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this time nearly out, and the audience (except his immediate auditors) going away, he reluctantly “ended,”
But in Adam's ear so pleasing left his voice,'
that I quite forgot I had to write my article on the Draina the next day; nor without his aid should I have been able to wind up my accounts for the year, as Mr. Mathews gets through his AT HOME by the help of a little awkward ventriloquism.
MR. KEAN AS CORIOLANUS.
London Magazine (No. II.), February, 1820.
MR. KEAN'S acting is not of the patrician order; he is one of the people, and what might be termed a radical performer. He can do all that may become a man "of our infirmity," "to relish all as sharply, passioned as we;" but he cannot play a god, or one who fancies himself a god, and who is sublime, not in the strength of his own feelings, but in his contempt for those of others, and in his imaginary superiority to them. That is, he cannot play Coriolanus so well as he plays some other characters, or as we have seen it played often. Wherever there was a struggle of feelings, a momentary ebullition of pity, or remorse, or anguish-wherever nature resumed her wonted rights-Mr. Kean was equal to himself, and superior to every one else; but the prevailing characteristics of the part are inordinate self-opinion, and haughty elevation of soul, that aspire above competition
The angel ended, and in Adam's ear
So charming left his voice, that he awhile
Thought him still speaking.
Paradise Lost, bk. viii.
or control, as the tall rock lifts its head above the skies, and is not bent or shattered by the storm, beautiful in its unconquered strength, terrible in its unaltered repose. Mr. Kean, instead of "keeping his state," instead of remaining fixed and immovable (for the most part) on his pedestal of pride, seemed impatient of this mock dignity, this still-life assumption of superiority; burst too often from the trammels of precedent, and the routine of etiquette, which should have confined him; and descended into the common arena of man, to make good his pretensions by the energy with which he contended for them, and to prove the hollowness of his supposed indifference to the opinion of others by the excessive significance and studied variations of the scorn and disgust he expressed for it. The intolerable airs and aristocratical pretensions of which he is the slave, and to which he falls a victim, did not seem legitimate in him, but upstart, turbulent, and vulgar. Thus his haughty answer to the mob who banish him-" I BANISH YOU "" given with all the virulence of execration and rage of impotent despair, as if he had to strain every nerve and faculty of soul to shake off the contamination of their hated power over him, instead of being delivered with calm, majestic self-possession, as if he remained rooted to the spot, and his least motion, word, or look, must scatter them like chaff or scum from his presence. The most effective scene was that in which he stands for the consulship, and begs for "the most sweet voices" of the people whom he loathes; and the most ineffective was that in which he is reluctantly reconciled to, and overcome by, the entreaties of his mother. This decisive and affecting interview passed off as if nothing had happened, and was conducted with diplomatic gravity and skill.
The casting of the other parts was a climax in bathos. Mr. Gattie was Menenius, the friend of Coriolanus, and Mr. Penley Tullus Aufidius, his mortal foe. Mr. Pope should have played the part. One would think there were processions and ovations enough in this play, as it was acted in John Kemble's time; but besides these, there were introduced others of the same sort, some of which were lengthened out as if they would reach all the way to the circus; and there was a sham fight, of melodramatic effect, in the second scene, in which Mr. Kean had like to have lost his voice. There was throughout a continual din of
Guns, drums, trumpets, blunderbuss, and thunder
or what was very like it. In the middle of an important scene, the tinkling of the stage-bell was employed to announce a flourish of trumpets-a thing which even Mr. Glossop would not hear of, whatever the Act of Parliament might say to enforce such a puppet-show accompaniment. There is very bad management in all this ; and yet Mr. Elliston is the manager.
MR. KEAN AS HARLEQUIN-HIS IMITATIONS -HIS JAFFIER.
London Magazine (No. VII.), July, 1820. WE saw Mr. Kean at his benefit, at the risk of our limbs, and are sorry for the accident that happened to himself in the course of the evening. We have longed ever since we saw Mr. Kean—that is, any time these six years -to see him jump through a trap-door-hearing he
could do it. "Why are these things hid? Is this a time to conceal virtues?" said we to ourselves. What was our disappointment, then, when on the point of this consummation of our wishes, and just in the moment of the projection of our hopes-when dancing with Miss Valancey, too, he broke the tendon Achilles, and down. fell all our promised pleasure, our castles in the air! Good reader, it was not the jump through the trap-door that we wished literally to see, but the leap from Othello to Harlequin. What a jump! What an interval, what a gulf to pass! What an elasticity of soul and body too -what a diversity of capacity in the same diminutive person! To be Othello, a man should be all passion, abstraction, imagination; to be Harlequin, he should have his wits in his heels and in his fingers' ends! To be both is impossible or miraculous. Each doubles the wonder of the other; and in judging of the aggregate amount of merit, we must proceed, not by the rules of addition, but multiply Harlequin's lightness into Othello's gravity, and the result will give us the sum total of Mr. Kean's abilities. What a spring, what an expansive force of mind, what an untamed vigour, to rise to such a height from such a lowness; to tower like a phoenix from its ashes; to ascend like a pyramid of fire! Why, what a complex piece of machinery is here; what an involution of faculties, circle within circle, that enables the same individual to make a summersault, and that swells the veins of his forehead with true artificial passion, and that turns him to a marble statue with thought! It is not being educated in the fourth form of St. Paul's school, or cast in the antique mould of the high Roman fashion,' that can do this; but it is genius alone that can Evidently an allusion to Elliston and Kemble.
raise a man thus above his first origin, and make him thus various from himself! It is bestriding the microcosm of man like a Colossus; and, by uniting the extremes of the chain of being, seemingly implies all the intermediate links. We do not think much of Mr. Kean's singing; we could, with a little practice and tuition, sing nearly as well ourselves; as for his dancing, it is but so so, and anybody can dance; his fencing is good, nervous, firm, fibrous, like that of a pocket Hercules; but for his jumping through a hole in the wall— clean through, head over heels, like a shot out of a culverin-" by heavens, it would have been great!" This we fully expected at his hands, and in this expectation we were baulked. Just as our critical anticipations were on tip-toe, Mr. Kean suddenly strained his ankle, as it were to spite us; we went out in dudgeon, and were near missing his Imitations, which would not have signified much if we had. They were tolerable, indifferent, pretty good, but not the thing. Mr. Mathews's or Mr. Yates's are better. They were softened down, and fastidious. Kemble was not very like. Incledon and Braham were the best, and Munden was very middling. The afterpiece of The Admirable Crichton, in which he was to do all this, was neither historical nor dramatic. The character, which might have given excellent opportunities for the display of a variety of extraordinary accomplishments in the real progress of the story, was ill-conceived and ill-managed. He was made either a pedagogue or an antic. In himself he was dull and grave, instead of being high-spirited, volatile, and self-sufficient; and to show off his abilities, he was put into masquerade. We did not like it at all, though, from the prologue, we had expected more point and daring. Mr. Kean's Jaffier