« PreviousContinue »
hold on with him untired, coming as tions to me, credulous but sensible, he imagined I did from poor power to which I replied as faithfully and less London. He walked well and plainly as possible. He liked to hear shot well; indeed, his aim was un- of the habits of these nations, even erring, but I rather think he was not though he was not quite convinced of severe enough to his dogs for a game. their positive existence. keeper, not but that I honoured his I have been in many scenes, and character the more for this its pro- with those persons who are called fessional weakness. When Rattler, lovers of the country, but never did a tall handsome galloping setter, with I pass such a happy golden time as a liver and white skin, and curly that which I whiled away in the head, raced over a field and proceed- humble hospitable cottage of Harry ed to bound a hedge or shoot a Adams. gate without leave, I have seen his Here I conclude my rambling hismaster (almost delivered to wrath I tory. But who can write of a wild confess) halloo and whistle him in,- and romantic forest, peopled with take his long napkin of an ear in one such associations as those which hand, and stretching forth the other, abide in Bradgate, and keep the like an orator, expostulate, as man straight and beaten path ? Here and would talk to man, on his undoglike there I may in descriptive particulars conduct. His “ for shame” awed be incorrect, but I am strictly faitheven me. Rattler remembered the ful to my impressions, and write admonition for a time; but I fear a from recollections that were born besmall whip would have been more tween six and seven years ago. The impressive, much as I should have memory of Lady Jane Grey made the grieved to see so handsome a crea- place sacred to me, and therefore I ture corrected. During our walk I thought that some record, however spake to my guide of the Turks and slight, might find readers who would of the Greeks, people of books, ima- take pleasure in the same. If I have ginary men, creatures for travelers thought correctly, I shall not have to romance upon.
Adams listened written wholly in vain. with visible delight, and put ques
ON SOME OF THE OLD ACTORS. Of all the actors who flourished ment. He seized the moment of in my time-a melancholy phrase if passion with the greatest truth; like taken aright, reader - Bensley had a faithful clock never striking before most of the swell of soul, was great, the time; never anticipating or leadest in the delivery of heroic concep- ing you to anticipate. He was totions, the emotions consequent upon tally destitute of trick and artifice. the presentment of a great idea to He seemed come upon the stage to the fancy. He had the true poetical do the poet's message simply, and he enthusiasm--the rarest faculty among did it with as genuine fidelity as the players. None that I remember pose nuncios in Homer deliver the errands sessed even a portion of that fine of the gods. He let the passion or madness which he threw out in Hot- the sentiment do its own work withspur's famous rant about glory, or out prop or bolstering. He would the transports of the Venetian incen- have scorned to mountebank it; and diary at the vision of the fired city.* betrayed none of that cleverness which His voice had the dissonance, and at is the bane of serious acting. For times the inspiriting effect of the trum- this reason, his Iago was the only, pet. His gait was uncouth and stiff, endurable one which I remember to but no way embarrassed by affecta- have seen. No spectator from his tion; and the thorough-bred gentle- action could divine more of his arman was uppermost in every move- tifice than Othello was supposed to
• How lovelily the Adriatic whore
Dress'd in her flames will shine devouring flames--'
do. His confessions in soliloquy a- and he might have worn his gold lone put you in possession of the chain with honour in one of our old mystery. There were no bye-intima- round-head families, in the service of tions to make the audience fancy their a Lambert, or a Lady Fairfax. But own discernment so much greater his morality and his manners are than that of the Moor-who com- misplaced in Illyria. He is opposed monly stands like a great helpless to the proper levities of the piece, and mark set up for mine Ancient, and a falls in the unequal contest. Still his quantity of barren spectators, to pride, or his gravity, (call it which shoot their bolts at. The lago of you will) is inherent, and native to Bensley did not go to work so gross- the man, not mock or affected, which ly. There was a triumphant tone a- latter only are the fit objects to excite bout the character, natural to a ge- laughter. His quality is at the best neral consciousness of power; but unlovely, but neither buffoon, nor none of that petty vanity which contemptible. His bearing is lofty, a chuckles and cannot contain itself little above his station, but probably upon any little successful stroke of not much above his deserts. "We see its knavery—which is common with no reason why he should not have your small villains, and green proba- been brave, honourable, accomplishtioners in mischief. It did not clap ed. His careless committal of the or crow before its time. It was not ring to the ground (which he was a man setting his wits at a child, and commissioned to restore to Cesario), winking all the while at other chil- bespeaks a generosity of birth and dren who are mightily pleased at feeling.* His dialect on all occa. being let into the secret ; but a con- sions is that of a gentleman, and a summate villain entrapping a noble man of education. We must not nature into toils, against which no confound him with the eternal low discernment was available, where the steward of comedy. He is master of manner was as fathomless as the pur- the household to a great Princess, pose seemed dark, and without mo- a dignity probably conferred upon tive. The part of Malvolio, in the him for other respects than age or Twelfth Night, was performed by length of service.+ Olivia, at the Bensley, with a richness and a dig- first indication of his supposed madnity of which (to judge from some ness, declares that she * would not recent castings of that character) the have him miscarry for half of her very tradition must be worn out from dowry.” Does this look as if the the stage. No manager in those days character was meant to appear little would have dreamed of giving it to or insignificant? Once, indeed, she Mr. Baddeley,
Mr. Parsons : accuses him to his face-of what? when Bensley was occasionally ab- of being “ sick of self-love,"— but sent from the theatre, John Kemble with a gentleness and considerateness thought it no derogation to succeed which could not have been, if she to the part. Malvolio is not essen- had not thought that this particular tially ludicrous. He becomes comic infirmity shaded some virtues. His but by accident. He is cold, aus- rebuke to the knight, and his sottish tere, repelling ; but dignified, con- revellers, is sensible and spirited; sistent, and, for what appears, rather and when we take into consideration of an over-stretched morality. Maria the unprotected condition of his misdescribes him as a sort of Puritan; tress, and the strict regard with
* Viola. She took the ring from me; I'll none of it.
Mal. Come, Sir, you peevishly threw it to her; and her will is, it should be so returned. If it be worth stooping for, there it lies in your eye; if not, be it his that finds it.
+ Mrs. Inchbald seems to have fallen into the common mistake of the character in some sensible observations, otherwise, upon this Comedy. “ It might be asked," she says, “ whether this credulous steward was much deceived in imputing a degraded taste, in the sentiments of love, to his fair lady Olivia, as she actually did fall in love with a domestic; and one, who from his extreme youth, was perhaps a greater reproach to her discretion, than had she cast a tender regard upon her old and faithful servant." But where does she gather the fact of his age? Neither Maria nor Fabian ever cast that reproach upon him.
which her state of real or dissembled possibly reflected upon these lines, mourning would draw the eyes of the
or something like them in his own world
her house-affairs, Male country poetryvolio might feel the honour of the family in some sort in his keeping, as
-Ceremony has made many fools. it appears not that Olivia had any As to a hatted dame, if her love answer :
It is as easy way unto a duchess more brothers, or kinsmen, to look to But that by timorous honours, pale respects, it--for Sir Toby had dropped all idle degrees of fear, men make their ways such nice respects at the buttery Hard of themselves. hatch. That Malvolio was meant to be represented as possessing some
“ 'Tis but fortune, all is fortune. estimable qualities, the expression of Maria once told me, she did affect the Duke in his anxiety to have him me; and I have heard herself come reconciled, almost infers. " Pursue thus near, that, should she fancy, it him, and intreat him to a peace." should be one of my complexion." Even in his abused state of chains If here was no encouragement, the and darkness, a sort of greatness devil is in it. I wish we could get at seems never to desert him. He ar- the private history of all this. Be gues highly and well with the sup- tween the Countess herself, serious or posed Sir Topas,* and philosophizes dissembling--for one hardly knows gallantly upon his straw. There how to apprehend this fantastical must have been some shadow of great lady-and the practices of that worth about the man; he must have delicious little piece of mischief, Mabeen something more than a mere riavapour--a thing of straw, or Jack in The lime twigs laid office-before Fabian and Maria could By Machiavel the waiting maid. have ventured sending him upon a courting errand to Olivia. There was
the man might well be rapt into a
fool's paradise. some consonancy (as he would say) in the undertaking, or the jest would
Bensley threw over the part an air have been too bold even for that of Spanish loftiness. He looked, spake, house of misrule. There was
and moved like an old Castilian. He ample for it," said Malvolio;
was starch, spruce, opinionated, but Jady of the Strachy married the yeo bottomed upon a sense of worth,
his superstructure of pride seemed man of the wardrobe.” Possibly too There was something in it beyond he might remember—for it must have the coxcomb. It was big and swellhappened about his time-an instance of a Duchess of Malfy (a country ing, but you could not be sure that it woman of Olivia's, and her equal at
was hollow. You might wish to see least), descending from her state to it taken down, but you felt that it court her steward
was upon an elevation.
magnificent from the outset; but The misery of them that are born great ! when the decent sobrieties of the They are forced to woo, because none dare character began to give way, and the Woo them.
poison of self-love in his conceit of To be sure the lady was not very the Countess's affection gradually tenderly handled for it by her bro- to work, you would have thought thers in the sequel, but their venge- that the hero of La Mancha in perance appears to have been whetted son stood before you. How he went rather by her presumption in re-mar- smiling to himself! with what inefrying at all, (when they had medi- fable carelessness would he twirl his tated the keeping of her fortune in gold chain! what a dream it was ! their family) than by her choice of you were infected with the illusion, an inferior, of Antonio's noble merits and did not wish that it should be especially, for her husband; and, be- removed ! you had no room for laugh sides, Olivia's brother was just dead. ter! if an uniseasonable reflection of Malvolio was a man of reading, and morality obtruded itself, it was
Clown. What is the opinion of Pythagoras concerning wild fowl ?
deep sense of the pitiable infirmity ligence, and be a long time in comof man's nature, that can lay him municating it to the remainder. open to such frenzies—but in truth I am ill at dates, but I think it is you rather admired than pitied the now better than five and twenty lunacy while it lasted-you felt that years ago that walking in the gardens an hour of such mistake was worth of Gray's Inn--they were then far an age with the eyes open. Who finer than they are now-the accurswould not wish to live but for a day ed Verulam Buildings had not enin the conceit of such a lady's love croached upon all the east side of as Olivia? Why, the Duke would them, cutting out delicate green have given his principality but for a crankles, and shouldering away one quarter of a minute, sleeping or of two of the stately alcoves of waking, to have been so deluded. the terrace - the survivor stands The man seemed to tread upon air, to gaping and relationless as if it res taste manna, to walk with his head membered its brother, they are still in the clouds, to mate Hyperion. O! the best gardens of any of the Inns of shake not the castles of his pride Court, my beloved Temple not forendure yet for a season bright mo- gotten-have the gravest character, ments of confidence" stand still ye their aspect being altogether revewatches of the element,” that Mal- rend and law-breathing – Bacon has Volio may be still in fancy fair Oli- left the impress of his foot upon their Via's lord--but fate and retribution gravel walkstaking my afternoon say no-I hear the mischievous titter solace on a summer day upon the of Maria—the witty taunts of Sir aforesaid terrace, a comely sad perToby-the still more insupportable sonage came towards me, whom from triumph of the foolish knight-the his grave air and deportment I judgcounterfeit Sir Topas is unmaskeded to be one of the old Benchers of and “ thus the whirligig of time,” the Inn. He had a serious thoughtas the true clown hath it, “ brings in ful forehead, and seemed to be in me bis revenges.” I confess that I never ditations of mortality. As I have an saw the catastrophe of this charac- instinctive awe of old Benchers, I was tér while Bensley played it without a passing him with that sort of subinkind of tragic interest. There was dicative token of respect which one good foolery too. Few now remem- is apt to demonstrate towards a ve ber Dodd. What an Aguecheek the nerable stranger, and which rather stage lost in him! Lovegrove, who denotes an inclination to greet him came nearest to the old actors, re- than any positive motion of the body vived the character some few seasons to that effect-a species of humility ago, and made it sufficiently gro- and will-worship which I observe tesque ; but Dodd was it, as it came nine times out of ten rather puzzles out of nature's hands. It might be than pleases the person it is offered said to remain in puris naturalibus. to-when the face turning full upon In expressing slowness of apprehen- me strangely identified itself with sion this actor surpassed all others. that of Dodd. Upon close inspection You could see the first dawn of an I was not mistaken. But could this idea stealing slowly over his coun- sad thoughtful countenance be the tenance, climbing up by little and
same vacant face of folly which I had little, with a painful process, till it hailed so often under circumstances cleared up at last to the fulness of a of gaiety; which I had never seen twilight conception—its highest me- without a smile, or recognized but ridian. He seemed to keep back his as the usher of mirth; that looked intellect, as some have had the power out so formally flat in Foppington, so to retard their pulsation. The bal- frothily pert in Tattle, so impotently loon takes less time' in filling, than it busy in Backbite ; so blankly divest took to cover the expansion of his ed of all meaning, or resolutely er 'broad moony face over all its quar- pressive of none,
in Acres, in Fribble, ters with expression. A glimmer of and a thousand agreeable impertiunderstanding would appear in a nences? Was this the face-full of corner of his eye, and for lack of thought and carefulness -- that had fuel go out again. A part of his so often divested itself at will of every forehead would catch a little intel- trace of either to give me diversion, to clear my cloudy face for two or his shadow in every thing while he three hours at least of its furrows? lived, and dwindled into less than a Was this the face-manly, sober, in- shadow afterwards-was a gentleman telligent,—which I had so often des with a little stronger infusion of the pised, made mocks at, made merry latter ingredient ; that was all. It is with? The remembrance of the free amazing how a little of the more or doms which I had taken with it came less makes a difference in these upon me with a reproach of insult. things. When you saw Bobby in the I could have asked it pardon. Duke's Servant,t you said, what a thought it looked upon me with a pity such a pretty fellow was only sense of injury. There is something a servant. When you saw Jack strange as well as sad in seeing ac- figuring in Captain Absolute, you tors -your pleasant fellows particu- thought you could trace his promolarly-subjected to and suffering the tion to some lady of quality who fancommon lot-their fortunes, their ca- cied the handsome fellow in his topsualties, their deaths, seem to belong knot, and had bought him a commisto the scene, their actions to be sion. Therefore Jack in Dick Amlet amenable to poetic justice only. We was insuperable. can hardly connect them with more Jack had two voices,- both plausiawful responsibilities. The death of ble, hypocritical, and insinuating; this fine actor took place shortly after but his secondary or supplemental this meeting. He had quitted the voice still more decisively histrionic stage some months; and, as I learn- than his common one. It was reed afterwards, had been in the habit served for the spectator; and the draof resorting daily to these gardens matis personæ were supposed to know almost to the day of his decease. In nothing at all about it. The lies of these serious walks probably he was young Wilding, and the sentiments in divesting himself of many scenic and Joseph Surface, were thus marked some real vanities -weaning himself out in a sort of italics to the audi. from the frivolities of the lesser and
This secret correspondence the greater theatre—doing gentle pe- with the company before the curtain nance for a life of no very reprehen- (which is the bane and death of trasible fooleries,-taking off by degrees gedy) has an extremely happy effect the buffoon mask which he might in some kinds of comedy, in the more feel he had worn too long - and re- highly artificial comedy of Congreve hearsing for a more solemn cast of or of Sheridan especially, where the part. Dying he “put on the weeds absolute sense of reality (so indispenof Dominic."*
sable to scenes of interest) is not reThe elder Palmer (of stage-tread- quired, or would rather interfere to ing celebrity) commonly played Sir diminish your pleasure. The fact is, Toby in those days; but there is a you do not believe in such characters solidity of wit in the jests of that as Surface—the villain of artificial half-Falstaff which he did not quite comedy—even while you read or see fill out. He was as much too showy them. If you did, would shock as Moody (who sometimes took the and not divert you. When Ben, in part) was dry and sottish. In sock Love for Love, returns from sea, the or buskin there was an air of swag- following exquisite dialogue occurs gering gentility about Jack Palmer. at his first meeting with his father -He was a gentleman with a slight in
Sir Sampson. Thou hast been many a fusion of the footman. His brother weary league, Ben, since I saw thee. Bob (of recenter memory) who was Ben. Ey, ey, been ! Been far enough,
* Dodd was a man of reading, and left at his death a choice collection of old English literature. I should judge him to have been a man of wit. I know one instance of an impromptu which no length of study could have bettered. My_merry friend, Jem White, had seen him one evening in Aguecheek, and recognising Dodd the next day in Fleet Street, was irresistibly impelled to take off his hat and salute him as the identical Knight of the preceding evening with a “Save you, Sir Andrexo." Dodd, not at all disconcerted at this unusual address from a stranger, with a courteous half-rebuking wave of the hand, put him off with an “ Away, Fool"
+ High Life Below Stairs.