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for only keep him going, and he bustles about the stage to some purpose.

As a mimic of other actors, Mr. Mathews fails as often as he succeeds (we call it a failure when it is with difficulty we can distinguish the person intended); and when he succeeds, it is more by seizing upon some peculiarity, or exaggerating some defect, than by hitting upon the true character or prominent features. He gabbles like Incledon, or croaks like Suett, or lisps like Young ; but when he attempts the expressive silver-tongued cadences of John Kemble, it is the shadow of a shade. If we did not know the contrary, we should suppose he had never heard the original, but was imitating some one who had. His best imitations are taken from something characteristic or absurd that has struck his fancy, or occurred to his observation in real life—such as a chattering footman, a drunken coachman, a surly traveller, or a garrulous old Scotchwoman. This last we would fix upon as Mr. Mathews's chefd'ouvre. It was a portrait of common nature, equal to Wilkie or Teniers—as faithful, as simple, as delicately humorous, and with a slight dash of pathos ; but without one particle of caricature, of vulgarity, or ill-nature. We see no reason why the ingenious artist should not show his Country Cousins' a gallery of such portraits, and of no others, once a year. He might exhibit it every night for a month, and we should go to see it every night! What has impressed itself on our memory as the next best thing to this exquisite piece of genuine painting, was the broad joke of the abrupt proposal of a mutton-chop to the man who is sea-sick, and the convulsive marks of abhorrence with which it is received. The representation also of the tavern-beau in the Country Cousins who is about to swallow a lighted candle for a glass of brandy and water, as he is going drunk to bed, is well feigned and admirably humoured ; with many others, too numerous to mention. It is more to our performer's credit to suppose that the songs which he sings with such rapidity and vivacity of effect are not of his own composing ; and as to his ventriloquism, it is yet in its infancy. The fault of these exhibitions--that which appears "first, midst, and last” in them-is that they turn too much upon caricaturing the most common-place and wornout topics of ridicule—the blunders of Frenchmen in speaking English,-the mispronunciations of the cockney dialect-the ignorance of Country Cousins, and the impertinence and foppery of relations in town. It would seem too likely, from the uniform texture of these pieces, that Mr. Mathews had passed his whole time in climbing to the top of the Monument, or had never been out of a tavern or a stage-coach, a Margate-hoy, or a Dover packet-boat. We do not deny the merit of some of the cross-readings out of the two languages; but certainly we think the quantity of French and English jargon put into the mouths of French and English travellers all through these imitations must lessen their popularity instead of increasing it, as two-thirds of Mr. Mathews's auditors, we should imagine, cannot know the point on which the jest turns. We grant that John Bull is always very willing to laugh at Mounseer, if he knew why or how-perhaps, even without knowing how or why! But we thought many of the jokes of this kind, however well contrived or intended, miscarried in their passage through the pit, and long before they reached the twoshilling gallery.

* Mathews's “Entertainment" for 1820 was entitled Country Cousins and the Sights of London.

KNOWLES' VIRGINIUS.

London Magazine (No. VII.), July, 1820. Virginius is a good play : we repeat it. It is a real tragedy ; a sound historical painting. Mr. Knowles has taken the facts as he found them, and expressed the feelings that would naturally arise out of the occasion. Strange to say, in this age of poetical egotism, the author, in writing his play, has been thinking of Virginius and his daughter more than of himself! This is the true imagination, to put yourself in the place of others, and to feel and speak for them. Our unpretending poet travels along the high road of nature and the human heart, and does not turn aside to pluck pastoral flowers in primrose lanes, or hunt gilded butterflies over enamelled meads, breathless and exhausted ; nor does he, with vain ambition, “strike his lofty head against the stars." So far, indeed, he may thank the gods for not having made him poetical. Some cold, formal, affected, and interested critics have not known what to make of this. It was not what they would have done. One finds fault with the style as poor, because it is not inflated. Another can see nothing in it, because it is not interlarded with modern metaphysical theories, unknown to the ancients. A third declares that it is all borrowed from Shakspeare, because it is true to nature. A fourth pronounces it a superior kind of melodrama, because it pleases the public. The two last things to which the dull and envious ever think of attributing the success of any work and yet the only ones to which genuine success is attributable), are Genius and Nature. The one they hate, and of the other they are ignorant. The same critics who despise and slur the Virginius of Covent Garden, praise the Virginius and the David Rizzio of Drury Lane, because (as it should appear) there is nothing in these to rouse their dormant spleen, stung equally by merit or success, and to mortify their own ridiculous, inordinate, and hopeless vanity. Their praise is of a piece with their censure ; and equally from what they applaud and what they condemn, you perceive the principle of their perverse judgments. They are soothed with flatness and failure, and doat over them with parental fondness; but what is above their strength, and demands their admiration, they shrink from with loathing, and an oppressive sense of their own imbecility : and what they dare not openly condemn, they would willingly secrete from the public ear! We have described this class of critics more than

once, but they breed still : all that we can do is to sweep them from our path as often as we meet with them, and to remove their dirt and cobwebs as fast as they proceed from the same noisome source. Besides the merits of Virginius as a literary composition, it is admirably adapted to the stage. It presents a succession of pictures. We might suppose each scene almost to be copied from a beautiful bas-relief, or to have formed a group on some antique vase. " 'Tis the taste of the ancients, 'tis classical lore." But it is a speaking and a living picture we are called upon to witness. These figures so strikingly, so simply, so harmoniously combined, start into life and action, and breathe forth words, the soul of passion-inflamed with anger, or melting with tenderness. Several passages of great beauty were

• While Macready was playing Virginius at Covent Garden, Kean was playing the same character in another play) at Drury Lane, and Braham was acting Rizzio in a serious opera of that name.

cited in a former article on this subject; but we might mention in addition, the fine imaginative apostrophe of Virginius to his daughter, when the story of her birth is questioned i

I never saw you look so like your mother
In all my life-

the exquisite lines ending,

The lie
Is most unfruitful then, that makes the flower-
The very flow'r our bed connubial grew,

To prove its barrennessor the sudden and impatient answer of Virginius to Numitorius, who asks if the slave will swear Virginia is her child

To be sure she will ! Is she not his slave ?

or again, the dignified reply to his brother, who reminds him it is time to hasten to the Forum

Let the forum wait for us !

This is the true language of nature and passion ; and all that we can wish for, or require, in dramatic writing. If such language is not poetical, it is the fault of poets, who do not write as the heart dictates ! We have seen plays that produced much more tumultuous applause ; none scarcely that excited more sincere sympathy. There were no clap-traps, no sentiments that were the understood signals for making a violent uproar ; but we heard every one near us express heartfelt and unqualified approbation ; and tears more precious supplied the place of loud huzzas. Each spectator appeared to appeal to,

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