Page images
PDF
EPUB

in King Lear at the Little Theatre, Haymarket, 1756. Of the success of this his first attempt we know nothing. It was sufficient to encourage him to proceed—for he henceforward devoted himself to the stage with the greatest attention.

Leaving the metropolis, Mr. P. went to York, where he made his appearance in the Earl ot Essex. His reception was flattering, but he did not continue long in this situation.

to amuse the inhabitants of the Scotch metropolis. lie first performed inferior characters, and that for some time. But at last, owing to the removal of a famous character on the stage, he came forward in the Miser, and obtained distinguished approbation. He now, therefore, rose to eminence— and soon became a man of celebrity, at least in tha^ part of Great Britain.

.it was at this period that Mr. Garrick, hearing of his reputation, invited him to London, where he soon arrived. At Drury Lane he appeared, for the first time, on the *ist September, 1762, in the character of Filch, a celebrated personage in the Beggar's Opera. This was a complete introduction to the favour of the British public, which he ever afterwards cherished with the most sedulous attention.

If is said that Mr. Garrick, that consummate master of theatric exhibitions, took him under his instruction as well as patronage. Hence we can account for that degree of excellence to which he attained. Even summer engagements were declined that he might, by incessant study, approach nearer to the acme of perfection. It was a remarkable trait in the genius of our hero, that he imitated old men; their tremulousness and garrulity were bit off with a very singular and impressive effect.

[graphic]

His chief characters were Griskin, in the Trip to Scotland—Whittle, in the Irish Widow—Skirmish, in the Deserter—Davy, in Bon Ton—Crabtree, in the School for Scandal—Doctor Bartholo, in the Spanish Barber—Doiley, in Who's the Dupe—and Sir Fretful Plagiary, in the Critic. We might also mention Foresight, in Love for Love—Money Trap, in the Confederacy—Don Manuel, in She would and she would not—together with other characters, well calculated to excite risibility.

At Liverpool, Birmingham and Bristol, he in the latter part of his time acted in the summer season with great applause. But for Drury Lane he entertained the most decided predilection; refusing any other permanent engagement, with whatever advantages it might have been attended.

After a long series of active-labours in the service of the public, Mr. Parsons found his health declining—he was attacked by a violent asthma, which baffling the power of medicine, terminated his career upon the 3d of February, 1795. He was interred at Leigh Church, near Blachkeath— it is a most retired and romantic spot—the writer of this narrative has more than once frequented it, and surveying the spot where the remains of the Comedian are laid, felt melancholy but interesting sensations. It reminded him, indeed, of the churchyard which Gray describes in his Elegy—the objects around were so picturesque and impressive. 'In one of the public papers the following lines appeared, descriptive of Mr. Parsons' merits, which; on account of its justness, shall be here transcribed—

Disdaining imitation's servile plan,
Vers'd in the various whims of changeful man,
As long as genuine humour can invite,
Parsons will still be seen with keen delight;

Sorrowing from none, original and true,

He nature's mirror always holds in view.

His chief success is seen in lower life,

In noisy drunkenness, and peevish strife;

And in the petulance of testy age,

Superior merit ne'er enrich'd the stage—

*Tis said, the common passion for applause,

Sometimes aside his better judgment draws:

That loud extiavagance, and wild grimace,

Too oft are seen usurping nature's place;

But in the scenes our living Congreve drew,

Where Crabtree's spite so well pourtray'd we view;

Or where Sir Fretful, rankless with the smart,

Of struggling passions that degrade the heart,

Can e'en malignant envy say he's found,

Beyond the verge of modest nature's bound:

Biass'd by pleasures past, perhaps my mind

Is to some casual faults in Parsons blind,

For in the limits of his proper sphere,

To me, I own, no errors e'er appear;

And tho' some critics may the judgment blame, }

Parsons, to me—seems worthy of a name ">

Of highest eminence in comic fame'. )

The talents of our memorable Comedian, are here appreciated with an accurate and emphatic brevity.

fffE REFLECTOR. .
[No. LVII.]
« ^ ALFRED,

A.N {»$ POE^, BY JOSSPH COTTI.B. -

11: Cease lo fear,
I Ye holy martyrs! honour'd shades, hehold

Behold our bands arc broken, and Britannia's soil
Once more is free! Where is the languid heart
Attach an hour? Where stands the man whose breast
Feels nqt'rny transport? Where is he who views
What heav'n hath wrought,with black indifference?
He fives not to pollute the air! Your hearts
Glow on your cheeks, and glisten in your eyes.

-I . ALFRED.

THE battle of Eddington proving fatal to the cause of the Danes, Alfred was once more restored to fhe, throne of these kingdoms. Iva& was slain during the fight; and Hubba, who had received a wound, put an end to his existence with his own hands. The overthrow of the enemy appears to have been very great—though the British monarch, with his usual humanity, forbade unnepessary slaughter. Guthrum, in the mean tim«, retires with the remnant of the forces to a neighbouring fort, whither Oddune is sent to demand his surrender. The Danish chief, however, discovers his accustomed spirit and bravery.

Oddune obtains Alswitba from Outhrum, and conducts her to Alfred, who, of course, receives her with the most interesting sensations pf gratitude.

To the King she rush'd,

Alfred beheld her! Jrt each other's arms

Speechless they stand! When, with ecstatic joy, Alfred exclaim'd—>f And is it thou, O Queen! Belov'd Alsw1tha » God of Heaven inspire This heart with everlasting gratitude 1"

The next book contains a narrative of Alswitha's sufferings, which she tells to Alfred—at the close of her account, her child, whom she thinks dead, is mentioned to her as being safe, by which she is highly delighted. Oddune is again sent to Guthrum, who consents to submit to Alfred—is received by him at first with an assumed anger—but Alswitha pleading for the Danish General, is pardoned. Guthrum wishes to become a christian—' and deplores his daughter as dead, when she is brought to him. Alfred then proposes Guthrum's daughter to Oddune for a wife; she having, by her amiable temper, soothed in a very great degree the sorrows of the Queen in her captivity.

To Oddune then, Alfred his words addressed—

"Chieftain, I prize thee, and would fain behold
AH happiness attend thee, but what joy
Can solitude afford? Society!
The smiles of her we love, th' endearing wife,
The hopeful offspring, these the charms of earth I
Tiiese give a zest to all things here below}
And all beside possessing, but declares,
How sad the lot of him who cannot boast
These soul-enchanting treasures. May I sly,
If beauty can attract, affection charm,
Or constancy delight thee, gallant chief,
Think'on yon damsel!"
Oddune thus replied—

"Guthrum's fair daughter, who shall not admire?
Her charms I own—her virtues revere; ')
But never must I strive, by wor lor deed,
To win the damsel's love. Her I respect,
But more I eannot. To another maid

« PreviousContinue »