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doxical, is more amusing than the author's sense ; but it is not so in this case. From some such miscalculation, or desire of finding out a clue to the character other than
was set down " for him, Mr. Kean did not display his usual resources and felicitous spirit in these terrific scenes; he drivelled, and looked vacant, and moved his lips, so as not to be heard, and did nothing, and appeared, at times, as if he would quite forget himself. The pauses were too long, the indications of remote meaning were too significant to be well understood. The spectator was big with expectation of seeing some extraordinary means employed : but the general result did not correspond to the waste of preparation. In a subsequent part, Mr. Kean did not give to the reply of Lear, “Aye, every inch a king ! " the same vehemence and emphasis that Mr. Booth did ; and in this he was justified, for, in the text, it is an exclamation of indignant irony, not of conscious superiority ; and he immediately adds, with deep disdain, to prove the nothingness of his pretensions
When I do stare, see how the subject quakes.
Almost the only passage in which Mr. Kean obtained his usual heart-felt tribute, was in his interview with Cordelia, after he awakes from sleep, and has been restored to his
Pray, do not mock me ;
Where I did lodge last night. Do not laugh at me,
Cordelia. And so I am ; I am.
In uttering the last words, Mr. Kean staggered faintly into Cordelia's arms, and his sobs of tenderness, and his ecstasy of joy commingled, drew streaming tears from the brightest eyes
Which sacred pity had engender'd there.
Mr. Rae was very effective in the part of Edgar, and was received with very great applause. If this gentleman could rein in a certain “false gallop” in his voice and gait, he would be a most respectable addition, from the spirit and impressiveness of his declamation, to the general strength of any theatre, and we heartily congratulate him on his return to Drury Lane.
MISS O'NEILL'S RETIREMENT.
London Magazine (No. II.), February, 1820. The stage has lost one of its principal ornaments and fairest supports, in the person of Miss O'Neill. As Miss Somerville changed her name for that of Mrs. Bunn, and still remains on the stage, so Miss O'Neill has altered hers for Mrs. Beecher, and has, we fear, quitted us for good and all.
“There were two upon the house-top: one was taken, and the other was left !” Though, on our own account, we do not think this “a consummation
Miss O'Neill made her last appearance on July 13, 1819, and was married to Mr. (afterwards Sir) William Wrixon Becher in December of the same year. She died on October 29, 1872.
devoutly to be wished,” yet we cannot say we are sorry on hers. Hymen has, in this instance, with his flaming torch and saffron robe, borne a favourite actress from us, and held her fast, beyond the seas and sounding shores, "to our moist vows denied"; but, whatever complaints or repinings have been heard on the occasion, we think Miss O'Neill was in the right to do as she has done. Fast bind fast find is an old proverb, and a good one, and is no doubt applicable to both sexes, and on both sides of the water. A husband, like death, cancels all other claims, and we think more especially any imaginary and imperfect obligations (with a clipped sixpence, and clap hands and a bargain) to the stage or to the town. Miss O'Neill (for so her name may yet linger on our tongues) made good her retreat in time from the world's
slippery turns," and we are glad that she has done so. It is better to retire from the stage when young, with fame and fortune, than to have to return to it when old (as Mrs. Crawford, Mrs. Abington, and so many others have done), in poverty, neglect, and scorn. There is no marriage for better and for worse to the public; it is but a “Mr. Limberham, or Kind Keeper," : at the very best; it does not tie itself to worship its favourites, or with its worldly goods them endow, through good report or evil report, in sickness or in health, till death them do part." No such thing is even thought of; they must be always young, always beautiful and dazzling, and allowed to be so; or they are instantly discarded, and they pass from their full-blown pride, and the purple light that irradiates them, into “the list of weeds and worn-out faces." If a servant of the theatre dismisses himself without due warning, it makes a great deal of idle talk ;
* The title of Dryden's notorious play.
but, on the other hand, does the theatre never dismiss one of its servants without formal notice, and is anything then said about it? How many old favourites of the town-that many-headed abstraction, with new opinions, whims, and follies, ever sprouting from its teeming brainhow many decayed veterans of the stage do we remember, in the last ten or twenty years, laid aside “in monumental mockery"; thrown from the pinnacle of prosperity and popularity, to pine in poverty and obscurity, their names forgotten, or staring in large capitals, asking for a benefit at some minor theatre! How many of these are to be seen, walking about with shrunk shanks and tattered hose, avoiding the eye of the stranger whom they suppose to have known them in better days, straggling through the streets with faltering steps, and on some hopeless errand—with sinking hearts, or heartbroken long ago-engaged, dismissed again, tampered with, tantalised, trified with, pelted, hooted, scorned, unpitied; performing quarantine at a distance from the centre of all their hopes and wishes, as if their names were a stain on their former reputations ;-or perhaps received once more—tolerated, endured out of charity, in the very places that they once adorned and gladdened by their presence! And all this, often without any fault in themselves, any misconduct, any change, but in the taste and humour of the audience; or from their own imprudence, in not guarding (while they had an opportunity) against the ingratitude and treachery of that very public that claims them as its property, and would make them its slaves and puppets for lifeor during pleasure? We might make out a long list of superannuated pensioners on public patronage, who have had the last grudging pittance of favour withdrawn from them, but that it could do no sort of good, and that we would not expose the names themselves to the gaze and wonder of vulgar curiosity. We are only not sorry that Miss O'Neill has put it out of the power of the nobility, gentry, and her friends in general, to add her name to the splendid, tarnished list; and that she cannot, like so many of her predecessors, be chopped and changed, and hacked, and bandied about, in tragedy or in comedy, in farce or in pantomime, in dance or song, at the Surrey, or the Coburg, or the Sans Pareil theatres ; or even be sent to mingle her silvery cadences with Mr. Kean's hoarse notes at Old Drury.
Miss O'Neill was in size of the middle form ; her complexion was fair, and her person not inelegant. She stooped somewhat in the shoulders, but not so as to destroy grace or dignity ; in moving across the stage, she dragged a little in her step, with some want of firmness and elasticity. The action of her hands and arms, however (one of the least common, and therefore, we suppose, one of the most difficult accomplishments an actor or actress has to acquire), was perfectly just, simple, and expressive. They either remained in unconscious repose by her side, or, if employed, it was to anticipate or confirm the language of the eye and tongue. There was no affectation, no unmeaning display, or awkward deficiency in her gesticulation ; but her body and mind seemed to be under the guidance of the same impulse, to move in concert, and to be moulded into unity of effect by a certain natural grace, earnestness, and good sense. The contour of her face was nearly oval, and her features approached to the regularity of the Grecian outline. The expression of them was confined either to the extremity of pain and agony, or to habitual softness and placidity, with an occasional smile of great sweetness. Her voice