« AnteriorContinuar »
becomes quite secondary in the present emergency. It is no longer a question of rendering this drama adequately on the whole,—but of expelling the intensely gross misconception of it lately impressed on the minds of so large a portion of the London public, -by the only thoroughly effective means—the bodily presentment of its leading characters, true as to their general conception, and on the feminine side at leastwhich, we will venture to say, in the great drama of Love, is the more important of the two—with richly and delicately poetic grace and refinement superadded. Let this be done, with a return bonâ fide to the text, the whole text, and nothing but the text, of Shakespeare -mere verbal suppressions apart, in compliance with modern decorum,-let this once be made familiar to our metropolitan public, -and there is little cause to fear that so unnatural an outrage on the great master genius of our country as that recently perpetrated at the Haymarket Theatre, will ever more be tolerated on the London stage.
THE RESTORATION OF MACBETH.'
Having, in a preceding postscript,* dated in December last, emphatically indicated the fact that no step had yet been taken towards the restoration of Shakespeare's · Macbeth' on the London stage, -it is due to the manager of the Sadler's-Wells theatre, to mention in this place, that he has lately made a very considerable and very decided advance in that direction, -by dismissing in toto the operatic insertions, and restoring the suppressed characters, scenes, and speeches.
This was the step of first necessity. It is much, to retrieve the piece, once for all, from its spurious character as an operatic melodrama, to its original and proper one as a genuine tragedy ;-for, the reception of Mr. Phelps's experiment by the public and the press, shews plainly that the singing witches” will not long continue to profane Shakespeare's work, and insult the reason of its auditors, upon any English stage.
Much, however, yet remains to be done. The bodily apparition of Banquo is still there, in its broadly glaring absurdity. The “weird sisters,” though divested in great part of their former grossness by Mr. Phelps's treatment, still need a little more refining. According to Banquo's own very credible testimony, they look (as their name imports) like bearded women —not like gruff, unshaved old men in women's garb.
But most of all, now that we have so far recovered Shakespeare's tragedy, it is important that we
* See page 197.
should have its true character and moral restored to us. Nothing of this yet appears on our metropolitan stage — nothing but the prescriptively compunctious hero and imperious heroine. We have shown already, that there wants not a performer capable and willing to enact the genuine Lady Macbeth of Shakespeare: and we can point out no worthier or more promising task for an actor of even moderate qualifications, than that of enabling himself, by a thoroughly original study, to render to us the general conception, at least, of the true Shakespearian Macbeth. The very abandoning of the other disfigurements, leaves us but the more at leisure to feel the want of these more essential restorations essential to the consistency and the dignity of Shakespeare's work—and therefore due to the intellectual honour of our country.
October 9th, 1847.
PRINTED BY J. S. CROSSLEY, LEICESTER.
BY THE SAME AUTHOR,
STUDIES OF SHAKESPEARE
IN THE PLAY OF
H A M L E T,
WITH OBSERVATIONS ON THE CRITICISM AND THE ACTING
OF THAT PLAY.