Page images
PDF
EPUB

Zanga therefore shall have duly weighed the nature of the undertaking, they cannot but concur with us in thinking, that it was, as a first appearance, a very extraordinary effort. What renders it more so is, that in almost every scene he betrayed evident marks of a too hasty and careless study of the speeches. The words were in some few places dislocated; and in others, the meaning was not emphatically nor judiciously marked. On the other hand, some lines were enforced with much beauty and effect. Such was his speech, in the first scene of the first act, in answer to Isabella, when she intreats him to tell his story with more temper.

Yes, woman, with the temper that befits it.
Has the dark adder venom? So have I
When trod upon. Proud Spaniard, thou shalt

feel me!
From that day, that day of my dishonour,
I from that day have cursed the rising sun
Which never failed to tell me of my shame.
I from that day have blest the coming night,
Which promised to conceal it; but in vain;
The blow returned for ever in my drean..

In this speech, which he spoke with great force and correctness, the lines printed in italics claimed particular praise for their superior force, propriety and spirit. Nor in the lines further on in the same speech,

“ By nightly march he purpos’d to surprise
The Moorish camp: but I have taken care

They shall be ready to receive his favour,"
were the words in italics less deserving of applause.

In the second scene of the first act too, his exclamation

“ Had'st thou a thousand lives, thy death would please me,” was thrown out with a vehemence and, at the same time, a degree of correctness, which could hardly have been expected from a person labouring under the horrors of a first appearance.

Although the whole interval between the first and last acts affords little scope for an actor, unless, like the great man already mentioned, he had the power to commute the very dross of the poet into gold, still there were passages in which Mr. Calbraith acquitted himself in a manner that gave pleasure to his friends. When Isabella informs him that the time of Don Carlos's arrival was

“ two nights ago,"—the lively exultation and diabolical joy with which he rapidly exclaimed

“ That was the very night

Before the battle" and then, lowering his voice, said

“ Memory set down that;

It has the essence of the crocodile,” were so happily characteristic of the Moor's heart and purpose, that the dullest comprehension must have received a strong impression of the character.

The second scene of the fifth act is the great test of the performer's talents for Zanga; and here it was that Mr. Calbraith displayed his, with most effect and applause. It was evident that he had more carefully studied it; and he was, besides, a little more than he had before been, relieved from the pressure of timidity. In a word, he so successfully exerted himself in that trying scene, that every speech received the most unqualified testimony of approbation. The curtain fell amidst repeated vollies of applause, and every one owned that Mr. Calbraith's was a very extraordinary first appearance.

MR. CALBRAITH'S PIERRE. On the eleventh of February (ten days after his appearance in Zanga) Mr. Calbraith again came forward, in the character of Pierre; in which he manifested powers which, if properly exercised, cannot fail to raise him in time to a very respectable rank in his profession. Pierre, being a character which requires a more perfect familiarity with stage business than Zanga does, his action was not so easy nor so appropriate, and he betrayed in it a still greater negligence of previous study: yet there were many very laudable passages, some of considerable felicity, and one or two readings which to us appeared quite new and very happily conceived. One of these was on his first entrance, when Pierre addresses Jaffier,

My friend, good morrow;
How fares the honest partner of my heart?

What, melancholy? Not a word to spare me?" he did not put it interrogatively, “ What, melancholy?- not a word to spare me?”—but in an exclamation of friendly raillery, “What! melancholy!--not a word to spare me!" which being con

1

[ocr errors]

1

1

sonant to the character and purpose of Pierre, and to the affected pleasantry of temper with which he rallies the notion of honesty, in the following speech, was well'imagined, and certainly had a very agreeable effect.

The next was his reply to Jaffier, when the latter mournfully exclaims

“ And now thank heaven!"

[ocr errors]

Calbraith, instead of replying in the ordinary way,

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

Whether the latter was the reading meant by the author, or not, we will not waste time on discussing; but of the effect it produced we are convinced not only by our own feelings, but by the marked approbation of the audience. Through the whole of that scene he acquitted himself handsomely; though his want of stage business was rendered more conspicuous than it need have been, by the dress he wore, which was little more fit for Pierre than for Hamlet, Macbeth, Shylock, or sir John Falstaff.

In a character, the performance of which depends so much, as that of Pierre does in certain scenes, upon a perfect knowledge and habitual practice of stage business, it would be unfair to deal strictly with a candidate for public favour on his second appearance. We shall only say, therefore, that in Mr. Calbraith's action there was much which might be mended, and which, we are persuaded, he will mend. Where action is imperfect, it should be called upon as little as possible. Nothing but length of time, and long, laborious practice can ever impart the kind of action that is adapted to the stage; and which is by no means the same that is considered elegant deportment in private life. The discourse of Dr. Johnson was not farther removed from the easy elegance of conversation in polished society, than the best action of the stage is from the easy deportment of the drawing room. This, therefore, is one of the qualifications which an actor must learn after he has gone upon the stage being entirely out of his habits before. We, therefore, strenuously recommend it to all young actors, and particularly to those men of genius, who have much to lose, to be as sparing as possible of action till they have acquired that smoothness which practice only can im

part. That astonishing actor we have already more than once mentioned (Mossop, the first Zanga) was so convinced of this truth, that for four or five years, he seldom brought his left arm into action.This it was which gave rise to the malignant Churchill's sneer

[ocr errors]

upon him.

While the mouth measures'words with greater skill,
The right hand labours, and the left lies still;
For he resolves on scripture grounds to go
What the right doth, the left hand shall not know.

Mr. Calbraith appears to have a just notion of the advantage of what is called by-play; and considering the novelty of his situa-' tion, he was sometimes fortunate in his attempts, particularly in the conversation between Alonzo and Don Carlos in the Revenge. Yet as it is a dangerous experiment and one which, if unluckily executed, does more to detract from other excellence than any occasional success in it can do good; and as being sparing of it, if it do nothing else will mark a certain degree of diffidence, (than which nothing can be more interesting or winning on the esteem of the audience), we have always done our best to recommend it to young performers. A little attention to this recommendation would make Mr. Calbraith's action very much superior to that of any beginner we have yet seen.

It would be injustice to this gentleman, not to say that in many critical scenes, he showed that he understood his author well, and that in delivering the dagger to Jaffier and saying,

Take it-farewell—for now I owe thee nothing. he was, beyond our expectation, correct and striking.

With respect to his stage business, Mr. Calbraith has yet much to learn. His person, though full, is well proportioned and favourable to him. His face though not very striking, is not objectionable. His voice, though clear in its extent, strong when exerted, and fit for the lively and the light, is deficient of compass in descent, and wanting the deep and lower tones is inadequate to the expression of solemnity, and to under-speaking. It is fitter for Lothario than Richard or Macbeth, but equal to all the purposes of comedy.

Yet, upon the whole, we hazard nothing in asserting, that Mr. Calbraith has talents which nothing but neglect can prevent from placing him in a very high and reputable rank in his profession. Neglect such as if he were capable of it, would be unpardonable in the highest degree.

DE MONFORT,

A TRAGEDY, BY JOANNA BAILLIL.

[Continued from page 60.] In the first scene a light is thrown upon the extraordinary character of De Monfort, by a conversation between his servant Manuel and old Jerome.

De Monfort has scarcely been seated in his new residence, when he is unexpectedly visited by the Count and Countess FREBERG, who, having seen his servant at the gate, resolve to enter and wel. come him. The count runs with an ardour that indicates familiarity as well as affection, to embrace him, but is received in a manner which, notwithstanding De Monfort's efforts to conceal his feel. ings, manifests a repugnance to meet him. After inquiry for the lady Jane, to which the other gives an evasive answer, the count and countess take their leave, first extorting from him a promise that he will visit them, and promising that he will collect some cheerful friends to dissipate the melancholy, which they perceive hanging over him.

Freberg. We'll reestablish thee: we'll banish pain.
I will collect some rare, some cheerful friends,
And we shall spend together glorious hours,
The gods might envy. Little time so spent,
Doth far outvalue all our life beside.
This is indeed our life, our waking life,
The rest dull breathing sleep.

De Monfort. Thus, it is true, from the sad years of life
We sometimes do short hours, yea minutes strike,
Keen, blissful, bright, never to be forgotten;
Which, through the dreary gloom of time o'erpast,
Shine like fair sunny spots on a wild waste.
But few they are, as few the heaven-fir'd souls
Whose magic power creates them. Bless'd art thou,
If, in the ample circle of thy friends,
Thou canst but boast a few.

Freb. Judge for thyself: in truth, I do not boast.
There is amongst my friends, my later friends,
A most accomplish'd stranger. New to Amberg;
But just arriv’d, and will ere long depart.
I met him in Franconia two years since.
He is so full of pleasant anecdote,

[ocr errors][merged small]
[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »