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much less is it so in tragedy: As much as the gentleman is above the vulgar, so much is the king or heroe above the private gentleman: If the former is expected to inaintain a certain dignity and respect adequate to his rank above the commonalty ; the latter is under infinitely greater necessity of supporting his character by a majestic deportment, and keeping up, by a grave and sedate carriage, the high idea we have formed of his virtues and accomplishments.
No less eminent a player than Mr. Garrick has been accus'd of not keeping up this dignity in some of his tragedy characters. We can by no means agree with those who are for making the charge general against him, but are apt to believe that the people who do so, are influenced merely by his want of figure; and give no little proof of their own incapacity of being struck by things of much greater consequence.
His Macbeth and Richard, we take to bemaster-pieces in this kind ; and many of his other characters are kept up at least with so much dignity, that a candid spectator will not think him censurable in this reípect; but there are some in which he is evidently wanting. In Pierre, perhaps, we should not see this defect in him, if we had not an unlucky comparison at hand, with that player in the same part, who certainly excells all the world in this peculiar article. When Faffeir mentions honesty as a virtue that is not fit for this world, Mr. Garrick forgets the dignity of his character to give into a fhrewdness and severity very natural to him, and in general very becoming, when he answers him,
Why, powerful villainy first set it up
practice, Cut-throats rewards : each man wou'd kill his
brother Himself ! none wou'd be paid or hang'd for mur
ther : Honesty ! 'twas a cheat invented first To bind the hands of bold deserving rogues, That fools and cowards night fit safe in power, And lord it uncontrol'd above their betters.
We are pleased with the force and strength he gives to the satire in this speech, the keenness of which has never been so great in any other mouth; but we are vext to find the dignity of the character quite forgot in the speaking it.
There is the same defect in his playing Lear, and that from the fame cause. It is not that Mr. Garrick is not equal to the task of keeping up the dignity of a king or a heroe; we find by the instances first cited that he is; but he gives way to thoughts of another kind in fo great a degree, that he frequently loses this part of his character. It is the same natural turn to be severe, that robs us of the king in Lear, which before sunk the heroe in Pierre, as this gentleman plays it. Shakespear has put some of the keenest things he ever wrote into the mouth of this enrag'd monarch, and this player gives them a peculiar strength and sharpness in the expresfion; but then the king is not found in the sa
tyrist, tyrift, they are rather sharp things deliver'd as any other character of the play might have said them.
Even in the mud scenes, we know from another player's manner of conducting them, that the majesty of the monarch may be kept up amidst the wildest sallies of the frantic lunatic ; but surely the best friends of Mr. Garrick will not dispute with us, that in this whole part of the play, he looks as like a mad any thing else, as a mad king. Shakespear has every where kept up Lear's remembrance of his regal state even in his utmost ravings; he introduces him with the ornaments of royalty about him, tho' made of weeds and straw, and makes him remember that he is every inch a king : But ’uis Shakespear only, not the actor in this case that does it : even when this player says, When I do stare, see how the subject quakes. I pardon that man's life-- What was the cause ? Adultery- Thou shalt not die! Die for adultery! No; the wren goes to't, and the small gilded fly engenders in my sight. Let copulation thrive: For Glofter's bastard son was kinder to his father, than were my daughters got i’the lawful bed. To't, Luxury, pell mell, for I want soldiers. •
The judicious observer, tho' pleased with the just emphasis laid on the words, tho' charm’d with the spirit with which they are fpoken, yet cannot but observe, that they are not deliver'd with a kingly majesty : They seem rather the flights of a man whofe madness made him fancy himself a monarch, than of one who ever really was so.
We We mention this foible of this, in most things, inimitable performer, principally for the sake of the growing set of players, who seem to think him the standard of perfection in every thing. People’s faults are much more easily imitated than their beauties, and this is one which those who are fond of being thought like Mr. Garrick are most apt to fall into. If they wou'd form themselves on the judgment of others, let them to the life, spirit, and vivacity of Mr. Garrick, join an imitation as nearly as they can of the dignity of Mr. Quin.
We shall not be thought partial to this gentleman, we hope, if we say that no man at prefent equals him,or perhaps ever did in this great article of the player's profession.
How easily do we perceive in him, even in this very scene of Lear, that it is a king who rails! With what a majesty as well as sharpness, with what an awful severity does he cry out,
See how yon Justice rails on that simple thief. Shake 'em together, and the first that drops out, thief or justice, is a villain-Thou hast seen a farmer's dog bark at a beggar; and the man ran away from the cur: There thou mightst behold the great image of authority--A dog's obey'd in office. Thou rascal beadle, hold thy heavy hand : why dost thou lash that strumpet? Thou hotly lusts to enjoy her in that very kind for which thou whip’st her. Do, do--The judge that sentenc'd her has been before hand with thee.
observe that in these parts it is most difficult of all others to keep up a true dignity ; and in which, with the utmost advantages, it appears least striking. If we wou'd see it in a higher light, let us observe this player in the part in which we have observ'd one of the greatest actors in the world to fail in this respect, that of Pierre: with what a majesty of deportment does he introduce that character on the stage, censuring himself with a noble feverity for not becoming the aver gir of an injured people ; with what an air of true dignity does he tell J afier,
I am a rogue as well as they, A fine gay bold-fac'd villain as thou see'st me; 'Tis true, I pay my debts when they 're con
Ir a whore's bed : I'd not betray my friend
beneath me, Yet, affier, for all this I am a villain !
Yes, and a most notorious villain; To see the sufferings of my fellow creatures, And own my self a man: To see our senators Cheat the deluded people with a fhew Of liberty', which yet they never taste of. They say by them our hands are free from fetters, Yet whom they please they lay in bafest bonds, Bring whom they pleale to infamy and sorrow; Drive us like wrecks down the rough tide of power, I 3