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Johnson, in one of those calls upon him which Boswell bas mentioned, and that the doctor said to him, “ To be sure, sir, - you should be -strongly marked. I told Garrick so long since, but Davy never could
With regard to this passage “much may be said on both sides ;" but we suspect that the old reading without emphasis is the better.
. “And for my soul, what can it do to thut,
Being a thing immortal as itself?' “Garrick here, with great quickness, said, 'What can it do to THAT ?' There is, I think, more impression in Kemble's manner of putting it. In Garrick, it was a truism asserted; in Kemble, not merely asserted, but enjoyed.”
Both readings are defensible, but Kemble's is certainly to be preferred; it is more effective, and strikes us as more consistent with the character of Hamlet.
Having drawo his sword, to menace the friends who prevented him from following the Ghost, every Hamlet before Mr, Kemble presented the point to the phantom as he followed bim to the removed ground. Kemble, having drawn it on his friends, retained it in his right hand, but turned his left towards the spirit, and drooped the" weapon after him,—a change both tasteful and judicious. As a defence against such a being, it was ridiculous to present the point ; to retaiu it un. consciously, showed how completely he was absorbed by the dreadful mystery he was exploring.
• The kneeling at the descent of the Ghost was censured as a trick. I suppose merely because it had not been done before ; but it suitably marked the filial reverence of Hamlet, and the solemnity of the engage. ment' he had contracted. Henderson saw it, and adopted it immediately,-) remember he was applauded for so doing.
“These two great actors agreed in the seeining intention of particular disclosure to Horatio ;
6. Yes, but there is, Horatio,--and much offence too,' turned off upon the pressing forward of Marcellus to partake the communication. Kemble only, however, prepared the way for this, by the marked address to Horatio,
“ • Did you not speak to it?'” This appears to us to be an affected refinement. Hamlet's presumed intention of an immediate disclosure to Horatio, is rather the conjecture of ingenuity seeking for novelty, than a fair and legitimate inference from the text.
“ In the scene with Polonius, where Hamlet is asked what is the matter which he reads, and he answers, “Slanders, sir,' Mr. Kemble, to give the stronger impression of his wildness, tore the leaf out of
- the book. Even this was remarked, for he was of conséquence enough, at first, to have every thing he did minutely examined.
“ A critic observed that, in the scene with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, he was not only familiar, but gay and smiling; and that he should be quite the reverse, because he tells them that he has lost all his mirth,' &c. 'This was pure mis-apprehension in the critic. The scene itself, ever so slightly read, would have set him right. Hamlet, from playing on Polonius, turns to receive gaily and with smiles his excellent friends, his good lads, who are neither the button on Fortune's cap, nor the soles of her shoe. And it is only when the conception crosses him that they were sent to sound him, that he changes his manner, puts his questions eagerly and importunately, and, baving an eye upon them, gives that account of his disposition, which rendered it but a sleeveless errand which they came upon.”
“After this digression, I proceed with the points in Mr. Kemble's perforinance of Hamlet.
6 • The mobled queen.' "Garrick repeated this after the player, as in doubt: Kemble, as in sympathy. And accordingly Polonius echoes his approbation; and says, that the expression is good. 'Mobled queen is good.'
6. Perchance to dream!' “Kemble prolonged the word dream meditatingly. Just after, to Ophelia, he spoke the word lisp with one-litbp. A refinement below bim. “Henderson and he concurred, in saying to Horatio,-
“Aye in my heart of heart, as I do thee.' “Garrick gave it differently: 'heart of heart.' But I think would have attained his purpose better by changing his emphasis to heart of heart,' as I remember somewhere, I think in Thomson,
" • And all the life of life is gone.' that is, I cherish thee in the divinest particle of the heart, which is to that organ itself what the heart is to the body. It eniaciates these ideas much to try to unfold them—but some effort must be made, or we should talk vaguely.”
Of these three readings we have no hesitation in pronouncing Garrick's to be the best, and that of Henderson and Kemble, the worst. But, agreeing with Mr. Boaden, that “it emaciates these idea's much, to try to unfold them,” we shall be content with the simple expression of our conviction.
“In the mock play before the king, Garrick threw out, as an unmeaning rant, addressed to Lucianus,
“ T'he croaking raven doth bellow for revenge.' “But I have not the slightest doubt, with Henderson and Kemble, that it is a reflection of Hamlet applicable to his own case, and quite on a par with that in Macbeth :
“• The raven himself is boarse, That croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan Under my battlements.'
“Kemble gave the argument of the play in the finest manner possible
“They do but jest: Poison in jest,' in tone, and observation at the time, beyond all praise.
“ The reference to Rosencrantz, after Guildenstern, with the pipe, • I do beseecho you,' is an innovation. It involves both persoas in the disgrace; but, if allowed at all, it can only be permitted as a
felicity of action in the performance. At all events, the stately march from Guildenstern to Rosencrantz, always seemed to me a
poor thing; and indeed chilling what was to follow: too formal, in a word, for the condition of Hamlet's mind.
“ In the chamber of the queen- Is it the king?' was addressed to the million. Hamlet's nature is so little vindictive! In this scene, it was doubted, whether, in speaking daggers' to the queen, they were drawn and sharp enough? It struck me, that greater keenness would have been unfilial, and as if he took delight in the task, which only stern necessity imposed upon him.
• Kemble knelt in the fine adjuration to his mother. An objection was taken, that the passage is preceptive rather than supplicatory: I think not.
• Mother, for the love of grace
Lay not this flattering unction to your soul.' * As an affectionate son, he is endeavouring to awake all the feelings of the mother in her, to combat the delusion of her guilty attachment. The more endearing his urgency, the more strictly natural. Hamlet does not do justice to himself, when he adds,
" Forgive me this, my virtue! For, in the fatness of these pursy times, Virtue itself of vice must pardon beg;
Yea, curb and woo, for leave to do him good.' “He would fain persuade himself, that he is playing the politician; while, in reality, he is only giving way to the pious tenderness of bis feelings. Nor is this the only instance to be found of his amiable self-delusion.
And when you are desirous to be blest,
I'll blessing beg of you.' “Henderson again differed from Mr. Kemble's reading; thus
««• And when you are desirous to be blest,
I'll blessing bey of you.' It is quite evident, we think, that the objection taken to Kemble’s manner of giving the adjuration of Hamlet to his mother, was well founded. The passage is not supplicatory, but preceptive-remonstrative: and, although the speaker should not forget the affectionate respect which Hamlet owes to his mother, he should at the same time remember the dignity with which virtue is invested when reproving vice. In the two last quoted lines, however, the emphases of Kemble have far more discrimination and propriety than those of Henderson.
"In the grave scene he never entirely satisfied himself: he was too studiously graceful; and, under bis difficulties, seemingly too much at his ease.
The exclamation, on hearing that the dead body was Ophelia's, had not the pathos of Henderson's; who seemed here struck to the very soul. The tone yet vibrates in my ear with which he uttered
" What!-the fair Ophelia! “ Years after, I reminded Mr. Kemble of this very fine point, and he readily came into the manner of his predecessor.
“The whole management of the strange fencing scene with Laertes was very graceful, and conciliatory; and the operation of the poison, the tender address to Horatio, and the death, exhibited a most interesting close of this amiable, unfortunate, but matchless character." We have extracted so largely, that we must notice Mr. Boaden's next chapter very briefly. Kemble's Hamlet was opposed at the other house by that of Henderson ; a competition which delighted the public and divided the critics. After an absence of five years, Mrs. Crawford returned to Covent-Garden, as the rival of Mrs. Siddons, then enjoying boundless popularity. Mrs. Siddons's first benefit was productive beyond all precedent, and on this occasion she addressed to the public a sort of letter of thanks; a production, singularly injudicious, and in most marvellously bad taste. Of Mrs. Crawford, Mr. Boaden says,
She looked still a fine woman, though time, while it had taken something from the elegance of her figure, had also begun to leave its impression upon her features. It soon appeared the great actresses were of very different schools; that what was unimpassioned in the dialogue was somewhat rapidly given by Mrs. Crawford, who evidently reserved herself for striking effects. While Mrs. Siddons seemed to consider that every thing in the part she played required the utmost care; and that where declamation was not to be lifted by passion, it was to charm by a kind of tender and melancholy music, disposing the soul to the superior effects when they arose. Although no comparison could be made except as to the general style of the two artists, it was yet not very difficult to anticipate in what points they would be found to differ in the performance of the character in question.”
“The fame of Mrs. Crawford for five years before at that theatre, brought to the house a number of fashionable and intelligent admirers of the art; and the applause was commensurate with the exertion upon the stage. The public beheld a great accession to their stock of rational delight; and the manager found that he had at last something, which would bear a positive opposition to the great tragedian of the other house. There were many, who, running a kind of parallel, such as Dr. Johnson wrote between Dryden and Pope, came to a somewhat similar result. If the flights of Crawford,' said they, "are higher, Siddons continues longer on the wing. If of Crawford's fire the blaze is brighter, of Siddons's the heat is morë
regular and constant. The one often surpasses expectation, and the other never falls below it. Crawford is heard with frequent astonishment, and Siddons with perpetual delight.' But I confess, leaving the parallel as I find it, I never could perceive, with some, that Mrs. Siddons had less genius, because she had more art. She only seemed to me to have a more masterly control over every part of her subject. It must not be forgotten, too, that Mrs. Sidduns was in the prime of life, not thirty; that in addition to powerful feelings and harmonious speech, she had a person of great dignity, and a face of astonishing expression; that her very action was a language, and her attitudes models for the statuary and the painter.” Never having seen Mrs. Crawford, we are, of course, incompetent to form an opinion of her merits; but, from what we have heard and read, we should conjecture that there was some foundation for the parallel alluded to. We suspect, too, that it is not necessary even in tragedy to maintain an unbending dignity of deportment, or to deliver common passages in an unvarying chaunt; and that when an actor has to say “how do you do," or good morrow,” he need not assume the tone and manner which would become the soliloquies of Hamlet, or the ravings of Orestes. The occasional relaxations of his usual grandeur of demeanour and elocution, were among the most judicious and happy points of Mr. Kemble's acting: Not quite to the purpose, but not very remote from it, is the following observation of Mr. Boaden.
“One of these familiar touches (the reader will supply hundreds) occurs to me in Macbeth; after the spirit of Banquo has vanished, the trembling usurper faulters out to his reproaching queen
“If I stand here, I saw him.' “ The reader, who remembers the tone and gesture which from Mr. Kemble conveyed this assertion to the audience, will know how truly be could hit the merely natural, when no other considerations called
upon him for a more elevated style of utterance. In the ninth chapter we have a long detail of a dispute, which, it seems, was then carried on, as to whether Mrs. Siddons ought, or ought not, to have acted for the benefits of Messrs. Digges and Brereton, in Ireland. The business is introduced by a letter from Mr. Siddons, who seems to have been actuated by a most restless desire that his lady and himself should be constantly before the public. Two letters from Mr. Brereton follow, and the whole is concluded by a short address delivered by Mrs. Siddons HERSELF to the house, on the first evening of her appearance. If any explanation were necessary, it should have come from her brother, who appeared with her. We very much dislike the idea of a female addressing a public audience, except in the language of others; and think, as Mr. Boaden in another place declares, that “there is always something indelicate in sending on a