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field of battle, not as conquerors, but as the vanquished party breathing revenge: for we seldom, when prevented in our views either of ambition, pleasure, justice, or injustice, take the even scale to weigh any matter that may probably make against our own selflove and pride of superiority, when reigning over inferiors.
Perhaps the reader will conjecture, that cool reflection, and not any play from Thursday till the Saturday following, would have produced salutary effects. But as the Player King observes,
We often see, against some storm,
so though all seemed calm in the interim, yet a violent storm arose on the Saturday. The audience in general, and Kemble's friends, judged that those who are deemed the quality were too overbearing, and, per contra, the other party could not suffer the idea of an actor not being subservient in every respect: an opinion in general predominant out of London, unless with those who take the trouble to really think and judge of men, and weigh circumstances with an impartial hand. The play was “ Percy;"Kemble acted Douglas: a party in the boxes, not expecting opposition, and assured and determined to carry the point, and chastise the insolent actor, on his appearance cried out, “ Pardon, pardon!" But John Bull had made good several determined friends of the public, and all Kemble's acquaintances were scattered in every part of the theatre-the boxes not by any means without his partizans; the result was, that the attack of pardon, and humiliation that was instantly expected from Kemble, was entirely drowned by a vociferation of voices not to be overpowered, by such a salute of applause to Mr. Kemble, as would have sounded well in a London theatre. Then again-again-and so called for with increasing plaudits for six repeated thunderers, as quite astonished his opposers; and reiterated applauses accompanied his performance to the finish of the play. I believe his antagonists, who were actuated from pride, not reason, were heartily glad when Earl Douglas died; and I dare aver, Mr. Kemble found it a very pleasant death. But sorry am I to relate that all did not end here; more gentlemen were summoned on Thursday, April 20th, which immediately followed; the play was Macbeth, in which character I figured away, but was called on by several officers and gentlemen between the acts, relative to Mr. Kemble. The Toy Shop was to be acted
after the play; in which Mr. Kemble personated the master of the Toy Shop: I convinced them that Kemble would not suffer degradation on his part, bis situation in the York theatre was not such as to make a sacrifice worth attention; he would rather lose profit than reputation; he had no property at stake that the hand of power might either revenge by neglect, riot, or disturbance; and hoped those considerations would weigh with their reflections and determinations. - Dr. Burgh, a gentleman of highly polished abilities, guided by strong judgment and discernment, and full of regard to Kemble, came round, I remember, on his part, to soften and relax if possible the determined mind of Kemble; so by this means, and general St. Leger (who was luckily then in York, but of course on the gentlemen's side,) assisting me as mediator, when the Toy Shop began, Mr. Kemble of course was once more called upon before a large party: he claimed a hearing, without which he could not submit to be condemned; but if in the recital, any gentleman or set of gentlemen would assert in that character, that he had act. ed unworthily, he would willingly and cheerfully make any reparation they should judge proper, assuring himself, whatever they desired could not but be honourable and truly consistent with justice, and such as would become him to give, and them to accept. This hint of Mr. Kemble's was agreed to nem. con.
On permission from the audience to proceed, Mr. Kemble expatiated so properly, and yet with diffidence, on every point, that his judges were captivated-reason took place he was acquitted with three cheers, “ Not Guilty.!"--and, I believe, had not one dissenting voice in the theatre.
This brush over, Mr. Kemble increased in fame and popularity. Early in May, 1779, Doctor Hunter, who has been indefatigable in plans for the public good at York, and to whom the community at large is indebted for that excellent institution, The York Lunatic Asylum, patronized a play for that laudable charity. To encourage the relief given at the theatre on this occasion, Mr. Kemble, at the desire of Dr. Hunter, wrote the prologue. The same month,. Mr. Kemble wrote another prologue for the benefit of the Leeds Infirmary; both have great merit and elegance, and may be found in Mr. Kemble's Fugitive Pieces, printed at York in 1780.
The season at York closed on Saturday, May 10, 1779, with the Fair Penitent, in which Mr. Kemble played Lothario.
At this period Mr. and Mrs. Inchbald were engaged in the York company; and, if we may believe Tate Wilkinson, Mr. Kemble bowed at the lady's shrine, and felt her dazzling power
And stood whole days and nights to gaze upon her. This attachment, however, must be presumed to have been purely platonic. Mr. Inchbald died suddenly at Leeds, on the 6th of June, 1779; and, soon after his interment, Mr. Kemble wrote the following ode to his memory:
ODE TO THE MEMORY OF MR. INCHBALD.
What time the weak-ey'd Owl, on twilight wing
The lazy wing of Bat
With Beetle's sullen hum,
To meditate the dead,
And give my friend a tear.
Upon the recent sod
That lightly clasps his heart.
Sweet as the harps of Heav'n,
Can move the tyrant Death.
In nine-fold cadence
Chaunt immortal harmony.
Again the muses sing
Thalia's was the deed.
Who woos the rosy morn,
And west'ring skirts the sky
Her weeping dews to kiss
The widow Inchbald's benefit was on Monday, June 14, and very genteelly attended. Her first appearance, after having been arrayed in her weeds, was as Hector's lovely widow, for the benefit of Mr. Kemble, on Monday, June 21, 1779.
In 1781, Mr. Kemble joined Mr. Daly's company in Dublin, where he made his first appearance in Hamlet, and was particularly noticed in his scene with the players. In the “ Count of Narbonne,” he acquired much fame, though it was the author's opinion, when applied to, that it was impossible for Mr. Daly to get it up; but he afterwards acknowledged, that the Count was better per. formed than it was in London by Mr. Farren.
In comedy Mr. Kemble was never successful: he performed Sir George Touchwood, when Mrs. Cowley's “Belle's Stratagem" was first represented in Dublin, but he discovered more spirit behind the scenes than on the stage; for one evening after the second act, the manager, who played Doricourt, told him, he must exert himself more, and desired he would take example after him. Such imperious conduct offended Kemble, who immediately changed his dress, and said he might get some one else to finish the part; nor did he resume the character till the manager begged his pardon. Though not so happy in comedy, he was remarkable for risibility, and at this time especially) the most trifling incident would spoil his serious countenance in tragedy. During his first performance in Dublin of Mark Anthony (All for Love), he happened to look up, and perceiving a pedantic old figure, who was leaning over the upper box, with a listening trumpet to his ear, he began to smother a laugh. This, at first, appeared agitation, it having been the most pathetic scene of the play, where he was surrounded by his wife and children, (Octavia Mrs. Inchbald) but no longer able to contain himself, to the great astonishment of the audience, his laugh became loud and immoderate, and it was some time before he was able to finish the character.
In 1784, Mr. Kemble made his first appearance in London, at Drury-lane, in Hamlet, and was received with much applause. His conception was allowed to be great, and his execution adequate to his judgment. On the secession of Mr. King, in 1788, he was appointed stage manager, which situation he resigned in 1796, but which he for a short time after resumed. He endeavoured, during his management, to correct the present vitiated taste, by the revival of many excellent old pieces, in several of which he made judicious alterations. In 1786, he produced a farce, called The Projects; in 1788, another called The Pannel, taken from the comedy of It's well it's no worse;" and in 1789, The Farm House, taken from the “ Custom of the Manor.” He altered Mrs. Bebn's comedy of The Rover, and called it “ Love in many Masks," 1790; and he translated from the French a musical romance, called "Loduiska," which was acted with great applause, in 1794, and continues still to be a favourite piece.
As an actor, Mr. Kemble ranks high in the theatre: he has been the entire support of many new pieces, particularly Julia, or the Italian Lover; The Wheel of Fortune; The Stranger; Pizarro, &c.; and to him several old pieces are indebted for preservation. In some of these he boasts of as much excellence as his predecessors; and though in others inferior,--(for he is not a Garrick in Richard, a Macklin in Shylock, a Barry in Othello, or a Mossop in Coriolanus or Zanga),his merit is sufficient to afford satisfaction. It has been observed, that there is more art than nature in his performance; but let it be remembered, that our best actors have always found stage-trick a necessary practice; and Mr. Kemble's methodical powers are so peculiar to himself, that every imitator (for there have been some who have endeavoured to copy his manners) has been ridiculous.in the attempt. In short, we have no reason to complain of this gentleman's want of judgment, or ability to keep pace with that judgment, but when he deviates from a line of business in which at present he is unrivalled. He is possessed of the best dramatic library in Great Britain. The following anecdote is told of him:- While rehearsing his part in Richard Ceur de Lion, and attempting his song, Mr. Shaw, the leader of the band, exclaimed, “ Oh! sir, how shockingly you murder time!"_“ If I do," replied Kemble, “I am not so merciless as you, who are always beating time."
Previous to the season of 1801, he refused to retain his situation of acting manager without he was invested with more power than before, which was accordingly promised: but after a few weeks, complaints arose among the performers of the non-payment of their salaries, and Mr. Kemble, of course, as did others, withdrew · his services, and meditated an excursion to Paris. The conduct of
the proprietors was, however, sufficiently exculpated by a trial in . the court of chancery between them and Mr. Holland, the architect, respecting the building of the theatre and the adjacent parts; when