« PreviousContinue »
is proverbial: he possessed many requisites for the character, -a conimanding look and dignity, and an expressive eye; there might also exist a certain sympathy of taste between the character and the actor; if sugared sack and larded capons were the delight of one, we all know the other's predilection for venison * and claret. Love and Shuter successively attempted it; but these admirable come. dians never soared beyond "honest Jack Falstaff.” The mantle at ength fairly lighted upon Henderson ; than whom an actor of more various talents never existed,-Hamlet, Lear, Shylock, Benedick, and Falstaff,- in many parts dividing the crown with even Garrick himself; who never ventured upon "lean Jack.” Cooke's Falstaff was not one of his happiest efforts ; it wanted the high finishing and warm tints of Henderson. Mr. Stephen Kemble, Mr. Mathews, Mr. Bartley, Mr. Fawcett, Mr. Dowion, and Mr. Charles Kemble have amused the public with their versions of the character. We remember, also, Mr. Young playing it for his own benefit to Mr. John Kemble's Hotspur; and Mr. Kemble himself advertised his “atlempt" in the part; but he relinquished the idea, from an apprehension of the great faiigue attending it. We know what his reading of the character was; his acting, we conceive, would have partaken much of the dry sarcastic humour and dignity of Quin. Of these various representations, those of Mr. Fawcett and Mr. Dowton came nearest to our idea of the character; but this admission is only com. parative praise. They were far, very far, from being the Falstaff of Shakspeare.
But we have him at last in the performance of Mr. Elliston. Little did the public anticipate, after the severe indisposition of this incomparable actor, that so rich a banquet of mirth awaited them; l'ut Mr. Elliston possesses a stamina, a rallying power, that few but Jimself can boast. Wrap him in a blanket, and throw him into the Thames; he will come up in a new suit of clothes, with his hair powdered !--His Falstaff is the finest since the days of Henderson ; and those who remember the performance of that wonderful comedian have pronounced it in many respects fully equal. Mr. Elliston looks Falstaff admirably : he lias the height, breadth, and depth of him to a hair : bis bly humour-his joyous chuckle-his roguish twinkle-indeed, all the hilarity and fun that play round this midnight reveller. Sir John is never thoronghly out of temper: no, not even when the stony-hearted villains remove his horse, or Francis puts lime in his sack! He is more a humonrist than a coward, “by instinct;" if he look serious on one side of his countenance, a smile is seen breaking through the other,--the prelude to some new juke cr droll repartee. All these peculiarities, these rich essences, are distinctly brought out by Mr. Elliston. His solemn gravity while relating the adventure ai Gadshill is beyond description: his four men in buckram and their eleven points had nearly surprised even Bardolph into belief, though he had hacked his sword and tickled his nose with spear grass to make it bleed. But his “ By the Lord, I knew ye as well as he that made ye !" is the very summit of the a rt,
Falstaff complains that he had forgotten what the inside of a church is made of; company, villanous company, had been the spoil
* Says epicnre Quin—“Should the devil in hell
In fishing for men take delight,
Indeed I am sure I should bite !"
of him: he therefore resolves to repent, and that " suddenly;" but Bardolph, who knows the knight's humour better than any body elso, touches the right key; away the old boy flies off at a tangent; and, however virtuously given a moment before, as "suddenly" relapses into his ancient habits, and calls for a song ! Heightening the farce by a witty descant upon Bardolph's carbuncles. The whole of this scene was capitally acted. Were we to suggest any improvement, it would be in the soliloquy upon "honour;" which in force and colouring did not appear quite equal to the other parts of the performance. We sincerely congratulate Mr. Elliston, and the pube Iic still more, on Falstaff's restoration to the stage ; and we should say, that if a performance so eminently distinguished by genius and study, so nearly perfect in all its parts, be not highly popular, there are neither taste, wit, nor" virtue extant."
Mr. Macready gave a spirited representation of the petulant and fiery Hotspur. His reading the letter was very good, but we do not approve of his action. Pacing the stage with an impatient and hur. ried step would have been more natural. Hotspur could never have continued in a sitting posture with the vehement action and strong mental excitation which Mr. Macready exhibited. Mr. Wallack, in the Prince of Wales, merits great praise : he was gay and volatile in the lighter scenes, and, in the more serious, pathetic and subdued.Nor must we omit Mr. Smith, in our old acquaintance, Bardolph, with eyes glaring on each side of the ignis fatuus that burns between them. His by-play was excellent throughout; and, though we do not wish his face either in Falstaff's belly or our own, we hope to see it in Drury Lane Theatre for many nights to come.
KING HENRY.-Brown velvet robe, scarlet and gold truuks) puffed with white satin, white silk pantaloons, white shoes, with scar" let roses, splendid hat, and white plumes.
PRINCE OF WALES.–Brown tunic, buff pantaluun, russet boots, drab-coloured hat, and black plumes. Second dress, white court dress, richly embroidered with silver. Third dress, a complete suit of armour.
PRINCE JOHN.-Light blue jacket, white pantaloons, russet boots, round hat, and white plumes.
WORCESTER.- Crimson velvet dress, crimson and gold trunks, puffed with white satin, wbite pantaloons, russet boots, black hat, and white plumes.
NORTHUMBERLAND.-Green velvet dress, with trunks, &c. (see Worcester.)
DOUGLAS.–Tartan plaid, kelt, bonnet, and breast-plate.
HOTSPUR.–Purple velvet jacket, richly embroidered, black satin mantle, scarlet pantaloons, russet boots. Second dress, complete armsur.
WESTMORELAND.-Crimson old English dress, black bat, and white plames.
SIR RICHARD VERNON.–Light blue old English dress.
DAME QUI LY.-Scarlet stuff petticoat, flowered gown, white apron, high and sharp crowned hat, trimmed with scarlet.
Cast of the Characters in the Tragedy of KING HENRY IV.
Part I., at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane (1826.)
Mr. Mer cer.
Mr. G. Smith,
Mr. J. Russell.
Mrs. W. West,
KING HENRY IV.
SCENE I.-- The Palace in London.-Flourish of
Trumpets and Drums. KING HENRY, (c.) seated on his Throne,, PRINCE JOHN
of LANCASTER, EARL OF WESTMORELAND, Sir RichARD VERNON, SIR WALTER Blunt, and Attendants, discorered.
K. Hen. So shaken as we are, so wan with care,
West. (R.) My liege, this haste was hot in question,
K. Hen. It seems, then, that the tidings of this broil
Young Harry Percy, and brave Archibald,
dear, a true-industrious friend,
West. It is a conquest for a prince to boast of.
West. This is his uncle's teaching, this is Worcester, Malevolent to you in all aspects.
K. Hen. But I have sent for him to answer this ; And, for this cause, [rising] awhile we must neglect Our holy purpose to Jerusalem. Cousin, on Wednesday next, our council we Will hold at Windsor, so inform the lords : But come yourselt (going L.) with speed to us again ;