some cant phrase with unabated vigour, and


reduce him to an almost total insignificance, and a state of still life. He is not therefore like

A clock that wants both hands,

As useless when it goes as when it stands ;
' A great fat character in the farce called Mrs. Wiggins.

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