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or school-room. It is difficult to account for this. The practice itself is, no doubt, to be attributed to early habits; but how it happens that he has not yet reformed it, we are at a loss to guess. Give him something to do, and he does it better than any one else could; but give him nothing, and he makes worse than nothing of it. There are parts of almost every one of his characters that he mouth even worse than "many of our players do."
Another of Mr Kean's faults (if it mi be called such) is, that there is great variation in his style of acting at different times. He makes his greatest efforts, and reserves his finest powers, for the first few nights of performing a character. Afterwards he is apt to grow careless, and sink into an apparent listlessness, that gives a drawling monotony to his performance; so that persons who go to see him, for the first time, in a character that he has played frequently, are sure to come away totally disappointed and dissatisfied. But this is perhaps a defect inherent in the art itself: it is not in human nature to keep up to the height that he sometimes attains.
When we have noticed that Mr Ki.in has an occasional fondness for mere stage-effect, which never appears, however, except in the secondary parts of his performances, we have mentioned all the faults that occur to ns. For any thing we know, he may have a great many more; but the truth is, that seeking for the defects of genius is a task to us; we do not sit down to it con amore, and therefore there is no chance of our doing it well. And it is but a sorry distinction, after all, to excel in finding fault; wo are not ambitious of it. If we can discover and help to make known the good and the beautiful in what is around us, let who will search for the had; and much good may it do them when they have found it 1
We shall say a few words on the general character of four of Mr Kean's principal parts—Sir Giles Overreach, Richard IL, Richard III., and Othello.
Sia Giles Overreach, if not the greatest, is certainly the most perfect of all Mr Kean's performances. It is quite faultless. The character of Sir Giles Overreach is drawn with great force and originality. It seems to have begun in avarice—blind and
reckless avarice; which, at the period of the play, is become merged and lost in intense personal vanity. He has glutted himself with wealth till his very wishes can compass no more; and then, by dint of gazing at himself as the creator of his boundless stores, avarice changes into self-admiration; and he thenceforth lavishes as eagerly to feed the new passion, as he had amassed to gratify the old one. In delineating this latter part of the character, the author has, by an admirable subtlety of invention, and a deep knowledge of human nature, made Sir Giles build up an idol in the person of his child, in which, by a self-deceit common to vulgar minds (for his mind is a vulgar one notwithstanding its strength), he worships his only god—himself. He is pleased to see her shining in gold and jewels, because she is his child;—he hires decayed gentry to do the menial offices of her house, because she is his child ;—nay, he even anticipates with delight the moment when he shall have raised her to such a rank, that even he will be compelled to bow down before her; for, by an inconsistency which is not uncommon in real life, while he regards titles in others as empty names, in her they will appear to be substantial realities, because she is his child.
Mr Kean plays the first part of this character with a mixture of gloom and vulgarity that is admirably original and characteristic. And though we did not intend to have mentioned any particular parts of the performance, we cannot help noticing the manner in which he pronounces the titles of the person whom he wishes his daughter to marry. It is always in a tone of derision and contempt, which is but half-concealed even when he speaks to "the lord." At first sight it might appear inconsistent that Sir Giles should feel contempt for rank and titles, and yet make them confessedly the end and object of all his toils. "My ends—my ends are compassed! I am all over joy !" he exclaims, when he thinks he has finally arranged his daughter's marriage with "the lord." But, on reflection, it will be found to be one of the most refined parts of the performance. We have before said, that part of Sir Giles's character is a propensity to worship that in himself which in others he cannot help despising; and this half-contemptuous tone, when speaking of that which is the object of all his wishes, springs from the natural part of his character predominating over the artificial.
The last act of Mr Kean's performance of Sir Giles Overreach is, without doubt, the most terrific exhibition of human passion that has been witnessed on the modern stage. When his plans are frustrated and his plots laid open, all the restraints of society are thrown aside at once, and a torrent of hatred and revenge bursts from his breaking heart, like water from a cleft rock, or like a raging and devouring fire that, while it consumes the body and soul on which it feeds, darts forth its tongues of flame in all directions, threatening destruction to every thing within its reach. The whole of the last act exhibits a vehemence and rapidity, both of conception and execution, that perhaps cannot be surpassed.
Richard II. is a performance of a very different kind. It has always appeared to us to be a splendid misrepresentation, both of Shakspeare and of history; a misrepresentation which nothing but the transcendant talent with which it is executed could excuse, and fortunately one which nothing else could commit. It is full of the most varied and brilliant declamation,—the most pure and simple pathos,—the most lofty and temperate dignity. Whatever Shakspeare and nature intended Richard II. to be, Mr Kean makes him "every inch a king." It is a very noble performance, and second only to one.
Mr Kean's Richard in., though apparently the most familiar and intelligible of all his performances, is yet the most intellectual and abstracted. The one which exhibits the loftiest and most poetical thoughts,—the grandest and most original conceptions,—and the most admirable and curiously felicitous embodying of those thoughts and conceptions.—There is more intellectual power required for the production of it, and it calls forth more in the witnessing of it. When Richard III. exclaims, "A thousand hearts are swelling in my bosom!" he appears to be endowed with the soul and the strength of a thousand men;—there is more variety, and depth, and intensity of expression thrown into the words address
ed to Stanley, "What do they north?" than was ever brougl gether in the same space;—ragi tred, sarcasm, suspicion, and com are all audibly and intelligibl pressed in the single word north the battle and death are won conclude the whole; they fo piece of poetry nobly conceive< magnificently executed.
The last of Mr Kean's perfort on which we shall offer any ren that of Othello. We happened present when he played that cha on the night Mr Booth came Iago; and it is of his performs this particular night that we speak; for it discovered the D able secret, that he could play than he had ever done befoi fact, this performance was aln superior to all his others, as the been to the performances of al actors in the same parts. This lar circumstance should be tx mind, for it may be worth ren on at some future time.
If we were solicitous to pass, wise and lukewarm people, fc and sober critics, we should; suppress or disguise something opinions respecting Mr Kean formance of Othello on that But we disdain that creeping tion—that cold and calculatin Deration, which dares not exj it feels, lest its impressions she be kept in countenance by t other people. We shall there at once, that we think that perfect (and we speak chiefly of the t —though the rest was all in with it) was, without compari noblest exhibition of human gt ever witnessed. It evinced a 1 degree of talent more rare ar valuable than any, or than oil to be found in his other perfor —a talent only, and not much to that which was required < the character.'' Never did we such vehement and sustained such pure and touching beauty deep, and quiet, and simple The performance was worthy taken place in Shakspeare's o —with he himself—he and I
• Note The reader will, of c<
suspect us of meaning to compare I with that of Shakspeare generally, with reference to this particular pli Ford, and Spencer, and Sydney, for an audience. We cannot help fancying how they would have acted at the close of it. They would have gone into the green-room perhaps,—Shakspeare we are sure would,—and with a smiling, yet serious and earnest delight upon their faces, have held out their hands and thanked him. Think of a shake of the hand from Shakspeare— and of deserving it too!
We now conclude our imperfect notice of this great actor by observing, that if Shakspeare owes something to Kean, Kean owes almost every thing to Shakespeare. He is a gallant vessel sailing on the ocean of Shakspeare's genius. Its proud waves bear him along in triumph to the sound of their own music. He is seen, now floating silently in the moon-light that sleeps along its waves—now scudding before the breeze in all the glory of sunshine —and now tost hither and thither amid storms and darkness: but he still keeps safe above the waters—not presumptuously scorning the danger, but boldly and magnanimously subduing it.—May his voyage be prosperous and happy! is the wish of one, who, though a stranger to him, offers the foregoing sincere but feeble tribute, less with hope of pleasing and informing others, than with the desire of making some slight return for hours of mingled delight and instruction.
Rob Roy. At length we have found a new piece, of which we can speak well with a good conscience.
On the 12th of March, an opera was produced, called Rob Roy MacgreOoi, or Aui.d Langsyne. It was completely successful.
Though we have hitherto had little to do but find fault, we hope our read era have not yet set us down as ill-natured people. If they have, they have been very unjust to us. We are as delighted when we can find something to praise, as when an unexpected gleam of sunshine comes out upon us this gloomy weather. And if the time should ever arrive, when our office will be to give nothing but praise, we shall hail it with as sincere pleasure as we shall the promised period in which we are to have nothing but sunshine. We are sadly afraid, however (notwithstanding the prognostications of the
Quarterly), that the one is about as far off as the other. But still, even if our fears should prove well-grounded, we must needs confess that a false prophecy of good is better than a true one of evil.
This opera is founded on the novel of Rob Roy; and we are indebted to the great Unknown for having effected what we should have thought even his genius inadequate to. He has "created a soul under the ribs of death." He has infused something of his spirit into a professor of the art of making melo-dramas; and has actually impelled him to produce an opera that is highly interesting. The story of the novel is, in fact, dramatised with considerable taste and judgment;—a kind of judgment, too, that is not very common among our modern drama tists. The author—(so, no doubt, he chooses to be called—and as he has
But us in good-humour he shall have is way)—The author has had the sense to discover that, whenever he wished the language to be impressive or humorous, he could not possibly improve upon that of the novel; and accordingly he has adopted it all through. In the songs, too, he has been modest enough tacitly to confess that Burns and Wordsworth have written better than he could. It is singular, that this wise and appropriate diffidence seems to have prevailed throughout the whole getting up of the piece—for the music is selected from old Scottish melodies, instead of being composed for the occasion by Mr Bishop.
But are not the happy few, who are in the secret, smiling at our simplicity all this while, in attributing that to want of confidence, which, in reality, proceeded merely from want of time? We should not at all wonder. But however this may be, we are too much gainers by the act, to be very fastidious about the motive.
The opera is full of interest—and interest of the right kind. Not proceeding from melo-dramatic horrors, but from truth and nature. The scenes in the prison and the inn at Aberfoil are extremely well managed; and that in the Highlands, when Rob Roy appears just after the lament for his capture, is admirable. There was something very impressive in the dumb despair of his people for his loss, and their noisy and enthusiastic delight at his return was truly kindling. It made one almost in love with auld langsyne. We are quite sure that, with all its faults, we should at the moment have been content to barter it for " this ignorant present."
All that part of the novel relating to Sir Hildebrand and his sons is omitted, as well as the splendid description of the escape of Rob Roy; and also every thing that occurs previously to the stoppage of the house of Osbaldistone. In other respects, the story is pretty closely followed; and, as we before mentioned, the very words of the principal scenes; and we are so unused to any thing of the kind in new pieces, that they seemed to come upon us like meeting a friend in a foreign country.
The opera was excellently performed. The character of Rob Roy might have been looked better than by Mr Macready, but it could not have been played better. His first scenes were extremely easy and spirited; and some of the last had a power and pathos—a fine homely pathos—that was delightful. Listen was Nicol Jarvie, and a most amusing person he made of him. But when he talked about "dangling like the sign of the golden fleece over the door of the mercer' s shop on Ludgate Hill," we could not help echoinghis " My conscience!" When an actor presumes to make a joke of his own—for such this must have been—he should at least take care not to let it be a bad one.—Blanchard and Tokely played Owen and Dugald admirably. There was a fine resemblance, and at the same time a fine contrast, between them. Each was devoted to his patron, but each in his own way: one with the mechanical, counting-house devotion of an automaton, and the other with the fiery, headlong devotion of a beast. The one could have been manufactured nowhere but in "Crane Alley, London;" and the other could have been bred nowhere but in the Highlands of Scotland.— Rashleigh Osbaldistone, though not made a prominent character, was well performed by Abbot.—Mr Sinclair was as little like Frank Osbaldistone as Miss Stephens was like Diana Vernon; but then the one was a change sadly for the worse, whereas the other was perhaps for the better. A young gentleman who can do nothing but
sing a song, is but a poor Ku' for one who can do every thi sing a song; but a timid,: woman, who seems made only" a gentle bosom to be laid," is more attractive than a dashin] spirited lady, who can leap a gate, and be in at the death, both sang delightfully. Wi remember to have heard an so exquisitely delicate and h as a duet to the air of Roy which was given without the paniment of the orchestra, this air, we recognised The Patie's Mill, Auld Langsyne, a other favourites.
The scenery of this opera fine, particularly the bridge: gow by moon-light, and t scenes in the Highlands.
The Maruuis Of Caiia Puss In Boots. A piece w title was produced on the March. It is said to have be worthless, and was completely by the public; but notwith this, the plebeian managers theatre, profiting by the nob pie of the lords and gentlemen other house, seemed to have i templation to force it upon \ again. The audience, howe the spirit to take the law ii own hands, and threaten de to all the finery within the This was as it should be, is the condemnation of the picct tion to be just; of which, not being present, we do not to judge. This summary wa ceeding is the only resource ti have against the insolent pr and overweening power of elusive people; and it brough their senses in a trice. They ward their mouth-piece to exj much it was " their incliii well as their duty, to comply sense of the public," and si after they had had the ins endeavour to drive them s throwing the theatre into air darkness.
Drury Lane Theatre
Ron Roy, or The Gih On the 25th March a play duced, called Rob Roy, or T Caracii. The name of this a hoax on the public,—a bait to draw a full house on the first night,—a "springe to catch woodcocks:" and it succeeded—no doubt to the infinite satisfaction of the committee of " noblemen and gentlemen" who condescend to manage this theatre. If it had been practised anywhere else, we should have ventured to call this a paltry trick; but, as it is, we remain "With a most voiceless thought, sheathing it as a sword."
This piece is by Mr Soane, who seems to be the accredited agent for supplying this house with the article of melo-dramas. We guess that he received an order for one on the subject of Rob Roy, to be delivered by a certain time; but finding that Mr Pocock had been beforehand with him in the market, he ventured to substitute a spurious commodity under the same name, relying on the ignorance of his customers for the cheat not being detected. But he might have known, that if " noblemen and gentlemen" can find something better to do than to read Rob Roy, other people cannot; and he might have been sure, that any one who had read that work would not tolerate such a parody on it as he has given. It is a sort of "Hamlet Travestie," only without the fun. "The burthen of the mystery," from beginning to end, is Rob Roy in love! Think of the Macgregor in love! Sighing away his life at a lady's feet ! Breathing forth soft vows, to the sound of his own pibroch, beneath a bower of roses (raised by magic, no doubt), among his own mountains! We wonder it did not occur to Mr Soane to bring Rob Roy to London, put on him a pair of tight pantaloons and a stiff neckcloth, and make him fall in love with an operadancer.
We shall not waste the reader's time, or our own, by saying any thing more of the plot and characters of this piece, than that they differ, in almost every respect, from those of the novel. To such as properly appreciate that work and its companions, this will seem almost like falsifying the truth of history; like writing an historical play, in which Alexander should be made a coward, or Cicero a fool, or Brutus accept a place under government. The truth is, Mr Soane has wandered into the Highlands without
his guide, and has lost himself there; and we do not much care if he never finds his way back again, at least if he is determined to write plays, and cannot write better ones than this. We cannot dismiss it, however, without noticing the performance of Mr Wallack, in Dugald. It was admirable; and but for this the piece would not have been heard half out. At the close it was completely damned; but the "noblemen and gentlemen" thought proper to announce it the next day for " every evening till further notice,' in consequence of the applause, &c, it had received. This in any body else would have been a great piece of impertinence, to say nothing of its falsehood.
The Sleeting Dravght. A new farce, with this title, was produced on the 1st of April. It is written by Mr Penley, of this theatre, and is one of the drollest we have seen for a long time past. It makes no pretensions to wit or character; but all the fun depends on the situations and equivoques, which are extremely well contrived. We do not recollect any farce that has so striking and complete a conclusion; but the audience lose this, by a foolish and ill-mannered habit which they have of getting up to go away the moment they perceive that the last scene is arrived.—The whole weight of the piece lay on Mr Harley, who played most exquisitely. A Mrs Hughes, whom we had not before seen, played the character of a waiting-maid with becoming pertness and vivacity.
EFFECT OF FARM OVERSEERS ON THE MORALS OF FARM SERVANTS.
I Think it was Professor Dugald Stewart who some time ago remarked, that " what was known in the last generation to a few philosophers, in the present came to be publicly taught in the schools, and in the next would become familiar to the people." If we take a slight view of the last thirty years, we shall most probably find this observation of the philosopher abundantly verified; and if it is capable of general application, and we had the power to put our eyes behind the Professor's spectacles, and