« PreviousContinue »
DRĄ M A TIC
MISCELL A NIE S.
All's well that ends well.
Unpromising fable to All's well that ends
well. --Shakspeare's creative power. - Revival of this comedy in 1741. – Sickness of Milward. – Mrs. Woffington. - Death of Milward.—His character.-Superstition of the actors. - Parolles.-- Macklin and The. Cibber. - Chapman and Berry commended.
All's well that ends well revived by Garrick. -- Distribution of the parts. Abuse of wardship Fascinating power of certain worthless characters. Lully, Swift, and Lord Rivers. Word Christen
dom. Helen's description of Parolles. Definition of clown, or fool.-His occupation.-- Defcription from Johnson and Stee
B. Jonson and Fletcher, Shaka fpeare's superior knowledge of nature and the qualities of his auditors. - Fonfon not averse to mirth in tragedy. His Sejanus and Catiline, Condition of physicians in England, France, and Germany.--Helen's delicacy.
Physician's daughter curing a king,
distempered with a fistula, by a recipe of her dead father, is the history on which this play is founded ; a plot strange and unpromising. But the genius of Shakspeare meets with no obstacle from the uncouthness of the materials he works upon. Action and character are the chief engines he employs in this comedy, and he raises abundance of mirth from the situations in which they are placed. Parolles and Lafeu are admirable contrasts, from the collision
of whose humours perpetual laughter is produced.
Helen's scheme, of gaining her husband's affections by passing on him for a mistress, has been adopted with success by other dramatists; particularly by Shirley in the Gamester, and Cibber in his first comedy of Love's last Shift.
All's well that ends well, after having lain more than a hundred years undisturbed upon the prompter's shelf, was, in October, 1741, revived at the theatre in Drury-lane. Milward, who acted the King, is said to have caught a distemper which proved fatal to him, by wearing, in this part, a too light and airy suit of clothes, which he put on after his supposed recovery. He felt himself seized with a shivering ; and was asked, by one of the players, how he found himself? * How is it possible for me,” he said, with some pleasantry, 'to be fick, when I have such a physician as Mrs. Woffington ? This elegant and beautiful actress was the Helen of the play.
His distemper, however, increased, and soon after hurried him to his grave.
So pleasing an actor as Milward deserves more than a slight remembrance. In the Memoirs of Garrick's Life, I spoke of him as one who was not without a great share of merit, but was too apt to indulge himself in such an extension of voice as approached to vociferation. He prided himself so much in the harmony and sweetness of his tones, that he was heard to say, in a kind of rapture, after throwing out some passionate speeches in a favourite part, that he wished he could salute the sweet echo, meaning his voice. His Lusignan, in Zara, was not much inferior to Mr. Garrick's representation of that part. Milward chose Booth for his madel; and, notwithstanding his inferiority to that accomplished tragedian, he was the only performer in tragedy, who, if he had survived, could have approached to our great Rofcius į who, though he would always have þeen the first, yet, in that case, would not