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have before said that there are some few exceptions. If the genius of Shakespeare does not shine out undiminished in the actor, we perceive certain effects and refractions of it in him. If the oracle does not speak quite intelligibly, yet we perceive that the priest at the altar is inspired with the god, or possessed with a demon. To speak our minds at once, we believe that in acting Shakespeare there is a greater number of good things marred than in acting any other author. In fact, in going to see the plays of Shakespeare, it would be ridiculous to suppose that any one ever went to see Hamlet or Othello represented by Kean or Kemble; we go to see Kean or Kemble in Hamlet or Othello. On the contrary, Miss O'Neill and Mrs. Beverley are, we take it, one and the same person. As to the second point, viz., that Shakespeare's characters are decidedly favourites on the stage in the same proportion as they are in the closet, we deny it altogether. They either do not tell so much, or very little more than many others. Mrs. Siddons was quite as great in Mrs. Beverley and Isabella as in Lady Macbeth or Queen Katherine; yet no one, we apprehend, will say that the poetry is equal. It appears, therefore, not that the most intellectual characters excite most interest on the stage, but that they are objects of greater curiosity; they are nicer tests of the skill of the actor, and afford greater scope for controversy, how far the sentiment is "overdone or come tardy off." There is more in this circumstance than people in general are aware of. We have no hesitation in saying, for instance, that Miss O'Neill has more popularity in the house than Mr. Kean. It is quite as certain that he is more thought of out of it. The reason is, that she is not "food for the


Southerne's, not Shakespeare's.

critics," whereas Mr. Kean notoriously is; there is no end of the topics he affords for discussion-for praise and blame.

All that we have said of acting in general applies to his Richard II. It has been supposed that this is his finest part this is, however, a total misrepresentation. There are only one or two electrical shocks given in it; and in many of his characters he gives a much greater number. The excellence of his acting is in proportion to the number of hits, for he has not equal truth or purity of style. Richard II. was hardly given correctly as to the general outline. Mr. Kean made it a character of passion, that is, of feeling combined with energy; whereas it is a character of pathos, that is to say, of feeling combined with weakness. This, we conceive, is the general fault of Mr. Kean's acting, that it is always energetic or nothing. He is always on full stretch-never relaxed. He expresses all the violence, the extravagance and fierceness of the passions, but not their misgivings, their helplessness, and sinkings into despair. He has too much of that strong nerve and fibre that is always equally elastic. We might instance to the present purpose his dashing the glass down with all his might in the scene with Hereford, instead of letting it fall out of his hands, as from an infant's; also, his manner of expostulating with Bolingbroke, "Why on thy knee, thus low," &c., which was altogether fierce and heroic, instead of being sad, thoughtful, and melancholy. If Mr. Kean would look into some passages in this play, into that in particular, "Oh that I were a mockery king of snow, to melt away before the sun of Bolingbroke," he would find a clue to this character, and to human nature in general, which he seems to have missed-how far feeling is con

nected with the sense of weakness as well as of strength, or the power of imbecility, and the force of passiveness.

We never saw Mr. Kean look better than when we saw him in Richard II., and his voice appeared to us to be stronger. We saw him near, which is always in his favour; and we think one reason why the editor of this paper was disappointed in first seeing this celebrated actor, was his being at a considerable distance from the stage. We feel persuaded that on a nearer and more frequent view of him, he will agree that he is a perfectly original, and sometimes a perfectly natural actor; that if his conception is not always just or profound, his execution is masterly; that where he is not the very character he assumes, he makes a most brilliant rehearsal of it; that he never wants energy, ingenuity, and animation, though he is often deficient in dignity, grace, and tenderness; that if he frequently disappoints us in those parts where we expect him to do most, he as frequently surprises us by striking out unexpected beauties of his own; and that the objectionable parts of his acting arise chiefly from the physical impediments he has to over


MR. KEAN'S ZANGA AND ABEL DRUGGER. Examiner, May 28, 1815. MR. KEAN played for his benefit on Wednesday the character of Zanga, in The Revenge (which he is to repeat), and the character of Abel Drugger from The

1 Kean's first appearance took place while Leigh Hunt was in prison. On his release he went to see the new star, and published an article (February 26, 1815) in which he confessed himself on the whole disappointed. See Dramatic Essays: Leigh Hunt, Introduction, p. xxi.

Alchymist (we are sorry to say for that night only). The house was crowded to excess. The play of The Revenge is an obvious transposition of Othello: the two principal characters are the same, only their colours are reversed. The giving the dark, treacherous, fierce, and remorseless character to the Moor, is an alteration which is more in conformity to our prejudices, as well as to historical truth. We have seen Mr. Kean in no part to which his general style of acting is so completely adapted as to this, or to which he has given greater spirit and effect. He had all the wild impetuosity of barbarous revenge, the glowing energy of the untamed children of the sun, whose blood drinks up the radiance of fiercer skies. He was like a man stung with rage, and bursting with stifled passions. His hurried motions had the restlessness of the panther's; his wily caution, his cruel eye, his quivering visage, his violent gestures, his hollow pauses, his abrupt transitions, were all in character. The very vices of Mr. Kean's general acting might almost be said to assist him in the part. What in our judgment he wants, is dignified repose, and deep internal sentiment. But in Zanga nothing of this kind is required. The whole character is violent; the whole expression is in action. The only passage which struck us as one of calm and philosophical grandeur, and in which Mr. Kean failed from an excess of misplaced energy, was the one in the conclusion, where he describes the tortures he is about to undergo, and expresses his contempt for them. Certainly the predominant feeling here is that of stern, collected, impenetrable fortitude, and the expression given to it should not be that of a pantomimic exaggeration of the physical horrors to which he professes to rise superior. The mind in such a situation recoils upon itself, summons up its

own powers and resources, and should seem to await the blow of fate with the stillness of death. The scene in which he discloses himself to Alonzo, and insults over his misery, was terrific; the attitude in which he tramples on the body of his prostrate victim, was not the less dreadful from its being perfectly beautiful. Among the finest instances of natural expression, were the manner in which he interrupts himself in his relation to Alonzo, “I knew you could not bear it," and his reflection when he sees that Alonzo is dead-" And so is my revenge." The play should end here; the soliloquy afterwards is a mere drawling piece of commonplace morality.

Mr. Kean's Abel Drugger was an exquisite piece of ludicrous naïveté. The first word he utters, "Sure," drew bursts of laughter and applause. The mixture of simplicity and cunning in the character could not be given with a more whimsical effect. First, there was the wonder of the poor Tobacconist, when he is told by the Conjurer that his name is Abel, and that he was born on a Wednesday; then the conflict between his apprehensions and his cupidity, as he becomes more convinced that Subtle is a person who has dealings with the devil; and lastly, his contrivances to get all the information he can without paying for it. His distress is at the height when the two-guinea pocket-piece is found upon him: "He had received it from his grandmother, and would fain save it for his grandchildren." The battle between him and Face (Oxberry) was irresistible; and he went off after he had got well through it, strutting and fluttering his cloak about, much in the same manner that a gamecock flaps his wings after a victory. We wish he would. do it again!

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