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Yet, in a previous scene with Hubert, by suffering his auditors to get before him, as it were, he fails of perfection in the part. An attentive audience is never dull of comprehension; and, however swiftly an actor proceeds, will follow close: but if permitted to gain ground of him, and penetrate the secret he should disclose, he gives up his prerogative by dallying with the impatient, who dive into impending events, with fatal consequence to all scenic deception.
Though Hubert sinks in importance by not being of the blood royal in this play, his character is illustrious from his virtue. Cooke, in the habit of performing characters far superior, elevates Hubert so much above the level where performers in general place him, that he displays, in this single instance, abating ry other, abilities of the very first class.
Constance is the favourite part both of the poet and the audience; and she has been highly fortunate under the protection of the actress. It was the part in which that idol of the public, Mrs. Cibber, was most of all adored; and the following lines, uttered by Mrs. Siddons in Constance,
Here I and sorrow sit:
seem like a triumphant reference to her own potent skill in the delineation of woe, as well as to the agonizing sufferings of the mother of young Arthur.
Faulconbridge, one of the brightest testimonies of Shakspeare's comic power, is excellent relief to that part of the tragedy which may be styled more dull
than pathetic. Mr. C. Kemble personates this child of love, as Shakspeare himself could wish.-If those who remember Garrick in the part complain of C. Kemble's inferior gaiety and spirit, the inferiority is granted. Still, he would be something nearer an equality with this great archetype of actors, could but those critics recall their gaiety and spirit, which, in their juvenile days, inspired them with the ardour to admire.
Prince Arthur is of more importance than either manager or actors generally conceive. They seldom care whether a princely or plebeian child is to perform the part; whether from feature, or from voice, Arthur shall belie his royal birth, and take away all sympathy in his own and his mother's sufferings.
Though Shakspeare's King John is inferior to many of his plays, yet it contains some poetic passages, and some whole scenes, written with his hand, beyond all power of forgery.
Theobald says, in his commentaries on this drama, “ The action of the play begins at the thirty-fourth year of the King's life, and takes in only some transactions of his reign to the time of his demise, being an interval of about seventeen years."
CITIZENS OF ANGIERS-Messrs. Davenport, Lewiss,
FRENCH KNIGHTS-Messrs. Dick, Powers, Reeves, and Sarjant.
Mrs. St. Leger.
SCENE-Sometimes in England, sometimes in France.
ACT THE FIRST.
KING JOHN upon the Throne, QUEEN ELINOR, ES-
K. John. Now, say, Chatillon, what would France with us?
Cha. Thus, after greeting, speaks the King of France,
In my behaviour to the majesty,
The borrow'd majesty of England here
Eli. A strange beginning;-borrow'd majesty! K. John. Silence, good mother;-hear the embassy.
Cha. Philip of France, in right and true behalf. Of thy deceased brother, Geffrey's son, Arthur Plantagenet, lays most lawful claim To this fair island and the territories;
To Ireland, Poictiers, Anjou, Touraine, Maine:
K. John. What follows, if we disallow of this? Cha. The proud control of fierce and bloody war, To enforce these rights so forcibly withheld.
K. John. Here have we war for war, and blood for blood,
Controlment for controlment; so answer France. Cha. Then take my King's defiance from my mouth,
The furthest limit of my embassy.
K. John. Bear mine to him; and so depart in
Be thou as lightning in the eyes of France;
[Exeunt CHATILLON, HUBERT, and the 1 FRENCH GENTLEMEN.
Eli. What now, my son? have I not ever said,
This might have been prevented and made whole,
Enter ENGLISH HERALD, who whispers ESSEX. K. John. Our strong possession, and our right,